Thursday, April 15, 2010

On Parenting

Gratitude to Google

I should premise this with the disclosure that I have no children.  The above picture is representative of how I remember the "fear" that governed my childhood behavior.  I was a fairly mature youth and did not require much discipline (Mom: if you are reading comments please;-).  I remember one time I stuck one of my prized Matchbox cars into my dress sock before heading out to church.  Having found out who was giving the homily (I was raised Roman Catholic), I went straight for the concealed car.  It entertained me, while the oration went far beyond its apportioned period.  There was no punishment in this case because no one noticed what I was doing.  It is that simple skill children today rarely exhibit: discretion.  Well behaved tomfoolery is hardly cause for concern.

During my time off, I've seen quite a few parents with small children running about town for errands and adventures alike.  Why is it that so many children are so badly behaved...or is it that they are very badly parented?  Perhaps it's just the memory of my own childhood that arouses these questions.  For those of you reading, this is not meant to be a condemnation of all parents, only the parents who let their children run amok.

A tantrum in public was simply unacceptable in my household.  Children today seem to throw tantrums for minuscule motives.   I feared the worst should I get out of hand.  One small child recently threw a fit in the middle of the post office for the reasons completely imperceptible.  The young boy was running all around the post office without any supervision.  Worse yet, the mother did not notice at all.  How did she not notice the lout disturbing patrons by bumping into them and screaming all the while?  Once she realized he was missing, probably from a lack of piercing shrieks, she ventured to find him.  He had just made a run for the exit and nearly got away with it.  He then threw a tantrum.  I was appalled.  Yet the mother let it continue.

Suffice it to say that it would not have flown under my supervision.  This brings me to my next question.  Why, as Americans, do we seemingly put up with it rather than speaking out?  In France it would have been completely acceptable for an adult to drag the child to his parent and deliver a stern reprimand to each.  The reason must be the state of our highly national consciousness.  The thought of such a lawsuit makes me immeasurably happy that I left the idea of law school in the past (more on that another time).

I welcome your thoughts, stories and even your opposition.

"Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them."-P. J. O'Rourke



  1. Nothing but sympathy here, old chap. The library is a refuge.

  2. I was once involved in an altercation with a poorly behaved child when out with my mother. Who am I kidding? This has happened on SEVERAL occasions. In this particular occurrence, my mother and I were waiting to be served at the refreshments counter of a theater. The family in front of us had completed their transaction and moved aside. As my mother and I proceeded forward, an additional son swooped in from behind, pushed past us to get to the rest of his family. Not only a rude act, but a completely unnecessary one as he could’ve easily navigated behind us. I blurted out “EXCUSE YOU” to the child and was met with an unrepentant “EXCUSE YOU!” from the child’s mother. As a parent, I would’ve been mortified by this child’s behavior but instead, he not only escaped punishment but was defended by his horrible excuse of a mother.

    Then there was that other time on Mackinac Island…


  3. as someone who works with the general public, I suffer daily poorly parented children. Today, I took a sharpie marker from a toddler who was preparing to mark on my new office walls. When I asked his mother to take it, she told me it was his "personal sharpie and she did not like to thwart his creativity." I thwarted him by removing the sharpie and letting him howl.



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