Because it takes more than a village to raise a child

I like kids. For the most part, I really do. Some parents, on the other hand, I could live without.

Can someone please tell me when it became okay to take up as much space as you desire, and in a seemingly oblivious fashion? To park strollers in the middle of aisles and pretend to not see the traffic jam you cause? To pretend you can’t hear your child throwing a tantrum in a restaurant, because you haven’t finished your meal?

I’m not talking about kids with medical issues. I’m talking about parents with manner issues. While absentmindedly waiting in line at a drug store recently, I finally looked up to see what was taking so long. A woman had two youngsters, about 4 and 7 years old. She had the younger one sitting on the counter, which she was leaning on. She was talking to the clerk with her derriere taking up an additional space in line. It was her posture, not her size. Her older daughter was wheeling an empty stroller back and forth in front of the second cash.

Three elderly folks, one with a walker, were lost in the froth behind her. Clerks were trying to hand prescriptions over the head of this nonsense, which went on and on. Customer service workers are paid to be nice; I am not. Between the kid she had parked on the counter (really?), the stroller, the second untethered kid and her rump, she was taking up all the available space in front of the twin counter. Not a word, not a signal, not a backward glance to see whom she might be holding up.

When did this disregard for others become okay? My mother used to wrangle several of us all the time, and getting in other people’s way or being rude or noisy was simply not an option. My own two have been unceremoniously marched out of a restaurant with newly delivered food sitting on the table. At the time it seemed expensive; looking back, it was a really cheap way to learn a very important lesson: if I tell you we’re leaving if you misbehave, we’re leaving. Does it work every time? Nope. But trust me: you get points – and a bucket load of empathy – from the rest of us for trying.

Taking your family out for a meal or a movie (or even to the zoo, for that matter) doesn’t give you the right to destroy that experience for others attempting to do the same thing. I have watched one parent discipline a child, only to be overruled by the other parent. Stop it. The best word you will ever use as a parent is “no”. Give in once, and you are doomed to buying overpriced Reese’s Peanut Butter cups at the checkout for the rest of your life.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m the sucker who holds your baby on an airplane when you’re overwhelmed or have to go the bathroom. I’m the idiot who will play endless peek-a-boo with your 2-year-old while you unload your grocery cart. Raising kids is tough, and socializing them is necessary and good. I just wonder what message those same kids are getting when you and your friends take over a coffee shop as if you’re recreating SUV stroller Stonehenge at Starbucks.

I don’t blame the children, but I dread the day they are old enough to mimic the sense of entitlement being modeled for them by their parents. With a little time and lot of consistency, kids take to boundaries like ducks to water. Too bad some of their parents missed the memo.

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14 responses to Because it takes more than a village to raise a child

  1. Kerry says:

    A lot of parents these days , spend money on things for their children , instead of spending time with them , which is the most important gift they can give their children .

    My Dad was an Irish Catholic immigrant and former British Navy NCO . His mantra was , ask , tell , spank (never on the face) , repeat as needed and he didn’t give a damn where we were , or who was watching .

  2. Sandy says:

    I have made every effort to be consistent with my kids from the beginning. It is absolutely not easy but have been careful to think through anything before I threaten it. My kids know that if I say it, I will do it. My oldest was pushing the limits during the early days of my separation. I picked him up and carried him away from a street hockey game, he was 10 and not an easy lift. It nearly killed me, but he never pushed back when I said it was time to go again.
    They have seen what idle threats do and tell me regularly about their step brothers who don’t listen to a word their mother says becuase “she yells at them and threatens stuff but never follows through”

    Great article……will those who could learn a thing or two recognize themselves?

    • Zena says:

      Yep.

      The key is “follow-through.” Don’t make outlandish threats you’re not prepared to carry out. If you say it, you have to stick with it, no matter how much it breaks your heart.

      Isn’t it funny that the “meanest parents in the world” always end up with the best kids…

      • Sandy says:

        I’ve been called ‘the meanest mother in the world’ by another parent, never my kids, even when they were mad at me.
        And that other parent, I wouldn’t thank you to spend time with her kid. I would have had a purple butt from my dad if I talked to anyone the way she lets her kid talk to her and other adults.

  3. birgit says:

    There are so many people that agree with you but would never say it! I love kids but they have their place and it isn’t in my space! It’s much easier to ignore bad behavior than to deal with it…heaven forbid my child should be angry with me. Raising children is definitely a difficult job but there is nothing more rewarding than having someone come up to you to tell you how well-behaved your child is.

    Thanks Lorraine for saying it like it is!

  4. Joanne says:

    I enjoyed reading your article Lorraine! Too bad it wasnt on the front page;) If we as adults dont show respect & manners for those around us, how can we expect our children to learn these things? My kids will always hold doors open for others (for example) and often people are pleasantly shocked at this….sad.

  5. David Taylor says:

    As a toddler, my Mother would threaten me and my sister ( this was when I have one sibling; I do, in fact have five) 4- but mostly for my benefit, that if I did not behave, she would run off to join the Foreign Legion. I am told (by Mum) that when I was about four, I apparently dared her to do just that! It seemed that I knew the Legion was a male only domain!

  6. Lisa says:

    Great article and I whole heartedly echo your sentiments. I am so tired of parents raising their kids to feel they are the only important person in the world. From the time I can remember, I would always tell my daughter “my world revolves around you but nobody else’s will”. In other words do not think that you are the sole of the universe. A great quote I heard (but unfortunately cannot remember who said it) was “you should prepare your children for the world, not the other way around”.

    The other day I was picking up lunch and a little 3 year old was eating with who I presumed to be her father. As I left I stopped by his table and complimented both him and her on her manners. She was so polite, said “please” and “thank you” and it was a delight to see this. Maybe that’s one way in which we can try and combat the rudeness that is happening all around us. If you can’t punish the bad, you should reward the good. The father looked a little surprised that I would mention this at all because I guess positive reinforcement isn’t all that prevelant.

  7. Bill says:

    it’s much the same everywhere. but some kids are well behaved despite (or maybe in spite) of their parents. Lisa made a good point.

  8. Mitch says:

    I think I was very fortunate to have been a child in the Fifties. As my Dad would say we were to be seen but not heard, which was OK for us. We were taught to be repectful of adults but we were free to be ourselve as children, growing up in Marathon ON, we could not get lost, I realize now that the town looked after all of us.

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