You know who they are. They’re waiting in the wings for us to mess up. When we stumble as parents, and we all do, someone is always there to point it out.
When our kids were young, the parenting police were much more obvious. There was always a mother on hand to tell us we should let our children cry themselves to sleep or we should not let our children cry themselves to sleep. When they became toddlers, there were parents who shared their opinions on everything from time outs to which foods were choking hazards. But, as our kids get older, it becomes harder to detect the parenting police, like an infectious disease, they can spread their often erroneous information through a series of a text messages in a hot Texas minute.
I have to remind myself of this when I get caught up in another parent’s gossip about what some mother of a teenager does, or does not do, when it comes to managing these tenuous years inhabited by the land mines of fiercely independent youth. I have to step back and admit I really don’t know the situation and I’m hearing about it through a game of whisper-down-the-lane.
By the same token, I have had parents say erroneous things about my parenting. Recently, I decided to face these moments head-on, in a diplomatic, yet firm, response. If you want to know my house rules when it comes to teenagers, simply ask. If your child is at my house, you have a right to know what my guidelines and boundaries are, especially if they are different than your expectations. The way I look at it is that when other people’s children are at my house, or in my car, they are my responsibility, and its one I take very seriously whether they are 10 or 16. I, in turn, also ask the same questions of parents who have my children in their care.
It’s about bringing the parenting police out in the open and acknowledging we all have one goal when our kids are not in our care: Safety. Let’s work together to make that happen by putting our concerns on the table and revealing our shiny badges in the light of day …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.