Can Non-Parents Have An Opinion When It Comes To Parents And Kids?
OK, so I have to take a moment to vent my frustration about a situation that I find happening pretty commonly. The "You're not a parent, you wouldn't understand" phenomenon.
This situation stems from two different, yet tied together, Facebook conversations going on in my sphere. It stems from this: one of my friends, a man who is in his mid-twenties, saw a woman dragging a 8-10 year old child from a supermarket, and heard the child say "You're hurting me". He was concerned enough to step in. He asked if everything was alright, and when the woman said yes, he left it at that.
A mutual friend, who also posted a couple of comments on his status, followed up with a status of her own. She asked a question of her friends, along the lines of how many of her parent friends would be more or less understanding of the situation that had occurred.
The comments that followed are mostly understandable, but there is one that just blew my mind and it went basically like this: "If you are not a parent, you are not allowed an opinion".
Hold up. What?
Wait a minute... I'm not a parent. Does that mean?? Nah. Couldn't possibly. But... Hmmmm...
This is my thought on the situation. I am not a parent. I am however an involved auntie to a wonderful, spunky five year old and I am close to her mother, my sister. Through my relationship with my sister, I have met her mommy friends, who have children the same age as my niece. I have heard horror stories of "Help Me's" and "You are hurting me's"- and lets just say that when I do have children, they may possibly NEVER accompany me grocery shopping- ever.
I grew up in a time when the definition of abuse was a lot different than what it is today. Parenting was private and, what I consider, less legally regulated. Spanking was an acceptable form of punishment, broken bones were not.
I am also an adult. I am educated and surround myself with other educated adults- many of whom have children. I have experienced first hand different forms of punishment and have seen what works and what doesn't.
That being said, I am allowed an opinion. If I see a situation that causes me concern, knowing the difference, to an extent, between a child's temper tantrum and abuse, I will step in. It is my duty to do so. Not being a parent has no standing on my ability to properly judge a situation as abusive or not. My past very much does.
I feel that I am safe in saying that my "mommy" friends would consider me more than capable in being able to determine the difference between a kid being rotten and an abusive situation. To have a stranger make such a blanket statement just flabbergasts me. To have people that I respect "like" her comment on Facebook is ridiculous to me. Her comment is an ignorant blanket statement that is, frankly, unacceptable.
What if the situation that he saw was actually abusive? Are we non-parents supposed to sit back and watch a parent pummel their child because we, as non-parents, are not allowed opinions?
That is absolutely ridiculous.
I understand that I do not know the feelings experienced by a parent during a child's public meltdown. I am not a parent, I am not saying that I know anything that a parent goes through. That does not make me less able to judge a situation.