Lately I’ve been wondering why parents feel so uncomfortable when they see their child misbehave or act out in front of others. The other day I was with a friend and our kids at a fun jumping/climbing place for children. All of a sudden, we saw a cute little blond haired 5 year old pull her pants down and just stand there looking hopeless, underwear showing and all. The girls’ mother quickly ran over to pull her pants back up. “I’m sorry,” she said with her face a bright red as if to say, “I’m so embarrassed that my child could do something like this in front of other people.”
I’m not sure why she felt so embarrassed when we all know that could have been anyone’s child because it was totally child-like thing to do.
Sometimes I am sad that we live in a world where children are no longer able to be children. Too many times we go on airplanes and are mortified when our one year old has a tantrum because he can’t sit for 6 hours on a plane like the 48 year old man in the seat in front of him. Or when our 3 year old has a fit in Target because she’s cranky after her nap and upset that mommy won’t buy her the candy she desires.
We often feel ashamed and pray that no one is paying attention. Though understandably frustrating to handle, especially in public, these behaviors are totally developmentally normal, yet we often feel so judged by others. We even judge ourselves.
Don’t we all get it?
We shouldn’t have to put signs on our children that say, “I’m a child and engage in child behavior” to feel comfortable in public. There should be mutual understanding and empathy that parents have when we see other parents with their children: We get it. No worries. And the truth is, we would probably respond more effectively to our children if we weren’t filled with anxiety or shame imagining what others around us might be thinking.