My son always sends me a text letting me know he’s on his way home, and I start dinner. A few weeks ago while I was in the kitchen a few minutes after I got his text when I heard a woman yelling. Since I hadn’t heard his car pull up, I had no idea what was going on.
However, when I looked out the window I saw my son standing there, not even out of his car — and a lady who lives down the street yelling at him. She was red in the face, her tone almost at screaming level.
I heard my son admit he was going too fast and apologize. She heard me come outside to see what the hell was going on, then booked it down the road.
After asking my son what happened, he fully admitted he was going too fast on our road. “I was going 25 and she waved for me to slow down,” he said.
So I told him he really did need to slow down, because safety was the most important thing.
But I was confused about the whole yelling scene, about why she had brought this level of anger. I didn’t like the way she was screaming at my son — especially when he was sitting there, looking her in the eye, and apologizing.
After talking with this woman (who doesn’t have children), it was very clear she was furious with my son because she was yelling at me when she retold the story about how he was driving too fast.
I told her that I agreed with her and I wasn’t upset that someone called my kids out for being unsafe — I would have done the same — but I did think her tone was unnecessary.
This was the first time she’s talked to my son, ever. This was the first time I’d heard of him going too fast on the road. And he said she was yelling the whole time.
Had she said, “You were going too fast and I want you to keep our road safe, and be safe yourself, so please, please slow down,” that would have gotten through to his 18-year-old brain more efficiently than yelling at him.
She rolled her eyes at me. It was clear she thinks children should fall at the feet of all adults and she somehow thought she deserved his respect, and my respect, even though she wasn’t serving up any respectful behavior herself. I honestly felt like she was mad because we weren’t afraid of her or something.
Most parents have no problem when someone rightfully calls their kid out on their behavior. I’ve never been above admitting my kids are assholes. They do push the limits, they aren’t perfect, and they do make mistakes.
However, that doesn’t mean you want strangers, or people you know for that matter, disrespecting them or yelling at them.
The days of thinking children need to respect their elders and do everything they say are over. Like, way over.
It’s not okay to speak to them in a way you wouldn’t want to be talked to simply because they are children.
It’s not okay to get furious when they have a voice or speak up for themselves.
And I’ll be damned if I am going to stand back and watch someone disrespect my kids and act in a way that’s uncalled for just because they think they have the upper hand.
If I didn’t speak up for my kids, they wouldn’t learn to do it themselves. They’d also think that’s how you deal with aggressive people: by bowing down to them and letting them walk all over you.
My son was polite. He doesn’t like confrontation. He was in the wrong, and he freely admitted it.
Is he perfect? No. No one is. And there needs to be more grace around kids and their mistakes.
That doesn’t mean zero consequences and no discussions. And I promise, more grace isn’t going to lead to parents of the world thinking their kids do no wrong and everyone who points out that they do make mistakes is delusional.
All it means is treating them with the same respect we would like when we make a mistake or do something someone doesn’t like.
Just because they’re kids doesn’t mean they should be talked down to, or should have to listen to someone disrespect them.
I mean, go ahead and try to treat them that way, but this generation of parents — and this mama bear in particular — isn’t having it.