In my previous post I pasted my part in a discussion I was having with people on facebook about children who are disruptive in public and their parents.

I guess I'm tired of hearing about the child in public that does something a bystander doesn't like. And, I'm really tired of the only reason any bystander can think of for the child being disruptive is that their parents are lacking the tools necessary to deal with the child- or to be more mean about it, the parent is "bad."
I find the overall discussion to be very much negative towards parents and really unproductive. I say unproductive because, ultimately, someone always goes to the "if the kid can't behave they (the family) shouldn't be in public" scenario- and they go there quickly. I don't think children (or their parents) should be treated like criminals unless they are actually charged by law enforcement.

So writing about how I had a problem with this "don't come out in public if you can't manage your kids" thing made me realize I also have some problems with the "remove a misbehaving child from the situation" thing. In my head, before this argument, E would reach a point where he and I could communicate about my expectations for his behaviour, he would understand my expectations, he would choose to comply with them or not, and if he choose not to he would be removed from the situation.
But now. I don't know if my intentions behind these thoughts are pure or vindictive, but now I have a different scenario playing out in my head. Sure, removing E from the situation is definitely still on the table. But, I think I would only do that if I was the one gaining the most from it. I definitely wouldn't do it for the people around me... and I know how selfish that sounds but I really don't mean it in a selfish way. It would happen that way because I think it's the best choice for helping my son in the long term- to let him stay in the situation and work with me to figure out how to behave acceptably.

Marc is the one that first came up with the explanation of why I care enough to fight about the "remove the kid to end the disruption" thing. He's the one that said to me that a kid in a restaurant is a disruptive situation, not a disrespectful one. So it's like, if I didn't remove E from the area he was disrupting BECAUSE I wanted to bother the people around me, that's disrespectful. But if I didn't remove him because the way I want to parent him is to make him want to comply with expectations of his behaviour, and in the process he continued to disturb people, I don't think that's disrespectful. Yes, I'm putting my child's needs and the needs of my relationship with that child ahead of a peaceful atmosphere for others, but that's what I signed up for when I became a parent- to do what is best for that child.  I'm realizing how that's a totally different role from being a teacher. A kid who is disrupting the class because he intends too be disruptive is treated the same as a kid that causes a disruption unintentionally- and it has to be that way because a teacher is looking out for the best interests of 30 kids at a time.

We don't do permissive parenting but we could be considered that depending on what part of our parenting was looked at. Like "Do you let your kid put pretty much anything in his mouth?" yes.
But I know we aren't actually permissive. We focus on communicating that's the most important thing for us with E. An example: E is not gentle. When he is around other kids, and adults too, the first thing is does is try to stick a finger in one of their eyes. Then he might try to grab hair or swat their face and finally he'll pull on their arms and hands. He's also starting to bite. But we don't exclude him from being around other kids because he does those things- we know he is just trying to understand the world around him. Instead of excluding him, we talk to him about it. We demonstrate a soft touch to him. And, we stop him before he causes any real injuries. Now, as his parents we do see these techniques improving his behaviour over time. But, maybe someone watching him attack Rebecca two or three times during the church service would think we're permissive.
The people that know us, though, they celebrate with us. Like today, E didn't touch Rebecca during church for the first time ever. They were playing with the same toys and everything. And I shared that with Jytte afterwards and she was as excited for E as I was. He's learning and growing...just like every other child in the world. So maybe it will take him a few times before he'll sit still for an entire meal at a restaurant, but I'm not going to remove him when he doesn't because he can only learn if we work on it together.

I think my root issues are two-fold. 1) in general there are expectations that children should act more mature then they are developmentally- and those expectations fall all kids at a younger and younger age. And I'm not just talking behaviour. I'm talking about fashion and romance and toys even.
and then 2) people want compliance for compliance sake. Sit down at a desk and do work all day long except when we tell you that you can get up. Not because it's healthier or because at six years old you're developmentally inclined for it, but because it's easier to control you this way.
And if I take issue with that then I'm a hippie, or permissive, or I'm not preparing my kid properly... or maybe I just SEEM that way to someone who doesn't really know us.

So I guess it comes down to a question of do I want to raise the best child I know how to raise? or do I want people to think I am raising the best child, even if that means not doing my best for him? I think in the long term the results will be the same- at least in basic definition. But while E's a child, me and society are just going to have to differ in our opinions. Short term losses, long term gains.

So I've been the lone voice saying "I disagree" in a facebook thread that one of my friends started with a link to this article. To start- here are all the things I had to say about it:

puff piece totally disconnected from reality. if parents developed "the look" then children wouldn't misbehave? if only life were so simple.
A piece of missing perspective maybe: Parents are a lot less sensitive to their child's behaviour then bystanders. So when you're annoyed because there is a child yelling at their parents in a restaurant, those parents may not even realize the child is so loud because they are ALWAYS that loud-in good behaviour and bad. Behaviour and expectations are so subjective, is it really fair to pass judgement? all you can say is "I would do it differently" and even then you don't actually know that you could.
July 6 at 12:00pm

I guess this just makes me happy to live in a place where children are not expected to behave like adults and this debate doesn't happen.
July 6 at 6:32pm
Actually, yes I can say that. Children and their development are highly respected in Danish culture. Giving children the room to learn about themselves and express their individuality, even through bad behaviour, is possibly the most important thing that Danes, as a whole, work to establish and protect. Supporting parents and allowing them to make choices in how they raise their own children is part of that.
My point is that these articles take a lot of generalizations and give them one umbrella of thought to fall under. But, these situations that are generalized actually have important context and don't deserve to be thought about in the same way. Conditioning ourselves to ignore context does not make us a more respectful society.
How can I say to someone "you should respect me because I am around you" without first showing them respect by acknowledging that I don't understand everything about their situation, and therefore, won't make any generalizations about them or their behaviour.
July 6 at 11:47pm
I'm sure they will all be too busy riding bikes and eating pastry to bother you.
Thursday at 10:08am
I completely agree with the things you have said Anna. What I disagree with is the attitude that when you have a child you have to be a certain type of parent otherwise you're a "bad" parent according to society. Because society is making these decisions of what type of parent you are based on minuscule intervals of time without any context or really any direct interaction with the children they are looking cross at. Very different from a teacher in a classroom who possibly spends more time with the child then the parents do. And it would even be ok with me for people to be so judgemental without context, if they still supported the parents in the end. But that's not what people say, they say if we think you are a bad parent, then you shouldn't have your children around us; you shouldn't be welcome.

I think it's fine to expect more reasonable "adult like" behaviour from kids who are in school, but this article and discussion isn't specifically about kids in school- in fact there is no information about the kids beyond what they were doing to be so bothersome- and there never is. This article is a blanket blast of all "bad" children in public and their parents who must not have the tools to control them. An example: he writes about a very young girl that smacked her mom and then was told "we don't hit" in response- her mother is being portrayed as a "bad" mother. But hitting can be part of a normal child's development of communication; its how they tell you they are mad before they can really say it. And, any basic parenting guide will tell you to respond by correcting them simply. So, is the mother really a "bad" mother? we don't know because we don't have any context!

I am bothered by how easy it is for this guy to write a rant about all these parents he sees and say they suck; and then get people to cheer him on because "good" children in the US behave in a way such that they are not noticed by bystanders! (Again, totally different than the relationship with teachers.) And it's because of how easy it is for people to get all up in arms about a part of life that, really, is as inconvenient as being in traffic (and more inconvenient for the parents being judged- even the "bad" ones), that I wanted to say something in the first place.

I have had the opportunity to live in a society that is very supportive of parents no matter how their children behave and I know how it has made me a better parent. Not because there are hoards of children wreaking havoc here, as was suggested, but because I'm not worried about what people are thinking when my child is screaming and that gives me the opportunity to focus my full attention on meeting the needs he is screaming about.
Friday at 4:57pm
I'm not personally offended. There are a lot of reasons why I spoke out against this. I think the main one is that IMO its better to have a discussion about these things then to just cheer for the one side. I find the other side is noticeably silent in this argument and I wonder what implications that has on US society as a whole. I also champion showing love to other people, no matter how difficult or crazy or against the culture norms- not because I'm perfect at doing that but because I know its what Jesus would do. And it's unfortunate that background heartbreaking tales have become cliché because they are never a cliché for the person who went through the particular story.

I guess, also, I have a personal vendetta against this stuff because it's very American. And like most things American, it is never acknowledged as such. And the reason I care is because I'm raising a child, and probably more children in the future, who will have to spend portions of their lives within US society and I don't want them to walk away hating it, I want them to understand it's differences. SO instead of just walking away from this article and hating it, I spent sometime trying to understand the differences.
Yesterday at 11:52am
My issue was always the generalization and stereo-typing of a group of people for which we have basically no information about, except that in public their child's behaviour, indirectly, offended someone else for a short period of time. And, people can give as many reasons and explanations for why they think what they think- I don't believe a disruptive situation is inherently a disrespectful one. And I think that reacting that way has a larger negative effect on society as a whole than the children's behaviour that started it in the first place. Everyone else who's commented here thinks this guy has a good point buried somewhere in his article and I don't. AT ALL.

As to Jesus and love... (first let me apologize for adding yet another layer to this discussion and invite anyone who takes issue with what I'm about to say to PM me). While I agree that love is a two way street and all; I give only myself expectations in relationships with total strangers. Jesus meets us all where we are. I just show compassion and understanding to strangers, and leave the love based lessons to the people who actually know them. The Jesus I know would not ever be annoyed with a child acting up in a restaurant, nor would he think that the child's parents were lacking.

And, finally, I wasn't saying that judgement was American (but I see where I was confusing). What I mean by "this stuff" being American is the severe lack of support for parents in society- displayed through articles like this one. And, secondarily, a concentration of narcissistic children being raised such that it is newsworthy.

A final thought from me: parents have been and always will be good, bad and in-between. Kids haven't just started to act out in public recently, and I seriously doubt their behaviour is significantly worse now then it was twenty years ago. If those two factors haven't changed, what has which makes this debate so prevalent these days? I don't know. But I feel like an article on that would be worth reading.
about an hour ago
Obviously within I am responding to people who said things that I haven't posted here. But I don't think I need the exact words I'm responding to because (besides the one line snarky comment referencing Danish stereotypes) I feel like my argument is pretty consistent and doesn't need the words it was defending against to stand on it's own. I'm not trying to take my words out of context; I think the context is there without other peoples responses. Plus, it's more important to me to post what I said because writing it really made me evaluate myself as a parent and made me solidify some ideas that were only wisps when this thread started. And in my next post(s?) I am going to elaborate more on this idea.
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