Dear parents, you need to control your kids. Sincerely, non-parents

To the fan I lost yesterday:

I don’t owe you an explanation, but I thought I’d offer one anyway. I do this more for your sake than mine. You see, maybe, as you later suggested, I was in a bad mood. Maybe I could have been a bit more polite about it. Maybe I’m more sensitive to it now that I have kids. Maybe I’m just sick of hearing these comments about parents. Maybe I know that my wife has to take the twins with her when she goes grocery shopping sometimes, so she could easily be on the receiving end of your sort of bullying. Maybe I took it personally.

Whatever the case, there I was, walking down the aisles of the grocery store looking for the ingredients for a new chili recipe I wanted to try. I heard the kid screaming from a distance; the whole store heard him. It was a temper tantrum, a meltdown, a hissy fit — it happens. Toddlers are notorious for losing their cool at the most inconvenient times. Nobody likes to hear it, but it happens. You’re out running errands with your little guy, everything is fine, and next thing you know he’s in full-on rabid poodle mode. It’s humiliating and emotionally draining, but what can you do? Pull out that large glass sound proof aquarium you carry around and stick your kid in it so nobody can hear him shriek? That’s a possibility, but the logistics don’t always work. Slightly more realistically, the peanut gallery probably expects you to drop all of your groceries and immediately run into the parking lot, so as to save them from having to deal with the spectacle. But it’s not always that simple; maybe you don’t have time to shut down the whole operation just because Billy’s gone nuclear.

It wasn’t that simple for the mother of this kid. I finally came across her in the beans aisle. She had a cart full of groceries, a kid riding along, and another one walking beside her. Well, he wasn’t really walking so much as convulsing and thrashing about like he’d invented some bizarre, angry interpretive dance. He was upset about something, from what I gathered it had to do with a certain lucky cereal he wished to acquire, but which his mother refused to purchase. I felt his pain, poor guy. My mom never bought me sugary cereal either — “breakfast candy,” she called it. She used to get us Cheerio’s — “breakfast cardboard,” I called it.

I felt the woman’s pain even more. She could bribe her kid into silence, but she was sticking to her guns. Good for her, I thought. Sure, if she’d only meet his ransom demands, my bean purchasing experience would be a bit more pleasurable, but I was rooting for her nonetheless. Not everyone felt the same way, apparently.

I’d met you a few minutes earlier. You told me you were a fan. We spoke for a moment, you seemed nice enough. Then we crossed paths again there by the beans and the screaming toddler. I guess you thought we were friends, you thought you could confide in me your deepest thoughts. You glanced toward the mother and the kid, then at me, rolled your eyes and said in a loud voice: “Man, some people need to learn how to control their f**king kids.” The lady could definitely hear you, but I guess that was your intention. You had this expression like you were expecting a high five. “Yeah, put it here, dude, you really told that young mother and her three year old off! Nice!” Is that how you thought I’d respond? What is it about me that made you think I would react that way? You’re the second stranger in the last few months to say something like that to me about a mom with a tantrum-throwing toddler.

Yeah, I didn’t respond the way you anticipated. Instead, I offered my own helpful suggestion: “Man, some people need to learn how to shut their mouths, watch their language, and mind their own business.” You looked at me like I hurt your feelings, then you muttered some choice words under your breath — as cowards are wont to do — and walked away. Later that day you sent me an email, threatening to tell everyone that I’m “abusive” and “crappy” to my listeners. Well, now I’m one step ahead of you. Now, everyone knows about my shameful “abuse.” Let them decide who’s the bully: the guy who vulgarly insults a woman while she’s dealing with a difficult child, or the guy who tells the guy who insulted the woman to shut up and go away?

After you left, injury was quickly added to insult when her kid bumped into a display and knocked a bunch of stuff onto the ground. I started to help pick it all up, but she said she wanted her son to do it because he’s the one who made the mess. Touché, madam. Nicely played. A lot of people would buckle under the pressure of having sonny going psycho in aisle 7, while, seemingly, the whole world stops to gawk and scrutinize, but this lady stayed cool and composed. It was an inspiring performance, and it’s too bad you missed the point because your feeble mind can only calculate the equation this way: misbehaving child = BAD PARENT.

I’m no math major, but that calculus makes no sense. A kid going berserk at a grocery store doesn’t indicate the quality of his parents, anymore than a guy getting pneumonia after he spends six hours naked in the snow indicates the quality of his doctor. Grocery stores are designed to send children into crying fits. All of the sugary food, the bright packaging, the toys, the candy — it’s a minefield. The occasional meltdown is unavoidable, the real test is how you deal with it. This mother handled it like a pro. She was like mom-ninja; she was calm and poised, but stern and in command.

See, I figure there are two types of people who mock and criticize parents whose children throw tantrums in public. The first is — from what I gathered based on your age (you looked about 19? 20, perhaps?) and what you said in your follow up email — your type: the non-parent who thinks, if they ever have kids, they’ll discover the secret formula that will prevent their hypothetical son or daughter from ever crying in front of other people. Then they promptly scrutinize and chastise real parents for not having this fake, imaginary, impossible, non existent formula. This sort of non-parent doesn’t realize that, unless they plan on using a muzzle and a straightjacket, there is nothing they can do to tantrum-proof their toddler.

Fine. Ignorant non-parents, who don’t know what they’re talking about, imposing ridiculous standards on actual parents because it makes them feel superior. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. As bad as you people are, you’re not nearly as horrible as the second type: actual parents with grown children who judge other parents, as if they haven’t been in the exact same situation many times. I had an older guy complain to me recently about babies that cry during church. He said: “Back when our children were babies, you didn’t have this problem.” Interesting. Apparently babies didn’t cry in the 50′s. The whole “crying baby” thing is a new fad, it would seem. These folks who had kids a long time ago seem to have a rather selective memory when it comes to their own days of parenting young kids. They also tend to dismiss the fact that modern parenting presents unique challenges, some of which didn’t apply several decades ago. I always love the older folks who lecture about how THEIR kids weren’t as “attached to electronics” as kids are nowadays. That’s probably true, but mainly because, well, YOU DIDN’T HAVE ELECTRONICS. You had a toaster and a black and white TV with 2 channels, both of which were pretty easy to regulate. But, sure, congratulations for not letting your kids use things that didn’t exist. On that note, I have a strict “no time machines or hover-boards” policy in my home. It is stringently enforced. I’m thinking of writing a parenting book: “How to Stop Your Child From Becoming Dependent Upon Technology That Isn’t Invented Yet”

Anyway, listen, I don’t think you, of all people, should be telling other folks what they “need to learn.” If you just shut up and paid attention, you’d realize that YOU could learn plenty from mothers like the one we both encountered yesterday. I know I have lots and lots to learn as a young parent, which is why I’m always prepared for a more experienced parent to take me to school and teach me a thing or two, even if they don’t know they’re doing it. Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do. You shouldn’t scrutinize parents when you aren’t one, for the same reason I wouldn’t sit and heckle an architect while he draws up the blueprint for a new skyscraper. I know that buildings generally aren’t supposed to fall down, but I don’t have the slightest clue as to how to design one that won’t, so I’ll just keep my worthless architectural opinions to myself.

That’s a strategy you might consider adopting.

In any event, it was nice meeting you.

******

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11,444 Responses to Dear parents, you need to control your kids. Sincerely, non-parents

  1. James B says:

    Never read your blog before, no idea who you are, but well worded and well thought out. Good blogpost

    10/10, would read again

  2. Ally says:

    ot to mention if you have a special needs child…People with out kids are quick to give advise about things they think they know about, I had one lady tell me, and she was totally serious, that “Training my child to behave” is just like training a dog, it worked for her dogs, so why not for my child…I nearly bit through my tongue that day. ” My child is a special needs child and when he was younger he often had melt downs in the store ( We didn’t bother trying to go out to eat with him when he was little) His melt downs usually had nothing to do with wanting something and every thing to do with being over stimulated…There was no one to watch him so it came down to…A. No food in the house for anyone, B. Shop late late at night or C. Brave the looks and comments from other shoppers…I usually did C and by the time I got home, I was ready for my own melt down!!

  3. Shar says:

    The Mom was following excellent science. When a child exhibits unacceptable behavior, as much as possible, it should be ignored (if s/he is not directly harming self or others). This is called extinquishing. A healthy child will fairly soon abandon behavior that doesn’t get him what he wants. If it’s ineffective, the child will learn other ways of trying to meet needs. Capitulating to a child in a tantrum signals two things to a child: 1) I am in control here. 2) I can get what I want by screaming long enough (or by embarrassing my parents by screaming long enough). Any negative behavior the parent reinforces at age 3, will only appear a hundredfold stronger at age 13. Hooray for the wise mother. Tsk! tsk! for the fair weather fan!

  4. When my kids were small, I had a trick I used, and so help me it worked. Whenever they asked for something I couldnt afford, I told them, when im rich you can get it. It worked no matter what it was they were asking for. After a while, all I had to do was look at them and they would say, I know, when your rich right? Lol

  5. jules poor says:

    Well said sir, well said. I have my own little 3 year old military brat who hits his nuclear melt downs too right around the phineas and ferb snacks :) parenting is an art and to each their own but until we start to support each other when we are sticking to our guns it won’t get easier. I’m proud to hear of someone sticking up for a fellow parent. It makes me smile as much as when the vets high five me for disciplining my son for his tantrums :) you may have lost one fan but you have gained a new following.

  6. Suzanne says:

    I love your article, or did until I got near the end. What is this stereotyping of the “older generation”. I am one of “them” and I would have supported the young Mom just as you did. I have found that the most critical of the crying child are the twenty somethings that have decided to put off their child rearing days until they have had time to enjoy their independence. Since I raised my kids until now there have always been people who will put down the parenting style of others. They come in all ages, races, and life styles. Maybe the “fan” that you ran into was older, but believe me she could have been any age. Ignorance and rudeness really has no boundaries.

    • Lisa says:

      “See, I figure there are two types of people who mock and criticize parents whose children throw tantrums in public. ”
      I don’t think he was meaning to stereotype the older generation as a whole. Seems like he was stereotyping two basic types of people who would criticize this mother. The very fact that you would have supported the mother excludes you from the group to which the author is referring. I would have to say he is basically correct in his stereotype. The two groups are people who have never encountered whatever stage of parenting is being discussed and people who have already experienced the stage but have forgotten the difficulties that come along with the joy.

    • Wanda says:

      Well, I’m from the older generation. In my sixth decade and we’ve adopted four adorable Chinese daughters, after growing a biological set of children. How many people (from my “own” generation) talk about how well children were disciplined and how children were so easily entertained with just a cardboard box. Yeah? And how SMART were we? I think we’re the generation that played in the cardboard box because we were bored out of our skulls with hop scotch and boxes. And it’s also the generation that had so much time on our hands that a whopping percentage of kids sneaked behind barns and began smoking. Yes, that generation became ADDICTED to cigarettes, rather than electronics. Addiction is addiction, regardless of what generation it lands in.

      Matt, I’ve never heard of you, but I’m a fan after happening upon this parenting feature. I think that a lot of people choose to blurt their mouths on many topics they obviously know little about. Thx for speaking up to the grocery store critic. He earned it.

    • Mother of a fairly well behaved child who still cops it..... says:

      He isn’t saying all older people respond like this. My parents are wonderful and remember all too well what it was like to have children have off days- no matter how good a parent you were. But as a mum, I must say, the only people that lecture me in shopping centres on what my 1 year old child should be doing (despite the fact that he is too young to do what they are saying) are older people. I have actually never had a negative encounter with a younger person. I have had many older people swoon over my child too- but there is certainly a section of the population who have forgotten what their child was like at a certain age and feel very comfortable in openly telling you that if you were a better mum your child wouldnt do that. FYI, my kid rarely has breakdowns like the one described- mine will just call out for his daddy expecting him to materialise out of thin air, or blow raspberries at people because he finds it funny. Or I get lectured on not making him say thankyou etc etc… well it’s hard to teach manners to a child who isn’t talking yet lol- he says ‘mmmmm’ to express his appreciation instead. I particularly love when I say, “well he’s only 1 so we’ll work on that when he’s old enough to understand” only for them to call me a liar and tell me he’s older. I’d get it if he was super tall or something but he isn’t. In all reality, it’s probably only a small percentage of your generation that do this- but they feel so happy to express their judgemental comments that they impact hundreds of parents each!

    • Michelle says:

      Suzzanne,

      I am in the ‘older generation’ too and I think he was talking about a few older people…not all of them. Just like not all younger people fit the mold of the first type of ‘judge’…not all older people fit the mold of the second type. I have met a few in the ‘older generation’ group he described. “I never let my kid ride backwards in the car at AGE TWO”…well not too long ago kids didn’t ride in car seats at any age!

    • Mother of little boys says:

      I know plenty of “older generation” that would support the mom. I have also seen many “older generation” giving dirty looks when I can’t “control” my boys in public. I have 3 very energetic boys 5 and under with another boy on the way, so I get lot’s of those looks from all ages. It does hit a little harder when it comes from those seasoned parents that should know better, but seem to have forgotten what it is like to deal with little ones. I do understand that many parents at that point don’t want to deal with it anymore because they did “their time.” But again, that’s not all. Please don’t take it personal. I don’t think it was ment for all of the “older generation.” Thank you for being one of the understanding people. For us mom’s (and probably dad’s too) it is very refreshing to have people smile at our kids and engage them as opposed to giving dirty looks.

    • Beth Repnik says:

      I too am of “the older generation”, but didn’t feel as if he was lumping all of us “olders” together. Let’s not be so quick to take offense. There are people of all ages who feel it is there calling to judge others without any understanding of what is really going on. The lesson we all need to learn is: It’s NOT about me and my comfort level, it’s about loving others in spite of my discomfort.

  7. Mother of a Terrible Two Child says:

    You hit the nail on the head! Couldn’t agree more with you. My daughter had a melt down at Peter Piper Pizza the other day because I told her she needed to eat before she could play. Try explaining that to a two year old! Other people in the restaurant gave me looks that could kill! Some people just don’t understand. Love this article!

    • Teej says:

      And you didn’t leave the restaurant until the screaming stopped because………again, your child’s right to scream does NOT override the right to not have to hear decibel-blasting screams by other patrons of the place.

  8. wendy says:

    Great article!!!

  9. Amy says:

    To all of you bragging about ways to stop tantrums even though your kids never had them… We all applaud you bc we all believe you lol.

  10. Theresa says:

    You are awesome! And yes, I have had more than my share of meltdowns (with a special needs child) and wish that the dirty looks would disappear. Especially from the parents that have children with them that are staring in horror and shock, as if they have never ever done that!!

  11. Consider me a new fan, too! That was AMAZING and really helps to remind me when my mind tries to go to that place (which I admit happens occasionally if I’m having a bad day etc). I’m not a parent, and I haven’t a clue what it’s like, but I know I was an exhaustingly difficult child for my mom to deal with and threw more than my fair share of tantrums. Thank you for posting this. I’ll think next time my mind tries to make a judgement. And bravo to that mom for handling that situation like a boss.

  12. lesley says:

    Thank you. I am a parent of a three year old… I hate when people say control your kid in a situation like this.. BECAUSE. If you give in to ur child everyrime they want something or cry, then your a Bad parent…. I have heard.. “todays kids are given everything and don’t know what the word no is or how to work for anything.” Well if parents give in so the kids don’t cry we are not teaching our kids….. it can’t be both ways.

  13. I don’t know who you are and have never read your blog before but having seen a friend share this on FB I felt compelled to read it. All I can say is THANK YOU!! I read a few comments and then stopped. Decided to share a sincere comment that actually meant something. I have been that mom. I have received the stares and comments. I have dreaded going to the store and many times left in tears not because of my son and his three year old ways but because of those who give no grace and have no understanding. I admit, I use to be them. LESSON LEARNED!!! When I see a struggling parent and offer my understanding now I can see the relief in their face and its a joy to give it. What would others have us do?? Beat our children in the middle of the isle? The older generation would love it! However legal that was back in the day today it isn’t. Sorry folks! Should I yell at them to sit down and shut up in front of the entire store? Hmmm. Good idea, but then you risk offending a whole different set of opinions not to mention completely belittle your child in front of perfect strangers. Way to go! Nope. Not doing that either. It would be easy for parents like me to lose their temper, submit to the scrutiny of others at the expense of our parental integrity, yell and scream to please others, but let me tell you IT DOESNT WORK ANYWAY! Been there, done that. To my shame. Aside from leaving the grocery store with my screaming child the one hour a week I actually have the opportunity to give my wonderful husband a chance to come up for air, what would you have parents like us do? Parenting is hard. It takes all you’ve got and then some. So I salute that mama in the article. She is a hero who loved that kid at his worst so he can become his best. Kudos . Hats off to her!! I have a great deal to learn. In my opinion, the best lessons are learned in the trenches or in my case, the grocery store at 5 pm when everyone is there and my 3 year old is hungry. Time to put on the armor and “stick to your guns!” Thanks for the article!! I needed some grace today. :)

  14. Tantrums are part of children. Whining is part of children. Children are not little adults who just choose to ignore the rules of good behavior – they are learning those rules with a limited emotional skill set. Sometimes they go into full meltdown. As adults and, in theory, with a wider emotional skill set, we’re the ones who need to cope. Suck it up, one might say, and be a freaking adult.

    Well played, sir, well played.

  15. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) says:

    A psychiatrist once told me, young children find tantrums very scary. It;s beyond teir control and they feel as if they’ll explode. The best thing a parent can do, he said, is to hug the child so as to let them feel where their physical boundaries are, while at the same time calmly sticking to the ‘no’ on whatever issue the tantrum was about. It worked, Tantrums gradually stopped happening because they never led to the children getting their way after I had said no. On the rare occasions when I was so misguided and/or stressed as to deliver a smack, it led to further screaming and crying. Most people don’t know about the hug technique or the reasons for it. The mother you encountered did indeed do a fine job in any case, and was setting boundaries for her child in a less tangible but still effective and ultimately reassuring way.

    • Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) says:

      PS Apologies for the typos> I am a bad typist, and at my age I find it hard to see this pale grey font so as to make all the corrections..

  16. Jenn says:

    Thank you for all the parents out there that encounter challenges. Sometimes no matter how hard we try to prevent the meltdown of our children, there are also children out there that have some conditions (autism, sensory issues, and seizure conditions) that no amount of planning can prevent. Having people stare at us makes it that much harder. We parent to best of our abilities. So on behalf of all parents out there WANTING to say what you said to that “fan” THANK YOU. You get it. We do our best and sometimes it’s not enough. Drama is going to happen as it’s part of life in some families.

  17. sarah says:

    I think the other person’ s comment was justified. Why should the entire store be subjected to that kid? The mom does not know how to handle him. For a good parent it should only take a look or threatening a severe punishment. Or oh my god. A spanking. That would stop the kid from carrying on. The mom was definitely not a good mother. We should not coddle our children. They should be seen and not heard and if they cannot behave… do not take them out.

    • Lesley says:

      “seen and not heard”? Did you really type that? Children are people. They have rights. They don’t need to be controlled or handled. And, trust me, spanking does not stop a kid from “carrying on”. It makes them cry harder because it hurts. Scaring your children into good behaviour is not right. Your children will never, ever be perfect. Why would they be? None of us are. They will misbehave, test boundaries, make bad (and embarrassing) choices and “carry on”, as you say. They need to make mistakes, test boundaries and misbehave…this is how they learn. Sometimes it happens in a public place. It is our reactions as parents that can make all the difference and hopefully help them grow into decent human beings. It sounds like this Mum was firm and in control. You can’t ask for more than that.

    • Kelli says:

      Is that how you were raised, to be seen and not heard? If so I am sorry to hear that! Many parents are afraid of spanking their children in public now as they can be turned in for child abuse. There is a very fine line of acceptable punishment and not acceptable punishment. Also what if the mother is a single Mom with no one to watch her child, maybe something has happened to the father, or he is deployed and she is all alone. Is she supposed to not eat and not get food for her child because it would inconvenience you? What if the parent is a foster parent doing the best they can with children who already came from an abusive home and has trouble with behavioral issues. Because they saved this child from an abusive family they should not be allowed to bring the child into the store and get used to being in public. Maybe you should step outside your perfect world and consider all scenarios as to why some parents HAVE to bring their children in the store, with or without temper tantrums.

    • Cher says:

      You don’t have kids do you? P.S. It is no longer 1950.

    • Sam says:

      Wow, said “Sarah” who does not or ever will have kids. I guess you skimmed over the entire article didn’t you? If you really read it, it was meant for people like you and what in society we call ignorance. Good job on living up to that title!

    • Stormy says:

      Another example of our society NOT being kid friendly. I live in Utah and there are kids EVERYWHERE. I don’t get bothered by screaming children, however, I am slightly annoyed but know-it-all adults. Why don’t you move to China where they a one child ONLY policy?!

    • Andrew says:

      Watch out Sarah, you mention spanking and you’ll have the activists calling for your head in this comments section. I’ve been called radical because I didn’t think the two examples the author used (a man who cusses a mother out and a possibly senile older man) were fair when attempting to make the point than non-parents shouldn’t scrutinize parents in any capacity. The vast majority of non-parents are passive aggressive about a screaming child, so this piece reads more like something aiming to ignite the emotions of parents that want affirmation and no accountability.

      • Bill says:

        Everything in moderation. People coddle their kids now-a-days and that does as much damage as people beating their children senseless. A spanking is not a beating. My parents quickly taught me not to misbehave in public. By the end of my childhood and into my early teens, all it took was a look from my Mom and I knew right-quick what was in store if I didn’t stop. She never once cursed at me, and I never once back-talked. Well, I did once, but boy you can bet I never did it again. Everything in moderation. Quick, strategic spanking as a last resort after trying to reason will teach the child that their behavior has consequences. I would know. I’m now a father of 4, and it has worked tremendously.

    • Mandy says:

      Are you serious?

    • Stephanie says:

      Yeah right! Any parent with a young headstrong child knows that a look or threat doesn’t mean anything! Wow, I thought children being seen not heard went out right around the turn of the century. Children will be children no matter how good a parent you are. This mother was NOT coddling her child by any means. She told him no, meant no and instead of turning away from what may have been her only opportunity to purchase groceries, stuck to her guns and did not give in. And spanking? You think he would have been quiet from a spanking??? This was merely a grocery store. Merely, a Mom trying to feed her family.
      Intolerance like yours is plain and simple ignorance! How about supporting this mother instead of cursing and degrading her? Or is that the new acceptable norm? So the next time you do something (and since you are perfectly human, it will happen) that someone finds irritating and inconvenient, I hope you are treated with the same loving kindness that you wish upon her. Maybe you should not be allowed out either.

    • Mother of 1 says:

      For an older child sure- but younger kids actually dont have this level of cognitive reasoning yet- it is their tantrums and the fact that they don’t get what they want out of them that faciltiate this level of cognitive reasoning. Everything is a learning process. And re: not taking them out…. what happens when you run out of food in the pantry? That would be called child abuse! Kids melt down unexpectedly and you deal with it as best as you can.

    • sam says:

      If I find you irritating in a grocery store, Sarah, can I hit you? Or is it only children I am allowed to slap around?

    • Pamela says:

      Sarah, the mom in the story is an except mother! 1) she did NOT give into her child’s demands once the tantrum started (this would have only reinforced the tantrum and made it more likely to happen in the future) and 2) she made him clean up the display he knocked over showing him there are consequences to his actions. Spankings don’t always work for every child in every situation. If a child is throwing a tantrum for attention and you spank them that’s just reinforcing the behavior because negative attention is still attention. Also, the mom does have control over her child because even in mid tantrum he followed his moms instructions and picked up the display, THAT IS CONTROL! And as a parent of a toddler myself, while I can sometimes get control of a situation with a looks sometimes you and your toddler are on the meltdown train to tantrum vile and there is NOTHING you can do about it except stick to your guns and ride it out. I’m assuming you don’t have any children and that is the reason for your highly ignorant comment, so I will cut you some slack and wish you the best when YOU are the parent with the child having the meltdown in the grocery store…I hope you don’t hurt yourself falling off of your high horse.

    • Z-Gal says:

      You ARE kidding, right?? If not, do you have any children?

    • Jenn says:

      Good parents do not want their child to be “afraid” of them, that’s called abuse!

    • Sarah says:

      Wow. I am not against spanking. Yep. Its still legal in some area. And I have wonderfully behaved children when I take them into public. And yes, occasionally, at very inconvenient times, they have melt downs. Something scares them or heaven forbid, I said no and they, for whatever reason couldn’t handle it. And sometimes not taking them out is not really an option. But my children are also coddled. Very much so. They know they are loved and they do not fear me. It sounds like your children fear you. Which means when they are teenagers, they will hate you. And you will not know if they are doing drugs or having sex. Which is my BIGGEST fear. I want to know my kids as they grow and I hope to have with them the same relationship I had with my mother. The mom was an awesome mom keeping her cool at a time when she probably wanted to break down herself. And I think the point of the article was stop judging. You aren’t in the situation that mom is in. And what if you were having a terrible day, and some know-it-all judged you incorrectly? Being in public is part of life. And if I have to deal with the teenager who can’t keep his pants pulled up, or the person who knows everyone and blocks the aisle talking to someone and I can’t get through when I am in a hurry, or the “justified” person swearing in front of my kids while one is having a meltdown, I also have to deal with the kid having a melt down.

    • Someone says:

      No. Toddlers have tantrums. That does not mean the parent does not know how to control the child. It is different when they are older. And guess what, Einstein, it is often impossible to go somewhere without taking your kid with you. That kid in the blog was clearly not being coddled. A spanking does not stop a three year old from carrying on. It makes them cry harder.

    • Gomer Kierkegaard says:

      Yeah, uh…beating a child will *not* stop nor reduce tantrum behavior. Do the research. It may be emotionally satisfying for the adult (and those around them who don’t understand how to deal with small people in a healthy productive manner) but it only leads to more undesirable behavior.

    • Sherlock says:

      Wow. You must not be an actual parent. Seriously. That isn’t always an option for everyone. Not everyone has access to child care and not everyone has the luxury of being able to shop alone. So don’t be a douche canoe and worry about yourself. And I AM a parent who has a hard time dealing with other people’s screaming spawn. But guess what? I give other parents the benefit of the doubt. Not everyone can be so douchey and perfect like you.

    • S.M. says:

      Here’s the problem Sarah : You can’t spank your child anymore, especially not in public, without having to worry about social services beating on your door. Heaven forbid we discipline our children so they don’t turn into snotty little brats.

      However, you can’t anticipate a melt down, you really can’t. You really think this woman should NEVER take her children anywhere because they *might* throw a fit about something? That’s terrible. The children need the social stimulation as much as the mother does or they’ll never learn to function properly in society. On top of that, you say a threatening look or threat of severe punishment should stop them? You think your children should be afraid of you? I’m not sure what is worse, the fact that you think a spanking will actually stop a tantrum and not make the crying worse, or that to be a good parent your child should fear you. I feared my mother as a kid, and while I love her because she’s my mother, I held very little respect for her my whole life and actually hated her for her disciplinary tactics which seemed more like blind, lashing out rage than discipline. I questioned her love for me and wondered sometimes if she should have even been a mother. I despised who she was and sometimes question leaving my child to spend quality time with her, do you really want that for your children?

      Children shouldn’t be seen and not heard. You aren’t raising servants, you’re raising children, of whom I hope you would encourage to be unique and to think for themselves. Children are naturally curious, inquisitive and outspoken. They’re always going to want to know why and when they don’t get their way, they’re going to be upset. Can you handle it in a way that isn’t noisy and disturbing to others? Well, that depends on the child and how they’re feeling that day. Do you sometimes get cranky if you’re tired or not feeling well? If someone agitates you at these times, I’m willing to bet you do. Maybe your temper flares, maybe you have less patience. Well, guess what, so do they. Except they don’t know how to handle these emotions, so they lash out.

      This mother did it right. If you don’t reward the behavior with attention, next time they *might* not lash out this way because it didn’t work last time. Giving that child any sort of attention will make the tantrum worse. Why? Because now they got exactly what they wanted, attention, and now they need to keep your attention, no matter what kind it is, so they’re going to get louder and they’re going to cry harder, especially if you quit paying that attention to them.

      Maybe you rule your children with fear. But I’d rather raise my child with reinforced nurturing. Does my son sometimes get a spanking or a threat of ‘If I hit 3 you aren’t going to be very happy’? Sure. But my son doesn’t fear me looking in his direction if he’s acting out, and he always speaks his mind and is rewarded for his independent thinking because I respect and encourage his intellectual growth and you know what? He’s been noisy here and there in the store, but we had our very first epic, collosal meltdown in public this last weekend, and he’s almost 5 and runs errands with me every.single.day. Instilling the fear of pain in your children to gain their fall-in-line militia behavior? Very much unnecessary. Children are children, they’re bound to be unruly from time to time.

  18. simmy saran says:

    I want to be honest I really don’t know who you are but this whole article really represents what mothers feel all around the world I have 2 kids under the age of 2 and did I have time to read this article no not at all but I may time after the first sentence the article you wrote simply was one of the best articles I have ever read and the funniest it made me laugh it made me have tears in my eyes as I thought about situations in my two years which I would say directly shadow this poor woman situation so to you the writer of this article you should seriously have this article on the cover of every single newspaper it’s compelling and heartwarming I really love it and I love you too now

  19. Kate says:

    Hi Matt

    The perils of modern parenting no matter what you do there are others who will criticise.

    To the mothers of children who do have tantrums I’ll say this oh how I wish I was not an adult at times and could have a complete hissy fit, I look at those children and smile, they are so in the moment of their anger, frustration and disappointment and have yet to learn the language or coping skills. The child’s mother by her example of not pandering to the child to keep it quiet was HER WAY and a good one. It is no wonder children have these public temper tantrums, everything THEY want is at their eye level or peoples legs and bottoms. Sometimes its a very young child and they don’t have the language or negotiating skills and they imitate Mum who picks up stuff from the shelves, seemingly to a small child at random and because Mum wants it, not because they have the understanding of the dynamics of shopping for the family.

    Much love from across the seas to her and anyone else who has suffered the ignominy of public condemnation without understanding of the circumstances.

  20. Ross says:

    I cannot believe the number of people here with the attitude that these tantrums are normal and we should all just accept them. Talk nice to the child, say please, ignore them, blah blah blah. Ya, sure, that will teach them how to deal with not getting what they want for the test of their lives. Get with reality people! Life is full of disappointments. When your child is 17 and throws a fit in high school because he or she isn’t happy about something, their teacher will have all you blowhards to thank for it. Or when your child is 30 and facing life in a full-time job (most likely flipping burgers) and they throw a tantrum because they don’t get their own way, and they get fired, hopefully you won’t mind letting them spend a few more years in your basement, because that will be their life. Get a grip.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for a little commonsense Ross, I am truly amazed as well. I take a very moderate approach suggesting that it is a little ridiculous to use: 1. a man who cusses out a mother trying her best and 2. an older (perhaps senile?) man who claims babies didn’t cry in his day as justification that non-parents can’t scrutinize parents in any capacity. So I am not allowed to scrutinize a politician because I’m not one? My views have been called radical, among other things even though I haven’t called anybody names or suggested they are horrible people, like the author did.

      • Stephanie says:

        It wasn’t the criticism per say more the way he did it. Dropping an “f” bomb to verbally humiliate a mother and young children? There are better ways.

      • Andrew says:

        Stephanie, I agree with you but the author is actually saying there is no scenario in which a non-parent could ever scrutinize a parent. Meanwhile this entire article is scrutinizing the mindset of non-parents by using two extreme examples. Do you see where I’m coming from? I’m absolutely not excusing the man who cussed out the mother.

    • Lesley says:

      The Mum here was TRYING to teach her child that you don’t always get what you want. Often these tantrums happen when a parent says no. Kids (even really good kids with really, really good parents) don’t like it when someone says no and sometimes, just sometimes, these kids throw tantrums. There is a way to speak to your child firmly and respectfully at the same time. People think you have to either hit your kids or let them walk all over you. These are not the only two choices.

    • James Rose says:

      Get out of the basement Ross… it sounds like your one of those a$$holes your talking about

    • Sherlock says:

      What the fuck is wrong with you? Have some children and do some parenting of your own and then… THEN YOU CAN WORRY ABOUT PARENTING YOUR OWN CHILD. Simple. Don’t be an ass hole.

    • Hartfa says:

      Unfortunately, a lot of people feel that children learn by modeling behavior. Such as explaining boundaries, saying please and thank you, ignoring behavior that isn’t appropriate, and hence they treat their children as such. Unfortunately, what science has shown us is that these children grow up to use that behavior! What a ridiculous concept! Adults never ignore behavior that is inappropriate, we just give the other adult a good smack or two with a belt or paddle and yell at them to shut the *** up. I never speak to my coworkers in a kind fashion or ignore their racial statements, Why would I do that? Tell another human being thanks? Pffttt! Understand human biology and psychology? Scientific hogwash…

  21. Knowat says:

    Yeah! You tell ‘em, dude. Childless weirdos – thinking they’re allowed an opinion on a child’s behaviour, simply because they’re sharing public space with you? If they’d only stay home, they could avoid this trouble.

    • Andrew says:

      Only parents can comment on anything because they have experienced everything. I’m just some ignorant non-parent that couldn’t decipher between good behavior and an entitlement attitude if my life depended on it…

      • Pamela says:

        Andrew, the problem is, you weren’t there at the start of the meltdown so you don’t know why a child is behaving that way, and WHY the child is behaving a certain way determines what consequences you give, if the child is throwing a tantrum because they want to leave the store, restaurant, etc then leaving the location would actual reinforce the behavior and make it more likely to occur. If the kid is melting down because the parent wouldn’t give him something the. Ignoring the tantrum and continuing the routine will show the child they aren’t getting what they want and they will eventually stop, and the behavior will be less likely to occur in the future or if be much shorter if it does occur. So since you don’t know why the child is acting out you can’t judge and criticize the parent or say the child has an entitled attitude,

  22. Sally says:

    My assumption is that you were understanding and sensitive to crying, tantrum-y children before you had any yourself, yes?.

    It is my experience, now at age 57, that the “sensitivity” and “understanding” that goes along with the bolus of parents-of-kids-with-tantrums seems to wane as the kids mature.

    I would give anything to see how you’re feeling about this article when you are trying to eat a quiet meal at a restaurant at 7:30p for your, let’s say, 60th birthday. Good luck!

    • Sherlock says:

      Grocer stores and restaurants are two different types of places. A restaurant is NOT a necessity while buying food FOR YOUR FUCKING KIDS, is. I’d also like to point out making passive aggressive remarks to someone else loud enough for the mother to hear is fucking rude. Are you one of those people? Must be nice to have the luxury of not having to take kids with you everywhere.

  23. Paul Hartzer says:

    What really gets me about that attitude is when the same people cluck about public tantrums and parents not being able to control their children when they’re *not* mid-tantrum. One of the most effective ways to make sure your child is a misbehaved demon when they’re not in a tantrum is to acquiesce to their every demand when they’re having or threatening to have a tantrum.

    My son has only had a few public tantrums. My wife and I have mostly ignored them at the time, except to remind him that that’s not the way to get what he wants. We’ve gotten the nasty looks from onlookers. And as soon as my son has realized that a public tantrum is not going to get him what he wants, it stops and we have a conversation about what he wants, whether or not he’s going to get it, and why or why not.

    The thought of the non-parent is, “Why don’t you discipline that child?” What they don’t seem to realize is, maybe this IS the discipline. If the toddler in meltdown want the parents to drop everything and, if Lucky Marshmallow Bites are not in the offing, we’re leaving the store NOW and nobody gets ANYTHING… well, how does it stave off a future temper tantrum to give the child exactly that?

    Sure, some screaming children are screaming because they know it’s just a matter of time before mom or dad breaks, and mom or dad is a lousy parent who’s going to buy those Lucky Marshmallow Bites eventually. And some are screaming because they think it’s going to work but it won’t, because it never does.

    • Lesley says:

      Well said.

    • Andrew says:

      Despite the message conveyed in this blog post (rant), there are plenty of non-parents that can constructively scrutinize parents. You don’t have to be a career politician to scrutinize politicians, do you? It is amazing to me that parents are allowed to scrutinize the mindset of non-parents but it can’t work the other way around…

      • aussie16 says:

        THANK YOU ANDREW!!

      • James Rose says:

        Its different in the fact that if your not responsible for another life and all the mind numbing hours you have to put into it… you would never truly understand. Even watching a nephew or niece is not comparable because you give them back. Your next response is YOU made that choice to have a kid so deal with it. Well your right… many people do and several don’t. It just happens. Just remember that, the next time your big decision is what kind of beer you want and when you will get up. By the way…. have you noticed the state of the economy… politicians is the last metaphor I’d use to compare with child rearing

      • Kim Ferreira says:

        Nice try, but weak argument! How exactly can you constructively scrutinize parents, if you haven’t been one? Sorry, I’ve been on both sides and the things you think you know before you actually are a parent are quite skewed. I think the architect point used in the post sums it up accurately.

      • Jenn says:

        If you do not have kids, you CANNOT relate, thus should keep your mouth shut!

      • Michelle says:

        Scrutinizing politicians isn’t really the same thing. I can tell if a wall wasn’t built straight but that doesn’t mean I can do it better! A ‘non-parent’ can scrutinize all they want… but they shouldn’t share their opinions unless they are asked. That goes for parents who think they are veteran parents, too. Honestly, it’s common courtesty no matter what ‘group’/label you assign yourself.

        An opinion that is shared without invitation…. becomes a judgement!

      • nancy says:

        well said….i had two children that never threw fits in stores, restaurants etc…because they learned at home at a very early age that fits didn’t work…

      • Ok we get it. You want to criticize politicians! Go do it then. Leave the parents alone and go find some crappy politicians to judge. The author isn’t even saying it’s wrong to have those thoughts, just that walking up to a stressed out mom who is CLEARLY doing her job, and cussing her out is not helpful.

        “It is amazing to me that parents are allowed to scrutinize the mindset of non-parents but it can’t work the other way around…”

        You are aware that parents ALL used to be non-parents at one time right? If it’s that amazing to you that you will gain a different mid-set after you have children then before you have children, we have a bigger problem here.

      • Sarah says:

        Ok Andrew… How would you handle the situation? Should we, as a society, create “public” places in which children are not welcome? Perhaps, Groceries for Parents and Groceries for non-parents? Sounds like a business opportunity waiting for other closed-minded folks like yourself. I would GLADLY keep my children, and my money away from your business.

      • Danna Adams says:

        I agree, some can but at the same time how it is okay to say that out loud. Thinking in your head is just fine but really making parents feel bad for trying to teach their child “no” is something they have to learn cannot be just a at home thing.

      • Stacie says:

        Parenting is hard and until you are one you cannot “scrutinize” them. All parents have been non-parents. That doesn’t work the other way around. We are likely all guilty of the judging of parents before we became them. Now we sympathize. Because we are there. We are now the parents of tantrum-throwing children. I would love to know what will set off my 14 month old daughter and when those tantrums will be. But I don’t. We aren’t mind-readers. We can’t change our plans because of something that might occur. If my child decides to scream out of frustration, well, sorry. I don’t like it either but she has to learn how to behave socially and because she has few words, that is how she communicates frustration. We all have our own right to be places just as much as you- and if that means I finish my shopping while she cries- then I’ll do it. And I might apologize to others. And, then again, I might not. Ask your parents if you ever threw a tantrum in public. Ask them how it felt to be judged. And then mind your own business.

      • Andrew says:

        It is so amazing to me how many black vs white comments there are on this post. This is a blog post scrutinizing non-parents while telling non-parents not to scrutinize parents. Nobody sees the hypocrisy in this? Notice how I never excuse the behavior of the man who cussed at the lady and the curmudgeon? I am taking a really balanced approach to this issue encouraging parents and non-parents to take a deep breath and not say f*ck or call people horrible, ignorant and bad and telling people to shut up (like the author did). It was WRONG for the man to cuss out the mother and it was WRONG for the author to call people names as well. Continue to call me a radical and tell me to keep my mouth shut, you just keep proving my point while exposing your immaturity to rational readers…

      • Sherlock says:

        Ha. Hahaha. HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA. HAHHAHAHAHAHA.
        Not only does watching relatives” not count as parenting, EVERY SINGLE CHILD IS DIFFERENT. Hell, different parenting styles can be used by the same parent for EACH child they have. So put your judgmental douche canoe ass in someone elses shoes for once. It’s not even that fucking hard.

      • Andrew says:

        Kim Ferreira, you can constructively criticize anything you want. Cussing someone out isn’t constructive criticism so I am obviously not condoning the behavior of the man in this article. You don’t see the irony of writing an entire blog post stating non-parents can’t scrutinize parents in any scenario while the author is scrutinizing all non-parents? Really try to look at this issue objectively.

      • Paul Hartzer says:

        Sure, non-parents can provide constructive criticism to parents. I welcome any constructive criticism.

        Constructive being the operative word, naturally.

      • Paul Hartzer says:

        I’ve read most of the replies to you, Andrew, and as a parent of a four-year-old, I can say: My opinions about parenting and proper parenting have not changed radically in the last five years. Sure, there’s more nuance and more patience of other styles than previous, but really, I haven’t the “oh my GOD I have a LIFE I’m responsible for now EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT!” mindset shift that other people are expressing here. I had a life I was responsible for before: My own. Now I have another.

        I personally have experienced far more abrasive judgments from other parents than I have from non-parents.

  24. Aaron says:

    Great post. Well done.

  25. Michelle says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. Did it occur to anyone that taking the child out of the store might teach the child to throw a fit every time because it causes mom/dad to end the torturous shopping trip? I’m sorry if my child disturbs you when we are out in public. We are doing our very best to raise six children who will be good additions to society, however they are in progress. Nobody is perfect. Personally, I am annoyed by foul language in earshot of children, clothing that is showing way too much skin or sagging, and smokers who think it is okay to throw cigarette butts where ever they want, but this stuff happens. People, big and small, can be annoying. We don’t live in a bubble, but rest assured we TRY not to disturb you. If it does happen we act in a way to curb the problem and hopefully instill some long term benefits.

  26. Donna says:

    I am really sorry , but when you have your children grown up and gone and you do not have little ones around going out to a eating place is not very enjoyable with children running up and down the aisles, parents saying nothing to them they have brought them out to eat, then they should have been shown how to act when they are out, now I am talking about children three, four years old, go out to Montana’s they have days when children eat free. I do not apologize,
    these children should have to sit …………

    • Paul Hartzer says:

      There’s a difference between a parent ignoring a temper tantrum and a parent ignoring a child running amok. A parent might be ignoring a temper tantrum because that’s an effective way to teach the child that the tantrum won’t be effective at getting their way. Children running amok while their parents look the other way are learning that they can get their own way. So, you’re railing at pretty much the exact opposite of what this blog entry is about.

  27. Bart says:

    You said: This sort of non-parent doesn’t realize that, unless they plan on using a muzzle and a straightjacket, there is nothing they can do to tantrum-proof their toddler.

    You said: The occasional melt down in the supermarket minefield is unavoidable.

    You are wrong here.

    Let me get my first point across. I don’t think it was necessary for the fan you met to publicly humiliate the woman by “speaking out loud” He should keep it to himself.

    Second, when I was younger I never threw tantrums in public. Same with my kids at the moment. Nope, they know how to behave themselves, and if I don’t buy them a box of “lucky cereal” they will deal with it. Sulk and moan all they want, they know better not to throw a tantrum. Here is where I contradict with you. My kids know there will be due consequences when they decide to scream and shout in public for no good reason. Even if they were to run, fall down and hurt themselves, they know not to scream and cry out in pain because they shouldn’t be running around in the supermarket in the first place but I tend to be more sympathetic in these situations. Kids will be kids and run around after all. The point is, they don’t throw tantrums in PUBLIC. Sure, they can do it at home and I let them get away with it sometimes. But in public? They know better not to.

    But causing a fuss because I don’t buy you your “lucky cereal”? That doesn’t happen at all to me. Sure they will pull on a long sulky face.. but 30 mins later, they will be okay and say “Dad, this cereal is actually pretty good”

    So as a neutral by stander, I think you have to understand that there are a group of people, who WILLLLLL criticize (just not in public) when a child throws a tantrum in public. These group of people are usually more tolerable to other kids throwing tantrums t because they are not our children and we shouldn’t care that much. Nevertheless it definitely goes through our mind “what a spoilt kid” “control your kid”.

    Let me know your thoughts.

    • Bart says:

      You said: This sort of non-parent doesn’t realize that, unless they plan on using a muzzle and a straightjacket, there is nothing they can do to tantrum-proof their toddler.

      You said: The occasional melt down in the supermarket minefield is unavoidable.

      You are wrong here.

      Let me get my first point across. I don’t think it was necessary for the fan you met to publicly humiliate the woman by “speaking out loud” He should keep it to himself.

      Second, when I was younger I never threw tantrums in public. Same with my kids at the moment. Nope, they know how to behave themselves, and if I don’t buy them a box of “lucky cereal” they will deal with it. Sulk and moan all they want, they know better not to throw a tantrum. Here is where I contradict with you. My kids know there will be due consequences when they decide to scream and shout in public for no good reason. Even if they were to run, fall down and hurt themselves, they know not to scream and cry out in pain because they shouldn’t be running around in the supermarket in the first place but I tend to be more sympathetic in these situations. Kids will be kids and run around after all. The point is, they don’t throw tantrums in PUBLIC. Sure, they can do it at home and I let them get away with it sometimes. But in public? They know better not to.

      But causing a fuss because I don’t buy you your “lucky cereal”? That doesn’t happen at all to me. Sure they will pull on a long sulky face.. but 30 mins later, they will be okay and say “Dad, this cereal is actually pretty good”

      So as a neutral by stander, I think you have to understand that there are a group of people, who WILLLLLL criticize (just not in public) when a child throws a tantrum in public. These group of people are usually more tolerable to other kids throwing tantrums t because they are not our children and we shouldn’t care that much. Nevertheless it definitely goes through our mind “what a spoilt kid” “control your kid”.

      And one last thing to add food for thought. A kid only throws tantrums when he knows his parents will give in or if he knows there aren’t any consequences to him throwing a tantrum. Kudos to the mum for not giving in, but they should be a consequence at home to avoid this breakout from happening again.

      Let me know your thoughts.

  28. Tess says:

    This is a Great Article!!

  29. Tammy says:

    You are my hero! My kids are older and it’s hard to remember specific incidences, so sometimes us “older” parents do think we have all the answers. We don’t. Our kids were obnoxious, too. They were! I don’t specifically remember it, but have home movies to prove it.
    Anyone who takes a toddler to the store deserves a standing ovation and our undeniable support. Hang in there mamas and papas! Dealing with crazy toddlers is just training for the teenage years!
    Thank you for having mama’s back! You might be down one fan – but you just gained me ;)

  30. To Matt Walsh, bravo! I agree with what said for the parent who is dealing with a child in a true melt down. As a mother of a 26 year old and a 34 year old both boys I never had a problem with melt downs and it wasn’t because I gave in. What bothers me is the parent whose child is not in a melt down but expressing themselves in an octave that is not necessary in public that’s on the parents babies and toddlers I get but I see older children allowed to act this way. Sitting in a restaurant one afternoon with my husband I notice a small child 3 or 4 leave his parents table and jump in to the corner booth and proceeds to run back and forth. This did not disturb my lunch as it worried me that this kid is going to slip and hit his face on the table.The parents never even looked his way. They were in their 30s. This child then while still in the corner booth went around and started pounding on the back of the next booth where another couple was sitting almost hitting the woman in the head. The parents did nothing. So to these type of parents they need to control their kids. By the way my kids were not allowed to wander from the table when we ate out. Ever!

  31. melissa says:

    Ok I had no idea who you were before this post. actually still don’t .. but so happy you stood up for the mom.. too many people sit around and judge and too many stand by quietly. I have a son who is special needs so at 5 ft 6 he still has temper tantrums and you should see the looks I get. Thanks for standing up for us moms who are just trying to hold it together.

  32. Todd Greenough says:

    I don’t think it could be said any better. I am the father of triplets and one. Four emotional little girls who, while they are very well behaved, have their moments that cannot be controlled as you said. I appreciate your support of that young mother and I can tell by your desire and openness to learn that you will be a successful parent. Unlike that D-bag who thinks he already has it figured out.

  33. Danielle says:

    For those who say you need ro learn to control your kid yeah your right one on thin theres alot of learning to do in parenting but if you think its a mater of control you have got it all wrong and your going to lose every time parenting isnt about control its about instilling knowege that didnt exist prior to the situation teaching patients and understanding its got nothing to do with controling them and every thing to do with keeping yourself underwraps yea we all need to learn as parents because its hard to do somthing youve never done befor with out learning how to do it . Thank you Matt for standing up for those of us that have enough to deal with with out having to deal with childish antics in grown men and women ……. 21 yr old mother of 2 healthy happy well behaved yet ocasional tantrum throwing boys

  34. ARGIE H says:

    What the heck! You really have nothing better to do then blog this crap!

  35. cindy says:

    I actually think you both responded wrong. We absolutely should show kindness and compassion to this young mom, offer help if you can. But do you think if you met that guy in the parking lot he would receive the gospel from you after all this, did he see Jesus in your response to him as well? Why should we be shocked when we see or hear unbelievers react in disrespectful ways. I have been in situations like that, where the person tried to get me to agree to something derogatory said about another person. I usually try to defuse it by offering something positive or kind about the other person, i.e. “she’s probably a good mom, just a tough day, smile and move on.” That usually shuts the persons mouth and even if it doesn’t I glorified God in both situations.

  36. lisa e says:

    My children are grown, they knew better than to act that way in the stores. It was because if they did I’d make damn sure they had a reason to pitch a fit. Children need to learn to behave, if not set their ass on fire that’s what it was made for. Yes I am one of those people who go grocery shopping , late in the evening because of these screaming demons. They make we wanna smack the hell out of their parent and me pull my hair out. Im sorry, no I’m not either. If your screaming kids can’t behave then leave the brats at home. We pay for things as much as anyone else, however we should not be torchered by others unruly demons.

  37. Janice says:

    I think that parents (and I am one) should consider a few things first. That being .. Are you going out to dinner and its a place that mostly adults go but not exclusive to adults.. There is nothing worse then going out for a nice meal with someone and the kids at the next table are screaming or running up and down the isle. Shame on you… Take them somewhere where they can be kids.. When you take them grocery shopping maybe you should consider an alternative for them.. Like getting a sitter or going with a friend or give them something that will occupy them. I had 2 boys but totally refused to go with both because they feed off each other whether its laughing crying or screaming. One was easier to negotiate with without having to cave in. I just refused to be embarrassed and I for sure didn’t pit up witj

  38. Brianna says:

    I would just like to say bravo to you sir. Well said indeed. I will be sharing this. Sincerely, a fellow parent.

  39. Lisa Lewis says:

    I now wish I could take you with me for every trip to the supermarket, just in case my toddler goes stellar! I have felt like that lady so many times and always stick to my guns, it’s nice to know some people understand that a minute or so of tantrum should mean a healthy, well rounded individual and not a spoiled brat arrives at the end.

    Though, if I’d been on the receiving end of your ex-fan i would have kept tough in the store and gone for a secret cry outside after, I really take that kind of comment to heart.

    Thanks for writing such a good read!

  40. Linda says:

    Great post – I am speaking as another mom and now grandmother. I agree that you have to hold your ground. The only difference is/was that if my family acted out in public we had a little different approach. The “you will regret this when we get home” syndrome. There was spankings up until the age of reason – or they got too big to spank effectively. Saying that; my kids all remember their spankings and laugh about them now. Not beatings, but a meeting of the mind. We are the adults, the parents; but, no one gave us handbooks when we were given children so we do our best. I applaud the patience of the mom, as a mom of 4 there were moments when I REALLY wanted to spank them in public, but did not. There were times as they were teenagers that I REALLY wanted to spank them in public if only for the shock value. Each of us handles our family in OUR way. Being supportive is a better way to help, I appreciate everyones opinion – even if I don’t agree with their actions. Good job being a forum for all.

  41. Paul Martin says:

    The comments from non parents on this blog seem to indicate that they think parents feel they’ve moved to the top of the social order. As a parent, I certainly don’t feel this way. I would say that perception is coming from you. We are all simply trying to raise the best kids we can, and it’s a stressful, sometimes thankless job. I don’t expect you to comply and suck it up like I can. I’ve had two kids, and I can take it. I understand that you can’t. And I will deal with my kids in the way that is best for them first and you second. I have compassion for you non parents who don’t understand what we’re going through, and can’t deal. Until you’ve parented, you really can’t know what it’s like.

  42. Shelley Drady Enright says:

    Boom! There you have it. Well said, Sir.

  43. Stacie says:

    I love this blog. I will absolutely be a fan from now on. I used to work in a store so I was extremely fortunate to have shopped after work while my daughter was at the dreaded tantrum age, and when my son was 2 we were at a department store, their Dad tried to pick a fight with me about some nonsense so I left the cart of items there, grabbed both kids and left him standing in the store. That lesson taught my son that if Mom will leave the store if Dad is acting up, she will leave if I do, so I’m extremely fortunate I didn’t have to deal with public meltdowns but kudos to anyone that deals with them the right way like that mom did, and kudos to you for writing this.

  44. Moe says:

    My issue with the tantrums in public are the way they are handled. Letting your child lie on the floor, flailing around like a fish out of water while everyone suffers. I get it, it happens, but what I find more often than not, is the parent who allows this to go on, because they don’t feel like dealing with it, or, just don’t know how. “Go ahead, flop around on the floor…I don’t care”. Well – I do. If that means taking them to the car, calming them down, and having to start my shopping over again, well then, I acknowledge that is a part of parenthood. Just because you cannot control the moment your child decides to become the Mayor of Tantrumtown, doesnt mean that you negate all responsibility of attempting to controlling the situation. Have a plan, have consequences. Being a parent does not mean you have earned the right to ignore any and all social/public situations with a free “parent-of-a-toddler” pass. I am lucky to not have a child with special needs, but I would not allow him to bite, stab or shoot people and use his age or handicap as a rationale for it. I commend all parents – its the hardest job in the world, but I refuse to put someone on a pedestal for being a parent. Queue the “I take care of MY kids” speech….GUESS WHAT – you are supposed to. No medals of honor here.

  45. Erin Tarbuck says:

    Well thank goodness you posted this – it needs to be heard more often. I had my own grocery store judgemetn moment a few years ago, when a customer barked at me while I attempted to keep my three children quiet, and in line: “Lady – can’t you control your frickin’ kid?!? People are trying to work here!!” Too stunned and embarassed by the criticism, I said nothing. However, I’ve promised myself that the next time it (invariably happens), I will reply: “No – I can’t! Please, do go ahead and show me how!”

  46. Kame says:

    I maybe will get attacked for it, but i just read through the article and i dont fully agree to all you said and what i read in some of the comments. Yes the guy shouldnt have used that kinda language and is anyways better off minding his own business and just get out of the grocery store. The thing i don’t like about the article is that it supports the age old saying of “You dont have kids, so you don’t know” or “Therefor you are not entitled to express your opinion”. You split those “critics” into two categories saying either they don’t know anything about the subject because they don’t have any kids, or they are arrogant “know it alls” that speak of unrealistic experience.

    To the second group i cannot say much since i don’t have too much personal experience with them, but to the first point i strongly disagree. Your type of argument is one of those were you say “Well, I am crazy, but you have no right to judge or think you know any better for me, because you are not crazy” Might be an extreme example but the argument is pretty much the same. Also it is pretty clear that most “Crazy” people don’t know better about craziness and whats wrong with it then the once analyzing it or observe it properly from the outside. This reflects onto your argument. You put yourself in a position were you dismiss an opinion of an entire group just because they don’t have kids themselves. Not too open in my opinion. Also in my own selfish “not a man with kids” opinion i think the fact is that many kids behave way more negative than necessary. Ofc having kids is stress and to always raise them properly is a tough challenge, but that is something which should be determined beforehand or latest after the first child. If you are not up for the challenge to raise your children properly (or simply don’t have the time/temper) then settle with one kid only. Oh yeah and blaming grocery stores as some kind of trap to make children react that way is just silly. Why would the child in the first place cause such trouble if it wouldn’t be used to getting stuff from the store on a somewhat regular basis? If its a problem child fine, but your article seems to write about children in general and there its again up to the parents to give the children the basic education and experience in life which actually lets the kid not use the cry button oh so often. Maybe this puts me in your head into the same category as all the other people who don’t have kids and in your opinion are “know it alls” or so, but I can live with that :p

    I am not a regular reader of this blog, but i just came across the article and felt like sharing my opinion. I still agree that the guy you encountered was an idiot for saying these things, but at the same time i think you should be careful with generalizing too much. Nicely written though

    Greetings,
    Kame

  47. Nym says:

    I just think….

    There are two sides to this story.

    It’s one thing if your child is having a meltdown, and you are doing something to calm that child down. THAT doesn’t bother me.

    What bothers me? The kids who are having meltdowns in the store, and the mom or dad is hauling them around by the arm, ignoring them. And they get louder, and louder, and louder because they are having a temper tantrum. When I was a kid and I had a temper tantrum like that, my mother would park her cart by the restroom and take me in there. And keep me there until I stopped. We weren’t going anywhere until I learned to behave myself and NO, I would not be getting that toy/candy/whatever that I wanted because I hadn’t behaved nearly good enough for it.

    It doesn’t bother me when I see that the parent is making an effort to calm or at least discipline their child. It does bother me, when they don’t care. Or they walk off leaving their child standing in the middle of the aisle, shrieking their lungs out. And just call down the aisle, “Hey, get here now!” You may, perhaps, call me callous. But I think there has to be responsibility on both sides of this particular issue.

    The non-parents have to accept that there are instances that no matter what you do, your child isn’t going to calm. But if you are going to leave your child screaming in the aisle, yeah, as a non-parent, I have a problem with that.

  48. Melisha says:

    Love the post!

    And I really don’t care if my kid gets upset in the store because she’s a miniature human. It’s not like we’re all born perfect and never made mistakes…that would be no fun anyways.

  49. My parents didn’t allow us to throw fits in public. We were 6 kids. They would yank us right out of a restaurant or a store if it happened. Did that make them better parents? I don’t know. Was it more courteous to others that they did that? You bet it was.

    Being courteous to others isn’t a matter of circumstance. It’s a moral conviction. It’s a decision. We can choose to be courteous or we can choose not be. Letting your kid go “nuclear” in public is hard to classify as being courteous and polite to others. It’s pretty much universally received as a jack-ass move by most people even those who are parents themselves unless you’re the kind of person that also engages in such behavior. Then at that point you’re kindred spirit.

  50. Meg says:

    LOVE the article. As for this Sarah woman that just posted, she is either not a mother or is an outrageously bad one. Seen and not heard! Laughable! No matter how good a parent one is, that is like asking a person to change the color of the sky, and she is completely unreasonable person. I too have a very sharp tongue, and it would behoove her to never run into me and my two year old in a store when he’s angry because he didn’t get something he wanted, because I can guarantee you she’d be getting a tongue lashing like she’d never had. I also have never read your blog until today, and I give you props on both your writing and you handling of the situation!

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