David Beckham wants us to know we “have no right” to tell him how to raise his child. Beckham is right—and not just because he’s the god that is David Beckham.
The “controversy” began when a photo of Beckham’s 4-year-old daughter Harper using a pacifier hit the social media airwaves. People began lambasting Beckham for allowing his toddler daughter to use a pacifier past the age when it’s deemed safe. As a 4-year-old, it’s irresponsible and it’s bad parenting to allow Harper to use a pacifier.
A LOT of people took to social media to vent their outrage over a little girl’s pacifier habits. They claim that using a pacifier is damaging little Harper’s teeth and her speech development, and the anonymity of the web, coupled with the societal trend of criticizing and commenting on celebrity lives as if they’re our own, made it so that thousands of people weighed in on a family issue that is truly no issue at all.
Beckham, understandably fed up with strangers hurling vitriol at him and calling him a bad father, shot back on Instagram with this strongly worded message:
Why do people feel they have the right to criticize a parent about their own children without having any facts ?? Everybody who has children knows that when they aren’t feeling well or have a fever you do what comforts them best and most of the time it’s a pacifier so those who criticize think twice about what you say about other people’s children because actually you have no right to criticize me as a parent …
The key words in this passage are “think twice about what you say about other people’s children.” This is good advice for everyone, because if you think about it, David Beckham’s problem affects almost every parent in the world, old or new.
Every parent has about a dozen or so people scrutinizing them at every turn. They’ll tell you you’re not doing it right, that you should use cloth diapers, potty-train early, never co-sleep, don’t let them cry themselves out, don’t coddle them too much, use gender-specific names, never use gender-specific names, buy trucks for a boy and dolls for a girl, breastfeed constantly even if it hurts, be a stay-at-home mom, and of course, never let them use a pacifier past a certain age.
And then there are well-meaning relatives telling you you’re trying too hard. Why take breastfeeding classes? Why take parenting classes? In my day, we let kids play out in the street and eat peanuts from the womb, and things are too complicated for you youngins now.
Everyone has an opinion about how you should be raising your child. If you do it a certain way, there are half a dozen people judging you. If you breastfeed for a year, people raise eyebrows. If you decide to go the formula route, you’re being selfish and you’re not a good mother. If you’re a SAHM, you’re not a feminist. If you go back to work right away, you’re emotionally stunting your child. The ridiculous list goes ever on and on. Everyone judges, new mothers included, and it’s time to stop.
David Beckham’s problem is on a much larger scale because he’s raising his children on a global stage. Think of family reunions or your mother’s home visits, and times that by about one million people. You can’t get away from the criticism because you’re connected on social media to thousands of people all too willing to tell you what you’re doing wrong, and why. They call you evil names because they don’t know you—because to them, celebrities aren’t human.
But David’s problem is our problem. Stop telling other people how to raise their children, what to believe, how to think, what to do. It’s none of our business what David Beckham does, and it’s definitely not our place to judge others.
Just because we can say something and just because we’re entitled to an opinion doesn’t give us carte blanche to express those opinions when they’re unwarranted, unwanted or hurtful.
At least now we can all say that we know what it’s like to be David Beckham.