If you've ever swung a club even once on a public course, you know that everyone and anyone will give you unsolicited advice on it. "You're standing up too straight, bend your knees a bit..." or "You're not breaking your elbows at the right time, loosen up..."
The thing is, the people offering advice are rarely Tiger Woods... hell, most of them have swings that would make a good scratch golfer wince just to see.
But they're sure that they know exactly what you need to do to improve your game.
Parenting is a lot like that. Only worse.
Because while it's seldom that you get advice on your slice from someone who has never picked up a club themselves, you get advice from non-parents on a regular basis.
The following paragraph just went into my user profile:
If you don't have children, you aren't qualified to give anyone advice about parenting - any more than you are qualified to tell a surgeon how to cut if you didn't go to medical school, or a pilot how to fly the plane if you've never taken the wheel before yourself. Yes, you are perfectly allowed to have an opinion on the quality of a parent, or a doctor, or a pilot... But everything a non-parent has to say about what s/he would or wouldn't, and anyone else should or shouldn't, do is purely theory and inevitably bullshit.
See, I have a *ton* of childfree friends - and an equal amount who are parents themselves... and some working actively toward it.
The difference between MY childfree friends and the "average non-parent" is that while mine might have definite opinions on what does or doesn't make a good parent, they would never presume to tell me how I "ought to" raise my daughter...
I tend to assume that's because the average IQ is significantly higher here than most places on the internet (or off) but I think it's also partially due to the fact that pretty much everyone I associate with has been the victim of "Armchair Quarterbacking" on one or several aspects of their lives.
It is amazing to me how many folk out there think that the rest of us will greet their pontifications with whispered awe and gracious thanks when they have ZERO reason for us to respect their unsolicited advice or opinion on a matter.
"But yndy," you say "aren't you pontificating now?!? Don't you do it on a regular basis? I thought that was one of your more notable personality traits..."
Yes, actually - I *am* pontificating. Irony of ironies. But it's not unsolicited.
This isn't getting posted in everyone else's LJ as a "oh, and btw... you need to read this and then shower me with fawning praise for my brilliance and the genius of my theoretical observation!"
Nor is what I write based solely in theory. I write from my experience. If it's extensive, I tend to write more adamantly. If it's minimal, I tend to preface with things like "this is only my two cents" or "this is my experience, yours may differ."
I don't write about what it's like to be Black... or Pagan... or Child-free... or Male... Nor would I dream of telling someone who is something I am not how s/he should deal with it.
Once or twice (okay, maybe more, I was young once too!) I've found myself falling into the trap of being so enamoured of my own (self-proclaimed) brilliance that I've started to give advice to someone on something I have absolutely NO personal experience with. If I've already gone so far as to open (and promptly stick my foot into) my mouth - I apologize as soon as I realize my error and try to remember not to do so again. Fortunately, for the most part, I tend to self-edit and either shut the hell up before it gets out, or delete before posting the offending bit.
Occasionally, I try to remember that the majority of those giving unsolicited advice are folk who just have my best interest at heart and nod and smile and give it as much weight as I think it's due.
Unfortunately, altogether too often, the theoretical-expert is someone I don't know at all. A stranger who drops into a public forum, or an acquaintance of someone else's who pipes in on a conversation that didn't previously include them.
It's hard not to come out swinging at those times. Seriously - if you are a friend who says "hey yndy have you tried keeping your head down longer when you swing to avoid that hook?" I'm likely to go through the following thought process:
a) consider the source - is the person asking someone I consider an expert I'd turn to for advice?
b) consider the motivation - is s/he just trying to help me out?
Either way, I try to smile and say "Thanks, I'll consider that."
But if you're Billy-Joe-Bob-Internet-Moron-or-Cocktail-P
I don't get past a)... and if you aren't Tiger-fucking-Woods or The World's Most Amazing Parent™ then you'd best expect that I come out guns blazing.
Or maybe 9-iron swinging is a more appropriate metaphor...
<x-posted to parent_as_verb>