Monday, March 12, 2012

Dragging out the Soap Box

It’s a big world out there. It’s a beautiful thing with lots of different people and just as many differing opinions. People are free to express their thoughts and beliefs in a variety of ways. And as long as a person isn’t causing harm in the way they express themselves- I’m generally okay with it.

Even if I don’t agree with what they say, the world is big enough. I don’t have to read, listen, watch or pay attention to them. I’m free to change the channel, un-friend, un-follow or take my business elsewhere if I don’t like it. I’ve never had to resort to any of those solutions.

I’m generally not easily offended and have an irreverent sort of sense of humor, myself.

So the other day I was taken off guard by my gut reaction to a posted comment on a social site. In short the comment stated that people need to teach their kids how to sit down in public.

I didn’t respond to the comment- it wasn’t directed at me and the person who wrote it doesn’t know me from Eve. Throughout my evening, I kept thinking about the comment. It had hit a nerve.

It hit a nerve because it goes back to blaming the parent (ahem…mother) for a child’s misbehavior. Why is still assumed that any kid not acting perfect in public has a permissive parent who doesn’t do jack to train up their kid?

While there might be some parents out there who don’t give a flip about how their children act, I can guarantee you that there are more who care and are doing their best.

And don’t assume that just because a kid does not “look like a special needs kid” that there isn’t an underlying condition.

An outsider who is watching a child have a massive come apart in public doesn’t need to be concerned that the mother isn’t doing her job. You don’t know. You have no idea what is going on with that child.

Compassion not criticism is what is needed.

And back to the teaching the kid to sit down in public: I’ve been guilty of allowing CJ to stand up in a booth in a restaurant. He gets to do it when there isn’t anyone in the booth behind us or one side of the booth is up against a wall. I understand his limitations. A stranger looking across the room at us doesn’t have a clue. Would you rather have him standing quietly or sitting down and screaming?

The commenter most likely does not have children. Anyone who has children and has attempted to correct them numerous times knows the frustration behind watching a kid do something for the millionth time that you’ve specifically told them not to do. And that includes all children, not just ones with special needs. A parent can do their very best and a child still go off and do their own thing. It’s what they do. They’re kids. It’s what we did as kids, right. Anyone out there always act exactly the way your parents wanted you to? It’s easy to forget.

I thought for a while then I took to twitter and wrote: Do not judge the behavior of other people’s kids. You don’t know the whole story.

1 comment:

Michele said...


And especially in church for the love of God. We take our kids to Mass every single week, sometimes more than once if we go to the Shrine and we take them to Adoration (although not for more than a few minutes- they are still toddlers). Sometimes, usually depending on the homily and it's length or, how to put this nicely, boring tone???, the kids will want to stand up or put their feet on the back of the pew. We fix the situation, but it always makes it 10 times worse (100 times worse) when someone gives them a dirty look. They are kids. We are trying. And, if they become crazy, we take them out into the Narthex because we are trying to not be disruptive (while teaching them good church behavior).

The other night (we were at the Vigil), Bobby tapped the woman in front of us's shoulder. I was mortified. But she turned around and said "Hello, Young Man. Dont you look handsome today!" She was elderly and gave him the kindest smile. He was well behaved the rest of Mass, except when he nearly barreled me over to give her the Peace.

Sometimes all it takes is a nice word (or a word of encouragement to a parent who is struggling and trying). Yes, there are horrible folks who dont do a damn thing and for that I'd like to ring their neck because it isnt just their kid it is them too. But for the most part, you are absolutely right. We dont know the ins and outs of their day or what they've been through or how their child struggles. We shouldnt judge, but encourage and support- even a stranger- as best as we can.