Inflexible Adults: Curb You Negativism

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Image via Flickr user dolmansaxlil

We at GeekMom came across a blog this week that pushed our buttons. It was written by LZ Granderson and was entitled Permissive Parents: Curb You Brats.

As I started reading I was reminded of our vacation last month and a child that was seated at a table behind us. We were at McDonalds so I had different expectations then you would if you were at a nice, sit down place.

However, this child was definitely out of control. He proceeded to bounce on the booth seat, reach out and touch my and my daughter’s hair, run around the restaurant, attempted to push my baby’s high chair etc. We ignored him for the most part with me rolling my eyes as the mom sat there texting on her phone and ignoring her child. Then, he got his mother’s car keys and tried to poke my baby. Ahem. No. The mother never said a word. I, however, told him no and he looked shocked like he had never heard that word before. I then told him to go sit down. His mother still never said anything and I am not sure she even looked up from her phone.

These are the kinds of parents that I believe Mr. Granderson is addressing. The ones that don’t take the time or even attempt to provide any discipline or structure. Now while I think he has a point in some instance, in others he is way off base. So off base that I thought he must not have kids, but he does.

Mr. Granderson needs to adjust his expectations of what is considered an adult activity. While a 5 year old running around at a five star up scale dining establishment is out of line, a child running around at a Burger King is not. Flying in an airplane is not an adult activity. If you don’t like the screaming kids, move to first class or fly Malaysian Airlines. Children and families have just as much right as you do to go on vacation. Sometimes the parents are actually trying to calm their kids and while there is the occasional parent who ignores them and let’s them run rampant, I think they are in the minority. Grocery shopping is not an adult activity and I can’t even believe Mr. Granderson tried to make that point. The majority of grocery shopping is done by moms and yes, we usually have our kids in tow. Maybe he can come babysit for all of us while we make a run to get food for our families.

I think Mr. Granderson also needs to realize in some instances, the child may be special needs. Many children with disorders, such as Autism, don’t understand social behavior and have great difficulty with anything out of their routine. This is the nature of Autism and no amount of structured discipline is going to stop a meltdown when they have one. I feel these parents are doing the best they can and it is unfair to ask them to not take their children out. If that were the case, the parents would never leave the house. So be mindful Mr. Granderson as there are always exceptions to the rule.

Now, Mr. Granderson is spot on with his comment about “the look”. I use this one every day multiple times a day. It only works though if you are already have structured discipline and they know what to expect. As to children that slap there parents, I have a hard time with anyone who gets slapped by their child and does nothing. A very firm “we do not hit” is definitely needed and no sugar coating. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a mom say something like “No angel, we don’t hit” in that sickeningly sweet voice. Where is the authority in that? I use what I call my teacher voice and the minute that comes out, my kids hop to it.

When I worked in the schools and now when I am around other kid’s my daughter’s age, I can usually tell which ones are going to have issues when they get older. When we walk home from school there are kids that practically run over you with their bikes, curse a blue streak, push other kids down, run out in front of moving cars, throw rocks at each other, get in the local creek when the principals of the school have asked them not to and openly disrespect the parents on the sidewalk. I even had one tell a fellow mom to f-off. These are elementary age kids. My issue, and one that Mr. Granderson is attempting to discuss, is the lack of respect for authority figures and while these kids are in elementary school, it is only going to get worse from there.

So it comes to this. Children are here to stay. They are the reason the human race continues to thrive.  There are always going to be bad parents. There are always going to be good parents. There will always be kids misbehaving in public, so it is up to you Mr. Granderson, the adult, to deal with them because they are just kids being raised by parents who are most likely doing the best they can.

ADDENDUM: Since writing this post, I have come across a restaurant in Pennsylvania that is actually banning children under six years of age. You can see the post here. The last quote the owner uses at the end of the article sounds alot like what Mr. Granderson was saying. Personally, if he has a few unruly customers who keep bringing in poorly behaved children, why doesn’t he ban them? Why punish everyone? I support his right to do what he did, but I don’t agree with it. What do you all think?

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11 thoughts on “Inflexible Adults: Curb You Negativism

  1. I don’t think I disagree with Mr. Granderson at all and it’s nice to hear someone say it. I am a mother of a 7yr old girl. Yes, it’s only one so it’s “easy” but it’s not for a lack of effort.

    If airlines want to make some of their flights infantless, that is their choice just as restaurants choose to create a formal environment that most parents would avoid with their child. Infantless flights give the business travelers some time off from having to deal with other people’s children when they are probably away from their own. Now, if all of the airlines made all of their flights infantless, there’d be something to complain about.

    Yes, children are going to misbehave in an airplane. Yes, the other passengers are going to have to deal with a child to some extent. But, c’mon. We’ve all seen those children who scream (wherever they are) just because they have nothing else to do.

    I took my then 2.5yr old daughter on a flight with me. We were delayed in the terminal. We were delayed on the tarmac at O’Hare. We were delayed on the tarmac at Charleston. Our flight was delayed a total of 6hrs and, yet, when we got off the flight, the other passengers commented to me how they didn’t even realize she was there.

    Do I expect all children to act like this at all times? No. But there has to be a happy medium, doesn’t there?

    Screaming, fighting, kicking, and general bad behavior has no place in public. But, as with the cause of the behavior, BLAME THE PARENT. If your child does not behave, why would you put them in a position where they have to behave for so long that it’s sometimes tough for a parent to behave?

    My friend’s 7yr old son has ADD and does not like the idea of flying. She decided not to force him on an airplane to attend a family reunion this summer. That’s a responsible parent.

    I would be mortified if my daughter behaved the way many children are allowed to behave these days. I have had the discussion with her more than once about “I don’t care what they do. I’m your mother and you’re not going to do that.” I get frustrated having to listen to someone else’s kid when I finally get a chance to get out somewhere. I expect my child to behave regardless of where we are. I have dragged my kid out of stores and restaurants and put her in time outs in the car when she misbehaves. Because of this, I have been able to take her to Broadway plays without incident but, if she didn’t behave, I certainly wouldn’t be expecting everyone else to curb their negativism and be flexible … because I would not be flexible.

    1. You make some very good points. My daughter is 7 too and she is very well behaved and always has been. My son, on the other hand, is much more adventurous and while he is only 15 months old, we are setting the stage now for good behavior later.

      We have also had that discussion of why we don’t allow certain behavior. It is only going to get harder too as they get older 🙂

  2. I have 2 young kids. They are far from perfect, but they are learning how to behave in public, and I’m proud of their efforts at their small age. I swore that my kids would never be the ones that other people whisper “where are their parents?!?” I’m trying my best, and I expect that of other parents. It’s not unreasonable.

  3. You know…I can’t help but wish that someone writes a response to this article entitled “Abusive Parents, Quit Smacking Your Kids in Front of Me.” I would much rather see a child take a public hissy fit than see a parent hit a child. One looks like normal behavior that requires redirection, the other looks like abuse and leaves me feeling helpless and sick.

    The only thing that I took away from this man’s article is a sense of sanctimonious judgement. Did he provide a link to ANY peer-reviewed parenting courses like Common Sense Parenting, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting or Collaborative Problem Solving? No.

    If you’re going to judge someone without offering up possible solutions, you’re just celebrating in their misery.

    1. I would love to see an article about that 😉
      I worked at our local DHS shelter for several years and the abuse that came through there was just horrendous. Thing is, it was often a revolving door with the same children coming in again and again. It breaks my heart when I see parents smacking their kids but also when they talk very mean to them. There have been times when I have wondered if I should call DHS.

  4. I agree with Mr. Granderson. It doesn’t matter if it’s McDonalds or a fancy sit-down restaurant, my kids are expected to behave appropriately. They are not allowed to run around at will. Now if it’s the playground at McDonald’s, they can run. If it’s eating time, they’re expected to sit. If it’s on an airplane, they can walk around with me at intervals if needed. The rest of the time they’re expected to sit quietly. And yes, I expected this even of my very, very active daughter when she was a toddler. I planned ahead with LOTS of activities to keep her occupied.

    Now that I have kids of my own, when I see kids misbehaving I watch the parent’s response — because even the ‘best’ behaved kids have their moments. Then, for better or worse, I judge. Yeah I do.

    I don’t think these parents are allowing their kids to be out of control on purpose, but I think it’s sad that they don’t know that they can expect more from their kids.

    I know how much work it is to be consistent and teach them appropriate behavior. It’s grinding and overwhelming at times. I also know it’s worth it. I love that I’m able to actually enjoy spending time with my kids as they grow up because we can work on our relationship instead of having to constantly deal with misbehavior. I love seeing other people enjoy my kids’ company instead of dreading it.

    1. I think you make an excellent point about the parents not expecting more from their kids. I think that feeds into the cycle of misbehavior.

      I also think it is human nature to judge others. On some level I think it helps us modulate our own behavior in how we do things and how we react to things.

  5. I agree with Mr. Granderson, pretty much on all accounts! I have 2.5 year old twin boys, and they can absolutely be a handful at times, particularly because they’re at an age when they’re constantly testing their boundaries and their ability to follow directions… Well, it leaves quite a bit to be desired. But whether or not my stern scoldings or the numerous time-outs in any given day are effective or not right now, I am confident that they will have an effect as my children get older.

    It’s not an issue of HOW people parent their children–we all have different methods of disciplining our kids–and it’s not fair to judge (as Mr. Granderson says, corporal punishment shouldn’t be automatically excluded). My problem is with parents who don’t parent at all! Their out-of-control children are the ones running around the playground hitting other kids.

    I don’t expect my boys to behave ALL the time, particularly at their current age, but if they misbehave, they’re scolded, they’re told why their behavior was wrong, and they’re expected to apologize. I expect them to learn, and I can’t expect them to learn unless I teach them! No one said parenting was easy! And no matter what I say or do, I can’t control how other people discipline (or don’t discipline) their kids. I can just do my best to make sure that my kids grow up to be independent, responsible, well-adjusted members of society-as challenging as the no-parenting parents make it sometimes…

  6. Count me as one that would rather give Granderson a lecture.

    I’ve seen bad parenting. Plenty of examples. And then I had my own kids. My kids are smart. Not smart like I brag out smart they are. More like smart like I lament that they are too smart for their own good.

    I think Granderson needs to cut the parents who are trying as hard as they can some slack. Yes, I want that distinction– is it too much to ask for?

  7. Thank you for mentioning special needs. I have a nephew who is autistic; he is very polite but has personal boundary issues. I can’t say, “Sorry that he keeps standing so close, he’s autistic” every time he does it. Some understanding between humans goes a long way.

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