Childrearing

10 Childfree People Who Give The Best Parenting Advice

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parenting-advice-from-childfree-peopleI have a confession to make: I love advice from childfree people. I mean, I don’t love shitty advice, and I don’t always love unsolicited advice, but once I’ve admitted to having no idea what the hell I’m doing, I’m not necessarily picky about who helps me fix that. I want your advice, whether or not you’ve harvested any fruit fro your loins.

I think I understand why people don’t–kids are a sensitive issue. But I’ll take marriage advice from single people, and financial advice from pretty much anyone who isn’t a Nigerian prince, so I also don’t automatically discount good wisdom nuggets from the childfree. Especially these ones:

1. Nannies and Childcare Workers

These people know what’s up for real. I realized that my parenting “bag of tricks” was dismally small once I met a girl five years younger than me with no kids who could potty train a child in two months flat and was dubbed the “toddler whisperer” for the way she soothed the savage beasties that we cared for.

2. Doctors

I trust doctors. They’re smarter than me, and if my kid likes you, I like you too.

3. Childfree Aunties

Whether they’re related to you or not, if the childfree auntie (or uncle) has truthbombs to drop than you must heed. Odds are, your child will end up listening to and essentially liking them more than you anyway, so…

4. People Who Hate Kids

Hang on one second. If you find kid-haters distasteful, think of it this way: consider their entire personalities the advice you should be taking. If they are truly scummy and rude, try and do everything in your power to make sure that your kids don’t end up like them.

5. Other Kids

My friend’s five-year-old didn’t have children when she told me that my freshly dyed hair was probably what was freaking my own toddler out. “She’s probably scared cause you look like a stranger”. Wise words, little one. Wise, indeed.

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46 Comments

  1. leahdawn

    August 12, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    No kidding on the teachers and daycare workers. They’re spending 6-8 hours a day with your kid, and get to force them to do all kinds of shit they don’t want to do on a regular basis. They know your child at their best and worst.
    But then we march in (especially with teachers) and tell them why our special snowflake didn’t do anything wrong when he tried to light another kid’s jacket on fire (while the other child was wearing it, actual experience of mine as a former teacher. And this was only awful incident #3 in the list titled “Reasons why I left the profession”.)

    • guest

      August 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      I’m going to need to know #1 and #2 please…

    • Theresa Edwards

      August 12, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      seconded.

    • leahdawn

      August 12, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      Well… #2 was the mother of a 15-year-old who didn’t care that her kid was skipping all his classes because “what are you going to do he’s 15-years-old, I can’t control what he does”. (Literally, actually her words.)
      Aaannd #1 was actually the much more benign threat of a new grade 12 social studies curriculum, which I was not confident (as a new-ish teacher, facing a diploma exam course) to teach. But the principal made me do it anyway because fuck the students why should they be taught by someone who actually knows what they’re doing. So rather than inflicting myself on them I quit. The principal was then suddenly all flexible about his assignments and gave the course to someone with 10-years-plus experience. I left anyway.
      On the upside of the three years of hell I spent in the profession, a B.Ed. makes an excellent launchpad into an MLIS. Now I am a blissfully happy librarian and get to work with newcomers to the country and help them with their college courses. It’s awesome.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      August 12, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Ten bucks says that 15YO turns up at a local community college in a few years when he can’t get a decent job, and his remedial coursework teachers have to have a conversation with him about how he would’ve needed to, like, show up and do the work throughout the semester in order to pass the class and that this whole begging for mercy thing five minutes before the final isn’t going to do jack shit to change the F that he was already warned was a foregone conclusion days before the final course withdrawal date (said warning given along with a concise explanation of why a W will look better on his transcript than an F, and repeated several times to make sure he understood that it would also impact his financial aid).

      In sum, see my reason # 1 for leaving community college teaching after only a year and considering getting my own MLIS, if only I didn’t already have a pricy Master’s degree.

    • BexleyS

      August 13, 2014 at 8:06 am

      Your #2 made me laugh because when my brother decided that he wasn’t going to turn up to one go his final exams (and was sure he’d get away with it because my mum was at work and they wouldn’t phone her there….. They did!) she drove home, made him out his uniform on and physically took him to the car and drove him to school, unloaded him and took him in, I front of all of his friends. He was royally embarrassed and never missed anything again. That’s how you get a 15 year old to go to school. Most kids will do what they’re told if you’re standing there and waiting for them to do it because teenagers generally just can’t be bothered with the hassle : )

  2. evilstepmom

    August 12, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Sometimes even step-moms aren’t totally clueless…

    • Theresa Edwards

      August 12, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      good point! I wasn’t sure if steppies considered themselves “childfree” or not.

    • BonEcho

      August 12, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      They aren’t 🙂

    • evilstepmom

      August 13, 2014 at 9:49 am

      I think it depends on how you define “childfree”. Some people will look down on a step-parent because they didn’t give birth, weren’t there for the diapers and potty training, etc. I married into a wonderful family with amazing kids and have no intention of getting pregnant. But I love those kids!

  3. Jessy

    August 12, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you for the shout out to nannies! I was a nanny for 5 years before I had a kid, and it turns out, I actually know what I’m doing. My experience with other people’s kids helped me develop new strategies and get used to many little personalities.

  4. noodlestein's danger tits

    August 12, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    As a childfree auntie, #10 is my advice giving motto. I try to be really clear that I’m not judging, thinking I’m better at anything than the parent or anything even remotely close to that. I also like to stick to Dear Abby’s trio of advice giving questions – is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind? The kind one is usually the sticking point, but I figure it mostly speaks to intent. Is your intent to help? Then to me, it is kind, even if the words may not be. It’s a tightrope, for sure.

  5. guest

    August 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    You, I like you. (Theresa)
    Bonus points for saying “pooped out a baby”. This is how I reference childbirth at every available opportunity.

  6. guest

    August 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I appreciate this because everytime I hear someon go on about “you won’t know until you have a child” I think of my friend who is a mother of two and has no clue on broader parenting things. She knows how to fill a bottle and teach her kids the ABCs but she says things like “Breastfeeding is supposed to be better for kids?” or “I want to teach her about stranger danger but I don’t want to tell her to trust people in uniform because what if that person isn’t really a cop/fireman/whatever?”.

  7. Leah

    August 12, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I think what gets lost in translation sometimes is the fact that when most of us childfree friends offer advice it is because we care/see you are struggling/want to help you/support you, because you are our friend and we love you. Regardless of whether the person offering the advice has a lot of experience with children or not, we do have this wonderful thing called perspective. It allows us to see when your child is clearly playing you or when you are in over your head. I would hope that anyone you decide to call a friend has your best interest at heart (I know I do).

    For those who say, “you’ll change your tune when you have kids” I say probably. I can only hope to have supportive friends who will be willing to offer advice and support when they see I need it.

    • sue

      August 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      I agree. And even as a mom, a good bit of the time my advice is more along the lines of “my friend went though something similar with her child, and this is what she did”. Childless and childfree people can certainly say that too!

    • Theresa Edwards

      August 12, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Also, people who ARE parents give out some seriously shitty advice sometimes.

    • sue

      August 12, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      Yeah, there definitely are some people whose advice I either flat out ignore or do the opposite of after seeing how their kids turned out.

    • guest

      August 13, 2014 at 7:28 am

      THIS! I have a friend who I LOVE but her kids are super assholes and I just don’t know how this happened – but every piece of advice she gives me (almost) I do the opposite – hoping to save mine from that fate!

  8. jsterling93

    August 12, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Before I had my own child I was the child free aunt who lived with pr next door to my 2 nieces and my nephew. When they felt they couldn’t talk to my sister they talked to me. I felt I had pretty good advice on kids by the time they were adults. I also worked at a day care, as a baby sitter, at a summer camp and as a tutor. I can stop a tantrum, make a boo-boo disappear, advice on a broken heart and guide a student to the right college. All before I had my son. Now that I have a 16 month old I just wish someone could tell me how to get the kid to be more snuggly. My baby is a little TOO independent for my tastes.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      August 12, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Can’t help you on that one. I hated snuggling as a child, and it’s only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older!

  9. Lt, Ft

    August 12, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Number three all day. As someone who loves your kids almost as much as you do and loves you til death, aunties rule. We’re more rested than you, have a vested interest in your success as a parent, and will never ever judge you.

    Plus your kid is probably going to come to me for the “real” sex talk anyway.

    • AE Vorro

      August 12, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      Hells yeah!

    • ChickenKira

      August 13, 2014 at 5:50 am

      One of my favourite memories of my aunty to passed away way too early was when my cousin and I (not the cousin’s mother, another aunty) asked her exactly what “virginity” meant, does it mean you haven’t had sex, or do you not want to have sex?
      After explaining it, doing the whole “and don’t let anyone force you, you only have sex when YOU feel you are ready” spiel, she then took a breath and said, “then you have extra virgin olive oil, which is-” and then the three of us cracked up laughing and that little bit of humour made the whole awkward air surrounding just having a sex talk disappear. Definitely keeping that one up my sleeve.

      She never had kids, cancer in her early 20’s and passed away when she was 29, but my god did that woman know how to handle preteens/teenagers.

    • Lt, Ft

      August 13, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Sorry for your loss. Your aunty sounds like a fun one! My auntie was similar to yours and passed way too soon as well. She was the one who actually told me that sex was supposed to be fun and enjoyable and emotional and weird. She said to have donuts and Coke afterwards cause what’s better than good sex, donuts, and a Coke lol.

  10. NotTakenNotAvailable

    August 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    What about childfree people who were kids once? That’s what I base most of my advice off…I like to think of myself as a one-woman It Gets Better for weird, nerdy kids and their parents.

  11. sue

    August 12, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    #1 all the way! My (single and childless) best friend is the director of the infant room at her daycare, so she’s seen several times more infants than all my mom friends combined.

  12. redzulu

    August 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I love the GIF for #4 lol

  13. Elizabeth Wakefield

    August 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Here’s my ‘teacher’ parenting advice….

    I can’t tell you which of my students were breastfed, co-slept, CIO, formula fed, or any of the other parenting arguments that come up during a child’s first year of life. But I can tell you whose parents sat with them and read books, who taught them to entertain themselves, who sparked their creativity, who stressed the importance of kindness and inclusion, who encouraged independence and reinforced confidence after a failure.

    There is so much more to being a good parent than deciding what kind of diapers to use, or how to get your child to sleep.

    • Katie L.

      August 12, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      As a fellow teacher, I would up-vote this a million times if I could.

    • aCongaLine

      August 12, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      preach it. 🙂

    • Leia

      August 12, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      I am sending this advice to at least 4 mums I know who have decided that every single decision they make, no matter how pedestrian, will irreversibly impact the rest of their babies’ lives. They’re driving themselves crazy trying to ‘do it right’.

      This is probably the wisest comment I have ever seen on this site. It has to be a meme. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

    • Elizabeth Wakefield

      August 13, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      Thank you! It took me a long time to realize this myself. 🙂

  14. Boozy Inactivist

    August 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    One of the reasons I am now best friends with my toddler’s daycare teacher!

  15. Fondue

    August 12, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    How about those of us who haven’t popped out a kid yet but read Mommyish daily? Where do we rank? Would you take advice from us? 😉

  16. arielmarie

    August 12, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    I’m a childless physician assistant, so almost a doctor, does that count? 🙂

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      August 12, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      So you’re practically a doctor without the hundreds of thousands in debt…yeah, I’d say that counts!

  17. aCongaLine

    August 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Yeah… Imma gonna listen to ANYONE who can get kids to expel in the potty. Eff you, potty training. I hate you.

  18. ChickenKira

    August 13, 2014 at 6:06 am

    What cracks me up is when advice I give, related to my occupation suddenly has more merit now then it did when I said the exact same thing 14+ months ago (ie: before I had a kid).

    I’m a children’s librarian, if I had a dollar for every person who said to me, pre-baby “That’s just silly, that’s not how it works at all, you wait until you have kids” when I tried to encourage reading to infants at my baby rhyme sessions, well, you know how the saying goes. I could spruik the benefits of early exposure to non-conversational language, such as hearing words they wouldn’t otherwise hear and picking up spoken rhythm, I could say that it normalises reading from a young age, I could direct them to studies linked to from our library’s website that show the benefits of early literacy. Nope. You just wait ChickenKira, when you have a kid it will be different.
    Now I have a kid, and I say the exact same things, and they go “Do you have kids?” and I say “Yes” and they go “Oh, well maybe it’s worth a try then”.

    Now it’s moved on, it’s moved on to things like kids who have lost interest in reading and their parents are shoving Little Women or Milly Molly Mandy at them and I say “Just let them pick their own, trust me if the book Zombie Bums from Uranus gets them back into the habit of reading then it is beneficial, no it may not be the most intellectual piece of literature* but it has re-sparked an interest” then they go “Do you have kids?” “Yes” “How old?” “She’s one year old” “You just wait until she is (7, 8, 9, 10) then you will be saying something different”.
    No, I am 99.9% sure I won’t, because my children’s library colleague who has a 10yr old says the exact same thing as I do.

    (*no offence at all to Andy Griffiths, I have the highest respect for him, we have hosted many school talks by him and anyone who can get kids so visibly excited about reading and make them want to write, the way he does is amazing as far as I believe)

  19. Ltkinney86

    August 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I so appreciate you writing this. I am currently childfree and while I may not always have the best answers or advice, that doesn’t mean I can’t see a situation from an outside perspective and give my two cents. Because I’m always so worried about stepping on toes or having a mom go nuts for me opening my mouth, I always preface what I’m going to say with “You know what worked for my mom?” “A friend of mine who has a little girl told me she tried this” Usually when I say something like that I get a less hostile vibe.

  20. Liberty

    August 15, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Thank you so much for being a reasonable human being instead of a jerk. People without children might not know every single little detail you do about your children but if we have brains and good observational skills (so maybe this discounts a certain percentage of the population), we have either learned the basics of human beings or can learn them just like you did when you had children. How to do a diaper or when to feed a certain food are easy to Google in this day and age.

    And yes, we teachers spend more awake time with your kids every day than you do and have to deal with a TON of behaviors that you might never see. Don’t discount us just because we don’t have our own children. I’ve dealt with almost every possible teen behavior.

    • Liberty

      August 15, 2014 at 4:26 am

      And people seem to forget that before they got married and had kids they apparently didn’t know anything either so they had to learn, right? But they sorta seem to think they just know it all by virtue of having kids. NOPE. If you are so good at parenting then why aren’t your kids better behaved?

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