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  • More Stories from the Frontlines

    Filed at 10:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    I may have to start a regular feature—“Random Acts of Child Neglect”. Earlier in the week I discussed the daycare workers overwhelmed by unhappy infants and toddlers. Tonight I saw the mother who tried to forget she had a two-year-old with her.

    As with most incidents involving young children, the setting was a restaurant. I’m having dinner at a relatively nice place just outside Washington when a party of six is seated at the table directly in front of me: Three women, two girls aged between two and three, and an older gentleman. As the group sat down, one of the girls began to have a meltdown. Not a tantrum per se—she wasn’t screaming, just crying profusely. I don’t know what brought that on, but the mother was completely ignoring her. The mother sat down, started talking with the other women, and just acted like her crying daughter didn’t exist.

    After about five minutes, the older gentleman—apparently the crying child’s grandfather—said something to the mother. She turned to the child and said, calmly but firmly, “Honey, good children don’t cry.” She then returned to her conversation. The child continued to cry. (Apparently, telling a two-year old she’s bad doesn’t convince her to change her wicked ways.) The grandfather gave the mother a stern look, and then he went to the child, picked her up, and took her outside for a few moments. When they returned, she was happy as a clam and sat down next to the other girl, and that was the end of that. The mother didn’t seem to notice her child was even gone.

    What really struck me about this scene was that the grandfather clearly had a bad hip—he was carrying his granddaughter in one arm while using a cane in his other arm to maintain his balance.

    I’m still uncertain what brought on the initial meltdown, but my guess is that since this particular restaurant is near several hotels, these people were from out-of-town, and the girl was simply upset at being in an unfamiliar location. (She kept trying to tell her mother she wanted to leave.)

    10 Responses to “More Stories from the Frontlines”


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    August 21st, 2004
    at 6:04 am

    Sometimes requiring a license to procreate sounds like a really good idea.


    Comment by
    Chris
    August 21st, 2004
    at 8:56 am

    That would depend on who is issuing the license 😉


    Comment by
    Laura
    August 21st, 2004
    at 10:02 am

    I hate to see people being mean to their tired, hungry toddlers. I want to tell them, “If you were that tired, you would go home and lie down.” Gosh, have mercy on the little folks.


    Comment by
    Holly
    August 22nd, 2004
    at 5:53 pm

    There are several schools of thought (none of which I agree with, BTW) that hold that the best way to deal with toddler angst is to firmly tell the toddler that his/her behavior is unacceptable and then ignore him/her.

    The “babywise” movement – advocated by a lot of churches where I live – seems to be the most popular of these. It holds that bad behavior in young children is a mark of original sin, and regards any type of parenting that responds to child demands – feeding on demand, picking up a crying child, taking a tired toddler home from a strange place – as wrong. According to babywise, any behavior that undermines parental authority is likely to result in a disobedient child with no self-control.

    It sounds to me like the mom you saw was practicing a babywise-type philosophy and granddad disagreed.


    Comment by
    Skip Oliva
    August 22nd, 2004
    at 6:18 pm

    Babywise is nothing more than a manual for ritual child abuse. Any parent that follows that system should be morally condemned.


    Comment by
    Skip Oliva
    August 22nd, 2004
    at 6:21 pm

    I would add that I didn’t think the mother in my anecdote was following Babywise or a similar system. She struck me as indifferent rather than controlling or cruel. A Babywise adherent would likely have hit the child or otherwise punished her.


    Comment by
    Jema
    August 22nd, 2004
    at 9:53 pm

    I usually enjoy this blog, as it highlights homeschooling and other educational topics in a fair and balanced manner. However, I am noticing that Skip’s articles seem regularly strident in nature, if not downright inflammatory. This article didn’t seem to be one of those — that is until you get to the comments. I am not a “Babywise” parent, however, I do follow much of the Growing Kids God’s Way philosophies. I do not believe that all children’s bad behavior stems from original sin. I was not taught that holding my child or removing her from the situation when she melts down is wrong (in fact, just the opposite), to ignore her when she disobeys, nor to hit her every time she disobeys. These are sweeping generalizations of a sort that I very rarely see at this website, and I am very disappointed to read them in response to this article. I do believe that there are times my children are being deliberatly willful as opposed to making mistakes or poor choices and at those times they are exhibiting a sinful nature. We go thorugh a very careful thought process to decide which it is, and do not undertake any discipline lightly. As I said previously, I did learn from GKGW to remove my child from the situation if they are creating a disturbance and I was never taught in GKGW classes to ignore the child’s problem behavior, they frown on that particular philosophy. I do believe that spanking can be an appropriate form of discipline. In the light of another topic thread here, I can be sure that Skip will never agree with me on that. But I would never try to imply that he is a complete idiot for disagreeing with me. I seriously doubt he would give me the same courtesy.


    Comment by
    Mike Peach
    August 23rd, 2004
    at 4:49 am

    Yo Skip

    Not only should you set up a section on this topic, you seem to have a talent for spotting the obvious when it comes to child neglect and should be blogging about it full time. I haven’t read this site for a while and on returning I have found your posts a most welcome addition.

    The attitude to children across the Anglosphere is generally appalling and it is great to see the obvious highlighted.

    Blog on dude!

    Mike Peach


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    August 23rd, 2004
    at 6:41 am

    Interesting discussion. In fact, just yesterday at a pool party, several adults were discussing how to deal with temper tantrums. Lydia and I used the “ignore it and walk away” method. It is a fine line and you have to be atuned to the child’s “mental health.”

    An example of when we would use it– at the mall and the child (probably age 3-4) sees the toy store and wants a new toy. When told “No” she throws herself on the ground, screaming “I want a toy!” After giving her a warning to get up and quit screaming, we would walk away maybe 50 ft., peeking over our shoulders the whole way. When she looked up and we weren’t there, she came running to us. Sometimes, she just threw herself down in front of the stroller and started up again.

    Yeah- we weren’t popular with the other shoppers. But the habit was broken after only a few loud events.


    Comment by
    Eric Holcombe
    August 25th, 2004
    at 9:57 am

    I have to echo Jema’s comments related to GKGW/babywise. The “let them cry” instruction only relates to infants when you are establishing feeding/sleeping patterns. It also is only advised AFTER you know they are fed, dry, not tangled up in the crib, etc. It is a concept only discussed in the courses for less than 6mo. old children.

    GKGW instructs you to respect others – their time, property and domain (the golden rule) in regard to your children’s behavior. They instruct, for example, if your infant is traveling with you on an airline and begins to cry (maybe due to pressure from altitude), you use a passifier, cuddling, bottle, or whatever works to calm them out of respect for the other passengers. Your ‘sleep through the night’ goals are put on hold when they interfere with others.

    The grandfather did exactly what GKGW teaches.
    As for temper tantrums, very similar to what Daryl did – except probably leave the store to respect the other customers.