Public shaming over parenting - need advice!(11 Posts)
I'm not sure what I am supposed to take away from today's experience. I read, see and hear so many different parenting ideas it could fill every landfill on the planet. Today I had one of those "I want to fly away on a jet plane and hide on an uninhabited island and leave society behind" moments. I have no problem admitting that I am not a super great parent saint Madonna. I hope my heart is in the right place. Some days things are great and I've got the whole thing down and I love my kid and I can't wait for the future. Etc etc. Other days, I'm weary, disorganised, out of time and impatient and just not in sync with the world. I took my boy into town. (He is four by the way). It was nice. We dropped his books back to the library. We sat in a cafe and had sandwiches and juice (I had coffee). We then went to boots to pick up toiletries and he got a giraffe toy because he loves animals. It was a normal afternoon. But then it went wrong. For a million reasons one could say. There was a massive queue... my son wasn't listening to me because in his mind, life is a playground and as a 4 year old boy, he is very strong willed, stubborn, full of energy... and I repeatedly kept asking him to stay by me, wait, be good, etc etc. But he was off... off around the store, off picking up sweets I wasn't going to pay for, and when I finally got to the till, he was back, calling me names. Everyone is staring. So what to do... Well. The latest approach to such a situation I have read is this:
Waiting or delaying your response does not mean that you are a passive parent or you’re saying that disrespect is OK.
It means that you are waiting until your brain, and your child’s brain, is able to receive information and move on without being rude, angry or disrespectful.
So, we leave the shop. I keep this in mind. We are nearly home and I remember reading this at some point in time:
You have feelings too! It’s ok to express them, and let your child know how their words affect you. Be careful not to point the finger back at your child, keep the focus on how it felt to you. “I felt hurt when you said I was the meanest mum ever.”
If you’ve lost your cool and said angry words in the heat of the moment, it’s ok to admit it. You are not perfect, and it is good for your kids to see that you are working on calming skills too!
So... I try to discipline my son. On the side street near home. It's literally round the corner. I tell him he's upset me. I tell him he needs to listen. It doesn't have any effect. And I'm lost. Standing there. Holding his scooter and his giraffe and my shopping. And I know mums / parents have gone through things like this with their toddlers too. Where do you draw the line? Then my son is about to run off again. There are cars whizzing by on the street. He's got that look in his eye (because I know him better than anyone else at this stage in his life), I know he's not interested in what's just been and gone, he's in the moment... ready to play. Ready to leave. But I'm not. I want to be able to go out with my kid and not feel so put out and frazzled and disappointed and confused as hell. So I'm standing there, telling him off, telling him he's upset me and then this random stranger comes up to me and rants at me. Rants at me. Tells me I shouldn't say such words to my own child. He's shocked, he "can't believe what he's hearing" and proceeds to say things like: "give your boy a chance in life!! Grow up! I don't care what he did you can't talk to him like that!" Then proceeds to give Cai money (£2, something Cai doesn't recognise other than 2 shiny gold discs to eat maybe) like he's some wayward Oliver Twist orphan being dragged back to the doghouse by his abusive, awful mother. I'm standing there watching this happen, saying nothing. Then this guy starts to walk off, and from a distance starts shouting, saying I'm thick not saying anything back and if I continue to stare at him he's gonna call the police and call social services. I start to walk off, start to cry, with my son, singing songs about dinosaurs. This guy lives round the corner from me and when I got home I was crying on the phone to my mum and friends trying to figure out what happened. I spent hours then on mumsnet forum to see if I was being a bad parent, a bad human being, if my son was scared for life. I'm meant to be volunteering today and I don't want to leave my home.
What just happened there? How is anyone supposed to parent anymore?!!! I've seen so many parents scream at there kids! No one says anything to them. Because they are never doing it on their own. Why did I just get rained down on? I wasn't swearing. I wasn't physically smacking. Something I don't do anyway. It's such a catch-22. Is it because I was there on my own? Did he just assume therefore I'm taking drugs for breakfast and my son is learning his abc's from rats in the basement?
So please, feel fee to leave opinions below. Might as well try and learn something here cos I just don't know anymore.
I think, what comes across from your post, is how deeply you care about your son and being the best parent you can be.
And, for what it is worth, you had a lovely day out and dealt successfully with your child's more challenging behaviour. Your child remained safe. He wouldn't have been safe if you let him to continue to run all over the place. You communicated with your child regarding negative behaviours.
The stranger obviously must have had some very strong ideas about bad parenting before he ever saw you. He only actually saw a very small snap shot of your day when you were telling off your child. Perhaps his parents or someone else was actually cruel to him when he was small and he mistook the telling off for something else. The nice thing you can take from this is that other people do actually look out for your child.
But anyway, I cannot think of a parent (or teacher) who has never had cause to tell a child off. This is normal. Don't worry about it.
Gosh this is all a bit navel-gazing isn't it. Are you trying to write a blog or something (don't bother, it's a saturated market).
So your kid had a tantrum and you told him off for it. Pretty routine surely. And some random came up to you spewing drivel - again annoying but the world is full of random odd people.
Some people are strange and he is a fool OP.
You sound like you're doing a great job and you definitely do not need to justify yourself to anyone. Not mumsnet and certainly not that man.
Hard to comment without knowing what you said to your son.
Titchy - don't you think that's a little unfair to the OP? She'd had a nice day, then her DS was challenging and some bloke decides to criticise her parenting. It's not very nice that happens and it makes you doubt yourself. Don't worry OP, tomorrow is another day.
You didn't do anything that jumped out and said bad parent to me. You where cross with your son about his behaviour, I don't understand why that man felt the need to berate you about it.
I don't think you did anything wrong. People will always have an opinion.
As an aside, you said your sons name in your post, you might want to report it to have that bit removed.
This was me today but my ds is 8 so old enough to know better. We ended up cutting the day short. I felt like you too and had a similar conversation in the car in the way home. In one ear out the other. I have an older dd too so have had my fair share of public interference (no reflection on your parenting - it's what people do). Im afraid i wouldn't have been as nice as you about it and would be tempted to tell him what i thought of his opinion
The only thing I'd suggest is that the giraffe toy could have been used as a bribe for better behaviour in the shop. I know it is boring for a 4 year old but he really needs to be by your side whilst you queue.
Goodness, if that man had been around yesterday I wonder what he'd have said to me when I completely lost it with DS2 (also aged 4) after he ignored me and dawdled for the millionth time, then moaned because we were going home from a lovely day at Chessington but he didn't want to go home and mummy was stupid.
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