My son loves cars. He's 5-years-old, and he begs us to bring him into the car so he can pretend to drive. He sits on our lap, and we keep the car in the driveway. In case you don't have kids of your own, or they are still young, a 5-year-old is not tall enough to reach the gas and break--they are way too small still. So there is ZERO chance of them actually driving the car.
Not too long ago, my son was sitting on my husband's lap, in our car, in our DRIVEWAY. A woman driving by our house pulled her car over, got out of the car, came onto our property, and proceeded to lecture my husband about what a terrible father he is for allowing our son on his lap when he should be in a car seat. She proceeded to threaten to call child service and the police.
Did she think my husband was going to take my son for a joy-ride on the parkway? Who knows. The ironic part is that my husband takes literally hours to install our children's car seats, and he is completely obsessive about making sure everything is installed property. He's the last person this complete stranger should be worried when it comes to parenting.
When it comes to babies and children, everyone feels the need to weigh in on what they think is right and wrong. God forbid we leave those kinds of decisions to the actual parents of the child in question. What's the motivation behind "correcting" what you perceive to be a parenting mistake or an error in judgement? Is it actual interest in the welfare of the child? (In this case, my son was completely safe, so that couldn't be her motivation) Is it a self-righteous need to affirm your own ego by pointing out another person's mistakes and faults?
If there's one thing I've learned from this encounter, it's to give a struggling parent the benefit of the doubt, especially if you are observing a snapshot of an interaction between a parent and child in public. As a "stranger," you have no clue what is going on between that parent and child, and it's really not any of your business. So thanks, but no thanks.