August 6, 2020
By Alice Hanscam, CPS Partnership Community
Said with a huff, “Parents these days! They are doing SUCH a poor job…” Or maybe (and equally with a huff), “She should give her child some DISCIPLINE!” Or perhaps, “In MY day we knew how to make our kids behave!”
And off go the adults huffing and puffing; on go the kids being anywhere from over-the-top challenging to as typical as typical can be; and there go mom and dad as they sink with embarrassment–or maybe just the opposite because their blood pressure goes up and over-the-top just like the kids.
And THEN…well? Who knows. Maybe everyone gets moved along their way as if nothing is happening–“Hush hush, now, let’s go. Or maybe mom or dad try ever so hard to get their child to “behave.” Or maybe everyone blows. None of it very pretty. Or effective.
And this is where I’m going. It feels pretty awful to have others throwing comments your way or even just thinking them that are all about criticism. And really, isn’t this way more about the critical adult’s discomfort over what seems to be less than wonderful behavior? Discomfort over something they’d LIKE to control and can’t?
I think so. Discomfort that can feel like frustration. Or embarrassment for another, and hence yourself–since you now feel embarrassed you are embarrassed. Or maybe just plain anger. And it is expressed verbally, critically, often in what seems to be a “light” manner with that nudge nudge don’t you agree or an eye-roll, or sarcasm.
Consider this. It takes a village to raise a child. It takes support, encouragement, understanding, compassion, extra hands, more time than you ever realized, lots of self-care…
Criticism offers none of these. Appreciation offers all of them. I’m done with–and actually rarely participated in, anyway–chuckling and ha-ha-ing a bit with those who say things like that. I’m done with walking away and rolling MY eyes at my husband who knows exactly what I’m thinking. Nope. No more. Because I intend to get much better myself at staying true to what I believe and know…even if discomfort reins.
Said (by me) to those huffing and puffing over “Parents these days!”, “You know, I think parents these days are doing a darn good job with an extraordinarily tough job–and since it takes a village to raise a child, I am sure they’d appreciate any support and encouragement you can give…”
Said (by me) to those declaring, “She should give her child some DISCIPLINE!”, “You know what, it is really, really hard when our child loses it in the store. Seems to me she is working hard at being calm and I think that is exactly what will help the most. I’m going to see if she needs an extra hand…”
Said (by me) to those sure that in their day they did it “right” by “making” their kids behave, “Yep. It’s certainly different now, as we work hard at helping our children grow into independent, self-directed, compassionate adults…” (okay, so I haven’t said that YET, but I’m working on it…)
Encouragement. Appreciation. Support.
Even a quick smile. What a difference for parents when
others around them care enough to put aside their own
discomfort over what can be a less than wonderful scene
and at minimum THINK support, compassion, encouragement.
Even better, offer those needed extra hands, or an appreciative “It’s tough! I get it. Can I help?”, or an understanding smile, or actually step in when kids need to know what they are to do differently, what is expected (like recently in a hummingbird exhibit showing some curious and exuberant children where to stand and how to be as still as possible as they studied a mama hummingbird in her nest…rather than poking and prodding and bumping and disrupting…) Amazing and rather simple when you think about it when kids are shown what they CAN do rather than be yelled at, yanked, told to quit…
Just think what could be different for all of us if we felt and experienced this support and encouragement instead of critical eyes and words when we are most embarrassed, upset, frustrated. Just think.
And just think what our children will learn about their world around them–that we are all in this together, striving to do our best and being better every single day, and that they (and us!) can count on this village to be there for them. No matter what. Helping them become their very best, as well.
How cool would that be? Today, appreciate, first and foremost. I think you’ll like what it can change…and how it feels. I know I do.
Alice Hanscam is an author and PCI Certified Parent Coach®, ScreamFree Certified Leader, and mother of two. Her latest book, Parenting Through Relationship, models partnership values in parenting. https://www.denaliparentcoaching.com/ Contact Alice: firstname.lastname@example.org