I only glanced at the title of the article, telling me my kid was a brat and I was to blame. It’s intended to get clicks, generate traffic. I’m a blogger. I get it.
That title’s meant to get people’s gander up. All those parents who are tired of other people’s bratty kids getting away with everything LOVE articles like this. They like to pat each other on the back, give each other a “hell, yeah!” and remind everyone within earshot of how they never sassed or whined as kids back in the day, ‘cause if they did they got their “butts whooped.”
So now they congratulate themselves for passing on the same perfect style of parenting to their — gloriously unbratty — kids. And their favorite pastime is judging other parents on how poorly they are doing. Like it’s a race and some of us are clearly lagging behind.
To be fair, I took the bait. I clicked over and read the article and the author claimed that she was just as guilty of making the parenting mistakes lined out in her post. And the advice she offers is sound, just like you’d find in any parenting book worth its salt.
But it was all a day late and a dollar short for me. The title had already cut me like a knife.
Words Can Cut
You see, as the momma of a child with an invisible disability, I’ve been on the receiving end of those kinds of snap judgments far too often.
- I’ve gotten the evil eye from other parents since my little darling was just a toddler.
- I’ve been kicked out of more places than I can count.
- I’ve been talked about in hushed tones behind my back when people thought I couldn’t hear.
So yeah. Calling somebody else’s kid a brat might make you feel really awesome about your own parenting skills.
But might I offer a different slant?
You don’t know what that parent’s going through. You don’t know that kid’s issues. You don’t know how hard that momma or daddy has already tried, been trying, is trying. You don’t know how sleep-deprived or anxiety-ridden they are. You don’t know how many battles they’ve already fought today.
Until you know someone’s back story, you just don’t know.
My Kid “Would Never”
I used to make snap judgments about other people’s kids, too. Especially before I had any.
I swore that my kids “would never” behave in deplorable ways. I simply wouldn’t allow it.
Then I gave birth to actual people rather than robots, and the rest is history.
And one of those people ended up having autism. He basically broke the mold and still has us guessing twelve years later. Because I’ve read all the parenting books and guess what? He’s not in ‘em. Not a single one.
So what do we do?
We learn as we go. We use trial and error to figure out what might work today. . . and then we get up tomorrow knowing that same tactic probably won’t work this time.
We make lots of mistakes. We love. We cry. We vow to do better. We break down. We get up and try again.
All this inner turmoil, all this stretching and reaching and learning and working. Only to have somebody who doesn’t know all the ins and outs look at our child and label him a “brat.”
So yeah. Words hurt.
I know you weren’t trying to be hurtful. I know you didn’t mean for your words to pierce the heart of a special needs momma like me.
But they cut me like a knife.