Where are these kids’ parents?

I know that I tend to think a lot about discipline. I think it has something to do with raising cocoa males. I know what the stereotypes and barriers are that they will probably face because of their skin color. So, my hubby and I work hard to assure that our children are polite and well behaved.

We live in a county that is 90.7% White. We tend to stand out in our community. My oldest son is the only cocoachild in his school, grades K-2. At a recent PTO event, we were able to socialize with other families. We ate pizza, there was a raffle and then we all went to a high school basketball game for breast cancer awareness. While enjoying time with our family in the school’s cafeteria, we noticed all of the children getting restless. We didn’t expect our children to sit still during all of that time. We allowed them to walk around with their friends. After a few minutes, we began to see some children running, sliding across the floor and yelling across the room. Cliff and I looked at each other and asked, “Where are these kids’ parents?”

Cliff and I often wonder what the perception and comments would be if that were our kids. We often receive complements on how well behaved they are. For instance, I was recently shopping at a local department store. My children asked if they could walk over and look at some toys on a rack. I instructed them that they had to stay where I could see them. They said ok and quietly walked over to the rack. They came back over to me just a few minutes later and stood with me while I checked out. A woman in front of my in line was amazed at how well they behaved. She began to talk about how her children would have been running around screaming and all over the floor. I thanked her and reassured her that my children do have their times.

I am extremely honored that friends, family and strangers notice the politeness of our children. But, it’s not natural. I mean, I’d like to think that they just came out that way. But, parenting has occurred behind closed doors in order to get these results. For instance, I recall my mother having “the talk” with me before getting out of the car. Cliff and I joke about that all the time. But, we also have “the talk” with our children. What is “the talk” you ask? The talk occurs while you are parking your car or arriving at a location. During this conversation, the parent(s) lay out all expectations while at the location (i.e. do not ask for anything, behave yourself while we are in the store, don’t hit/fight your brother, etc.).

I don’t want people to look at my kids and ask where I am. Or, if they do, I hope it is because they are impressed by my child. I’m proud of my children. They represent me well. Don’t get me wrong. They fight one another and argue at home ALL the time. I know that the “real” parenting happens behind closed doors. The hug and cuddle time, the conversations about responsibility, reading to one another, dinner time, family outtings. All of these opportunities allow for communication and teachable moments. Where have your parenting moments happening?

Annie is a former CocoaMama who is married to her best friend of 15 years. They have two sons, a 6  year old and a 3 year old. She currently works at the Pennsylvania State University full time where she  is also completing her doctoral degree in higher education. She has worked and been a student for as  long as she has been a mother. So, she has had to learn how to simultaneously juggle all of her  identities. While she has not perfected this skill, she continues to assure that her family remains her  number one priority.

2 thoughts on “Where are these kids’ parents?

  1. Cesar Milan (a.k.a. The Dog Whisperer) says that dogs cannot be properly disciplined before they’ve been worn out by exercise. Sometimes, I wonder if the same doesn’t apply to little children. LOL!

    It’s so hard to give kids the opportunity to run around outside, as crazy as they wanna be. We don’t have a huge backyard, and although I live in a residential area, people often drive down our street faster than I’m comfortable with. We have a screened in patio area in the back, but that doesn’t really compare to running around in a yard. My daughter isn’t running yet (she isn’t even walking!), but I wonder how, and when, will I give her enough run-around time when she is at that age? With so much to get done (work, food shopping, homework, after-school activities, etc.) do kids even get to “go outside and play” before dinner anymore? Sometimes, when I see kids zipping around in places they really shouldn’t be zipping around, I wonder whether they’ve gotten any time to just be crazy kids at all.


  2. I’m really impressed that you have been able to hold on to such a firm disciplined public profile, given that you say your kids can be otherwise unruly at home. My kids do not fight each other, really, which is good. Probably because my sons have 6 years between them, and my daughter who is much closer in age to my middle child (2 years between them) hasn’t learned to really punch yet :). The older two are starting to argue with each other though, only at home. I have never, had the public profile your family has, which sounds very similar to what my mom and dad had growing up. We knew how to cut up behind their backs, but we never crossed the line in public for fear of much more than “a talk.” I applaud you because I often wonder, “what am I doing wrong?”


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