Every parent has felt the stress that comes when their children have tantrums – and that feeling is only amplified when the meltdown happens in public. Clint Edwards’ two-year-old daughter had one of her own, and his reaction started people talking.
Edwards had plenty of experience sharing and examining his own choices as a parent. Indeed, he has authored a parenting book called This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. He also runs a blog on parenting, No Idea What I’m Doing.
For the Oregon-based family man, writing reflectively about his parenting adventures was a way to deal with his upbringing. His own father had left when his son was just nine years old and spent much of Edwards’s childhood in prison. He subsequently passed away due to drug use while Edwards was still in his teens.
On his blog, Edwards wrote, “I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing because I didn’t have a father in my life. I still don’t have someone to turn to when it comes to fatherly questions, so I’m making this up as I go. That’s what you will find here: me honestly trying to figure it out.”
And with two daughters, Norah and Aspen, son Tristan and wife Mel, Edwards certainly has a lot of stories to share regarding his parenting trials and tribulations. On March 5, 2017, he penned a Facebook post about his youngest daughter that started people talking on social media.
The entire Edwards clan had gone out to dinner at Red Robin that evening, but their trip to the burger restaurant wouldn’t quite go as planned for the father of three. “I’m stuck in the van with my toddler,” his Facebook post began.
Edwards proceeded to explain why. “We went out to dinner as a family, and [Aspen] had a meltdown because Mom wouldn’t let her throw chicken strips. So, she screamed and screamed and kicked and kicked,” he wrote.
Because Edwards had already finished his dinner, he “had the pleasure of dragging her out of Red Robin.” So, he scooped up his tantrum-throwing youngest child and carried her through the restaurant. And that was when he noticed the rest of the customers’ reactions in the restaurant.
Edwards recalled, “Everyone stared at me, most of them childless, I assume. No one with children would give me that straight-faced, lip-twisted look that seems to say, ‘If you can’t control your kid, then don’t go out.”
As Edwards sat in his vehicle with his crying daughter, he reflected on those reactions and realized something – in a sense, the judgmental restaurant patrons were right. “No, I can’t control her. Not all the time. Not yet,” he wrote.
And yet, Edwards wasn’t ready to give in to the apparent implications of their reactions, namely that he shouldn’t take Aspen anywhere if she couldn’t behave. “She’s two, and it’s going to take years to teach her how to act appropriately in public,” he wrote.
He went on, writing, “The only way I am ever going to teach that is to take her out and show her what’s right and wrong. By saying ‘no’ a million times, letting her throw a fit, and telling her ‘no’ again.”
But this was all part of parenting, he believed. “These lessons take patience, hard work and real world experiences, and I’m sorry to those at the bar who got irritated by my child’s fit, but you are part of this practice,” he wrote. “Your parents did the same with you.
For them, he had a dose of reality. “Your parents did the same with you, and that’s how you now know how to recognize when a child does something irritating in a restaurant. It’s how you learned to look at a situation and say, ‘That parent needs to control their kids.’ It’s how you learned to be a respectable person.”
“I get it,” he went on. “Kids are irritating when they are loud in a restaurant. I know. I’m living it. But before you get angry and judgmental, realize that what you are witnessing is not bad parenting, but, rather, parents working hard to fix the situation.”
He left readers with one final thought. “You are looking at what it takes to turn a child into a person,” he concluded. With that, he shared his story with the internet community – and it struck a chord with parents across Facebook.
Many shared stories in which their children had caused similar scenes. Others said they’d learned the same lesson when they became parents. Facebook user Dot Lazzarotti wrote, “Turning children into functional people is hard, constant work. I used to judge. I don’t now.”
The majority of the comments read like this, providing support for Edwards’ experiences and the message that he wanted to convey. In fact, about 32,000 people commented on the post, while more than 213,000 shared it to their own pages, further stoking the conversation.
And although his post certainly connected with parents – and perhaps taught a lesson to those without kids – it wasn’t the end of the story. A year later, Edwards shared an update on Aspen’s progress. The duo were back in the van.
This time, though, Edwards wrote that his message wasn’t for wrongfully judgmental people – it was “for the parents in the thick of it. I want you to know that it’s one year later, and I’m here again, still at it, a child screaming in the backseat. She’s much better behaved, but obviously still a little stinker. And I will keep at it because that’s what parents do,” he wrote.