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I Like It When Strangers Discipline My Kid

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Being a parent is hard. I don't want to do it alone.


Momlogic's Momstrosity: I like people. I believe they are basically good and, when given the chance, are more often caring and helpful than not.

That's why I don't mind it when other adults, now and then, reprimand my child. Not everybody agrees with me. Including some of my friends.

I was at a party and my daughter was wandering a little too close to the edge of a balcony that had just enough room for her to slip down -- if she squeezed herself through. I had my eye on her and was about to grab her and pull her away from the edge, when another party guest intercepted her. He got down on one knee, held her by the shoulders, and gave her a pretty stern scolding.

I quickly went over to the guy and took my daughter away for a one-on-one talk. She was pretty shaken up. I explained to her that the man was very worried about her and didn't want her to get hurt. I explained that yes, the man didn't tell her in the nicest way, but he meant well.

Then a friend of mine pulled ME aside and said I should be furious at that guy, A) for touching my daughter in the first place, and B) for doling out discipline.

Granted, I wasn't pleased with the guy's approach -- but I was happy that I wasn't the only one who cared about the safety of my child. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once said "It takes a village," and I agree. Sometimes the village is a Target. Sometimes it's a park playground. As a society, we should be watching out for ALL children -- not just our own. And kids should know that too. Even a disapproving look from a fellow shopper when my kid is having a tantrum -- not only is the tantrum unacceptable to Mom, it's unacceptable to others.

Do not misunderstand. I take full responsibility for parenting. I do not use other people to watch after my child. But nobody can have their eyes on their kids every single minute. If you say you can, I'm sorry, but you're not being honest ... and I only want honest people in my village.

next: The Littlest Thieves
8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Crystal August 13, 2009, 2:42 PM

I agree! If my kids are not behaving, I don’t mind another grown up saying something to them if I hadn’t scolded them first (maybe I didn’t see the bad behavior).

However, I wouldn’t expect anyone else to spank my children. That’s for the parents to decide if it’s needed.

Jenna Lang August 13, 2009, 3:10 PM

This is a serious quandry…

The adult watching sees a behavior (or misbhavior) that is dangerous or disruptive. No parent seems to be stepping in… should one let the child get hurt or continue to misbehave?

This wasn’t even a question 30 years ago. The adult simply stepped in and took care of the situation with a stern warning.

Today, so many parents believe that love means making our kids feel good about themselves rather than giving them the character that allows them to feel good about themselves. This means that their children run amuck.

I just returned from a cruise with a boat that held 3000 people— about 1/4 of that number were children. And although the ship had supervised activities for them, many parents allowed their 8-12 year olds to have their run of the ship. Just as if the other 2000+ guests had all passed a criminal back ground check, and this was a safe choice.

My party overheard apparent 10 year olds getting drunk, saw them racing through the halls,witnessed them ruing elevators like kingdoms, and when called out on their behavior by other adults, these children seemed confident THEIR parents would NOT back the adults brave enough to correct them.

Unfortunately, it seems to be the parents whose kids lack discipline (which is NOT just physical correction)who yell the loudest when another adult provides the correction.

My kids (now 17 & 19) were taught that if another adult corrects you, be respectful of their position, and come get my input if you believe they are misguided.

It worked, and I know it worked, because my children were consistently complimented on being kind, thoughtful and polite. Not that they always exhibited this behavior at home! LOL

Anonymous August 13, 2009, 3:14 PM

If some strange guy grabbed my little girl I’d be P.O.ed. No one should be handling your child. Don’t you know the kind of people who are out there??

Jen August 13, 2009, 4:49 PM

To Anonymous, you’d have been even more pissed off if he stood by and did nothing while your kid fell from a balcony, as was the case for the child in the article.

Melissa August 13, 2009, 5:02 PM

I agree to some extent about strangers disciplining… ESPECIALLY where safety is concerned.

I had an experience in the market where a woman noticed my 4-year-old take a blank gift card and put it in her pocket. As I was walking up she was just about done speaking to her about it.

I asked if everything was okay. She explained it to me in a very friendly, non-judgmental way. I thanked her and we went on our way.

I spoke to my daughter about and told her that we would discuss it further when we got home.

We passed the lady a second time in the market and I stopped to thank her. If she hadn’t “caught” my daughter, she might progress to thinking it was okay to take things without consequences.

I know she was very young, but that’s just one instance and very minor.

I think if the stranger has a pretty good demeanor about themselves and non-judmental of me and my reactions to the “altercation”, then it is fine…

Sometimes it really does take a village.

May August 14, 2009, 4:21 PM

I remember when I was growing up that other adults in the community were allowed to discipline us and that we needed to show them respect. I’m teaching my daughter the samething, too many kids are misbehaving and parents just either act like they don’t know what’s going on or just laugh and say they are kids. I rather thank a stranger from saving my child from danger or stopping her from doing something wrong, than have something bad happen to them.

beth August 14, 2009, 8:10 PM

melissa,why was your 4 yr old out of your sight for even a minute?
shame on you.
i believe it’s okay for another adult to speak frankly with your child, but not put hands on them.

Anonymous July 2, 2010, 6:55 AM

if children bully and punched other children i dont care i will protect the child who is attacked and if its your child its your fcking fault.
Maybe i try to tell them to go away but if that doesnt work.. why should i wait for the police while the child is beeing attacked and could get to the hospital because the bullys are attacking him/her???

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