We've all been here.
You're at a restaurant just minding your own business, when suddenly—
A small child screams into the void due to unseen and unknown circumstances. The parents jump into action. They pick up the child, bouncing it from side to side assuring that everything is okay. They check the diaper. They try feeding it. Pacifier. Blankie. Favorite toy. But nothing works. The child's din continues to echo through the establishment. All eyes are pinned to the family. They are cornered by social conventions. Defeat is nigh. An old woman uses "menacing glare." It's super effective! The family gathers their belongings. The father apologizes to the waiter. The mother looks with regret at the others in the dining room. They make their exit.
This scene is all too common and tragic for many parents. They feel as if they can't go enjoy a meal or take their child in public for fear of society's glaring eyes and judgment. But should this really be the case?
Newsflash: kids are loud.
We all know this. Most of us have siblings or cousins or friends' kids or even our own kids that prove this fact. So why are we so quick to judge when we see parents with noisy children in public?
The truth is, we shouldn't judge because we don't know the whole story.
You can just keep minding your own business. Maybe the baby is on a new sleep schedule and still getting adjusted to the change. Maybe mom is trying to introduce new food into the baby's diet and it does not agree. Maybe one parent took the baby out so the other can get some rest, but can't find the precious pacifier as fast. Maybe the baby's special blankie is in the wash and it's a rougher time without it than the parents expected. Maybe they're good parents in an impossible situation.
You see, it's not really your place to judge parents on how they are dealing with their kids. Have you ever thought, "Oh yeah, this mom should be doing this instead," and then gone and told her? If you have, you've got some serious nerve. You can't really do anything about the situation, so why waste all that effort on judging?
Our reactions to parents with kids throwing temper tantrums should not be condescending, but sympathetic. These poor parents work so hard all day to care for and keep track of their kids, and they can't even enjoy a meal at a restaurant in public without being accosted by judging eyes the moment the child makes a peep. Instead, maybe give a look of encouragement or a friendly smile to let them know that their child's sobs are in fact not ruining your day. Because, when you think about it, if a screaming baby a table over from you at dinner is the most inconvenient part of your day, you're doing pretty well.
The last thing these parents want to worry about is you and your glances of contempt. They're already calming down one baby. Don't make them have to deal with you too.