Being a Parent is Hard Enough, Without Societal Scorn

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Social scorn. That dirty look from a passer by about how you are handling the situation. A situation that has nothing to do with them. What is the best way to parent through social scorn?

What is Social Scorn?

It really is something that every parent will experience and that every parent dreads.  It’s that simple moment when someone takes something your child said, your parenting style, or even a simple choice to help keep everyone more at peace and someone in society shames you for it.

Do you know what I’m talking about?  A dirty look.  A “why can’t she control her child?” said under their breath.  Or saddest of all, a direct comment to try to shame you.

Social Scorn and Parenting in Church

Today I was excited more than normal for mass.  Sir Swine finally had a chance to get away from work to join us when we went to the morning service, which is the best time choice for our children.

Sir Swine and Tractor Man decided where they would sit in the church.  Time for just the two of them to enjoy mass and bond together.  Like men 🙂

Tag Along and I would be staying in what is known as the narthex in our church.  It’s like a welcoming area that runs all along the outside of the church.  There are large glass windows so you can see the entire mass and hear it as well since they play it over the loud speakers.

To some this may seem unruly, but Tag Along is only three, and he is a what I will call a ‘typical boy’.  He is active and moving but often gets tired out and needs to just sit and snuggle.  He is unpredictable.  He likes to chat away, and in church I know that is not always appreciated. With that in mind I decided we sit in the narthex.

Tag Along and I have our children’s bible and a single car for him to play with. Yes one little matchbox car. He can often be found leafing through the children’s bible and then asking me a question about a picture he finds in it. Sometimes he will listen to a few of the stories.

Today, as we were waiting for mass to start, an elderly woman walked by and used the restroom.  When she came out, Tag Along was driving a car along the floor and backing up towards her so I warned him to watch out for others.  He saw her, smiled and when she passed by he went back to his play.

Where things went sour…

Then it happened.

A direct criticism that shocked me.  I must admit I think I’m still in shock.  But maybe that is all that keeps me from breaking down in tears.

The elderly lady looked at me and stated “He’s not going to learn anything sitting out here.”

I thought her statement was one simply lacking charm and tried to brush it off by saying “We are sure trying to.” She frowned, kept walking and again stated “Not learning anything.”  She then left church.  I can only hope that she had attended the 8 am mass and had been hanging around the church for an added hour. The 10 am mass hadn’t even started yet.

I stood there in stark shock.  This is the house of God, who forgives, does not judge, gives hope, joy and peace.  And there I was being criticized for not having my child in a church pew making noise.

I carried this with me as I stayed through mass.  Secretly I wanted to cry-how is this supposed to make a mom feel after all?!?

Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the fact that half of my family was in side the church I would have probably left heartbroken.

After mass I told my husband what had happened and he was in shock as well.  How could someone so callously say something to another person.

The sadness doesn’t end there…

Sadly, my husband had a story of his own.

While Sir Swine and Tractor Man were in the church, a young mother and her little girl were having troubles of their own.  The daughter proceeded to throw a tantrum and the mother took her out of the church.

Three rows up a boy, about 17 according to my husband, said “Geeze, can’t anyone keep their kids quiet.”  To which his mother responded “No discipline.”

a parent against social scorn
Here’s an example of unconditional love and understanding. Did she have to deal with social scorn for her parenting?

Where is a Parent of Young Children to go?

Both of these events happened this morning.  I followed up my own incident by praying for the elderly woman (hopefully she was just having a bad day) but I still feel broken-hearted.

My brother-in-law had overheard the entire conversation that I had experienced. He decided to leave a few notes in the comments box about it.

If a child is not welcome in the church, since they are not perfectly quiet, then they should go to the narthex.  If you are in the narthex, you are teaching your child nothing.  It is a lose-lose situation.

So fellow church members I ask you this.  Do you want a church with talking children, a narthex with a few playing, or no children at all?

Can we not be happy that families are bringing their children to church?

At this point it seems the only option for a parent with young children is to simply not go to church.  Please explain to me how this will educate my children on the faith then.  Of course we are still teaching things at home, but I’m talking big picture here.

I’m still going to attend church and I’m still going to bring my kids.  I can only hope and pray that the criticism and snarky comments will end, after all we are in church.

About the Lack of Discipline Comment…

Society needs to realize that we are disciplining our children but that SOCIETY has placed restrictions on HOW we are able to discipline.

I cannot spank my child in front of you or you will say it is too harsh.  If I hand down a time out, you think I am “not disciplining”.

How is a modern-day parent to win?

I think it best if everyone simply keeps those hurtful thoughts to themselves.  Often times we do not know what is going on in another person’s life to even judge them for what is happening in that one particular moment.

It’s not always about the kids

My kids used to sit with me in the active church area.  We started sitting in the narthex because of me.  That’s right, me.

I was very sick last year and the medications I was placed on caused me to suffer from horrible anxiety.  I mean bad as in I didn’t leave my house for two weeks straight since I could not mentally handle being around anyone.  Sitting in the back was the closest place I could get to without feeling ill or suffocated.

I’m still having issues with that but nobody bothers to ask about that.  Nobody can see anxiety.

What about a young pregnant mother who is not showing yet?  Perfumes make her ill so she sits in the back to keep from getting sick.  Don’t judge her just because she is sitting there.

There is more than meets the eye.

I look forward to the next time I can help a mother or father in need in any setting.  Dad’s battle this too, it’s not a one gender parent thing.

Being a parent is hard.  Maybe we should all simply remember that we are doing the best we can.

Lead with grace.  Be the hand of God to one another.

Perhaps we should focus on removing the beam from our own eye before focusing on someone else’s splinter.

Blessings to you all and hope for our children.

4 Replies to “Being a Parent is Hard Enough, Without Societal Scorn”

  1. Unless you become like children……

    Bug said.

    p.s. Easier said than done, do not even give them more more minute of your precious thoughts, it will take you away from being fully present to your children! And geesh, some people just forget how tough parenting is. (Thank goodness we have abandoned the era of strict disciplinary parenting. There was no formation in inner freedom in it anyway.)

  2. If it makes you feel any better, one time we were at mass with a newborn and my 3 year old son (I was so proud we even made it with clean clothes no less), when my boy yelled out “who’s the new snowman?” when a visiting priest proceeded past us. So many evil eyes and a straight up “tsk tsk”. Then there was the time I gave a toddler a few cheerios to keep her busy which she threw into the old lady’s hair in front of us. I got a scolding.

    You just have to try to forget their mean behavior. They have just forgotten how impossible it is to control little kids. Or adolescents as I am now learning. Any woman who makes it to mass with a kid in tow is an unsung hero! Carry on, brave warrior!

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