Keep it down – When parenting becomes a little too public

Posted in Family.

Much like someone talking loudly on their mobile in public – other people’s parenting can be loud, invasive, and a little infuriating.

As a mum, I know how difficult parenting can be. It’s is a constant part of our lives, like a never-ending conversation with toddlers who don’t listen, don’t agree or simply don’t do anything you want them to. It’s challenging, but is it something we have to share with the rest of the world?

Public parenting

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s what I call ‘public parenting’. This is when other people’s interactions with their children, either good or bad, are so loud that I can’t help but overhear. There’s nothing worse than having to listen to someone talk loudly on their mobile phone. You don’t want to know why they are cross at their neighbour, or what they’re cooking for dinner, but you have no choice. Similarly, we don’t need to hear every detail of a toddler’s morning from how many fingers they have, to whether they’ve recently done a poo.

The happy chatter

I remember always talking to my kids in public, especially when they were babies. Let’s face it, some days, you don’t get much in the way of any conversation, so you have to find it wherever you can. And these conversations are important for both parent and child. However, there’s a difference between talking to your child – and loudly oversharing with the general public. There’s nothing worse than a parent talking to their child at the top of their voice for all to hear. And while it’s important to teach kids about the world around them, to count, say words, sing songs, eat a nutritious lunch and go to the toilet, it’s not something we all need to hear about in microscopic detail.

Public disciplining

Often, we do need to talk firmly to children, especially if they’re wandering near a road, or about to jump into a big muddy puddle. However, excessive disciplining in a public place can be extremely uncomfortable, not only for those around, but also the child involved.

While a parent may be at the end of their tether, angry public discussions about what a child has done wrong are invasive, and even a cause of worry for onlookers as it would be if someone were having a public argument with their partner. No one really wants to hear, and if the situation escalates, they can’t help but feel anxious for those involved.

Of course, when toddlers have public meltdowns, there’s not much you can do about it. I remember one of my kids, aged three, lying flat on the ground between a shop assistant and me because she didn’t get her way. And my other child completely losing it once in Bunnings when there were no kid-size trolleys left. These moments are tricky, but most people understand.

However, when a parent has the ‘tantrum’, it’s hard to be as forgiving. Like the parent I saw the other day getting angry at his young child while standing in the sausage sizzle queue at netball. While the child may have done the wrong thing, the interaction was lengthy and drew far more attention than was necessary. The boy was probably mortified, not only about getting into trouble but by sharing the experience with all the surrounding families in and around the sausage sizzle queue.

Keep it private

It’s no different to invading people’s space by talking on a mobile or simply at full volume for others to hear. While parenting is challenging at the best of times, it’s not something that everyone needs to be in on. And once out there in the public arena, people can’t help but offer unnecessary advice or opinions. Parenting is a private matter. I certainly don’t want people listening to what I do – nor do I want to be disturbed by the parenting techniques of those around me.


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