I was reading a Huffington Post article about how people judge parents. One of the commenter’s responses I totally agreed with: When we judge other parents, we are basing that judgment on a momentary snapshot with zero context.
The toddler throwing a giant tantrum in the middle of Target just had a bad day with teething problems, sleep problems, missed a nap, or whatever. That toddler could normally be reserved and calm 95% of the time.
The parents with the screaming toddler on an airplane. Maybe the kid was screaming because the flight was ascending or descending. Perhaps his ears weren’t able to handle the pressure, not because they were being a bad kid.
Your daughter was trying a donut hole at Dunkin’ Donuts for the first time ever. Her family had stopped at the border of Florida and Georgia on an 8.5 hour road trip. Her mom normally made her wholesome healthy meals 3x a day at home. So you shouldn’t glare at the mom and shake your head repeatedly. Perhaps the parents don’t typically give their kids junk food, you nasty old woman sitting at the table next to them.
Your 2 year old screams uncontrollably at the doctor’s office, and ends up puking all over the floor and hyperventilating. Maybe she remembers getting multiple vaccine shots every time she’s been to the doctor and doesn’t prefer to be stabbed with needles. Sorry she is cursed with such a good memory. If, as an adult, I was physically restrained and forced to lay down on a cold table and have some stranger stab me in the leg with a giant needle without my consent, I would be upset as well.
Your son doesn’t like to be on display as his relatives demand he say all his ABCs or 123’s in front of them. He becomes withdrawn and quiet, even though he usually sings the alphabet or counts to 20 with ease in the privacy of his own home. There is no sign of him being developmentally delayed, or slow, or stupid. He just doesn’t like an audience watching his every move.
Your daughter cries because a stranger tries to talk to her at the mall. She’s never seen this person before. The stranger gets angry because they didn’t get a proper response. She cries even harder. The mom tries to console her, and the stranger calls your daughter spoiled and walks away. Thanks a lot, jerk.
Your toddler is sitting in her grocery cart, watching Mommy buy food and reading a shopping list (that amazingly only says ‘Ice cream and Chocolate’ to her). An employee comes over and tries to tickle her belly. She frowns, covers her face and turns away. If she reacted any other way it would be worrisome, but to the employee her reaction is negative. I mean, who wouldn’t want a total stranger coming up to fondle you without your permission?
You are Skyping with the relatives and they ask why she’s indoors and assumes she hasn’t been out at all that day. They lecture you on how you have to take your toddler out more to experience things. They tell you not to sit in the living room, even though they requested you both sit in the living room to Skype with them.
Your mother nagged you to potty train your daughter at 12 months old, since she started potty training her son at 12 months. You wait until your daughter is 2.5 years old to train and it takes 2 days. It took your mother 1.5 – 2 years to potty train her son. Somehow you are still wrong for waiting and your daughter must be slow, and/or you are an incredibly lazy parent. Because if it only took 2 days to be potty trained, you could’ve done it a year ago, right?!
Instead of rushing to conclude a kid is misbehaved, spoiled, stupid, eats junk food all the time, or is generally a bad kid, think about the possible back stories of their lives as stated above.
How many times have you made a bad impression without meaning to? Toddlers leave bad impressions if they have bad days. And even on good days they’ll leave bad impressions if they don’t know you. It’s not my intention to make excuses for ‘bad’ behavior. Perhaps when you see ‘bad’ behavior I see a kid trying to cope in life. It takes years to understand how to behave appropriately in society. Even as children become adults I can’t fathom why most behave the way they do. I’ve seen grown adults throw tantrums on airplanes or restaurants when they didn’t get what they wanted.
Most judgy people will always say to themselves, “If I ever had a kid MY KID WOULD NEVER BE/DO/ACT LIKE THAT. Even I’ve said that. I’m eating my words now, in donut hole form. Or they say, if my kid acted like that I wouldn’t take them out. Good luck imprisoning yourself in the confines of your home for 18 years.