We currently live in a society that is over stimulated, undernourished and expected to sit still and not make too much of a fuss. I recently spent some time in Peru and one of the things I noticed is they allow children to get on with things. Kids are running around the streets doing flips, handstands and playing football. In a store you will see kids walking down aisles picking things up and curiously exploring. Other adults talk to the kids and there is not the incessant need to control. This is a far cry from what I am used to in the UK and what seems to be the trend in the US also. One of the things that is really upsetting is the need for children to be still. I was at a school assembly for my son recently and the teachers are obsessed with the children being silent and not moving. Could you imagine this anywhere else? When do we ever sit still, in a non interactive and silence way for long periods of time? There are some exceptions for this of course, but it is pretty exhausting to be silent and still, day in, day out. This spills out onto society and what is expected manifests into external expectations of our children. This often leaves parents feeling hopeless and unsure of how best to raise their children.
The following facebook post came from a young single Mum who was struggling in a supermarket and was verbally attacked:
It finally happened. As I stood in the customer service line of Walmart to cash my paycheck with a cart of groceries(and some wine), Sophie sat/stood/did heads stands in the cart, whining over a bag of chips I took away and because she called me a butthole in line. She’s relentless. I know this. I live with it. Her ADHD and obsessive little heart gets on these subjects of things she finds unjust and wrong and it doesn’t stop until she eventually falls asleep or something very dramatic happens to snatch the attention off the obsessed about subject. We stood in line for several minutes, me ignoring her whining and refusing to give in. What’s giving in to bad behavior going to do but reinforce the bad behavior? I’ve walked out of stores hundreds of times because of her. Almost every time, actually, I end up leaving with nothing I came for and a tantrum having four year attached to my hand and a baby on my hip, but this time I had to stick it out to get the groceries. I tell her for the tenth time to sit down so she doesn’t fall and the next thing I hear is a woman behind me in line saying “oh, for Christ’s sake give her a cookie so she’ll shut up!”. I could’ve responded in a nicer way. I could’ve explained to her that my four year old has pretty severe ADHD, I raise both my children alone, I’m doing my best, and had no choice but to wait it out for the groceries. Instead, I heard “she’s four years old and you need to mind your own f***ing business” come out of my mouth. I kept my composure until I finished what I was doing and walked to self check out so I could avoid facing anyone else as “that person”. The person with the misbehaving child. The person who seems lazy because they’re ignoring the behavior. The person who knows doing anything but ignoring it is only going to make it worse. By the time I made it to self check out, tears are pouring down my face. I’ve lost it. I’m angry, my feelings are hurt, I’m offended, and I’m just freakin sad that I can’t have one good experience in a store with my children. As I scan my things, a woman walks up and begins to talk to Sophie. She asks her questions to distract her, but backs me up when Sophie begins to go on about wanting the chips. “No, you can’t have those today. You have to be good for your mommy. She needs you to be good for her. I have a little girl just like you. How old are you? How old is brother?”. Honestly, this woman could’ve been the antichrist and I would’ve had more appreciation for her kindness and compassion than I have for anyone else I’ve ever encountered. It only takes one comment to break someone down. You never know what someone’s going through. You never know the problems a child has that causes them to misbehave and unless you know the struggle of being a parent to a child like mine, you cannot judge me. But It also takes one small act of kindness to make a mama feel comfort and validation. Thank you to the woman in Walmart today, for showing that kindness to my children and I. Thank you for walking us out. Thank you for backing me up. Mamas have to stick together.#lovewhatmatters #MamasUnite
This story had a happy ending and I like to believe that for every person who is inconsiderate of someone who is struggling there is at least 10 people who care. Apathy is the problem and the sooner we speak up in the face of injustice the sooner we encourage others will follow suit and do the same- the takeaway from this, is you can and should speak up and be that ray of light that is needed in times like these! Please share this beautiful story!
I am Luke Miller the author of this article, and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here