The Sh*tty Parents Police was on full patrol at my local mall yesterday, and did I witness a doozy. I was in The Gap, just trying to find a long sleeved white t-shirt, when I saw this boy - no older than 3 or 4 - swinging and whipping around a large leather belt that he apparently had snatched off the wall. His mom, who was probably around 30 years old, remained oblivious as she draped articles of clothing over her second child's baby carriage. As the boy continued to coil the belt around his arm and flag nearby mannequins with it, the most she did to curb his behavior was say "stop it...Lou" in a lame ass voice. When she finally decided to pay for her stuff, the baby in the carriage started wailing at the top of its lungs. The older boy had dropped the belt, but was still meandering around the women's section of clothing on the other side of the store. Customers (including me) and Gap employees glared at the woman and if looks could kill, the whole bunch of them would have spontaneously combusted. I can grant a pass to the poor baby - who probably needed a diaper change and was wondering why his carriage was being draped with mama's new outfit - but it took all of my humanly strength not to blurt out "Watch your f***ing kid!" as I ran out of the store.
I've been wanting to write about the topic of modern society's bratty kids for a long time, but the thought of being pelted with comments from angry parents always stopped me - until now. This latest incident pushed me over the edge. Earlier this summer, I witnessed two others that made my blood boil. The first was when a little girl in Starbucks climbed on top of the glass food case that holds the takeaway food items such as sandwiches and pastries while her father, who was paying for his coffee, ignored her. The second was when I was treated to a boy's peep show at the beach, as his mother allowed him to run around and play in the sand sans clothing (at least the moment briefly inspired me to consider creating a t-shirt that reads, "I should not have to look at your 5 year-old's weenie.")
I just don't get what I like to call The Non-Parenting Epidemic. What makes it so dangerous is that it's being practiced by a society that has a twisted sense of entitlement. These parents are also the most spineless wimps - I firmly believe they'd rather see their kid fall on their head in a supermarket rather than hurt his feelings by telling him that the soda pop display is not a jungle gym. It's the reason why "The Supernanny", Jo Frost (God bless her!), has no shortage of clueless lunkhead parents applying to be on her show. More than once she has heard a mother or father confide in her that they "don't want to be the bad guy" when it comes to disciplining their kid(s).
Isn't parenting about setting limits? It's absolutely baffling to compare the non-parenting of today's kids versus when I was growing up. I NEVER would have been allowed to get away with the things I see kids doing in public. I'm sure that many people from my generation and older remember being reprimanded when we did something wrong. And let's not compare a spank or a slap to child abuse - it's NOT the same thing. I'm talking about being sent to our rooms, being grounded, or having something taken away from us. I have never met a person who experienced any well-deserved discipline as a child who grew up to find themselves curled up in the fetal position in a shrink's office, because mommy and/or daddy hit them.
What do these idiotic non-parenting parents think will become of their kids when they start school and venture out into the real world? We've already heard reports of Gen Y's sense of entitlement in the workplace; I can just imagine what monsters today's 4 year-olds are going to turn into.
I honestly think that people just don't think about their future when they purposely have a child. How many times have you heard a woman whine, "I want a baby!"? You never hear someone whine, "I want a difficult teenager!" Well guess what, Dumbass? Babies can be cute, but they don't remain babies forever - they grow up! Having a baby is more than just that. Having a baby means eventually having a toddler...who eventually becomes a teen...who will hopefully become an adult with something positive to offer the world. If you're a parent, isn't the goal of having children to leave this world knowing you left behind someone who can make it a better place? Unfortunately the majority of parents just don't think that way - they only think of themselves.
If I'm a paying customer in a store, restaurant, or other public place (I've seen kids misbehave in hospitals, where they used to be banned as visitors...it might be time to reinstate that rule) I should not have to put up with someone's brat. I worked with someone who said her mother didn't even take her grocery shopping until she understood the rules of behavior in a store.
I understand that parents are under a lot of pressure today, and even in two-parent homes very often both must work to sustain a household. As a result, they have little time for themselves, let alone their kids. I was extremely lucky in that my mother was able to stay at home and take care of me and my siblings. I realize that this is not the only contributing factor to the Non-Parenting Epidemic, but I do think it's a biggie. One of the overall themes that Jo Frost stresses on Supernanny is routine...kids thrive on having a routine that includes meal time, chores, homework, and playtime with mom and/or dad. Not easy to do in today's overworked world.
I could go on and on about this subject, so I'm afraid I have to stop for the sake of taking up space. Also, I do know of many awesome parents out there who are definitely going against the norm...you know who you are, so kudos to you! But for the rest of you, in the immortal words of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, "Teach your children well..." for cripe's sake!