How Does That Work?

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), her partner Daddy G and father-in-law Grandpa G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

As a natural, gentle parent I get asked that a lot. A. Lot. Sometimes it will refer to breastfeeding, sometimes it will be co-sleeping, and sometimes it will be about something totally different altogether. But although the answers to these questions vary, the grace with which I try to answer them stays the same. Yes, you should be breastfeeding past one year; the benefits do not decrease, they increase. Yes, I co-sleep and still have sex; it just may not always be in a bed, and I do many other things traditional parents just cannot wrap their heads around. Sometimes the questions get under my skin; sometimes I delight in talking about things I am passionate about. It depends on the situation most times.

Non-Aggression, What Now?

The Non-aggression Principle (NAP). We get it. Most people don’t. When I tell traditional parents that my children are not harmed by me (any longer, I did traditionally parent my older son, and that’s how I know it doesn’t work for squat for me) as punishment, they cannot understand it. They do not think of it as disciplining instead of punishing; many tend to think no punishment means lassiez-faire or passive parenting. On the contrary, when I’m done telling them how much research I’ve done, how many people I’ve talked to and how many different methods of guidance I studied before my son got old enough to need guidance they are inevitably impressed. When I tell people that they can actually prevent meltdowns and that they are probably to blame for them (I don’t usually add that last bit unless I really know the person), their heads spin. Preventing meltdowns though is the best system of discipline for all children because it focuses on meeting needs and creating a baby-led schedule which cuts down tantrums dramatically.

Time-Ins

Because of the research I’ve done, I understand that children do not learn when their needs aren’t met, and that a meltdown is just a plea to meet a need. This need can be as basic as needing to calm down when excitement causes a child to forget him/herself. I have heard much negativity directed my way when instead of “giving that kid a whooping,” I give my son a hug and tell him I understand his frustration. Many (almost all) traditional parents think badly of me. I could not really care less, though. When my son is too worked up and is throwing a tantrum, its probably because I forgot to pack a lunch, or took him out during nap time or something like that. His tantrum is probably my fault so why punish him for it? I do feel bad for all the misunderstood children out there, but I cannot impose my ideals on others. All I can do is help spread the word.

I Don’t Reward to Manipulate, Either

Many parents give their children presents for acting in a momentarily desirable behavior. I have come to understand that if a child always receives a gift or praise for performing, they will lose intrinsic desire in the every day in favor of desire for the gift or praise. This creates superficially obedient children and teaches children to manipulate others around them both by learning its okay to manipulate and that performance is not necessary unless there is a carrot. Intrinsic desire comes from enjoying the action itself instead of the praise one receives, and this can be lessened and usually is in children that are heavily praised and rewarded. Telling children they have “done a good job” is different than “You tried really hard and you did it! How does that make you feel?” The first will create artificially increased awareness of what others think, which leads to wanting praise, instead of the self satisfaction of a job well done which leads to increased desire to achieve.

Listening to Children, Not Forcing Their Will

Bedtime schedules, potty training, and eating are sources of contention in many households. Not mine. Want my secret? Baby-led training. Our bed times are not set in stone, although many people need to follow a schedule for work and other activities. I have tried to adjust my activities around his schedule. I don’t work full time, but I do work. I have a job that allows me to come in at 11am and be done by 5pm; I specifically looked for this kind of job so I could be with the younger one in the mornings, so that we can use baby-led bedtimes, which are a bit later in my house. It works for us. Potty training with encouragement and not punishment is non-traditional as well. Many children have accidents, but I have come to realize that the reason so many parents become angry with their children is because they really think the children are doing it to spite them for some reason, not, like me as a kid, just having too much fun and didn’t notice the urge. Gently raising children fills them with confidence and the desire to please their parents because it makes them happy to do so. Traditionally-raised children try to please their parents so they do not get punished, which leads to a similar outcome, but a much different mindset as they grow older.

In this age of information, ignorance is a choice. It just is. While there are some exceptions to the rule, like those people in poverty who cannot raise themselves out, this statement holds true for most people in America and other developed countries. There is no reason that one cannot educate themselves on different methods for many things, and parenting is a big one. If all you have is a hammer then everything will look like a nail, but when you add tools into your parenting toolbox you can see that there are many fixes that do not use force or physical punishment at all. Schools and daycares give real world examples of this principle. They are not allowed to harm children any longer so, they have been more creative. All it takes is a little imagination and Google. Natural gentle parenting works for me and my children. Our house is peaceful and because I don’t hold unreasonable expectations of my children, there are no punishments; only learning situations and examples of real life consequences. And the reason the sometimes hostile questions I get do not always bother me is because I love telling people that there are different ways to raise children than what is traditionally thought of as good parenting.

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Santa Claus is not Coming to Town, Actually

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), her partner Daddy G and father-in-law Grandpa G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

I love Christmas. It has always been a family tradition for my Mom and now my Sister to pick out a new ornament every year and date it so we can spread a trail of ornaments out and decorate our trees with them. There are also a few others thrown in to fill it up. We are an “ornament on every branch” kind of family. Anyway, growing up it was my Mom, Sister, Brother and me getting ornaments. My older son was born in November of ’99 and my long term partner and Father of my little son has been with me since ’01 so we have quite a few of these ornaments every year. My excitement for the Christmas season ebbs and flows each year but this year my toddler is two so I am really feeling the Christmas spirit.

But There is a Darker Side to Christmas

Every one has heard the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” right? “You better not pout, you better not shout, you better not cry, I’m telling you why.” On top of that there is the old “Coal in the Stockings” bit. Children are given the magic of Christmas and presents as a carrot to act in a desirable manner, or rather “behave” all year long. A year is a long time. Thankfully in my house we only grabbed the nice family traditions from the Christmas myth and I haven’t ever been subject to that form of conditional approval. Because its really conditional approval that we are selling these kids. We want them to strive to be good so they can get presents.

Doesn’t Really Work this Day in Age Very Well

In the age of immediate gratification children are given presents and sweets as a reward for just about everything, which kind of ruins the magic of Christmas or Halloween for that matter. Instant gratification, though, is another discussion for a different day. Christmas many years ago was truly a once a year thing where a child might ask for a book or a toy and some candy, but fast forward that to Amazon wish lists and advertising galore and Christmas lists have to be longer than ever.

But Large Piles of Presents Really is Something to See!

So in my family where money is sometimes tight we give clothes and sensible gifts along with the non-sensible gifts and have a good time unwrapping tons of stuff. It is a lot of fun for all. And you know what? Many of our gifts are still labeled from “Santa.” Because we just love it. Fourteen years ago though I had a son and decided to not lie to him about Christmas and not to use it as a manipulation tool. (I had had enough manipulation outside of Christmas growing up and I was done with it.) So I decided to celebrate Christmas traditionally until he was old enough to ask about it and then we had a talk about how his presents that he always got actually came from his family and that while Santa is a myth the wonder of the season is real. The lights, the music, the movies. It is all just so much fun; there just is no fat guy leading the parade. Yes, I love Christmas music and movies, don’t judge me.

So now that I have another young son to spoil at Christmas I am going to have a really good time doing it. Perpetuating the Santa myth only just enough to make it fun but not so much that it compromises my gentle parenting and my desire to not teach my children that lying is okay as long as it was well intended. (You know, because its still lying *wink wink*.) We will bake cookies and eat pies, we will sing and open presents and we will love each other. We will continue adding ornaments to our collection but we will not be using the joy of Christmas to force any behavior modification on him because of course I think he’s perfect anyway. I hope you all have a really nice, loving Christmas season but take this thought along with you: If you are not religious or pro Christmas but like some of the traditions you can use them if you like, but if you are pro Christmas, please, understand that there are many reasons aside from religion (which I personally abstain from) for which a parent might not want to perpetuate the Christmas myth. Respect each other for their standards because we are all just parents trying to do what we think is best. Merry Christmas!

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Equality in Illinois

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), her partner Daddy G and father-in-law Grandpa G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

It finally happened here. Equal rights for every couple in my state. I couldn’t be more proud. I am a mostly heterosexual female but I have great respect for all life and believe that every person should be able to be free to be with whomever they please. My thoughts on this matter are strong. There is no reason that if two people care for each other they should not be able to be with each other and enjoy all the benefits this country (USA) allows for heterosexual couples.

Some of the advantages drawn from marriage are monetary and some are social. On the monetary side you have tax advantages. There are some disadvantages, but they are few. TurboTax has a succinct list that includes the ability to create a tax shelter if one spouse has a failing business which basically means the other spouse can use the loss as a write off. This is a pretty good benefit if the other brings in enough income to qualify for this shelter. Retirement planning for married couples is facilitated by certain laws that allow for a nonworking spouse to pay into an IRA if desired and couples can benefit shop using parts of each retirement plan they pay into and in the event of death marriage can protect their mutual estate. The estate is made up of any tangible assets and debt acquired by the couple and can be lost to the family without this protection. There are a few more benefits which range from charitable donations and time saving abilities, but these pale in comparison to the tax and retirement benefits that are allowed to married couples.

Not all people have enough money for all that to matter but the social aspect may be more important anyway. People in the LGBT community can be persecuted their whole lives. From childhood an un-accepting parent can do a lifetime of damage, not even to mention what a gay child goes through in schools. It may not be as bad for a girl child, but even still they can be subject to ridicule, bullying, and much, much worse. I don’t need to go into it here because my blood will boil. Home life can be a nightmare, so can school. If a child grows up unsupported and unloved he may feel later in life unworthy of love. This can create destructive/dysfunctional relationships. Then many religions frown upon homosexuality which started this whole mess which leaves little opportunity for a community to fit into. In metropolitan areas this can be less of an issue but rural areas are very often not as progressive.

On the other hand heterosexual couples enjoy many social benefits of marriage. There is the marriage itself which allows for gifts and money, celebration, vacation and joy. Marriages are a cause for great joy in many families and friends. These times are remembered fondly and there are always stories to be told. Children of course benefit from stable parental relationships and if a couple cannot have children of their own they can either adopt, or have their own natural children through medical methods with both parents names allowed on the birth certificate.

Side note: Did you know that if a female couple uses a sperm bank for growing their families and would like both women’s names on the birth certificate they have to hire a lawyer not only for themselves, but also for the father’s representation. That’s right. Representation for the father who was an anonymous sperm donor. What a mess.

This whole mess started with religious persecution and fear. It has since crept into every corner of politics and society and influences our cultural norms. Politicians are either for or against and never for any reason other than they think its icky. What is the dark truth? Many of these politicians who are against are vehement because they are afraid. They could be afraid for many reasons and many of them are no doubt irrational, but the church says its bad so many people carry on this notion without ever giving it a real thought. I understand that people have beliefs and do not want to question them but really these beliefs are passed down through generations and aren’t actually their own beliefs.

And all this leads to the question: If there are national tax benefits of marriage and there are social benefits of marriage and even parental benefits, why then cannot two people who love each other marry if they choose?

Because there are politicians and there are churches and even though there should be a separation of church and state there is not.

But there is a movement for equality and it is growing. Illinois has become the 16th state to separate the two functions of church and state. Because really while the wedding may be about religion the marriage is absolutely a state matter. The attitude is changing and slowly there will be more and more acceptance. I am thinking about this because a friend asked me if I was going to get married now that my home state has passed the vote. I had to laugh. I have been with my partner for over 12 years and have been asked “so when are you two getting married?” so many times through the years. My answer: I will get married when marriage is equal for all.

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My Thirty Day Challenges

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), her partner Daddy G and father-in-law Grandpa G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

Thirty days. That’s all it takes. What am I talking about? Self improvement. Some say it takes two weeks to create a habit, but I say why chance it, make it a whole thirty days. I have been creating challenges for myself in varying degrees ever since I first came onto the notion of the thirty day challenge. I happened upon this idea while taking Bikram yoga. The hot kind with a lot of humidity, but I digress. Bikram’s thirty day challenge was too much for me to go to, one class a day for thirty days, because of scheduling conflict, but the seed was planted. The more I thought about it the more I began to think that it is a perfect amount of time for a challenge and there is no better time for a challenge than right now. The proverbial right now anyway. I believe it is the perfect amount of time because it can be broken up nicely into different time blocks; ten days, seven days, five days, even three days if the challenge is specific enough. Mine have not been so far.

My First Real Challenge to Myself

My first challenge to myself is a personal one, but for the purpose of this column I’ll share. I was going through a rough time and was taking my frustration out on my loved ones. Can you guess yet what it was? Yup – not yelling, and working on inner peace. It went well I think. The realization that I needed to do better was a big help. Learning my triggers and centering myself after a trigger is switched was a really big step for me. I did become more calm and I stopped yelling so much, which made life much happier. Much like a child if my basic needs are not met, I get cranky. Sleep is a big one if you can imagine.

Challenge Number Two

I didn’t really pick it back up right away. Life got better so I got lazy. I have a tendency to do that. Too bad I can’t challenge myself to not be lazy, but I know myself and I would totally fail. Its just too vague. So, one day I found myself on Cracked.com, reading a column about how men write into the site often asking what they don’t have that other men supposedly have. His answer? Drive and something to offer. If you don’t have any marketable skills you will not get a job, and the same goes with dating. Off topic? Nope, because he mentioned that if one were to work at it, one could create a skill set if one had the drive to do it. Much like becoming a writer. Well, I was looking for a job at the time and it spoke to me. I’m a terrible typist, so I decided to break out the 30 day challenge again and practice my typing skills. I’m okay at extemporaneous typing, but my copying really sucks, so I began typing for thirty minutes a day out of a book to practice. And of course I did get better, but I failed my challenge. Life got in the way and I was not motivated enough to move my schedule around. This was a really good lesson for me for a couple of reasons. One, I need to be more dedicated if I am going to have better follow through, and two, I learned to be kind to kind to myself because even though I failed I did do a pretty good job while I was doing it. Even failing can teach us something.

Third Challenge

This challenge was really to see if I could make a physical change and go a little greener in the process. For thirty days I didn’t wash my hair. I did cleanse it, but I didn’t wash. I had been reading about the “no poo” method of hair cleansing which basically just changes the chemicals one uses to wash their hair, but the baking soda does the same job as shampoo. My hair is a frizz ball. I have used many different cleansers and products to try to tame it to no real avail. I was sick of wasting money on products that just didn’t really work. While I was doing research on the no poo method I came across honey washing. It is really good for the scalp and I really like out-of-the-box thinking. For thirty days I used honey water only in my hair. I saved money, because after a week or two it doesn’t need as many rinsings, and I also saved time by not using other products both in the shower and after. This changed the way I think about hygiene care and am seriously contemplating switching for my whole household. So challenge accomplished. It has been almost a full two months now and if my hair does not look better it is at least no worse for the experiment.

My Challenge in Process

This challenge breaks up the time block into 7 day segments. I am currently beginning my fourth cycle of seven days. This challenge also challenges my laziness a bit. It requires that I get up and get moving instead of sitting and enjoying my morning leisurely. Because of chronic lower back pain that I have been living with for most of a year I have decided that if it is not going to get better on its own I better help it. I looked into simple stretching routines for a morning warm up and decided on Sun Salutations. I really love yoga and this asana (pose progression like in tai chi) seemed like it would help me get back to my old self while I was doing Bikram often, which I really miss. It has been working, I think. For the first seven of the thirty days I performed only three salutations. This was just to get used to getting up and doing stuff right away (I did mention I was lazy) which helped me when I moved into five salutations and then seven, each in a seven day time block. Tomorrow starts the fourth block of seven days and I am going to move to ten salutations. While discovering my body can move like it used to I also discovered it takes a lot of time to do this routine in the morning. That means I have to get up earlier than I like to make time for this in my life.

Anyone Can Do It

This is such an easy concept, but it is a real challenge. I have been using this as an opportunity to better my self and really enjoy the medium. I have gained so much from the few challenges I have done that it may be hard for me to give myself attainable goals to follow, which is a lesson in itself. I can realize when my cup is not full which leads to bad behavior that I will end up regretting, so I learned to take care of myself just as well as I take care of the others around me.This makes me a better parent and partner. I’ve learned that I do not have to follow society (which I already knew because I’ve always been weird), and that it can be cool to be crunchy, and I continue to learn how to reach my goals. How to plan and organize, how to dedicate myself and how to follow my own rules instead of the ones I think I have to follow. I am always thinking of my next challenge and am excited for the future. I’m thinking of eliminating food that I didn’t make at home next as I tend to eat out a couple times a week for lunch and dinner. Anyone else make self challenges? I’d love to hear about them.

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It is Okay to Not Trust Your Doctor

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), her partner Daddy G and father-in-law Grandpa G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

Everyone knows that there are circumstances that necessitate seeing a doctor. So many that it would be silly to even begin to list them all. Throw in a child and there are many more reasons. Prenatal visits, post-birth visits, well-child check ups, exams, weight checks, and milestone checks. Even without a child that gets sick all the time a parent might see a doctor up to five times in the first year. This leaves many opportunities for that doctor to say something to her/him that may or may not seem “right” to the parent, but because this is person who has gone to school for many years and should be able to give sound advice, the parent trusts and follows given advice. This is compounded by ignorance. I do not mean of a bad kind. I just mean that if a person is less experienced he or she may tend to trust others, assuming they are correct in trusting. But much like a mechanic can try to take advantage of a customer that is not educated in auto repair, a doctor that believes his patient will believe him may not explain all possible options.

As a parent we know the drill. Bring the kids (undoubtedly one of them just cannot leave without some toy or shoe they need, and you end up late) to the car, drive to doctor, wait in line only to wait some more. Finally once every wit has been brought to the end for the parent, her child’s name is called. Thank goodness. Only to wait some more in the exam room. Okay, not so bad. The nurses check vitals and ask if you have any questions or concerns and then leaves to get the doctor. This is maybe the most common thing a parent does out of the house with a new born for the first few months, but after that these visits can be the cause of much stress. As a parent spends more time with their baby they may have more questions. And like many others will trust that their pediatrician, (if you don’t use a family practice D.O. like I do) with the most important issues. How much should baby be sleeping, eating, crying, playing and many more quantitative questions arise and it is very tempting to trust one person, but the reality is your doctor is only one person.

That’s it: Only One

Helen Keller said, “I am only one person, but still I am one,” and she has an awesome point, but that does not really pertain here. Unless your pediatrician is specifically specialized on developmental milestones and has all up to date information from both the WHO (World Health organization) and the AAP (at least here in America, American Academy of Pediatrics) he or she just cannot give the most sound advice. Medicine is a field that is ever developing, so even good advice from 5 to 10 years ago can be bad advice now. Heck, two year old information can be wrong sometimes: just look at the egg-cholesterol argument. Are they good for you? Are they bad for you? The answer, like so many other answers, is just more complex than good or bad; right or wrong.

How Wrong Can a Doctor Be?

When I was a young first-time mom I of course trusted my doctor with everything. I didn’t even second guess his advice. But, this doctor told me to feed my son only every three hours and hold him as little as possible. He told me to not under and circumstances bed share and when my milk was running dry because the baby wasn’t getting as much as he needed and failed to thrive the doctor pushed formula on me instead of just giving better breastfeeding advice. He was a man and never breastfed, but gave me advice like he had. This same doctor recommended I let my infant “self-soothe” himself to sleep and on top of all that he recommended that I stay in an emotionally abusive relationship “for the good of the baby.” Looking back I realize the all this advice was bad! And I followed it! I feel horrible every time I think about it. That was almost 14 years ago now. Not so bad you say? Because its a long time ago and we know better now, right? A year ago I asked our family practice doctor if its still pretty normal for a fifteen month old baby to still wake so many times a night. I already knew the answer was yes, but I was looking for something to make me feel like I was still doing okay. Well this doctor, in 2012, told me that even though its hard I just have to let my baby cry or he will never sleep through the night. I was dumbfounded. The WHO and the AAP both sway away from cry it out (CIO).

Just Goes to Show

So, it is okay to not trust your doctor. Even if you want to. You don’t have to. These days the Internet can really help a parent research the many different opinions of those both experienced in medicine, or just plain old experienced. Its not that hard either and if you have any experience with finding good sources its even easier. Google, of course, is a powerful tool for this and so are the many social web sites available. So now when I have a question that is not a medical emergency I reach out to my community online and I do my own research to help my decisions regarding my children. This has personally empowered me. I find it liberating to know that I don’t have to trust my doctor. Once I realized that they are just people with human failings I felt better about my experience with my older son that truly put me off the idea of having more children for 11 and a half years. I felt empowered to have the birth that I wanted the second time around and had the confidence to really understand that while they do have my best interest at heart, usually, they may not have all the up-to-date facts that would be best for my health and the health of my baby.

Ask questions! Do research!

Namaste

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It’s Parenting, not Posturing

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), her partner Daddy G and father-in-law Grandpa G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

The last time I was in a store I was without my little guy. These instances are few and far between, but I’m okay with that. I understand that if I want a well regulated child in the store, I have to control as much as I can, so I don’t take him during meal hours, or before naps. I just don’t. I also make sure to have my sling handy in case I need to just pop that little guy in my sling which helps up both calm down most of the time. Stores are boring. I know that and I try to empathize. But you have to do what you have to do, so sometimes that little dude needs to sit in a sling if he is not going to sit in a cart so we can just get our shopping done and over with. It can definitely be unpleasant. Shopping for clothing is worse because its extra boring. Well, while I was at the store there was a woman who stepped into line behind me hauling a new toddler and telling her quite calmly that she cannot run around because it was time to stay in line. I have had the same conversation a hundred times. So I let this woman ahead of me. She smiled and went on ahead after thanking me. I told her about my tot and went about my business.

Such a Pleasant Experience

But most of the time something else happens all together. What happens? Well often a child that is acting on instincts and un-met needs, and is trying desperately in the only way she knows how to communicate, melts down. And what do we adults do around her? We scowl at her and judge the parent harshly. I’ve done it myself! How bad I feel about myself when I catch these thoughts varies each time, and I still have to moderate my attitude towards screaming children, but I’m trying. As the parent its embarrassing. We all know the shame felt when we cannot live up to unreachable societal standards. To counter this shame some parents act out to exert control over a situation that needs to be allowed to run its course. Often this turns into physical punishment and/or threats against the child.

The parent feels threatened and embarrassed and because of this puts him or herself in a bad situation. Parents might threaten to leave or to not buy something the child wants, but this will really only work on older children because the younger ones have very little concept of later, so will not understand not having the prize item. This threatening often just makes the child cry more which will have to lead to more threats. The more adults around to witness the situation the more escalated the threats will likely be. The whole time the parent will be ultra aware of the other adults and their attitudes towards her and become more stressed imagining the negative conversations that must be happening. A parent might tell a child they are embarrassing her, but this again only works on older children who still won’t really understand the societal pressures we put on ourselves and each other. All this posturing children don’t understand and it confuses them. Posturing damages the parent child relationship. It leads to mistrust on both side: adults mistrust themselves and question their parenting, and children mistrust the adults that are supposed to be guiding them because of the sudden change in their expectations of a situation and its outcome.

Expectations of a Situation?

Yup, even children that are restless and have a hard time in stores and other public places expect that their parent will meet their moods and behaviors in the same way they always have in the past. When a parent suddenly changes her behavior because of embarrassment a child can have lasting memories of the event and have a learned fear of public places and mistrust of others.

Who Does This?

Everyone. I’m not sure where this idea that all children have to behave in public and not cry and not fuss and basically not be kids came from. Adults that are not parents have the least understanding of the needs of a child and why they might be acting in a way that draws attention and, in my opinion, are the first to judge. Shaking a head or giving a sharp glance at a struggling parent can crumble the small amount of control she may have and turn her towards this posturing behavior to gain some self assurance back. But adults without children are not so bad, after all they have no idea what is in store for them when they do, if they do, become parents. Its the adults that have children that confound me the most. Like I said earlier, I do it too sometimes. I don’t know why. Why is it so objectionable to hear a child crying? I can’t say. I believe it is a learned behavior. Maybe an unconsciously leaned behavior, but a learned behavior nonetheless.

Changing Attitudes One Person at a Time

I’m guessing those of you that choose to read this are already pretty aware of parents that do not traditionally parent their children so it will be well received, but to take this message out to the stores would be awesome. I am trying to be a better person for myself and for my children to model after and if I teach them to look down on others I am not being the best parent I can be. And neither are you. Too harsh? I don’t really mean it, but I do mean it when I say to you: please, next time you see a parent struggling with a child or children in a store offer her an assuring smile. Let her know it is okay to be a sensitive parent even in this insensitive culture. Model this behavior yourself. When out with your children act in a positive parental way to give an example to those that have not seen a kind parent empathizing with the needs of their child. If all we see are others acting negative we may not realize that there is a positive way to handle this behavior in children. If enough parents model positive parenting there would be more parents acting positive because they saw that it is something acceptable to do. And it is very acceptable. We can change the future if we tried. And we should for the sake of our children and their children.

Namaste

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