Has becoming a parent made you more empathetic or more judgmental of other parents?

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Photo by jen_rab, used under Creative Commons license.
I don’t have kids yet, but I’ve always wondered if being a parent creates a bond or sense of camaraderie with other parents.

For example, when you see parents raise their voices at their children for small infractions, are you tempted to intervene or do you feel like you’ve been there? When you see a child grossly misbehaving and/or mistreating their peers do you blame the parents, the kid, or something else entirely?

Basically: has becoming a parent made you more empathetic or more judgmental when it comes to understanding the parental styles of others? — M

Editor’s note: let’s focus less on specific people or situations and more on how being a parent makes you feel toward other parents in general.

Comments on Has becoming a parent made you more empathetic or more judgmental of other parents?

  1. More than being more or less judgmental, I think my perception of parenting has totally morphed. Parenting styles I used to look up to now strike me as something I’d never want to be, and parenting choices I used to judge now make sense to me. Small example: I used to wonder why so many parents sat in the back seat of their car next to their babies instead of in the front seat next to their spouses, and I used to think that it was important for spouses to put each other first and not always cater to the baby. I still believe this to some extent, but now I know how hard it is for both me and my husband to hear our car-hating baby cry, and I know that we BOTH want one parent in the back seat with her so that we feel like we’re doing SOMETHING.

    • We do this too! It might look overly indulgent but we’re just trying to get from point A to point B with a baby NOT screaming.

  2. Parenting has made me more empathetic like woah. I was a nanny for ten years and thought I knew everything. I was a mom for ten seconds and now know I know nothing. Having your own kid makes you realize how tricky they are in so many ways. If you dont instantly feel empathy and maybe a bit of guilt for judging thar parent in the store with the melting down child you are living in a different world than I.

    Laboring and giving birth (planned homebirth turned hospital birth after 2 days of labor without progress and 38hrs broken water) has made me infinately more empathetic to women who give birth. I always silently judged women who had interventions. I shut my brain’s mouth these days. That is hard work and any woman who makes it through pregnancy and has a sqirmy bundle to show for it at the end is a hero in my book no matter how she got them out.

  3. Score one more for increased empathy. I find I am way more tolerant of other parents and their kids since I’ve had my own. I am also much more likely to offer help to a parent I see struggling, especially if they are alone. One time in a restaurant I actually went up to a mom with a wailing newborn in a stroller and asked them if they wanted me to hold the baby for a bit.

    Ok, in hindsight, that wasn’t my best moment. But I would have NEVER EVER EVER done that before I had my own kids.

  4. As someone who’s child free, I always remind myself that I have no idea what the context of the situation might be. I think it’s always a great reminder that as the observer of the “meltdown” you’re seeing the end result and don’t know what else is going on. Perhaps the child has special needs or it was a long day that ended in an emergency run to the store. Whatever the case may be, it’s not going to help the parent or child to stare and judge. My wonder is always, “how can I be helpful here?” I usually just give an understanding nod and grin, but wonder if there’s another way to lend support. I might be choosing to live my life child free, but I’m also very child friendly and want to be a part of the village that cares for and nurtures kids and families.

  5. Im a step mother to a 7 year old with severe autism and am due to have my first baby in September. I was never one for judging parents before – im just not one to take a person circumstances and pretend I know anything about what they are going through. But I am now a parent of a child who sits in the trolley in the supermarket, who runs through stores, who needs to be held rather forcefully while walking any where near cars. He screams, has meltdowns and will be rough with other children because he simply does not understand his own strength sometimes. Its been a very interesting learning curve, thats for sure! As for the snide comments and rude looks I get when IMout with my step son – sometimes? I ignore them. Sometimes? I will stare them down. But at the end of the day I am not the one with social issues, they are because they cant take a second to think that perhaps there is a reason why my very tall child is sitting in a shopping trolley.

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