Most Embarrassing Moments As a Parent
We’ve all been there. You’re waiting in the check-out line at the mall; you attempt to remove your son from the shopping cart when your precious bundle of love blurts out, “MOMMY, YOU’RE HURTING ME! I DON’T LIKE IT WHEN YOU HURT ME!” All of a sudden, you feel center stage. It’s as if the whole world stopped spinning for a moment so everyone could look at you, the alleged child abuser. What do you do? Comfort your child? Attend to the perceptions of the masses? Quietly slink away in solemn shame? What happens if you are the babysitter?
The answer, perhaps, is to address the first two simultaneously. Determine where the child is (or may be) caught on the seat of the shopping cart, and extricate the child as delicately as possible. If your child has been scratched by some part of the seat, attend to the injury (or just kiss it to make it better). Tell your little one that you love him and would never intentionally hurt him. Apologize for hurting him unintentionally so as to acknowledge his feelings of having been wounded. By handling your child this way, you will have validated his feelings, sought to address and resolve his feelings, and built upon the trust in your relationship with him. Meanwhile, onlookers will observe that you are not intentionally hurting your child. (Later, in a more private moment, you may want to speak with your child about situational-appropriate speech and volume.)
Your son has made a new friend in third grade. The two boys haven’t been together outside of school, but the new friend has obviously had influence on your son. How so? Well, you and your family were at a nice restaurant for dinner, and you asked your son if he would like the ravioli. (You forgot that he doesn’t like ravioli.) His reply? “H@*l NO!” Nearby tables have heard your son’s uncivil reply and some of the diners appear to think you have taught your son this language. Looks of scorn and disapproval can be seen on their faces.
What now? Correcting a child can be done in public, but reprimanding a child should be done in private. Correct the child’s behavior by letting him know that such language is inappropriate. Ask your child where he learned such an unkind word (it’s best not to assume that the new friend is responsible . . . even if you know the friend has taught your son other unfavorable words). Then, affirm your child’s right to decline the ravioli, but insist that he do so in an appropriate manner. If your child has used this word before, re-educating (correcting) the child about appropriate language is one of two responses that are warranted. In addition to correcting your son, reprimanding him is also in order. Let your son know that you will discuss this matter further with him when you return to your home. Later, when you are at home, you may reprimand the child for his errant behavior. Whether your reprimand is two days without treats, a week without his X-box, or whatever other option you choose, ensure that his punishment fits his crime (neither too severe or too lenient).
In sum, what looks like embarrassing moments are actually wonderful opportunities for education and growth for your child. Embrace them for the wealth of knowledge that can be bestowed.
Do you have any embarrassing moments as a parent?