Childrearing

3 Arguments I Don’t Buy About Why The Childfree Can Give Parenting Advice

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toddler tantrumI like to get my parenting advice from parents. There. I said it.

It’s an opinion. It’s a personal preference and it’s one I rarely voice because, I find, it is hugely offensive to a lot of people. Here are some of the arguments I have heard regarding why my own, personal opinion is bullshit. They appeared in response to an article I wrote about a man who wrote a book giving relationship advice to parents. He has no kids. I pointed that out. These are some of the reactions that ensued.

1. The “We’ve All Been Kids” Argument

Wow, you really went into the sanctimommy territory, didn’t you? Clearly, the childfree/less are already born as adults and are raised under a rock by a pack of house centipedes instead of human parental units, so they’re, like, completely unqualified to give any kind of advice on pregnancy, child development or parenting, even with specialized education. Right?

Yes, we have all been kids. So what? That argument makes no sense to me. Is being a child and being a parent even remotely the same thing? No. It’s not.

Having all been children, we can all somewhat relate to what it is to be a child. That’s wonderful. But relating to what it is to be a child and relating to what it is to be a parent are two totally different experiences. In matters of rearing children I naturally look to other mothers and fathers who have been in the trenches for advice. The people I am drawn to usually have a sense of humor and make me feel good about the struggles I am experiencing. It’s nice to read an anecdote and think, This person has been through the same thing – and they are still sane. There’s hope for me, yet.

2. The “You’ll Go To A Male Gynecologist” Argument

I’m always surprised when people get in an up roar over non parents having advice for parents. We don’t dismiss when a man is a gynocgist[sic]. Just because they don’t have the same parts ( in this case the parts would be kids) doesn’t mean they can’t have vaild[sic] and sage advice.

This one always confuses me, as I really don’t think male vs. female gynecologist arguments are analogous to parenting – but I’ll bite. I actually prefer to have a female gynecologist, so minus extra points for me here.

3. The “You Must Think The Childfree Are Stupid” Argument

Yep. That is a title I expect from The Stir, not from here where they do have childfree contributors and readers. There they really do think the childfree and incredibly stupid humans.

No. No. No.

I don’t think the childfree are incredibly stupid.

I was childfree once, and I had advice for parents. It was good advice. I’m not saying my childfree friends don’t give me “good” advice. But it’s a little harder for some of them to understand why “good” advice doesn’t always work. Basically, the only advice I want from anyone is the kind that ends with, “but everyone is different so this may or may not work.”

Parenting is a very humbling experience. You learn that all those great ideas you had, all the parental accomplishments you thought would be a breeze, probably aren’t going to work. I like to hear from people that understand that firsthand. It doesn’t mean I won’t take advice from people who don’t have kids. It does mean that I have a little voice in the back of my head saying, Look, it’s really not that simple. Maybe that makes me an asshole. Fair enough.

The real problem is that so many people do such a horrifically bad job at parenting that they undermine the rest of our credibility. Pretty much anyone can get pregnant or father a child, and because of that parents are never regarded as default “experts.” Anyone can look at all the morons in the news and think – Ha! Are you going to take advice from him? And the answer to that is, No, of course not.

There’s no shortage of anecdotes of the parents who let their “special snowflakes” run their lives. You can also rest assured that there will be a daily news story about someone doing this whole parenting thing wrong. It’s given the rest of us a bad rap. I do believe there are a lot of funny, healthy, functional parents out there and I prefer to get my parenting advice from them. I like the camaraderie. I like knowing that they too probably went to bed with spit up in their hair and have occasionally woken up in a panic because the gravity of being responsible for keeping other humans alive hit them like a ton of bricks.

Nevertheless, I’ve been wrong about pretty much everything else in regards to parenting, so I guess I could be wrong about this, too. So if you’re childless and want to give me an idea of how to stop my nearly 3-year-old from fully embracing his newly discovered inner-tyrannical-demon – I’m all ears.

(photo: nautile)

151 Comments

  1. Valeri Jones

    September 11, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I kind of agree. The only exception to that is that I am more likely to listen to advice from people who are teachers or daycare workers. It is their career to care for children, so even those who are childfree are capable of providing sound advice.

    Before I had kids, I was a wonderful parent. I never did anything wrong and knew how to handle any situation. Once the kid popped out, I realized it’s JUST NOT THAT SIMPLE. And now, even though I think I am still a pretty damn good mom, I’m pretty sure I have broken every single cardinal rule I made for myself.

    • Bethany Ramos

      September 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      “Before I had kids, I was a wonderful parent.” Hahahah yes!

    • keelhaulrose

      September 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      I was a daycare worker/paraprofessional in a school, so I would often share things I noticed about the kids with the parents, and I would also pass on tips. But it is a lot different when you have your own kids. I can say little Billy goes right down for a nap with some cuddling and a lullabye, but that might be because he saw his best friend Matt sleeping and he wants to be just like Matt.

  2. Angela

    September 11, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I’ve heard the gynecologist analogy used to indicate people who don’t have kids but do have some expertise relating to them (teachers, social workers, child psychologists, etc.) and in that case I feel it does make sense. I’ve known a couple of teachers who get really frustrated by this. They may have a degree in childhood education and 10 years of experience, but because they aren’t mothers some parents automatically discount all their professional recommendations.

    • Grace

      September 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      I get what you are saying about teachers, psychologists, and social workers, but I turn to them more for professional advice rather than parenting advice. Well… I’ve never actually had to encounter a social worker :-), but definitely have turned my kids’ teachers for better strategies *for my child*. I turn to other parents for better empathy and coping skills *for me*– the “oh i’ve been there too…” or “that;s okay, my kid does…” It’s a slippery slope though because you never know when you’ll run into the “Oh my kid has never done that…” mom/dad.

    • Karen Milton

      September 12, 2013 at 2:28 am

      Some of the best parenting advice I’ve ever received came from daycare workers, whether or not they had children themselves. They have a formal college education in child behaviour and it would be idiotic of me not to even consider their ideas and knowledge. The phrase “a mother always knows what’s best for he child” is total hogwash. I had no fucking clue what I was supposed to be doing whatsoever. I was 21 when my son was born in April of 2000 and by August I was a single parent. I had zero clue what was going on half the time, but my son’s daycare ladies very nicely made suggestions of things to try – and more often or not, they were dead right. They are professional kid wranglers, who spend eight hours a day with my child. I’ll take parenting advice from any one of them, any time. I’m also a fan of someone saying “oh, my niece did that thing, and this is how they successfully dealt with it “, because again, what do I know?

      I’ll admit that the advice I don’t is from alarmist grandma ladies who waste no opportunity to tell me I’m totally doing everything wrong, no matter what it is I’m doing. Walmart greeters are notorious for this. “WHAT IS THAT BABY DOING OUT WITHOUT A HAT ON THAT’S CRUEL AND YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED!”. It’s July, is why she doesn’t need one. Go away.

    • Blueathena623

      September 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      I’m going to clarify what I assume everything is thinking but not saying. If a parent gets upset because a child-free fifth grade teacher offers advice on helping a 4th grade student become less shy, the parent is probably a jerk. However, a child-free high school physics teacher discussing the best way to potty train a toddler isn’t the same thing.

    • Angela

      September 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      True that. Although I think that the analogy still holds here. I mean I feel a male gynecologist is qualified to give advice relating to female reproductive health, but not to every other aspect of being a woman (such as gender discrimination in the work place). And in the case of my teacher friends, they aren’t going around offering unsolicited advice on potty training (isn’t that obnoxious whatever the source). They are talking about being dismissed at parent teacher conferences for trying to give parents strategies to encourage kids to read or such.

    • A-nony-mous

      September 11, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      I think it’s different. Remember that medical advice is pretty cut and dry. There aren’t a lot of different options to treat an STD or different ways to do a PAP smear or diagnose ovarian cysts. It’s very standardized so a male Gynecologist can dispense those factual and medical treatments, they do not give out a lot of personal opinions or hypotheticals. While medical advice changes over time, it’s based on a lot of research and what works best.

      Parenting is obviously far less cut and dry and there are dozens of ways to handle each situation. Nothing is standardized. It’s based more around what makes money (genderized marketing so you have to buy a pink bike and a blue bike instead of one bike to be shared, the idea that your baby who can’t even see more than eight feet in front of their face needs an entire nursery done up or cares about the paintings 15 feet away on the wall or what color you painted your baseboards, baby showers, etc) than what is best or what has been done for hundreds of years.

    • ElleJai

      September 12, 2013 at 6:45 am

      I don’t know, some of my best advice comes from my childfree aunt, trained as a primary (P-7) school teacher and as a special needs teacher. She’s the one on top of childhood development, how to create your own authority without losing your temper or hitting anyone, how to navigate social situations and learning with children.

      I’ll take her advice any day of the week.

      And for the rebellious preteen and teen? She knows aikido. It’s hard to argue with her when with two fingers she’s holding your wrist, ever so gently, yet you’re on your knees in front of her with just the slightest increase of pressure lol. Worked a treat on all her nieces 😉

    • Psych Student

      September 14, 2013 at 1:27 am

      But I think taking advice from a male gyno would be like taking advice from a child psychologist who doesn’t kids. A child psychologist (or someone in a similar field) has done the research and is (or had better be!) keeping up with current research and has assuredly worked with kids and can appreciate what it means to be a parent and attempt to help children make changes, and help figure out how best to understand them, etc. However, just like with any gynocologist, I think you can take all advice with a grain of salt and if a professional gives you advice make sure it is advice from their field of study. I wouldn’t take advice on how best to treat my teeth from a female gynocologist, I go to my dentist. But if I want to know how best to deal with vaginal pain, I’d ask a trained specialist. And if I were concerned, I’d get a second opinion.

    • Evelyn

      September 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Yes, I think childcare professionals do have valid advice, and on some circumstances do know better than the parents about how to deal with a child, but that tends to be in the area in which they deal with kids. I would be an idiot not to listen to the teacher’s opinion when it comes to behavior (particularly regarding children relating to large groups of kids where a parent doesn’t see so much of their kid) or anything academic related. I don’t think a childless teacher necessarily has the same experience when it comes to potty training or weaning or another such setting where they don’t see kids. Having said that teachers do have training and experience that extends beyond the classroom and playground as home life impacts on a child within school.

      The way I see it though, teachers spend a lot of time with kids, just like us mums do. It isn’t the act of squeezing the kid out or the shared biology that counts, it’s the experience, after all adoptive parents are every bit as good as biological ones. I also think that if a kid has an aunt or uncle who is very active in their lives and often babysits then their advice would be as valid as another parent’s in many ways, as would be a childminders (not that I have ever met a childminder who wasn’t also a parent).

    • Wendy

      September 11, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      I am a teacher, and I do agree with this. It used to drive me nuts when people said my opinion wasn’t valid because I didn’t have school age kids (they were babies). Guess that degree was a waste of time…That being said, one of my coworkers said that when you have kids who go through it and you see it firsthand, it changes the way you teach. I thought she was crazy. But, my daughter is super sensitive, and when she started school I saw firsthand how easily an incorrect answer handled badly can crush a child, so I try to be more delicate about it than I was before. I try to be more patient. Not that I was a bad teacher before, but I treated my students more as “people I was shaping into future high school/college students” and now I treat them more as I am wanting my own daughter’s teachers to treat her… a child whose feeling/love for school can be easily crushed. I also realized that I was giving too much homework when I saw how long it can take her to do hers and how much of our evenings can be consumed by homework!

  3. Bethany Ramos

    September 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Very well-written! I have a demon in my house too. I also find myself apologizing whenever I give my sister who has an older child (8 yo) advice because I mean well and am a parent myself – but I’ve never had an older kid.

  4. Surly Canuck

    September 11, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Sure, that all makes sense to me. The only objection I have to #1 is that I do give some of my friends advice on what it’s like to be a child… of divorce. My parents have been divorced for 26 years so I have a lot of experience. Gosh knows they didn’t do everything right, but for the most part, they made going back and forth between them really easy and natural. So sure, we aren’t all experts because we’ve been children, but some child-free people have experiences and advice that can help… in certain situations.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      September 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      That makes perfect sense.Being a child of divorce can have lasting affects, not always positive, and being able to help your friends know and understand how divorce may have impacted your life into adulthood provides much needed information to your friends and how they can go about all of the changes sure to happen in their lives.

  5. keelhaulrose

    September 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Regarding #1: when I was a kid I went through a phase where I wore the same darn shirt until my mom pried it off me and jumped off the eight foot wall in our backyard into the sandbox because it can’t possibly hurt me. The method my mom used to get the shirt off me did not work when I needed to get the tutu off my daughter, and I’m pretty sure the method my dad used to convince me to stop jumping off that wall would earn me a call from a concerned teacher nowadays.
    Just because you were a kid doesn’t mean you can raise them.

  6. Magrat

    September 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I think there’s something to be said for the “we were all kids once” argument, but in a very particular context. I’ve seen a lot of parents who apparently don’t have any recollection what it’s like to be on the receiving end of parenting (not judging – I’m sure that actually doing the parenting takes enough focus that you can’t necessarily expect someone to see the issue from all sides), and if I can say, “This is what my parents did and here’s how it affected me,” why shouldn’t that be something to take into account?

    • anon87

      September 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      Exactly! I’ve heard so many people say something like “my parents were never strict. They didn’t enforce rules and let me do what I wanted. I wanted structure and discipline.”

    • Evelyn

      September 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Yes, sometimes someone who has never really been a part of anything but the child’s side but has the intelligence of an adult can offer a valuable insight. Not being caught up in other daily parenting battles can sometimes give someone the clarity to spot something in the kids motive that would escape someone seeing it all as part of other issues. Sometimes a non-parent can remember doing something my kid does or how it felt to be handled a particular way and can empathize yet apply hindsight and an adult reasoning, but I will be a little caught up in a parent’s concerns and so that will muddy my memories of it from childhood. A non-parent can sometimes give the voice your child would have when they are your of your age and reasoning abilities.

    • Aldonza

      September 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      I’ve also had a few friends who are parents express concern about a certain behavior their child is doing, and it’s something I remember doing at that age, so reassuring that it’s not a strange or abnormal thing…I mean, I think this article is way oversimplifying the whole thing. There are times and situations where turning towards other parents for advice is the best thing, but that doesn’t mean every other opinion should be discounted. Particularly teachers who may be seeing specific issues, pediatricians, psychologists…their education, training and hands on experience is very valid in other situations.

    • Annona

      September 11, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      Yeah, my best friend was very concerned about something her toddler was doing, which was something I remembered my little brother doing that was perfectly harmless, so in that respect my child-free ass was able to set her mind at ease when all her mommy friends were tearing their hair and freaking her the fuck out and demanding he be tested for all kinds of disorders.

    • MellyG

      September 15, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Exactly. I’m childless, but my best friend has a daughter she calls “mini -mel’ (as in mini me, not mini her). It’s often joked that she should by my daughter. She often comes to me for advice, not on parenting in general, but for things her, now almost teenager, is doing and as a mother not really knowing how to relate, because they aren’t that much alike. Whereas, since she’s mini mi, I can remember being that age and going “oh yea, i was doing this because….”

  7. Cynthia Dennard

    September 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Funny, I don’t think ‘child free’ people think that it is that simple. Funny, I think that someone who is ‘child free’ can provide an ‘a ha!’ moment for parents; a new way to do or handle a situation that they might not be able to see since they are so close to the subject (‘Hey, I’m your momma!”). Us ‘child free’ people, while not in the daily trenches, do have something to offer. But hey, I prefer to get my dating advice from other single people instead of marrieds. (now doesn’t that sound close minded?)

    • Andrea

      September 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      Your last sentence: that makes more sense. Married people (in general) don’t date. I mean, they have date nights with their spouses, but it’s not the same as dating. So yes, I think a single person would probably give you better advice.

    • Pzonks

      September 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      yeah you didn’t get it AT ALL. Many single people who are dating want a long term relationship, they want a marriage (not all but many). So to only take advice from other singles is extremely limiting. You’re only taking advice from people in the same boat as you when you want to be on another boat. That’s like being an admin who wants to be a CEO and only taking career advice from other admins. You want the advice of those in your group AND advice from those in the group you’re aspiring to be in.

    • Andrea

      September 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      You know I never thought about it that way. I think you are right.

      I guess that I personally feel so woefully unqualified to give dating advice. I met my husband at 19 and never dated much.

    • Pzonks

      September 11, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      That’s why I think advice from all fronts is a good idea in pretty much all cases. You never know what will work or what will spur an idea of your own. You take what you can use from the advice and throw out the rest.

      In your case just because you met your husband at 19 doesn’t mean that you can’t give dating advice, surely you know people who are single or who were. I’m childfree but that doesn’t mean I don’t have any child-centric info/experience. Take what you need, toss out the rest.

    • Rachel Sea

      September 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      You don’t need to have dated, you need to know what a good relationship takes, and what you need in a spouse.

      All the best dating advice I’ve ever given comes from being in a great marriage.

    • Maria Guido

      September 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Um, Cynthia – I don’t think that’s a fair argument because you provide “aha” moments for everything. You don’t count, my real-life friend. 😉

    • Psych Student

      September 14, 2013 at 1:42 am

      Perhaps, sometimes, it’s being able to bounce thoughts off anyone who will listen works best. Some types of therapy involve mostly the client talking and the therapist saying making reflecting statements and pointing out things that may seem really obvious but that someone in the middle of the situation can’t think of. Sometimes, for some people, that may be what a childless friend can offer – an outside thought. This does not, however, apply so much to people offering endless, unsolicited advice.

  8. TwentiSomething Mom

    September 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I have had friends that are childless that know sooo much about parenting and relationships after baby that they are sure once they get pregnant at (not before or after but AT) 35 they will be the best parents ever.

    The thing is, its easier said than done. I get that teachers, psychologists, social workers and child care workers are experienced and knowledgeable and are able to provide parents with valuable resources and help but these are not the people I am referring to. I am talking about regular people that may have babysat or know someone with a kid or watch TV shows with kids and think they have it all figured out.

  9. JLH1986

    September 11, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I agree with these particular arguments (yes you were a kid, you weren’t raising a kid, different things altogether, that just doesn’t even make sense). But I’m a counselor, part of my job is to work with people of all ages with some sort of social/mental impairment to their functioning. I don’t lightly offer advice to friends whose child is struggling (that’s just butting in), but when I do, I do so because I’ve found things that work well with that age group, or other counselors have suggested this and this. Of course, by default in my profession I reiterate (100,000x a day) that everyone is NOT the same and it may or may not work or it may need to be modified slightly to work for that family but trying it can’t hurt. So when my parent friends say things like “but you’re not a parent” it’s a little insulting. No I’m not and I’m positive I will make many many mistakes as a parent but I’m not a total bonehead and my not having kids doesn’t mean that I don’t have some valuable information.

    • Véronique Houde

      September 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      ditto

    • jessica

      September 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      I’d like to add that some child-free people may have good advice to add because of the fact that they have spent a lot of time caring for other people’s kids in a non-professional setting. Take me for example. My brother is a lot older than me and before I had kids (and before I finished nursing school) I cared for his 2 children for years while he was at work since, unfortunately, their mom suffered from a severe mental illness and couldn’t help her husband care for them. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had relevant child care experience without having kids myself or being a teacher, social worker, etc.

    • Chrissy

      September 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      I COMPLETELY agree. I’m a social worker and my experience has almost entirely been in early childhood education programs. I was also a round-the-clock nanny at one point when the child’s parents worked schedules (at the time) that meant he was lucky to see them for an hour before bedtime or before school. I’m not a parent so I generally try not to offer too much advice to my friends. It upsets me more when it’s someone I’m working with and they say “well, you don’t have children so I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.” I don’t know the full ins and outs of parenting, but if I’m offering advice, it’s because I’ve seen this behavior before and have an idea that might help. It might or might not, just like advice from other parents, since all children are different. But because I didn’t birth a child doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about when I tell you ways to try to get a child to stop kicking strangers in the shin for wearing orange.

  10. Emily

    September 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I have a coworker who Knew Everything About Kids and Babies. We work in education, so this lady probably had more knowledge about dealing with kids than the general childless population. She Knew what was best to have on a registry. She Knew how to get a baby to sleep all night. She Knew that her child would be sleeping through the night by the time she returned after maternity leave (6 weeks).

    Then she had a baby.

    Then she learned that there is a big, wide, massive chasm between theory and reality. Some stuff works, and some stuff doesn’t. (I have been kind and have not laughed at her lamentations that the baby does not sleep more than four hours at a go.) That’s really the key thing: childless folks may have great advice, but it’s the “but this may not work for everyone” caveat that offers remarkable comfort – or, at least, an “OK, it’s not just me” – to parents. In a time of sometimes overwhelming uncertainty and self-doubt, thinking that you may have screwed up one more thing that Is Always Supposed to Work is not a help, regardless of the good-hearted source from which it comes.

  11. Blueathena623

    September 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I do give more credit to child-free professionals if they have a lot of experience working with kids. And, lets face it, I give more credit to child-free people who are telling me what I’m doing right instead of what is doing wrong. I don’t think parenthood is the alpha and omega of life, but I think its a little bit special because its the only situation I can think of where you have to (at least for the first several years) deal with someone who is incredibly below your reasoning capability. And unless you give your child away, you just have to deal with it. So at a job, you are most likely dealing with someone who is probably kinda close to your level of reasoning, ditto for significant other. And if they are totally unreasonable, you can leave. So yeah, it’s harder for me to listen to someone tell me what is doing wrong (see right vs. wrong statement above) when they haven’t really dealt with what its like to have this little mini thing/person who you have this crushing, almost painful love for, who cannot be seriously reasoned with for a good long while.

  12. libraryofbird

    September 11, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Fuck yeah! Dude this made my day, I feel über special because this article uses 2 of my comments! I’ve never had any write an entire article in response to my comments.

    • meteor_echo

      September 11, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      And it has one of mine. High five, fellow now-internet-acknowledged person ;3

    • libraryofbird

      September 11, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      Yay us!

  13. Zach Rosenberg

    September 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    You forgot that childfree people use the pet argument as well – “Well, I don’t have a kid, but I know that if I don’t walk my dog, [INSERT ADVICE]. And she’s just like my kid LOL.”

    No no no no no, no, no. No, no, no no no no no. Not ever, no. No. NO no. Just no. Not even if it’s a home remedy for getting rid of lice, not even if it’s a recommendation for a good park. But especially not if it’s a topic about behavior.

    • libraryofbird

      September 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      This makes me sad. You would completely disregard somebody because they only have pets? Fine if you don’t want their advice on things like behavior, but even a park suggestion?

    • Zach Rosenberg

      September 11, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      I wouldn’t completely disregard someone. But yes…even the park suggestion. Because dogs like to (I’m assuming?) run around an open space and pee on things and kids like to climb a play structure or go down slides.

      So even though it sounds in theory like it’d line up, it doesn’t. I don’t hate pet owners, but I mean, okay, I don’t have a pet but I have a kid. My park suggestion won’t be the one you’ll want to go to. I don’t know what people do with dogs at a park besides use that wingy-thing to throw a tennis ball 150ft and repeat for an hour, but I’ve only ever seen one person put a dog down a slide (and then into one of the child swings) and it was clearly terrifying the dog…so…I’m thinking we have different preferences on what we’re looking for!

    • libraryofbird

      September 11, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Well I would never suggest a parent take their kid to a dog park (I can tell the difference between the types of parks).

    • Pzonks

      September 11, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      I don’t know, I have a friend who openly admits that her 2 year old kid is essentially the same as a puppy. jumps at the door to go outside, goes crazy when the word “outside” or “cookie” is mentioned, will happily go to anyone to offers her food, likes to have her belly rubbed….and the kid LOVES to tear around in an open space.

    • Zach Rosenberg

      September 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Aha, but see, a kid can act LIKE a dog and a dog can act LIKE a kid – but we can never equate it. A pet is never a kid. A kid is never a pet. If they were the same, we could leave babies at home alone while we went to the grocery store and it wouldn’t be illegal. And it’s not because we value kids more (which, there’s an argument here but I’m not going that route) or pets less…it’s because animals can, really, take care of themselves. It’s bred into them, even the domestic ones. Leave a cat outside, it catches a bird. Leave a dog outside, it poops and eats it 🙂

      You leave a kid outside, and again, legal trouble. But if no one were there – the kid would maybe get along for awhile, but suffer immeasurably (time- and age-depending of course).

      But you get what I’m saying – the owner of one, if they haven’t been an owner of another, can think that one beast is acting like the other beast, but they’re just not the same. Sure, my son acts like a dog a lot – he’ll lick the bottom of my foot without any care, he’ll respond to treats, he’ll curl up by the door so he can lay in the sun. But, he’s still not an animal and though some advice COULD, yes – could – carry over to him (like “love him and he’ll be your best friend” or “make sure he’s fed and groomed daily”), any non-baseline advice just won’t work. Not for me, at least. But I’m always open to being proven wrong. God knows it happens often enough.

    • Pzonks

      September 11, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      I wasn’t’ really equating the two more just commenting on your statement that pet owners and parents wouldn’t want the same parks.

    • Zach Rosenberg

      September 11, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Oh well then shit. Just print out my comment and give it to your friend who says her two year old is the same as a puppy. I mean, I can’t just be talking on and on for nothing here, folks.

    • Emmali Lucia

      September 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      That’s sad that someone put a dog down the slide who didn’t like it.

      I wear my dogs (Put them both together and their 18 lbs) and they freaking love the slide!

    • Annona

      September 11, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      Dude. No child-free person offers parenting advice based on what works for their dog. That’s just feeding into the stupid stereotype that we all have pets because we desperately need to fill our empty empty lives with them. My dog is not “my kid”. He’s a dog. And the park I take him to has an amazing fucking playground, where my best friend often takes her toddler.

    • Zach Rosenberg

      September 11, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Oh my, you’ve never met my former manager. She was a “my dog is my baby” person who would often dole out advice based on her dog. Kid’s acting up? Obedience school worked for her dog. Picky eater? Bacon fat on the food worked for her dog. Angry before bed? Going for an after-dinner walk worked for her dog.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      September 11, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      Bacon fat on the food would probably actually work for my kid’s picky eating habits…

    • meteor_echo

      September 12, 2013 at 2:27 am

      For mine as well, and I’m 25. ”>___>

    • Annona

      September 11, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      That to me means that she is a dumbass. It does not represent the mindset of child-free people in general. And it sounds to me like she might be one of the minority of people without kids who desperately tries to use a pet to replace them, to the detriment of the animal and her mental health, apparently.

  14. Jem

    September 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Some of the best advice I got when I was pregnant was “children have a magic power to make you eat your words”.

    so this, and this alone is why when I listen to those without children on their advice, I take it with a grain of salt. Because until you have your own, and have experienced this, you still think your future ideas for how you will raise your child are totally feasible, and a cut and dry issue, when really they are not.

    • Maria Guido

      September 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      Oh God, they really do don’t they? I’ve been humbled by parenting – big time.

    • Jem

      September 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      I was going to be the perfect bed sharing mother, little did I know my son wanted space and to be alone. Since 6 weeks old!! The day he moved to his own crib was the day he slept through the night for the first time. Ask me when I didn’t have kids? “oh SURE of COURSE I’m going to bed share no matter what.” After kids? Things change.

    • Valeri Jones

      September 12, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      I was just the opposite. Before I had kids, I swore up and down that I would NEVER co-sleep. I had a friend who had rolled over on and suffocated her baby at 6 weeks old, and after seeing her go through that, I just couldn’t fathom.

      Fast forward 5 years, and I learned that the only way I could get any sleep was to put him next to me in bed. Eat my words, I did.

  15. evil stepmom

    September 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Two questions:

    Do step-parents count as parents?

    What about the “a friend of mine does ‘x’ with her kid” advice?

    (Disclaimer: even when I was child-free, I always added the “but everyone is different so this may or may not work.”)

    • jessica

      September 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Step-parents absolutely count as parents.

  16. libraryofbird

    September 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Here is what is would say to you if you were my friend that was dealing with a demon child:
    wanna glass of wine?
    you are a good mom and you will find something that works.
    Just remember someday it will be you that embarrasses them at the mall I front of all their friends.

    But hey I’m childless and *gasp* a pet parent, what could I know?

    • Maria Guido

      September 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      You can be my BFF.

  17. Amber Starr

    September 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I’m pregnant with my first child right now and I’m thankful for any advice at the moment, whether from a parent or a child-free source. I am feeling so nervous and overwhelmed at the thought of raising a little human being, that I welcome any info or tips or help.

    But, get back to me in a few months. I may get tired of the constant advice. For now, however, I absolutely welcome it, regardless of the fact that it may come from someone who is child-free.

    • Valeri Jones

      September 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      Here’s my advice to you as a new mom: DON’T PANIC!!! Remember to breathe. Take help when you can get it and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Someone comes over and wants to hold the baby? Great! Ask if they can hold him while you shower or grab a quick bite to eat. Someone offers to take the baby for a couple hours so you can nap? Awesome! Do it!

      Also, and most importantly, don’t ignore your maternal instinct, no matter what people say. Nobody knows their baby like the person who carried them inside their body for 9 months and gave birth to them and spends every second with them. You’ll do fine. 🙂 Good luck!

    • wmdkitty

      September 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Don’t panic, and always know where your towel is.

    • Valeri Jones

      September 12, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      love it!!!!

      Have I ever told you that you’re my favorite Furry?

    • wmdkitty

      September 12, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      No, but, uh, thank you!

    • Valeri Jones

      September 12, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      Ugh. Was that awkward? That was awkward, wasn’t it?

      I’m such a dork sometimes. Overlook me.

    • wmdkitty

      September 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      I’m used to awkward, it’s cool.

  18. Hibbie

    September 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    I feel like it’s all in the delivery. A good friend of mine has numerous nieces and nephews as well as experience working in a daycare. Another friend has two children. Who do I turn to for advice if I need it? The first one. She is extremely supportive and often has good advice about educational methods. She never passes judgment. The latter friend only ever says things like “Just you wait until she’s older (*insert maniacal laughter*)” or “You don’t have any problems! Teenagers are the real problems!”

    Having said that, I do scratch my head when people who have never been through childbirth talk about how it is supposed to feel or the degree to which it is a physical challenge.

  19. kimberly

    September 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I am infertile, but I have still raised children. Birthing children doesn’t make you a parent.

    • Jenny

      September 11, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      She’s not saying it doesn’t. If you’ve raised children, you’re a parent. This has nothing to do with fertility.

    • kimberly

      September 12, 2013 at 11:17 am

      The title lists “child free”. Technically, I am child free. I am no longer “raising” my step son. It was just a point being made that birthing a child does not make you automatically able to give advice. I know lots of people, with kids, that I would NEVER take advice from. lol. And vice versa.

  20. Aja Jackson

    September 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I don’t see what’s wrong with that statement. At all. When I want marital advice, I talk to married friends. It’s not that my single friends are dumb, it’s just that they don’t know what it’s like to be married, so it’s easier to talk to someone who’s been there, done that. The gynecologist example, is like comparing a married friend to a marriage counselor. A married friend is speaking from experience, a marriage counselor may or may not be married himself, but because he’s spent however many years of his life studying and working in that field, I would trust that he has knowledge in that area. But there is a difference between seeking professional help and having a heart to heart with a friend.

    I know they don’t think that this is what it is, but parenting advice from the childfree can come off as arrogance. It’s like someone who’s never driven a car before giving you driving advice and saying “but I’ve seen somebody drive a car before” “my best friend owns a car” “I play car games all the time at the arcade.” It’s just not the same thing.

  21. Nj mom

    September 11, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    I totally agree. I co slept at various points with my child because of my desire to sleep. My child free friends were all like “you can’t do that. I’ll never do that”. Oh yeah? Because reality is I didn’t want to be doing it either but it was only way my child would sleep until I sucked it up and did cry it out for her. It’s very easy to judge someone until you experience it yourself.

    • Truthishere

      September 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Yeah, but you just admitted that it was a negative thing to do and that you just didn’t want to deal with hearing your kid cry. So they were right.

    • Cals

      September 11, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      i get more crap from old-school parents (parents who are my parents age) than childfree friends. They think they are right and the way they raised their kids is the “right” way. Whereas childless friends really don’t give a shit how your kid sleeps.

  22. Cynthia Dennard

    September 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    In reply to a response: No, married people don’t date anymore but they DID date at one point. So, I would still consider their opinions valuable – especially since it worked for them ! lol.

  23. Lucie UK

    September 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I (and some friends) have even experienced this ‘advice’ phenomenon from other parents. As a single parent to a teen I often get advice from parents to younger kids who just don’t get that one day, their toddler, middle ager, whatever, suddenly becomes BIGGER than you and develop their own opinions, get their own life, and you totally have no ‘control’ over them except reasonable (or unreasonable) argument. I have heard people tell one friend she should kick her Son out cos he isn’t working – I mean seriously? It’s not like her Son is torturing kittens or selling drugs – he just hasn’t got his shit together yet

  24. Guest

    September 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I kind of went through that with a friend (frienemy) when my son was an infant. She actually told me to my face that she knew more about taking care of a baby than I did–at the time, I was the mother of a 5 month old (and had run an infant program at a daycare for several years) and she had no children and had been a nanny for a newborn once, 10 years prior to the conversation. The comment she made stemmed from the fact that my baby wasn’t on a strict schedule, and absolutely appalled that I
    was co-sleeping and baby-wearing–all choices I made consciously, not because I was clueless, which I tried to tell her. But anyway, the conversation totally burned me, because FUCK YOU, you most certainly do no know more about taking care of an infant, at least not MY infant, because when you’re a nanny or a teacher or whatever, it’s NOT YOUR BABY. It absolutely is different, and having been on both sides of the equation, I much prefer to get my parenting advice from parents.

    Flash forward a couple of years, she just had her first baby, and a few months later was kind of like, “Oh. Yeah, I totally get it now, sorry.” And I hated to be like, I told you so, but….no, I didn’t hate it, actually, I was totally all, “I told you so.”

    • Katie

      September 11, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Look, I agree that she had no right to tell you that she knew more about taking care of an infant than you, just because she was a nanny. But AS a nanny, I think it’s completely unfair to imply that just because it’s not your own child, you don’t know as much as a mother would. I spend just as much time, if not MORE time, with the child I watch as the mother does. I love the child, I KNOW the child like the back of my own hand, and I take care of her and make sure her needs are met EVERY. DAY. But her mother knows more than I do, simply because SHE is the mother? Not fair.

      I would like to add though, that just because I have experience with children, I don’t think I know more than anyone else. But I certainly don’t know less just because the children I’ve taken care of aren’t mine.

  25. greatwhitewife

    September 11, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    The one that always gets me, is when my parent friends come to me for advice (I was a nurse for some years and advice seeking generally relates to that), but then dismiss whatever I say because “I’m not a parent and wouldn’t understand.” Then WHY did you ask me in the first place!?

    • Jessie

      September 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Exactly! It’s hard enough to stay close with parent friends once they have kids, and of course we all want to! But when what they’re talking about is the baby or the toddler and they say “what do you think?” because they know I had some experience babysitting, or I don’t know, because it’s the topic at hand, it feels like a lot of pressure. I love their kids, I know our relationship will evolve, but at a certain point I feel like they don’t want to be friends because I don’t have my own little ones yet.

    • greatwhitewife

      September 11, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      I think it could also possibly relate to me maybe not telling them what they want to hear and just wanting their own opinion validated, and it being easier for them to dismiss my advice on the grounds of me not being a parent than admit that maybe another approach or method has some merit.

  26. Jemma

    September 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I guess I feel uncomfortable about this because I’m child-free by choice (49 years old and had a hysterectomy two years ago) and I give my friends with children parenting advice. Why? I have worked as a full time nanny for 26 years. I’ve been with my current family since their daughter was born six years ago. When I was younger I worked as a live-in nanny for many years. I believe I have plenty of wisdom I could pass on, but to write it off simply because I don’t have children of my own seems pretty foolish…

    • Nj mom

      September 11, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      I feel you would be the exception and someone I would seek out for advice because of your past experiences.

    • Anonymice

      September 11, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      Especially given the popularity of shows like Supernanny 😉

    • Valeri Jones

      September 12, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      I totally use a LOT of Supernanny’s practices in my own home. She is the shiz.

  27. allisonjayne

    September 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I think it makes total sense to prefer/be more likely to listen to advice that comes from someone whose situation is the closest to yours, and that likely applies to most things, no? That’s not saying ‘I will never listen to advice from someone who doesn’t have kids’ or ‘if you try to give my advice and haven’t been through what i’m going to, i’ll spit in your face’. If I’m trying to, I don’t know, buy a house in the giant, expensive metropolitan city in which I live, I’m probably going to seek out and be more likely to listen to advice from someone who has also bought a house in my city. Some advice might be universal (‘get a home inspection!’) but other advice might be completely useless if it’s coming from someone who isn’t in a similar situation (‘make sure they check for indications of prior flooding!’ doesn’t make sense if you don’t live somewhere where flooding could never, ever be an issue).

    For sure, sometimes people with different experiences can offer interesting perspectives, think outside the box, etc…but yeah, if I’m seeking advice on something, i’ll check with my friends who’ve been in similar situations. is that really that weird or offensive???

  28. Sandy

    September 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I got 3 reasons to get parenting advice from childfree

    1. They see things from another perspective
    Theres a saying in my country: Unable too see the forest for bare trees. It means that sometimes you miss an obvios solution because youre smacked in the middle of it. Childfree see from the outside, and thus can offer a different way to solve a parenting problem

    2. Childfree does not mean no child experience
    Plenty of childfree have experience with children in one way or the other. I spend 10 years as a babysitter/aupair, earning a good deal of experience with different child behaviors.

    3. parents are not oracles
    Nomatter how hard you try youll do things wrong. There will be times when your child will act a certain way and you cant for the life of it figure out why or how to change it! Any advice that helps despite the source is valuable in these situations. Like this summer many parents almost lost their children as they put cloth -to shield from the sun – in the opening of their childs pram, turning it into an oven. The pram reach over 30 degree celcios in less than 15 minutes. I seen parents shaking fingers at people trying to point this out- mother/father knows best? No. Not always

    • Pzonks

      September 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      THIS!

      a millions times.

    • meteor_echo

      September 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Pitch an article to Koa to counterpoint this mess, PLEASE D:

    • Sandy

      September 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Maybe I will 😉

    • Tinyfaeri

      September 11, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      I like this list. I’d add that it’s not like we get our brains suddenly filled with knowledge when we become parents, cancelling out all those things we learned when we were young, or babysitting or from talking to friends and family with kids over the years. I draw on stuff I read or learned or experienced from Before Kid all the time. And I’ve gotten some truly crappy/useless advice from other parents. As long as the advice is sound, it shouldn’t matter who it’s coming from.

    • Shelly G

      September 11, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      A reason to not trust anyone with advice on your child? They’re all different. My 16 month old puts herself down for naps – goes to the fridge, says and signs “bottle” then goes to her room once she gets it. I would probably get hit if I suggested this to many of my friends with children the same age. What the child-free gentleman was attempting to say was don’t let your marriage suffer. Don’t neglect your child for your partner – who can cover his or her basic needs – but don’t put your relationship on the back burner. Your child will be secondary – he or she is your child, not your partner.

    • AugustW

      September 12, 2013 at 11:11 am

      Exactly. Every kid is radically different, even siblings.

    • LiteBrite

      September 12, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      This. One of my best friends is childfree. Some of the best advice I’ve ever received has been from her. No, she doesn’t have a degree in child psychology or education or even works with kids (she’s a technical consultant); however, she is an aunt, a Godparent, and has numerous friends with kids (including me). She also knows ME and can offer advice based on her knowledge of me, my values, my lifestyle, etc. As a result, I value her opinion because I know the place it’s coming from.

  29. jendra_berri

    September 11, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Some people remember better what it was like to be a child than others. Some people aren’t introspective enough to really recall the feelings they felt, but others are. Additionally, remembering something your mom or dad did that didn’t work and really understanding why it didn’t work could be valuable information.
    So I think depending on how sensible the childfree person is, these are reasons they may have good advice.
    Now, with babies, no one remembers what their infancy was like. I want baby advice from people who have babies now or had them recently. I find people who had them over 10 years ago have seemingly blocked a lot of that shit out, not that I blame them.

    And let’s not discount the teachers, nannies and daycare workers who don’t have kids. Surely they have plenty of good knowledge to share.

  30. redreb

    September 11, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Disagree. Teachers can give excellent parenting advice even if they don’t have kids of their own. I mean, they spend all day raising like 30 kids at a time so…I’d listen to the teacher.

  31. meteor_echo

    September 11, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Aww, it seems like a part of my comment got to you so badly that you had to address it in a separate article. It actually feels… satisfying, in a way.
    Well, let me try and debunk your points.

    1) When I was growing up, I was quite observative about how my parents dealt with me. And the one thing I noticed was that both of them absolutely forgot what it was like to be kids. They treated me like I was an adult, even when I was very little, and, while some parts of this treatment were beneficial, expecting a 5-year-old to behave in a pattern that would befit a 20-year-old was NOT a good thing. Both of them never tried to understand the way I thought, they were towering above me with their monorail adult logic and expecting me to be happy about it. So, sorry not sorry for being able to relate to tweens and teens better than their own parents and pissing the aforementioned parents off.

    2) But if you had a sick kid, you’d run to the best neonatologist/pediatrist you could find, and I bet you would kiss the soles of their shoes if their advice would help – even if the doctor in question were childless. The fact that someone hasn’t produced a little crotch goblin or two doesn’t mean that they can’t be more educated about child development and rearing than you are.

    3) You were never childfree. ChildFREE is someone who doesn’t have them, doesn’t want them. ChildLESS is someone who doesn’t have them… yet. There are two entirely different ways of thinking behind those two terms, and no, you cannot really relate to the childfree, because, even when you did not have kids of your own, you still had a spot for them somewhere further down the lifeline.
    Also, some of the chilfree people had to care about siblings since their birth, or are working in daycare/are babysitters (not all of them happen to be evil childhating bitches like me). I suppose they, as the matter of fact, can give valid child advice – and I’m pretty sure that, were I to care for a teacup human, I’d ask for advice from a childfree someone who wrangles 30 kids or had to raise one from “beginning” to “self-reliable” without majorly fucking it up in the process.
    Your article is sanctimommyish.

    • Amy Hauck Nelson

      September 11, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Honestly, I disagree, and I feel I do have some reason to do so. I am a parent to 5 currently, from teenage to preschool. I also have 19 nieces/nephews, innumerable friend and neighborhood kids constantly here. On top of that, I had a daycare for 8 years, and I have babysit my younger siblings since a young age, and started babysitting for others full time at age 11. I have significant experience on both sides of the fence.

      That being said, yes – childfree people can offer advice, sometimes really good advice, sometimes really bad (just like other parents), but no – it is not the same, even if they have significant experience with kids, and I also told my daycare families that when they asked for advice. Being the parent (stepparent, guardian, etc.) is on an entirely different level than being teacher, daycare provider, etc.

      It is far easier to be consistent, develop a strict schedule, be firm yet kind, with a group of kids, especially when they are not your own. For one thing, when you have a group like that, they tend to follow the group – that can have its own challenges, but it also makes things easier on another level. It is also much easier to appropriately and kindly disciple someone else’s kids, because the guilt and responsibility that parents live with daily is just…not there. I think that guilt is a terrible thing that society has done to parents, but it is nevertheless there. For a daycare provider, it’s more like “Oh, they’re testing their boundaries. A timeout and a talk about rules, consistently, ought to clear that up.” For a parent, it’s more like “Oh my God. My child is going to be a serial killer/awful person, and it’s all my fault.” The absence of both guilt and a 24 hour responsibility change the dynamics in a very real way.

    • Truthishere

      September 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Just because you ended up with too many kids on your hands (yours and neighborhood kids, babysitting, daycare) doesn’t qualify you to give any advice at all. Certainly not more so than someone with specialized education in the field. You could certainly commiserate, no one is saying that. But saying you have more expert advice because you pumped out a couple of kids (who knows how you are as a parent – you could be terrible) is ridiculous. It’s like saying you know more than a pediatrician because you have five kids.

    • Amy Hauck Nelson

      September 12, 2013 at 8:25 am

      It is not by virtue of having lots of kids – it is by virtue of having years of experience with a wide variety of kids – that qualifies me to give experience. I am not saying I am an “expert” – but I do take offense to the term. Having a degree in something does not qualify you as an expert – it helps certainly, but experience is just as valuable.

      To clarify – I do not have too many kids on my hands. I love children, but having more than the average around does give me perspective on various ages, income levels, personality types, etc. – how could it not. I am often told that my children are very well behaved, and am often asked for advice. To be clear – asked. We joke often about the advice siblings and friends have given us before they had kids, because things change so much after. Not to say childless people can’t offer sound advice, but it is definitely coming from a different perspective. When my childless brother explained to me that having a child is all about consistency, he was right. But as he found out after he had kids, it just isn’t as easy as that.

    • meteor_echo

      September 11, 2013 at 6:45 pm

      I like your reasoning 🙂
      Will generate a proper, coherent response tomorrow, because it’s almost 2 am here, and I’ve had a long crappy day. Must sleep before my brain matter disintegrates.

    • greatwhitewife

      September 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      “It is far easier to be consistent, develop a strict schedule, be firm yet kind, with a group of kids, especially when they are not your own.” My mother, the mother of three grown children and childcare provider/preschool teacher of 20+ years, respectfully disagrees with you on that point.

    • Amy Hauck Nelson

      September 12, 2013 at 8:29 am

      If you have a group of children, and you set firm and consistent rules at the outset, they are likely to follow the group dynamic. Particularly younger children will denounce a child who does not behave for the teacher, as long as the proper dynamic has been set.

      That is not to say teaching is easy – it isn’t, at all. But having a group full of children who are all the same age presents an entirely different social dynamic than having children of your own. A teacher is responsible for learning, safety, social skills, etc. during classroom hours – and they work damn hard. Parents (if they are good ones), are responsible for all that, as well as sibling dynamics, food, shelter, teaching responsibility, sleep habits, and an innumerable amount of things that just by virtue of the sheer weight of responsible creates a different mindset.

    • lm

      September 12, 2013 at 10:37 am

      Great explanation! Exactly!
      Also, can we stop comparing doctors with teachers? A doctor has a university degree, a medical degree, a monitored time practicing medicine, possibly extra time specializing PLUS experience (assuming s/he is not a new doc), backed up by current science. Not saying that teachers/daycare workers are uneducated or that their opinions on child-rearing aren’t valuable but the arguement that you’d rush your sick kid to the “childless/free” doctor (vs getting advice from other parents) is meaningless to the debate.

    • AugustW

      September 12, 2013 at 11:13 am

      What’s the word for a childFREE person who has all the delightful qualities of a sanctimommy?

      Sanctifreemy?

    • meteor_echo

      September 12, 2013 at 11:39 am

      Sanctifree my what? Did you just try to say “angry childhating bitch” politely and fail? Methinks you totally did.
      Also,where’s the proper argumentation against my comment? I can wait until you come up with it.

    • AugustW

      September 12, 2013 at 11:43 am

      I don’t have a retaliatory argument. You can give all the advice you want. I just think you are being a bitch about it.

    • meteor_echo

      September 12, 2013 at 11:47 am

      So you’re calling someone who openly admits that she’s a bitch… a bitch. That’s new.

      http://25.media.tumblr.com/217dd5aff86f8c3e849a9ead8808a22a/tumblr_mmap8v4Ysr1rxui9eo1_500.gif

    • AugustW

      September 12, 2013 at 11:51 am

      Okay, here’s my response to your argument.

      1. Awesome. I was also very observant as a child, and as basically an only child (brothers were significantly older) I was treated as an adult from a young age. I also became an aunt at a very young age, so I got a lot of babysitting experience. I felt like I could look back on my childhood, pick out the good that I wanted to pass on to my future child, and hopefully eliminate some of the more negative patterns that I didn’t enjoy from my childhood. All of that didn’t mean diddly squat when it came to actually parenting an actual child. It is a lot of trial and error and some days it’s just making shit up as you go along.

      2. I fully trust medical professionals to give me medical professional advice. I don’t care if they are parents, because I’m not relying on them to be professional parents. Example: My daughter sees a speech therapist, and while I greatly appreciate her advice about childhood development and what to expect in that line, she actually asks my advice on parenthood, because my daughter in nearly 3 and her daughter is 6 months (first kid). So yeah, sometimes parenting experience trumps professional experience.

      3. Childfree, childless, who the fuck cares. Having a different lifestyle choice is no excuse to be a bitch. And fine, be proud of being a bitch, but at least aim your vitriol at someone equally as rude as you.

    • meteor_echo

      September 12, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      Well, finally I hear an argument. You should have started with that.
      Okay, here we go:
      1. There are things and decisions about parenting your kid that, I’m pretty sure, were influenced by your own childhood, whether they were positive or negative. I doubt that, if your parents would abuse you or do something really wrong about your upbringing, you’d willingly perpetuate the same fucking cycle with your own offspring. And, while raising a child doubtlessly requires improvisation, methinks you still try to sometimes take the child’s perspective, because making shit up as you go along is cool only as long as the shit you made up doesn’t damage the mini-person you’re raising.

      2. What about a nanny, or a pro babysitter, a teacher or a councellor who doesn’t have/want kids? They basically are “professional parents”, and not for one kid. Example: Supernanny, who had no kids of her own but was better at parenting other people’s kids than those other people were. What about someone who had to take care of a sibling since infancy? Not a parent, but the experience is still the same.

      3. I the fuck care – don’t group your try-hard rump in with me. I’d rather be a bitch than be like you. And believe me, I wouldn’t give you advice even if you were asking for it.

    • ChillMama

      September 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

      I don’t think that is what she meant, though I am not sure. But if a sanctimommy can be a person with kids who thinks s/he has ALL the answers, thinks s/heknows better than everyone else, and is always butting into to lecture people, isn’t there an equivalent word for a childfree person who acts the same? Though really, I don’t actually think the fact that the person does or does not have kids is relevant, it is more the fact of them being a know-it-all that is so frustrating.

    • meteor_echo

      September 12, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      This lady here tries to passively-aggressively snark me out because I dare to disagree with both this article and this author – I wouldn’t want to agree with an article that has more logical black holes than I can count.

    • Maria Guido

      September 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      You don’t have to agree with anything; that’s the beauty of opinions. Why would you even remotely think that a self-described 25-year-old childfree bitch (you) and a 40-year-old mother (me) would have the same opinion about parenting advice? Chill out.

    • meteor_echo

      September 12, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      Because my opinion bothered you so much that you dedicated 1/3 of an article to it. I don’t know which one of us should chill out first.

    • Maria Guido

      September 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      I’m not sure which opinion is yours – I was using the comments as examples of opinions I’ve heard that I don’t understand. I didn’t write the title of the article. I’m not attacking anyone – I’m just talking about a personal preference. I’m not sure why you’re so cranky about the whole thing – since you refer to kids as “crotch goblins” I seriously doubt you are big into giving parenting advice anyway.

  32. Annona

    September 11, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I don’t offer advice to my friends about their children. Not really. Because I admit that I know fuck all about potty training or diaper changing or breast feeding or…any of that. And know what else? I don’t care. Talking about potty training bores the shit out of me. I will talk to my child having friends about their child issues, because they’re my friends, their kids are part of their lives, and friends talk about their lives. But any question about “how should I do X” is met with a resounding “how the fuck should I know?” And honestly, I’d rather we talk about something else.

    I am, however, through education and prior job experience, able to offer advice on things like “what are indicators of sexual abuse?” and “what should I do with/about my teen who is experimenting with risky sex/drugs?” In that respect, sorry, but my expertise is much higher than that woman who lives down the street who thinks it’s OK to let her toddler have Mountain Dew in his bottle. Even though I have never shot a child out my vagina. Thank god none of my child having friends require advice about any of that stuff and hopefully never will.

    Point being, no, I don’t go around shooting my mouth off about what someone should or shouldn’t do as a parent, and I don’t really know any child-free people who do. But in the case of the man who wrote the book that the previous blog was about…he has expertise in child and family development, so it’s not like Bob the Plumber is telling you not to let your child destroy your marriage; he’s speaking as a expert, and to discount his thoughts because he happens not to have children is short sighted and dumb. I think it really depends on the context.

  33. SKB

    September 11, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    You were CHILDLESS once. You were never childfree. Learn the difference.

  34. kay

    September 11, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    There’s a difference between a pediatrician/teacher/nanny etc giving advice and the 30 year old dude with no kids who manages a winery posting on facebook about how parents should be feeding their children (and yes, that’s a real person in my newsfeed). I think having kids can give you a different perspective, but that education and training are also valuable.

    Basically: if you have experience/education/training in children I will totally listen to you. In fact, I’ll listen to you over the woman in my mom’s group who said “vaccinations are a tough choice” even though she has a baby-you know more than her. But if your biggest qualification is that you were once a baby? STFU.

  35. VLDBurnett

    September 11, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    I don’t have kids, and I don’t offer parenting advice… usually. However, I have a disability, and a lot of experience as a child with a disability, and sometimes able-bodied parents need some perspective. Obviously, I only speak up when the child in question has the same disability. There were clearly some times that my parents/therapists/teachers/other authority figures (none of whom had lived experience of my disability) got it wrong, sometimes horribly, and I wished that someone who had perspective of my lived experience would have been around to tell them that these were bad ideas. I try to be non-intrusive about it, and clearly preface it with my own experience, but that is the only time I will give parenting advice.

  36. Cals

    September 11, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    You really don’t have any arguments here. You basically stated the other sides argument and then said “no.” Sorry, I personally don’t think it’s a very well written article. Also, I believe they ARE all valid points and I would much rather take advice from my well educated childless friend than the neurotic sanctimommy spouting out the latest crap she read on the internet. Just because you have a kid/become a parent doesn’t mean you know anything. Childless people and parents alike can both offer good or bad advice. Just depends on the type of person they are if it’s good advice or not.

  37. Cals

    September 11, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Another thing: BTDT parents can be so smug and annoying to new parents (me). There is nothing more obnoxious than hearing “oh just wait till X” when you are talking about something happening NOW. The childfree can just be refreshing compared to that.

  38. Rachel

    September 11, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Being a new Mom I remember what it was like being child-free not too long ago. It’s not that people with out kids have no idea what parenting entails, but it’s kind of like this : Working hard to get healthy, ie working out/going to the gym every day, dieting, cutting out all the (delicious) bad foods and then getting weightloss advice from a couch potato. It’s not that the couch potato couldn’t give me a great new perspective on what I’m doing or that they don’t know anything about heath or fitness, they could even be lazy with phd’s on the subject, but I still don’t want someone who’s never been active a day in their life telling me I’m not working out hard enough. Makes you want to scream, ” You DON’T KNOW! You aren’t there, doing it, living it everyday!” All those theories sound great, but until you put in the work I don’t want to hear a word you have to say.

  39. Julia

    September 11, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    You were never childfree. You just didn’t have children yet.

  40. Amber

    September 12, 2013 at 2:48 am

    Ugh, this attitude that people without children can’t offer good parenting advice irritates the hell out of me.

    I was one of the youngest of my group of friends to have a child. I was in my early twenties. Now I’m in my early 30s and most of my friends are just now starting families. I’ve heard this bullshit come out of their mouths several times recently and all I want to say is:

    “Oh really? Childless people can’t possibly have good advice? So all the times you offered your opinion to me ten years ago I should have just called you stupid and told you to shut the fuck up since you couldn’t possibly know anything? Really”

    It’s so ridiculous.

  41. Allen

    September 12, 2013 at 5:03 am

    When it comes to #1, I think it depends on what type of advice is being sought/given. When it comes to specific advice like helping a baby get to sleep or how to discipline a misbehaving toddler, I think it’s hard for people without kids to give helpful advice. I don’t have kids and I wouldn’t try to give too much advice on something like that. But there are situations where parents have trouble because they have a difficult time relating to something their child is experiencing, and in cases like that, I think talking to an adult who *can* personally relate can be useful. For example, my mom is a great parent and I would trust her to give a lot of practical parenting advice, but she doesn’t really understand what it’s like to be an LGBT kid/teen or what types of concerns those kids can face at school or with their peers. I’m not a parent, but I was an LGBT kid/teen, and I think that type of insight can be useful.

  42. logica

    September 12, 2013 at 7:12 am

    OH MY LOGIC! I have learned to controle the urge to point out every logical fallacy that I hear for the sake of those around me, but you have gone too far, lady! A logical fallacy is an invalid reason or claim that is presented as valid evidence to support a conclusion. If you use fallacies to support your conclusion you are wrong. Your entire article is a giant tu quoquo fallacy (with a bit of straw man and poisoning the well sprinkled in). Essentially, the tu quoquo fallacy is the argument that someone is wrong solely because they are a hypocrite. Just because child free individuals do not have children, does not automatically make their parent and child related advice wrong. Being a hypocrite is irrelevant to the assertion and does not effect the truth value of a statement. For example: Arika says to Becky, “It isn’t safe for you to drive a car that doesn’t have brakes.” Becky replies, “You’re one to talk! Your car has no seat belts!” Arika is right about it not being safe to drive without brakes, and the fact that she drives without seat belts has nothing to do with that fact. Becky is wrong because instead of giving evidence that it is safe to drive without brakes she uses a logical fallacy. I could go through your article point by point and provide logically sound reasons to support your points….Maybe later. This will probably not go over to well with most people and will likely result in some ad hominem arguements. If you want to know more about logical fallacies, then google it.

    • Jennie

      September 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      It’s like listening to politicians talk, she goes on and on but doesn’t provide any valid arguments whatsoever.

  43. face2098

    September 12, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I have never given birth. However, I am currently raising three children. If you choose not to take the advice I offer you that is fine. But, I will lmao when you can’t control your demon 3yo and I can control mine.

  44. AugustW

    September 12, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Repeat after me: Anyone can give advice. It doesn’t mean anyone else is required to listen to it.

  45. Kathy Burton

    September 12, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I have to share here. I have spent the majority of my career as a professional working with children under age three. I have given advice for years to the families that I have served. After I had a child I wanted to call every parent I had worked with over the years and apologize to them and after I had my second I wanted to stand in the public square and beg for their forgiveness. There is an enormous difference between me advising a parent who wants to sleep train their child, for example, when I understand that there are more things going on with siblings, work schedules and more. Things that I may have called lack of follow through or even worse, non compliance looked a lot like the reality of parenting.

  46. Rachel Sea

    September 12, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Just because a person isn’t a parent, doesn’t mean they aren’t experienced in raising children. A good nanny often knows more than your average parent, and a lot of people have a hand in raising children who aren’t theirs. My cousin called me ‘Mommy Rachel’ the first 5 years of his life, and I have plenty of triumphs, and screw ups I could tell you about from that.

    And in a lot of cases having a good memory of your own childhood is an excellent basis for giving advice. Things my mother did that were irreparable fuck ups? I can tell you what they were, why they were horrible, and how to do better. Most parents try to be the parent they wish they had growing up, which is exactly the same thing.

  47. RHH

    September 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    There is NO such thing as a “former childfree”. Once a childfree, ALWAYS a childfree. It doesn’t just come and go. If you ended up deciding to breed, then at best, you were a fence-sitter, NOT a childfree!

  48. wmdkitty

    September 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    I’d say that the childfree, not having children, are far more objective than any parent could ever be.

  49. Annie Neubauer

    September 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Reason #1 – I agree with you. I wish parents would stop using the reverse argument on us. “How can you not want kids? You were a kid once yourself!”

    Reason #3 – “I was childfree once” – No you weren’t. Childfree folks do not want children, never want children, never have children and take very careful measures to prevent children. Very rarely does one every change their mind.

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  51. TeeLee

    September 13, 2013 at 11:09 am

    You want advice that ends with “but this may not work for everyone”? How is that even advice at all? I find that a lot of parents really enjoy the fact that there’s one thing they have over on their free-wheeling, time-having, education-getting, money-stockpiling childfree friends: and that’s this apparently infinite knowledge that you supposedly gain about life and everything younger than 18 years old, the second you hear your child screaming in the delivery room. Parents enjoy that edge, because they feel they don’t have anything else over non-parents. So they shun any advice from non-parents, in favor of advice that ends in “…but really I have no idea, it might be different for you.” Yeah – sounds like your other parent friends are absolute sages.

  52. Redcordelia

    September 13, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I’m sympathetic to your struggle as a parent, and I understand why you feel that people who don’t have children shouldn’t be allowed to share what they’ve read and studied in preparation for becoming parents. But here’s the thing: I find that I only offer parenting advice when my parent friends seem to be verbally asking for suggestions. I’ve considered that maybe they’re just complaining, with a “What do I do about this?” at the end, and I struggle to just sympathize without making suggestions. The easiest way for parents to get me to stop offering Ideas I’ve read about in parenting manuals is to stop complaining to me about the parenting situations they’re in, that I want to try to help them with. My behavior of offering ideas is a response to my parent friends’ behavior of complaining, wondering what to do, and otherwise appearing to be asking for suggestions. Otherwise, I just let them get on with it, because I get that we’re all figuring this out as we go. Now, if parents would just stop asking when I’m going to have a baby (my husband and I have been trying for years) then we would be even.

  53. Sarah

    September 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Depends on the child free situation as well. There are those that do not and never intend to have kids. There are teachers, child psychologists and doctors who may not have kids but work with them. There are nannies (okay, I’m one of them) who spend 10-12 hours a day, 5-6 days a weeks with the same kid/s. All these people may be child free but they shouldn’t be grouped in terms of the sort of advice they’ll give.

    And, to be frank, I think all can give advice. The nannies advice regarding their specific charge, or a specific quirk, might be very good. The doctor advising on a specific developmental stage may be helpful. The child free by choice individual may offer some much needed distance. Why can’t we accept that advice will often be given, kindly meant or not, and just do our best to make our own decisions factoring it in, regardless of whether we think others “don’t get it”….

  54. Famke Stewart

    September 13, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    I can understand valuing the advice of other parents, since they’ve done a “test run” on it. And, having researched childfree lifestyles while making my decision, I can attest that there is an abundance of catty and probably impractical advice tossed out by people who don’t have children.
    The biggest problem I have with the “You don’t have kids, so you can’t give advice” thing is that it’s usually thrown out in a huff by parents who aren’t parenting very well. Like when little Brayden is knocking things off the shelf and mommy is tapping away on her phone not giving a damn. Maybe that’s because I live in an area with a lot of crappy parents. Basically I’ve always associated “You don’t have any kids, so you can’t tell me anything” with the much dumber comeback “You’re just jealous”: Something someone, likely embarassed or angry, says after someone calls them out on crappy behavior.

  55. LET

    September 14, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I think it’s less about whether or not child free have good advice or not, and more about the fact that it’s hard to swallow advice from someone who hasn’t shared some of your struggles. It’s very rare that advice coming from people with out children doesn’t come across as overly simplistic or even a bit pompous. I’m guessing it’s not the intent of the advice giver, but it’s really hard to hear “You just have to be consistent, I would XYZ” from someone who hasn’t or won’t ever have to deal with the humiliation and frustration of a tantruming toddler in a grocery story, or the middle of the night wakings that are more frustrating than non child related wakings because you have no control over them.
    Even if you do mean well, advice from the child free generally feels to me like fertility advice from people who’ve never experienced infertility (“Just relax & it’ll happen!”)…good intentions, but generally annoying.
    Overall, I really think people shouldn’t give parenting advice at all unless explicitly asked.
    ETA: Totally agree with all those who said they were the perfect parents until they had kids! I had to eat my words, so I tend to assume my CF friends giving advice will have to, as well, if they choose to have kids. If they don’t choose to have kids, then they’ll never realize what that’s like.

  56. Mark Jackson

    September 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    I find it best never to give anyone advice on anything unless they expressly ask for it. If, for example, someone thinks it makes sense to buy mutual funds through insurance companies instead of buying index funds, it’s no skin off my nose that he/ she is throwing thousands of dollars away on fees every year.

    To me, the idea of giving advice to parents about how to raise their children is just a subset of this general principle.

    On the other hand, if someone *does* ask me for advice and then makes it clear that he/ she doesn’t like my advice, I always think the best thing to do is stop talking. Sometimes it turns out that he/ she doesn’t really want advice but wants to vent about how unsolvable his/ her problems really are. In that case, a sincere “I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I’m sure you’ll work it out; in the meantime, I’m happy to listen” is more useful than advice.

  57. BubbleyToes

    September 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I am a social worker. I am not a parent. I know a lot about child development (child development is my bachelor’s degree). That being said, no matter how much training and knowledge I have, I do NOT give advice unless I am specifically asked. Even when I am asked and I give advice, I always end it with “this may or may not work, everyone is different. If your child is alive, happy, and healthy, you are doing it right.” I find that because I answer questions in this way, I have a lot more people who want to hear my advice. People don’t like to be judged at all, or told what to do, especially by people who have not been in their exact situation.

  58. Liz

    September 16, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Re: Argument #1 – As a Childfree woman, WHEN my Mom friends discuss their kid-probs with me and IF they ask for my opinion (not advice, because it’s not ‘advice’ unless it’s put to practical use by the person-in-question), due to not being as emotionally involved AND not having children of my own with whom to compare to theirs, I can often see both sides – esp. with Teen Girls. I have one pal whose 2 teenage girls are going through that ‘I hate you/you ruin my life/why won’t you die/I love my (first-ever) boyfriend and if you stop me from seeing him, I’m gonna kill myself/I’m not a child anymore/you can’t tell me what to do!!!!!!!!!’ shenanigans and when that happens, she feels like The Worst Mother in the World (and so alone) when she SO is NOT – neither alone nor a bad mom. She’s told me that she has gotten better and less judgmental reactions from me than most other moms, many of whom wanna show what Awesome Moms they are by knowing EXACTLY what she should do – Cos it’s always easier to solve other people’s issues than your own.

    I take this opportunity to remind her most of us ladies were hormonal hellion nightmares between the ages of 13-17, bent on the mental destruction of our parents and that it is actually pretty normal crap; crap that needs to be addressed but it ain’t like her daughter(s) are the ONLY teens going through this horribly confusing-yet-know-it-all time. (Not for all the high-metabolism or ability to wear super-funky clothes would I go back!) My parents had some very creative ways of showing me who was in charge – EG; Took my bedroom door off it’s hinges when I kept slamming it when being a Drama Queen (I had to earn it back by being nice & polite to them) and I share some of these non-physical punishments with her. She’s tried some, and they’ve worked! They’re not even MY suggestions, just stuff I remember from when I was growing up that got the desired result for my folks who didn’t want me to be some Diva Brat, which is a noble goal, I reckon.

    And, sometimes a Mom friend just wants their friend to LISTEN. That’s cool, I can do that without throwing my unasked-for 2 cents in. No worries.

    Generally, everyone has certain friends who give good, caring, with-you-in-mind advice. Then, we have friends who don’t. The subject usually doesn’t mater, nor does the person’s ‘status’. Mom, Childless, Childfree – It’s more the individual in question than ‘Who’s Got Kids/Who Doesn’t’, really. But maybe this is just another article detailing this ‘Line in the Sand’ between Parents and Non-Parents that doesn’t essentially exist for any other purpose except to separate us.

  59. Laura Franciosi

    September 17, 2013 at 12:02 am

    My best friend is childless, but she is in the medical field and studied developmental psychology in college. Her long-time boyfriend assisted in raising his significantly-younger brother. And another childless friend of mine is a teacher with special ed experience. These three individuals are all perfectly qualified to offer me advice — and I’m grateful that they have.

  60. Rosa

    March 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Currently working on no longer being child free but I was a nanny for 7 years. I only give advice when specifically asked but since I was a nanny for so long I do get asked a lot. Ussually about potty training.

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  62. Macka

    June 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    “I was childfree once, and I had advice for parents. ”
    Ah, no. You were never “Childfree”, you were child-less. Childfreedom means never wanting children ever, and taking precautions to make sure it stays that way. And, if pregnancy does occur, getting the cell cluster removed, pronto.
    Child-less means you are undecided/between children/whatever. Don’t mix those two up.

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