Friday, April 22, 2011

Parental Stupidity: Ancestral or Societal?

I can't help but observe other parents when we are out and about.  The way some of them treat their children is shocking.  Some of them don't even watch their kids, just let them roam a store on their own.  Is it just me, or is this a serious problem?
When we go out, Stella is never more than a few feet away, and if she's out of arm's reach, it's because she is on one of her leashes (monkey or pink poodle).  But we always know where she is.  Sure there are times when one of us is looking at something or talking to a salesperson in a store and she's running around, but the other one of us is following her closely, ready to pounce as soon as she looks like mischief is at hand.  I think, though, that the thing that drives me more crazy than anything is when I hear a mother say to her 3-year-old "Get your a** over here!"  I grew up in a household where we weren't even allowed to say helicopter for a long time, and my parents certainly NEVER cursed in front of me.  Now, I think making your kids say chopper instead of helicopter is going to extremes, but I think we all have our little quirks.  I don't condemn that my parents were the way they were, I knew that I was actually referring to the aircraft and not secretly trying to curse.  I'm also not saying that this is what I call "Parental Stupidity", just a little bit of overkill.

What I'm referring to is that like the example I gave above.  When I see a child running rampant through the drug store while mom looks at greeting cards I have to wonder, did they learn that this was OK from their parents when they were the same age?  Or is it just something they think is OK because they have observed other people in society doing the same thing?  And when someone calls them out on it, why do they blame the child?  In my opinion, it's poor parenting, or a lack of parenting skills.  It has to be one or the other, right?  I've worked in retail, and plan to again, and there is no shortage of times that I've had to scold children because their parents refuse to be responsible for the child's actions.

What originally prompted this article was a recent trip to see Disney On Ice: Princess Wishes.  Yes I went and I enjoyed it, especially seeing Stella's reactions to the skaters.  During intermission I decided to make a quick trip to the restroom and also to stop on the way back and grab a $5.00 soda.  On my way to the Men's Room, I saw a woman "dragging" her probably-not-even 2-year-old through the crowd of people.  The first thought that popped into my head was "Why not just carry your child?"  I mean, that's what I would do, rather than risk one of two things happening: 1.) someone snatches your child and runs, or 2.) the child lets go of your hand and runs away, leaving you to fight the crowd to try and find him.  She already was using a hand to drag him, why not secure him better by holding him right up against you?

More recently, we went to dinner and were lucky enough to be seated beside a couple who was there with another female friend and her 3-year-old daughter.  I couldn't even count the curse words coming out of these peoples' mouths.  Granted, they weren't loud or making a scene in the restaurant.  Quite the opposite, actually.  However, due to our close proximity, I heard every last word.  Now, having a 2-year-old of my own, I know how impressionable kids can be.  I spilled something a few days ago and said "shoot", thinking, "at least it's not the four-letter version", only to hear Stella repeat it back immediately (I instantly corrected myself by saying "Oh no!").  But here's the kicker, if these people heard the little girl repeat what they had just said, she probably would have gotten smacked, either on the mouth or butt.  I work in a warehouse and have a tendency to curse like a sailor while at work.  Hey, I'm human.  But I make sure not to bring that language into the home or anywhere near Stella.  What are we teaching our children when we curse in front of them and punish them for imitation?  They learn by example.

It no longer surprises me to see an overweight child walking through the store with their obese parents.  In fact, last year I met some extremely nice people at my old job who had just recently had a baby.  But I felt bad for the baby because all I could see and think was that her parents (dad especially) would probably not see her graduate high school.  And the things is, when their daughter is 4 or 5, they'll question why she's so overweight.  I'll tell them now why she will be that way.  She watches you eat and then follows that up by having a severe weight problem.  The "Obesity Epidemic" is really a trickle-down effect.  Look around next time you are out, whether at the grocery store, the mall, or a restaurant.  Take a mental note (if you haven't already) of how many overweight families there are.  Now look at the children.  Can you tell me that they look healthy?  Nine times out of ten you will probably tell me no.  Again, the kids have a tendency to learn by example, but this is a habit that started either when the parents were young and THEIR parents would give them whatever they wanted to keep them quiet and they learned from that, or they started giving their kid whatever they wanted for that same reason.  I certainly do also understand that there are certain medical conditions, such as thyroid conditions, that contribute to obesity, but I think that the majority of the problem lies with the parents and their failure to act responsibly.

I've undoubtedly offended some people that may be reading this, and I accept that this may be the case.  That has never been my goal.  This blog is a forum for me to express myself and get some things off my chest.  I want people to realize that the way they act and what they do is not OK with society as a whole.  I also realize that those people are not necessarily reading this as it is still a fledgling blog.  The message of this particular entry is simple: Children learn by example.  The question that I pose in the title is not only meant to draw interest, but is also a valid question.  I think the bottom line with Parental Stupidity is that somewhere along the line, whether a few generations ago or more recently, someone got lazy and decided they just didn't want to take responsibility for their children.  The solution is simple: if you don't want that responsibility, don't have a baby.


  1. Wow. Offensive, yes.

    Also, I cringe when I see a child on a leash - they aren't pets. So, while you're busy judging others parenting know that it's coming back at you.

    I agree that parents should supervise better, not yell and curse and children and on and on but. Wow. This post just took things to another level.

  2. Anonymous,

    It would be appreciated to know with whom I am discussing this topic. As I said in the post, I'm sure I have offended people. I am guessing that you are offended by the childhood obesity topic discussed in this post, since you seem to agree with what I said about people watching their children and language around children. However, I will not back down from my stance on this subject. I understand that there are people in the world who have health problems that contribute to their weight (as I mentioned in my post), but there are also many more health issues that are caused by obesity. This has been proven by medical study after medical study. Many of these health problems lead to premature death in adulthood, meaning, possibly, that parents who are overweight may die from these complications before seeing their child grow up. And, as I said, children learn by example, therefore all we are doing is shortening the lives of our children by teaching them to be unhealthy.

    As for your comment about the leash, we are all entitled to our opinions, one of the great things about living here in the great U.S. of A. Which is just one reason why I don't worry about what people say about my daughter being on a leash. She enjoys it, actually, because it is either a poodle or a monkey that she wears like a backpack. Sure, we get some crooked looks, but we only use it in crowded areas (because she sometimes insists on walking rather than being carried), but we also get MANY more compliments than anything, including people asking where we got them. This is a smart decision on our part because I know it only takes a second for your kid to get hit by a car or snatched up by a stranger. By using the leash, I know that she's not going to be able to run away and into the street OR get snatched by a kidnapper. So your comments are not offensive to me because I know that I am doing the right thing and keeping my daughter safe.

    That being said, I hope you enjoy the blog overall and keep coming back for more. I enjoy working on it and the debates that it sometimes raises. Please feel free to use you name in the future, as it always adds a more personal touch, and that's what I prefer because I'm really a pretty personable and laid-back guy. Thanks again for reading!