Parenting toddlers requires immense courage and resilience. Somewhere between bringing this incredibly adorable and dependent baby into the world and proudly watching them embark on their first day of kindergarten, parents enter the eventful phase known as the ‘terrible twos,’ threes, and beyond.
Suddenly, your little human decides that they are the absolute ruler of the world we call planet Earth, and you happen to be just a resident in their domain. So, step aside and make way for the royal highness.
No one understands this better than Justin Baldoni, whose daughter’s recent tantrum at Whole Foods unexpectedly grabbed public attention. As parents, it’s instinctive to try to control the situation to avoid embarrassment, but Justin took a slightly different approach.
In what he now considers one of his all-time favorite photos, Justin and his father are captured standing over their little tantrum-prone princess, seemingly unfazed by the chaos unfolding six feet below.
The image portrays two men standing united, silently bonded by an unconditional love for each other and their fresh, unadulterated soul, for whom they would go to the ends of the earth, as Justin wrote.
“I can only imagine how many times I did this when I was her age,” he added. “My dad taught me so much about what it means to be a man, but this post is about one thing and one thing only: being comfortable in the uncomfortable. It’s something I witnessed him do with me repeatedly during my own childhood.”
While the photo, captured by Justin’s wife, Emily, speaks volumes on its own, it’s the explanation Justin provides alongside it that brims with valuable parental wisdom. In a viral Facebook post, he delves into the profound life lesson embedded in that picturesque moment.
“One thing my dad taught me is not to parent based on what others think. He always allowed me to experience my emotions, even if it happened in public and was embarrassing. I can’t recall a single instance where he said, ‘You’re embarrassing me!’ or ‘Don’t cry!’ Only recently did I realize the paramount importance of that for my own emotional development,” Justin shared.
Children are constantly learning and processing an overwhelming amount of information, often struggling to navigate through the rush of new emotions they experience. Justin makes a conscious effort to ensure his daughter knows it’s perfectly alright to feel deeply. He refuses to be embarrassed when she throws tantrums in the grocery store or screams on a plane. He’s her father, not anyone else’s.
Let’s liberate ourselves from feeling ashamed of our children’s behavior, as it doesn’t reflect on our worth as parents. In fact, we should extend more kindness and patience towards ourselves as well. If we allow ourselves to express our emotions freely, just as children do, perhaps we’ll find space for more joy and happiness in our lives. And that’s something this world could definitely use a little more of.
Justin’s words of fatherly wisdom have struck a powerful chord with parents nationwide, amassing nearly 150,000 likes, comments, and shares. Many have expressed how the absence of judgment displayed by onlookers in the photo has alleviated their own anxieties about public meltdowns with their little ones.
We commend this courageous and loving father for showing us that it’s perfectly acceptable to let go of the shame associated with being imperfect parents and, most importantly, that it’s okay for our kids to be kids.
After all, they have just one shot at experiencing this beautiful journey called childhood.