As a parent, my life does, to an extent, revolve around my child. Even the stuff I do separately from her (uni study, dates with Husband, evenings out with friends, going running) need to be scheduled around her. This means that I spend a lot of my existence thinking about her. But I do occasionally think of others too. I’ll give you a few examples.
If Pip throws a tantrum in the middle of a shop, I will not just leave her in the centre of an aisle or doorway. I’ll pick her up and take her outside or at least to a corner when nobody is bothered by her before having a conversation with her about her behaviour being totally unacceptable. I see parents letting their children throw tantrums in places where members of the public have to walk around them, getting a headache from their endless shrieking. Yes, tantrums happen. No, you shouldn’t give in to their demands just to keep them quiet for the benefit of strangers. But if you’re hoping that your child is going to stop crying out of embarrassment, you’re totally wrong. Children are notoriously terrible at telling the difference between positive and negative attention. The more people stop and stare at them, the more they’ll scream. But my main point is this: why should everyone else have to out up with your child’s poor behaviour? They have no responsibility for or obligation to them.
I don’t use a pushchair anymore but when I did, I’d try to keep it out of everyone else’s way. I would not take it somewhere I know there are stairs I can’t manage on my own, relying on a stranger to offer their help and whinging if they dare not to. If we were at a bus stop, I did my best to position the pushchair so that people can still walk by or use the bus stop bench. I’d never put it in the middle of a pavement then stand about chatting with someone so that a stranger is put in the cruelly awkward position of having to interrupt me to ask if I could move. I would never put it in the aisle of a train or bus. I thought this was simply common sense and a minimal amount of consideration for others. But other parents seem to think that everything I’ve just mentioned is perfectly acceptable. It’s not. Stop it now. You’re annoying absolutely everyone.
If I’m out with friends on my own, even if I’m thinking about her, I don’t sit and talk about my child non-stop. This is partly because if I’ve got some grown up socialisation time, I’d rather be talking about grown up subjects. This is also because my friends would probably get a bit bored if I stuck to the same subject all of the time. I’ve known parents that can talk about nothing outside of their home life. It’s boring. I try bringing up interesting articles I’ve read recently or a book or film I’ve enjoyed and they’ll steer the subject straight back to their offspring. I obviously don’t mind if a friend is having a parenting problem or if their child has recently achieved a big development milestone or something like that, I’ll listen gladly. They are a part of our lives so they’re bound to be talked about. But not constantly and especially not on the rare occasion that we’re actually child free for a couple of hours.
My point is that just because you have children, it doesn’t mean that you suddenly don’t need to be considerate of everyone else in the world. In fact, you should be setting said child a good example of how to treat others. Don’t be an annoyance just because you’re a parent.