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A few days ago, I had a conversation with my colleague at work about children, raising children and family life. At some point in the conversation, she said that I couldn't judge or truly understand any of that because I don't have any children. My thoughts came back to that conversation within the next days quite often.
 
I realized that in the past I often had the feeling that I was not entitled to an opinion on the subject of raising children, because I don't have any children. And the reaction in some conversations about this topic has only strengthened this impression.
 
In this conversation with my colleague, however, I realized for the first time that this is not true. Yes, I don't have children, but I still have clear ideas about what is good for children and what is not. Yes, I may not have experience in what it is like for children (and parents) to f.e. test boundaries, but I believe that it is very healthy for children to experience some boundaries during their education and within their journey of life. I am aware of the fact that for actually being able to evaluate the details I would need the real insight of being a mother, but I recognize the needs of children even though I don't have any. I see their needs, I see the needs of their parents and yes, I do have some experice, I was a kid some time ago as well. 
 
Many people have opinions on politics, even though they are not politicians. 
Many people have opinions on health issues, even though they are no doctors.   
Many people have opinionson wine, even though they are no winemakers. 
Many people (and especially parents) know all about school, even though they are no teachers.
My friends and people in my surrounding (including my colleague) have an opinion that my husband works too much. But they are not married to him, nor do they know his workload or even what he is actually working in his profession. 
Actually, almost everyone has a quite defined opinion on professional soccer, and very few of them are soccer players, let alone referees.
 
Well, if anybody can have even an opinion on issues like soccer and politics, I'm allowed to have a differentiated and well thought opinion about raising children, even if I'm not a mother!
It felt so good, this discovery that I am in fact entitled to have an opinion on those issues!
I don't have to hide.
 
My collaegue is not childless either, and, without really thinking about it, has a pretty clear opinion about childless people....

Comments

  1. I love your list. Yes, many people have opinions on anything and everything, even though they are not experts! And as you said, we have all BEEN children, and remember what it is like. And one of the advantages of being childless is that we can observe children and their parents without all the emotional conflicts and biases and defensiveness(my kids would never do "that," "how dare you suggest I'm not a good mother," etc etc).

    And I love love LOVE your last line.

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    1. Yes, that's so true. Even thought I really enjoy being with the children of my friends and siblings, as you say, it is an advantage of being childless to be able to observe and to step a little aside emotionaly when it comes to them. And ist is less stressfull, too!

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  2. Bravo! Love this. I HATE the assumption that you can know nothing without being a parent yourself. Actually, as a parent you know about parenting YOUR OWN KIDS, and that's it. You aren't suddenly an expert on all parents. I love your list of "experts" that don't get shamed. So annoying to constantly be shamed by parents. I have dedicated my life to children in early adolescence, and I think I am a really great expert on that age group without being a parent myself. And if I was parent, I could use some of what I know from my own kids, but I would think someone who interacts with hundreds upon thousands of DIFFERENT kids over the years could be considered an expert. ARGLE. Makes me so mad! I love this post. LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

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    1. Jess, I can totally understand how frustrating it can be for you. Some people don't see that working with children as a professional doesn't mean parenting them and on the other hand, being a parent doesn't mean being able of working professionally with children either. Yes, we all have an opinion on raising children, but you have also aditionally to that a professional knowledge of children! And that's what makes YOU the expert :-)

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  3. Dear Lilly,
    yes, I also have very clear idea about raising children and what is good for the children and what not. I also came to the same conclusion, few years ago... I AM entitled to have my own opinion.

    I love your list.

    And just like Mali... I love love love your last line!!

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    1. Dear Klara,
      isn't it a wonderful feeling to see that is is ok to have an opinion? It took me while a discover it though :-)

      Delete
  4. Liebe Lilly,
    ich mag deine Liste sehr! Du hast recht, dass die Leute eine Meinung zu allen möglichen Angelegenheiten haben, ohne selbst Experte zu sein. Nur bei Kindern scheint es anders zu sein... für mich zeichnet es eine Art Neid aus, die einige Eltern gegenüber Kinderlosen empfinden (nach dem Motto: "Kinder zu haben ist so anstrengend, du hast keine Ahnung"). Deine Erkenntnis, dass du trotz allem eine Meinung dazu haben darfst, ist richtig. Ich wünsche dir, dass du dich eines Tages stark genug fühlst, das deiner (taktlosen) Kollegin (oder wem auch immer) zu kommunizieren :-)
    Liebe Grüße,
    Léa

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    1. Liebe Léa,
      vielleicht hast Du Recht, dass eine Art "Neid" -Faktor mitschwingt. Bisher habe ich mich in solchen Situationen zurück gezogen, zumal ich auch keine Konflikte verursachen möchte. Vieleicht werde ich ja in der nächsten Begegnung oder Diskussion zu diesem Thema einfach antworten, dass ich zwar keine Kinder, aber dennoch eine Meinung dazu habe. Mal gucken, was dann passiert :-)
      Liebe Grüße

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  5. Liebe Lilly,

    ooh, jaaaaaa. Ich kann mich den anderen nur anschließen. Danke, dass du die Erkenntnis mit uns teilst.

    Erst gestern bekam ich eine Situation der Nachbarin und ihrer Cousine und ihren beiden dreijährigen mit. Mir fehlte Empathie und Respekt den Kindern gegenüber. Wieder fragte ich mich, wie ich reagiert hätte und hoffe sehr, dass wir es mit unserer Tochter anders gemacht hätten. Gleichzeitig denke ich aber immer, dass ich mir kein Urteil erlauben darf, weil ich eben nicht weiß, wie es ist, ein Kind zu erziehen. Vielleicht kein Urteil, aber eben doch eine Meinung.

    Ich musste mir den Spruch noch nicht anhören (auch weil ich Diskussionen zum Thema Kinder vermeide), aber ich hoffe, dass mir dann all deine Beispiele einfallen...!

    Gruß, MiH

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    1. Hallo MiH,
      Ich habe auch manchmal das Gefühl, dass ich in der ein oder anderen Situation etwas "besser" gemacht hätte. Das ist sicherlich normal, wahrscheinlich gäbe es aber auch Situationen, in denen ich "schlechter" gehandelt hätte.
      Urteilen möchte ich auch nicht, aber genau wie Du finde ich, eine Meinnung und Vorstellung steht uns sehr wohl zu. Grudsätzliche Werte und Vorstellung ändern sich ja schließlich auch nicht ad hoc, sobald man Mutter bzw Vater geworden ist, vielleicht verschieben sie sich nur ein bisschen :-).
      Liebe Grüße!
      Lilly

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  6. Oh, I have lots of opinions! Haha. But really, I do. :) And they come from working with kids for the past 25 years.

    And you are so right!! People have opinions about all sorts of things they don't have personal experience with. Good point!

    People can be so narrow minded... I feel like I'm just constantly rolling my eyes.

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