We’ve all either been in the store with our child or seen another child screaming at the top of his/her lungs. The parents either rushing to quiet the child, get out of the store, or publically reprimanding the tantrum. What do you do?
I remember having SO MANY OPINIONS of other parenting styles before I had my son Kaden. I thought, “That will never be my child.” Then I birthed my own unique being to this Earth and the developmentally appropriate actions of my son kicked in and now I’m experiencing all the situations I used to be the bystander for.
When I’m in public, I have to admit, sometimes I feel like there are a million eyes watching us. I’m a 28 years young [old] mother, who looks 5 – 10 years younger, depending on how I am dressed. The internal pressure alone to be the best mother I can to my young life can cause self-doubt, but then add in other socially constructed factors – doubting my motherhood journey becomes more frequent.
In addition to my age, I’m Black mother to a White & Black boy. So I tend to second guess my public parenting even more, because I’m afraid of how my black ways will be interrupted to the bystander eye. One gracious mother called it, “The Death Eyes” – viewing me with the racial lens of this nation.
Every cry, tantrum, and rebellious act – I quickly think – What do I do so I don’t draw more attention to us? How firm, how stern, how loving, how nurturing should I be? What should I do? What would my mother do? What would all these people around me do?
I even told my husband, I rather all three of us go out together, because my insecurities of Kaden’s public tantrums made me afraid to be his mom in public. I thought, at least they’ll see that we have “balance” – whatever that means…
Parents, how do we create a culture of support instead of judgment?
I was recently in Target and witnessed a toddler tantrum – the mom was determined to get her essentials and get out of there. As I was shopping, I heard the screams from afar. I talked to Kaden about how he does that too. The other mom and I ended up in the same checkout line – toddler still screaming. My Kaden in awe and shock. Me – understanding and supportive.
I leaned over to the mom and said, “I commend you for still getting all of your items; last time my son tantrumed in the store, I walked out embarrassed. Thanks for being a strong mama.”
She smiled through her frustration. I smiled back. Her son looked at my son. In that moment, we were a community, not judgmental bystanders.
So, how do we create a culture of support on a national scale…
Through offering a word of affirmation. Try it today – even if you are not a parent.