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Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Musings - Is Attention Evil?

I am an avid people watcher. I find human behavior fascinating. But sometimes it can get disturbing.

I was in a store recently when I came across a young child who was crying because her stomach hurt. She had bags under her eyes and she was pleading with her mother as she was being pulled around the store by her wrist.

I engaged the mother in a conversation. She had an advanced degree and was what people used to call "book smart". I turned the conversation toward her child, who was still crying.

"She's only doing this for attention," the mother said.

"How do you know this?" I asked.

"Because I'm her mother."

"Well, what do you do when your stomach hurts?" I asked.

"I take medicine for it."

"Does your child have direct access to that medicine?" I asked.

"Of course not. She's a child."

"Then what do you expect her to do when her stomach hurts?"

"I expect her to shut up," the mother responded.

"So, when your stomach hurts, you take medicine to stop the pain. But you want your child to suffer in silence?"

At that point, the mother responded with words I won't repeat.

I alerted the store's security and a short time later, I saw the mother giving the child OTC stomach medicine as security looked on. I'd like to think I stirred something in her intellect or motherly instinct that caused her to pay attention to her child's cries.

When did parents begin ignoring their children because they thought they simply wanted attention? And isn't a cry for attention valid as well? If we teach a child to "suffer in silence" through physical or emotional pain, what is that accomplishing?

Or is it simply that the parent can't be bothered by their own child's needs?