“How many times have you felt forced/nudged/shamed/coerced into parenting in a way you don’t usually because you were in a public situation? I know I have, and it still happens now that my kids are out of the toddler tantrum stage.”
“Where I struggle is under the judgmental gaze of grandparents who believe in PUNISHMENT and CONSEQUENCES when the line is crossed. I can almost hear a tsk, tsk as I do my empathic parenting. .. No matter how old I get, I still want parents’ approval, you know?”
The hard part is that we have to be extra creative to help our child cope in a way that doesn’t infringe on the rights of others…AND we have to do it in front of an audience! An audience that we suspect is judging us as bad parents. It doesn’t matter whether it’s grandparents judging us as Permissive and Spoiling, or supermarket cashiers judging us as Lazy or Mean. If we were good parents, our child wouldn’t be acting up to begin with. Right?
Actually, wrong. Even well-adjusted, wonderful children of parents we would all admire have their moments. My dad and stepmom still remember the doozy of a tantrum my son had in the car when he was three. I think they were actually surprised that my son turned out to be such a great kid. My insight from that experience? My son was in the right. I would have done things differently if we were alone. But because they were there, I compromised my own instincts, and didn’t listen to my son. Sure, the grandparents thought they should outrank a toddler. But looking back 20 years, I still see that my son experienced my going along with them as a betrayal of our relationship.