Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gracious Parenting

Recently, the boys and I went to one of our favorite local restaurants with some friends for lunch. It's a super kid-friendly joint, with a special outdoor play area for kids 0-5 and another one in a separate location for kids 6-12. We go there a few times a month and I love that I can sit and eat with friends, while keeping an eye on my boys as they play.

Unfortunately, this time an "incident" occurred. One in which my friend's daughter bit another little girl. All of the kids were underneath the play structure and suddenly she came out from underneath crying with an obvious bruised bite mark on her forearm. She ran over to her mother, who was sitting with a group of three other women, and immediately things turned... ugly.

My friend was so upset at her daughter's actions. She repeatedly apologized to the mother of the little girl who was hurt, but the woman would not even look at her, nor accept her apology. The other women at her table were saying things like, "She needs ice, NOW!", "You need to take her to a doctor, she could get a disease!!", and "That is the SECOND time that little girl BIT someone today!".. The latter of which wasn't even true.

Yes, I know her daughter was hurt. Yes, the mother had every right to be upset. But, she also had a choice as to how she reacted to the situation. She could have accepted the apology, instead she chose to ignore it and glared at our entire table and made loud comments directed at us. These actions were not in the best interest of anyone, especially the children.

What is this teaching them?

I was flabbergasted. My poor friend gathered up her children (she has 3 kids, aged 3 and under) so she could leave.  My heart broke for her. I couldn't believe how these other mothers reacted to this situation. Mothers who have toddlers, just like we do. Mothers who, I can guarantee, have children who are less than perfect.

What child is perfect?

Now, my child has been on the receiving end of less than stellar behavior dished out by other children in the past. I know what it's like when another child hurts your child. It's an awful feeling.

But, I also know what it's like when my child is doing the hurting. It's an even worse feeling.

So, why can't we be gracious with one another? Why can't we as mothers, as parents, band together and have compassion for other parents? We all know what it's like to have a child throw a tantrum, hit, bite, or just act out in public.

Why must we be against each other? 

Afterall, we're human. And so are our children. Can't we bestow a little grace on each other? A bit of understanding and sympathy for the other parent dealing with the unruly child?

So, please, just remember that when you see a "less than perfect" display of behavior in other children, take a moment and think about your own kids.

No child is perfect, and no parent should have to be alienated because of it.

A little bit of gracious parenting can go a long way.

What would you have done in this situation?

Linking up with Shell today. :)


  1. At some point every child will be the instigator and every child will be the victim. And the mother would do well to remember that. Maybe her child will never bite someone, but she will probably hit, pinch, throw something, shove, etc., a another child and I hope when the tables are turned that someone shows her the grace and compassion she refused to give even after a sincere apology was offered. No mother is "proud" when their child hurts another child and I'm sure your friend already felt terrible without turning it into a village stoning. How can we expect our childrent to be forgiving compassionate adults if we don't set the example as adults ourselves? Kathy Penney @ Piinner Takes All

  2. I'm sorry your friend was made to feel so horrible for a behavior that is very age appropriate and to be expected. I ran a licensed home child care for 2 years and taught at-risk pre-k for 12. Whenever a child was bitten I reminded the parents that the next day or the next week it would likely be their own child who would be doing the biting.

  3. More people could benefit from practicing gracious parenting.

    None of our kids is perfect.

    I've seen an instance of a mom acting really rude when another child bit hers... and then the next week, hers punched another child. And her reaction was very different then. ;)


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