Sometimes Your Kid Just Wants a Hug: Give it to Him

By: Keith


Withholding affection is not an effective parenting technique, and if it were, I still wouldn’t do it.  Two days ago I watched as a mother of a 3 year old attempted to employ that strategy to get her kid to participate in a gymnastics class.  It was a class where the parents were supposed to get involved along side their kids.  Well, as some women do, this lady was spending a lot of time talking to the other ladies in the class and not too much of it paying attention to her kid.  Predictably, the kid wasn’t having much fun as his mother, who presumably signed up for the class to spend time with her kid, spent her time chatting up the other mothers.   His solution was to plop down, cross his arms and refuse to move.  The mother, eventually noticing the change in attitude,  went to have a talk with him.  I don’t know what she said because I was just watching from the outside, but it ended in her bringing the kid out of the gymnastics class and plunking him down on the bleachers (3 feet from me).  She told him “When you’re ready to participate and enjoy yourself you just let me know and we’ll go back in.”  Then she walked down the hall, found more friends to talk to, and I heard her say “I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  He just decided not to do anything.”  I know what was wrong, Lady.  Your kid wanted attention and your reaction was bone-headed and backwards.  


I turned to him and gave him a little thumbs up and a smile.  I didn’t get a reaction out of him so I just said “It’ll be alright. Hang in there.” I wanted to give him a pat on the back and a hug myself, but seeing as we live in a world where any sign of affection by a man is considered a criminal act, I couldn’t.  The best I could hope for was his mother to start parenting without my help.  Of course she didn’t.  She came back and sat on the front bench of the bleacher, with her back to her kid, pretending she didn’t notice him.  I guess she thought he would come to her.  He didn’t, and she gave up.  She picked him up and took him back into the class and sat with him while the other kids played.  I thought to myself  ‘maybe she understands now’.  She didn’t.  Her next move made me want to go in there myself and yell at her, “Your freakin kid just wants a damn hug, you dingbat!”  But, I didn’t.  She stood up and started playing with the other kids in the class, kids that weren’t hers.  She kept turning back to her kid to see if he was jealous yet (because apparently this was all about her).  He wasn’t, and it didn’t look, at that point, like he even cared anymore.   


After a few minutes of complete boredom on his part I saw him (seated) look up at his mom (standing next to him with her arms crossed defensively) and smile.  It was a golden opportunity for her because that was his way of trying to bridge the gap between them.  The mother looked down at him, and his smile immediately faded.  I didn’t see here expression, but I suspect it was a scowl that killed his smile.  Poor kid, stupid, incompetent mother.   


Mercifully the class ended, all the parents collected their kids and started to file out.  I’ll give you one guess what this lady did on the way out, when all the parents were briefly in the same place in the hallway moving towards the door.  Yup, you got it.  She stopped to talk to a friend (Thus clogging up the flow of traffic to boot).

11 Responses to “Sometimes Your Kid Just Wants a Hug: Give it to Him”
  1. Dennis Yu May 20, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    If there’s a driver’s license needed to drive a car, why isn’t there a parenting license to have a kid? There would be a lot less mental wreckage caused by parents that ignore the rules of parenting. This mom you mention is driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

    • Keith May 20, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

      Dennis: You always have the best analogies!

  2. PJ Mullen May 20, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    Things like this amaze me. I guess it is sometimes nice to be the dad in situations like this, since I’m not expected to socialize. Besides, its more fun to play with the kids than to gossip.
    .-= PJ Mullen´s last blog ..Paging Dr. Mullen =-.

  3. Jack May 20, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    but seeing as we live in a world where any sign of affection by a man is considered a criminal act

    That aggravates the hell out of me. I once had to go to a Little League baseball game to pick up my son. As I walked through the place looking for my son I received all sorts of dirty looks.

    Since my son didn’t play there no one knew who I was. It is really sad that that men are viewed as potential predators.
    .-= Jack´s last blog ..The Race for My Heart =-.

  4. Debbie Lattuga May 20, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    Oh that just breaks my heart. When my kids friends come over, I make it a point to hug them. I think a lot of kids just need hugs!
    .-= Debbie Lattuga´s last blog ..Experience Your Good Now =-.

  5. Seattledad (Luke, I am Your Father) May 20, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    Yes, that is very sad. Hopefully she doesn’t treat him like that all the time. But that seems unlikely here.

    Great post.
    .-= Seattledad (Luke, I am Your Father)´s last blog ..The City I live in… =-.

  6. IrrationalDad May 21, 2010 at 6:43 am #

    UGH! Some people just don’t get it. It makes me angry beyond words when stuff like that takes place. My son is truly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. If he needs a hug/attention, you better believe I’ll be engaging in a foot race with my wife to get to him first.
    .-= IrrationalDad´s last blog ..Going to Cougartown =-.

  7. Joan Vasquez May 21, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    How very sad for this little 3 year old boy. It is wonderful that you posted about this because many parents get so busy and self absorbed that they forget that a little person with needs is standing right in front of them begging for affection and attention. Some parents think that if they are meeting their child’s physical needs, then they are doing their job. They never stop to consider that children are multi-faceted with spiritual, emotional and mental needs as well. :(

  8. Rebecca May 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    This makes me so very sad. I wish she could have seen what she was doing to her son and what opportunities she was missing out on. Sometimes, it’s easier to see bad behavior when you watch somebody do it so obviously wrong. I know I would never go as far as this mother, but I’m sure I, too, have been guilty of being distracted by my own pursuits when my daughter needed my attention. It’s a confusing thing, raising children.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..B.O.B: You Got Nothin’ on Me =-.

  9. Ben May 23, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    Just reading your post made me angry. Why are some parents like that? I would have done the same as you – a little thumbs up, a roll of the eyes and some choice words. He may not have reacted at the time, but I bet what you did made him smile a little…inside, at least.
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Week Twenty: Over the hill =-.

  10. donna January 17, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    i wish my daughter would take the time to read this, she is a single mom, and i think her own promblems are shadowing just what she is missing with her own little boy.

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