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Archive for the ‘Public Parenting’ Category

Yesterday I was talking about when a child has a very public tantrum, or simply is upset in public. It’s harder sometimes to handle things with your heart when you feel the ridicule of others in your head.

I have been lucky that on occasion people have voiced their opinions to me—their supportive opinions—as I mentioned yesterday. Offering a bit of validation to a parent trying to bring their child back from the brinks of over-reaction can be a wonderful gift for the parent and that child.

I have noticed that Azita’s worst upsets are when an expectation has been unmet. Kids expect the world from us. I think they expect us to be infallible at times. So when an adult does something that messes with her expectation of how she thought something would go, it really shakes her and sets her off. Such as, when she was abundantly happy she was getting a “baby” watermelon at Sam’s Club and had asked me to let her give it to the clerk. Then another clerk walked up to help, grabbed the watermelon from the cart, and it was “booped” (to quote Azita) before anything could be done about it.

I felt them looking at me while Azita freaked out to the nth degree. But I stayed calm and handled it how I felt I should. In minutes in the car she was calm. I asked her what I should do when something has made her that upset, and she told me to just take her home. I think I’ve mentioned this story before, but this time, my point is that the people that may or may not be judging you do not see how you handle it at home. They don’t know any of that, any more than they know if a child that gets yelled severely in public gets absolutely indulged at home. I know my kids have limits. Being genuinely upset about something and learning life lessons simply happens, and I refuse to be mean to my children over it.

Kin to public parenting is parenting around family. This one can be harder, because these are the people that will see you and your child again. A few weeks ago, we left my in-laws house around 7—we usually leave at 8:30. Azita has started school and was extremely tired and we need to stick to her new bedtime.

She ran away from me, cried, yelled, the whole nine. But she very clearly communicated “But I just wasn’t expecting to leave so early”.

So she shouldn’t yell at me, yes. So she lost it, yes. But isn’t the more important part there how clearly she was able to tell me her feelings?

Again, with her at least, it comes back down to those expectations. She flipped out because she thought we’d stay all night—indeed, we usually do.

My mother-in-law has an extremely hard time seeing my children cry. She tries to promise money and gifts when I am being “mean” to them, I imagine is how she sees it. That’s a whole different post about annoying things but what’s funny here is that the way I handle Azita may seem too easy to the random onlooker, and too hard to someone else! I put Azita in the car and I take her home. Hard not to lose your temper when your child is kicking you, sure, but I just put her in the car and go. That is what I do. When we were at home, she went to bed pretty easily.

Ada will have different struggles. When Azita is tired, and over stimulated, she falls apart. She doesn’t regulate herself well. When Ada gets like that, she sits down quietly by herself and plays alone. We will have different battles and lessons with each.

Which is a central theme in how I see parenting—know your child and treat her or him accordingly.

You often hear people say “You need consistency”. You do sometimes, but other times, I am an advocate of flexibility.

I know one child that is not allowed to cry when she is upset. I don’t know that that is what the mother was going for or not, but it is the result. When she gets upset about something, she is swiftly yelled at and a privilege taken away or time out or something. She cries, she get yells at. Nearly every time I’ve ever seen.

The mother was complaining that the child beats her head and does self-destructive behavior when she is upset and she doesn’t understand why. It seems clear to me. The child is so afraid of being yelled at for feeling however she feels that she tries to squash emotions whenever they come up, and this mom can’t see that she is causing it herself. I won’t do that to my kiddoes, people can think they are “spoiled” if they like.

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I was at the Asian store we frequent the other day and, as anyone with kids can well imagine, the girls saw something they wanted. The cool thing about our kids is that they get jazzed about seaweed and such at stores like that, but this time it was essentially a toy. There were packs of two plastic piggy banks. Each pack had a pink and an orange, or a green and an orange and the girls both wanted pink. Naturally, due to being brainwashed by mass marketing, they both wanted pink. Ada may have wanted orange, but Azita wanted pink.

At first I tried to help them compromise, about the colors, but I wouldn’t bend on getting two packs– I do NOT need four piggy banks forgotten about after the day is done, sitting in the corner of their room. But Azita did have a piggy bank she had received for her birthday that Ada had broken, and it seemed fair to let her replace that now as it has been months since I told her we’d keep an eye out for a new one. I’m generally against cheap plastic junk, but Ada won’t be able to break this one.

Azita was hugging my leg and crying a bit because Ada wanted the pink one. I decided, and I could have not done this either on a certain principle, to ask the owner if I could put two pink ones in a pack. He’s known Azita since she was pint-sized, and I felt like this was an acceptable time to ask this under this circumstance. He told me okay, but he wanted to talk to her about it. He told her she was the big sister, and needs to look out for her baby sister always, and asked her why she wasn’t willing to share the pink and orange one.

Azita didn’t answer him really. I told him that she impresses me a good bit of the time, and he agreed, that she is impresses him too. That was nice of him to say.

So while Azita had been crying on me, he looked at me and said “Hey, this is no big thing okay? Don’t worry about it.”

I immediately caught his meaning. All I answered was, “I in general try to understand what she’s feeling,” but we understood each other.

I’m willing to bet he’s seen more than enough young children get yelled at or worse for wanting something at his store. I admit it’s frustrating when your child makes a huge deal out of something that seems minor to you. But if I try to look at her point of view– Ada broke her piggy bank. She found a cheap one months later I was willing to buy. Ada then saw that one and, being 2, insists that she get to keep in the pink one and hold it. Azita knows that Ada often gets her way, and that we often expect Azita to be the more mature one, sacrificing her needs for her sister’s.

This was a time I felt it was reasonable to make sure Azita knows I put her first sometimes too. True, it’s a plastic piece of junk, but I also don’t buy her something each time she asks.

This could have gone the total other way, if I had been in a different mood, or if the owner acted differently. I have my ideals of how children should be shown how to stay calm, not be materialistic, etc. etc. I have my ideals of how they should be treated and taught to handle their emotions and not yelled at for them.

And when their behavior really gets to me and I don’t handle it right, it is often because of one or two things:

1 – I am irritable/tired/headachy and etc. myself

2 – I am in public

How often to parents react a certain way because others are around and they are second guessing their reactions, feeling the judgments of others? This man actually does a service to kids by trying to help a parent feel relaxed about their child’s display of emotions.

Something similar happened at the Farmer’s Market once, when Azita was just three. She was getting upset about something– wanting to buy something or leaving– I can’t remember. And I sat down at her level and looked in her eyes and tried harder to explain why I was making the decision I was. A farmer told me “You are a good mother.” He didn’t say anything else. But it was that same feeling— that he was expecting me to start snapping at her and throw her in the car. And yes, I’ve done that too.

On occasion (thankfully not too often) Azita will really get upset about something, inconsolably upset, and I have no choice but to simply remove her from the situation. What’s funny is when she is at her worst, sometimes I’m at my best and *am* able to stay calm and leave with her… but not always.
I have felt myself recently losing my temper with her, or at least getting close, at a Baha’i Virtues Class I take the girls to. I will have to make a post on some of the quotes that guide the Baha’i viewpoint on parenting and educating children, and you’d see that that is one very safe place where I can let Azita be who she is and try to help her with whatever it is that I’m not happy about or she’s not happy about.

So I think back—what makes me uptight in that situation? Is it because it’s a situation in which I feel insecure and wonder about the judgments of the other parents? It shouldn’t be, but that’s a very likely possibility. Being aware of why you handle something with your children the way you do is important, I think.

Public parenting. Do what you feel is right. Don’t worry about what someone else might be thinking. Are their feelings more important than your child’s? I’ve felt the stares on my back when Azita is going nuts over something that seems unimportant. It’s more important to me that she remembers I tried to honor her feelings, that she knows her feelings are okay, and that she doesn’t bottle them up in the future, when I need to know how she feels to help her through the next stage of development.

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