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01/22/2010

The Gift of Family

J0446472 On a rare trip to the mall last weekend, I found myself rummaging through sales racks of clothes in a meager attempt to spruce up my look.  Shopping for clothes isn't something I particularly enjoy, especially at a mall, but a couple of times of year is fun.  One reason I don't go to the mall, other than just not liking overpriced crap, is that I have small children who I would have to take with me most of the time.  This would make mall-shopping quite unenjoyable for all parties involved and thereby something to avoid.

As I poked around, my relaxed mood came to an abrupt halt when I heard this mother screaming at her two boys.  "Sit right here!" she screamed as she pointed to the mall floor, in the main isle way of JCPenney.  "Don't move, speak or anything!  Do you understand me???!!"  Many of us shoppers couldn't help but notice the commotion as well as the look on her two little boy's faces.  They looked completely humiliated, and yet somehow used to the 'routine'.  The mother marched back to the sales rack to shop, satisfied with her manipulative-parenting style.  I racked my brain to think of something I could give the boys to pass the time, some crayons or paper....darned, my purse is unusually clean.  Then, I noticed a large man, who resembled the boys, walking up to them.  Could it be Dad to the rescue??  Good 'ole Dad can take the boys to the play land and let them get their wiggles out, or better yet take them home and let the witch shop alone.  But to my horror, "Mommy Dearest" comes over to her husband and gives him a piece of her small mind.  Pop hangs his head in shame and takes his place next to his boys.  What an invertebrate.

My heart went out to every member of this family.  Who knows, perhaps this family was just having a really bad day, but my instincts told me that this behavior was likely pathological.  It has been said that whatever behavior people are willing to display publicly is just a fraction of how they behave at home.  My 'first-born-save-the-world' mindset snapped to attention and struggled to decide how to react.

I wanted to go up to mom and say "I see that your parenting skills could use a little improvement, would you like to get some coffee and talk about it?"  I'm sure that would have gone over like a lead balloon.  I wanted to go and hug those two little boys.  Then I wanted to kick the dad in the shins...hard.  I wanted to reprimand the parents and remind them of their responsibilities, both to each other and to their children.

The helplessness I felt that day reminded me of how I always wanted to grow up to be a social worker or a psychologist someday.  My longing was to help families get along and stay together.  I hope that someday when my children are a bit older and more self-sufficient, that I can come along side moms to provide an understanding ear and support.  Even without a professional designation, the experience of being a wife and mother will be enough to relate and support.  My greatest desire growing up was to have a family of my own, healthy and functional. It just makes me so sad when people overlook the beautiful gift of having a family to be self-serving.  What a priceless asset a family is, priceless indeed.

Kelly also blogs at www.themorristribe.net Original post to Ohio Moms Blog.

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