Experience is a wonderful teacher.
The only way to learn how to ride a bike is to sit on the seat and pedal.
Read all the books, watch all the videos, and you still won’t know how to do it until you’ve actually done it.
So what happens when someone uses that inexperience to justify judging your skill and when you point this out, they take offense?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Oriignal Poster (OP) GrandFirefighter816 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for saying it’s easy to be a perfect mom when you don’t have kids to someone who’s infertile?”
OP introduced the players.
“I (28F) have a 2-year-old son.”
“My brother, ‘Tommy’ (25M) has been dating ‘Giana’ (22F) for a few months now.”
Then she started giving specific background.
“She’s a little judgmental, not of me particularly, but in general.”
“She babysits for other children and constantly judges the parents.”
“She says she’d never let her kids act the way the kids do. Sometimes it makes sense and I agree.”
“Others, she claims that her future kids will never, ever throw a tantrum.”
“They’ll accept no the first time, the only time. I’ve told her good luck with that when it comes to toddlers.”
“My son is learning no and has appropriate consequences for tantrums, but he’s learning. It’ll happen.”
“It’s also important to note that Gia is infertile. She can’t have kids without medical intervention or adoption.”
“Saturday night, we went out for my dad’s birthday dinner.”
“I messed up and didn’t prepare my toddler well enough.”
“He got overstimulated and began melting down. I quickly took him out of the restaurant to calm him down before he could cause a scene.”
“It took all of 5 minutes and we returned, he got food and was all good. Giana started on ‘my future kids will NEVER act like that in a restaurant’. I ignored her.”
“The next day, myself, Tommy, our parents, my son and Giana went to the mall for an event they were having.”
“My son was playing in a structure and I had my eyes on him.”
“My mom asked me a question and I turned to answer her.”
“When I turned back, he was gone. Panic set in myself, my parents and Tommy, along with some people nearby began helping me look.”
“It only took a few minutes to find him, and he was perfectly fine. He had seen a pretzel cart and wandered off.”
“I was still pretty worked up, holding onto him for dear life.”
“He had never wandered off before. My mom was reassuring me, saying it happened to her with both of us kids.”
OP then explained the actual problem.
“Then I hear Giana, ‘why weren’t you watching him?’ I tried ignoring her. Then she said, ‘I would’ve never let him wander off”’.
“I was already so worked up and upset, I snapped.”
“I said, ‘it’s easy being a perfect parent when you don’t have kids. Come back to me when you do.'”
“Giana got visibly upset. She then made Tommy take her home.”
“Tommy and Giana have both texted me telling me how insensitive that is since she can’t have kids.”
She gave her reasoning…
“To me, she talks about having kids all the time, so why is it different for me to say that?”
…but wasn’t sure if she was right.
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Commenters pointed out Giana’s unrealistic expectations.
“Yeah, it’s pretty easy to say you’d never do something when you don’t have kids.”
“Kids aren’t accessories. They’re individual human beings who can and will react differently.” ~ RebeccaMCullen
“Yes, I am so fond of saying that I was the perfect parent/mom……before I had kids.”
“Now I have a ‘he knows all’ 6-year-old, and a attitude-filled toddler.”
“It was so easy to make snap judgments when I was the fun aunt and the easy peasy babysitter who only had to have the kids for a few hrs.” ~ crazymommaof2
“However, who the hell thinks a kid will never throw a tantrum.”
“That would actually be abnormal and unhealthy. Even meltdowns, the kids don’t mean anything bad they are just overwhelmed.”
“It just doesn’t make sense to think that will never ever happen with your kid.” ~ AlexandraG94
“I like to say they have all the same emotions as an adult, but just a much smaller vessel to carry those emotions in.”
“Yeah, a 20oz bottle can hold 16oz of water just fine, but that’ll overflow in an 8oz cup.”
“It doesn’t mean the cup is inferior or bad. It just means the cup can’t handle that much water.”
“It’s the same with toddlers and emotions.”
“Plus, what is a small deal to us, adults, because we’ve lived through it before can easily be the worst thing to ever happen to a toddler because they’ve only been alive two years and haven’t had that many bad experiences (hopefully).”
“We know their balloon popping isn’t the end of the world, but they haven’t lived long enough to know that yet.”
“Of course, tantrums aren’t fun to deal with, but we have to have an understanding with the little ones. Once upon a time, we were that screaming kid.” ~ NovaScrawlers
A Scientific Speciality.
“This is exactly it.”
“I usually end up saying this about teenagers/ adolescents, but everything that happens to them is the worst thing that’s ever happened to them because they haven’t had to chance to gain perspective.”
“Also, from a neurobiological perspective, the connections between prefrontal/conscious areas and other areas of the brain aren’t fully formed until age 25.”
“So those executive function areas need time to catch up to the subcortical/unconscious areas.”
“It’s why teens tend to make ‘bad decisions’ and engage in risky behavior, why younger people aren’t always able to fully conceptualize and integrate hypothetical consequences and tend to have less emotional intelligence/self-awareness.”
“It’s also why when mental health conditions tend to emerge during this time, teens are at greater risk for poor outcomes.”
“But sorry, yes, also toddlers.”
“Expectations of perfect behavior are not good for the child, parent, or the relationship.”
“It causes undue stress in everyone, messes with attachment, and, later, poor self-esteem.”
“Childhood is for making messes, learning from mistakes, building skills, and forming one’s self-concept.” ~ nololthx
Some brought personal examples.
“She’s the same as my dad, who loudly judges soccer players on TV as inferior to his abilities, all while overweight in his recliner with his busted knee. Sure, Dad.” ~ tdtwwwa
“Or my kid who is learning to drive and has a running commentary on my every move.”
“Can’t wait until they get behind the wheel and learn that the traffic around you can affect your lane changes” ~ ISwearIUsedToBeSmart
“Oof, feeling this one hard, lol.”
“Got into a mini argument with my 17-year-old as I was taking him to school in the rain.”
“Because I mentioned how poor people in our state drive when it’s raining and counterintuitively suddenly take more risks than they would when it was dry.”
“This kid had the nerve to say I must be exaggerating, he’s neeeeeever seen that. 45 seconds later, we’re at a standstill on the off-ramp because just ahead, there was a gnarly accident that resulted in one car with its front end sheared clean off and the other laying on its side.”
“Since we weren’t moving, I just stared at him in silence for like a solid 30 seconds until he sheepishly went ‘okay…maybe you’re right….'” ~ StabbyMaggie
Some felt Giana’s reaction was the problem.
“She openly talks about her ‘future kids,’ so that clearly isn’t an issue.”
“Presumably, she plans to adopt or make some other arrangement and still plans to raise kids.”
“(Not that a 22-year-old can necessarily know what the future will hold in that regard.)”
“This feels like an excuse, like a trump card she’s trying to use to make it unacceptable to fire back at her.” ~ BenderBenRodriguez
“Her interpreting ‘you haven’t ever raised kids and can’t judge’ as ‘you can’t get pregnant naturally in the future, neener neener’ is obtuse and a knee-jerk reaction to the comment.”
“OP’s pushback is entirely valid.”
“OP didn’t even phrase it as a jab at her infertility, but as a clap back to her current, entitled position of judging parents without having ever been a parent.”
“Being lashed out at is a natural consequence of her actions.”
“NTA” ~ pdubs1900
“I think she might also be using the ‘I’ve got some misfortune in my life, so no one can ever correct my behavior or tell me I’m wrong, and everybody has to pretend I’m perfect’ tactic here.”
“Yeah, it sucks for her that she can’t have kids, especially since she wants them.”
“Neither can I. Neither can lots of women, everywhere.”
“Neither can lots of men, everywhere. Thankfully I don’t want them in the first place, so it works out, but dude, it’s really not the end of the world…” ~ Yutolia
Experience is a wonderful teacher, but the opposite is also true – inexperience is a lousy mentor.
When we don’t know what we’re doing, we fill in the blanks as best we can and make all sorts of assumptions along the way.