A Judgmental Post About Another Mother

I heard the World’s Worst Mother interact with her small children today at Marshall’s.  I could hear crying from halfway across the store and I responded with my usual thought:  better her than me.  Crying kids really don’t bother me too much when they aren’t my crying kid.

But when I strolled closer to the children’s clothing section, I couldn’t help but overhear this bratty mother and her bratty children in full concert.  And it was really bad.

“NO!  I am not buying that!”

“Waaaaaah!  But you promised we could buy something this time!”

“I did not!  Now put it back!”

“You’re a liar!”

“Don’t you dare call me a liar!”

“Owwww, you’re hurting my arm!”

“Stop it!  Stop it!”

“But, mom, you said we could get something.”

“I said no!”

“You never spend your freaking money on what I want!”

“Don’t you dare talk to me like that!  Do you understand!?”

“Yes, I understand.  But you’re a liar.”

That’s just a small sample.  It was worse than I can express.

The kids talked back to her, sassing personified.  The mother screamed at the kids, ineffective screaming with no results and no reinforcement.  The kids cried.  They ran off.  She ran after them, grabbed them.  At one point, I looked up and caught her looking at me and then she hissed loudly, “EVERYONE IS LOOKING AT US!  STOP CRYING!” 

The kids were probably four, five, six, seven.  Something like that.  I think there were three of them, but there could have been four.  I was really trying to ignore them. 

I shuddered to think what that household is like–between the children who did not listen and who did not respect the mother and the mother who had no idea how to control her children and who twisted their arms in public, I imagine it’s a hellhole.  I mean, if they behave like that in public, what are they like in private?

I always wonder if I have any responsibility in a situation like that.  And then I decide to mind my own business, lest things get worse.  Children like that wouldn’t listen to me and the mother certainly wouldn’t appreciate my interference.  But what a sad, sad situation.

19 thoughts on “A Judgmental Post About Another Mother

  1. Yeah….I just encountered a similar ‘shudder’ while waiting on my front porch for my son’s schoolbus (he’s special-needs) to arrive home. Living where I do (Queens, N.Y.) may make it that I encounter this a little more often; maybe not? I’m a homebody. Still..I really get sick in my stomach when this type of exchange takes place. Good post.

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  2. I don’t call that judgemental. I call that speaking the truth about a factual situation that should never be. The best you can do in that situation is to pray to God that he create a way for that family to change and then to be a model of family respect and love.

    I would hate to see what the family would be like when they are teenagers. I’m shuddering with you.

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  3. Soo true so sad. I can not count how many times, I up and walked out of the store with my child realizing I was not going to do battle right there. They fussed, they acted out, we walked out. The end =))

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  4. When you keep letting it go as small kids it will only get worse as they grow. Kids like spouses know the right buttons. Part of the trick is not letting those buttons put you over the edge. Just a little note for the other side, maybe the mom does lie to the kids. Some do that & don’t understand to get respect you do have to give a little.

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  5. My word.

    What’s worse is that I’ve seen that before too, in my classroom, at parent teacher conferences. All time worst was the one that happened when I worked at YMCA. Child was out of control, biting, spitting swearing. We called mom in. Bad conversation insued between parent and child. Then we told mom what child said. Mother decked child, with all of us there, watching and the two began to swing at each other (child was a big 9 year old, mom was rather small). Oddly it was a relief because now we could do something about the awful parenting… We were obligated to call DFAS and file a report, though I doubt it changed much.

    The other interesting thing about this post, was the amount of children involved. Considering the conversation over at Barbara Curtis’s Blog, Mommy Life, about family size and child behavior, this is the bad example exception that people most likely picture.

    As I said. My word!

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  6. I have a brother and a daughter who’ve both been able to reach deep inside and realize they don’t think they’d ever be ‘parent material’ and have decided not to have children. I admire that. When I was a child in the late 50’s-early 60’s my parents took in Foster Kids most of those years. Believe me, even tho child abuse wasn’t ‘talked’ about then like it is now, it still went on. The amount of mixed-up, messed-up, permanently damaged children who passed thru our home was horrendously appalling. When I worked at an affluent school in Portland for many years, most of the young couples in the area around the school had dogs, not kids. I think a LOT of younger people are realizing it’s too stressful to raise kids, especially since the vast majority of them BOTH have to work.

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  7. I had a similar experience in McDonalds once, and the parents did NOTHING to correct the child. She was about 4, came running into the McDonalds, climbed *UP ON THE COUNTER* (yes, where you order food) and started screaming “I want a hamburger!!!” The dad came in about a minute later, and was all “get down honey, get down.” Which made her scream more, and flail about until she was standing on the counter 9es, where you order food) with her BARE FEET. So the dad managed to get her down, at which point she started pummeling her dad in the stomach, and screaming “I WANT A HAMBURGER NOW!!!” Ok, at that point, I would have been out the door with my child without a hamburger. And that wasn’t even the last of her antics for the day. I wonder what she’ll be like as a teenager. I wonder why the parents don’t seem to care enough to teach the child manners. At first I was ashamed of myself for thinking such things, I thought maybe she had some kind of disorder… but you know, there is no disorder that is helped by allowing a child to behave that way.

    Sorry to be so long winded, but… I understand.

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  8. Wow! This seems to be getting more and more commonplace…
    I’ve encountered this many times and it is a sad and scary thing and makes you wonder what happens in the privacy of their home…I shudder to think!

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  9. When my sons were young, I always gave the same little speech before leaving the car.
    “If you don’t behave yourselves, I’ll bring you out the to car and tan your fannies.” It only took one time. The tanning of fannies was a couple of swats on the behinds. They still laugh about it.

    I, too, wonder what their home lives must be. It must be a misery for all involved.

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  10. I don’t know how many times during my boys’ younger years, I removed them from whatever situation they were creating havoc in. Many times, I left a cart full of groceries in the store, marched my boys outside, and gave them what for, sometimes I left, other’s we went bck in, finished the shopping like the little angels they knew they were to be in public.

    It didn’t take but a couple of times for each one to realize that mom would indeed take them to the backseat.

    Now, I have well behaved young men, in public at least. If I could only get it to work that well at home….

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  11. I don’t think it’s fair to judge one mother’s worthiness to reproduce based on a single overheard episode in a department store.

    I’m sorry, but this type of judgement from afar is just as ugly to me.

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  12. ““Yes, I understand. But you’re a liar.””

    That’s priceless! Kids are smarter than short-sighted parents give them credit for. My Dad was an Elementary Principal and SAW IT ALL! The stories he could tell…

    ANGRY PARENT “Why isn’t my kid learning anything?? You have to talk to your teachers about the problem – they’re responsible to teach him. He’s not learning!”

    PRINCIPAL “Well, Johnny came to school today without having had breakfast, no winter coat and no boots. He’s groggy and non-responsive because he’s cold and hungry. Learning isn’t on his list of things to do today.”

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  13. I understand that kids can get the best of you sometimes but this kind of situation makes me so sad. I have to wonder if they are ever hugged, had a story read to them, told silly jokes or anything other than hearing yelling.When my boys were little I nicely explained to them that if they behaved in a manner that was not appropriate, we would leave where we were and they would lose their chance to watch TV that day or not be allowed to invite a friend to play. They new I meant it because I followed through-it didn’t take them long to catch on.

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  14. When I was a little kid I saw a woman slap her daughter. I walked right up and threatened to report her and gave her a speech about how special kids are and how she was not setting a good example. She just stared at me. Now, I wouldn’t have the guts to say something. It’s a tough situaiton to be in. I think you made the right call though. The mother wouldn’t have been receptive and the child would not have listened. What a sad, sad story. I pray for kids like that every night.

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  15. While I feel for the kids- and the mom, because it was obviously stressful and tense for all- I also marvel at your ability to deem yourself worthy of judging another parent’s abilities base on one witnessed episode. For all you know, this woman just found out her mother was dying, or her husband lost his job, etc. and was (errantly) misdirecting her anger. I think you SHOULD have done something. I think you should have looked at this mother and said something like “parenting can be so exhausting,can’t it? thank goodness they’re only young for a while”. She probably would have snapped into a better frame of mind quickly. But of course- why would you say something like that…you’re clearly the perfect parent who never gets tired or irritable and who’s children never behave badly and you’ve never said something you regret.

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  16. I wish mothers wouldn’t sit in judgment of one another. You have no idea what was going on for that family, on that day. No one has the right to assume, based on one episode, that another person should not be allowed to reproduce. I shudder to think that when my two year old freaked out yesterday at the store because I brought her pink sippy cup instead of her blue one someone like you judged me unfit to conceive.

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  17. I agree. He that meddles in strife not belonging to him is like one that takes a dog by the ears. Sorry I don’t have the Proverb reference.

    Anyway…I do find that the quiet, behind-the-back-of-the-mother evil eye sometimes helps. Does that make me a bad person?

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  18. Wow. People stating that you were judgemental. I think there comes a point where you can tell when a family is having a bad day or when things are bad all/most of the time. When I hear parents call their kids awful names – _uckin’ brat was the ultimate low – it makes my heart ache. These poor kids! These poor parents too! It doesn’t have to be that way! They are missing out on a great family relationship.
    My hubby was a police officer in investigations. He and his partners rotated through the child investigations because it was too much to do full-time.
    I find that a “Please help that family God and protect those children” gives me some peace.
    Thanks for your comments on my blog! I need to link you! Love your blog!

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