Less judgemental of other parents?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by 'Chelle, Nov 29, 2008.

  1. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Well, this may be a little long, and a bit of a rant, but anyway..

    So, today Santa arrived at the mall, and I told easy child when she asked that yeah we could go see him, difficult child wanted to get a cd and that store was right next to where Santa is set up. We get there about 20 minutes before he's due to arrive, easy child gets in the line that had already formed, and difficult child and I stepped into the store to get the cd. We come back and I looked at the length of the line again and suggested to easy child that perhaps we could come back another day - no go on her part LOL. Ahead of us is a mom with a girl about 6, behind us 2 moms, one with a son about 2-3 and one with about a 6 month baby and a girl 2-3. So we wait in line and finally hear bells coming up the mall - and as Santa passed us the 2-3 girl just starts crying. Parents around kinda chuckled, there's always a little one doesn't really like Santa. She stops when he's gone and all's fine other than she and the 2-3 year old boy are acting up a little in a restless way - until about 10 minutes later when we'ved moved ahead enough in line that she can see Santa again. She starts crying and having a fit hysterically, and at first I thought maybe it was jealousy because the mom had just picked up the baby. As we go along, she continually cries etc. , sometimes quite intensely, for the next 15 minutes. The mom ahead of me tells the mom not to worry we've all been there, and I agree, that it had happened to me too. As we've moved along it becomes apparent the crying is because she's afraid of Santa, though her mom tells her she doesn't have to go up, just the baby will go up. We get near the front, we're 3rd in line, they're 4th, and the mom lets go of the girl for a moment and the girl moves away at least 6 feet. While mom is telling her to come back I mentioned to difficult child that maybe he could watch her in case she runs away, and not 10 seconds later she runs and difficult child goes "well, too late for that". She stops at least 20-30 feet away and the mom goes after her, talking to her etc. At that time, the friend she's with turns to me and angrily says "quit staring". I'm a little shocked and puzzled as I hadn't stared at her, and said so, and she said "you and him (difficult child), stop looking at her" meaning the other mom and girl. I was still a little shocked at that, told her I didn't think I was, we were watching the girl to see she didn't run away and get hurt, but the friend had just turned her back to me and didn't say another word. At this time, the mom came back with baby, but left the little girl where she was. I just shook my head and sent easy child up to Santa as it was our turn, and left when she was done. We walked past the little girl, who was crying and had 3 women around her, one asking where her mom was. I told the women that she didn't want to see Santa and pointed out her mom at the head of the line, who was standing with HER BACK TO HER LITTLE 2-3 YEAR OLD GIRL. We walked on, but I was getting a little angry at being told we were rudely staring, and at the mom with the little girl. She wasn't even watching her girl over 20 feet away, there were 3 strangers around her, any one of which could have picked her up and walked away, there was a quick exit quite close. I said to difficult child that that mother had her priorities a little skewed, that she should have taken that obviously frightened girl and gone home, not stayed there just to get a picture of her 6 month old baby with Santa. She could have brought the baby back another day, pictures with Santa at that mall are ALWAYS free, not just today.

    I've thought about this and wondered if I had been looking judgemental, and questioning myself as to whether I am or not. In line difficult child and I were standing a bit to the side facing easy child in the line, not facing forward, so perhaps were watching the mom and girl more than we might have. I don't consider we were staring, but a little one crying almost hysterically not 3 feet from you for 15 minutes is sometimes hard to look away from. At one point I had said softly to difficult child that that mom should take that little girl home. Maybe the friend overheard that and it angered her and made her think I was judging. I have thought, that after what I've gone through with difficult child, as we all have, that I am a pretty tolerant person when it comes to tantruming kids, and generally offer a "don't feel bad, it's happened to me" to moms when it's appropriate, as I had to that mom. I hadn't thought I was judging her a bad mom, until I noted that she wasn't even watching her young child so far away. But maybe I was, and wonder if I had a look on my face.

    Anyway, do you think you're less judgemental, more tolerant?. Or do you assess other parents by the way their kids are acting and how the parent is reacting?

    Just an aside, I was very happy with difficult child and how he waited for easy child to get to see Santa, even with all the people and crying kids. He had asked why I would say we'd wait and not made her leave when there was a lineup, and I told him that I was a parent, it's the kind of thing you do for your kids, I'd done it for him, and as easy child was now 8 it was more than likely one of the last times I'd have to do the wait for Santa. He asked why, and I said difficult child do you think Santa's real, he said no, I asked when he stopped believing, he said I don't know, and I just said easy child is 8, she won't believe much longer. He didn't complain, stood with me quietly, but did say "well, THAT was boring" when we were walking away, and I laughed and said yep it's what you do as a parent. LOL
  2. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Here's my two cents.

    I am less judgmental and more tolerant, I think (but, of course, I'm biased). However, I wouldn't let my kid scream for 15 minutes in public without removing her from the situation. For one, she's obviously distressed and staying in the situation isn't helping. For another, it's just rude to the other people - not just the people standing in line, but in the rest of the mall, too. It's like going to dinner and having the kid behind you kick the back of your seat the entire time. And I certainly wouldn't send a little one to stand that far away from me in a crowded place even if I was watching. No way could I turn my back on her.

    As far as the friend, she was probably feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable which made her defensive. If they didn't want anyone staring, she certainly shouldn't have left the little girl to stand so far away because it seems a circle of concerned adults surrounded the little girl wondering why she was crying and where her mother was.
  3. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Strangely, I'm both less and more. As you said, you didn't have a problem until you saw she wasn't watching her daughter. That would have infuriated me and I probably would have said something either directly to the mom or udner my breath but loud enough to be heard.

    At the same time, when I see kids tantrumming in public I see if I can help. If I think I can, I step in -- not with the child but the other children with the mom or the packages or just to block the aisle. I've had more than one mother thank me through tears. I simply tell them I've been there done that too many times to count. If they want to chat, I tell them of the time I got on the floor and trantrummed with my child. This usually brings a smile. I also tell them a little about my daughter so that they know I truly do understand and sympathize.

    So, I don't judge how the child acts but I do judge how the mother reacts to the child.

    For the friend and her comments to you, I'd chalk that off as a friend trying to protect her buddy, which is a good thing. Odds are you were staring by her standards but not by yours. It does sounds like you weren't taking your eyes off the little girl. It's a shame the mother wasn't doing the same.

    I would not judge her for not taking the kids home and coming back another day. You don't know the circumstances. She may not have a car and this is the only chance she had. She may have a controlling husband and this is the only time he let her go. You just don't know.
  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Can I say more judgmental in a different way? Actually, I am usually very tolerant. I know that each kid is different and responds to interactions differently. I so hope the mother doesn't put down her daughter by telling her that even the baby wasn't afraid to meet Santa. I think maybe the mom hoped that seeing the baby o.k. on Santa's lap would have encouraged the little girl?

    O.k., by "judgmental in a different way", I mean that as we feel others judging us because we don't seem to be in control of our kids, I sometimes feel that I judge because it doesn't seem that the parents are aware of their kids' needs. Know what I mean?? I see a small child at 10:00 at night in Wal-Mart throwing a temper tantrum. Parents of easy child's may think, "What a brat - shut that child up". I think, "Poor thing - that child is soooo tired and possibly hungry. That child needs comforting and some needs met."

    Even our parent's generation doesn't understand what an overwhelming life many kids lead these days. How many of us were taken out in public to crowded flourescent lighted stores several times a week? Our kids' lifestyles are such faster pace these days and parents don't always look at their kids' needs in this area.

    A kid like that little girl runs away and many think she is bad for not obeying her mom thus looking at the situation as a disciplining issue. We look at that child and think of her feelings and needs and look at the situation as both a safety issue and an emotional issue for the child.

    I hope this made sense.
  5. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Depends on issues.
    I'm not really judgemental of parenting (discipline vs relaxed discipline). I don't think I have any great success so who am I to say what others do with their kids is correct or not?
    I am judgemental at parents who don't treat their children with dignity or respect that they are humans and not just a problem.
    I don't care what foods they choose for their kids/teens. I don't care how they let them dress. I don't care if they homeschool or send to mainstream classes as long as the kids are getting what they need and harm isn't being done to them.
    Doesn't mean that difficult kids or demanding kids don't get on my nerves but judgement of parents isn't usually where I go.
  6. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I think I am overall less judgemental of the parents. Like MB, often if I see a parent doing something that seems out of whack, I make an assumption that his/her circumstances prevent doing differently. In the very least, it helps me "let it go".

    But I have a little different take on the girl standing 30 feet away. It doesn't really sound like this mom was in the same boat, but again, you never know. Were any of the mom's friends watching the little girl?

    When my wee difficult child was that age, he also was impossible to take into ANY store. Literally impossible. Taking him by the hand and leading him into the store just sent him into a tantrum which would involve him throwing items and running from me (keep in my he was in no way shape or form attached to me at this time, either - he couldn't have cared less about me).

    A parent of an autistic child suggested what worked for her, and I tried it and it worked for us. Instead of taking him by the hand and leading him into the store, she said to get him out of the car, tell him I'm going in here, and turn and go. What's the difference? I don't know; but it worked for her and it worked for me. I tried to keep a close eye on him while pretending I didn't care, but I'm still certain I was judged rather harshly (and possibly rightly so, I don't know). Sometimes he would lag 20 feet behind me, but he NEVER ONCE deviated from following.

    One big difference here is I am talking about buying necessities from the grocery store. We live in a small town, so I never did this in a place like a mall or Walmart, and definitely not for the purpose of seeing Santa, but hey...maybe the baby isn't expected to live til next Christmas and that picture WAS really that important.

    I agree that turning her back and not watching is scarey, but I also know that it was the only way I could take my son into any store. And lemme tell ya - it makes ya feel like scum of the earth strolling into a store with your 2 year old tailing you 20 feet back. But its what worked in our situation.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    "Well, that was boring!" LOL!

    I think the friend had other issues and did not express them. Sure, the child could have been autistic, for ex., as Shari pointed out, and just being where you are is more of a draw to the child, but why didn't the friend say that? Are you supposed to be a mindreader? More likely, she was just defensive of her friend, like Steely said.

    I think I am more and less judgmental, similar to Andy's views. I "see" things differently now.

    Having said that, I really, really hate long Santa lines. I'm so glad we don't have to do that any more.
    The most fun I ever had with-a Santa was when friend of mine and I sat on Santa's lap--when were were 25 yrs old! I'm sure it was the most fun he'd had in a while, too.
  8. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    I am much more aware that I don't have all the information needed to make accurate judgements. Personally, I don't find it wrong to judge, I just find it wrong to judge incorrectly (which seems to be how I do it most times). In the situation you talked about, I would have kept an eye on the little girl, which I'm sure you did, until your time came up.
  9. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I try not to be. But if I think a child has special needs and the parent is clueless it bothers me.
    I do step in and have when it is abuse. Or an obvious case of neglect.
    I am sure I am judgmental at times.
    But then again I have snapped in public at the girls and dragged K out of a store! Had to hold N in the middle of very busy places when she was spinning and hanging on me. Had to restrain K on the side of the road. I am sure in others eyes, I looked horrible!
    But I try to keep them from ever being in a situation where someone can take them. Mainly because I know K... she will go and is very clueless about this stuff.
  10. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Thanks everyone for your replies. I wasn't actually staring, except at the point the girl moved away and then ran, and I was more concerned that she would keep going and the mom had a baby in her arms etc. I chatted with the mom ahead of us, talked to easy child, and talked quite a bit to difficult child about Christmas, the pet store nearby, etc. I do know the friend was stressed out herself, because while her son wasn't crying as much, he was fussing the whole 1/2 hour or so we were there, and she was getting quite cross with him. I know there was an occasion when difficult child was 3 that I took him home from the Santa line because of the way he was fussing. I tried to think of other ways to help her out, but I don't think there was much a stranger could do. And no, the friend wasn't watching the little girl 30 feet away either, she was turned away busy with her own son.

    Meowbunny, I do agree I don't know the circumstances as to why she felt she had to stay. I guess it's just not something I would do, as I wouldn't have waited for a picture of my 6 month old with Santa when it was apparent my 2-3 year old was frightened by the whole thing, would not be important to me.

    Andy, that's exactly how I feel as well. It seemed to become a safety issue to me, and I felt for the little girl who was so frightened by it all. I have a girl who would go with anyone who was friendly, so I've always kept her close.

    I guess I'd have to say any situation you see, you see it from you own viewpoint, and what the mom did isn't something I would do. But I do try not to put my view to people as the right one and that's how they should do it. What works for their family, as long as it keeps their kids safe and happy. The girl just seem neither.
  11. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I catch myself looking because I understand how helpless the parents can feel from time to time. I agree that the mom may have been able to take the child to the mall another time, but maybe not. I remember having to take L on the bus to see Santa, and it took hours. There is no way I would have gone back if I had to leave the first time. There were probably times that I lashed out or would have liked to lash out at other parents when under stress.

    I do find myself wondering whether I look at parents in this situation for too long. I am usually wondering if I can figure out something to say or do to help. I never figure it out...
  12. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    More and more I find myself trying to wholly assess the situation before passing any judgement, if at all. Sometimes I just observe. I can usually peg a difficult child child over a simple unhappy, bored, overindulged, or overtired child in a public place like that. Less and less I find myself immersing myself into a situation that does not involve me, unless I sense danger or risk of injury to another person.

    In this case, I probably would have done exactly as you had. The friend was probably just embarrassed and sticking up for her friend. Nothing so wrong with that.

    If that had been me and mine, I would have stepped out of line and taken my kids to a quiet corner of the place and asked them if they'd rather come another day - or at all. After a few years of doing the santa photo op thing with my dds, I learned that it's just not worth it, they weren't that interested and in fact, it seemed to overwhelm them more than please them. I have one picture in particular that I never sent out to family because the girls look so miserable.

    I think parents often want that santa photo more than the kids want to meet santa and are willing to put up with a crying, unruly miserable child just to get it and that kind of sickens me. It's just not worth it. My kids wanted to 'see' santa but not meet him.

    And it is not about whether the child in question was a difficult child or special needs. ANY child can be overwhelmed by the whole picture with santa thing, being dragged through the mall, etc. It's not fun for a little 2-3 year old, no matter what. Parents need to learn how to respect their kids' feelings more if you ask me.

    So, that said, I guess that means, yes, I do judge some parents. Hahaha.:tongue: