BBC interview interrupted by kids open letter to perfect parents
Inspiration, Point of View

An Open Letter to the “Perfect Parents”

My thoughts after the interrupted BBC interview went viral

Last Friday, I was browsing through Facebook on my phone as usual. Suddenly this funny video popped up in my feed and cracked me up. A professor was doing a live interview on BBC about the impeachment of the Korean president. Everything seemed like business as usual, until this little girl opened the door, approaching the professor in high spirit and dancing. The professor tried to stay professional while using his left hand to push the girl back from the webcam. While I thought things couldn’t get any funnier, her little brother quickly followed her sister and “rolled into” the room, followed by their mother, grabbing the kids, got them out of the room, and finally, the famous “reach” for the door. As a mother who always tried to work from home while taking care of my two year old, I loved how this video was unscripted, hilarious and just so real!! This is our life and it feels good to know that a highly respected professor, who gets to talk about serious political issues on BBC, also share the same struggle as us while trying to work from home. However, the fun kind of stopped as I stroll down to read the comments.

perfect parents social media comments
Selected social media comments on the viral video

These are only a few of the comments I found on different social media websites. Sadly, this was actually not surprising to me. Every time there was a parenting incident reported on the news, those “perfect parents” would jump in and quickly judging the parents, often started with phrases like “I would never…” or “If I were him/her…”. These parents (or parents wanna be) are just so confident that they would’ve handled the same situation perfectly, or at least better than the parents they see on the news. I have to say that before I was a mother, I had been one of them, the “perfect parents”. I might not have actually said or written anything, but I definitely had the same judgmental thoughts. I thought I was so rational and cautious that I would treat and educate my kid in the most perfect way. But little did I know what it takes to be a good mother. Especially, parenting a spirited child isn’t as easy as step 1, 2, 3. This eye-opening experience changed how I see the world, so I decided to address this issue in an open letter for the “perfect parents” to understand why for most of us things aren’t perfect in the parenting world, and the least you can do is to judge.

Dear “Perfect Parents”,

I know that you are always observant, rational and critical. You are always so together that nothing has slipped through on your watch. You may have raised a couple kids and they always listen to you and behave like you wanted them to be. You think you know everything about parenting or at least enough for you to be a good parent. And most importantly, you care about other kids. You care so much that (A) You have to offer advice to other parents, so that they could do a better job; or (B) You are afraid that something horrible would happen to your kids, so you have to say the “right thing” out loud to remind yourself and feel better. I know, I’ve been there and I was one of you. But everything changed after I became a mother of a strong willed child. I would never judge another parent just because something happened to a kid, or just because I witnessed a kid’s seem-to-be-troubled behavior, without trying to understand the background stories first. Here are my reasons:

1) Maybe you saw the worst side of the story.    click to tweet

work from home on snow day

So you saw this professor handling the live TV emergency on BBC improperly and immediately jumped into conclusion that he was not a capable or loving daddy. “He should’ve locked the door” someone commented. Yes he should’ve. But little did you know that he had been doing live TV interviews for 6 years and this was the only time he forgot to lock the door.  “He should’ve just picked the girl up and acknowledge the cute family” someone else said. Yes he could’ve. However he was just a professor who never got trained properly to handle emergencies on live TV. At that moment all he thought about was to finish his job as professionally as he could. If you got a chance to watch the “sequel” of the interrupted BBC interview, you would see a loving pair of parents trying to stay sane during an interview while two young cranky kids crawling around them. This is life. This is us! Toddlers are unpredictable, especially the spirited ones. When you see an incident happening, try to remember that it could just be a bad day or one single isolated incident. Don’t you agree that it is too harsh to judge another fellow parent simply base on one thing they did?  

2) Because you never know if you can do better.   click to tweet

doing something important with baby

We all know that cookie-cutter parenting doesn’t work, because our kids are all different. Some are sweet and laid back, and others are stubborn and strong willed. Some are chatterboxes and others are quiet observers. Some parents may think that they have raised “good kids”, so they must have done a better job, hence they get to judge others who didn’t do the “right thing”. But this isn’t necessarily true. Maybe you are just lucky that you were blessed with kids who were naturally easy going and more understanding than others. Or, on the contrary, in the worst case scenario, maybe the kids only “behaved” because they were afraid to speak up against their parents, or they don’t even care to communicate, due to overly strict parenting. Of course, I am not speaking against parents who did great jobs parenting their children. I am working very hard myself to be one of them and I strongly believe that good parenting can directly affect a child’s personality, mental health, intelligent achievement and happiness in life. I am simply saying that every family has a unique story, so nobody is entitled to judge others simply because they think they did a better job or that they know better. Because you just never know!

3) Parenting is a 24/7 job and parents are only human.    click to tweet

this is my life_work from home

“Parents are children’s best teachers.” This is an old Chinese saying which I absolutely agree with. However, parents are not teachers. Teachers greet the students in the morning and see them off in the afternoon, then they are able to get off work and just go home. But parents can’t. The kids do not obey parents the same way as how they do at school. And parents can’t always stay focused the same way teachers do (I am talking about those responsible teachers here). So if occasionally we are not paying attention or not treating our children properly, it isn’t because we don’t love our children or we aren’t responsible parents. It is simply because we are human and we are tired, especially for those who work from home or the stay-at-home parents. We love our children so much that we are always on top of everything, wanting to make sure the kids are safe, healthy, well-educated and happy. When we are doing this on a 24/7 basis, it drained so much energy from us and sometimes we just need a break. A lot of times, the improper things, which you witnessed or heard about, happened exactly when we needed a break.  Does it make us bad parent? I say not! On the contrary, we learn from our mistakes, get re-energized and become better parents.

Your fellow parent,

Strong Headed Mom

We often teach our kids to be compassionate and empathetic. And we, the parents, need to do exactly the same, learn to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, think and act objectively and responsibly. We all have made tremendous efforts to be good parents and there are so many bumps on the road that we can’t avoid. I really hope my fellow parents who are struggling and self-doubting to chin up and believe in what you’ve been doing. And I also hope the “perfect parents” out there to stop and think twice before you make any judgment on other parents again. We, the parents, are all in this together! 🙂