Sometimes things I see parents do (at church especially) really irk me. I’m not a parent, so I get that I’m not really an authority on raising kids, but I’ve worked with kids just enough to form opinions about stupid, nit-picky things. I’m not trying to be critical of parents who do these things, because these things really aren’t a big deal. However, I can’t for the life of me figure out what they’re thinking.
1. Parents not dressing their children in weather-appropriate clothing.
There’s a lady in my ward that is a fantastic mom—the way she interacts with her kids is adorable. However, I’ve noticed for the past month or so at church her baby girl (a ten-month-old maybe) is dressed in sleeveless summery dresses with bare legs and bare feet. She looks cute, but I can’t help but cringe. I’m guessing the dresses were a gift or a killer deal and the mom wants to get some use out of them while her baby girl is the right size, but for heaven sakes, put a cardigan (or a long sleeved onesie), tights, and shoes on that little girl! It’s technically still winter!
I get that socks fall off like crazy and that baby shoes are a little pointless if they aren’t walking (and the fit can be weird too). I get that diaper-changing is easier without dealing with tights and onesie snaps. I also get that maybe the mom is thinking, “Well, I bundle her up in a blanket in her car seat to and from church, and inside the church is warm.” But still.
The rule of thumb with babies is that they should wear one more layer than mom is comfortable in. If mom is hot in one layer of clothes, then a sleeveless summery dress with bare legs is totally ok. However, the mom is dressed warmly: long sleeves, a long skirt, and tall boots. Naturally, you should dress your baby in something warm too, right? I feel like it’s common sense. Again, it really isn’t a big deal, but why?
2. Parents who use toys as a last resort to entertain their baby/toddler.
There’s another mom in my ward—again, a fantastic person—who has an approximately 18-month-old toddler. At church, she at first sits him on her lap, unentertained. I think she’s hoping he’ll listen along with her. Nope. After about thirty seconds he wiggles away. Naturally he starts to explore around him—banging on the chair, jumping on the bench, etc. She pulls him away from whatever he’s doing and sits him down beside her. He gets up and explores some more. She sits him down. She does this over and over and over and over and over until finally she pulls out a toy from her bag. At this point that toy dinosaur has nothing on the bounciness of the bench, so he almost immediately discards the dino and goes back to jumping. That poor mom doesn’t get to hear any of the lesson/talk.
I’ve worked with kids enough to know that if you let them get bored they will find something to do, and it’s usually something you don’t want them to do. Kids like to be busy, and this business helps them to learn tons of skills—hand-eye coordination, problem solving, large and small motor skills, consequences, processes, etc. Keeping a child busy with a variety of activities is probably the biggest favor a parent can do for their child cognitively and developmentally.
I don’t really understand why she doesn’t give him something to do right away—before he even has the chance to get bored. Give him a dinosaur and when he’s done with that pull out the Cheerios, then out comes the flap book, then the busy book, etc. It requires more entertaining and prep, but I’m willing to bet she would get more out of church.
Maybe this mom is trying to teach reverence to her child and sees toys as something irreverent that should be avoided whenever possible. Maybe she always waits until he’s bored to give him a toy and he always rejects the toy (because he’s already found something more fun to do), so she sees toys as a lost cause. Maybe it just hasn’t occurred to her to pack more than one or two toys in her church bag. Maybe she tries to make the toys really count. I don’t know. I don’t get it.
Pardon my ranting. Again, these things are not a big deal in the parenting big picture. And one day I’ll probably do something stupid with my kids that will make someone else wonder, “What is she thinking?”