Before You Judge My Parenting Skills…

When you see my child having a complete throw-down temper tantrum in the store, please don’t assume she’s just spoiled and throwing a fit because I won’t buy her something.

When you see my child crying and me standing there not comforting her, please don’t assume it’s because I’m an unfeeling parent.

When you see my child sitting in a restaurant watching a DVD player or playing with an iTouch with headphones in her hears as she watches videos, please don’t assume we are bad parents who sit our child in front of the TV all day.

When you see my child walking through the mall with a backpack leash on, please don’t assume it’s because I’m a lazy parent who can’t control my toddler.

We live in a reality very different from yours.

A store with lots of smells and noise quickly causes sensory overload for my daughter.  She screams and yells and lashes out and throws herself at me because she has no other way of dealing with her overwhelmed senses.

When she is crying and upset, sometimes it is also because of sensory overload.  For me to pick her up, touch her, comfort her with words, would just add to the sensory stimulation and make the situation worse.  So I stand next to her.  Not touch her.  Not saying anything.  And wait for her to start to calm.  Then I quickly try to refocus her attention on something pleasant for her.

You may see me at this point hand her the iTouch.  It’s not because I don’t want to deal with her.  It’s because after two years of trial and error, we have found an iTouch loaded with coloring / counting / alphabet games and her favorite videos is an effective escape for her.  She is able to focus on it and shut out the external sensory stimulation and therefore calm herself.

A restaurant with loud background music, people talking, weird lighting, is especially overstimulating.  Without a DVD or iTouch to block the sounds and sights, we have less than 5 minutes before you will she her with hands over her ears screaming “TOO LOUD!” over and over.  Then she will start yelling and signing “All done.  All done!”.  Her way of letting us know she needs to get out of that situation and it is too much for her.  Yes, we could lock ourselves in our house and never take her out to a restaurant.  But we want to experience things in her way.  So we choose to use distractions to allow us all to enjoy a meal out without disturbing the other patrons.

And when you see us walking with Vista and she has her backpack leash on it’s not because we have no control over her.  Exactly the opposite.  But to hold our hands in a mall setting is too overstimulating.  The sights, sounds, lights plus the added sensation of touch is too much.  So we use the leash instead.  The clasps on the backpack that go across her chest and hold it tight to her back, also act as a compression which helps calm and focus her.

So the next time you see my child, any child, acting out; the next time you see parents who are not parenting the way you think they should; stop and consider.  What is going on behind the scenes that you have no information on.  Just because kids look normal, doesn’t mean they live in the same world you do.

I don’t know anything about your life.  Please don’t assume you know anything about mine from seeing one two minute interaction with my child.

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51 Responses to Before You Judge My Parenting Skills…

  • Cara says:

    So well written, Jenn. You & Bil are amazing parents & getting these little peeks into your life with Vista are such a blessing to me. Whether I remember to tell you or not (which is most often the case), you provide such inspiration to me & give me so many wonderful ideas & a great perspective on parenting. What happened to you last week made me so very angry & made me feel helpless because I knew there was nothing I could say or do to help the situation. Keep being you-a wonderful person & amazing parent to Vista. Much love.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Cara,

    Thanks sweets. It’s support from amazing friends like you that keeps me going on the down days.

    Loves you lots

  • you are an incredible woman and mother. love you and yours.
    .-= nic @mybottlesup´s last blog ..“Rate that bottle” GIVEAWAY!!! =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @nic

    Thanks hon. (hugs)

  • Avasmommy says:

    Unless I see a parent beating their kids, I feel it’s not my place to judge or step in. I may parent differently from you, but that doesn’t mean I’m right and you’re not. It just means we have different kids and we do what works for them.

    I used to feel I had to justify some of my choices. Now, I say if you don’t like it too bad. It’s what works for us.
    .-= Avasmommy´s last blog ..What I am Thankful For =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Avasmommy,

    My goal is to get to that point. I still want to rationalize and justify for people and make them understand. I need to get to the point where I can look them in the eye and tell them to mind their own damn business.

    Michelle P. Reply:

    @Jenn, I can’t imagine you NOT telling people to mind their own business. Good points though and truly, different kids need different parenting styles. As long as it’s safe, who are we to judge?

    Jenn Reply:

    @Michelle P.,

    lol. Usually I’m sooo busy trying to defend what I’m doing I forget just to tell them to shove it.

    I think you make a good point. ‘As long as it’s safe’.
    Unfortunately, these days, people seem to take ‘safe’ to mean: Anything I don’t agree with.

  • becky says:

    agreed and honestly i think that makes you a BETTER parent because you know V SO well.
    .-= becky´s last blog ..One more post…photos from my shoot! =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @becky,

    I think, as parents, no one knows our children like we do. I’ve said as much to V’s doctors too. A 5 minutes appointment does not give you the full picture of our life and challenges.

    I’m hoping that the better I get to know her now, and the more I can understand her, the easier it will be when she’s school age.

  • Pres. Kathy says:

    I really liked this post. As parents, we have to do what we can during certain situations. We should never judge anyone else because we are not in their shoes. All I have to say is thank God for Itouch – it has been a huge help!

    Jenn Reply:

    @Pres. Kathy,

    And that’s about it. We do what we can, with what we have, under each individual circumstance. Who can judge that?

    I don’t know how parents with special needs kids ever survived before technology.

  • Deidra23 says:

    Oh, I’ve judged your parenting skills for sure.. but that’s over 2 years.. and my judgement is that you’ve reached wonder-mommy status! You know V super well, you know what works and doesn’t work, and that is AWESOME. I’ve known people who didn’t know thier kids even 1/4 as good as you know her. Hell.. I’m STILL guessing when it comes to A.

    Also.. We need more coffee soon! I miss you :)
    .-= Deidra23´s last blog ..Blue Diamonds =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Deidra23,

    *snort* Dude, seeing you successfully parenting A, I consider you infinitely qualified to judge me. lol.

    Let me know what your schedule is like next week and maybe we can find a day to come in and visit!

  • Vixen says:

    I wish every one on the planet would read this and not make judgements. You don’t know what issues a child is dealing with (and yes, I am talking from personal experience too) just by watching someone, so no one should be making judgements.
    .-= Vixen´s last blog ..Ode To SSDI =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Vixen,

    What always surprises me is what people feel their entitled to comment on. I lost track of the number of times I got grief for bottle feeding Vista. Like that’s anyone’s business but mine?

    And even though now, at 2.5 yrs, the only way she can drink ‘milk’ (she’s still on formula) and keep it down is using a bottle with a newborn nipple, we don’t DARE give her one in public because we just don’t feel like dealing with the backlash. So sad.

  • cindy w says:

    Um, I totally hand my kid my iPhone every time we’re in a restaurant or a long line because it keeps her busy to play puzzle or letter games. And you know what? She’s 2 & can spell her name, so if anyone criticizes that, they can kiss my big fat white butt.

    You do what’s best for your kid. The end.
    .-= cindy w´s last blog ..this is why I don’t drink beer anymore =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @cindy w,

    You make a good point. A lot of the stuff on the iPhone / iTouch is hugely educational.

    V is 2, as well, and knows all her numbers, letters, the sounds the letters make, her colors, etc.

    Who am I to tell her she’s not allowed to learn, just because people don’t like the way it’s being taught to her. lol

  • Lisa says:

    Well put, very well put. It drives me nuts when parents judge other parents without knowing what is going on in their little world. My friend had a little boy that couldn’t handle restaurants for several years as a toddler. She used to use the dvd player with him all the time. Several times people said things that ended up upsetting my friend and her son. People are so judgmental, it drives me nuts.

    You are an awesome mom.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Christmas Shopping =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Lisa,

    That’s it exactly. When someone comes up and makes a comment is shocks me every time. I don’t know why it still surprises me, but really? Is my kid watching a DVD so important in your life that you have to come over and comment on it??

    I think I’m going to have shirts made up that say ‘If I wanted your opinion, I would have asked for it’

  • Heather says:

    I love you.

    We quit eating out about a year ago. We shop first thing in the morning/during school hours so there aren’t other kids.

    That doesn’t stop the screaming.

    It does, however, help the Momma. And, sometimes, you have to do what’s best for YOU.

    This road we travel is the path of no direction…not fun, but so miraculous in its own way.

    Hugs and lots of extra prayers…
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..Tales from the GI office… =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Heather,

    We do a lot of the same things. Try to go to restaurants before the rush hour. Avoid malls on busy days (or if we can’t, make the trip short). The whole drill. But you’re right. Even that doesn’t guarantee you’ll avoid a meltdown. There are times we’ll go a week or two without really leaving the house because sometimes it’s just not worth the aggravation.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Heather,

    Oh, and P.S. – I totally love you too :-)

  • db says:

    So well said, and true. I sometimes think people under estimate the power of a little bit of common sense – you know, like not every child is cut out to be “Just like yours”…sort of thing.
    .-= db´s last blog ..Atleast…I think I know =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @db,

    Yes. The longer I’m a mother the more I find that ‘common sense’ isn’t so common.
    I sometimes wonder where this cookie cutter mentality comes from. Not every child is a round peg going into a round hole.

  • db says:

    Nicely said, and very true. So many times I think people tend to under estimate the power of a little bit of common sense – you know like not every child rolls like yours, sort of thing.

  • I think the people who judge and stare and make comments have never parented a child. Before kids I might have been one of those people now I totally get it.
    .-= Midwest Mommy´s last blog ..A Letter =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Midwest Mommy,

    Before I had a kid I was TOTALLY one of those people. lol.
    Now? Not so much.

    What’s really fun are the parents who get mad at us because their kids are throwing a fit wanting to know why they can’t watch a DVD in the restaurant too. Hey, don’t get mad at my for your child’s behavior. I’ll deal with my kid, you deal with yours.

  • Aunt Becky says:

    It’s hard. I know. My eldest struggles with a lot of the same issues. It’s really hard.
    .-= Aunt Becky´s last blog ..Aunt Becky Is Annexed To Canada =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Aunt Becky,

    I guess what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, right?
    But I’d still like to take a page out of your book some days and tell them to ‘shut their whore mouths’ ;-)

  • damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You’re catching hell for letting her scream, AND for distracting her so she doesn’t. Screwed up.

    FWIW, I would feel more bad for the mom going through a public fit, than mad at her.
    .-= thepsychobabble´s last blog ..Heart Break =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @thepsychobabble,

    lol. That’s because you have that one quality that so many people seem to be lacking these days – compassion.

  • PBandJazz says:

    Thank you for this reminder. I love learning from you. You are such a wonderful mom. You have great insight, are kind, and compassionate. I love how direct you are. It has taken me a long time to not care what other people think. I will admit, I still often fail. Bottom line is we MUST do what is best for our kids and if others don’t like it, too bad. During this holiday season, a reminder not to judge and to be compassionate is well timed. Thanks Momma!
    .-= PBandJazz´s last blog ..I am a Proud Friend of Maddie =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @PBandJazz,

    If you’ve reached the point of not caring what people think, can you share the secret? lol.
    I still care. WAY too much. And so I write posts like this too keep me from throttling them.

  • punkinmama says:

    Amen, amen, amen!

    The world would be such a better place if everyone would stop judging each other! Parenting is hard enough without the judging, and the looks, and the accusations.

    Well said. Perhaps you should print this out and make copies and hand them out to everyone giving you “the look”. ((HUGS))
    .-= punkinmama´s last blog ..sunday reflection =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @punkinmama,

    Ha! Bil said the same thing. Print it out and hand it to people when they make a stupid comment. I really should. Might put people in their place.

  • Ginny says:

    Wow.

    I was reading through the list, nodding along, thinking “yeah, I hate people who judge based on a snapshot”. And then I got to the leash one. I totally judge(d) people who use them. It never, ever occurred to me that they would be not just useful, but necessary to some people. I love that you made me realize how narrow minded I was being. I know it was a small thing, but it makes me wonder how many other things I judge, maybe even subconsciously, that I am all wrong about.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Ginny,

    Before I had Vista, I was the same way. I totally looked down on people who used leashes. Now I know there are many reasons they’re not only useful, but necessary. Another reason we use them with V, rather than just watching her like a hawk when we’re out, is because she lacks the ‘check back’ feature that most kids possess. In other words – she’ll walk off without a second thought as to where we are. She never checks to look and see. So a leash allows her to wander, but forces her to check in.

  • Issa says:

    Gah, I used to be judged a lot when Morgan was younger. The tantrums, the over-stimulation, the handing a three year old an ipod at a restaurant or park. Sigh. People just don’t think.

    I will tell you, I never understood the leash thing. I have never said anything negative, nor looked at a parent for longer than a second because of it, but I’ve never understood. I do now. I promise never again to give it a second though.
    .-= Issa´s last blog ..The ever popular: ask Issa =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Issa,

    The leash seems to be a big one that people never consider past the ‘control’ mentality. But I was guilty of that too before I started using one. Now, I can’t imagine doing it without.

  • Nicole says:

    Hey sweetie,
    I may have to steal a lot of this because it says it so well! Thank you for sharing with all of those who read. I love you to death and I hate to say this but I THANK GOD that someone understands exactly what I deal with on a day to day basis. This is my little boy for those of you reading here too and Jenn knows him personally. Many a day I feel like the worst parent in the world and I feel like I have to explain all of what I do as you so wonderfully just did. Thank you! Love you to bits
    N

    Jenn Reply:

    @Nicole,

    Steal away. lol.
    Bil says I should print it and just hand it out to people when they act like asses to us.

    I think you’re an awesome mom and I can’t imagine how you juggle dealing with all B’s issues while catering to A’s schedule of things she’s involved in. You are amazing and don’t let anyone ever tell you different!!

    Hugs and smooches!

  • Colleen says:

    Oh honey… Before I had kids I used to wonder why parents with screaming children wouldn’t just remove them from the store or situation. After I had children my perspective changed and I realized that we are all just doing what we need to do to get through the day. Now when I’m out and I see children being difficult, I smile and go about my business because I know that I need others’ patience when it’s me.

    Sending you loads of love and hugs. I am so sorry you are having to go through this nonsense. You are a wonderful Mom!!
    .-= Colleen´s last blog ..Holiday Mayhem =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Colleen,

    lol. I was right there with you. ‘Why don’t those parents *do* something about that annoying kid!’. I’m wondering how much of dealing with V is karma kicking me in my big fat ass for all those times.

  • Tricia (irishsamom) says:

    Well written Jenn. And I know too well the judgement that you encounter in stores and public places, without children with sensory issues or other things that people don’t know about. I always try and be supportive of a Mom whose child is throwing a tantrum and give her a smile, because God knows, we have all been there. NO ONE knows what goes on in someone else’s life unless they are living it. Period. I wish I could bring all the other judging people to this article and make them read it – but unfortunately they will always be there. For you, you handle it all amazingly and your daughter is proof that you do things the best way for HER. Follow your heart always and keep up the great job with her!
    Tricia : )

    Jenn Reply:

    @Tricia (irishsamom),

    So true. We never really know what’s going on with other people.

    But like you said, the proof is with Vista. As long as she keeps developing and growing, I’m happy.

  • Lu says:

    I am so behind here, but I still wanted to comment…
    Just wanted to say that I TOTALLY understand and get similar judgement on stuff I allow Mason to do. First of all people think he is 4 when he just turned 2.5 (as if it’s their business to begin with) and are always condescending about why he isn’t potty trained. F OFF.
    Ok also, I think that through reading your stories and raw honestly about V I have come to know and understand sensory issues. I think some of those people should get schooled. I know on one hand it’s not their business, but they would feel 2 inches tall if they knew.
    Also, I am starting to think Mason has some sensory/ocd tendencies I will be discussing in his upcoming Dr’s appointment.
    I use the ipod and iphone on a regular basis. Old MacDonald App? LOVE! Flashcard app? LOVE Diego videos? LOVE sometimes I play the ipod at our own table, because he can NOT sit still long enough to eat a full meal. So it helps him stay focused. Thank you apple.
    Anyway, totally long comment short, I really truly wish women could just let it go and undertsand we are all the perfect moms for OUR kids and embrace the awesome differences we all have. All books about Babies and Children should be burned and this statement should be printed: All kids are different. Good luck.
    P.S. You know that you and Bil are so awesome, and I know it can be difficult at times. When V is older I will make sure she knows, so you guys get a SUPER nice Nursing Home. *wink*

    Jenn Reply:

    @Lu,

    Yes!! We have that same problem with V too. She’s 2.5 but very tall and big and carries herself so she looks even taller (that’s a family trait. Everyone assumes Bil and I are much taller than we are). So every assumes she’s 4 or 5. That’s exactly why I loathe changing her diaper in public (even though, due to other issues, we’re under strict instructions from her doctors NOT to potty train her right now. Go figure) and refuse to give her a bottle in public.
    I don’t feel like being crucified by over judgmental people.

    V really likes the coloring app called Coloring Fun by Coding Ventures. And the Wheels on the Bus one by Duck Duck Moose she loves too. I don’t have the Old Macdonald one. I’ll have to go take a look and check that one out.

    Lu Reply:

    @Jenn, Oh Thanks for the new app ideas! Mason would LOVE a coloring one.
    I am just so sorry that people (as a whole) are not kinder and more understanding. That’s pretty much why I am a bitch. Go ahead, ask me something about my kid in public. I guess I am a “I wish you would, rather than I hope you don’t” Bwahahaha!
    Anyway I totally understand the bottle thing. My uncle still gives his 2.5 yr old a bottle at night b/c it works for her. She has issues sleeping and they need their freaking sleep! So Amen to that.
    Summary: I LOVE YOU AND YOU ARE SUCH AN AWESOME MOM!
    .-= Lu´s last blog ..Thanksgiving and whining all mixed together, with pictures! =-.

  • Laura says:

    Jenn, Like many others here, I understand the difficulty of this situation. Sensory issues are so tough. My husband’s family has crucified us for what we deal with one of our sons. Vista’s lucky to have such kick-ass parents. You’re brave and strong. Your words prove it.
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Wisdom =-.

  • paula schuck says:

    I have a child like this who also has sensory processing disorder and wow she can melt down in public like nobody’s business. We are often the recipients of the evil glares of strangers etc. I learn to ignore them and focus on my daughter, but it isn’t easy. Solidarity sister. We have a FP3 our daughter likes to use, but an IPOd sounds even better.
    .-= paula schuck´s last blog ..London and Snout Houses =-.

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