Parenting is beautiful and hard. You never know how well you're performing as a parent. There's a shadow of doubt following us everywhere, so we accept it, live with it, and do our best.
But when a stranger interferes, our truth takes over. We are doing it right.
I've experienced a lot of unsolicited advice from strangers, in various forms:
a. " The sun is bothering your child. He should wear sunglasses." Looking at the baby as if to examine his damaged cornea.
b. " It's freezing out there, and your baby is not covered enough." Stopping us on the street on a May afternoon by the Garonne river, in the south of France.
c. "I don't like how you're talking to your child."
My son had been screaming for ten minutes in the supermarket. The person watching the scene was eager to jump in and had prepared two different remarks. Remark one was he comment she used after I scolded my son. Remark two would be, had I ignored my son: "I don't understand why you do nothing."
d. "Look out, your baby is falling from the stroller." My son was asleep with his body bent to the right.
e. "Why don't you take the baby in your arms? I'll be much better for you".
My son started to have a fatigue crisis on a bus and this person, sitting up front, started looking back at me. I knew what was coming. When I got the comment, I said, so everyone could hear: "Don't worry, I'm getting off. And thanks but, I'm his mother. I don't need your advice."
This is the winning remark because unlike the above, I gave an abrupt answer. The person was complaining but used the advice formula. Meaning that If I held my son and calmed him fast, she would not have to listen to cries anymore. And it would be much, much better for her.
If anything, what parents need from strangers, are kind gestures. Or a smile.
A smile to chase away the shadow of a doubt a little, that says: " I know it's hard sometimes, but you're doing all right".