Dear Crappy Parent | Ask Your Dad Blog

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dear Crappy Parent

Image source: nalejandro (Flikr)

I see you.  

I see you sitting on park a bench with your iPhone out. Your kid is calling for your attention and it takes three or four times before you recognize that the “Dad” being shouted from the playground is the “Dad” that means you. You look up for a minute from whatever is happening on your screen, wave, and then go back the digital oracle in your lap.

I see you at the supermarket queued up with your kids. The older one wants what appears to be a plastic baby bottle full with liquid sugar. When you say no she starts to cry. You grab her by the arm, pull her ear in close to your mouth, and even though I don’t know what you whisper, I know it is bad because of the look on your kid’s face when she puts the candy back.

I see you at the restaurant. Your youngest has chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for what I can only imagine is the fortieth time recently. His cheesy fingers are holding your iPhone and watching what is probably some brainless cartoon you use to babysit your kids because you are too lazy to pay attention to them.

I see you lose it at the mall. Your kid drops a soda on the floor and your anger is far more than the situation deserves. People stop and stare at you. Your words are loud and hurtful and I wonder to myself how much you are damaging your kid.

Here’s what I don’t see.

I don't see that...

You play with your kid all the time. You spend the evenings after you get home from work reading books and teaching your kid how to read. You take her to the comic book store every Tuesday and let her pick two issues to reward her for her hard work. On weekends you take your kids to a park full of other kids. You want them to be able to play and have fun while you catch up on e-mails on your phone.

I don't see that...

After picking your kids up from daycare you need to swing into the supermarket to grab some chicken and milk before you go home and cook dinner. Last night your kid had a snack when she got home and didn’t eat anything you cooked. Because you two have talked about it, she knows that she doesn’t get a snack, but she asks for the candy anyway. When you pull her in close you remind her of the reason she doesn't get a snack and ask her to put it back. She remembers, looks a little sad, and does.

I don't see that...

You don’t get to go out to eat very often. Money is tight, and taking four people out to a restaurant is expensive. But it is a treat, and you want everyone to have fun. For you a treat is a medium-rare steak and potatoes. A treat for the kids means chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese. It is a special occasion… which is why, after your toddler tries to wander into the kitchen for the third time, you decide that the judgmental stares of others are worth being able to have a conversation with your spouse for the first time in a week.

And the yelling incident?

I don’t see that you've had trouble sleeping all week. I don't see that you had an argument with your spouse that day and it is still eating away at you. I don't see that you are stressed at work, and that usually little things don't make you mad like this. I don’t see the hundreds of times you didn’t yell at your kid. I don't see you say you're sorry later and explain that sometimes even grown-ups get angry and yell, and that doesn't necessarily make it right, but people make mistakes. I don't see your child forgive you.  

See, that's the thing. I don’t see anything but that one single snap shot out of your life, an iPhone, some chicken nuggets, a spilled soda or an angry face. That's all I see, and for some reason I think I know you. For some reason I think I know what kind of parent you are. You are a "crappy" parent.  

And you know what? Depending on which snap shot you see of my life, so am I. I am a crappy parent sometimes too. And I am an awesome parent sometimes, and so are you!

So let’s make a deal.

Let’s cut each other some slack. Let’s rest easy in the knowledge that there is much we don’t know about each other. Instead of offering eye-rolls or a frustrated gasps, let’s toss each other a smile and a nod that say “I’ve been there too.” When we’re really struggling, let’s offer to listen and hold our advice back until we’re asked. And most of all, let’s acknowledge that we’re all crappy parents sometimes. We all have our highs and our lows. The rest of the time we’re somewhere in the middle, treading water, and doing the best we can.

Knowing that we’re all in this together makes this Sisterhood of Motherhood, Brotherhood of Fatherhood, Fellowship of Parenthood… whatever you want to call it, great. Knowing we’re not alone makes the lows tolerable, the highs feel better, and the middle a lovely place to be. So please, crappy/awesome/and everything in between parents, let's just calm down a little bit, judge less, and enjoy the ride. 

Meet me in the middle, 

John

P.S. All those examples were me. I felt bad being judgy about others so I just used myself as a stand in. So yeah... OOOOHHH BAM!!! TOTALLY UNEXPECTED  M NIGHT SHYAMALAN PLOT TWIST! BRUCE WILLIS WAS DEAD THE WHOLE POST!!!

Anyway, the message is the same. Be cool to each other. We're in this together :) 

--

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This is my final post with Similac and their Sisterhood of Motherhood Program. It has been a lot of fun being a part of this group. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.  




50 comments:

  1. As always, you rock. It's good to remind ourselves that what we see isn't always the truth. In fact, our brains are hard wired to look for patterns because they're lazy. It's why you see faces in cars, Jesus in toast and so on. The same goes for seeing a parent on their iPhone ignoring their kid. We assume it's a pattern of their behavior because our brains don't have the time (lazy or maybe just busy) to analyze things such as "I wonder he was reserving a table at his wife's favorite anniversary" or "Maybe he had an interview the other day and is checking his email to see if there was an offer letter".

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  2. I am a stay at home dad. I watch the kiddos while my wife irks. I know this post all to well. 15 5 3 and 1. And the teenager has some serious issues to boot. I get the states the comments and everything but for me add on the fact I can't drive as well. I'm legally blind and fortunately my children aren't but it takes a lot for me to keep up. And I've been told I'm unfit to care for my kids because of my disability talk about judging.

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    1. U are a hero. My big brother is a stay at home dad. 9, 4 and 2♡ He loves to take care of the kids while his wife is a business type. She would go crazy as a stay at home mom. My brother has a seizure disorder so therefore gets tons of judgment. Unfit parent, grow some balls, be a man... Bull Shit! U guys are awesome, despite ur disability u are wonderfully capable of being the best parent u can be. Which is what we all strive to be. Im a SAHM of a 2yo girl and another girl almost here. Its rrough and I dont have a disability at all. I have no clue how u guys manage. Keep on keeping on and let the negative roll off ur shoulder.

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  3. OMG! YES! I think that we have all had those "I can't believe no one called CPS" moments. Mine was trying to teach my seven-year-old first grader how to ride a bicycle in the 95° heat. Background, this kid had gross motor skill issues, and hated learning anything new. That in combination with the 95 degree heat had me yelling and crying all at the same time.
    Side note, my babysitter took over eventually, another day, and taught him.
    Having a kid with learning issues and with my gross motor skill deficits makes parenting exhausting.
    I know all too well what this article says is true, and have never been one of those people judging on the street. Often, I just give a knowing smile- a REAL smile, from the eyes down to the mouth, and say, "Been there, done that. got the golden ring," to myself.

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    1. I'm right there with you. My eight year old has the same types of issues, on top of anxiety. I gave up on the bike thing. Luckily my dad took over and is teaching him.

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    2. I'm right there with you. My eight year old has the same types of issues, on top of anxiety. I gave up on the bike thing. Luckily my dad took over and is teaching him.

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    3. I understand. My daughter (9) is severely adhd and it gets frustrating to spend 5 hours on 2 pages of homework each night. I have had so many other people try to tell me how to do it like I haven't tried everything. So I willingly allow others to step in and try to show me up. I would love for someone to get through to her. But no one has been successful yet. They're just really good at insulting my intelligence.

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    4. I understand. My daughter (9) is severely adhd and it gets frustrating to spend 5 hours on 2 pages of homework each night. I have had so many other people try to tell me how to do it like I haven't tried everything. So I willingly allow others to step in and try to show me up. I would love for someone to get through to her. But no one has been successful yet. They're just really good at insulting my intelligence.

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    5. I've been in the same shoes.My friends took over and tried,but my son didn't learn how to ride a bike without training wheels until 9. My father in law was getting ready to teach him,turned around and bam he was off biking on his own.

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  4. You had me at "I don't see..." Probably the BEST blog post I've read in a long while. Beautiful. You could just as easily have been watching and writing about me. Love this.

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  5. Great post!! Too often people judge without out knowing what is really happening!!!

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  6. Liked the post totally spot on. Loved the funny bit at the end. Thanks for the laugh.
    Marium

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  7. The end made me laugh. So often I wonder what others think about the scene my kids might be making - and then try to convince myself that it's ok, they don't see it all. Also, in thinking of parents of kids with disabilities I think it is especially important to remember not to judge.

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  8. I needed to hear that. Thank you so much.

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  9. If you could please stop making me cry, that would be great. People in the office are starting to wonder.

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  10. Thank you! Such a wonderful post, if only more people would consider these things. Just recently I had cps show up at my door because they saw my husband yell at our 2yr old in a parking lot! What they didn't see was my husband only gets six days home from work a month and that particular day she hadn't slept well and was throwing horrific tantrums. We tried everything and while we were out my husband just had a moment of anger. I hope others can learn not to be so quick to judge parents in the future

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  11. Bruce Willis was dead the whole post! Awesome you are awesome!

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  12. Bruce Willis was dead the whole post! Awesome you are awesome!

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  13. I was kinda mad reading this, plotting my angry retort, questioning if you were even a parent, until I kept reading. This was a great article! I hope it spreads like wild fire!

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  14. Generally liked the post.... but.... how about we all put the cell phones, iPads, tablets etc the hell down, not care if every single thing that is done get's posted on Facebook, not run around constantly so there is literally no time to eat a meal together as a family, or just help our children know the real world won't have them entertained every minute of every day? I certainly don't want to judge, but seriously, I've seen couples live in a total messed up house, never make a bed, everyone fends for themselves in terms of scrounging up a meal, the dishes are all piled on the sink, the counters, the tables and basically the house looked like a hoarders home. I stopped doing all of this nonsense. Suddenly there were available hours in a day not only to get the laundry done but to fold it and actually put it away. Food shopping stopped being a daily grind of "picking things up" anymore. Voila, a weekly major food shopping provided enough variation on menus so we could all eat together! What a concept. Everyone gets short tempered once in a while and everyone is sleep deprived periodically as we raise little ones, but we have gotten so far off track that we actually create much of the stress that wears us out. Slow down and simplify worked wonders for me and my husbands sanity, the kids actually have a grasp on their own responsibility to entertain themselves and the greatest benefit is we, as a married couple, have more downtime to re-connect with each other. Everyone wins.

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    1. I don't think you're getting the point... What if I am on my phone trying to get my kid into the specialist I've been trying to get him in to for 6 months, or answering an email from my boss because he doesn't care if I'm at the park with my kids.... What if my kid has aspergers and the only way she will sit thru a meal is to have a screen in front of her...

      The point is, don't assume you know anything about anyone. In fact, go with the assumption that you know nothing about everyone and that they are doing the best they can.

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  17. This article also started pissjng me off until I read more.

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  18. THANK YOU. We get the stares of disapproval all the time. We are 52 and 57 both working full time and raising a beautiful grandaughter that will soon be 5. It is quiet stressful. This little girl will always have issues. People comment we can choose not to do this. Yes they are right we could choose to make an unfit parent raise her own child, yes it is her responsibility. But because of our love for this precious little girl we live for her. There are alot of sleepless nights, tantrums, eating what she wants, wearing what she wants to school, a messy house, stacked dishes. But what no one sees is the hugs and kisses, her thanking us for being there for her,telling us how she loves us to the moon and back. 5 stories and cuddles before bed. It is bad enough that we question if we are being good enough parents for her we don't need others negative comments and stares.

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    1. I would rather my kids know that I love them than have a spotless house. It sounds like you have your priorities straight.

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  19. This reminds me of the David Foster Wallace "This is Water" speech. The video's worth watching, as it makes the same point (in a grocery store line): https://vimeo.com/68855377

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  20. Sounds like Ashley Simmons

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  21. Yes, this! Of course there are terrible parents. Of course the one who looks like they're being neglectful may actually be. But by and large, I think that most parents probably are doing their best.
    I have a short temper, unfortunately. When I tell my little boy to stop doing something, in a gentle way, and he just won't do it, then I get mad. I think it's because I feel so helpless and hurt. Why won't he just listen to me? I love him, I do so much for him, and he'll completely ignore me sometimes. So I snap. If anyone saw me snap, they wouldn't know about the times I sit him in my lap, without him having to ask me, and read story after story after story; they wouldn't know the times I've put down what I was doing and listened to him; they wouldn't know I hug him every night before bed and tell him 'I love you', or that I give him a kiss in the morning before I go to work, even if he's asleep; they wouldn't know how I pray for him. All they see is that one moment when I snap and show my temper, and that's all they think they need to know. They don't realize that when I do it, I myself feel like a terrible person. I hate getting angry, even at the moment I'm doing so.

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  22. My son is adhd, pdd-nos, and oppositional defiant. Many only see me frustrated and stressed after a long day of dealing with his behaviors. They can judge all they want thinking I'm being too hard or snapping too easy. They don't see how much work I put in day in and day out to help him improve his behaviors and do better socially to make friends. They don't see all the activities I take him to in order to always be working on those skills. They don't see the praise for even the tiniest good deed. But I don't care. I am a good mom. My son tells me so.

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  23. Love this post - thank you. I'm so often too sensitive to the judgement I receive in those moments where I"m at my worst. I wrote a post on my blog not too long ago in the same vein: http://afrenchamericanlife.com/2014/02/10/an-open-letter-to-moms-everywhere/
    Agreed that we could all stand to back off of the criticisms and the judgement and just be supportive and kind to our fellow parents out there. Hardest job ever, and we need all the positivity we can get.

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  24. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. The struggle has been real in my house lately and I needed this.

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  25. We all make mistakes, it's true. I've been thinking all week about a dad who was holding the hands of his two little boys (5 and 6, approximately) while screaming obscenities at his wife who was walking behind him. The littlest son was terrified and bawling.

    Now, do I know what kind of pressure this guy is under? No. Do I know if his wife cheated on or something? No. But I do know that sometimes, your kids are terrified and you need to be the adult and hold off on a confrontation--especially with your spouse.

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  26. Gah, its been such a tough week with my 3 year old son and 13 month old daughter that this made me cry. Everyone seriously just needs to mind their own business and choose kindness over judgment.

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  27. What? Bruce Willis is dead the whole time? Way to ruin the end of Sixth Sense for me. ;)

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  28. I agree with most of this... Most. The parents who let their kids run around the restaurant actually do suck. Do you not understand that there are people rushing around, carrying hot food? So when that unsuspecting waiter who trips over your unsupervised child and spills hot soup all over himself and\or the child- is it his fault? The child's? Or perhaps the parent who let their child run amok in a semi dangerous circumstance? Food for thought... Pun intended.

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    1. Well, that is why I gave him the iPhone! To stop him from running around :)

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  29. And I would never judge you for that. Give them an iPhone, tablet, coloring book... Whatever it takes to keep their little butt in their seat. It just bothers me when I'm dining out, and I see some distracted parent not give a hoot about what their kid is doing. It's not the job of the restaurant staff to babysit your kid. It's rude, thoughtless, and quite frankly it can be dangerous.

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  30. We seem to be forgetting the child here. As adults we have choice, can hopefully make sensible decisions and reason with situations where emotional conflict in our own lives affects our judgement.
    We all have those tough days, no money, stress at work and general conflict BUT when has it ever been right to raise our voices to children, feed them rubbish, teach them how to behave in social situations, babysit you child through computer aided consoles! IT isn't!
    A poorly written article that certainly doesn't touch on the bigger picture in society right now!! Nobody is perfect, we know that but when you bring a child into this world you have a right to treat them with respect and teach them the skills to become confident adults and respect the word NO. Without that that a child will mirror behaviour regardless of whether it has had a bad day, is stressed at work or needs an easy life. Behaviour breeds behaviour without reason.

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    1. You seem like a remarkably pleasant person.

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  31. http://www.news-journal.com/blogs/reader/entries/2015/jul/20/note-to-self/

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  32. Very good article in my opinion! I'm one of those parents being judged! My husband and I adopted 3 siblings of a meth addict. They came with so many issues. I grew up in a very stereotypical home. I had no clue kids could behave as mine did. My husband and I read every book and article we could get our hands on. We saw therapists and doctors. None of them were able to completely figure out how they ticked. Our parenting had to be individually tailored to each kid. What worked with one didn't work on the other. I got glares, comments and dirty looks from many parents. I always felt like I need to hand out disclaimer pamphlets to explain our particular situation and why I was parenting the way I did. It was a very lonesome time! Adults didn't want my kids playing with their kids because they didn't understand them. It was hurtful.

    I really appreciate you bringing this topic out in the open. You can't judge a book by its cover! Thank you!

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  33. Really nice text, you have a great point. I would like to make you aware that there is a woman in Norway (mammadamen.com) who has translated your text and published it as her own, and sensuring all comments that asks her to credit you. Her title is "Kjære udugelige mamma, jeg så deg".

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  34. There are someone out there pretending to be the auther of this text:

    http://www.mammadamen.com/2015/07/kjaere-udugelige-mamma-jeg-sa-deg/#comment-99429

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    1. It is very obvious that the article linked to above has borrowed (stolen) a lot from the AYD article without giving proper credit. It was published in a major Norwegian newspaper, but they deleted the article on their web site after they discovered the plagiarism.

      The author behind the plagiarist article still claims she didn't read the AYD article before writing her blog post. Embarrassing.

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  35. Pretty darn well written and cool blog! Gratz and cheers from another dad! 27 and my daughter will turn 5 in a few days! :) Yay! :) Time sure flies...

    Anyway, came across this blog after the media in my country wrote about this woman here where I live who copied and stole half if not all of your text... So I had to find out what the source was and what the fuzz was all about. Sure glad I did. :)
    was a good read. Thanks ;)

    Ps... You forgot something at your end of this blog there where it says:
    " Be cool to each other. We're in this together :) "
    There is a quote very similar to that line that goes like this: We're in this together, I see you, You are not alone.
    And the I see you part fits well with the opening part of the blog. :)

    Take care and greetings from Norway! :)

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  36. Your current little one lowers a new soft drink on to the ground plus your fury can be a great deal more as opposed to predicament should get. Men and women end along with stare in anyone. Your current words and phrases are generally high in volume along with damaging along with My spouse and i speculate for you to me the amount you happen to be detrimental your current little one.

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  37. I loved this. I was one of those judgemental parents when my 16 year old son was younger. I cringe at the thought. I now know how humble you can become when you realise you are far from perfect yourself. A much better place to be, in my opinion.

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