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All Eyes On Me: Reminders to Myself When Parenting in Public and Feeling Judged

Submitted by Rita Brhel on 27 September 2023

I have found myself heavily pregnant, running after my 3-year-old daughter as she bolted away from me in a busy parking lot. 

I have stood beside a screaming toddler while bouncing a crying baby in a checkout line at the store.

I have nursed my 2-year-old son in the park and felt like all eyes were on me.

I want to meet my child's needs in the way that feels right to me. I believe that doing this has strengthened our relationship and helped my kids to feel safe and nurtured. I am satisfied with my parenting approach, yet I admit that some part of me does care about the opinions of others.

There are certain situations where my resolve is tested. Almost invariably, these situations arise in public settings. My kids seem to become tense and unruly in public. I feel a heightened fear for my child's safety as we deal with parking lots and crowded shopping centers. I feel the judgment of strangers and the disapproving glances. It is as if all of my parenting buttons are pressed when we're out in the view of others.

How have I handled my fears? How have I let go of my need for approval, my desire to please, so that I can get on with the business of parenting?

It has helped me to find like-minded parents who provide me with support and insight when I am looking for ideas of how to handle a possible situation before it happens. Sometimes, I can’t foresee the situations that arise.

A couple reminders that help me when I am parenting in public:

  1. Tell myself that I will likely never see these people again, which is often the truth. 
  2. Allow myself to accept help when it is offered, and to ask for help when I need it, such as holding my things while I run after a child or carrying my groceries to the car.

What helps you when parenting in public?

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