Wednesday, August 10

Our Parents Were Better Than Us? In Some Ways!

I want to start this story with a disclaimer. My kids can be huge brats and I am not a "perfect" mom. The idea of a perfect mom is a myth, yet for some reason we all feel that we must live up to it.  And of course, that is setting us up for failure. So we just do our best.  And our best is almost always good enough  :-)  However, there are times when you see a parent so clueless that you want to smack them on the face with a wet noodle...

A few weeks ago my entire family was sick with some sort of disgusting gastrointestinal virus. Since I was the only one that could be away from the toilet for a short time, I was elected to make a medicine/sick food run to Walmart.

I have to confess I don't like going to Walmart at the best of times, but it was close, open late, and I knew it stocked everything we needed to get through this horror.

After picking up Pedialyte, Tylenol, applesauce, crackers, etc. I dragged myself to one of the long lines. Behind me was a mom and dad with two kids that looked about the same ages as my two; four and six. The girl was the older one and seemed very relaxed and well-behaved, the boy was acting like a typical four year old. By that I mean he was acting like Imp, my four year old.

However, the four year old starting screaming "Where my toy!" over and over again, frantically looking through their overflowing basket. I looked over at the parents and smiled a sympathetic smile, for what parent has not had a screaming little child while waiting in a long line at Walmart late at night. The mom smiled back, looking completely exhausted.

I assumed the four year old's toy was in the basket and he was trying to find it, but that was not the case, for suddenly he threw himself violently on the floor, screaming shrilly enough to break glass, "Where my toy, I want my toy!". Meanwhile his sweet sister was standing there quietly, rolling her eyes at her mom, probably thinking "Why didn't my parents stop at just one kid?".

Again, I smiled at the mom and said "Believe me, I know what you are going through, I have two kids about the same age as your two. And I personally am not enjoying this long line myself..."

We chatted for a minute or so, trying to hear each other over the little boy's frantic shrieks, when I notice the father lifting the little boy up and walking him to the candy/junk shelves next to the register. He picked up a few little cars and held them up to the little boy while the little boy continued to scream, at the top of his little lungs, "I want my toy".

His mother turned to me and said "He (the dad) is going to try to get him (the boy) to accept a dollar car, but there is no way that is going to work". She was right, because not only did the little boy's screams not stop, they only increased in volume and intensity. With an glare at his wife, the father took off across the store with his little boy screaming the entire way.

I turned to the mom, relieved that the father was finally going to discipline the little brat, when she said "It looks like they are going to go get his toy. It just doesn't seem fair that every time we come to Walmart he has to have a $40 toy and his sister doesn't get anything, but we can't afford a $40 toy for him and a $30 toy for her. And she never complains, so I guess I shouldn't feel bad about it."

I think my jaw might have dropped open at this point, and I can't remember what I responded, but I do know that shortly after that exchange the father returned with his son and a huge toy. And surprise, his son had a big smile on his face. That little boy runs that family...

We spend so much time making sure our children are safe these days, but it seems that so many parents don't worry about raising moral children.  That little boy might turn out fine, but I am afraid he is a "monster in the making" thanks to his parents.  I want to see him at 16 when he wants his own car.

I read the blog post Why Our Parents Were Better Than Us today and it made me reflect about this Walmart trip. Have you had similar experiences with parents who don't know how to parent? If so, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

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  1. You think it's bad when they are little... just wait till you hear the stories my high school-aged daughter tells me about some of her friends. Some kids' parents take off on vacations to Europe, leaving the kids home alone for weeks at a time... others buy the kids expensive cars so they can have "mobility" (to go out and drink). My husband and I are notorious for being the only parents to check up on our daughter, feed her proper meals, insist on homework before play, etc. It is really a shame. Thanks for this post -- it's important to start a conversation about this!

  2. Okay, I saw your link on FB and I am so baffled! Maybe I'm a mean mom, but if my kid (granted, I have an only), is throwing himself on the floor at Walmart (or anywhere for that matter), he is out in the car in an instant. I cannot imagine putting their daughter through that. I know life isn't fair, and all that jazz, but I grew up that way. My brother is younger, and was "ADHD" so therefore, everything was catered or handed to him. What poor children (both of them honestly, because the real world is going to stink for the little boy that can't do anything for himself). Wow.

  3. Rachel, you are not a mean mom, but rather a good mom! I totally agree about bringing the child out rather than buying them the toy. That little boy is going to grow up to be a little monster, just like Kathleen is talking about.

    It is so sad that some parents are so clueless about how they are harming their children. Sure, we worry so much about their safety, but so many parents don't seem concerned about their child's morality.

  4. And Kathleen, it sounds like you are a wonderful parent too. I know it is easier often to just give in, but in the long run it can really hurt the children.

  5. Wow. That child is going to feel that he in entitled to everything as he grows up. And when he doesn't get his way, his fits will just be in different forms. The poor daughter is just used to being pushed aside and she will likely have some self-esteem issues as she gets older (if she doesn't already) and will always be wondering why she wasn't special enough or worthy enough. That boy should have been taken out of the store by his dad, or maybe in the future he doesn't go at all (after all, one parent could have stayed home with him!). We have rules when we go out. The kids stay with me and if they cry or scream about something, the answer is automatically NO. And if it is like that in public, can you imagine what their home life is like when he doesn't get his way? Ugh///

  6. My kids know that when we walk into a store to not ask for anything. We were in Wal-Mart the other day and a lady had a little boy like that at the deli. He was mad because she would not get him a corndog. So instead of talking to him or taking him to the bathroom, she smacks him with a pack of pork chops. It amazes me that kids now days do not know how to act in public.

  7. I am speechless! Seriously, I have no words. That poor heart hurts for her.

  8. It makes me sad when I see parents that are afraid of their children. My kids are by no means perfect, but I have to admit that they never, at any time or age, threw a fit in the store. I could shop with my 4 kids at any age and know that it would be a good experience. Why? Because they were disciplined at home and didn't rule the roost. I don't know about the book you read, but I would venture to say that our parents were better than us. Times have changed, and not necessarily for the better.

  9. You know, not only is the little boy being raised like a spoiled little monster, but his sister doesn't seem to be learning the right things either - like the fact that good behavior is NOT rewarded, only bad behavior is! I hope so much that I remember this when my kids are a bit older.

  10. I used to work in an elementary school. A 3rd grade boy, who got in trouble everywhere he went, would get suspended. While suspended, his parents would let him play outside, give him his allowance, and take him shopping.

  11. This post reminded me of the Volkswagen ads with kids (and then adults) throwing tantrums to get what they want.
    I have seen parents give their 6 yr old candy after pushing the 3 week old off the baby poser during a photo shoot. But I have also seen parents who, when asking the child to come to them, will demand that they do it again properly if the child shows attitude.
    I think it's definitely easier to give in rather than setting guidelines for acceptable behaviour and then enforcing them.

  12. I sadly have a nephew like that. My heart breaks for my SIL when he gets older. He is 6 and anything he wants he gets. We don't even go over anymore because he hits, slaps, bites, and curses at my kids. he spits in her face, hits her, ect. I believe parenting success depends on consistancy. I have rules, and there are punishments if you break them{lose tv, toys, added chores, ect} and no matter how tired, sick, busy, or frustrated I feel, I stick to my guns. Its the only way to be fair to both of my boys and keep them respecting me. All I have to do is say no, and they don't ask again. I may be just a touch stubborn about things like that. But when I go to school and everyone knows my kids because they are so well behaved, it tells me I am dong allright. One thing that I never forget, when it comes to kids, your tie is more vaulable to them than any toy or amount of money. If your busy and you are still willing to stop for them, they notice, they respect you for it, they will honor you for it.I have one ADD and one ADHD child so I know what it is like to deal with "hard to handle at times" kids.

  13. You know, I see that way too often these days. I really have to bite my tongue not to say something like "you're reinforcing that terrible behavior". What's that teaching their well behaved child? It teaches them nice guys finish last.

    I was once at a puppet show and a child was behaving horribly. The mom kept saying "one more time and we're leaving". She said that about 8 times and then she said " I mean it this time". He did it again and did they leave? No - she went and got him some ice cream. Really? I'm not sure if it is because working parents feel they need to be "nice" to their children to make up for their lack of face time but it's worrying from a society point of view.

  14. My mom parented my younger brother like that - and he still lives with her, doesn't have a job of any sort, and she buys him anything he wants. I hope those parents break the pattern - because not only will it hurt their son in the long run, but it definitely doesn't help their relationship either... and their daughter wont be able to handle it much longer either.

    I don't have kids yet - but I do know I want to go back to good ol' family values, before all the consumerism took over!

  15. I can not believe that there were two parents present and neither of them could control the little monster..surely the father could have removed him from the store rather than give-in to him..What sort of lesson is that teaching the children? Although by the sounds of it I'd say the boy has well and truly learnt a valuable lesson in how to get his own way! And as for the poor little girl what message is that sending her?? good and get ignored bad and get all the attention!
    As a single parent of three children I can not ever recall any of my girls behaving like that in public.

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  17. That is awful! I cannot believe that. Wow-their poor poor daughter. Oh those patents are idiots!

  18. I agree with Rachel. My kids would have been out of the store immediately. They know a toy is a privilege, not a right. They know they have to earn it. They know a fit won't work.

  19. I work in an Adult Probation department and let me tell you mothers-this little boy will most likely end up a client of the state at some point. All too often we see grown men and women come in due to a law they broke with their aged parents in tow willing to hauk their homes to keep junior and princess out of the county "bed and breakfast". I have lived in this small town all my life and it is a shame that more people don't hold their children, even other people's children more accountable. I am not that old but I knew while growing up that my parents wouldn't hesitate to put me back on the right path and if they weren't around-a neighbor would gladly do it for them. I think that not only are many parents afraid of hurting their children's feelings, they are mistakenly afraid of what CPS might say if they properly responded to their children. I am not saying just spanking. I know a lot of people don't believe in that. But as my police officer husband tells parents with unruly children/teenagers, you are allowed reasonable discipline. That means "you start spanking and I will tell you when that is enough". Kids can have a respectful fear of their parents and not die.

  20. oh yes...My in laws are that way. It's a constant battle with them and my boys. I tell my boys "no" and they run to daddy and their grandparents because they know they will get what they want from them. Im not OVER excessive with the word "no". If they are good and have done their chores without "attitude" then they get rewarded. But I never buy my children stuff just to make them be quiet. thats just not right.

  21. Sadly there are parents like this. I recently saw a Dr Phil, not that I watch it, but there was a child like this on the show and he told the parents they were actually making the child unhappy by giving excessive toys. So true possessions don't make you happy! Children need quality time, boundaries and consequences, if my son nags me for anything it becomes an immediate no.
    Sadly I think parents give toys to make up for a lack of time and attention and because it seems easier, but it pales in comparison to good parenting.
    Love your blog Rita! :-)


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