Before I had kids, I was definitely one of the guilty ones. I would always give a flailing parent a quick glare or eye roll if their infant, toddler, or young child dared to scream at an unnaturally high decibel in public.
In short, I was being a judgy jerk. I didn’t understand that a kid’s crazy antics aren’t always a reflection of the parent.
Somewhere along the line, I’d gotten the notion that good parenting means that you can and will control your kids at all times. If your kids act out or—God forbid—throw a tantrum in public, it’s clearly your fault.
When I had kids, the joke was on me. Sure, there is an element of discipline and kid control involved in being a parent. You have to watch everything they do to make sure they don’t put something chokable in their mouth. You have to learn the intricacies of their schedule and natural rhythm so that you don’t take them to a restaurant when they should be asleep. Sometimes you even have to bribe them or throw candy at them to get them to stop crying at the grocery store.
But it seems like a large portion of the general population still believes that tantrums equal bad parenting. People at restaurants glare at children who are wild and unruly—without understanding that a kid may have a reason for their seemingly strange behavior, like autism or another disability. A 60-year-old man even slapped a toddler and told him to “shut up,” along with a few racial slurs, on a plane.
I’m sure the vast majority of parents with tantruming toddlers won’t get into a slap fight with a stranger, but that doesn’t mean we’re free from judgment. Now that I’ve seen the other side, I have more compassion for whiny kids at the grocery store. A crying kid at a fine dining restaurant is one thing, but in most situations in life, kids should be allowed to be kids. Let’s stop judging parents we don’t know based on a perfectly normal response in a child—crying or throwing a tantrum.
(Image: Pixel Memoirs/Shutterstock)