Dear Mom of the Meltdown Kid, We’re Not Mad at You!


30 Seconds for Hope – When your child throws a fit in public, you can easily imagine the whole world is blaming you. Isn’t that right, moms? You might wonder if the people around you are irritated, just wishing you would get that child under control. Well, take heart! Most of us watching that tantrum realize it takes time for kids to mature. Kids will be kids—no matter where they are. So whenever you’re dealing with a meltdown in public, remember that many of us are empathizing with you rather than faulting you, and we’re applauding your patient endurance through the tantrum. We’re not mad at you. Really!

And now the full story (based on an actual event):

Dear Mom in Aisle 8,

You were looking at cake mixes in the grocery store today when suddenly your little Junior had a meltdown because you wouldn’t let him get out of the grocery cart. It was sudden. It was unexpected. He wasn’t reasonable. And you were mortified!

I remember that feeling. Here you are in public, and you can’t get your kid to stop screaming. And everyone else in the store is surely thinking horrible thoughts about you and your mothering because your boy is out of control, and you can’t get him to stop.

But wait! Maybe not everyone is mad. I was in that aisle and I wasn’t thinking horrible thoughts. And a lot of other people probably weren’t either. Do you know what I was thinking?

I was smiling inside because you and I have something in common—dealing with a child in meltdown mode. I was giving a knowing nod. You see, I raised four children, so I identified with you. I understood that you didn’t instigate (or want) this tantrum! You were just there doing the right thing—buying groceries for your family and keeping your child safe in the cart.

I got it, even though I didn’t say anything to you. But Junior didn’t get it. He didn’t understand why he needed to stay in the grocery wagon. His meltdown came from childishness, and meanwhile you were just trying to explain the realities of life to him. “Junior, you need to stay in this seat while we’re in the grocery store.” He’ll get it someday, but not today. And I’m not thinking badly of you while you try. He’s a child, and many of us understand that kids will be kids, even in stores.

And by the way, don’t worry too much about the noise of it all. We can endure some noise. We endure our vacuum cleaners. We endure our hairdryers and our car radios turned up to 90 decibels. So don’t think people can’t endure a little tantrum. It’s okay. Just keep dealing with it, and we’re fine.

I can imagine you dread these outbursts, not to mention other stuff that might come up with your child. Maybe he has grabbed toys from the kids in his playgroup or has hit them, and you’re desperately trying to help him learn to be nice. But we’re not thinking that you are a failure as a mom while you work on these problems. You’re just dealing with childishness, and sometimes it takes a while for a child to get the message. Good work, mom!

We watch you take charge to teach rules of civility, and we watch you endure through the tantrums, and we applaud. Never mind that Junior hasn’t learned yet or that sometimes he displays an oppositional bent. You’re doing a great job of sticking with the plan to teach him. We don’t have to judge you by the results. Sometimes results take time—a long, long time. He may need to experience the laws of cause and effect over and over before he gets it. His brain needs time to mature. We’ll all be patient with him while he grows up.

Meanwhile, you are trying to teach him to be nice, and that effort is admirable. Hang in there, Mommy of the Meltdown Kid! You’re doing good work, and we celebrate you! There are a bunch of people who don’t think badly of you, so please don’t be afraid when the next meltdown comes. Just do what you’re doing, teach him what’s good, tell him you love him, and give yourself a pat on the back—a pat from me.


The Lady Pushing the Cart by the Sugar


Well, okay, maybe I should admit there might be a person here or there who gets miffed. But don’t mind them. You and I know the truth about the situation. Your kid is a child who happened to have a meltdown in aisle 8. You did your job as a mother. So if you’re concerned about that irked young man in aisle 7, just remember that he’s not seeing the whole picture. However, someone else does know it. You have a Father in heaven who sees and knows everything, and he knows you were at the store to feed your child and you stayed the course when your boy protested. That is admirable. God knows. So good work mom! We’re not faulting you for the meltdown in aisle 8. Really!

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