It’s about consideration for others…

In the comments yesterday Holly clearly articulated the problem with people’s inconsiderateness when parking. I had hoped to make a slightly larger point. People, by and large, are more inconsiderate of others than ever before in my lifetime (31 years). And most of that is a direct result of the parenting of children.

I do want to mention that in the case of these two parents, these only children will remain only children as both women have told me at parent events, ad nauseam, about how after their child was diagnosed (on the autism spectrum, this school primarily services children like Shelby) they made the decision not to have any more children and had tubal ligations. Then they give me “the look.” Because, I continued to have kids after Shelby was diagnosed.

“The look” is something I get from the public at large when Shelby is making noises instead of talking, they see I have more than 2 kids, and when people figure out or find out Shelby is my oldest and autistic, and I went on to have 2 more. Probably most surprising to a lot of people is that the worst judgment I often get is from other parents of autistic children. They feel that I have burdened my boys with their sister and that I cheated my daughter of having the “complete parent” (as one father put it) an autistic child needs.

I want to be clear not all parents of autistic children feel this way. My friend Michelle, for example, whose son Lars is a year older than Shelby, had hoped for more children and was unable to have them. Similarly, my friend Ashley, whose twin boys are autistic and Shelby’s age, is expecting her 4th child next year (she has an older son as well). But it is rather shocking the number that do.

Which is why I am a pariah among parents at school sometimes. They moan and groan when they see me coming in my double stroller, but I certainly manage to get 3 kids through the door by myself rather than ask them for help and get the eye roll and loud sigh. It’s just not worth the effort, they have made their feelings clear, and guess what, I’m proud to say, look you could do this too if you put as much effort into it as you do rolling your eyes at me! And I offer up plenty of prayers for them as they are much more likely to have the meltdown child in the hallway than I am.

But, by no means is inconsiderate parenting confined to only-child families, I am reminded of a large family in my parish. One Sunday I watched as they arrived in separate groups including the grandparents and teenagers who showed up during the opening hymn. The mother of this group asked a married couple with a baby and toddler who had been sitting in the pew BEFORE this family had shown up to move so her family can sit together. Uh, no. Sorry, but I would not have gotten up and gone to the back of the church like this couple did. I would have politely informed her that unfortunately I would not be moving and her teenagers could find seats elsewhere. They were late, that’s what happens to people who are late to church, the find a seat where they can, maybe it could be a lesson to her teens that if they want to sit with the family, they need to wake up earlier and get ready on time. But instead, the rules didn’t apply to them. There are ten children in this family and unfortunately the older children are not setting a good example for the younger ones and from this discourse, it’s easy to see why. Mom and Dad can bail them out at the expense of other parishioners.

This is becoming an epidemic in society of parent being inconsiderate of others and allowing their children to believe this is acceptable. I am trying to teach my kids that if we miss a deadline for a sign-up, we miss the activity because it is our responsibility to follow-up on what we want to do. Not throw a fit in front of the person in charge about how they are persecuting us our lack of regard for schedules and rules. Similarly, I am parking correctly in my spot, because it makes life easier for all of us.

8 thoughts on “It’s about consideration for others…

  1. Kristen,

    I, too, am appalled at the lack of consideration most people show for others these days. And I certainly feel for you having to bear the judgment of other people every day for your choice to have two children after having Shelby. That’s just not right for people to judge you for that. You are obviously a loving mother who is doing a great job with all three of her wonderful children and not asking anyone for special favors or help, which is awesome.

    I would gently caution you not to paint all parents of only children and those only children themselves by the same brush. I’m an only child, and my parents, who are very sweet and considerate people, raised me to be the same way. There is nothing I have resented more in my growing up than getting all the comments about being spoiled. I might’ve been spoiled in my parents’ love and attention, but that did not mean I acted like a spoiled brat or didn’t consider other people. And I certainly didn’t get my way all the time or get everything I wanted. Now, as a mother of an only child, I’m trying to make sure to teach my daughter to have good manners and be considerate of others as well.

    I guess I’m saying as you are feeling judged by others, try not to judge others or type them as a certain type of people because of their choice to have only one child. Not all of us are like those inconsiderate people…and inconsiderate people exist in families of all shapes and sizes as you mentioned. 🙂 It’s sadly an epidemic of rudeness in this country right now.

    • Thank you for responding Sonya. I did not intend to pass that judgment on parents of only children as, with my friend Michelle, I know there are many parents out there of only children who are extremely considerate. My putting that information in this particular post has to do with the mindset of the parents of only children who regularly make comments and roll their eyes at me when I take Shelby to school. Also, Holly had mentioned in her previous comment that perhaps these children would not always be only children which I needed to clarify that in this particular case, these children will always be only children. As I am Catholic and went through a period of infertility,I am acutely aware that on that side of the fence there is a fair amount of judgment to be passed too. I get awfully upset when mothers of many boo-hoo that they are judged without acknowledging that there are thousands of couples and singles in this world who would give their right arm for that judgment. I can certainly see where for many of the inconsiderate parents in this world who have one child it is very easy for them give in to every whim because there is no one else to say no to (there is an only child in my family who is like this). Regardless, that is not the case everywhere. I grew up in a highly competitive area of the country education-wise and I knew parents who lied and stole to get their kids ahead any way they could. Only children and many children alike. Every race, ethnicity, religion and background you could imagine. Many, many parents feel these days feel that their child should never have to hear “no” and that is where it starts.

  2. I am loving this conversation! Thank you so much for posting this. I too am blown away by the overall lack of consideration in our culture! But I also think it is super funny that w seem to find al lthe same things drive us batty. This makes me wonder – do people not even know they are acting this way – or is it a choice? And, which one is worse?!!

  3. People are getting more incosiderate by the day. I try to remember that everyone is battling something… if they are rude etc I try to remeber that its probably not because they are evil but overwhelmed.

    As far as people only having one kid b/c they are afraid of having more kiddos with problems I can relate. I do have three. My first two are probably on the spectrum but my youngest seems really average. (He was a surprise) I wont be having anymore kids. Its hard having two with problems even if the youngest turns out normal….I dont have enough fight in me to take care of three or four special needs children. Its just too much….and honestly I dont trust God enough to wing it……Who will take care of all these special needs kids if I die and our govt collapses?

    I really do hold you in high regard for your trust in the Lord. I just cant trust that much. I have seen too many really ugly and bad things in my life. The Lord definately didnt protect me (other than keeping me alive) so its hard to imagine he would for my kids. Life is hard, and it seems selfish for me to have more kids simply because I love kids, when I know full well God will not allow them to be normal. BTW— I would have had a dozen if we didnt have so many challenges:) But, obviously it wasnt meant to be.

  4. I too think ppl are just selfish and rude these days. much more than ever before inmy 38 years…lol.

    my 3 rd child has aspergers and add/hd. I went on to have 3 children after him. its highly likely that 2 others of my children have add/hd issues as well undiagnosed as of yet.

    I get looks sometimes too.

  5. Not having a child with Austism, I can only imagine the judgment received when you have more than one child. I have three, which in itself can cause people to raise eyebrows, but that’s where my battle ends. I trust in the Lord to know when and how many children to bless us with, your trust is even more admirable.
    I don’t think we can expect God to always keep us safe. He never said that if we followed Him we would have an easy life, but that He would always be there with us to love and guide us, no matter what life may send our way. We’re supposed to “carry our cross,” not “eat marshmallows and play in the sand.”

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