Friday, February 22, 2008

Parents behaving badly

The other night I was at a sporting event and witnessed a parent behaving very badly after her child lost. What made me sad was that I am friendly with this woman and she knew that I was clearly within listening distance of her tirade. She knew I was sitting in my car because it was cold and windy outside and she was parked right beside me. She had gone back and forth to her car several times and we had talked. When her child walked to their car after the game to unload some equipment, the mother started in on her child. The negativity and shaming that went on was almost too much to bear. I slouched down in my seat at one point because I didn't want her child to see me and know that I was witnessing the severe tongue lashing. All I can say is OMFG. No one should have to hear such terrible things about themselves, especially a child (teen). I don't know what possessed this woman to say the things she was saying or why she would think that being treated in that manner would help in any way.

It has always been my experience that children respond better to kindness than to anger and negativity. I also believe that we all know when we have not lived up to our potential and that we do not need someone else pointing it out for us. It's like calling a fat person fat as though they have never considered it before. They already know they are fat. They live and breath and anguish over their fatness probably more than any of us can imagine so telling them they are fat isn't helpful in the least. Likewise, when we fail at things, or we lose, we usually know the reasons why. Telling someone they might just as well stop playing a sport because they have an off night seems cruel to me. It sends the message that perfection is expected at all times or else there will be hell to pay. Who can ever live up to that? No one that I know.

Some other things that were said (yelled): That the team was depending on this child for a win and she had let them all down (OMG). That if the child thought the mother was going to waste more money on lessons then the child had another thing coming. That the child was an embarrassment out there. It went on and on.

Sigh. I felt so guilty just sitting there doing nothing to come to the aid of this child but I didn't see how interfering would help since the mother was quite unhinged at that point. She knew I was there and she still verbally bashed her child. It seems a little sick to me that I would have preferred she do it somewhere privately, but that's what I was thinking. I was also thinking that I needed to ask someone to slap me silly should they ever see me treating my own children this way

I think it's bad enough to have your parent berate you in such a manner but to then not care that you are humiliating your child in front of others seems beyond mean to me. It makes me wonder what this woman does behind closed doors if she is so free and easy with the abusive language in public. This woman sits with little index cards at the games and keeps count of mistakes that are made by her child and when her child is done playing, she hands her the card and immediately starts talking about all the mistakes that her child made. Even if she wins, the index cards are all marked up with mistakes that took place on her way to winning! I kid you not. If I happen to be sitting next to her when she does this I always make sure to compliment the good things I have seen because that's all I seem to know what to do. I want her to know that not everyone looks at her and thinks she's a failure. I don't want her to think we are all counting the mistakes she has made so that we can shove them in her face afterwards. I am totally the opposite type of parent. I think the world is cruel enough without also having to deal with parents who make you feel less than everyone else.

I don't know. Sometimes people make me feel so weary. If we could only see how we appear to others when we're making complete buffoons of ourselves perhaps we'd try a little harder to exert a little self control. I think too many parents see their children lose and take the loss on as their own and that's when the real trouble begins. I know this because I have had to fight this feeling myself sometimes. I've had to tell myself that I am not helping my children when I am projecting my insecurities onto them. I am not my child. My child is not me. Losing a game is not the end of the world and I just don't understand why some parents act as though it is. I think negativity begets negativity. I think parents should lift their children up and not tear them down but that's just me.

1 comment:

Gina said...

I came across this entry thru the Blogrush widget and the post title just caught my attention. I am glad that I clicked .

My heart goes out to that poor child.

I am not a 'child parent' ( I am however,a cat parent =) and if I ever become one, I know I would treat him/her with love and yes, respect.