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"And Where Were His Parents?"

“And where were his parents?”, they asked..

Why does society feel the need to blame every child’s action on the parent? Why do we feel the need to say, “where were his parents?” when we see a child acting in what we consider an inappropriate manner? Why do moms have to deal with whispers and disapproving looks from strangers when their child is “misbehaving” in public?

I don’t like this about our society and here’s why. A lot of times, the parents are there. They’re there 100% but the child has its own personality, antics and ways of life.

(And so we’re clear, I’m not just speaking about our melt-downing toddlers here, I’m talking about elementary school and all the way up to high schoolers.)

We are so quick to judge, and it’s not fair or right. We have no idea what circumstances are for that family or that child. Misbehaviors come from everything including lack of sleep, all the way down to things we can’t control, like autism and which many of these aren’t visible to the uninformed eye.

My son and I were in the mall the other day when he spotted one of those dreaded claw/toy machines that no one will ever conquer, especially a three year old. These machines might as well hypnotize my kid. He sees them and immediately asks for quarters. This particular day was a bad day for us. We hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in a week due to ear infections and well, just life, so when asked for quarters, I thought, “yeah why not?” I rarely give into these type things but on this day, we needed some carefree happenings. I didn’t think it through fast enough because when he didn’t win, which I knew he wouldn’t, he melted down. BAD.

I gave quarters to a non-sleeping-double-ear-infected-3 year-old so he could play a game that would essentially tell him he’s a loser by not giving him a toy in return. Bad choice on my part. Very bad choice.

Instead of giving him another dollar in quarters so he could lose again, I simply told him it was time to leave. I knew his meltdown was a result of so many more things that were out of my control so punishing him didn’t seem necessary.

I carried my screaming/kicking toddler out of the mall as fast as I could. Our carefree trip was over and we clearly needed to be in our own home instead of out in the public. As I’m carrying, and maybe a little bit of dragging him out, I heard a lady say, “she needs to spank him!” If you know me, you know I gave a look. I gave a look that said, you’re lucky I don’t have the time or energy to tell you how I really feel about your comment.”

My kid didn’t need me to spank him. He didn’t need me to yell at him and tell him to calm down. What he needed was a serious nap and another couple days on his anti-biotic.

This is what I’m talking about. I despise hearing other people judge and say what they think I should be doing with my child.

Every so often you’ll hear/see things on social media about bullying. Bullying hurts my heart so much but what also hurts is seeing comments that automatically blame the parents. What if you got a call saying your son/daughter has been bullying another child? Wouldn’t that destroy you? And instantly make you wonder where you messed up? Don’t get me wrong, there probably are parents who aren’t talking to their kids enough about behavior and socially appropriate actions but chances are, the majority of us are.

I’m there every night. I’m there reading him books and praying with him every night. I’m there at every single school function whether he has a 2 second part or a 30 minute solo. I’m there, every day after school, asking him about his day, talking about the friends he made, asking if he thought he behaved or not. I am there. I’m flippin’ always there. But guess what? My kid still acts like a maniac sometimes. Yes, he has talked back to me. Yes he has pointed his little finger at me and told me “NO!”. Yes, he has run away from me in the store or parking lot. Yes, he has said hurtful things to other people. Yes. He’s done stuff that requires punishment, timeout, maybe even a spanking, and guess what? I was there! I was right there for it all, being completely present in his life.

My son, your daughter, age 3 or 16, aren’t programmable robots. We can try to work with them, we can teach them everything we think they need to know, we can do our best to make sure they’re getting sleep and we can put forth our every effort to see that they are making the best choices but at the end of the day, everything beyond that is out of our control.

We’re all in this together. Let’s please not assume that a parent isn’t doing their best just because you see something you don’t think is right.

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