The #1 Thing Parents Wish Other People Knew About Their Kids

By Charlotte Hilton Anderson, REDBOOK

mom with toddler

"What is the #1 thing you wish you could tell non-parents about your kids?" This was the question I posted on Facebook and within minutes my inbox started filling up with replies. But many did not go the way I had anticipated. The first problem was that all my non-parent friends felt judged by the question and immediately went on the defensive. And of course my parent friends spend a significant portion of their lives feeling judged and got defensive too. Lastly, several people pointed out that sometimes our harshest critics are other parents. And that's not including the people who don't have kids but wish they could. Everyone to their corners! My point in asking the question was not to judge anyone regardless of their spawning proclivities but rather to help bridge that gap that so often occurs in public places when our child is doing some awful and we know everyone is staring. In that moment, to help explain and remedy the situation, what do you wish the onlookers could know? Here's mine. Kids' noses just run. If it's between November and May I can guarantee you someone will have snot on their face no matter how much I wipe.

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50-plus comments were hard to condense so here were the ones I found most helpful:

1. "Sometimes my kids are loud and obnoxious and it's not because I'm a bad parent."-Alice

2. "Boys are naturally curious and do not always sit still with their hands in their laps. They just don't!"-Shannon

3. "Just because my house is messy doesn't mean that I don't clean."-Jen

4. "If I had it my way I wouldn't bring my kids to the store with me. They don't want to be here either. But I can't afford a babysitter, I'm all out of diapers, and by the time my husband gets home I will be busy doing a million other things or too tired to move. Please pardon my child's cries, you can walk away from them, I can not."-Lizzy

5. "Children don't come out of molds! They are very individual and have their own quirks that don't always follow "the rules' [in the parenting books.] "-Carol

6. "That raising cats and dogs is not the same as raising a child. Isn't it just common sense that raising a child would be harder?"-Rozemary

7. "I value a child's naptime. My kids are mildly flexibile, but for the most part they enjoy a predictable routine. Family gathering scheduled for 1pm? We'll be there, but I can't promise that my younger child will be rainbows and sunshine because she rarely sleeps in the car."-Robyn

8. "I understand that people get annoyed. I am humbly requesting an extra measure of grace, as I learn to parent and my kids learn to be people."-Lyndsey

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9. "Children are not miniature adults. Expecting a child to react to something in the same way that a rational adult would is like expecting a caterpillar rise into the air and fly away.... It will happen someday, but is not possible nor even supposed to happen now."-Kristin

10. "Babies cry. Toddlers throw fits, get into things, are messy and loud. They are not good or bad because of that. Even if they have no reason (as far as we can tell) to cry or tantrum, that does not make them a "bad child", it just makes them a child."-Trista

11. "People need to get over simple crying and whining. Target, grocery store, and family-style restaurants are fair game for those behaviors. How am I supposed to teach my kids how to behave in those places if I never take them there?"-Robyn

12. "My son has special needs. We work on it through therapy, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, special ed at school, and the list goes on and on...We can't just hide from the world because he has a disability."-Allison

13. "As parents, we don't have control. We can offer guidance and consequences and we can also choose how we react to a given situation."-Natalie

As a parent, what is the #1 thing you wish other people knew about your child?

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