Monday, May 9, 2016

Hey, Parents - Leave my Kids Alone

I came across this article today - by a mother who chooses not to help her kids up the slide ladder at the park. She wants them to give it a try first and requests - "Please do not lift my daughters to the top of the ladder, especially after you’ve just heard me tell them I wasn’t going to do it for them and encourage them to try it themselves."

Of course the comments almost immediately dissolve into the inevitable parenting competition that many such posts attract, but I have to say I agree with her. It's one thing if a child is balancing precariously on a piece of play equipment, crying out for a parent who seems to have exited stage left. Of course you help them down. When you're going against what you see the parent is trying to do however, and the child is in no danger, you're being a busy body or a smug parent. Probably both. 


It reminds me of when mine were little and they said something I was trying to stop. Perhaps calling me a "big poop"; you know, the stuff designed to make you lose it in public. So I wouldn't react most of the time, thus robbing them of their prize. That's actually what many experts advise - no attention is worse than negative attention. 


But then there'd inevitably be the adult-who-is-far-better-with-children, who jumps in and says "It's not nice to talk to your mother like that." (Ironically, it was often adults whose children were, to be honest, the brattiest kids on the block.) Seriously, it used to infuriate me on so many levels. I mean, I wasn't deaf at any point, so ignoring my kids was obviously a strategy of mine - the parent, the person in charge of those kids. I am not, and never have been, a pushover as a parent so didn't need "reinforcements" in the form of adults who thought they had more authority with kids.

I lost interest long ago, in trying to "better" other people's kids. I mean what's the point? You might remind them to say "please" while they're at your house, not to complain that "there's  nothing good to eat" in your kitchen, or ask rather than simply opening the fridge and taking what they want, but hey - they're a reflection of someone else's manners, not mine. Similarly, if someone wants to raise their kids with a bit of "tough love" or just by not jumping in and rescuing them at every hurdle, then just leave those kids alone. 

7 comments:

  1. Totally agree. Here in France, if your kid misbehaves, other parents tut, shrug and throw you dirty looks, then mutter amongst themselves. Best to ignore them too. :)

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    1. Yes, I can handle the looks, just not the interference!

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  2. Yes, I agree. Though once, I was in a swimming pool changing room. A young mum had balanced her sitting baby on a bench, and I could see it was going to fall off. I really didn't like to do anything, didn't want to interfere, didn't want to show her up or embarrass her, so didn't. The baby did indeed topple off. One of the other mums then offered to hold the baby and the younger mum looked so grateful. I wished I had made the offer sooner.

    No babies were harmed in the making of this blog post comment, just so you know.

    And it's a different situation, I know. It wasn't a question of a child's behaviour.

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    1. Oooh, definitely a different situation. I would hope I'd ask her if she needed help though you never know what the reaction will be.

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  3. A very thorny issue. I don't think I would interfere if the child's parents were clearly around. I certainly don't tell playdate kids how to behave (although I don't let them turn the TV on - that's my big bugbear). But I can't feel too harshly about those that do either - I suppose they mean well.

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    1. I once had a parent demonstrate the "correct" way to eat soup although it was like something out of a Victorian novel. My kids were always complimented on their manners and I was slightly peeved that this person chose to give one of mine etiquette lessons given how most people eat over here.

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