We went to a summer festival on Saturday, and it was a good one: lots to see, a wonderful (though hot) day, and even some old friends we hadn't seen for a while. One incident sticks in my mind, and at the risk of sounding like a fuddy-duddy, I'll describe it.
We were browsing the craft show, and a boy of about eight was playing with a vintage toy. His mother and grandmother (I'm guessing) were several tables away, looking at what they wanted to look at. The proprietors of the booth were watching the kid, and it was plain they weren't happy.
After a minute, the grandmother looked up, saw the boy, and said, "Honey, the lady said you shouldn't play with that." The kid ignored her as if she hadn't spoken. So did the younger woman. Finally the owner said, "That's seven fifty if he breaks it." At that the older woman got angry. "Come on, Sweetie," she said. "We wouldn't buy anything here anyway."
Two questions rose in my mind. Why would you let a kid play with something owned by someone who didn't want him to? And if the boy was the type who was likely to disobey when he'd been asked not to play with the toy, why didn't one of the women keep him with her, where she could watch him?
I'm not one of those people who says children today aren't raised right. All my life I've seen children who were raised right and children who weren't, and the percentages seem to me about the same. Raising kids other people don't mind having around is purely a function of parenting, in my opinion. If a parents sees that a child does what he's supposed to, he'll learn how to behave. If a kid realizes that Mom isn't going to get out of that chair and walk over to where he's doing what he shouldn't, he'll keep right on doing it.
While I'm aware there are kids with issues, I've found that expecting good behavior and teaching those expectations goes a long way. If things in a child's makeup make it more difficult for him to behave, then a parent has to be more vigilant to protect the rights of others. That's what parenting is.
Being mad at someone else because they notice your kid's misbehavior cannot excuse it.