Have you perused the comment section of a parenting site lately? I know, I know, don’t read the comments but we all do it. One thing that has become glaringly obvious to me is that the childless aren’t allowed to have an opinion on parenting styles. It needs to stop.
I’ll be the first to admit that this is something that I am guilty of. I have dismissed a parenting article simply because the author does not have children of their own. I have ignored their experience in working with children, determined to believe that it’s not the same when you can walk away at the end of the day.
In my perusal of the comment section I have noticed a common catch cry listed there. When the author suggests a parenting style that seems outside the norm there are cries of ‘I bet she doesn’t even have children!’. The commenters google the authors name looking for evidence that this woman couldn’t possibly know what she is talking about, because she is without child.
Why does it seem that it’s only childbirth that gives women this knowledge? There are countless articles written about mothers who aren’t sure if they are doing the right thing for their child. Yet those same women (and I have been one of them) are quick to cast the stone of judgement if a childless woman dares to have an opinion.
Before I became a mother I was an expert on what I would do as a mother, it’s true. I think that everyone has those same aspirations. We all know the things that we want to be if we become a parent. Maybe it’s that hindsight that causes such a great divide between the parents and the childless.
I have said before that there are parts of parenting that you really don’t understand until you are in the thick of it. However the same could be said for many other things in life. We see a psychiatrist who may not have had personal experience with mental illness. Our GP who is an expert in chronic illness does it because it’s an interest, not a personal experience. Despite this, the childless women are still told to keep their opinions to themselves.
It’s always the women who are told that their opinions don’t count. Why is that? Are we supposed to just trust the words and knowledge of the men who offer their parenting opinions? Does something change in a woman when she gives birth that doesn’t happen for a man?
Every man and their dog has an opinion on parenting, so why are the childless coping so much flack? Next time you want to dismiss someone’s opinion because of their childless state, I implore you to think twice. Ask yourself what it is about the opinion that really gets to you. Can you offer something more constructive than ‘you don’t even have children, what would you know!?’