Dear Gentle Butch,
What is the correct response to strangers telling me to put a hat/coat/socks/shoes/etc on my baby who is comfortable, happy, and not cold?
— The Baby’s Mom
The correct response is, and it is perfectly gentle: “Go fuck yourself.”
I’m being gentle on you, not on them, obviously. It is good advice because it will succeed in your goal: getting those smug motherfuckers the hell away from you as fast as is humanly possible.
They are not only lobbing unsolicited advice at you; they are insinuating that you are a neglectful parent and don’t know how to dress your own damn child. That you are a silly little girl (or boy; I hear fathers out with their babies get this even worse) who simply has no idea what on earth she is doing.
They are walking up to you and saying the rudest thing they can possibly come up with, but pretending it’s aaaallll good. Bullies; cowards. They need to be shut down.
If your mouth is not a combination of an ad executive and a longshoreman like mine is, Miss Manners (who is, by definition, infallible) suggests the following response to all hostile demands like this.
You say, in the frostiest voice possible: “How kind you are to take such an interest in my business.”
And this part is my addition: then turn away and do not say another single word to them.
When we are new parents, we are constantly anxious about all sorts of stuff like if we’re feeding the right food or if the kid is too warm or too hot or breathing funny or whatever, and for strangers to come up and lord it over you that they are, unlike you, apparently clairvoyant and all-knowing, hits a certain pain spot.
Have you found yourself fighting the urge to discuss it with them? To defend your choices? To explain that your baby is not cold, or doesn’t like shoes, or whatever the fuck?
Just one of the two above phrases, and then no response to anything else they say WHATSOEVER.
PS fuck them seriously omg