Parents: Listen to people without kids. They might know more than you think.

When I became a first-time mom, I’d lived more than three decades.

I’d seen the metabolism of my youth falter. I had started using reading glasses and I occasionally made small grunts of exertion when I got up from the couch.

If I had given birth just two years later, my pregnancy would have been considered by many in the health care profession to be a “geriatric pregnancy.” (Whether someone in their mid-30s should be considered “geriatric” is an argument for another day.)

My point is, I’d lived life, man. I’d seen some things.

Knowing this, I was incredibly confused and frankly a bit annoyed by how some parents would talk down to me before I had kids of my own as though I couldn’t possibly know anything about parenting or children.

I get it, you can’t completely understand anything — including parenting — until you go through it yourself.

But parenting is a pretty universal experience — literally billions of people do it. Everyone has seen countless parent/child relationships in real life, on television, in books, in movies, and well, basically everywhere, all the time.

Every single person in the world has also had parents of their own or felt the lack of them.

Just as crucially, everyone has been a child themselves.

As it happens, children are just younger people and you don’t have to have children to know how to treat people well — even the youngest ones.

At the end of the day, when you break it down to its most basic level, parenting is really only about two things: 1) being kind to your kid and 2) teaching your kid to be a kind to other people.

Most people know to do these things — even people without kids. That’s why I think we should be able to put aside our parenting egos every once and awhile and realize that even though our friends without kids may not know all the ins-and-outs of parenting, they can still occasionally teach us parents a thing or two about how to take care of our kids.

They can teach us a little bit about kindness.

If only we’re willing to listen.

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Ash Strehle Hartman

Ash Strehle Hartman

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I’m a freelance writer and editor. I’ve written nonfiction children’s books, bar reviews, health care communications and more: https://ashleystrehlehartman.com/