Monday, October 11, 2010


I had an opportunity to observe parents with their children at an event this weekend and I was astounded by what I saw. I was standing in a very long, very slow checkout line and saw this one woman, about two people behind me. At her feet sat her child who was maybe 5 years old or a bit younger. He was playing with a toy fire engine complete with extending ladder; also at her feet were her large tote bag purse and a huge shopping bag full of what she was purchasing. The child was extending the ladder, rolling the truck along the floor and otherwise just being a kid playing happily on his own. The problem with this was that this place was packed to bursting and people trying to angle themselves around the line of people waiting to checkout to do their own shopping kept tripping over the truck and/or its ladder.

The mother's answer to this problem was to repeat "Sterling, Sterling Darling, you need to move, you are in people's way, you are going to trip someone. Sterling? Do you hear mommy?" Once the child actually did acknowledge his mother by looking up at her and shouting "WHAT?!?!?" she backed down and didn't say anything to him for a while, until he tripped another person and the cycle started again. Never once did she get down on his level and make eye contact. Never did she physically touch his hand to get his attention, or take the toy away from him.

Don't even get me started on why she brought him to this event in the first place. As I said it was packed!! There was hardly room to look at the items for sale, the aisles were backed up with those waiting to check out and the racks so full you couldn't really see the condition of an item unless you pulled it off the rack and then, god help you, if needed to put it back! I took Smug-Baby and put her on my back in the Mei Tei wrap until Smug-Hub got off work and then he came and got her and took her home. It worked out great because she was getting restless by the time he arrived. I would never have taken a child I could not keep tied to me in such mayhem!

Next, I turned to the women in the cash only line, she was a bit in front of me and her children, a boy and girl of about 7 or 8, were also playing with each other at her feet. They had a few toys between them, but mostly were laughing and playing with each other. I believe there was a bit of a game of tag going on, except there wasn't much room to move, so it was kind of a dodging around in a small space trying not to be tagged. This mother threatened not to purchase the toys, telling Randolph and Sydney to stop messing around, that she really meant it and did she have to take them to the car without buying anything?? Again, she never followed through to put the toys back on the shelf or put down her purchases and took the children home. They never once even acknowledged her voice.

I was amazed by the lack of any concern these children had for the words their mothers spoke. They were totally unfazed by their threats. There were no consequences that I could see (perhaps after they got home, there were all beaten soundly, but I doubt it).

What has happened to parenting? When did the parents learn to fear their children? When did children learn it was ok to ignore their parents? And most importantly, how do I keep from falling into the same trap???

I know this is going to sound totally off, but I blame the women's liberation movement of the 1960's for this problem. In the 50's, everyone knew their place, their role. The husbands and fathers went to work, handled the lawn care and serviced their own cars. The wives and mothers cleaned the homes, raised the children and cooked the meals. Then came women's lib and women started working outside the home. This was all well and good, but they also continued to be responsible for the care of the home and most meal prep.

This introduced more processed convenience foods which have seemingly led to childhood obesity, ADHD and other food related problems. They also started to shortchange their children, TV became a babysitter and more and more children were raised by their daycare first and then by their public school system.

Now we have an entire generation of parents who themselves were raised in the daycare/public school system and have had no strong parenting role model. They are having children with no idea at all of how to be an effective parent. We decided as a society that spanking was a really bad idea, but we took it another level, equating not spanking or beating on your kids with not having any form of discipline at all.

I was raised by a stay-at-home mother, I can count the times I was spanked on a few fingers, but I knew that when my mother spoke, it was time to listen. She followed through on her threats and believe me, there were times when I wished for a spanking because it was quick and over fast. A typical punishment may involve taking every item out of a given room, washing the walls, baseboards, light fixtures and doors. Then putting everything back in the room in a organized, wiped down, cleaned up way! It could take the whole day!!!!

When I think about raising my own child I fear falling into the trap so many others have. The trap where their children don't respect them, don't listen and run wild. I want Smug-Baby to grow up to be strong, confident and smart. I don't want her to fear her father or I, but to know that we mean what we say and that we have her best interest at heart. I know that we won't be perfect parents and that we will take some missteps along the way, but if you ever hear me telling her to do something, waving my hand ineffectually at her, please take my hand, look me in the eye and tell me to suck it up and be the parent!!!


  1. holy crap! I didn't know deep cleaning those rooms was a punishment for something we had done wrong! I thought it was just something mom made us do! LOL

  2. If I could give you a gold star for this post, I would. I totally agree with all of this. I was just talking yesterday with friends about how I wish things were back to how they were in the 50s. We moms have to work and still do EVERYTHING at home. And I agree that other areas are being ignored because we're all so busy and stressed. Hannah gives me a run for my money and constantly needs work with listening or obeying. ANd yet, now that you say this, I too barely saw my parents as they both worked. And so the cycle continues because I have to work. It's never ending and there is no end in sight and it frustrates me. Good luck with the baby and you at least have a good head on your shoulders about this. We're trying now to reverse years of spoiling and letting things go with Hannah!