punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Friday, January 27, 2012

Being a Parent Does Not Entitle You To... (A Discourse on [Un]Common Courtesy)

Venturing into the outside world with children is scary.  Some might call it a handicap.  I can attest to this.  Any parent without eight arms is already handicapped.

Errands take forever with kids.  Since their needs are always at highest pitch in public, you often wind up inadvertently inconveniencing others by holding up a line or knocking into someone whilst scrambling to catch a child who's darting around like a blind ferret.  I get it.  I’ve been there. 

Even so, as a parent, I’ve been amazed at how many parents who are familiar with how burdensome accomplishing tasks with children can be, can infringe upon others with children when it comes to their own needs. 

Parenting may be noble but it does not make one above reproach.  Yes, toting the kids around is cumbersome.   Yes, you have a good reason for going slower and taking longer than someone without kids.  But parents, just like everyone else, are obliged to follow social etiquette and common courtesy.  

Let me be very specific. Being a parent does not entitle you to do the following:

Take cuts in line.
This is just plain rude, and actually pretty thuggish.  I’m not talking about asking permission to go ahead of someone to purchase a quick item.  I mean dashing to the front of a line blatantly disregarding the fifty-foot queue of people waiting for the same thing. It’s even worse when it’s a parent with kids.  What message does that send?  That they can forcibly get their way anytime regardless of what everyone else is doing? That the other families waiting in line are less important than theirs?  Rude, rude, rude.   Those people make me pray alot.

Leave your items at the cashier so you can go back to find that one forgotten item.
When I’ve forgotten one crucial item, I finish checking out and then go back to grab what I need.  Or I just *gasp* let it go.  It’s been only recently that I have experienced parents who, realizing they’ve forgotten something, leave their purchase half complete, and take their children on a journey throughout the store to locate it making everyone behind them wait.  Maybe it’s just my belief that if I screw up, I shouldn’t make others pay for it, but this smacks of utter selfishness and inconsideration.  Ditto on what message it sends the kids which is the same as taking cuts in line.

Place too much stock in your kids’ preferences.
As much as we want our kids to practice making choices and forming opinions, there’s a time and place where we can dispense with higher level Bloom Taxonomy thinking, and just go for what we already know works.  Those times include: when others are waiting, or when your kid doesn’t know what they want because their preferences are changing all of the time.  So, don’t put too much stock in kids' wants.  If they’re like my kids they will always want what they that see someone else has.  It’s just the rule of undisciplined desire in kids.

Make a big deal over price discrepancies.
Coupons do make life easier, I guess, but not when you’re the one stuck behind the parent with antsy children, with your own children getting antsier by the second, as they dispute over twenty cents worth of savings.  Some cost/benefit analysis would help parents work out if the twenty cents was equivalent to the salary accrued by the annoyed cashier, the summoned manager, and the errand-running bag boy in the time it took to look up the coupon, verify the price, do a manual override and present the refund.  Be sure to factor in the price per ounce of whiskey that the other waiting parent will have to imbibe at home to get over another nearly disastrous outing.

Leave messes behind you.
I really don’t get this one. Aren’t we parents always picking up messes? It’s like, what we do. So why would we leave messes out in public for someone else to clean? Further, it looks bad on us to leave a trail of trash wherever our kids have eaten.  Other people have to see it and smell it.  Other people have to clean it up.  If everyone adopted the rule to leave a place as you found it (if it was clean to begin with) then everyone would be a lot happier.  I know I would be.

Forgo with returning your shopping cart.
Once the kids are buckled, why not return the cart?  If you don’t, someone else will have to.  It’s easy and you burn calories.  I can only ask again: why not return the cart?

Maybe this post stems from my oversensitivity to not imposing upon others and my having been taught to be courteous to those around me.   In the end it’s just living according to the golden rule, which should be the platinum rule by now for those who have ever embarked out into the world with kids. 


  1. Great points! I'm often surprised by the lack of courtesy so many people show to others (and I have 3 kids so grocery shopping is not the easiest).

    1. Wow, shopping with 3...I'll be there one day (God willing!). If only they gave a medal for that...or jus a complimentary Starbucks coffee...either way..

    2. Well, now our oldest is in kindergarten, so I usually try to go during the day so I only have the younger two with me. Yes, a medal or coffee would be excellent! ;)

  2. Love your post. My MIL told me that in Missouri you're not allowed to leave the kids in the car alone even if they are buckled in. So you have to return the cart before that step. She said it had to do with a kid being left in the car on a ferry ride and knocking it out of gear. In the process down below where the car ended up a child was killed.

    It's a silly law really. It's not like the children can go anywhere if they're strapped to a car seat and they're unable to get themselves out. And you don't plan on being away long enough for them to freeze or bake in the car. But people overreact to tragedy's sometimes.

    Sometimes it's simply an accident.

    1. How very sad for that child and their family, though. But yes, that's a law that no one can enforce.