Parenting style is a matter of personal preference. Choosing to be a helicopter or a free ranger, using cloth or disposable, feeding breast or bottle. All personal parenting choices made by those in charge of the growing of their off spring.
For the most part, what you choose doesn’t matter to me. Put your baby in Pampers, shove a bottle in their mouth, and hover about them until the cows come home for all I care. I didn’t do those things, but you doing them has zero effect on my ability to live a happy life with my Dudes.
Only sometimes, your parenting choices do effect me.
Because they’re annoying inconsiderate.
Let me present you with a scenario.
Earlier this summer, the Dudes and went to the movies to see some child appropriate the name of which I forget.
Two minutes in, a baby nearby began to wail.
My mature 9 year old rolled his eyes in my direction and said, “See, Mom? That’s why I hate coming to kid movies. Kids don’t know how to behave.”
I whispered reassurances to him thinking that this parent, like any normal, considerate parent, would eventually quiet their youngster. Or, leave.
Because they would understand that many of us paid no less than $60 bucks to have this experience with our children and being forced to listen to someone’s bawling baby is as bad as listening to someone on their cellphone dramatically decreases the value of this thing.
Naybe you think I’m being harsh.
At first I felt similarly.
Maybe the baby has had a wicked day; he’s teething, or constipated, or tired.
And, maybe mom’s just really, really, desperately hoping that this baby doesn’t ruin this movie for her other kids because jeez, SHE PAID $60 TO BE UP IN HERE TOO.
I’ve been there; I get it.
Only, 15 minutes later, when Bawling Baby still hadn’t killed his vocal cords and Not Very Considerate Mom continued to jam buttered pop corn into her gullet, my ability to “get it” began to wane.
Fifteen more minutes and it had disappeared almost entirely.
When we hit the 40 minute mark, my understanding had officially died a fiery death, probably ignited by the flaming daggers I was shooting into the back of her skull from my eyes.
Forty straight minutes of crying we endured before the poor kid fizzled out.
When we left he was hanging off of her lap asleep and, were my kids not with me he not so peaceful in his slumber, I may have roundhouse kicked her in the back.
As it were, because I’m a half way decent person, I just hurried out into the daylight with my children anxious to put this behind me (after leaving a comment card for the movie theater of course).
I get crying babies.
Crying at the grocery store. Crying at the Super Wal-Mart. Even, gasp, crying on the airplane.
I do not get crying in the movies and am confident saying this was NOT a considerate parent.
Considerate Parent would’ve taken Bawling Baby into the hallway until he settled. Were settling something only dreams are made of, Considerate Parent would’ve called this movie a wash and loaded herself, her other minions, and Bawling Baby into the minivan they rolled up in and tried again another day.
Being a considerate parents is hard.
It requires you to be perceptive, to be conscious, and to make sacrifices you maybe don’t want to make.
But, with effort and intentionality it can be achieved!
How to Be a Considerate Parent
1. Remember that everyone doesn’t think your child is the cutest thing ever. I mean they are, totally. Just not when they are hitting me on the head with their fork over my booth at Red Robin.
2. Don’t assume your child is perfect. Because no one is. And, you should be prepared for the fact that sometimes your kid may actually be the one inflicting evil on others at the playground. Like in that episode of Modern Family where Mitch and Cam accused everyone else of evil only to discover it was Lily biting at the playground. Don’t be Mitch and Cam.
3. Never take advantage of other parents’ generosity. For example, if your child is invited over for a play date don’t drop him AND his younger brother off in the driveway and peel out without even speaking to the host mom. And, when your child and his friend ask to be dropped off at the movies to catch a film with some friends, don’t send him without cash, that’s just punishing the mom who was kind enough to drive them.
4. Don’t invite your children to things they aren’t invited to. I know, it’s hard to get childcare when you have three kids under 4. And, I get it, you really want to be there for your friend on her wedding day. Who, for the record, adores your kids. Only, the wedding invitation said you and your spouse ONLY. It’s NOT cool to just bring the offspring, even if they won’t be eating. Personally, at weddings, I don’t even think it’s appropriate to ask (Some people just don’t want kids at their wedding. That desire is perfectly acceptable since it’s THEIR wedding and you asking may make them feel guilty unnecessarily,), but if you are super close to the person, and you’ve tried every possible thing to secure childcare, run it by your pal before you go. Same for baby showers and kid birthday parties. Any party that requests your attendance via invitation you’re asked to RSVP to should not be crashed by other, uninvited individuals, even if they are small and of your loins. People may have planned and paid for only the invited number of people and it’s unfair to assume that that number included your 4 kids if they weren’t on the invitation.
5. Don’t let your baby cry for 40 minutes at the movie theater.