Me Versus the Smug: How to Stay Sane Around Patronizing People


I got schooled the other day on how to be a perfect parent.

No, the advice didn’t come from a world-renowned child psychologist. Maybe I would have actually listened to it then? Nope, this particular event was from a fellow parent. It was certainly one of those enlightening moments. It brought complete clarity to how I was supposed to parent my son. Nothing like that smug look from one mom to another.

Smug look

Have YOU been there?

Just minding your own business when out of nowhere another parent drones on and on about how they got their picture-perfect tot to be a certain way. To avoid public humiliation I will refer to my latest experience of this occurrence as my friend Jane. Jane has a baby and is lucky (as in struck gold in the rush lucky) to have a baby who sleeps through the night and also takes a few long naps during the day.

We all have different experiences 

I’m still in shock that some kids sleep so much! I have no idea what any of that feels like because my 3-year-old still doesn’t sleep through the night and Jane knows it. In one of my many exasperated conversations with her, I was recalling how the night before my toddler was up until 11pm and then woke again at 3am then 5am. Not a fun night. 

When someone is telling you a story like that I can tell you that 99% of the time it is probably just to vent and get it out. They’re not looking for advice unless they specifically ask for it. At that moment I really didn’t want her counselor suggestions. It was just one mom venting to another.

Jane jumped at the chance to lecture me on what I should be doing to get him to sleep through the night. Pointing out all the things I was doing “wrong” with my son and all the things she was doing “right” with her daughter.

I wish you could have seen the look of smug on her face. It’s too bad I didn’t have a “worlds best mom” sticker to give to her at that moment. I just kept thinking about how she has surely angered the karma gods and her second baby won’t be such a good sleeper. The first rule about the sleep club, never talk about it!

I was standing there dumbstruck as Jane knew all of the things we had tried with him already. Who’s counting two sleep consultants, a night nanny trained in sleep and a postpartum doula? We tried it all. 

Listen, smile and listen some more

The moral of this story is to just refrain from dispensing out smug parenting advice unless asked for it. Even if you have the perfect solution that worked for your babe. Most of us are all just trying to do the best we can for our kids and being lectured about how we are not doing it is not helpful, it is hurtful.

It is amazing how someone just listening to you, nodding along and offering a smile or a comforting hug instead of jumping in with their recommendations may be just what you may need, a listening ear. It may also save a friendship with someone (especially if they are sleep deprived)!

Have you been here?
What have you learned and do you tend to keep your parenting opinions to yourself unless otherwise asked for?


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