Friday, March 25, 2011

Parents vs. Non-Parents: Can't we all be friends?

A friend of mine, "Jackie", posted this as her facebook status yesterday:

"Dear parents, if your child is SCREAMING kindly remove yourself from the store so the rest of us shopping don't have to listen."

 (And with her permission I have decided to turn it into a blog post.)

At the time I was chatting with my lovely friend, Mama Marchand, and told her what my gal pal had written. She immediately said that I should say something. But, I decided I wanted to wait and see what others had written. And, boy oh boy, did she get the attention of others with that statement! 

Some who agreed with her:
"Ok, I have a LOT to say on the subject. Jackie, I totally agree with you... REMOVE the child. I am sorry but when I was young, we (me nor my 2 other siblings) would NEVER think of acting up in the store, know why? Cause we were actually DISCIPLINED! I got my share of smacks on the butt for misbehaving. That is what's wrong, parents are too stinkin afraid of DISCIPLINING their kids because they are so afraid of hurting feelings... this is something I could go on and on and on about but I think you get the picture"

"Ok. Being a mom I have to say I totally agree with my cuz Jackie here. My child knows better and if he ever acted inappropriatly we would be in the car with a quickness. Granted it all depends on age NB-3yrs, take the kid home cause he prob needs a nap. Anything older than that you need to let the child know who's in charge. To many parents are letting their kids take the lead and honestly its pretty sad."

Some who agreed with her and were rather snarky:
"Unfortunately, until the Entitled Parent Euthanization Program goes into effect, there's nothing we can do but listen to the screaming and the whining."

* This guy did leave some rather inappropriate comments, like the one above. Not sure why he got so ugly with this debate.*

Some who did NOT agree with her:
"Hey! Sorry about that! I'm so embarrassed i didn't realize that the store was your own personal space! I'll have to make sure that I abstain from buying food or whatever else we need until I figure out how to train an infant/toddler to exercise a little more self-control. Again, so sorry that my trying to squeeze a grocery trip in between work and naps and feedings (etc.) was such an inconvenience for you! ;)"

"Sorry but please do not judge when you have no idea what this person's day has already entailed walking around aimlsy the ex: mom just came from childs doctors appointment little johnny has cancer - little johnny has screaming fits because ...of the pain in his stomach that finally has a diagnosis. Omg mom is in shock what will she tell little johnny's sister who adores him. How will she explain to johnny all the doctors and needles he will need to endure over he next 5 to 10 years of his life. This is what the mom could be thinking as she is trying to also find a quick dinner. Life is short- children cry and so do we. Deal!"

And then the battle between parents and non-parents began:

"As for non-parents... I think those of us who ask you to reserve your judgment until you ARE parents do so because we remember that we were once in YOUR shoes, feeling very justified in similar judgment, and we know how much our perspective... has changed. In this kind of situation, there really is no substitute for practical experience. It's really to say "they should" do this or that. It's a lot more difficult when you're the one having to figure out just HOW exactly to do those things."

"re: non-parents commenting on parenting: I remember how I was raised, what was acceptable, what was not. Sure, it's probably not an accepted parenting style in the current child-worship school of thought, but that's OK with me. I don't want kids because I don't have the patience to raise them in a way I would be proud to call them my own. Having kids is not an accomplishment, it's raising good ones that's the tricky part. Yes, every kid will have a meltdown. But not so often that you have to impose that meltdown on everyone else just to get on with life."
"Don't try to reason with them. If they already demonstrated their irresponsibility by *having children in the first place* you can't expect them to have a rational conversation about these things. Some parents think that having functional genitals gives them magical insight, and this frees them of all criticism. In reality, their magical genitals are the problem. Anyone who has a child or has ever been a child is the problem. If you don't want people complaining about unruly children, stop making babies!"

*Last comment written by snarky guy*

So, there it is. In all of its ugliness. Poor Jackie got more than she bargained for when she posted her status yesterday. And there were many more comments than the ones I showed above. 

I find this to be a rather interesting topic. How those without children view those with children. Is it okay to tell others how to parent when you in fact have no real experience? (Babysitting the neighbors kids when you were 13 doesn't count here. Sorry!) Is it okay to let your child scream so that you can grab a few groceries? Is said child screaming because something is seriously wrong? Is the Mother just so burnt out she's just letting him get it out of his system? Sometimes you never know the circumstances.

You may remember a previous post I wrote on this topic. About Aidan screaming in restaurants and the evil eye I received from the lady behind me. He wasn't upset, just learning how to use his vocal chords. Should I have punished him for doing something that is completely normal and beneficial to his devlopment?

Do we "worship" our children as snarky guy suggested? Should today's parenting styles be changed? Has discipline gone out the window? Should we reestablish the "old school" way of discipline? Ask our kids to go pick a switch off the tree in the backyard so that we can then smack them with it? That's how my Dad grew up. Is that really the answer?

Or do these non-parents really just not have a clue as to what its like to raise children? Are they simply annoyed that others have children? Do they not like children and have to immediately point out faults that other parents have? Do they expect all children to be angels? 

How do you deal with this situation when it's your child? Or when you don't have children and you encounter this scenario at the store?

Can't we all just be friends?

What do you think?

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  1. Full disclosure: I'm not a parent. That being said- I did nanny throughout college for a set of twins and a toddler. That being said a grocery store isn't fine dining--- if you are at a family restaurant, a big box store or a grocery store-- expect to see young children. And although temper tantrums are not ideal—it happens. I think it’s safe to say the mother was not exactly enjoying this moment at the store. If the friend who posted that status was so bothered by the noise- perhaps she could have gone down another isle or stepped away from the screaming child.
    From a non-parent’s perspective- I do not understand why parents take their children to upscale stores, fine dining restaurants or the any movie over PG. While they may need to get out of the house—these are not kid-friendly settings and parents should be respective of those who do not have children.
    Of course—it’s much easier to say this while I do not have children—down the road I may just be that mother with the screaming child. Good Post!!

  2. Yes, when I was a "non-parent" and was on a date with the hubs, I definitely rolled my eyes if we were seated next to a table with a screaming child because, for goodness sakes, it was DATE NIGHT.

    Now that I am a parent, I know that those parents were probably sick to death of staying in their house for dinner and tried, for the first time in weeks, to get out with their child and see if he could last through a meal. I now give an empathetic smile.

    But, there's a BIG difference between a store and a restaurant. Yes, said parents should have taken the child outside to calm him down or tried to distract him but in a store? Sometimes mama just needs some food ... or clothes ... or a minute outside of her house regardless of what mood the child is in.

    "Jackie" should have thought before she typed. I'm sure she's learned her lesson. ;) And like I said to you while we were chatting, I'm sure she'll understand someday ... (I've censored myself) ;)

  3. Man oh man I bet she did get an ear full after that status! I don't think that non-parents should judge parents because they haven't ever been in those kinds of situations before. I hate for my kids to misbehave in public, but sometimes you just have to learn to ignore the problem get done with your shopping and get out quick! I also hate to see other people's children misbehaving, but that is their's to deal with not mine!

  4. All I'll say is that I see both sides of this one. I do think a subset of our modern society is in full-on child worship mode. I also am not particularly bothered by hearing a child throw a tantrum in a public place, and can't fathom why anyone looking for a quiet dinner out would choose a casual dining restaurant- I thought TGI Fridays was actually invented specifically for people with multitudes of children). I'm also guilty of taking my child to lots of non-child-friendly restaurants, and, strangely, no one has ever been rude or snarky to me about that. But I only have one kiddo at the moment, so I'm almost certain that her getting dragged to Fig in Charleston or The Wine Guy Bistro up the road is just a function of her only-childness; people tell us frequently that we wouldn't be doing that stuff with 2 or more, and I'm apt to believe them.

    In my experience, it's not just the parents vs. the non-parents who need to learn to get along (and since all of our close friends are non-parents, it would be a sad world for me if that were the case)-- parents are just as eager to judge each other as non-parents are to judge parents. Human nature, I guess!

  5. Tough one! Kids aren't perfect (and neither are parents). I have a rough time with disciplining in public b/c I feel like if do people give me the stink eye, and if I DON'T they give me the stink eye. Such a dilemma. I do, however, feel like if my kids are making a ruckus in a restaurant or church, etc. (or just being a distraction), I will remove them. No, they don't realize they're ruining another family's dinner, but I think it's considerate. Just my two cents!

  6. I have to admit that I have cast judgement on those parents who allow their children to carry on and act out of control. There is a difference, newborn-1yr crying in the store=Not acceptable! They cry for a reason, take care of it!
    1-3 yr., is a tough call. Are they crying because they are tired, wanting something, or exercising their new found freedom in expressing themselves? You can tell, especially if it is your child. At about 2 yr. the child will be able to understand if you pick them up and take them out of the situation. They learn quick that crying/screaming has a consequence and it needs to be handled immediately. Crying/acting out after the age of 3= parent who did not take care of the problem when they were 1-3 yr. I have 5 children, 1 foster child and none of them would ever think of behaving badly at a store. It is all in how it is handled. Adults without children should mind their own business, I don't tell them what to do with all that free time they have on their hands! :)

  7. I have to say crying babies never really bothered me before, but now I am so much more understanding and actually feel bad for the baby/child about what is wrong for them to be crying. We adults need to give each other more GRACE!


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