Google+ Authentic Parenting: Common Goods - Personal Responsibility (rerun)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Common Goods - Personal Responsibility (rerun)

Whenever I’m in a more interaction dense situation than the fairly isolated one here on my hill in Congolese nomansland, I am astounded at the way people think children are common goods.
People you haven’t even spoken a word to, are not embarrassed to make remarks to your child, often demeaning and harsh things. Strangers will comment on your parenting and store clerks see no harm in ‘educating’ your child.

Image: G(wiz) on Flickr

“You are a bad girl! Why are you such a bad girl?” - stranger sitting next to me on the plane when my daughter accidentally pushed him with her smallish foot.
“First lunch, then ice cream!” - Waitress at the museum when my daughter told me she wanted an ice cream for lunch.

Probably this is a remainder of the times when humans actually lived as a community and it was the community’s role to raise the children (hence: It takes a village...). However, despite stranger’s eagerness of jumping in to educate other people’s children, when it comes to taking responsibility, eyes are diverted to the sky, hands are interlaced and an eery whistling sound emerges. When it comes to actually helping out a struggling parent, all is quiet on the Western Front.

Not so long ago, in Charleroi, a highly industrialized city in Belgium, where the crime rate is one of the highest, a two year old wandered the streets for days. Being spotted on several occasions, nobody intervened. Nobody took this desperate little child by the hand and actually helped him out.
When I last travelled to Belgium, I was visibly struggling to manage my three year old, with my already huge belly and take the suitcases of the luggage carrousel. I had a man standing on each side. But I had to get those suitcases of myself anyway.
On another plain ride, my daughter got upset when she had to buckle up for landing and started wailing, no way to calm hr down. Instead of one nice word, a ‘lady’ behind us commented, loud enough for my husband to hear: “Good thing we never had any children”.
And I could go on sharing these anecdotes, from my life as from friend’s lives.

We would all benefit staying away from the educational high horse and helping each other out instead.



  1. Just wanted to comment on the lst example, to me it sounds, with her saying it out loud, that perhaps she wasn't able to have children and so was finding "excuses" why children are best not to have. Of course I could be very much wrong (and maybe I'm imposing my lengthy journey to become a mother) but there could always be another side to the story..

  2. To be honest, Billy, I had thought the same thing. I often hear the bitterest comments from people who were unable to conceive. However, it's not because you had some strife in life that one should become bitter and frustrated and work it out on others... more so, I actually think it should urge a person to be more caring for the world... But that's just me

  3. I feel saddened by this but can relate. too often strangers say ridiculous stuff to my son. i had a cashier tell my son if he told me no he wasn't going to get anything for christmas and he was a bad boy. Geez lady! back off!


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