Saturday, November 9, 2013

Parenting in Public and Shaming

I'm at a convention and in a hotel with the whole family. Leaving home with the kids is exhausting so I'll be brief today.

But while in the restaurant with my children, I had this thought (again. I've had it before): When you see children acting terribly in public, do not judge.

It's not that all parenting decisions are right or that all parenting styles are equally effective or even "good." It's that you don't know what you're seeing. You don't know what depths of context a particular behavior represents, whether it's my son's yelling or running, a child being rude, another parent showering their child with candy and chocolate, or whatever. Some of these parents are making bad choices, but as an outsider, it's impossible to really know.

And here's why it matters. Many parents of kids with special needs self-isolate. They don't take their kids to the restaurants, grocery stores, public parks, movie theaters, etc. They come to feel the gaze of the others on them, judging, shaming. Some get mad, but more typically I think we retreat.

I make judgments about public parenting all the time. I'm human. I judge. But I'm trying to get better about it.

Also, breakfast this morning had it's loud moments, but everyone came home fed and still speaking to each other.

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