14   55
15   84
8   33
13   64
27   87
37   66
18   71
8   43
6   46
0   35

The Parent Pledge

It’s alright.  My child can be just as bad.  Sometimes worse.  Much worse.  Actually, the meltdown your daughter is having right now is nothing compared to the screaming, head throwing tantrum my son pulled recently at the yogurt shop.

Over a gummy shark.  It’s okay.  You are not failing as a parent … because if you are, then every parent is.  We are in this together.  Stop apologizing. Can I remind you, gummy shark.

These are all of the thoughts that ran through my mind as I watched my girlfriend pull out of my driveway.  A tired working mom like myself.  A mom with three young kids and a mom with more patience than I ever have by 9 o’clock in the evening.  I watched as she turned the corner.  Cheeks red with embarrassment.  And a crying 6 year old in the backseat.  A 6 year old by the way, that is normally angelic.

It all started over a plastic guitar.  My son had it.  Her daughter wanted it.  This turned into a battle of the wills; me trying to convince my son he must share and her trying to convince her daughter that pitching a fit is no way to act.  Eventually my son put up the surrender flag and handed over the guitar.  My girlfriend was quick to say, “No.  I am not rewarding her bad behavior.”  I get it.  I would have done the same. If you want to kick and scream as I put you in your car seat, go for it.  Scream it out.  Life isn’t always going to give you everything you want.  It is my job to prepare you for the real world.

Every parent has been here.  That black hole.  Also known as the embarrassment when our child loses their mind.  That moment you begin to question yourself. That moment when you start to believe you must be doing something wrong.  If you were “parenting right,” your child would never be showing out like this, correct? And then to do it in front of others!  Our friends.  In the mall.  With other parents watching.  Come on! For the love of God. Do you even care about that guitar? You’re exhausted little one. I am too.

I wake up the next morning with an apology text.  My sweet friend sent three text messages to tell me how sorry she was for her daughter’s behavior.  3.  I was in a rush and replied with one sentence, telling her to forget about it.  But I should have said more.  Much more.

It’s alright.  My child can be just as bad.  Sometimes worse.  Much worse.  Actually, the meltdown your daughter had is nothing compared to the screaming, head throwing tantrum my son pulled recently at the yogurt shop. Over a gummy shark. It’s okay.  You are not failing as a parent … because if you are, then every parent is.  We are in this together. Stop apologizing. Can I remind you, gummy shark.

I have asked myself a thousand times since, when … at what point, did we all become so judgmental? We.  All of us.  A society.  Us moms.  Us parents.

I started listening.  At the park.  On play dates.  At the grocery store.  Parents are constantly apologizing.  I tend to think we must assume other mom and dads are disappointed.  Upset.  Judging.  When in reality, foolish behavior on the part of a human whose brain isn’t even fully developed yet, is no indicator of how well you parent.

Our constant apologies are really more symptomatic of the society in which we live.  Perhaps the internet, with so much information at our fingertips, has given us all a false sense of being an authority figure.  On everything.  Even other people’s children.  Has social media turned us into a world of critical know-it-alls? Maybe we apologize when our kids don’t act perfect because subconsciously we know we live in a climate of ridicule.

There was a time when parents faithfully supported other parents.  I remember this time.  Parents didn’t just point and blame.  There was no rush to judge. Parents rallied around each other. Uplifted each other.  The goal was never to make a parent feel worse than they already did.  I was reading an anniversary article at work about “Baby Jessica.”  Remember her?  Jessica McClure.  A child that feel down a well in Texas when her mom ran inside to answer a phone call. America cheered for 58 hours as we watched the rescue unfold on live television. We cheered and prayed for that family.  That baby.  Those parents. We didn’t attack.

So lets make a parent pledge and stop doing that. Right Now.  Write it down or say it out loud, I am not going to judge other parents. I am not going to allow myself to be judged.  And I’m not going to assume other parents are judging me.  Okay, congratulations on taking the pledge!   You are doing the best you can. We all are. Every temper tantrum. Every black hole.

And lets be clear; no one gave me the manual either.  I know you teach your children all about respect and compassion. Kindness and love. Sharing and patience.  I know this, because I do the same.  And my hard work doesn’t always pay off either.  Sometimes my kids are bad, just like yours. Sometimes they act selfish.  They forget their manners.  They don’t always listen or act respectful.  We show it.  We say it again.  Be nice.  Listen.  Stop pestering.  Help out. I know you sometimes feel like that’s all you do; preach to your children.  And then pray they are actually hearing what you say.  I know it, because I feel that way too.

So when I just look at you, or stand silent when your child acts out, don’t assume I am judging.  I’m not judging. I’m just barely surviving like you.  We share a mutual goal.  We are trying so hard to raise a good human. So hard it makes us question ourselves every single day.  But let that goal unite us.  Remember the parent pledge?  Us parents must stick together.  Guitars and gummy sharks, baby.

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