I used to know so much about raising kids. I knew how I was going to discipline them. I knew what I was going to feed them and not feed them. I wasn't going to let them watch television and I sure as heck wouldn't let them watch it on my phone. I had it all figured out.
I was also super judgy of other moms in public. If a kid was loud in a restaurant, I would think to myself, "Good grief. Why can't parents just discipline their kids?? How hard is it to spank them and tell them to be quiet? When I have kids they will NEVER act like that!" If a child had a meltdown at the grocery story, I would shake my head and wonder what kind of disaster this next generation would be. What a bunch of brats.
Then I had kids.
And good grief, have I been eating some crow since that day!
I would love to make a public service announcement to all of you people out there without kids: Kids are not robots and you cannot control them the way that you think. Yes, I believe discipline works wonders. But they still respond however the heck they want in the process.
You cannot control or even be prepared for your two year old to shout (nay bellow) "ALL ABOARD!!" in a restaurant because a train passed by. We are just as startled as you, my friend.
You cannot control the way your small child will respond to being told no. They may cry, they may only furrow their eyebrows. Or they may fall to the floor and act like you just ruined any chance they have of future happiness. You. Just. Don't. Know.
This is not a reflection of bad parenting, it's simply a child learning how to deal with life. They have no boundaries and do not know what is socially acceptable. They have lots of big emotions that they haven't learned how to control yet. But we are doing our very best to instruct them along the way.
When they do have meltdowns, we will correct their inappropriate response and teach them how to correctly behave. When they are loud at church or restaurants, we will tell them to be quiet and speak softly. The point is: we are trying!
So I encourage you to remember this whenever you are tempted to become annoyed with a child acting like a child in public. As a mom, I see all of the rude looks and sighs that people give. As if I didn't notice my child was being loud or making a scene. Usually I am mortified and just want to get the circus back to the house!
Please have grace and remember that despite what you may have perceived or been told, there are parents out there who are trying their very hardest to raise respectful kids. It just doesn't happen overnight like you expect it to.
Next time you see a toddler having a meltdown, maybe instead of becoming irritated, give her a smile. Tell her she's doing a good job or that you think her child is cute. You have no idea how good that feels to a mom in the trenches.