Recently, Juliana Mazurkewicz noticed an interesting sign posted at her daughter's day care center. She snapped a pic and posted it to her Facebook page where it quickly caught the attention of parents around the country.
The sign posted by Mazurkewicz' day care center asks — no, demands — that parents get off their phones when coming to pick up their children.
As you can imagine, parents had a wide range of opinions about this sign. Many commenters agreed with the sentiment, remarking how sad it is when kids are away from their parents all day and don't get their attention at pick-up time. I know I have been frustrated in the past at the sight of a parent messing around on Facebook while their child desperately tries to get their attention in the park, at a restaurant or in a store.
But here's the thing: It's not my place, nor a day care center's place, to tell a parent to get off of their phones. Because I don't know their backstory — none of us do. And that's the problem with doling out judgement.
Do you ever know the whole story?
It's like that boy at the grocery store who is obviously too old for a pacifier but is sucking on one anyhow. It's easy to tsk-tsk at the parents, but what we don't know is that the boy has severe autism and the pacifier is the only way his mother can take him to the store and keep him calm in the overstimulating setting.
Or how easy it is to judge the mom who is sitting on her phone at the park even though her daughter is crying and clearly in distress. But what we don't know is that the little girl has been having tantrums all morning — because her cereal was too cold or her shoes were suddenly the wrong color or because she couldn't find some random toy — and her mom just needs to tune out for five minutes so she doesn't lose her cool and say something she will regret.
Sure, there are plenty of parents out there who could probably do with spending less time with their nose in a screen and more time with their kids. And I sincerely hope those parents realize what is right in front of them before their kid's childhood slips away from them.
But what if those parents who are on the phone while picking up their kids from day care are on a call with their other child? Or with the doctor's office? Or with a customer service representative who just came on the line after keeping them waiting for 90 minutes? Why are we constantly trying to make parents feel bad about every single thing they do?
We are so quick to judge and label parents who spend too much time with their kids (helicopter parents) or those who don't spend enough (free-range parents) that I have to wonder who gets to decide.
As for the note at the day care center, many posters agreed that the overall tone of the note was condescending and a bit too harsh. So they will be glad to know that the staff toned things down (a little) with a change to the sign added a few days later (and posted to Facebook by Mazurkewicz' husband, Justin).