Monday, September 16, 2013

Parenting: Easy to have opinions about. Hardest to actually do.

I just read a post titled "Dear parents, you need to control your kids. Sincerely, non-parents.” While the article itself has some important points, I wasn't a huge fan of the way he ridiculed a ridicule-er, so I have summarized those important points below.  (Seriously, this IS the short version) ;-)

While at a store, Matt Walsh (a parent himself) heard a toddler in the middle of a tantrum. His first thought: “It happens. Toddlers are notorious for losing their cool at the most inconvenient times. Nobody likes to hear it, but it happens. . . It’s humiliating and emotionally draining, but what can you do? . . .[I]t’s not always that simple; maybe you don’t have time to shut down the whole operation just because Billy’s gone nuclear.” 
When he ended up coming across the woman, it looked like the child was told “no” to a purchasing a sugar cereal. He further thought, “She could bribe her kid into silence, but she was sticking to her guns. Good for her, I thought. Sure, if she’d only meet his ransom demands, my. . .purchasing experience would be a bit more pleasurable, but I was rooting for her nonetheless.”

Then Walsh ran into a 20 yr old fan.  The fan turned to him loudly enough for the mom to hear, and in a superior voice remarked, “Man, some people need to learn how to control their [blanking] kids,” to which Walsh told the fan to mind his own business.

After the offended ex-fan left, Walsh witnessed the explosive kid bump into a display, knocking items onto the ground. Walsh started to help pick stuff up, but the mom said she wanted her son to do it, since he had made the mess. Walsh told readers, “A lot of people would buckle under the pressure of having sonny going psycho in aisle 7, while, seemingly, the whole world stops to gawk and scrutinize, but this lady stayed cool and composed.”

Here's the point of this experience:

Why do people calculate that

Instead, it should read: MISBEHAVING CHILD = NORMAL CHILD

I have been hurt by this before.  A woman who didn't think I could hear her turned to an employee, telling them how horrible my children were and that I was "letting" them get away with it.  She knew nothing of the context of my situation.  Even though knew the context, it still really hurt my feelings and made me question my worth as a mom.  Even if there had been no context to the situation, though, I was being a mom.  It's an imperfect experience that others sometimes witness because we moms don't normally hide out in our homes just to appease others from witnessing our kids be normal, especially since they could never learn to be contributing members of society that way.  And because we eventually have to make it to stores to replenish food and household items to take care of said kids.

Walsh went on to explain that the math doesn't work with this calculation, since a kid “going berserk in a grocery store doesn't indicate the quality of his parents, anymore than a guy getting pneumonia after he spends six hours [poorly dressed] in the snow indicates the quality of his doctor. Grocery stores are designed to send children into crying fits. All of the sugary food, the bright packaging, the toys, the candy — it’s a minefield. The occasional meltdown is unavoidable, the real test is how you deal with it. This mother handled it like a pro. She was like mom-ninja; she was calm and poised, but stern and in command. . . . [A] non-parent doesn’t realize that, unless they plan on using a muzzle and a straightjacket, there is nothing they can do to tantrum-proof their toddler.”

Walsh concluded his post with some profound words: 

“Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do.”

He then gave an example: “You shouldn’t scrutinize parents when you aren’t one, for the same reason I wouldn’t sit and heckle an architect while he draws up the blueprint for a new skyscraper. I know that buildings generally aren’t supposed to fall down, but I don’t have the slightest clue as to how to design one that won’t, so I’ll just keep my . . . architectural opinions to myself.”

My point of summarizing this article and posting about it?  Let us all be more compassionate to each other, as parents, as community members, as human beings.  It's so much easier to voice opinions about how we think people should be living their lives than to actually be in their shoes ourselves.

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