Can parents and non-parents get along? We show you how
Parent or not, are you the first to glare at the defeated mother trying to tame her wailing toddler? Can parents and non-parents learn to accept and understand each others' needs? Can both camps ever get along?
We’ve all heard them before. The kid whose shrill, piercing cries threaten to shatter our eardrums while we’re peacefully picking our groceries in the supermarket. He splays himself flat on the floor while thrashing about as if possessed, while his frazzled mum tries in vain to control him.
Now lets get an alternate take on this. We have a hundred things keeping us preoccupied and our thought process is interrupted by our kid’s screaming. He is throwing yet another tantrum! As we scramble along trying to control him, we notice that we are receiving accusing glares from people. We heave a defeated sigh and think ‘they are obviously not parents!’
So it is no surprise that non-parents and parents don’t always get along in the public sphere. This tension gives rise to an obvious misunderstanding. Such cases have been gaining some publicity in the media and social media.
The recent letter published in The Straits Times regarding ‘oversize’ strollers in the MRT is such a case. The author suggested that such strollers are a safety hazard in the train and that “size limitations”, as with foldable bicycles, should be applied to them.
Another story that went viral is American blogger Matt Walsh’s response to a fan who had openly criticized a mother whose child was throwing a tantrum in the supermarket. Mr Walsh maintained that dealing with a child’s tantrum is ‘not always that simple’, saying that parents don’t always have the option of dropping whatever they are doing to discreetly move their children to a quieter place to deal with the situation.
The bottom-line : Children will be seen – and heard. Unless, as Mr Walsh suggests, you bind them up with a muzzle and straitjacket, there is no way to ensure that they will always behave like little angels in public.
Can some level of harmony ever exist between the two camps? Can parents and non-parents get along??? Is this too much to hope for?
Practice common sense
We feel that strollers of any size and wheelchairs should be welcome on the train. However do try and avoid peak hours if you must use a stroller.
If you have to drop your kid off at childcare en route to work, consider using a sturdy child carrier to protect your child against the mad crush of bodies in the train. You can also ask nicely for the priority seat to be given up to you – few people will refuse.
P.S. Parents, do watch your stroller’s path as you push it along. Trundling over toes can be very painful.
Extend a helping hand
This applies to both parents and non-parents. Nothing beats an unexpected offer of help. If Junior decides to go into meltdown mode because mummy doesn’t want him to have candy, why not get proactive?
Offer to help the parent carry her groceries as she counsels her kid. If you have experience dealing with tantrums yourself, you can even offer your expertise. Some parents wouldn’t welcome an intervention from a stranger, but at least you tried!
Thou shall not judge
There is nothing more hurtful than that disapproving ‘tsk’ and ‘tut’ from onlookers who catch you at a time when you’re unable to control your child. Frankly the last thing a parent needs is to feel like they are doing a bad job.
And parents, you are not exempted from this rule either. Just because your child behaves himself in public does not give you the right to label other parents whose children don’t do likewise.
At the end of the day, we’re all human!
Finally, both parents and non-parents need to practice empathy. Parents, Just as your kid’s tantrum is leaving you frazzled, it is doing the same to others. Non-parents, cut these parents some slack, after all we were all kids once!
We all have our bad days and moments. Making the effort to extend grace, compassion, empathy and consideration towards others – parents or not – will make a huge difference to someone’s day, including your own.