Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brat or Not?

I was reading this opinion column on CNN today. It kind of annoyed me.

I am just like everyone else in wanting to eat in a restaurant undisturbed by screaming children. I don't enjoy being out in public and having my enjoyment disturbed by rude children who are out of control. I laughed as loud as everyone else when Bill Cosby did a comedy sketch about a boy on an airplane named Jeffrey.

However, I have a problem with the assumption by Mr. Granderson that a child who is out of control in a public setting has a permissive parent who is allowing him to behave in that manner.

My child is not a brat. Let's start there. And I am not a permissive parent, by any stretch of the imagination. I don't allow my child to run amok in public places. I make every effort to keep him in his seat in restaurants. I make every effort to keep his volume level at an acceptable decibel level. I have regularly removed my son from public places when he is behaving poorly out of respect for others.

My son, however, is three years old.

He is going to be loud.

He is going to be messy.

He is going to want to play in places where playing is not allowed.

These are age-appropriate behaviors.

Am I to sequester my son from all outside contact with the world until he's 21 because he might irritate someone by behaving like a child?

What if my infant has an ear infection, or is sensitive to the pressure changes involved in airplane travel, and screams in pain when the plane takes off and lands? Am I being a permissive parent then?

What if my child has special needs, such as autism? Does it make me a permissive parent, then, when I suddenly have a child tantrumming because there's a new menu at Chili's or the tables have been rearranged at the local pizzeria?

I don't think so.

How is my three year old child going to learn how to behave in a public place if I don't put him into public places? How will he ever understand what is permitted in society, and what is not, if he never interacts with society?

It's easy to misinterpret and mislabel a parent's inability to control their children as permissive or lazy parenting. There may be something else going on, however, and it is ignorant to lump people into one group based on some characteristic that is deemed unappealing.

Yes, my child is going to misbehave in public on occasion as he gets older. I will speak to him in a low voice, give him a consequence, and yes, I will give him "The Look". And sometimes, despite all my efforts, my child will still run amok.

It has nothing to do with my being permissive, and everything to do with being a kid.


  1. Yeah, I totally agree with you. I don't believe that a parent is necessarily a permissive parent is their kid is being obnoxious in public places.

    Take, for example, this situation: A child is having a temper tantrum at the grocery store because he wants a candy bar and Mom said no. Her child is therefore causing a scene and screaming at the top of his lungs. She is not giving in to his wants. In this case, it is my opinion that the mother is actually being authoritative even though the child's acting crazy.

  2. During those wee ages I had to walk out a store/restaurant/festivity with him more than once. Thankfully it's gotten a lot better, because I can no longer pick him up now.

    People used to think we were bad parents too but now it's known/obvious to most...Some days I rather have them think I'm a bad parent again.


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