Thoughts on parenting in public


A few weeks ago I was queuing to pay at the tills in a shop in Brighton, and a couple of people in front of me was a lady with a bright pink pushchair with a bow on it.  She was jerking the pushchair forwards and backwards and glaring at the baby in it. Now i’m really no expert at guessing how old babies are, but I don’t think her child was any more than a year old, he was old enough to hold a bottle that she thrust at him, but I reckon was more like 9/10 months old. He was grumbling, not even crying, and not loudly. Nobody was paying her or the crying any attention at all. She then started up with ‘HUSH NOW YOU’RE BEING SILLY’ and similar. The baby by this point had stopped drinking, and to me sounded like he had wind or a bad belly (going from the little knowledge I have gained from Athena’s cries) and then it was her turn at the till. She literally shoved the buggy into the counter and shouted ‘SHUT UP FOR GODS SAKE YOU LITTLE SOD’ at the baby. I was gobsmacked. As soon as the mum had wheeled her poor baby away the lady behind me (who had 2 young children) said to me ‘that was awful wasn’t it, I cant believe she acted like that in public, how does she treat him at home? I think he just wanted a fart’. I didn’t have Athena with me so she wasn’t even mentioning it just because I was a mum too, it was so horrible to watch she obviously had to express her disgust. I agreed, but then it got me thinking, how do we know what went on before? We were both so quick to jump to conclusions, which I then felt bad about. Though I fear in this instance we were correct, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly ,the poor little boy was in a bright pink buggy (definitely a boy as he had a little flat cap on and was dressed in a waistcoat etc) so my gut instinct was that the mum wanted a girl and didn’t get one. I know that the reality could be that actually her own buggy had broken and she had borrowed this one, or she was using it from a previous baby but judging by her pink velour tracksuit and big gold hoop earrings, I think not. Secondly I saw her just up the road when I left the shop and she was with another mum and they were surrounded by about 7 snotty nosed kids (some looked like they should have been in school, and this was a Monday morning!) throwing their rubbish at a passing bus, being completely ignored by the two mums who were both smoking right over the boy in the pink buggy, who was still grizzling but being ignored. Thirdly, the baby was so small that it couldn’t have done anything wrong on purpose to deserve being told off, and anyone who shouts at something that cannot defend itself is a meany, to put it mildly!

So even though I feel like my instincts were correct in this little scenario when I was walking away from them it made me think, what if in a few years Athena has a terrible temper tantrum, and I choose to deal with it by having firm words with her? (though obviously I won’t call had a sod!) What will people think about me? People generally go with their initial reaction to a scenario, as of course they don’t know of the events leading up to what they see.

In the past I have been very quick to judge people/scenarios, but I think that now I am a mama I’ve started to think twice about things I see when kids and parents are concerned. For example, I’ve seen kids have huge hissy fits at the hotel where I work before, where the parents either shouted/ignored/dragged them away… but now I’ll think twice before I mentally judge them, for all I know the child could have ADHD or another behavioural issue (are you allowed to say ‘issue’?)

In the name of complete honesty however, I feel I must add that even if the woman hadn’t been shouting at her poor baby that I would’ve judged her on her bright pink velour tracksuit, huge gold earrings and willingness to smoke all over her baby.

Has anyone experienced a similar situation, or been on the other side? please share your thoughts…

8 thoughts on “Thoughts on parenting in public

  1. When I was on a very quiet train home after an event after work (quite late around 10pm) back into my village, there was a lady with a push chair and a little boy around 5? The train did have a while before it pulled out and he was busy picking up the newspapers and oputting them to one side (which was quite sweet tbh) till his mother screamed ‘put those down you stupid little prick’ I was literally gobsmacked, the boy didn’t blink an eyelid – I literally wanted to wrap him up and take him away with me. She was so full of anger and it really haunted me for days. I would never say anything to her, because like you said you have no idea what could be going on (she looked incredibly stressed!) but i find it so distressing when you hear mum’s swearing every other word in front of their children and calling them such names – that NEVER happened when we grew up. I’m not a snob, but it really is the same type of person you described in your story.

    Jeremy Kyle generation for sure. xxx

  2. We were leaving the park the other day and another young (chavvy) family walked past and the father was smoking weed. All over his toddler. Disgusting.

    But I see what you mean, I think we are all quick to judge! I’m dreading when Aidens tantrums become public! Xo

  3. Having worked in schools in socially and economically deprived areas for over 8 years I have a lot if stories to tell but it would probably be very unprofessional to do so! It’s easy to judge but I often find that these parents simply don’t know any better and are doing their best based on their own experiences in childhood and what they see around them. Although perhaps the most shocking thing s how lovely the children are despite all their setbacks and how perfect their manners are in school. X

  4. I personally hate people who smoke around their kids. I had a friend who’s 18 year old cousin came on a night out with us once, she was 8 months pregnant and smoking. She kept saying people judge her for it before i turned round and told her so do i! I think it’s disgusting and selfish. She looked gobsmacked. I went home. I can’t stand people who ignore their screaming kids and let them run around like maniacs but i think i would have asked her if she needed help because her child wasn’t doing anything and clearly there is something wrong.

  5. I can’t bear to see people swearing at and smoking over their children. If people are willing to act like that in public, then often it’s worse at home, in my experience.

    I used to work with children with autism and when we took them out on trips, there would be a lot of comments about their ‘naughty’ behaviour. It got to a point that we had to carry information cards to explain that they weren’t naughty but had a disability that lead to challenging behaviour. I hope that by doing that, we helped some people to think twice about certain scenarios. As you say, we can never really tell what is going on in another person’s life x

    1. I do feel like sometimes I am quick to judge, but being a parent has changed that (at least when kids are involved) but this was a whole other level! I’mglad you did something that helps people understand a situation that they would otherwise judge!

  6. I think I would have judged this woman in a similar way to you but I think we’re all jumping to the conclusion that she’s the mother. She could be a relative who was roped in to look after him when she knew nothing about babies. As parents, we often feel judged (perhaps for no reason) and I think it’s important to remember – even in the midst of the terrible twos – that you’re doing the best for your child and others’ opinions don’t matter. Sometimes other people’s opinions can differ from what you’re expecting, like when my daughter had a screaming fit because I wouldn’t buy her an ice cream before lunch. Once she’d calmed down, a passerby told me I was “a lovely mummy”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *