What’s Your Parenting Pet Peeve?

I’m so jazzed to welcome Judy Molland as a guest blogger today. She’s the author of Get Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future and Straight Talk About Schools Today. Take it away, Judy!

One of my pet peeves is witnessing bad parenting. A couple of weeks ago, on a beautiful fall day, I was hiking down Lembert Dome in Yosemite National Park with my husband. Actually, it wasn’t just beautiful, it was perfect: bright blue sky, just a few clouds, gorgeous orange and russet leaves on the trees, a crisp chill in the air.

But then – coming up toward us was a tall man with an infant in a backpack carrier, and dragging, yes dragging, a youngster, maybe four years old, behind him. The kid kept saying, “I’m tired, dad, I wanna sit down.” And dad kept marching on, saying, “No, we need to keep going,” while gripping his son’s hand ever harder and pulling him up the slope (which is no cakewalk, by the way).

They passed us, but then we heard, very loud and firm, “No! I’m not going on.” I looked around, and the kid had sat down squarely on a rock, and was not moving.

“Yeah!” I wanted to yell.

I recently published my second book, Get Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future (Free Spirit, 2009), which is packed with ideas about how to get out in nature and experience the world in new ways. Nature is awesome, and as many recent studies have shown, our kids are just not getting enough of it, and that’s hurting them.

But dragging your little one up a steep slope so fast that he’s in pain?. “How about letting your kid set the pace?” I wanted to ask this father, and  “What are you trying to achieve, other than making your child never want to step outside again, once he has a choice?” And Dad didn’t look like he was having such a good time, either. The first tip in my book goes like this:

Lead by example. Want your kids to value nature?  Want them to discover for themselves how amazing the natural world can be, and how much fun it is to play in the dirt, roll down a grassy bank, and find slimy slugs after the rain? Nothing sends a stronger message than if they see you out there enjoying yourself, so step outside. Build a sandcastle! Make a snowperson! Rub your toes in the grass. Remember: Enthusiasm is contagious.

If only I had carried a copy of my book with me, I could have handed it to this father. But I didn’t say anything. Am I the only mom who has a hard time stepping in when she sees bad parenting?

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8 Responses to “What’s Your Parenting Pet Peeve?”

  1. Karen Bannan says:

    I’ve actually gone up to people who are behaving abusively and said something. My husband cringes when I do it. The last time was when we overheard a dad calling his 4 or 5 year old an a-hole and telling him he was stupid.

  2. Wow, Karen, what that dad said…. Amazing. And so sad. I’m glad you spoke up. I tend to do the same thing — too often, if you ask my husband!

  3. Bridget says:

    Hi Kathy, I’m totally with you. It’s hard to watch insensitive, detrimental parenting like that.
    But one thing that gets my goat is when somebody who (it seems to me usually isn’t themself a parent) tells me how I should be parenting my kid. Like they’ll say that, instead of letting him run ahead when we’re taking a walk, I should make him hold my hand the whole time. Problem is, that limits his exploration. And I don’t think it’s their business anyway!

  4. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by balmeras: Author Judy Molland talks to parents about getting kids outside: http://e7t.us/ju5q (via @kathysena) #playoutdoors #nature…

  5. Wow - I didn’t realize I’d be finding out about social comments through pings and trackbacks! Love this! Glad I switched to WordPress and dropped Typepad.
    Kathy @ Parent Talk Today´s last blog ..Welcome to Fessin’ Up Fridays!

  6. I am totally with Judy on lead by example. My kids love being outdoors and one of the reasons for that is because my husband and I do too.
    My own childhood influenced the way I decided to bring up my own children. I had a carefree childhood, my parents invested their time in taking us on forest trails, mountain hikes, scavenger hunts, rock hunting, introducing my brothers and I to the magic…nature has to offer.

  7. You had wonderful parents, Marghanita! I’m so happy to see that you are passing on this wonderful approach to life to your kids.
    Kathy @ Parent Talk Today´s last blog ..Welcome to Fessin’ Up Fridays!

  8. Mike Barlow says:

    That’s not just sad, it’s the worst way to introduce a child to hiking. Understanding a child’s capabilities and matching them to an achievable challenge builds confidence, self-reliance, and sets the stage for future success.

    Thanks for the post Judy, I’ll definitely be checking out your book.