Encouragement, Not Judgement

I saw my good friend in the Target parking lot last week. Her 3 year old and youngest (of 3 boys) was having a fit. We've all been there. He was yelling, kicking and screaming. Of course, this is when she would run into a friend, but at least it was just me. She looked at me and said, "Do you want another kid?" She said he was in such a snit, they had the whole store gawking at them.

It's hard enough getting some errands done with an upset kid, but add in people staring at you or then making comments about what you're doing WRONG, and any parent can lose it! 
Sam would NEVER keep anything on his feet. It's freezing out and he's in the shopping cart between car & store. Invariably, his feet would be sticking out or he had them in the air or something. On more than one occasion, someone would actually approach me to tell me that he should have shoes on. 
He should?! Really? I spent 10 minutes getting socks on which he would rip off, or when I did get them on, one would be off by the time I got a shoe on, or if I got one foot completely clad, it would be bear by the time I even socked up the other. By the time he was strapped in his car seat, the shoes were off, so I'd put them on, as he's confined now, but they're on the floor of the car once we arrive. Instead, I tuck a blanket around him to head to the store, which he then kicks off, which brings us to you and your helpful comment. (I wish I had the quick wit to say that).
I was at the store just today, and a child was breaking down. Since this topic was on my mind, I totally followed this screaming kid to see if anyone would say something. A man actually did. He said, "that's why my wife & I didn't have kids". Yuk yuk. I am not sure what she felt hearing that, but I wanted to hit him for her.
My friend Lisa told me about when she was pushing her baby in the shopping cart talking away to her like we all do. "Ooh bananas and oranges. Look at the blue boxes...", when a lady felt compelled to say to her, "Why are you bothering talking to her, she has no idea what you are saying anyway." (This is why I love her)  Lisa then addresses her baby, "talking to you is like when I talk to my grandpa, who only speaks Italian. We don't know what each other may be saying, but we know it's about love." And she walked away.
Nicole's favorite comes from when her son, Cole, was about 2 and at the grocery store. A lady tried to talk to him, and being the shy kid that he is, he wouldn't talk back. The lady looked at her and said. "Don't worry a lot kids don't talk until they are over 2." Of course, Cole was a fluent sentence speaker, he just didnt' want to talk to her. The minute she left, he started asking all kinds of question like "Why did she say that? Why was her hair in a pony tail?". Don't people realize that kids just don't want to talk to THEM!!!

Erin adds: at the grocery store with my crying newborn, an older woman told me (in a disapproving voice) that when she had babies they weren't "allowed" to take them out for 6 weeks. I replied, "It must have been nice to have someone do your shopping for you."
Keri said she once read an article in Parenting magazine where the author advised parents to simply smile, nod, then walk away when this happens. Easier said than done. 
So, dear readers, what am I getting at? The next time you see a parent struggling with their child, either keep quiet or offer some encouragement. Notice, I DID NOT SAY advice. You don't know this person and they don't need it. 
Encouragement: "It will get easer". "I know it's hard now, but it won't always be." Or "hang in there". Or maybe just smile understandingly, like 'been there, done that'. 


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  • Kelley, I love this entry. The situation that comes to mind was about 8 years ago when I went with Gaby to the mall at about 18 months. She was having an awful time and wouldn't stop crying. I made it through one store and realizing I wouldn't be able to do much, retreated and began to walk out. An older lady says, "she really needs a nap, you should go home." I responded as I rolled my eyes, "where do you think I'm going?" She wasn't happy with my comment as I wasn't happy with her telling what I should do. As you say, it will get easier.

  • If I feel like being shocking (which can be SO fun!) I just look at the busy body & say "this is why mommy drinks". It either loosens them up & they laugh, or they look shocked & appalled and walk away - either way, they leave me alone :)

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