There comes a time when every parent has a moment they realize they have become the parent they used to judge. In the world before children, I found myself judging other parents, thinking, “my child would never do that,” or “if my kid ever acted like that, I would do xyz.” Before I had children, whenever I saw an out of control child, I was 99.9% sure it was the parents’ fault. I’m sure there are parents out there who still feel this way, because they’ve lucked out with some truly angelic children, or they are in serious denial. The fact of the matter is, children will have their own personalities and toddlerhood can be a challenging time. There have been multiple occasions in the past 15 months, where I’ve had the realization that I had become the parent I used to pass judgment on. For example, when my child drops to the floor in a tantrum, or when her flourishing vocabulary is used against me by saying something like, “no, Mama, MINE!!!” Most recently, my struggle has been around biting. I’m the mom with “the biter.” When I walk into the daycare each afternoon, I am filled with mixed emotions. I’m happy that I will be seeing my little one, but I am filled with anxiety and dread, because I know there might be an incident report. I hope and pray that there are no other parents picking up their wounded children when I arrive.
The other day, I received a call from the daycare to discuss Sophie’s behavior. She has a Sensory Processing Disorder that they wanted to discuss, but that is a topic for another day. It sometimes gives a “why” behind a lot of her behavior, but we don’t ever want to use that as a reason to dismiss her bad behavior. Back to the biting…on the call with the school, I was informed the school noticed a lot of incident reports in her file for biting. They let me know that she bit a child on the face that day and wondered if we were aware of her biting. I immediately felt terrible, but also thought “Of course we are aware! I get a copy of these reports you are speaking of; they are the bane of my existence right now!”
I IM’d my husband to get him up to speed on Sophie’s behavior, when he asked, “What room is she in over there?” I typed, “Navy, why?” He replied with, “BRB, I have to go talk to a co-worker, I believe Sophie attacked her child’s face today.” Cue more dread and anxiety!!! My daughter is biting the child of someone my husband works with. I anxiously awaited his return. I see his status change to “Available.” “What did she say? Is she upset with us?” He replies, “No, she is more upset with the supervision in the room that allowed this to happen.” Phew! I was relieved to find out that we were dealing with a non-judgmental parent, who didn’t immediately blame our child’s behavior on my husband and me.
That same day, I confided in a friend about the biting and my friend asked, “Do the other kids bite?” I replied, “Yes, we’ve been on the receiving end of incident reports.” “Really?” she said sounding a bit judgmental, and sounding surprised. “My child doesn’t do that and it hasn’t happened at her daycare,” she said. Ouch! That hurt a bit! The parents of the bitten victim didn’t judge me, but it appears my friend did.
I know this occurrence will not be the end of my struggle. I know these incidents will happen, and I know there will be times when we deal with the parents who think we’re bad parents. There will be parents who think Sophie’s behavior is a direct correlation to how we raise our child. Let me reassure you that when I get upset with my husband or vice versa, our reaction is not to bite the other person. I can assure you that we raise our child in a non-violent and loving environment. I can also attest to the fact that the parents of the victim talked to the school about the supervision in the room, and since then we have been incident-free. I know we have to continue working on her behavior and trust me, we work on it every day. We even work with professionals once a week.
I would ask all the parents out there to think before you pass judgment. Please don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that the parents are to blame in these situations. I am sure there are parents out there who, at times, don’t react appropriately to their children’s behavior. However, there are a lot of good parents out there that face a bit of a challenge when it comes to correcting bad behavior. Right now, I happen to be one of those parents. If I could go back in time, I would scold my old self for the many times I passed judgment onto innocent parents. To all of those parents, I am sincerely sorry! I am currently “walking a mile in your shoes.”
The Mom of “the Biter”