The other day, I was on the train to work. It was around 8am – peak hour – and the train was packed.
Sitting on the seats near the doors to the carriage – you know, the seats that are clearly marked for elderly and disabled passengers – was a mother and her young son.
The little boy must’ve been about four years old, and he spent the entire journey running up and down the length of these seats, screaming, and knocking into other passengers – some of who were elderly – who were forced to stand.
When he wasn’t doing this, he was swinging off the poles and repeatedly opening the doors in between carriages.
At one stage, he even leaned towards his mother’s face, coughed, and then proceeded to laugh at her. She rewarded him with a kiss on his forehead.
People were getting visibly fed up and frustrated, glaring at her, silently imploring her to do something – anything – that would put an end to her son’s bad behaviour.
But she did nothing. She literally sat back and indulged her rowdy child with silence, as he continued to be disruptive to everyone around him.
I know parenting is hard, and I know most parents are doing the best that they can. But surely a simple “sit down” was in order here?
I probably would have been able to turn a blind eye to it if this was a one-off incident, but I’ve noticed behaviour like this seems to be becoming more and more common, with many parents simply refusing to draw a clear line when it comes to discipline.
Now, I don't want to group all parents in with this special breed of new mums and dads, because the reality is, I know plenty of people who are doing an amazing job at raising respectful, well-mannered, thoughtful human beings. I know that there are plenty of you who are putting in the hard work every single day, and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the amazing job you are doing. I know it's not easy. Keep it up, even when it gets the better of you, because you will reap what you sow.
And I also know that kids aren't perfect - they're going to have their moments from time to time. God knows I put my parents through their paces when I was a kid... There was the time I broke my arm when I was two while trying to "surf" on my tricycle, and the time I attempted to bungee jump off the second storey of our house.
But there were always repercussions for my actions.
I can distinctly remember going to the shops with my mum as a kid. On one day, just after we’d gotten there, I started acting up. I remember being so confident that I was going to get away with it, too. "She’s not going to do anything," I thought, as I wreaked havoc on everyone around me.
"Right. That’s it. We’re going home!" Mum told me through clenched teeth.
"Nooo! I’ll be good!" I pleaded with her, thinking these were the magic words she needed to hear from me.
But she could clearly see right through me.
And then she did the unthinkable. She grabbed me and my sister, practically dragged us back to the car, and took us straight home, where we stayed for the rest of the day.
I can remember feeling shell-shocked and annoyed, and my mum was definitely not happy about it either. In fact, I’d go so far as to say she was fuming. I’m sure it was a huge inconvenience for her to have to drag us back home just a few minutes after we’d arrived, because she’d clearly had things she’d set out to do that day. But she also knew that in that moment, she had to step it up as a parent.
Do you know what happened after that? I never acted out like that in public ever again, because I understood there were repercussions for my actions. I knew that Mum wasn’t just bluffing when it came to discipline. She would follow through.
But if I'm being honest, parents disciplining their kids has become a bit of a rarity today.
I don't know exactly when or how it happened, but we are now living in the age of entitlement. Congratulations, society. A lot of kids never hear the word "no" anymore and they are never called out on their bad behaviour. They literally run riot. And can you blame them? If I’d been given the same opportunity, I would have done the exact same thing.
It's just not how we were raised, and yet it seems to be how my generation is raising their kids. My parents would have been mortified if I'd carried on like that little boy on the train - but I would never have been allowed to carry on like him in the first place.
I've even seen parents try to bribe their kids into behaving well with lollies and toys. This is not a negotiation.
"What can I do?" one mum asked me as her three-year-old daughter terrorised everyone within a 30-metre radius.
What do you mean, "What can I do?" You can start by disciplining her, for one.
Maybe even worse than the out of control kids though are the select group of parents who feel like they are entitled to special privileges just because they reproduced.
I've literally had parents repeatedly ram their giant strollers into the backs of my legs at the shops when they've wanted me to move out of their way. A simple "excuse me" would have worked, too.
LISTEN: In defence of parents who yell... Post continues below.
Here's the thing, I get it - parenting is hard. Maybe you didn't realise it was going to be this hard. I know you're busy and exhausted, and I completely understand that often the easier and more appealing option is to just sit back and do nothing. But I also know that as a parent, you don't have that privilege anymore.
Looking back as an adult, I can understand that it must’ve been incredibly draining for my mum to have had to take a stand against me time and time again, and I know that there were times when I broke her. I can remember times when she would lock herself away in a room at home and have a big cry. "I just need five minutes alone," she’d tell me through the closed door. But she would always come back swinging. And no matter how trying she was finding the whole parenting thing on any given day, she never wavered when it came to disciplining my sister and I, constantly teaching us the difference between what was and wasn't acceptable until it became second nature.
As an adult, my mum is now one of my best friends, but she wasn’t when I was a kid. She was just my mother and I was just her child, and we both understood that there were very clear boundaries with both of our roles.