A good friend sent me a text the other day; she was feeling defeated because she took her child (who was screaming because they had to leave) out of a birthday party. She had to do this because she noticed a few kids picking on him, and when she saw he was visibly upset, she went over to see what was going on.
After asking her son what was wrong, he told her the two boys (who were about 3 years older) were being mean to him. Before she could speak up and get their side, their mother came over and said, “Well, to be fair, your son was being really rude and picking on them first.”
When she asked her son if that was true he got even more upset and she told him to play near some other friends if they couldn’t get along.
This ended up in him crying uncontrollably and for the sake of everyone else, she decided to scoop him up and leave.
While I wasn’t there, and don’t know the whole story, she told me that woman was practically smiling as she was telling her about how her child was acting.
I’ve sure you’ve felt this as a mom and heard a similar story many times over.
There are parents out there who say they are pointing out a child’s behavior for safety issues, or because they think they are out of line and address it in a way that seems a bit too cheery for an adult who is “letting you know for the sake of the kids.”
I’ve heard so many women talk about how upsetting it is when their child does something uncalled for and another parent gets really worked up about it, but if their child did the exact same thing, it’s not that big of a deal.
Choose Your Battles Wisely
There seems to be some satisfaction in pointing the finger, or calling out another kid’s behavior. And all too often, we wonder if this is because it’s nice to see someone else’s child acting out instead of our own.
We can admit to hearing a baby cry in public, or a child throwing a tantrum, and being washed over with relief because it’s not ours.
And we all know how tough it is to confront a parent when their child has done something wrong and they weren’t there to see it. I’ve played “should I tell them or not” many times in my head. It’s not easy to figure out what to do if no one got hurt, you took care of the situation, and you feel it will only upset the parent if they knew their son throw a rock at your daughter.
The thing is, there’s a way to do it. It is possible to go to another parent and let them know something happened and assure them you’ve had your days too, and you know it’s hard.
But so many times, it seems people take pleasure in talking about someone else’s child and how bratty they are because it makes them feel better about their own kids, and about themselves as parents.
The Truth is, Most Parents Are Doing the Best They Can
The truth is, most parents are doing the best they can. Sure we have our “off” days where we let things slide– we are all guilty of this. And most kids can be assholes at one time or another no matter what we try to instill in them.
Pointing the finger doesn’t help anyone. It’s not about being afraid to talk about something difficult, but more about addressing a situation like an adult and being matter of fact. Parents can smell it when you are happy their kid screwed up, and it’s hurtful and happens way too much out there in the land of parenting.
Our kid’s behavior– good or bad– is not a competition. You don’t win if my kid is a butt wipe while yours is being an angel. Is life easier for you? Yes, it is (at that moment anyway) but when we’re keeping score based on who has the brattiest kids, and we are pointing it out while getting visibly overjoyed about it, our kids see.
Let’s meet these situations with more understanding and compassion. Chances are if you do it, it will come back around to you.