I had a kid later in life, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t around kids. I have nieces and nephews, god kids, and tons of little cousins. There’s literally a kid born in our family every couple of months. For some reason, even when I’m out in public, kids seem to be drawn to me and tell me just about everything. One thing I learned, being surrounded by kids, is if they trust you, they will open up to you. They will tell you about their fears, dreams, and bodily functions. Most of the time, all they want is someone to listen, give them some time, and pay just a little attention to them.
I am an observer by nature. I’m that person who sits back and watches what’s not being said. I watch for clues or gestures. When someone is talking to me, I listen to what they are not saying. I listen to their body language. This has helped me be a great aunt, cousin, and godmother. My young family members felt comfortable coming to me, even though I had no kids of my own. They said I made them feel safe and not judged. That meant so much to me. Even their parents would come to me with concerns about their kids. Not because I was this wonderful parent, but because I was a great listener and observer. I was the person who see the things they didn’t see. I was the person with whom their kids shared their thoughts and they respected me for it. And, I was a kid, so I was a kid of understand how kids think.
As a parent, I don’t know everything about my child, and I never will. I will never say what my child will or won’t do, when they are not with me, because I know kids act differently when they are not with their parents. I know my child will not tell me everything and I will never completely know what is going on with them. This is why I welcome advice from non-parents who spend time with my kids. People who observe things I may miss, because I spend so much time with them, I may overlook small things. Those small things, may turn out to be big things. I welcome the advice because they may say something that will help me be a better parent. Maybe they have some insight as to why my child may be acting or feeling a certain way. Maybe they struggled with the same thing as a child and have guidance that could help make my life easier.
It takes a village to raise a child and in that village there are childless people. Being childless does not make your opinion invalid. Being childless does not mean you can’t identify problems or issues that arise in children or families. Most childless people I know have parented a child in some way. I will never mark someone’s opinion as invalid because they have not had kids. With any information I am given, I take what I need and leave the rest. As a parent, it is my responsibility to do what is best for my child, and sometimes what is best is to listen to someone who may not be a parent.