Courtney Enlow, an associate editor of SYFY FANGRRLS on Syfy.com, and the co-host the Trends Like These podcast, recently tweeted, “Before I had kids, I said there’s no excuse not to return your f***ing shopping cart and people were all WAIT TILL YOU HAVE KIDS. Now, I have two and confirmed THIS REMAINS A**HOLE BEHAVIOR!”
Enlow’s tweet came in response to a Scary Mommy tweet, which read, “Instead of getting mad at me for not returning my shopping cart, how about you notice I have kids waiting inside my hot car and offer to return my cart for me? Just a thought.”
As a contributor to Vanity Fair, Bustle, Glamour and Huffington Post, Enlow is known for her no-nonsense approach and for not suffering fools lightly. Her blunt response to the Scary Mommy tweet seems to address a larger issue, which is that having children is a responsibility that one — hopefully— takes on willingly and is not an excuse for bad behavior.
Granted kids can be unpredictable and parents can't be expected to always handle every situation expertly or even effectively, but there’s a difference between expecting others to understand your dilemma versus assuming that others will pick up the slack. Yes, the children are the future, but that’s no reason for them to frustrate everyone else's present.
According to psychologist Anna Hamer, there are two types of tantrums: the power tantrum and the emotional tantrum. The power tantrum, which is more common in toddlers and pre-schoolers, is about a child exercising power and control. The emotional tantrum, on the other hand, more common in older children, is an expression of anger, frustration, sadness, which children have not developed the biological or psychological ability to process.
Hamer says that when children become emotionally overwhelmed, they go into the limbic brain, which is also known as the "hot" brain since it deals with emotions. It makes children unable to think logically. “When this happens – they're literally out of their minds, by which we mean the "thinking" prefrontal cortex, or rational brain,” Hamer explains. “This is why it's absolutely impossible to reason with a child who is in the grip of a tantrum. And if your child is hungry or tired, it exacerbates the situation - think about how you react to potential trigger situations in a low blood sugar moment or after several nights of broken sleep.”
Parents often use the excuse that “kids will be kids” to justify behavior that is simply unacceptable. We’ve all encountered the child having a tantrum in the middle of the aisle of a supermarket or screaming their head off in a restaurant. In these cases, perhaps kids are being kids, but parents also need to step up and be parents. A time out is never more in order than when our kids are making a scene in public, so maybe a walk outside might be a good idea.
Parents who do a great job should be commended, but parents who sidestep their responsibilities should be taken to task. Essentially, when parents claim that kids act out just because they’re kids is not only disrespecting the millions of kids who are polite and well-behaved, but also their parents, who may work overtime to ensure their kids take others into consideration.
Agree with Marina o’loughlin on removing tantrum throwing kids. We were once out with the kids and Alice was behaving appallingly. I marched her outside and said “if you don’t behave we are going home”. To which she said “fine” which kind of deflated me as I was hungry! pic.twitter.com/ZKLTk6vjiS— Kate Bielinski (@katebielinski) June 3, 2019
Enlow’s point is that behavior that was unacceptable before becoming a parent is just as intolerable when you are a parent. Therefore, just as “kid will be kids” is not a valid excuse, “parents are just being parents” is not an excuse either. The parent that returns their shopping cart is not only behaving responsibly and being considerate of others, they are also setting a good example and imparting a valuable life lesson for their children.
It is often the parents who make an effort to teach their children good behavior who are the ones that are less likely to have to deal with a distraught child in public or to excuse their child’s bad behavior. By being consistent in their own behavior, “kids will be kids” excuses become unnecessary. Most of the time, kids do not misbehave by nature or because of their young age. They misbehave because their parents haven’t taken the time to teach them respect and politeness.
In all fairness, however, I don’t want to pretend that the world is split between good parents and bad parents or polite kids and rude kids. Every situation is different, and parents often do the best that they can. Just as being a considerate parent should be a given, strangers should also be understanding of parents dealing with a temporarily hysterical child. When you see a parent struggling yet making an effort to improve the situation, your judgment or condescension is uncalled for.
Just as “a**hole” behavior is intolerable in parents, it’s also inexcusable in bystanders. Sometimes moms and dads need to be reminded that we’ve all been there, and a show of support will be appreciated. So perhaps, if you see a flustered parent just trying to make it home with a tired and difficult child, maybe offering to bring their cart back for them isn’t such a bad idea.