Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What to Do?

Play dates, schools, sports, and just about any other situations where children interact, are a battlefield. Oh, who am I kidding! Let's just admit, dealing with children, at times, sucks. A battlefield is an understatement; it is more like going into a combat zone, holding nothing more than piece of paper that says, "Parent in Charge."

So what do you do if a child, other than your own, behaves badly in your presence?

Do you tell them off / correct them yourself?

Should you tell their parents?

Should you keep quiet - it is not your business after all?

Do you do all of the above?

Perhaps you have an alternative solution of your own, but one thing is common to all of us. The route you take will depend upon the deed done. I, for one, do not tell other people's children off, I suppose it is just my thing. However, I do rely on the adults to take charge and deal with the situation, if it is severe enough to warrant it.

So, then the question to be asked is, "What does severe enough mean to you?" This is also a minefield, which has many possible answers, depending upon your own view.

There is no rulebook, apart from the laws enforced by the police. Should be easy, should it not? No, I am afraid to say that it is far from easy.

I have found that some parents have a magical view of their children. They are adamant their offspring are always the innocent party, even when proven guilty. To be honest, they would make perfect defense attorneys, and I for one am fed up with battling this issue. They defend with great passion; they throw metaphorical stones at their opponent's imaginary glass houses. They fight a great fight, scrambling to keep the reputation of their children intact, no matter what has occurred.

Quite right, you may say. Parents are their children's advocate after all. However, I think it is also our duty, as parents, to act responsibly and to show children how to deal with their mistakes in a grown-up approach. We need to show them how to take responsibility for their actions and understand the consequences, not jump in and have the attitude, 'he who shouts loudest wins.' I have found perfectly lovely people turn into monstrous beings over their children.

This week a group of children did something wrong at my house. Some facts I know as I witnessed it, some I didn't. A couple of them helped to try to minimize the damage that the others had done, but for the main perpetrators, they ran away. I suspect hoping that I would not report it to their parents.

I am not a squealer, but I could not over look this. Respectfully, I felt, I inquired as to the names of the children and I sent emails to the parents of those who helped and those who I suspected were in the wrong. What ensued was very shocking. My neighborhood became a hive of busy bee parents, ringing, mailing, and scoring points over the other's children.

In the end, with my patience worn thin, and regretting reporting the incident, I posted on Facebook my view. I did not intend on a war, I was just informing parents of an action that really needed attention. I would expect someone to do that for me if it was my child. No one was rude; in fact, they were all perfectly nice. However, being NICE and being NICE FOR AN ULTERIOR MOTIVE are two different things.

The misdemeanor, in the chaos, seemed forgotten. The focus had moved, and I hoped that my post would bring those parents involved back to reality. We are all on the same side, we are not enemies, we are comrade in arms, bringing up our children, hopefully to be decent human beings.

Following is my post. It may not win me any favors, but I sincerely hope it was the right thing to do.

"Ok, going to stick my neck out here and hope for the best. If a child does something wrong (including my own) I would want to hear about it .This is not war! Couldn't we just tell them the lesson to be learned, even if it wasn't them, but part of the group they happen to be in? Sorry but it had to be said!"

What would you have done? I would love to hear, maybe we can learn from each other. You know, parents sticking together for the greater good!


  1. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we try to bubblewrap our kiddies...Oh, my. I am so with you, Dawn. I lost a friend because her child could do no wrong. Problem was, I knew it takes 2 to tango, and i readily admitted my child's wrong. Not her. Ridiculous. Kids are wrong all the time! And so are their parents, it seems...The Sheilah! Proud to admit when I'm wrong, and happy to teach my child the same. Life is all about wrongs, and saying we're sorry even if we feel wronged.

  2. I am afraid to say, I never assume my children are innocent until I have all the facts. Guess I know them too well!

  3. A lot depends on where this happens and exactly how bad the kids are. If you are in change, then YOU must see that all the kids behave well. It is fine to tell a mom that her child had a bad day, and was disruptive. If a child is a bully and badly behaved all the time, then you have to protect the other children. Tell that mom her child does not interact well with others, and would probably be better either by himself, or with older kids not so easily upset.

    The adult in charge must evaluate each situation and then act in the best interests of ALL the children. If the parent is there as well, and the child misbehaves, ask the parent to control their child.

    Some parents think their lids are angels. Others know their little darlings can be stinkers. A minefield I know, but hey, someone has to do the dirty work - right?

    * Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  4. Thanks for your wise words Margot. I love the line "little darlings can be stinkers."

  5. I guess I am a bit harder than most. If a child is under my supervision, or at my house, he/she is treated just like my own kids and have the same rules and expectations. If something happens, they will receive the same punishment as my more/no less. If the parents don't like that I have consequences, then their child doesn't have to come over. Funny thing is, I have parents telling me that their kids behave so much better over here than they do at home. wonder why??? Kids are going to screw up and make mistakes - I screw up all the time!!! But owning up to the mistakes and learning a lesson so you don't repeat the mistake is the magic....


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