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Why Judging Moms Makes Us All Worse Parents

admin July 31, 2013

Awhile ago, it was our grocery shopping day.

I didn’t actually have to take the kids.  My husband had taken the day off as a surprise, so I could have left them at home.  But I really don’t mind taking them and decided to give them a choice.  They all opted to go with me, even knowing I wasn’t going to buy them any treats.

Things were going okay at our first store until we hit the bulk bins.  They like to be “helpful” so my then-3-year-old walked over to one bin and grabbed the scoop.  I put it back, reminded him we weren’t getting that food this time and to put his hands back on the cart.  Then I grabbed a bag, walked five feet away, and began scooping up peanuts.  We had been talking for a couple of minutes how we were going to take our peanuts home and soak them so we could make our own peanut butter.

My son loves peanut butter.  And there are machines on the counter near where I was standing that make freshly-ground peanut butter and almond butter.

In the one minute, while I was scooping peanuts, I suddenly heard an electric grinding noise.  I quickly looked up, set my stuff down, and went over to him.  He had turned on the peanut butter machine (probably misunderstood what I meant when I said “we’re going to make peanut butter”) and it was pouring all over the counter.  I shut it off and stood there for a second, trying to think what to do next.  I was embarrassed and flustered and needed a moment to take a breath and think.

Then an older woman next to me said, “You shouldn’t have left them over there.”  Implying that if I’d been watching them, this wouldn’t have happened.  (They were maybe five feet away from me and in full sight.)

I felt even more embarrassed and upset and quickly put my son in the cart, yelled at him, sent my daughter to get an employee, and scooped up the mess myself.  Then I bolted out of there.

It was only after I was out of the store and had a few minutes to take a breath and calm down that I realized what I should have done: told the woman “Thanks, I’ve got this” and ignored her, then walked my son to find an employee together so he could explain what had happened (he was all too eager to tell everyone) and ask for help cleaning it up.  It would have been a great teachable moment for him about not touching machines if you don’t know what will happen and cleaning up messes even if they were an accident.  Instead, I’m sure all he remembers was that mommy was angry.

Public Judgment

This isn’t the first time that someone — in both cases, an older woman — has made it her business to publicly comment on my parenting.  In fact, the first time, a year or so ago, was worse.  In that case, we were at the zoo and way at the back, in an exhibit that was basically deserted.  I needed to nurse a then-newborn Jacob, so I settled on a bench and let the kids play nearby.  They found some rocks, which they were tossing gently onto the sidewalk.

A woman walked up to us and told the kids to stop immediately and clean them up, and actually stood there, ignoring me, and waited for them to obey her.  A complete stranger, not a zoo employee.  I was so flustered there, too, that I told them to just do it, then got out of there quickly.

If I had it to do over, I’d have said, “Thanks, but they’re okay.  We’ll clean up when we’re ready to leave.”  They were not throwing rocks near anything or anyone; nothing was getting hurt!  They were entertained in a safe way so I could feed the baby.  We planned to clean up before we left.  What in the world was it hurting?

Public judgment makes parents worse.

Had the woman not interfered in the grocery store situation, I would have had a moment to think and remember my son is only 3.  He was not trying to make a mess.  He didn’t know how the machine worked and he misunderstood what I said about getting peanut butter.  That is a mistake, and an accident.  He needed to be reminded not to touch without asking and to clean it up, and it would have been a great lesson for him.  But instead of parenting based on what he needed, I parented based on this woman’s judgment.

Same with the rock situation.  We’d have gathered up our stuff and worked together to put the rocks back — reminding my children that when we’re done playing, we clean up.  Instead, I yelled at them and made them clean up quickly and then sit down (not an easy thing for kids who were then 2 and 3), which was no good.

I am definitely a worse parent when my reactions are tempered by the judgment of strangers — perceived or actual.  (Perceived being glares, sighs, eye-rolling aimed in my direction.)

Parenting Others’ Children

At what point did we decide it was okay to start judging moms and parenting other peoples’ children?

It is impossible to know what a situation is from the outside.  I remember an old story where a man climbed onto a bus with his three children and sat down in his seat and stared out a window.  His children ran up and down the bus, annoying other passengers.  He did nothing to stop them.  Everyone on the bus watched him, and the kids, and wondered who would say something.  Finally, someone did: “Sir, your children are out of control.  Please tell them to stop this and sit down.”  He looked up with sad eyes and said, “I’m sorry.  We’re on our way home from the hospital.  My wife, their mother, just died.”

No one said another word.  Their perspective had changed once they knew his hurt.  Could anyone say they wouldn’t do the exact same thing in that situation?  Unruly children were the least of his worries at that moment.

We just don’t know what a mama’s situation is.  We don’t know why she’s doing — or not doing — what she’s doing.  When did we decide it was okay to make assumptions and jump right in?

If you see a mama struggling, smile at her.  Tell her she’s doing a great job.  Tell her you’ve been there, too.  Do something to make her feel better.  Or do nothing.  But don’t make it worse!  Struggling mamas don’t need judgment and it will make them worse parents.

Plus, I know not everyone agrees with me, but unless a kid is doing something dangerous or that directly affects you, don’t parent the kid.  It isn’t your job.  If the kid is kicking you or is climbing up something precarious, by all means — say something to keep yourself or the kid safe.  If a kid is throwing a tantrum about something unrelated to you, keep it to yourself.  It’s the mama’s job and hers alone.  I know I feel flustered if others step in, whether they mean well or not.  I’m not an outgoing person and I don’t know what to say.  Let me handle my family and you can handle yours.

Do Your Best

Ultimately we all need to forget about the judgment of strangers and just try to do our best.  Most of the time people aren’t watching you to see the ways you fail.  Most of the time they aren’t thinking about you at all.  And when they do notice, mostly they are sympathetic (I get far more smiles and compliments!  These two instances are the only two negative ones in the last two years).

We can’t avoid parenting in public.  So we try to keep what needs to be private, private (step out to discipline your kid, don’t let them have it in the middle of the produce aisle) and don’t contribute to the judging yourself.

What do you think?  Do judgmental attitudes make us worse parents?

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31 Comments

  1. Thank you! Thank You! THANK YOU for publishing this post today! I really needed to read this today! I am sure every mom has had the moments where they are being judged and have felt horrible about the way they reacted. I know personally I have done the same thing as you. In my area I seem to definitely get more slack for having an “alternative” parenting style!! Thank you for writing about your experiences!!

    Reply

  2. Doesn’t sound like you care what anyone else thinks, just being honest about it. But, since you asked:

    (1) you should have left the kids at home with Dad; they are HIS kids, too, and his equal responsibility; you would have enjoyed it more and gotten the job done more quickly, without the stress;
    (2) like most people today, you seem to prefer making excuses to taking responsibility. If you want molly-coddling, I’m sure you won’t have trouble finding it.
    (3) Kids WILL be kids; always keep that in the front of your mind when deciding whether its appropriate to include them, or to “make another plan”. And never punish a child simply for being a child – agreed!
    (4) keep in mind that what you consider “acceptable” or even “normal” may be a source of annoyance (or worse) to someone else; possibly even “everyone” else.
    (5) try not to be so defensive. It is what it is. Go with it.

    Raised GREAT kids who became GREAT adults; been there, done that.

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    • Goodness, I’d never take parenting advice (or any other kind) from someone who has as poor manners as you do. Judging strangers on the internet….

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    • Golly EJ! You need to take your own #4 into account. (Your condescending tone isn’t normal. You just sound mean.

      Also, self praise is no recommendation as the old people say…I will take the fact that your kids are now GREAT adults with a pinch of salt, based on your tone towards the writer.

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    • Really? I don’t see Katie making any excuses at all, just asking that people afford her the space to parent HER children without YOUR comments and judgements. We can’t teach our children how to behave in daily life unless we experience it with them, and teach them along the way. I certainly hope I never run into you in the grocery store, coffee shop, target, or restaurant with my three – never quite perfectly behaved children – and me, who cannot stop or control every single one of their actions. I can only control how I react to them. Grace, EJ, grace.

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      • and besides…if you didn’t really bring your kids out with you as much (as my parents also did)…then you don’t understand the challenges of bringing them out like mothers do more nowadays. makes you even less qualified to judge!

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    • (1) maybe leaving the kids home with another parent isn’t always an option. maybe for some single parents, it is never an option.
      (2) how about you take responsibility for your being annoyed by children in public?
      (3) kids will be kids and if you’re going to be in a public place, you might encounter them.
      (4) keep in mind that your annoyance is merely an annoyance to you. a teachable moment to a kid is more important than your annoyance. and your judgement of a mother who may already be on the brink of losing her composure puts added stress on her that she doesn’t need. your annoyance is the least important thing in this situation. the word annoyance says it all.
      (5) everyone has an opinion on how we parent these days. one person will tell you that you need to spank your children and “keep them in line” and the next will call child protective services if you so much as look at your child harshly. some childless adult in public should be able to reserve their eyerolls and judgemental comments.

      i have actually just been through a situation where an older woman with grown children felt the need to comment on my parenting. i didn’t handle the situation as i would have liked to. i actually wish i would have just ignored her, mostly because it wasn’t right that i left and she got to stay. me leaving made her right. next time, i won’t let it be a big deal.

      Reply

  3. I am so sorry that happened. I have had people give me stares in similar situations, but they have never said anything to me. Not sure how I would respond if they did. Fortunately, I recently had a completely different experience at the grocery store – a mom decided to step in and help when I clearly needed it. I was grateful for her intervention:

    http://moonfrye.com/2013/07/14/understanding/

    I completely agree with you that judging does not help, and we never know the whole story when we see another mom in public. Thank you for sharing your story and important message! I will be sharing this with The Mom Pledge Community!

    Reply

    • I was definitely thinking while I was reading this what a difference it would’ve made if, instead of criticizing how this mom was handling the situation, the older woman had offered to help … go get a staff person, stand with the cart while the mom cleans up the mess, etc. I’d go a step further and say go beyond passively not judging or keeping your judgments to yourself; put yourself in the other mom’s shoes, be a decent person and offer your help when you can!

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  4. Kate, this was an interesting article and one that I think is important. We are so concerned with what other people think, that we parent towards them rather than getting to the root of the problem.

    Yesterday, we had company over in the morning and then in the evening, and my toddler was getting testy and impatient. I am sorry to say that rather than get to the root cause- over tired/over stimulated, I was more concerned with how good/bad my parenting came across to friends who hadn’t seen us in a while. That’s not fair my child at all. Parenting really shows you what you are made of (or NOT made of).

    One point I will make though- and I say this in love, not to be critical, is that you should look into WHY you care so much about what a stranger thinks, and also why you are not strong enough to tell a stranger to back off.

    Good luck and great article again!

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    • Hi Danny,

      The truth? I hate confrontation. I’d rather avoid a situation than address it head-on and make someone mad, no matter what. Even people I know (drives my husband crazy!). I’m working on it but that’s just where I am.

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  5. Thankyou thank you!…brought tears to my eyes as I thought of incidents I have dealt with…thankfully now pregnant with #4 I am really good at ignoring and or putting judgmental people in their place ! Crazy it goes on even during pregnancy… people think it is okay to tell me I shouldn’t be in a jacuzzi or shouldn’t drink coffee or u name it !
    Wonderfully written article

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  6. KATE! Thank you!!!

    And to that rude first commenter, EJ,– hypocritical much?

    This post is wonderful. I love that you were honest about these things, because they revealed some of your own shortcomings in very difficult situations. So many parents never want to even bring up, let alone admit, when they have done something and realized later that they should’ve reacted completely differently. But you discussed how so many times, other people (ahem, mostly older women who seem to look back on their own parenting with high approval) are making it worse. We need to have compassion, not believe ourselves to be the best there is. Not believe that we have all of the answers and advice, and that those who are in stages a bit behind us need to hear all of our suggestions. Sometimes what I really do need is just a SMILE. I have a 14 month old, am nearly 25, and have dealt with situations similar to yours, though not nearly as bad. I’m sure I will as my son gets older and more able to cause chaos in stores. : ) But I know in many of those situations these people thought I was just some young mom, without a clue. I do my best. I do my research. A lot of the time, we all just have difficult days and need to cut one another slack.

    Thanks for your wonderful posts! Xo,

    -Miranda

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  7. It’s not about other people making comments, but it is a chance to ask yourself if there was a better way to handle these situations. Maybe next time have him scoop the peanuts, he wants to help and you can keep both eyes on him.

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    • That sort of thing is for a mom to decide for herself. A mom knows when something has gone wrong and she learns from it and figures out how to better handle it. She doesn’t need strangers pointing out her mistake and telling her how to fix her parenting.

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  8. Well stated:) My children are now 24, 22 today, and 19, and I still make mistakes and lose my temper occasionally. We are human, even if “Mommy= superhuman!!!” I would have loved to see the look o0n your child’s face when he saw the peanut butter coming out of the machine!!! I’d bet it was priceless and adorable and excited:) I am OLD and it still is amazing for me to watch:)

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  9. Hey all,

    I think EJ meant well. Implied tone can be much different from interpreted tone in writing!! Let’s give grace for all!

    Kate,
    There are two things I really want to encourage you with and add to this conversation! 🙂

    First, I have struggled with worrying about the judgments of others too. I am glad you brought up the subject. But I’ve probably struggled with judging others much, much more than that, and it’s something I’m just recognizing as an extremely serious, deeply engrained pattern in my mind. Thankfully the Lord has helped me come across a couple resources just in the last week to help me recognize it and repent of it. I read an article that helped me see that those things which I am most bothered by in others, God says unequivocally in His Word that “I do the same thing.” Case closed. I am so thankful for His gentle correction. (And, in what manner do I correct my kids again…)

    All that to say, dear sister, I wish I could come and physically remove the weight off your shoulders of worrying what other people think. (Maybe you could lift mine off too!) How does this make you feel deep down when people correct, parent over you, etc? I’ve been trying to spend more time thinking this through when it happens. A wise, godly counselor of mine helped me do this recently. I hope you, and anyone else who struggles with these issues, have opportunity to think on that and to meditate on what Scripture says about the fact that it is Christ we are to worry about pleasing, (“So we make it our goal to please Him, whether at home in the body or away.” Sorry for not referencing that Scripture…)

    I have realized recently that for years, I have gone around trying to make my life better by insisting that everyone else stop sinning and disobeying Scripture. Oh, our God is so patient and so merciful! But indeed, when we get caught off-guard by what someone says in judgment, it can for sure make us “lose our bearings,” forget what we should do in the next second, clam up and “play along” as you shared in your stories. I’m quite sure I’ve done similar knee-jerk reactions in similar scenarios.

    Question: What can help us overcome those knee-jerk reactions and stop changing what we do based on the actions of others around us? For those who have accepted God’s love into their life, how can we use our relationship with God, the reality of Christ in our lives, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God to change our reactions in these “think quick” situations and learn from our mistakes – and the mistakes of others?

    Secondly, when their words “get to us,” what are we really angry about, and is there a condemning message of failure we are telling ourselves in our hearts based on their words? This is the other MEGA thing I have been learning this month about myself, and it’s related to that ugly word. “ANGER.” Personally I have observed something, especially in parenting, in things my husband does that are different than I wanted done, and in times where we are running late. And that is, that usually when I am angry about something, it is not that I am angry that my kid broke that dish, peed on the rug, or that we are going to be 15 minutes late for church or that my husband forgot to double the baking soda (yeah, he’s awesome but not detail-oriented.)

    When I take pause, close my eyes, and let my heart and mind dwell and follow the “feeling” of anger clear down to its root in my heart, and listen closely, I have been finding that almost every time without exception,

    I am angry because I failed to prevent it. I don’t tolerate my OWN mistakes. I give MYSELF no grace. I have realized that somewhere along the line, I started demanding perfection, especially of myself, but also of my children, husband, everyone really. But I found that when I was angry with something someone else did, the real reason I was angry is that I DIDN’T PREVENT THEM FROM DOING IT. I failed. I didn’t have the “perfect” rules already in place of how my in-laws should parent my children when they had them over. In short, I have been getting angry when I didn’t have control. I wanted to take control – of everyone around me – from God. So this is something I am trying to work on identifying earlier, when I react to messes, disobedience, the parenting failures of myself or my husband: not acting in anger that I “failed” at whatever-it-is. But accepting grace, even for myself.

    Oh and of course, this “failure” leads to that doomsday thinking, you know, such as, “I have screwed up my kids for life.” It is often linked to the worst-case-scenario in my mind, and I give in to fear. But God sets us free from fear.

    I really want, and need, to walk with God, in every event of each day. That is what He intends. I want eternal life to permeate my entire existence. I don’t want it to be an afterthought. But rather, a forethought. A forethought always in my mind – my dependence on Christ for every breath, to love the judging spirit in a woman in the store (made in the image of God but yet fallen, just like myself) more than my own reputation; to love the foolishness in the eternal heart of my child more than the temporal carpet that just got ruined, to love my husband more than whatever it is that he didn’t do my way. But to do what Christ gave me eternal life to do: extend His grace – to the woman, to my child, to my husband, and yes, to myself. They are not my enemies. The devil, his world system, and my own flesh are my enemies. It is against them that we are to daily do battle wearing God’s full armor.

    It’s a war we can NEVER win in our own strength.

    And isn’t that how God’s Glory is spread? When we die to ourselves and let Christ rule, let Him have all of us (what is rightfully His)? That is the only way the nations will see Him.
    To God be the glory, great things He has done!

    Reply

  10. Thank you for your honesty! It makes me feel better that other moms identify. 🙂 sometimes I feel like we are under constant judgement since we have made many decisions that our family and church family do not agree with. Things like homeschooling, not vaccinating, and not putting our kids in children’s church are our business and its hard to have so many people we know constantly criticizing our decisions. With number three on the way and our oldest just thee even the speed with which we are growing our family at has been criticized by many. One person even had the audacity to say that it was a good thing we one of the twins I was pregnant for died early on because four babies under four was too many! A lot of things you have posted have helped me combat those judge mental people in my life so thank you for that 🙂
    It’s too bad that happend to you at the store 🙁 I know how it feels.
    Just the other day I was in the grocery store with my three year old. He is in a super hero phase and came dressed in his cape and mask and told me he wanted to be my super helper. He was very well behaved and vey helpful! He was pushing the cart and I was steering from the front. I stopped in the produce section and took my hand off the cart for a second to dig through the lettuce and find a fresh one. Meanwhile my brother was about 10 feet behind me getting something else. Without me noticing my son decide to back up, as he told me later to help his uncle. An older woman stepped between them next to my brother and I looked up to see my boy back into her. He was going very slow and did not hit her hard, but that did not stop her from immediately beginning to yell. Thankfully my brother saw it too and quickly scooped him up, apologized for him, and got him away from the irate woman who was screaming about what a horrible, un-diciplined child he was and what horrible parents he had. I too hate confrontation so I was very thankful when an older nearby woman immediately stepped between us and told the woman she had no right to talk to anyone like that and many other things while we were able to get away.
    I appreciated that older woman so much and thanked her later. We as moms need to stick together and stick up for eachother when it comes to the judgemental grouches of this world 🙂

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  11. And… ditto about being told not to do such-and-such when pregnant, being rebuked in front of others… I’ve found encouragement in “do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him.” Choosing a gracious smile and silence is often the best way to go!

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    • (or just responding confidently and unshakeably) that’s the other half of the proverb: “answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”
      🙂

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  12. I completely appreciate this, unfortunately the “older” women who give the unsolicited advice will probably never even see this. When my sone was 10 days old, my husband was in the hospital for 3 days. First baby, 10 days, on my own…at WalMart. My son was fussing, but not even crying, and an old lady said “It’s because his feet are cold.” I turned and looked at her and said, “I’m pretty sure the 90+ temperature along with his daddy being stuck in the hospital has nothing to do with it either.”

    She promptly scurried away. I wish folks would just keep to themselves!

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  13. Kate,
    I SO appreciate this post. I’m one, too, who gets flustered and does the exact opposite of what I probably should do if I’m confronted unexpectedly by someone. It’s not that I care so much about what others think, but that I’m an introvert, and don’t like being under a microscope. When strangers make it a point to probe into my life or my parenting, I feel a bit violated. But this is a good reminder to focus on my kids, tune those people out and help my kids learn the important life lessons in the day to day.

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  14. Thanks for this. I have often told parents who are having an “issue” in public that they are doing a great job or given a sympathetic nod/smile. Sometimes I try and talk/play with the child to distract them (not during a tantrum or anything that is very personal). As a parent, I do my best to be calm with my son in public, not always successfully. I do tell others who try to parent or over step that I am right there and I am parenting him. Sometimes I’m met with surprise and the comment that they are used to parents *not* parenting. Most of the time, it smooths over. I will remind myself to parent based on my childs/ our family’s needs instead of the judgement of others. Wise words indeed.

    BTW- a version of the paradigm/perception story is told by Stephen Covey, but the kids are on a subway.

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  15. I would have been dumbstruck myself. Here’s the thing. . . you regretted leaving the kids over there the second the peanut butter came pouring out. Obviously you thought it would be fine, but then discovered it was not. For someone to BERATE you? That’s just kicking you when you are down! How profoundly unkind! A good rule of thumb would be, either help out or shut up! Believe me, the mother covered in kids and peanut butter agrees with you that something has gone wrong.

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  16. Thank you, Kate.

    You are definitely right, we need to be a parent according to our child’s needs and not according to other people’s judgment.

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  17. Great article! This so reminded me of a story that I can now look back at and laugh… I have 3 kids and one day the kids and I piled into my tiny car (we also have a minivan, but I use the more fuel efficient vehicle whenever possible) to go run some errands. My boys, ages 6 and 3, sit in the back seat, 1 in a booster and 1 in a 5 point. This leaves about 6-8 inches of space between the seats, making it impossible for the oldest to sit there. So my 9 year old (who is 5 feet tall and weighs 80 pounds) rides in the front seat in mom’s little car. So we pull into a parking spot and begin unloading. That’s when a woman starts yelling at me for “allowing” a child to ride in the front seat, and don’t I know that kids are safest in the back seat, etc. etc. Thankfully I was in a witty mood and as I was unbuckling the youngest, I replied “well, since I have 2 other kids in the backseat, where do you suggest I put her? In the trunk or strapped to the roof?” Then she got RUDE and suggested that perhaps I should think about getting a bigger car so that the kids could be truly safe and that my daughter is “absolutely not tall enough to ride in front”. I asked if she would give me $200 a month so I could afford a “better” car and reminded her that there plenty of 5 ft. tall adults who drive. She stormed off. Hee hee 🙂

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  18. Wow I am very glad to stumble on this. I thought I was the only one who felt undue shame about things like this! And I have been through all the “I shoulda said…. ” moments… The witty reply or the cool and collected reply always comes after I’ve let some one else have control over MY parenting. I have a severely damaged friendship over this very thing. My son who was 2 was hitting my friends daughter who was 1. She freaked out and made accusations about my disciplinary measures. My response was an apology. It was a heated discussion. i feel she overreacted. I was not comfortable around her any longer with my kids( cuz after all kids will be kids and they all go through a hitting stage). Anyway I didn’t just allow my child to beat up on other kids, I simply don’t discipline as loudly as others.
    And to that busybody who says you should have left your kids at home while grocery shopping… What is your problem?. I enjoy taking my kids shopping with me and I could care less if it takes me longer. Only a selfish woman would leave the kids at home. maybe her husband could enjoy the peace and quiet for a bit. Kate sounds like a generous mom and wife.

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  19. I walk – and do errands with – my dog and thought I was used to unsolicited negative comments from strangers, but when I had my first baby 5 months ago and started walking with both of them, I was shocked at just how exponentially the commentary increased: “Your dog is too hot”, “Your dog is too cold”, “Your baby is too hot”, “Your baby is too cold”, “People like you shouldn’t have dogs” (the dog was panting – which is what dogs do in the summer), “Your baby can’t breathe” (she was 8 weeks old, in a Baby Bjorn carrier, and her face was nestled in my chest); “You shouldn’t let your baby suck her fingers” – the list of the crimes I’m committing against my baby and my dog is seemingly endless. (I will say for the record that both my doctor and my vet think I’m a great mum to both baby and dog.)

    One day, when some woman came storming up to me to tell me that I didn’t deserve to have a dog, I just burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of it (anyone who knows me would say that, if anything, I lavish too much care and attention on the dog), and I discovered that this is the best response. Spontaneous laughter totally wrong-foots the other person, and they just stand there, sputtering fruitlessly. Before they can regroup, you can just turn away and get on with your life, without ever having to engage with their negativity at all. They’re left stunned, while you’re left laughing!

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  20. As a parent of an autistic child, let me tell you, it could be SO MUCH WORSE!!! Fortunately, I learned years ago to tell people nicely, or otherwise, to mind their own business. There was NOBODY who could watch my daughter when she was little, so leaving her home wasn’t even an option. She couldn’t handle sitting in the shopping cart, or walking, so she would stand in the front part (where they’re supposed to sit). It was the ONLY thing that worked for her. I had sooooo many women, mostly older ones, who would come right up to us and tell her to sit down, and then tell me to make her, even with a spanking for not listening, and then tell me what a horrible parent I was! Now, she’s come so far, if you didn’t know she had autism, you would just think she was quirky! You’ve just got to get that ‘momma bear’ thing rockin for ya!!! Good luck, honey (I hated confrontations, too)!!!

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  21. I fully agree that judging parents for one-time situations in a public space is counterproductive when their child is “misbehaving”. Sometimes when parents yell, they are at the end of their rope and need some understanding and help. But what about when parents are borderline abusive to their children in public? I’ve heard a parent tell a crying little boy to stop crying and stop being a little b*tch and I’ve heard a parent screaming at the top of their lungs at his young child in a very scary way for several minutes. I wasn’t sure what to do in the moment, but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for those kids. Maybe those parents were having really bad days, but even at your worst would you ever call your kid names and publicly terrorize and humiliate them? What about mommy bloggers who proudly compare their children to terrorists and broadcast their children’s behavior at their worst and how they dealt with it “well” by punishing them and demeaning them? Perhaps we shouldn’t judge those moms who are probably doing the best they can to make sense of the little person in their lives who seems to be intent on driving them crazy, but can’t we at least judge their actions and parenting choices? Choosing not to openly disagree with certain parenting practices like scaring/shaming/belittling children into submission seems to me like giving a pass to some seriously misguided, ineffective, and harmful parenting. Leaving a child in a cart 5 feet away is excusable. Treating your child like dirt is not. I’ve never said that to a parent in public because I don’t think it would be productive, but I do wish there was something I could say to make the parent stop and, like you strive to do, think about how their child is experiencing their actions.

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    • Oh — I disagree with certain parenting practices for sure and will speak out against them in a general sense. I’m not going to be harsh to a particular mom and say “You’re a bad mom and you should never do this” but I will talk about better options and challenge moms to think about parenting differently. I am not a fan of public shaming, at all. I can’t stand it. But I think it’s different to say “I don’t like this practice” than to say “You shouldn’t parent like that.” You know? The second one is so personal and people will just shut down and then you have no hope of reaching them or helping them.

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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