Standing in line at Starbucks, I sparked up a conversation about coffee and children with a mom (I’ll call her Sweet Mom) of two little ones as my soon-to-be 11-yr-old son eagerly waited for his special treat of an Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Caffeine does not negatively affect my son. It actually helps him concentrate. This is a part of ADHD that most people do not understand, but that is not what this post is about.
Sweet Mom looked at her little guy and said, “Grandma gives him sips of her coffee, sometimes. He LOVES straight, black coffee!” We both laughed a bit but as we did, I noticed a lady (I’ll call her Judgy Mom) standing at the counter and listening to our conversation. Sweet Mom had her back to the lady and had no idea Judgy Mom rolled her eyes and shook her head in disgust at our conversation about allowing our kids to have caffeine/coffee every now and then.
The longer I stood there and watched Judgy Mom’s utter dismay at us, the more I found myself wanting to come to the defense of Sweet Mom and all of the other moms out there who are just trying to do the darn best that we can. By the time Judgy Mom got her own caffeinated beverage, Sweet Mom swiped up her drinks, told me it was nice visiting and went about her merry way. When the barista called my son’s name, I proudly grabbed the drink, handed it to him, and said, “Here you go, bud. Enjoy.”
As I walked to the car, drinking my own strong little number, my imagination decided to embark on a conversation that I chose not to have with Judgy Mom (because I’m not a confront and destroy kinda girl).
Here is what I really wanted to say,
“I’m assuming by the look of disgust on your face, the rolling back of your eyes, and the shaking of your head, that you just can’t believe the nerve of some “young moms” these days allowing their kids to have a little caffeine from time-to-time. You might think it is abusive or neglectful or just bad parenting, right? You might wonder what on Earth we also allow our kids to have.
Well, here’s the deal, Judgy Mom. (Okay, I wouldn’t call her that to her face.) If you really want to see “bad moms or dads” in action, why don’t you join a Child Abuse and Neglect Investigator on a home visit to investigate allegations? I’m sure arriving at a home and finding a neglected baby in a crib whose diaper hasn’t been changed for four days would probably alarm you.
Or, how about you take a look at pictures of a blue-eyed, 4-yr-old child who was beaten so severely for not eating her dinner fast enough that the imprint of the perpetrator’s boots was left on her skin? (Yes, this is a real situation. I’ve seen the pictures. I still have the images engraved in my mind and it’s been 10+ years since viewing them.)
Perhaps, you can become a CASA or other type of advocate for children so that you can learn how a lot of kids don’t eat over the weekend because there is no food in the house and their only meals come from school. Once you do any of these things, you won’t be as tempted to roll your eyes and shake your head in disgust at two moms having a chat about the antics of slightly coffee-fueled children.
How about that?”
I know some of you might think this is a little extreme, but one thing that gets my goat more than anything is the amount of parent-shaming that exists nowadays. Perhaps, I’ve seen too much. Maybe, working in child welfare has skewed my perception of what is a “good mom” versus a “bad mom”. All I know is that once you truly learn what is happening to children and what some parents either do to their kids or allow their kids to go through, it is really hard to get all worked up about things like caffeine, sugar, screen time, red dye #40, or whatever other items that have become a trendy thing to frown upon.
I believe that most parents are just like my husband and me – trying to balance work, parenting, social activities, sports, spiritual development and medical needs all while raising kids to be half-way decent human beings. There are some days where we literally eat on the go and high-five each other in passing. There are others where we eat home cooked meals all day, stay inside and just be together. Either way, I do believe my kids are going to be just fine and that we are doing our very best at this glorious, God-given task of raising future adults.
To Sweet Mom, whom I met at Starbucks today, your kids are precious. Don’t worry about Grandma sneaking a sip of coffee to your little guy. You’re doing just fine.
To Judgy Mom, I’d love to meet with you and talk about parenting over a nice, large cup of coffee. I bet I can figure out a way to give you an outlet for your obvious concern about children.
To all the other parents out there, if you are meeting your kids’ physical, emotional, and social needs, plus working each day to raise them to be half-way decent human beings, then you are also doing just fine.
Let’s stop parent-shaming. There are far too many issues going on with children and families to worry about a kiddo getting a little bit of caffeine.
How about that?