Ok. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think our society has some improving to do when it comes to perceptions of children and judgement of parents. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve read numerous articles about kids misbehaving in restaurants (resulting in the diner owner yelling at a toddler), rules for how parents and kids should act (or NOT act) in restaurants, and about the new parent shaming trend which we have social media to thank for.
When did everyone become so judgmental? And better yet, where do all these so-called “perfect kids” live? Maybe I’m missing something, but I surely don’t see many of them in real life.
Now, I probably shouldn’t even get in on this conversation being that no matter what I say, I’ll be “wrong” (depending on who’s reading it), but I feel like keeping quiet and keeping my thoughts to myself isn’t productive. Plus, I’m pretty sure my husband is tired of hearing me talk about it, so I’ll get it out in the open instead. 🙂
Maybe it’s because I’m a Mom to three kids under five, but when I see another parent struggling in a situation with their kids, I feel empathy for them…not anger toward them. If I’m lucky enough to go out on a date night with my husband and there’s a kid sitting next to us, I don’t instantly judge the parents for bringing their kid to a “nice restaurant” or talk crap about them if they’re not behaving perfectly. I’m typically too busy enjoying my time with my husband talking about things that actually matter to us.
You see, I’ve been the parent with the kids screaming in the restaurant. And by the way, I’ve also been the parent with TWO STROLLERS in a restaurant (gasp!).
I’ve been the parent with the kids freaking out on the airplane (not to mention the baby who projectile vomited on one trip while we were trapped in our seats – imagine if that had gone viral – I’m pretty sure that would have been our last flight).
I’ve been the parent in music class with one kid following directions, one begging for her lovey, and one screaming for milk at the top of her lungs.
I’ve been the parent at soccer practice with the kid chasing birds for the entire hour (mind you, she was only 20 months…).
I’ve been the parent who’s forgotten to bring enough snacks, or enough wipes, or enough toys (and by the way, who has the space to lug a bunch of toys around everywhere they go – they must have a GIANT diaper bag), or enough SANITY to keep everything together.
But hey, on occasion, I’ve also been the parent who receives compliments because my kids are so well behaved. I’ve been the parent who’s flown cross country with a 4 year old who behaved better than most adults on the plane. I’ve been the parent with the kid at soccer practice who is excelling and the parent at music class with the only three participating children (while the rest want their loveys and milk…or something else).
And since I’ve been on both sides, all I can do it practice empathy, not judgement. I FEEL for the parents who appear to be having a hard time or the ones who clearly know their kids are having a hard time. They’re kids. They’re making mistakes. They’re learning. And eventually, they’re going to be adults too. I’m making the choice to teach my kids that life isn’t always going to be perfect and that some days are just harder than others…for everyone. Because of that, judging other people isn’t going to help ANYTHING. For all we know, this is the worst day they’ve ever experienced as a parent (or as a kid) – so why is it our job to assume it’s how they “always” behave?
I guess I just don’t understand why people spend so much time judging other people’s decisions (like taking a kid to a restaurant). Is it that it makes them feel better? Or that they have nothing better to do with their time? How is it setting a good example for the people around them? And honestly, who the heck wants to spend time with people who are constantly judging others?
What a waste of time, not to mention energy.
And it’s funny…no, it’s not funny…it’s mind boggling. Even after writing this and getting it off my chest, I still feel frustrated about what’s going on. Talk about giving parents anxiety every time they leave the house. What if your kid happens to have the most epic meltdown you’ve ever seen them have and some random passerby captures it on video and posts it on social media, subjecting you to unnecessary judgement from a bunch of strangers staring at their phones or computers? How is that fair?
How about this…what if all three of my kids have a hard time when we fly across the country next week? I expect the typical mean looks from grumpy passengers sitting near us, but now I need to worry about whether or not my kid’s behavior will go viral?
I’m a pretty darn secure and confident Mom, yet here I am getting all anxious about something that’s out of my control. And yes, I said it’s out of my control…for all the people (and I don’t mean to stereotype, but I feel like a good chunk of these people are kid-less) who believe parents have some sort of mind controlling abilities over their children, that’s totally insane. While my kids are typically very well behaved, happy, and fun loving people, there’s something about strapping them down to a seat for 5 1/2 hours that turns them into crazy people. They’re intense, they’re jittery, they scream in pitches I’ve never heard before, and no amount of parental persuading, rationalizing, or even threatening (“keep acting like this and you’ll lose 5 minutes of cartoons!”) can calm them down. Sometimes, no matter how many snacks, toys, iPads, stickers, or coloring crayons you bring, the only thing that will calm them down is getting OFF the plane.
At the end of the day, I know I’m trying my very best. We work daily with our kids on manners, how they should behave in public, how they should talk to others and treat others, and what’s expected of them. But as I said earlier, they’re little kids and they’re not going to be perfect all the time. And since I know we’re working on these things and we still have kids who misbehave, I tend to believe other people are trying their best as well (as opposed to the many, many people who write comments accusing these “horrible” parents of not trying hard enough to control their kids). I prefer to give other people the benefit of the doubt, which is what I’d hope for in return.
And since I know I’m trying my hardest and I’m assuming everyone else is as well, I’m not going to worry about what other people think (or at least I’ll try my best – I am human, after all) and most importantly, I’m not going to fall into this kid and parent judging cycle that seems to be so rampant right now.
I hope I haven’t offended anyone…and I also hope I’m not alone in feeling all these feelings.
As far as I see it, I have a great kids and I’m not going to let anyone tell me otherwise…even if my kids just so happen to be having the meltdown of the century.