Lend a helping hand not a hurtful judgment

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

I came across a blog post Monday written by a friend of mine who lives in Richmond, Virginia. This friend has seven children and wrote about some of the lessons she has learned as a mother.

My friend had just gone through a challenging experience with some of her children at a doctor’s appointment, and needless to say, by the time she came out of that appointment, she buckled her children in their seats and then sat in her car and cried.

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As a parent of two active children, I have had similar experiences. It is not always easy bringing your children to appointments, to restaurants or even to other events geared toward children in public — especially the younger ones who won’t sit still and who want to know everything going on.

Later that day, as my friend was cruising around on Facebook, she noticed a post someone had made about a different experience in a waiting room at a doctor’s office. This other woman had apparently just sat with her well-mannered 11-year-old son and witnessed some deplorable behavior of several young children. The woman scolded the parents of these other ill-behaved children.

Who is to blame? The mother of the young children or the children themselves?

The gist of my friend’s post was that instead of offering a rude glare or damaging words to mothers struggling with active children, offer a compassionate hand or simply a friendly smile. It can make all the difference. We can’t judge.

As a mother of two children who can sometimes be pretty rowdy themselves, I felt I related well to her story. Sometimes it can be a battle to simply go to the store or on an outing.

Just on Halloween, my husband and I took our two children downtown for some trick-or-treating.

My 3-year-old son started off doing well but in the middle of our outing had a meltdown, and I had to carry him — screaming and kicking — back to the car a few blocks down the street while my husband and daughter finished visiting a few more stores and painted a pumpkin.

It was a fun afternoon turned into a not-so-fun afternoon. Just like my friend, by the time I reached the car and got my son in his seat belt, I just wanted to sit and cry.

Sometimes it takes a lot to be a parent.

If you get a moment this week and see a struggling mother or father, don’t just sit there and glare.

It’s easy to say, “I would never let my child act like that,” when you’re not in the situation. I have done it, too.

Instead, offer a comforting smile or better yet a hand of help. Remember, we are all a part of that village.


Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.