...when I was a nanny and care provider!
I would dream up huge and informative and eloquent speeches that I would have LOVED to toss at parents who would allow their kids to turn into absolute horrors, and would think that I possessed some kind of weird 'magic touch' because the kids would actually behave like civilized human beings when they were with me!
However, I'm EXTREMELY glad I kept my mouth shut. I endured many sleepless nights and stomach pains because of it, but ultimately, I don't know of anyone who's been able to change another person's parenting style through convincing argument. I learned to smile and bite my tongue. A lot.
One of the things that finally relaxed me though, was just realizing that every parent puts up with what they're willing to put up with--and then I can let it go. I mean, hey, if the kids whining and throwing tantrums and jumping up and down on top of the table at the restaurant doesn't bother them (or it doesn't enough for them to actually STOP it), then they're the ones who have to deal with it, not me! When people have treated me rudely because I marched the kids right out of the restaurant or store when they threw a major tantrum, I just smiled and shrugged, but I probably have thicker skin than most. I'm already taking heat for my choices for my soon-to-be-here daughter, such as cloth diapering and BFing, but I'm very fortunate to live in an area where that's actually supported by and large, my friends all know better than to try to tell me what to do rudely, and I have absolutely no qualms about telling relatives (politely) to mind their own business.
Of course, this calm collectedness has been out the window for the last month, as I'm in my 9th month, and watching my niece be allowed to run wild all over my house (while parents turned a blind eye and pretty much left me and my husband to put a stop to the destruction) got me extremely annoyed. But I can blame that on the hormones, right?
I guess I see almost ANY parenting choices as under attack in our society--we don't live in a very child-friendly one, that's for sure. If you read fluff magazines like Parents and Child, it's sadly amusing how many contradictory articles on nutrition, discipline, and even horribly inaccurate developmental information you can find all in the same issue! Parents are spoiling their kids if they AP, they're abusive/ignorant if they don't. No wonder everyone gets testy when they see someone NOT doing what they're doing!
One of the coolest things I've noticed about APer or AP-ish-ers that I know personally is that they're very inclusive of others, confident in their choices, and seem to just like hanging out with other families, regardless of parenting styles. The relaxed atmosphere seems to get everyone to loosen up, and I've seen real differences come of that! Plus, the folks I know are pragmatic, more oriented towards the spirit of things rather than 'You must do A, B, and C to parent well'. Thank gods for that!
I'm sorry that you have to deal with rude people.
But you know, I bet you'd get dirty looks even if you were stuffing fudge-stripe cookies into your kids' mouth every time it opened, and batted your eyelashes lovingly at them while they played hide and seek amongst crowded cafe tables. I wish there was some concrete way that we could collectively convince parents to treat *each other* better in general!!
Just think, when their kids are bottoming out from the giant sugar crash, or screaming out the latest hard-wired response to the fad ads, you can be doing something fun like an art project, extra nursing cuddles, or eavesdropping on your kids' creativity without hearing one marketing punchline! Not too bad of a trade-off, even if you have to listen to whiners/naysayers along the way.
But, man, you're right. It's just plain old ANNOYING/FRUSTRATING having to deal with it. Ugh.