Photo by: Shutterstock

Parent Shaming

Photo by: Shutterstock

Saturday night was one of those small disasters.

The plan was to hit the Katy Rodeo, a small version of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Rob was gone, and I normally wouldn’t take my active boys alone to something like that, but my parents were going, along with Rob’s parents, my sister-in-law, and three of her boys. It was going to be one big, happy party.

Until the boys and I got in, and everyone else arrived after it was sold out.

That left a lot of disappointed people on one side of the gate, and me on the other side with two wiggly-wild boys and a giant pregnant belly; finally finding a place to sit in the second to the highest row of bleachers. I was carrying two stick horses, two blankets, and a large purse. Did I mention the giant pregnant belly?

I can do this, I thought. I can do this.

My goals were set pretty low once I realized I’d be alone: don’t lose the kids and get everyone out alive. Things like ‘have a good time’ and ‘make memories’ were a distant third and fourth. Have you ever tried to keep up with two very mobile and agile boys in a crowd when you are slowed by pregnancy and doubly wide? Let’s just say it was a little terrifying. I think I gave the boys instructions like five times on what to do when – not if – we got separated.

Thankfully, we never did, and once we were settled near a few other families with kids, I thought it would be a walk in the park. Sawyer loved watching the horses as the Katy cowgirls started the parade, and Lincoln began trying to charm the people around us by roaring with a big smile on his face. It was pretty adorable.

Except not so much for the woman in front of us, who decided I needed to be parent-shamed.

If you don’t know about or haven’t personally experience parent shaming, it is when one parent uses either passive-aggressive behavior (or straight-up direct confrontation) to make another parent feel that their parenting skills are inferior and/or their child’s behavior doesn’t conform to the other parent’s standards.

Lincoln really wanted the attention of the girls seated in front of us, and after a few roars – which were fairly quiet and definitely cute, not threatening – their mother gave him the side-eye, and then started encouraging her children to sing a song. They wouldn’t sing, so she sang alone. It went something like this:

When you feel like you need to roar
Count to 1-2-3-4
And calm down, calm down
Be quiet, be quiet.

To me, what she was really conveying through her song was this:

Your child’s roaring is impolite
Unlike my quiet angel children
Which says something about your parenting
Shut him up, do your job, be a better mom.

I don’t like being shamed as an adult. You know what I mean – people correcting you in a way that’s patronizing, as though you were a child? Parent shaming is even worse, because it implies something about you as a parent, and also something about your kids.

Personally, I find polite roaring quite endearing. More than just ‘acceptable.’ I don’t think Lincoln needed to count to four or calm down. He was simply trying to charm this woman’s daughters.

Good thing they weren’t interested, because I’d rather not deal with in-laws who prefer to sing to me, rather than talk with me. Especially over a little harmless roaring.

Put yourself in my shoes. Would you have felt the same way, or do you think I overreacted?

Kirsten is an avid pickle-hater, mom of boys, wife to a youth pastor, writer, and when not pregnant, plays roller derby. Read more at her blog I Still Hate Pickels.

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