Archive for Friday, February 6, 2009

Empathy needed

February 6, 2009


To the editor:

Kathleen Christian wrote a letter venting about a trip to the store where she endured a screaming child. I am writing as I assume that she was writing about me and my child, as she very well could have been.

I have a well-behaved toddler. He is cared for at home with a parent. His life is a balance of structure, free time, love and constructive discipline. I do my best to predict his behavior and adjust activities accordingly. However, there are times when we are out that my child will throw a fit.

While I am sure instances exist where truly neglectful parents ignore the needs of their child, mostly parents of screaming children are not neglectful. In fact just the opposite, for instead of giving in to every demand, they are standing their ground in an effort to raise unspoiled children despite the frustrated stares of those around them and the extreme judgment from people like Kathleen Christian.

I have some suggestions for Kathleen. Stores are open 24 hours; one can avoid children by shopping between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Or when faced with a screaming child, offer to help in any number of constructive ways. Or take a deep breath and go on your way with some empathy that mostly parents are doing the best we can and a little more understanding and a lot less complaining would go a long way.

Paige Martin,


canyon_wren 9 years, 4 months ago

Good letter--but "if the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it," as the old saying goes. It sounds like it probably does and you are just trying to defend yourself. There are still 'way too many parents who simply don't care if their kids are making a huge scene. It has been the practice of good parents for a long time to take a child who is having a tantrum outside to let him/her cool down--it is just the considerate thing to do. And suggesting that people who don't want to have to endure screaming children to shop very late or early as an alternative is pretty self-centered, in my opinion. Nice try, though!

Left_handed 9 years, 4 months ago

Anyone who objects to small children acting like small children is considerably more self-centered, in my opinion. Nice try, though.

Kyle Reed 9 years, 4 months ago

The problem isn't the child acting like a child, it's the parent NOT acting like a parent.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

"In fact just the opposite, for instead of giving in to every demand, they are standing their ground in an effort to raise unspoiled children despite the frustrated stares of those around them and the extreme judgment from people like Kathleen Christian."I think most people, myself included, are relatively tolerant of a minor outburst from a child. But if it's anything beyond that, it's the height of selfishness to subject other people to an extended tantrum just because you think you can't give in to the child's every "demand." There are other ways to educate your kid on proper public behavior than to allow them to torment everyone else around you.

mom_of_three 9 years, 4 months ago

Canyon wren - "practice of good parents..." That is just your opinion. When I go to the store, it's rarely I hear a child crying or throwing a tantrum, and when they do, it's such a small part of my day, that child's day, that parent's day, that it isn't going to make a difference in the long run. Every kid has had a bad day in their life time, and yet, no one remembers it, except the judgemental people who have no business remembering. I know between my three kids, one of them at one time threw a fit at a store. I didn't leave, because my spouse was at work, and I needed the items in my cart. All of us wanted to go home, and I wouldn't be able to come back later without the kids. Maybe the parent can't leave the store, or better yet, knows their child better than you, a stranger, does. Everyone raises their child differently. Stop trying to make parents feel inadequate because they don't meet your high and mighty standards

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

I think it also depends on where the tantrum happens. A tantrum at a grocery store is different from one at a restaurant or a movie theater.

John Hamm 9 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, Paige but my generation of parents removed the offending child from the area. Providing both a timeout for the child and peace and quiet for the shoppers, etc.You need to rethink your parenting responsibilities.

cthulhu_4_president 9 years, 4 months ago

Does no one ever stop to consider that there may be something else going on that is neither the parent's or the kid's fault, such as mental illness?There are many explinations, and a good one (of many) is autism. Many kids who have it are unable to verbalize well into their childhood, so chastizing doesn't work. As toddlers (and beyond) they can tantrum out with little or no reason, and no way to stop's so much easier, though, to put on our judgement-goggles and think "what a bad parent" than to consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, that person has something going on in their life that can't be deduced in a two-second sidelong glance at a shopping cart.

HootyWho 9 years, 4 months ago

Once again,,,,leaving is fine for the shopper who doesn't want to hear a screaming child,,,but what about the employee? they can't leave everytime

canyon_wren 9 years, 4 months ago

left-handed and mom-of three--I can just visualize your child-rearing approaches. That's a big part of our problem today--but I can't imagine that situation is going to change any time soon. Nothing "high and mighty" about my standards--I am considering the needs of the child as much as the customers (or, as the last poster said, the employees, too!).

Kat Christian 9 years, 4 months ago

Paige Martin I do empathize with you; but now you judged me. You don’t know me. I have every right to comment on what I had experienced that day with that child screaming its guts out. I know I wasn’t alone-therefore I serve as the voice of those people who felt just as trapped. I love children, they are the best little people in the world. I have raised 3 children to adulthood and I’m now raising one of my 3 grandsons. NOT ONCE has my children or my grandsons thrown a fit like that in a store. I raised a son with ADHD/ADD and the worse he did was run in/out of the clothes and got lost once. If it was your child doing that gut wrenching screaming that day and what you wrote gives me the impression it misbehaves this way quite often in the store which only leads me to believe it is a spoiled child and needs your attention and training. You do not ignore a child behaving that badly EVER. That child was WAY past its behavioral boundary and when a child gets this way it is time for parental reprimand. You don’t have to necessarily spank, most children just need a firm talking to with consequences thrown in; providing you’ve built that sort of rapport with your child to begin with. Even a toddler can be taught what appropriate behavior is expected. Obviously, you need help in training your child how to behave. To begin I hope you treat him like a person and talk to him like he’s a human being, (kids understand more than most give them credit). I hope you teach him who the boss is. Do you respect him or just give into him thinking that is respect? He should have consequences even as a toddler. I’m a firm believer in timeouts and I used a timer to help regulate their time. I did not use the word NO (too negative) I used explanations and positive reinforcements and (here’s that word again) consequences and can’t stress enough about using eye contact. When words aren’t working then I escort to the timeout spot and stood over them if there was a challenge. Even today if my grandson steps out of line I pretty much just have to stand up or give him the look and he gets it. No fear involved, it is called respect and because he knows I’ll guide him to his bedroom for a timeout or give him a consequence and stick with it. It’s a lot of work but oh so worth it. It’s called tough love and most of the time it doesn’t have to be tough. I’m not professing to know it all or be the best parent. I’ve learned trial and error and this technique have worked. Good luck!

canyon_wren 9 years, 4 months ago

Great response, sunshine--you said just what needed to be said. You must have been a marvelous mother and are doing as well with your grandchildren!

cthulhu_4_president 9 years, 4 months ago

Fact: Every child is different, and has different needs.That sentance nullifies Kathleen's entire, self-rightous, post. Get real, and do your shopping at night you bitter, bitter, person. Let people raise their own children.

kmat 9 years, 4 months ago

Thank you sunshine!!!! And cthulhu_4_president - get over your disabled thing. I'm sure on occasion an autistic child throws a fit in public. BUT, if every child throwing a tantrum in public were autistic, society would be screwed. We get it (again) that you have an autistic child. I will also point out that many parents of severely autistic children don't take them out a lot, because they will act inappropriately. In fact, there was just an article on this week about serverly autistic children and how the parents of these kids make it worse by not setting strict boundaries and displining their child. And by the way, I was a special ed teacher and worked with autistic children and behavior disorder kids and implemented behavior modification techniques, since I'm sure you'll be replying back that I have no clue what I'm talking about.My parents taught me to respect them and I also knew they would spank me if I didn't behave. Needless to say, I behaved. I rarely got a spanking because I knew they were serious about it. Parents don't think they should be tough on kids and they are dead wrong. To this day, I would not be disrespectful in any way to my parents because they taught me better and I bet my mom would chase me around, walker and all to catch me and spank me. Ha ha.

cthulhu_4_president 9 years, 4 months ago

For the record, I have no children, autistic or otherwise. I just don't pretend to know what someone's parenting methods are like from 20 seconds of interaction. If you had read my post, I offered autism as one example of many. I'm sure given your expertise that you could think of more.

canyon_wren 9 years, 4 months ago

cthulhu_4_--I would have guessed as much. It is true that EACH member of society is unique--but if there wasn't a collective idea of appropriate behavior and if most people didn't acknowledge and live by that, we would be in worse shape than we are. For some to figure that their children are "more special" or deserve greater allowance for their behavior in public is ridiculous. I, too, thought your "autism" rationale was pretty far fetched and since you are not speaking from personal experience, I am convinced of that. Plus, I doubt that 20 seconds quite describes the situation sunshine wrote her letter about.

asleepinthechapel 9 years, 4 months ago

A response from the mother of the screaming child? LOL.

Christine Anderson 9 years, 4 months ago

Sunshine noise, you insufferable witch!!Just a brief word to you, KMAT. Yes, there are behavior modification techniques. We've tried and continue to try them. Guess what? One of the facets of my son's behavior plan is NOT to give attention to the ear-splitting screaming, because when we do, it just reinforces it further. Having worked as you said you have, you should know this.When I read Ms. Christian's letter yesterday, I felt worthless and wept. No, witch, not because my son truly is a spoiled brat, and NOT because I'm a neglectful mom. I strongly suspect you had observed my 10 yr. son and I in Hy-Vee at 23rd and Kasold. I do try and shop without him whenever I can. Sometimes I have no choice but to take him with me. If I have to choose between not feeding my sons and taking my little "Rainman" to the store, I will choose to go purchase food, whether you like it or not.You know nothing. You do not know that we already have had him to a behaviorist, and psychiatrist, and that he is already on meds. So you think I was ignoring his screaming? No, I was ashamed and afraid the whole time, because of people like you. Afraid that some idiot who has no idea what is going on would judge us.

Christine Pennewell Davis 9 years, 4 months ago

man nothing like gettings moms all uptight to bring out the claws.

Christine Anderson 9 years, 4 months ago

I was NOT ignoring his screaming. I was trying to concentrate on paying for our purchases so we could get out of there. If I had stopped, looked my son in the eye and said, "Now you stop this nonsense immediately, you hear me?", here's what would have happened. He would have screamed even louder, and possibly hit another customer in line. I've been slapped in the face, bit in the breast, punched in the stomach. etc. Your letter made me just feel like giving up. My son has a very uncertain future as it is. He was diagnosed as moderately autistic at age 2. Since then, he has moved toward the severe end of the spectrum. In spite of having the very best that USD 497 has to offer, and the other things I mentioned we are trying, he is getting worse and worse,. It rips my heart out.So you raised a son with ADHD? How did you "cure" him , Kathleen? Did you beat it out of him? ADHD is certainly a challenging thing in a child, but it doesn't come even close to severe autism.I am just grateful to the management of Hy-Vee for their understanding. They know us now, and they know I am a very attentive mother, and they know my son's disability. They treat us as valued customers, despite that sometimes my son screams and the entire store can hear it.I do not excuse the cases where a child truly is just being a brat, and screams thus. Even then, watch your mouth and your heart attitude. Go back to your own letter online, and read the response from "mamaknows". She does. I don't expect someone as hard-hearted as you to apologize to the many parents of autistic children whom you have hurt and offended. You would have to be human to do that.I do expect you to get on here and apologize for one thing. In your letter, you referred to the child as "it" throughout. Who do you think you are??? My son is NOT an "it". No one's child is an "it"!! My son will struggle the rest of his life because of a disorder he has no control over. It's a miracle he CAN scream, because he was six weeks premature, and we worried his lungs wouldn't be mature.

Christine Anderson 9 years, 4 months ago

Lastly, Ms. Christian, ever heard the one that goes "Judge not, lest you be judged?"

Christine Anderson 9 years, 4 months ago

Oh yes, we already have an agency on board, trying to help with the behaviors.Taking the child out of the store may be what one family is advised to do. If this were recommended to me, even then, I can't always do it! We have to eat too!!!

Kat Christian 9 years, 4 months ago

PS folks I grew up with a sister with downs syndrome and she's never behaved this way in the store. She was a great kid. We lost her last year this month. So I grew up around special needs people and I don't recall ever seeing that sort of behavior from them.

Christine Anderson 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm the brother of the guy. You ms.christian you can kiss my butt WITCH!

Sandy Beverly 9 years, 4 months ago

Paige, I hope you are not reading these comments.... Anonymity brings out the insensitive in many people. Just ignore them, if you can. I've been where you were and will be there again, I'm sure--despite my best efforts. Earlier this week in the library, I had to "wrestle" my 2 y.o. to get his coat on. Someone gave me a sympathetic smile and said "He's got a mind of his own." Parents of young children need more of this kind of empathetic response. Nobody's perfect, and we're all just doing the best we can. And no outsider can tell a parent what kind of parenting will work best in their family. You're the expert on your kids.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 4 months ago

I'll take the unbridled behavior of a child over the constrained andconstraining attitudes of "adults" ANY DAY.( At least, with the child, there is hope. )

canyon_wren 9 years, 4 months ago

misplaced, I sincerely apologize if I have hurt you by my comments. You are right--we DON'T know where other people are coming from. Also, we don't know that it is YOUR child that sunshine witnessed, do we? And even though I am sure your own problems occupy your mind to a greater extent, you surely are aware that there are so many instances of parents who simply don't care how disruptive their children are in public, whether in a store or a restaurant, etc. So you mustn't call sunshine a witch--she is as sick of that disregard for other people as many of us are. I am really sorry you have to deal with your situation and my heart goes out to you. Those of us who haven't, have to be so grateful that we have had (relatively) normal childrearing experiences, and, as you say, learn to be more compassionate.

Stephen Prue 9 years, 4 months ago

children are a sacred gift from the creator but I think people have very little patience today. children should behave and they learn that with loving patient parent(s) but remember many homes are dysfunctional and in pain. its easy to judge at the appearance but there may be more to the story when kids act up. avoid the kindness recession, we can't afford it.

Escapee 9 years, 4 months ago

Not long ago I entered my local grocery store about the same time as a woman and her (approx.) eight year old son. They looked to be a perfectly 'normal' mother and son doing a quick errand after school. Well, we didn't even make it to the end of the first aisle when the boy lept onto a free-standing refrigerated unit and grabbed something out of it and threw it. I was shocked. The mom quietly but firmly grabbed the boy's arm and said something to him. He didn't even look her way. He was clearly just totally disconnected. I remember thinking to myself 'I don't know that I would have handled that as well as she just did'. But I also realized that I'd just witnessed what -- until that moment -- I'd only heard about. He must have had autism and she was most definitely dealing with it in a controlled response of a reaction.I have three grown daughters. I remember once while shopping in a local discount store my, then, five or six year old daughter said something about another shopper that was most inappropriate. I was livid. I snapped. I didn't say a word but I grabbed her arm firmly and got down and looked her sternly in the eyes. She knew what that meant. And she responded with 'I'm sorry, Mama.' I was fortunate. I had a healthy child who UNDERSTOOD she had done wrong and she had the ability to be remorseful. She made my job rather easy. She responded to the first course of consequences for such behavior and that was the end of it.The mother of the boy on the other hand was not so fortunate. And her job was much, much harder. Things are not always what they seem at first glance.Tolerance is not merely a matter of acceptance. It often is a process of understanding and acceptance.I agree...judge not, lest ye be judged....

notajayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

sunshine_noise (Anonymous) says… "I have every right to comment on what I had experienced that day with that child screaming its guts out."Because that's what it's all about, isn't it? At least you admitted it, even if you didn't realize you were doing so. This was 'your experience,' kathleen? A woman you don't know who has a crying child on her hands and it's 'your experience?' It's all about you, isn't it?"I know I wasn’t alone-therefore I serve as the voice of those people who felt just as trapped."Please don't A$$ume you're speaking for me, or for anyone else. You were speaking for yourself. If others were bothered, it evidently didn't offend them so much they felt compelled to rant in the newspaper about it."I love children"Yeah, that shows."I have raised 3 children to adulthood and I’m now raising one of my 3 grandsons."Just a point of curiosity, but - if your parenting skills worked out so well, why are you raising one of your own kid's child?"No fear involved..."Uh huh. Judging solely by the attitude you've so aptly conveyed in your LTE and subsequent efforts to defend it, excuse me if I find it difficult to believe your grandchildren aren't terrified of you. As a matter of fact, if the bile you have spouted here was evident in your face at the grocery store, I wouldn't be surprised if the child was screaming because of you! Or maybe he was screaming because he had just received a swat on the butt - after pointing at you and saying "Look, Mommy, it's the wicked witch of the (Mid)west!"**just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says… "I think it also depends on where the tantrum happens. A tantrum at a grocery store is different from one at a restaurant or a movie theater."Very true. The incident that spawned the LTEs and subsequent comments, however, happened in the grocery store.I haven't seen one comment suggesting children should be allowed to run rampant. I agree that a child running loose through a restaurant, throwing things in a store, or even making too much noise in certain places (e.g. the library, the movies, church, etc.) require some action be taken by the parent(s). But the original LTE was from a whiny PITA who thinks she's entitled to silence in a grocery store, as if the normally blissful experience of grocery shopping was somehow tainted. And many of the comments that agreed with her position seem to be from people who would be equally offended by peals of laughter; it's not about what was wrong with the child or parenting abilities, it's about whether or not it disturbs them.

Dixie Jones 9 years, 4 months ago

Thank you escapee for being one of the people out there who don't judge thoes of us with children with a disability. my 13 yr old is autistic when he was 3 his 5 yr old brother got tired of the looks and comments people made and decided he was going to make a t shirt that said my brother is autistic what the H3LL is your problem. my saying is " don't judge me till you walk a hr in my shoes" God Bless all the parents and children out there dealing with ANY disability

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