Toddler tantrums

Everyone who has not had children knows that toddlers only ever scream or have tantrums while safely at home out of the public eye.  In the event that a toddler decides to start screaming in public, everyone knows that the parent ought to be able to calm the child.  In fact, plenty of parents will jump in here and agree that it’s always possible to calm or quiet a screaming child in public, because children with varying personalities and levels of development are magically all the same in this one regard.  But on the off chance that you fail as a parent and cannot calm your child, well then it is your Sacred Duty™ to remove the child so you don’t risk offending anyone else.

Never mind that you have no other opportunity to get your grocery shopping done or stop at the post office or pick up your glasses – thou shalt not, under any circumstances, remain in public with a screaming child.  It’s the 11th Commandment – look it up.  Why would you think it’s okay for you to finish up your errand?  How entitled are you?

Any parent out in public with a screaming toddler should be prepared (and grateful!) when strangers scold them for their inadequate parenting skills.  They should bow their heads meekly and accept an exhortation to “Go to hell!” as if it were the most benign of blessings.  It is, of course, the parent’s fault in the first place for even HAVING children.  It is further the height of irresponsibility to have children while single and without having at least two forms of backup childcare available whenever you need to go grocery shopping; how dare you inflict your irresponsible choices on me!

“But what does any of that have to do with anything?  The fact remains that I’m here, and my baby is here, and we both need to eat.  When exactly am I supposed to go to the store?”

You made your bed, now sleep in it!  Now that you’ve procreated irresponsibly, it’s on you to rearrange your schedule so that you’re not shopping at the same time that I am.

“But I can’t rearrange my schedule!  I only have daycare during the hours I’m in class, and I only have a very narrow window between class time and when the grocery store opens / closes!  I’m doing homework the rest of the time!”

Well you should have thought of that before you decided to breed.  Your kids are not my problem.  Period.  By the way, your defiant, entitled attitude isn’t earning you any sympathy.

“I don’t need your sympathy – your sympathy isn’t going to do my coursework, buy my groceries, or care for my children.”

*Scoff*  Parents these days.


  1. Lots of juicy POVs here. Disclosure: I have gone from single guy to married with children and will likely someday find myself in a similar situation as I bring the germy projectile-barfing poopsacks out into the world.

    I clicked on your link and watched the video and I’ve read a blog or two on this particular incident. I’m trying to think of a one size fits all or most rule for this situation …Something like whenever voices raise, vulgarity, profanity or threats are uttered, the first person who invokes violence is automatically in the wrong. and obviously that’s very dangerous to do.

    stories like these usually bring out the various camps and the middle grounders (“couldn’t you trade babysitting with another single mom, to do your shopping” ) and then the backlash, and then the backlash against the backlash and they are wonderful for pageviews and hit counts.

    For me it’s the context and the distinctions that always get lost in the fallout.

    What Red Shirt Woman and Hajek-Richardson said to one another is largely hearsay. We don’t know the exact words they used or the tone, only what each one recalls the other said. People see themselves reflected in the story and take a side regardless of the specific details. We don’t know if Hajek-Richardson asked nicely or meanly (is that a word?) Which brings up….

    Is it always wrong to ask a parent, politely or otherwise, if they can do anything about their kid having a meltdown? The assumption is that the parent is trying their best and the first person who magically comes up with a way to calm all children of varying personalities and levels of development” will be a very rich person indeed. But what if the parent is not doing anything and in fact completely obvious to their offspring’s antics? Then is it okay to politely ask, if it’s not too much trouble, if they could do anything about the kid who is screaming bloody murder at the top of their lungs?

    Now back to the violence thing. Do we want a world where violence is or isn’t considered an unacceptable solution to conflict? Hajek-Richardson had the choice of saying something or nothing. She choose to say something, maybe nicely, maybe rudely. Red Shirt Woman had the choice to ignore Hajek-Richardson or respond. She chose to respond, apparently aggressively. She allegedly decided that one round wasn’t enough so she chose to follow this woman to the parking lot and continue. Maybe Hajek-Richardson said something that provoked her into attacking but at that point it’s on Red Shirt Woman. What could someone possibly say that would justify attacking someone in a civilized society?

    I guess I’m taking a side here, which I don’t really want to. I guess I don’t want to live in a world where someone attacks me for saying something they don’t agree with or like, especially if my words don’t physically cause any harm or imply an actual threat. Isn’t that kinda one of the point of today of all days (Veterans Day). [Wow, I could get a blog post out of this comment.]

    1. I appreciate all your thoughts. For me, I remember having kids that were at that window of development between 14 months and 2, where they are capable of throwing tantrums but incapable of being reasoned with. The minute I would begin to pay attention to them, it would validate their tantrum and they would get WORSE. Taking them out of the store wouldn’t teach them anything (because they were incapable of reason), and I didn’t have time to just “leave and come back later.” So, with no other option but to finish my errand, I was that mom who was “ignoring” their screaming kid.

      But in no way am I going to defend the mom – the way I see it, if you can ignore a screaming kid, you can also ignore a rude adult. Same principle – don’t validate their tantrum.

      One wise commenter said that they will try to get the child’s attention and/or talk to them, which usually shocks the child into being quiet. Alternatively (my thoughts), someone could ask the mom – “Can I help?” I’m sure it’s not foolproof, but it’s much better than the usual “Control your child!” or “Can’t you DO something?” Even when someone “asks nicely,” it still comes across as arrogant and judgmental.

  2. Well stated, both your post and your reply. I read this article earlier today and honestly was a little horrified by both women. Hard to understand what would have driven either woman to act like they did. I tend to side with your thinking that ignoring the tantrum is often the most effective at stopping it. And NOTHING would ever get done if every time a tantrum happened, you stopped whatever you were doing to race out of wherever you were in shame. Tantrums happen. But at the same time, punching someone for being an impatient, ignorant, fool isn’t the best way to handle the situation either. Hopefully this event will give people something to think about next time they are in line (for 2 whole minutes) listening to a kid having a tantrum. Just be glad you don’t have to go home with the kid. Or try to put them in their car seat!

    1. “Just be glad you don’t have to go home with the kid. Or try to put them in their car seat!”

      Indeed! Toddlers – planking before it was cool. And STILL planking even though it’s not cool anymore. 😉

  3. I also agree with your respond. If they’re not going to help, then they should also just ignore. Telling the parent “Control your child!” or “Can’t you DO something?” sounds more as a complain to me rather than helping.

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