Friday, June 25, 2010

Parenting advice/ parenting someone else's child

Now that I have my son, I am confronted with parenting issues all over the place. If it isn't my own child, sometimes it's someone else's.

There are as many ways to parent as there are parents in the world, so I expect to rarely run into a parent with very many of my ideals. I'm also somewhat outside the box as far as modern parenting goes.

But sometimes I see something so bad I think...can't I step in?

For example, we recently went to a children's museum in another town nearby.  My son loved best the room reserved for infants and toddlers, dubbed "The Gentle Zone".  While in there, we encountered several parenting issues that I wanted to confront, but didn't, for various reasons.  The one that bothered me most, of course, involved disposable diapers.

A little girl was playing on the little bitty slide.  She had a very short little baby dress on, which I don't really object to in general (although I would have had a diaper cover of some sort on my child, but whatever, she was about 18 months).  However, it is relevant because I could see her diaper from every angle as she moved about the room.  She was in the same area with Jack and it was inevitable to notice that her diaper was pretty soaked.  You know how disposables look when they are saturated?  For boys, its mostly in the front.  Girls tend to be more in the middle, but this one was full up to her waist.  At one point, she bend over and I could see the tell-tale lumpiness of poop in the back.

I was pretty horrified.  See, mom and dad weren't standing to the side, barely watching.  No, they were interacting with their daughter constantly!  They were having a blast!  This of course could explain why they didn't notice - we are blind to some things when we are highly tuned into others - but I was sort of tempted to draw their attention to it.

I didn't.  Not because I feared the kind of ugly, defensive confrontation that the first scene could have caused, but because hygiene is so...personal.  Even for a baby or toddler. Parents who are obviously so head over hills in love with their child that they brought her to an awesome museum and are interacting with her so throughly shouldn't be the kind of parents who don't notice that their child is soaking wet and has pooped her diaper.  But we also live in a country that has come to think of diapers as "hygienic" for some reason.  We believe that disposable diapers are "clean and dry" even after a child urinates in them.  So telling another parent that it's time for a diaper change seems invasive in some way.

On top of that, some parents just don't think diaper changes are that important.  I have met women who have told me that they wait as long as possible to change diapers because they are so expensive.  One woman told me that she knew that it was "bad" but that her baby didn't seem to mind being wet and it was one less thing to do so she only changed on a schedule unless he pooped.  And in this incident at the museum, its entirely possible that these parents view the fun their child is having and the positive learning environment as more important than stopping all that for a diaper change.

And its possible that they just didn't notice.

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