Dear Moms: Stop Letting Your Kids Treat You Like Crap

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My kids have very few rules, but the rules they have are hard and fast. They have to pick up after themselves, they have to be kind and polite at school, and they have to be kind and polite at home. I assumed that most parents have similar rules for their children, especially the kind and polite part. But, I’ve started to notice that not everyone expects their kids to be nice people. They don’t even expect their kids to be nice to them.   

Unfortunately, my best friend, who is the mother of two girls, fits into this category. Our families have been friends for years and we’ve become very close. But every time we’re together, I can’t help but notice that she’s in an abusive relationship with her children. For example, we all went to lunch together the other day and as we sat down to order, the youngest kid smacked her mom on the shoulder to get her mom’s attention. Her mom cried out in pain but didn’t reprimand her child for the bad behavior. In fact, she blushed and apologized to her 3-year-old for not answering her daughter’s question faster. Then, from across the table, her 5-year-old whined, “Mo-meeeeee, I said I wanted some juice.” If it were my kid, I would have told her to wait until I was done talking and remind her that she wouldn’t get anything until she said please. My friend, however, jumped to accommodate her daughter’s request. 

Another time, I heard a boy talking incredibly disrespectfully to his mom while in line to register for a soccer clinic. “You need to wait here to give the lady your name,” the child’s mom said. His response: “No, you do it.” She told him again that he was old enough to register himself. He said, “That’s your job,” and walked away. 

And then, just yesterday, I was picking my older child up from a drop-off playdate at his buddy’s house and I saw his friend be incredibly rude to his mom. While my son was getting his shoes on his friend ordered his mom to get him a snack. When she reminded him that he was old enough to walk to the kitchen and get a snack for himself — or at the very minimum old enough to use the word please — he ignored her and said she was stupid. 

Every time I see this kind of behavior go down, I have to restrain myself from saying to the woman in charge that she should never let herself be spoken to like that by a child, or by anyone! Since meddling would be just as disrespectful as the way the child spoke to her I keep my opinions to myself.

If I were I to speak up I’d say, “You are a grown woman. You do not need to be treated like that by anyone, much less a child.” As important as it is to me that my kids learn good manners and are always polite to me, to their peers, and to any adult, I can’t stand watching any grown woman let herself be disrespected by anyone, especially her own child. How you allow others to treat you is a reflection of how you think of yourself. So what message are you sending when you let your kids treat you badly? 

Whether a child is under the care of a parent, relative, or babysitter, she should be expected to be polite. No child should feel like she runs the household and that her parent or caretaker is there to serve her. So as great as it is that women are encouraged to lean in and take the bull by the horns at work, that’s probably never going to happen if we can’t do it at home first.

The mothers I know are bright, powerful, and smart. And they deserve respect from their children. It’s about time they demand it.

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