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Fed-Up Friday: What is Up With All The Gangsta Moms?

Something scary is going on with moms.

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling these past few months. A lot.

Sometimes with the kids and many times without.

On nearly every trip I’ve encountered one family traveling with children. In four, count ‘em four, separate instances a child began kicking, pushing or otherwise bothering the passenger in front of them.

In each instance, the passenger seemed to nicely bring the problem to the parents’ attention, asking them to ask little Timmy to stop kicking the crap out of their chair.

But what happened after shocked me.

But first, please hear me out.

Listen, I’ve been kicked by a kid, too. And I try my best to endure and ignore it as an empathetic mom, unless it gets really bad. Then I will ask nicely, always mentioning that I also have two small ones and offer up that “I know it’s not easy” glance.

Also, as a mom who has been taken frequent transatlantic flights since my first child was 15 months (she’s now 10) and now, as a single mom, no less, I truly understand how challenging it is to travel with children.

But I also let my kids know that the other passengers want to enjoy their flight too. And I’ve trained them, and I, to quickly apologize if anyone kicks, bumps, knocks, slams or shakes anyone else.

But I may be a dying breed.

Back to the problem: On those four separate instances on the airplane, the moms of the offending kids, told the complaining passenger off. One said, “He’s a kid, deal with it.”

Another mom told the passenger to “shut the hell up and turn around.” Her husband sat silent.

A third audibly said, “Give me a f— break!”

In another incident directly in my row, the words exchanged between the kicker mom and the being kicked passenger escalated to the point where two uniformed staff showed up.


When did moms get so, well, gangsta? When did moms catch such bad attitude–right in front of the kids? And when did being wrong and strong become acceptable mom behavior.  These moms are seriously on the, "What? What??" tip. I think I saw some earrings about to come off.  ( I know what you are thinking, but none of these people were brown.)

Scare. Ey. 

I’ve been seeing this “gangsta mom-ism” elsewhere too. Ridiculous arguments at the school pick up and on supermarket lines—right in front of the kids. Moms acting badly at the post office (ok, that was me. But the slow-as-molasses clerk pushed my last button). You used to only hear of moms behaving badly at soccer games, track meets and other competitive events.

But something frightening is going on and giving new meaning to the James Brown song, Mama Don’t Take No Mess. And sadly, it’s playing out in front of the children.

Before I board my next plane I’m calling Russell Simmons, Sean “P-Diddy” Combs or Dr. Dre to get some tips on how they finally squashed that east coast/ west coast rap rivalry (or was that Farrakhan?).

I might need some workable strategies for my next “gangsta mom” encounter.


6 Responses to “Fed-Up Friday: What is Up With All The Gangsta Moms?”
  1. Kris Cain says:

    I’ve been wanting to write a similar post to this for SO LONG. I see that same trend here in Chicago all the time and it drives me nuts. Not only are they gangsta, we can add ghetto and just plain ignorant to the list. And I can say in my case because of where I am situated it is the “brown” ones. The way that they act in front of their children amazes me. And then people wonder why their children get in trouble in school for telling off the teacher. They learned it at home!

  2. T. McField-Murphy says:

    I too have witnessed “gangsta” moms in action. In the past I would shake my head in confusion, I am more cautious to jump to judgment now as the aunt of a child with Autism. By no means am I saying this is the case with any or all of the children mentioned in the blog but I will say it has changed my life and perspective for ever. My sister is the mother of beautiful twin boys. We have endured ugly stares, pointing, annoyed looks and down-right rude people that have come out and said we should “whoop his tail” (not using the last word). As a family we refuse to be prisoners to our homes and so we do travel, eat out and try to engage in “normal” social activities. It is extremely hard to do when my nephew has a tantrum. He has been the chair kicking kid on the plane and I the “gangsta mom”. He looks like the average boy acting out but his life is far from ordinary. We don’t always want to explain our situation but you took a minute to observe you can clearly see something is going on.

    As a mother, I empathize with parents that struggle to discipline their child. As an aunt, I have become a mother warrior and ask people to have a little more patience to explore if the situation is uncontrollable. There are days when parents of children with special needs are at their whits end and things “come to blows” in public places. I am a woman of color and people often assume our kids have behavior problems due to lack of discipline, lack of fathers in the household, systemic oppression……

    My only point is to say — seek to understand before communicating to the parent and then know they may be going through their own hell if they respond with a little sass.

    • Kimberly says:

      I think you are absolutely right… a little perspective and some understanding can go a long way…in so many areas. Also, I know in our community, bad behavior of our kids is viewed as bad parenting and our failure to discipline, but that is not often the case. Thank your for sharing this perspective. We have a lot of work to do educating ourselves.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Great post & comments. As a mom, I’ve experienced the temper tantrum child – my 2.5 yr old diva. And talk about embarrassment! It wouldn’t be my natural tendency to get “gangsta” with someone but there is a lot pressure as a mom to be “THE ONE”. The ONE who is doing it all for her family – kids, hubby & at work and sometimes the pressure is sooo great that I can see how someone could explode. I agree, we need to be more sympathetic even when it seems impossible. That mom may need a little encouragement especially mommy to mommy. And maybe she needs a little checkin’ to let her know that it’s not necessary to go off ’cause folks are just as crazy as the next person these days and you can’t anticipate what someone will say or do to a mom getting gangsta.

    • Kimberly says:

      Very true Jennifer. You could end up on the wrong side of a gangsta mom! LOL! … and I also think if we don’t show our kids how to be cool (or at least controlled) under pressure, who will??… I always tell my kids that losing control in the wrong way at the wrong time just ONCE can FOREVER CHANGE THEIR LIFE!!..and that’s the truth.

  4. Fatima says:

    i definitely agree with posts on both ends. Most of the time moms are reacting out of frustration. We wear many hats and are that go to person when it comes to our child’s behavior. Sometimes we don’t have an outlet and things just pile up, sometimes we don’t know how to or which discipline method to use. I do an empowerment training for mothers called MOMnonymous and what I’ve learned is that moms need support! So many of my clients are starving just to have time to self and then of course their are other factors that play in to a childs behavior that may not have been addressed. I always recommend pre teaching and role playing a scenario with the child for example: before getting on the plane depending on th age, this is what mommy wants you to do and having positive consequences to good behavior. Also bringing toys or coloring book to keep them occupied after all being on a plane confined to a seat can be a pain.

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