When it comes to parenting, it sometimes feels as though everybody's a critic. There are some that you need to listen to and take into consideration- doctors, nurses and other professionals that know all about babies and children. But then there's everyone's favourite thing- all the criticism you never asked for in the first place. Your mother may recommend a specific schedule for your newborn. Or your best friend may suggest the best way to deal with a temper tantrum. But the worst instance is a complete stranger criticizing your parenting altogether.
In the United Kingdom, the last scenario happens more than enough. A new study recently revealed that one in five parents have been criticized for bad parenting by a stranger. As many as 17 percent of parents admitted that their parenting had been criticized by someone they didn't know. It's shocking to think that someone would ever do such a thing to a total stranger. But that's not even the end of it.
This study went on to dive into many specific situations concerning someone criticizing one's parenting skills. 30 percent of parents said that they were critiqued by their own parents, and another 13 percent were critiqued by a sibling- that's one in ten parents. Meanwhile, one in twenty parents had their parenting criticized by a co-worker. In the end, 20 percent of parents have been told that they're a "bad parent" at least once. All of this is from a study of 1500 parents with children in primary school.
The consequences of so much criticism were also looked into during this study. It was discovered that 36 percent of parents in the UK say that they're "underperforming", and feel like a bad parent as much as seven times per week. Nine out of ten parents admitted that being a parent is harder than they initially thought. Half of those parents feel jealousy whenever they see fellow parents who they believe are better than them. 74 percent of parents feel more and more overwhelmed by their parenting duties- and any unwanted criticism from strangers or otherwise isn't helping.
When it comes to parental guilt and regret, the statistics are staggering. 51 percent of parents voiced their regret for losing their temper on their children, while 46 percent held regret over the amount of screen time their children get. 38 percent voiced guilt over checking their phone when they're with their children. In addition to all this, 47 percent of parents feel guilty over not taking their kids on holidays, and another 24 percent feel guilty for not reading to their kids every single day. Finally, 61 percent of parents wish that they were able to spend more time with their children. Parental guilt is so commonplace that 88 percent said that it's a normal thing to feel!
All of these statistics show that parents hold themselves to such high standards that anything less than perfection makes them feel awful. Having said that, it's been revealed that a whopping 94 percent of parents surveyed said that they believe there's no such thing as the so-called "perfect parent". 97 percent believe that their children will turn out fine, and 58 percent went as far to say that they're better parents than their own parents were to them. So not everyone is wracked with guilt- or at least, they don't let it bother them.
Given the clear prevalence of parental guilt, parents don't need criticism coming at them left, right and centre. While gentle advice and answering questions is acceptable, rude remarks and sarcastic digs are unacceptable. There's a way to suggest something without coming from as mean. But if you ever think to criticize the parenting of a total stranger, just don't do it. Unless it's outright abuse or neglect, keep your opinion to yourself. You have no idea what another person's going through- your unwanted critiques could hurt them more than you think.