Sunday, September 22, 2013

Can We Just Give Other Moms a Break?

A couple of weeks ago, one of my Facebook friends asked a question.

"Do you think that kids today throw fits at older ages than they did in years past?"

As the opinions rolled in, I felt myself getting more and more agitated.

The traditional wisdom that kids only throw fits when it works for them was a common thread.

In other words, if a 7-year-old is melting down in Wal-Mart, it is definitely because he has parents who have given in to tantrums in the past, teaching him to throw a fit whenever he doesn't get what he wants.

Kid throwing a fit in public = a bad / permissive / weak-willed parent.

While many of the comments were kind and sincere, others adopted a superior tone. Not one commenter confessed her own bad parenting that resulted in her own kids throwing fits well into their elementary years. Nope. This was all about the other moms out there.

It wasn't wrong for my friend to ask the question. She's the mom of two very active little boys, and I suspect she had personal reasons for wanting to know. And I'm not trying to blow the discussion that followed into something it wasn't.

Maybe I'm just touchy.

Thing is, I know a few big kids who still melt down in public.

Each one of them has a hidden special need.

First, there's the kid who had a mild brain injury at birth. He looks normal on the outside, but he and his mom face ongoing learning and behavioral struggles that are baffling to them both.

Then, there's this beautiful child who is autistic. He has the world's best parents. Place this child in a group of same-age peers, and you can't tell the difference at first. But it doesn't take long to notice that something about his behavior is off. There always has to be an adult, ready at a moment's notice to remove him and keep him safe if his behavior becomes explosive.

Finally, there are our kids adopted from hard places. 

So when you see a big kid throwing a terrible-twos style tantrum in public, I recommend that your first thought be, "There's probably more to this story than meets the eye." And then I recommend compassion.

Because the mommas in these situations are dealing, first of all, with parenting a child whose daily challenges are exhausting. Second, as if to add insult to injury, they find themselves judged by strangers. Judged according to traditional parenting wisdom when their situations are anything but traditional.

Give them a break.

"But how can you know for sure?" you might ask.

You can't. That's why you choose to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I choose to give them a break because really, the only person's parenting I need to evaluate is my own. That's the one situation where I have all the facts. That's the one situation where I can make a difference. I own that one.

Dealing with my own parenting challenges is a full-time job.

And by the way, I'm not so sure that the kids of this generation are so much worse than the kids of previous generations.

"Kids these days. . . "

Haven't people been saying that since the beginning of time?

Links - Because I Love to Share What Others are Saying

A Plan of Attack for My Picky Eaters - Traditional parenting wisdom says, "If they get hungry enough, they'll eat whatever you put on the table." But what if they won't? What if your newly adopted child will lose weight before she touches most foods? What if mealtimes trigger outbursts on a regular basis? Nancy shares her heart and her plan of action for her pickiest eaters.

Dear parents, you need to control your kids. Sincerely, non-parents - This dad takes on a single man who is criticizing a mom because her child is melting down in the grocery store. This one goes on my list of posts I wish I'd written myself.

It's like a theme park for your peace of mind - If you happen to be on the receiving end of criticism related to your parenting, this one's for you.

Sharing at WFMW.


  1. Dana,
    I love how real you are. It's like you are giving moms the freedom to be human. I had my first kids at a time when there was so much legalism in the church when it came to parenting. So many felt beat up and condemned. It's like you're saying to these moms "you're doing just fine." There's great freedom in that!

  2. Absolutely agree with you - it's really easy to make a quick judgment. I'm guilty of doing just that. But if we can just stop for one minute and remember that the vast majority of parents are doing the very best they can and that most kids are bound to have some degree of "meltdown" at a variety of ages, maybe then we could all suspend the judgment and instead, support one another.

  3. Thank you for writing this - and for sharing your compassion!


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