Sharing is always good!

Flying back from a short getaway with the Wifey (again pronounced, whiff-ey), a woman got on the plane with a small child — no more than 6 months old and I couldn’t help but think about her and everyone on that plane as she continually hushed her child en-route to here seat — with the child barely making any noise.

First, I thought of this article by LZ Granderson on CNN.com called Permissive parents: Curb Your Brats. I have read a few of his articles and in general, align with his way of thinking. I am completely on board with the idea that no one cares about your kid (I have always said no one cares as as much as you think they do — since everyone is no one — how much do you really care?) And I agree on a few other points — with one caveat: Where is the line? I don’t mean a “where does it stop?” kind of line, but a “where does that line for behavior sit?”.

When I am in a public place, I try to be sensitive to the world around me and keep our slightly-over-two son in check, but every now and then, he does act out. It isn’t right and I don’t expect pity or empathetic thoughts — or having others pass it off as “well, he is only two.” How could anyone know my disciplining tendencies as a parent using a single sub-3 minute interaction as the full sample set? This is why I have stopped caring about what other people think of me as a parent. I do my best to be a good person and a good parent. Period.

On the other hand, I am not saying all is right with discipline and America’s children. My parents were teachers (retired, not dead). My uncle is a dean of students. My brother in law and sister in law — yup — teachers. And I have a few more on the list, but you get the idea. I am not a teacher, but I know one complaint I hear a lot — some parents leave disciplining up to teachers. The problem? The very same parents then complain the minute their child is disciplined. And with the lawsuit-laden environment that is our world, principals are folding faster than a gambler holding 8-high and not defending their employees.

Second, I think of this scene (snatched from YouTube) from the final episode of M*A*S*H — a classic if you have never seen it. Basically, one of the main characters is in a mental hospital due to odd behavior following an incident where he saw a woman smother a chicken on a bus to keep it quiet — only to find that his memory had replaced a baby with a chicken and she had in fact smothered her baby. That scene has stuck with me for a long time. The original message was quite different, but I think it could also summarize the stress some parents feel when faced with public situations (albeit, a bit dramatically).

What is the right thing to do? What is the right amount of discipline? Kids stressed to the point of ulcers for stepping out of line? This seems to be the only answer since my parenting is judged during single, brief interactions that could have a myriad of explanations, but only one that could possibly make sense: I am a bad parent that can’t control my child. Only a perfect child could satisfy never having a child act out in public and I am fairly confident perfection is not a majority achievement.

I know this isn’t what Mr. Granderson is saying, but I think it isn’t as clear cut and there are too many scenarios for me to be judging other parents. Some are strict parents with an unfortunate situation and others are permissive parents getting what they allow. But, how can I possibly know the difference? I can’t. My solution? Do the absolute best I can with my own son while teaching him acceptance, not judgment.

ANOTHER ARTICLE BY LZ GRANDERSON: You can find another article by LZ Granderson here, which covers his desire to raise a nerd over a jock and rounds out his POV a bit on raising kids.

Sharing is always good!