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To find it annoying when people tell me I'm lucky to have well behaved children?

(288 Posts)
alisunshine29 Fri 15-Mar-13 12:08:26

My eldest is 5.5 years old and youngest has just turned 9 months. Today we walked to school then I took youngest DD to a baby/music group. On the way to school we saw eldest DDs mum drive past, DDs friend was hitting her mum while she was driving and she was struggling to fend her off. We caught up with them at the car park and the mum was talking to her child as though it had never happened (I wasn't mistaken - they'd stopped in traffic so could clearly see) and 2 mins later her daughter started having a tantrum about taking a toy to school and slapped her 2 year old brother in anger. The mum barely reacted and in the end let her take it and left it for the teacher to take away and deal with the consequences. Younger brother was trying to climb out of pushchair so mum passed him her iPhone with a tv show on to keep him still and he threw it in the road! Mum just smacked him and retrieved it. After the eldest children had gone in to school, she excused her daughters behaviour by saying that she's tired because she went to sleep fifteen mins late last night and had to walk from the car park - it's about 300 metres!! She asked where I was parked and I said I'd walked from home, she was amazed as its almost two miles away. She then commented on how lucky I am elder DD is so well behaved and can cope with the walk.
At baby group, it was chaos as they have organised music activities where parents and kids sit in a circle and do actions etc. The leader specifically asked children are not allowed to run riot like last week, when some damage to the building was caused and pointed out a separate room where those not wanting to join in could go for a chat and cup of tea. Still, mums let their babies crawl/toddle everywhere, older toddlers were running around and pulling notices off the wall leaving pins on the floor etc. Their mums either ignored them or tried to pin them still on their lap. Again, a mum commented that I'm lucky that my daughter is well behaved.
Of course my youngest is only tiny and has no rules as such, but if she wasn't interested in the music group I'd have gone in the other room and kept her happy/occupied. I'm quite strict and very consistent with my eldest DD hence the reason I believe her to be well behaved - it is not luck. Special needs excluding, I think it is inexcusable for a child to hit a parent like DDs friend was this morning - particularly while she's driving, it's dangerous for everyone. To not do anything about it I believe is the mum neglecting her duty to her daughter. Her DD was going crazy in the school foyer about the teacher trying to remove her toy and her mum just shrugged and left them to it like its normal. AIBU to be annoyed when people say I'm lucky to have well behaved children?

nooka Wed 20-Mar-13 02:21:36

I've always been rather pleased when people have commented on my children behaving well (not quite sure how a 9 month old could be described as behaving well but never mind). I have felt that it was a credit to them rather than to me really. dd has always been a people pleaser, but no one would have said that ds was well behaved when he was small. All very well having rules etc, but if you have a child that can't process consequences in the moment of frustration then you can be as strict as you like and it will make very little difference.

I used to be very judgy of some of the parents at my children's school and thought that the children's problems were surely caused by poor parenting (the school had a special unit for children with behavioural problems). But then I learned more about learning difficulties and recognised that many of the parents were struggling with many of the same issues themselves.

Bobyan Tue 19-Mar-13 21:26:19

DS = Devil in Baby Gap
DD = Angel in everything

DS is the elder and frankly OP you are full of it.

LaQueen Tue 19-Mar-13 19:55:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cory Tue 19-Mar-13 17:41:13

"Show me a young child, that is constantly battling/kicking off/running rings around their parent - and chances are that is a secretly unhappy child, who feels very vulnerable, and deep down is scared that they can control/manipulate their parent to such a large extent."

It could equally be a young child who is vulnerable and scared for some other reason. Casting my mind back over children of my acquaintance, the children who were constantly kicking off included:

the child who knew that his mother was terminally ill

the child who had been traumatised by adoption

the child who was in constant pain with an undiagnosed medical condition but did not know that this was not normal because he had never thought to ask so nobody else realised anything was wrong

the child who was worried that a medical condition would leave her permanently unable to walk

the child whose physical condition had been misdiagnosed as psychosomatic

the child whose childhood was dominated by a sibling with MH problems

the child who was later diagnosed with Aspergers

the child who had been moved between foster parents

the child who had missed out on important stages of social development due to glue ears causing undiagnosed deafness

All the above had very good and firm parents/carers.

Show me a child who is constantly kicking off and I will know that there could be all sorts of reasons for the behaviour.

Ineffective parenting could be one of them but it could equally well not be.

Most of the children above came out all right in the end but there were many difficult years for the carers to get through first- and a lot of judginess from people who saw snapshots and jumped to conclusions.

I do remember a particularly hairy experience of the whole family being pursued down an Italian street by a horde of hags women yelling in Italian "beat him, beat him" at my father who was trying to control db during a meltdown. Obviously a bunch of women who made a snap judgment- but the time was hardly suited to a longer explanation.

EffiBriest Tue 19-Mar-13 15:01:31

Sorry - I see you have two. My mistake.

EffiBriest Tue 19-Mar-13 15:00:05

Oh, OP, I could have written your post when my DC were small. I must have come across as insufferably smug. My DC were incredibly well behaved, and put everyone else's to shame. I put it all down to my fabulous (strict) parenting.

Then they started school, and it was all downhill. They discovered all kinds of behaviour that they had never been in close contact with before (I was at home with them; they didn't go to nursery/pre-school, so had only me as their shining example to follow).

At school, they discovered stroppy, argumentative, rude, defiant, foul, revolting behaviour (and it was a lovely prep school, so don't think you can avoid it that way). I think it was rather on a par with 18 year olds going to university and suddenly discovering freedom. They tried it out at home and got a dusty response, but my older one is still regularly trying it now (they are 9 and 11). My 9-year-old is, as it happens, still pretty much perfect. But if I am going to put this down entirely to brilliant parenting, I'd equally have to put the 11-year-old's foul behaviour down to rubbish parenting. This makes me think that there may be personality involved too.

I suggest you return to this thread when your child (or maybe children by then) is/are older, and see what you say then!

CoffeeChocolateWine Mon 18-Mar-13 20:48:08

I think that as you've only got one well-behaved child and one who isn't old enough to know how to misbehave (as do I), these comments may be a little premature. You may regret making these comments when your very well-behaved 9mo hits the 2s!

Also, you've made some pretty big judgements about the child and the parent based on a snippet of something you saw in a car. You've pretty much assumed that these kids get no discipline whatsoever. Probably not the case.You don't know what the hell was going on...perhaps the mum had a bug in her hair and the daughter was trying to swipe it out? Clutching at straws but it's possible. Or perhaps as she said, her daughter was overtired. That can do horrible things to a child!

Brings to mind an incident last week...I was in Sainbury's and my DS (4) for the first time in his life (because I have a very well-behaved child too, don't you know) had a full-on meltdown. Proper on the floor screaming and thrashing around, lashing out at me and although I'm pretty good at not giving a shit what anyone else thinks, I could feel everyone around me staring and making judgements about my gorgeous little boy (no doubt labelling him an out of control spoilt brat) and probably assuming that I was some incompetent mum who didn't know how to control my awful child. Both wrong. What they didn't know (and neither did I at the time although I suspected something was wrong as it was so out of character) was that he was going down with a horrible virus that knocked him for six for the best part of a week.

Maybe seem like I'm veering off the subject, but my point is, don't judge somebody's child and parenting skills based on 2mins of something you see. It's not fair. There are any number of explanations for the episodes you saw this morning. Or perhaps the mum was just having a bad day. Some of us inferior mums do.

TheRealFellatio Mon 18-Mar-13 18:26:15

Yes. ^ That.

LaQueen Mon 18-Mar-13 17:27:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheRealFellatio Mon 18-Mar-13 16:30:42

I have a friend like that too Moomin. He DH is a surgeon and they have four children. Two are very high achievers academically, one not so much, and the other is pretty bright but not top drawer. Although I know when the time comes he'll have a full complement of A* GCSE's because she will see to it that he does, even if he doesn't leave the house for a year, except to go to school.

They are lovely children, but there's just something unsettling....I know exactly what you mean. While I do get fed up with mine arguing back, being all teenagery etc, I am glad they have a bit of backbone, at least. It's not normal to be quite that biddable, is it? confusedgrin

Still, I suppose I'll be hmm ing on the other side of my face when three of them are doctors and the sweet but slightly dim one is married to one.

HenD19 Mon 18-Mar-13 14:38:13

Feel useless

HenD19 Mon 18-Mar-13 14:37:34

Surely it has to be a bit of luck and hard work. If not I give up now as I am working really hard at getting my monkey DS 2.3 to behave and mainly failing. I challenge the OP to come and live with us for a week and try and sort his behaviour out. I have to say it's mums like you that make me and my parenting efforts useless....

MoominmammasHandbag Mon 18-Mar-13 14:33:15

Yes Cory my strict friend's kids are shockingly sneaky. If my kids want to do something I am unhappy about they will argue their case and we will come to a compromise. Her kids would just be shouted down and then go behind her back anyway.

cory Mon 18-Mar-13 14:24:33

I had a friend who very much prided herself on her parenting and in particular on the compliancy of her eldest. And indeed her parenting techniques were excellent, firm , consistent, textbook in all ways.

What we none of us had the heart to tell her was that he wasn't quite so compliant when out of her sight...

MoominmammasHandbag Mon 18-Mar-13 14:20:24

I have a very strict friend with very biddable, well mannered children. Unhappily, now that they are in their late teens they are all very lacking in confidence, self-respect and basic joie de vivre. I think her parenting technique has basically involved stamping on any hint of rebellion.
It's a tricky business this parenting lark and you need to strike a very fine balance with the discipline.

WileyRoadRunner Mon 18-Mar-13 13:58:40

I just feel sad for the children that are the subject of those two posts that they are obviously unhappy and that isn't going to change because their parents honestly believe that it is just luck that has led to me having a well behaved child(ren) and them not

ali you are mumsnet classic grin.

Lottapianos Mon 18-Mar-13 13:56:47

'I think an awful lot is down to a lack of consistency, and effort on behalf of the parent...all they can think about is what will make life easier for the next 15 minutes'

Absolutely LaQueen. A lot of parents just want their children to be as convenient as possible, and blame the child for their behaviour, rather than seeing it as their responsibility to address it.

I hope you were able to ignore your relative's rotten comments about you 'failing' as a parent hmm by the way

Lottapianos Mon 18-Mar-13 13:54:10

'I am the oldest of 3, my Mum will say that we were all brought up the same'

Same here and it would be utter BS. Parents always say they parent every child the same - these are often the same parents who talk about how different boys and girls inherently are, or how completely different their two or three children are from each other. Don't they think that these beliefs of theirs might just influence how they parent these different children?

And a parent of a new baby who already has a toddler will obviously be parenting the second child in some different ways to the first one, just because of having had the experience of having had a baby already, and another child to contend with. And that's without going into issues like the effect that baby number 1 had on mum's mental health or her relationships.

Absolutely cannot believe the annihilation that OP has had on this thread. I cant' remember such a flaming for some time. I don't get smugness from any of her posts. I have met many parents like OP's friend who (for example) don't even flinch when their child whacks them across the face and she's right - the continuing of that child's behaviour is down to the parents failure to address it. It has nothing whatsoever to do with 'luck'.

LaQueen Mon 18-Mar-13 13:53:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheRealFellatio Mon 18-Mar-13 11:43:19

Ali in twenty years of parenting I've met quite a few horrors. In some cases I absolutely did blame the parents - sometimes their parenting skill were atrocious. I'm talking about inconsistency with discipline, setting a terrible example in the way they dealt with resolving conflict, poor routine, lack of boundaries, etc, although in some cases the only parenting crime was to be a well-intentioned soft touch, easily manipulated by a strong willed child.

But in equally as many cases I could see that the parents were doing everything right, and yet they still got horrors. And one of mine (now a young man) has just come out of a pretty obnoxious phase himself, although as a small child he was easy, and a joy to parent. He used to think I was the strictest mother in the world so God knows what that says about your theory.

But I still know some of those horrors as adult children now, and they are delightful, respectful, successful young people. Children go through phases - good and bad. What you see at 8 or 18 months is not necessarily what you see at 8, 18 or 28 years. As I am sure you will find out in good time.

GooseyLoosey Mon 18-Mar-13 11:38:07

I don't think YABU, but maybe a little narrow minded?

Some of the behaviour of children is down to their parents. As you say, you have to set boundaries and enforce them. You have done this and are reaping the rewards. You can be justifiably pleased with yourself.

However, some behaviour is also innate. You may not appreciate that some children act the way they do, not because of poor parenting or because of SN but because they just have certain quirks which may look like poor behaviour to people who do not know them. Ds would probably fall into this category, yet everyone who does know him (including teachers) say he is really well behaved, you just have to stand back and look at things from his perspective some times.

Parenting is hard, it's great when you get something right. Don't judge other people though as you have no idea what they are trying to deal with.

cloudpuff Mon 18-Mar-13 11:36:55

I am the oldest of 3, my Mum will say that we were all brought up the same, if you ask my siblings and I about our childhood they are all different, no one is lying, it just circumstances and everyday life changed between each of us being born. One example I can think of, my brother and I have never lived with our Dad, wheras my younger sister was born into wedlock. She was raised by her Parents where as me and my brother were raised by our Mum and Stepdad. All in the same house, the same set of rules but a whole different dynamic.

My Mum beleives we she brought us all up the same, and whilst its true her beliefs and values never changed, the way she taught them to us certainley did. I do think this has a difference on behaviour.

I think what Im trying to say is that once further children come along, the situation has changed, one child has gone from an only to having sibling, wheras the other wont have had the experience of being an only, parents go from having one, to more, big changes on all parts and I think parenting does change, maybe not drastically but even subtle changes can affect the child.

I don't know where I stand on the luck thing though, there are def parents out there who dont give a shit, but there are plenty of well behaved children from those families in the world. I guess its a bit of both, hard work and personality of the child.

Hope that doesnt sound like total bullshit.

stopgap Mon 18-Mar-13 11:26:10

My brother was a perfect child. A placid baby who slept through the night at six weeks, never skipped a nap, toddled about when he was older and was never a bother. Fast forward to adolescence, and from the age of 12 he became violent, hung out with the wrong crowd, was forever in trouble with the police etc. Only at 25 did he calm down and get his life back on track.

My little boy is only 20 months. For the first year he was impossible. We had raging colic for seven months and you could not put him down, nor stand still with him for longer than thirty seconds or he'd scream the place down. As a toddler, he is lovely, always smiling, tantrums far less dramatic than those of his peers, sits on my knee for a whole hour at library reading time etc. but I am not so naive to think that raising children is a constant, but rather, a journey with tough times that wax and wane.

LadyBeagleEyes Mon 18-Mar-13 11:22:24

You really still sound unbearably smug Alis.
Have you thought about writing a parenting book or starting a blog?

cory Mon 18-Mar-13 11:21:40

But how can you know what these people's lives are really like?

I have known three sets of parents who at first sight came across very similar to what you describe in your OP. In the first two instances the children were subsequently diagnosed with ASD's and the third family is probably on the same path.

My SIL used to hint that my parenting was ineffective because I couldn't make dd walk the distances that her son, who was a year younger, happily took in his stride. I felt awful because I had no idea what was wrong with my dd; I just knew she couldn't do it and that I had to carry her.

4 years later dd was diagnosed with a congenital joint condition. She spent the best part of the next few years in a wheelchair.

The bit that is relevant here is the "barring SN". For the first 8 years of dd's life she would not have been covered by that get-out-clause because ^nobody knew she was disabled^; everybody who saw us assumed dh and I were just soft and clueless. Dh and I thought so too.

I think my friend, in the third family, might be in the same place now: people are judging her because nobody knows why her ds is behaving so oddly, her parenting comes across as odd because she is trying to respond to a situation that is simply not normal and because she is worn down by it.

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