The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Parents Behaving Badly

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Parents Behaving Badly

Do you remember your life before children?  I'm probably older than most of my readers, so I definitely don't remember those carefree days when I didn't have to plan for sitters, kennels, and assorted other pet minders while we traveled.  I definitely don't remember looking at people who had children, wondering how they did it with three kids under the age of five.  However, this person who wrote an article for the Huffington Post recalls judging parental behavior before she had children: Apologies to the Parents I Judged Four Years Ago.

While her article is a tongue-in-cheek look at life BC (before children), it is definitely a treatise on how people judge others before they walk in their shoes, so to speak.  I can understand the mother who has a crying child dragging her feet on the lower rack of the grocery cart because she couldn't have what she wanted.  I may have been there myself once or twice!  But I certainly would not have judged the mother for her behavior before I even had children.  Given my child development education, I probably would have seen that mother as a strong, yet fair, disciplinarian, not buying into the tantrum.  That mother was actually doing everything right in the parenting book according to Renee!

So this blog looks at a bigger problem in our society.  Why do we judge others' behavior based on our own experiences and knowledge?  If my neighbor left his lawn go without mowing it for a whole month in the middle of the summer, I wouldn't judge him as lazy.  I might call and see how they're doing.  Maybe he's sick; maybe he wants to turn his lawn into a wildflower preserve.  Who knows?  Only he does and it's not my place to judge why his lawn has become overgrown.

But what about parents who are behaving badly - those parents who demean their children in public, who slap them and yank them? Should I judge them?  I still say no.  Why? Because obviously there's much more going on with that family than bad parenting.  They never learned how to effectively discipline children without violence; they may have severe financial problems overshadowing their ability to reason with their kids; they might be tired because they've worked two jobs just to pay the mortgage and food bills.  Again, I say, don't judge - find a way to help.  But that's not easy.  People don't want you interfering in their lives.  They think they're doing an okay job raising their kids even if they do yell, hit, embarrass, and otherwise discipline ineffectively.  I think everyone should carry a business card with the numbers of local parental help organizations.  Here's what my card might look like:

Wholesome Parenting Support Group
Bordentown Library
This program is for parents of infants and toddlers. Come to discuss your challenges and share your strengths in regard to (but not limited to) feeding, sleeping, disciplining, and socializing your children. Children are welcome! Please bring quiet toys for them to play with and share while we chat! Registration is not required. Questions? Contact Bryana Adornetto at (609) 458-6959 or WE WILL MEET THE FIRST MONDAY OF EACH MONTH!

Plus a list of online resources:
Parents Anonymous of NJ:
Parents Support Group of NJ:

Then, when I see parents behaving badly, I can simply say, "It doesn't have to be like this," and quitely hand them the business card.  Later, when the kids are in bed, they might look at the card and see what it has to offer.  Now that I've said this, I think I'll go to and print out some of their free cards with this information!

Happy Parenting!

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