Handling awkward situations

At a Glance: What to Say When Other People Interfere With Your Parenting

By Lexi Walters Wright

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Whether they mean to or not, other parents might interfere with the parenting of your child. Here are ideas on how to respond when other parents criticize, offer unwanted advice or try to discipline your child.

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At a Glance: What to Do When Other Parents Interfere

The adults around your child likely don’t understand her learning and attention issues unless they spend a lot of time with her. They may see her behavior and make a quick judgment. They might even try to step in and try to help. Here’s how to handle people who interfere with your parenting.

Offering Unwanted Advice
The scene: At school drop-off, another mom says, “I read an article about ADHD today. It said that parents should modify their kids’ diets to stop bad behavior. Did you see that?”
How to respond: “I did, thanks!” or, “No. But that sounds interesting.”
The rationale: You don’t have to chat with near-strangers about your private parenting choices. You can choose a polite version of “I’m not comfortable discussing my child.”

Criticizing Your Parenting
The scene: Your daughter forgets her ballet shoes. You return home for them, because you know how relaxing class is for her. Another mom says, “She sure has you wrapped around her finger.”
How to respond: “Kaya is getting better at staying organized, and ballet is great for her.”
The rationale: You can offer a bit of information about your child’s needs without going into specifics. And it can be helpful for them to know she’s making progress.

Disciplining Your Child
The scene: At a birthday party, a parent says, “If she’d stay in one place, we could get a picture of the whole group. Maria, will you stop fidgeting?”
How to respond: Away from your child, try: “Staying still is hard for Maria. We’re working on it, and we’d prefer to keep this a family matter.”
The rationale: It’s normal to go into protective mode when another adult tells your child what to do. Try to stay calm and stick to the facts.
Graphic of What to do when other parents interfere
Graphic of What to do when other parents interfere

About the Author

Portrait of Lexi Walters Wright

Lexi Walters Wright

A veteran writer and editor for parenting magazines and websites, Lexi Walters Wright has a master’s degree in library and information science and is proud to serve families at

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Reviewed by Laura Tagliareni, Ph.D. May 12, 2014 May 12, 2014

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