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Thread: s/o of stranger being a bit abusive..

  1. #1

    Default s/o of stranger being a bit abusive..

    If someone came up to you and said something about the way you handled a situation with your child, how would you react?

    While I've never had anyone confront me, I've definitely gotten those 'been there done that' looks from other people which actually make me feel better that my kids aren't the only crazy ones around! But I would think, and hope, if I was acting rough or inapporpriately with one of my kids, someone saying something to me (nicely) would snap me out of it and while I would be very embarrassed of my behavior, I would also be thankful for it as well.

  2. #2

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    I can't imagine a situation where I'd not feel defensive. I can think of twice that someone said something to me and once it pissed me off but the other time it made me stop and think...but still pissed me off a little at the time. The one that pissed me off was we were at an outdoor winter event. It was cold. Savana was 3ish and she flat out refused to wear her mittens so I stuck them in my pocket. As we were walking along, a woman came up to Savana and said, "Oh you poor dear. Are your hands cold? Don't you have any mittens? Do you want my gloves?" I waved close to her face and said, "Hi. Mom here. I got this under control". I felt as if she was very condescending and if she was truly concerned that we didn't have gloves for our child that she would have addressed me and not my three year old.
    Another time we were in an airport, Savana was my only child then and her and I were traveling. We were running late, she did not want to be carried so I was walking fast and she was running to keep up with me. A woman put her hand on my arm and said, "Slow down mama. Your child wants to walk beside you". I think those were wise words BUT at the same time we were at an airport so I think that she should have assumed the circumstances were out of the ordinary as common sense would tell you a person rushing at an airport is rushing for a reason. That said, her words have come to me at other times in my life.

    I honestly think the best one can hope for if they were approached about their parenting in a negative light is that the mother may go home and think about it. I'd be surprised if someone was able to show appreciation in the moment, especially since those sort of moments are usually plagued by out of control emotions as it is.

  3. #3

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    I don't know. I guess it would depend on the situation. I think it's difficult for a stranger to know the complexities of situations and read them correctly in the type of passing glance afforded in public. I can't think of a single situation where I would lose control in public and handle my child in a manner that would draw negative attention. I have 2 special needs kids so when they have meltdowns I frequently have to just pick them up and remove them. Sometimes that's hard because they are big and strong, and it may appear to be rough or harsh, but it's not in reality. I think offers of help are better received than passing judgments. I had someone tell me that my carseat wasn't installed properly and they helped me install it. This was early in my child-rearing days, and it was appreciated. But then when Kyan was a baby I had him in his infant seat inside a shopping cart and he was fussy and we were trying to hurry and check out. I gave him a plastic shopping bag to play with because it kept him entertained. Both my dh and I were there and watching him and had our other 4 kids with us and some woman came and took the bag out of his hands and handed it to me telling me it was a suffocation hazard. That kind of ticked me off. Obviously I didn't just let my kids play with plastic bags all the time. He was being watched very closely.
    Mary Jane, doula and mom of Vada, Brynna, Tea, Moira, Kyan, Ambria, Aslan, and Anakin.
    “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

  4. #4

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    So far I've only had one negative encounter with a stranger judging my parenting. She was a bit harsh about it, but it was done in concern for my child, so my only response was "thank you for your concern" and I left it at that.

    My friend and I and our kids were eating at Whole Foods once, and we left the kids there to go get drinks. Maiya was barely 2 at the time, but my friend's kid was 10- and looked about 5. So a lady sitting next to us FLIPPED OUT that we would dare leave two "very young" kids alone for a few minutes in down town Oakland. Now, not only was the other kid older than the stranger thought, but we could see them the entire time AND there was no way they could leave without walking right past us. So... while on some level I was insulted because I could tell in her tone of voice that she was about 2 seconds from reporting me to the police, I still appreciated her concern for them.

    I hate to sound like a snob, but it would be pretty unlikely for me to be doing anything that I need a stranger to "snap me out of", so while I would honestly appreciate their concern, the only way they could be saving the day was if I was ignorant on something (which is HIGHLY likely!!). It hasn't happened yet, but if someone did educate me about something I was unaware of, I would be very thankful.



  5. #5

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    The only time I ever appreciate strangers comments in a situation 'like this' is if they are empathetic to my (or DD!) feelings, and say something understanding (even if they offer advice when doing so). If I felt like any judgement was passed it would bother me because I always try my best to be good and fair when parenting. I dont consider myself rough or innappropriate, even when i'm upset or stressed, so yeah, it would bother me if somebody perceived me wrong. I remember a phase when DD would scream bloody murder when she was upset (the piercing scream) and I remember getting looks, and not 'concerned' looks, but looks as if I couldn't control my child. I remember this one old lady in particular a couple years ago in a grocery store shaking her head at me. I was so tempted to say 'WHAT?! Why are you shaking your head? You've never seen a screaming child? Do you think I hurt her? Do you think I can magically make her stop with the bat of an eye? She is two...Have you ever had children?' It just irked me! That doesn't really have anything to do with your question!
    I do admire people who actually call out parents who are clearly mistreating their children, somebody has to be the voice of the abused child, its 'our' responsiblity to call out parents in situations like that I think. But that's for obvious abusive situations.....

  6. #6

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    I've had strangers comment about how my kids must be cold before. My DS2 often takes his shoes and socks off in the car while I'm driving and can't stop him. I've been parked in the lane to pick up my DS4 from PreK and had a well meaning Grandmother come over from her car to mine and comment on his poor little bare feet (all the windows were closed except the driver's and the heat was on, he was just fine and asleep). I've also had the "that child needs shoes" pick at both of my kids before they were walkers. I saw no reason to get a non-walking baby shoes. I'd just put a couple layers of socks on them when it was cold. I'd usually just respond with "He's alright but thank you for your concern."

    One was especially bad from my grandmother in law. We were out to eat, my mother in law, my grandmother in law, myself and my oldest who was just a baby, about 5 or 6 months I'd say. Grandmother in law kept doing things I didn't approve of and getting on my case about it. Like she gave him a french fry and I took it away again and she said "he's hungry too, he needs to eat." I said if he was hungry I'd nurse him and she was like "OMG here at the table?!" Then a little while later she commented on his lack of shoes and said if we couldn't afford it she would buy him some. The tone was very condescending because she knew full well that we could afford it. I was seeing red by the end of that lunch but I kept my mouth shut.

    I've seen someone else get really railed on though and it stuck with me. We were at the beach up in Canada and there was a mom strapping her 3ish year old into his seat. A bee flew into the car and she tried to bat it away, then it landed on her son's head and she smacked it and killed it. A passer by stopped and yelled "Sure, hit him some more you f*cking monster!". My father, who was also with us, went up to the guy and set him straight.
    Last edited by Dreya; 12-12-2012 at 04:21 AM.
    Megan (29) and Jayson (31) Happily married 9 years



  7. #7

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    Sorry, I responded to the wrong post LOL
    Last edited by daylilies; 12-12-2012 at 12:09 PM.

  8. #8
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    I would get upset and - when alone later - cry my eyes out. And I would wish I had the quick wit to respond with a good comeback. My DS has autism and sometimes things upset him that do not upset the typical child. When I know that something would result in a melt down, I just don't let it get there (if at all I can help it). For example, when he was in preschool, his classroom was on the top floor. DS would not want to walk up the stairs when it was crowded. So we would usually wait until there was no one one the stair case and then DS would walk up on the side of the stair case he chose. This one time DS was walking up on the left side. As we were about half way up, a father came down the stairs and was walking on the same side as DS (which - of course - is the proper thing to do to walk on the right side). I just moved out of the way and got behind DS which required the man to switch sides of the stair case. (It was a young man with no visible physical issues that would make it hard for him to use stairs.) He said something about us being rude to not move to the other side, yada, yada, yada ... It really bothered me. I stuck to my plan to let DS come up the stairs where he was (my other option was to move him which would have very likely resulted him throwing himself on the floor, crying uncontrollably and me and teachers spending the next hour calming him down). But once I got back to my car, I cried and cried and cried. Yes ... he was right, yes, we were walking on the wrong side of the stair case and yes I know what proper manners are. I just wished I had the guts to say something in return.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreya View Post
    I've had strangers comment about how my kids must be cold before. My DS2 often takes his shoes and socks off in the car while I'm driving and can't stop him. I've been parked in the lane to pick up my DS4 from PreK and had a well meaning Grandmother come over from her car to mine and comment on his poor little bare feet (all the windows were closed except the driver's and the heat was on, he was just fine and asleep). I've also had the "that child needs shoes" pick at both of my kids before they were walkers. I saw no reason to get a non-walking baby shoes. I'd just put a couple layers of socks on them when it was cold. I'd usually just respond with "He's alright but thank you for your concern."

    One was especially bad from my grandmother in law. We were out to eat, my mother in law, my grandmother in law, myself and my oldest who was just a baby, about 5 or 6 months I'd say. Grandmother in law kept doing things I didn't approve of and getting on my case about it. Like she gave him a french fry and I took it away again and she said "he's hungry too, he needs to eat." I said if he was hungry I'd nurse him and she was like "OMG here at the table?!" Then a little while later she commented on his lack of shoes and said if we couldn't afford it she would buy him some. The tone was very condescending because she knew full well that we could afford it. I was seeing red by the end of that lunch but I kept my mouth shut.

    I've seen someone else get really railed on though and it stuck with me. We were at the beach up in Canada and there was a mom strapping her 3ish year old into his seat. A bee flew into the car and she tried to bat it away, then it landed on her son's head and she smacked it and killed it. A passer by stopped and yelled "Sure, hit him some more you f*cking monster!". My father, who was also with us, went up to the guy and set him straight.
    My mom's mom is hypercritical. She says stuff like that all the time only worse. She points out every single thing wrong with you and your kids. I guess being exposed to that for most of my childhood, I learned not to let stupid crap people say bother me over much. I can only think of one other time where someone said something to me that really rubbed me the wrong way. I was pregnant with my 4th child. I was working and my dh had brought the other 3 kids up to have lunch with me during my lunch break. There was nothing nearby except a McDonalds. So we were at the playground eating our lunch. I nursed Tea and set her in her seat and Brynna and Vada were playing. This woman walks in and sees us and starts telling us how beautiful our family is and how sweet the girls are and when am I due, etc. So them as I'm about to take a bite of my cheeseburger she says "you know when you're pregnant what you put into your body goes to your baby, you should consider eating better." I was too shocked to even respond.
    Mary Jane, doula and mom of Vada, Brynna, Tea, Moira, Kyan, Ambria, Aslan, and Anakin.
    “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

  10. #10

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    It won't bother me to be honest. I am not the most sensitive person and I have learned that I have to do what works, not what the people and experts say. One of my boys is perhaps special needs, the other one is very smart, independent and opinionated so I wear two hats, discipline & handle them differently, often use different intonation in my voice, explain differently. Some people are very critical for everything, some people believe that kids need to behave almost like adults, some people believe that gentle positive discipline is the one and only way. In this day and age, there is a study and research to support EVERY way of parenting and many people feel they are experts and know it all, even if they just met you and your children. Like they looked at your child for a minute and now they know how he is It took me good 4 years to figure out how to handle certain things with DS1 but I am sure one of those know-it-all moms would "know" exactly what to do if she saw him in store for 1 minute, you know?!

    So no, cr!p that people say don't bother me one bit and I would also talk back and give them a piece of my mind.

    One time at Target DS2 was throwing a tantrum and I was trying to calm him down. A lady came and said "maybe he needs a snack". I ignored her in an attempt to be polite. DS2 kept screaming and I kept telling him (while carrying him) that we are almost done. She approached me again and said she had seen people give their kids snack to keep them happy. I told her to get herself a snack to stay calm and happy. She really did not expect me saying anything to her but oh well... I could not help it.
    KEVIN (6) & MATTHEW (4)

  11. #11
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    I get told stuff all the time, and normally it just rolls off my back. I know there is such a wide range of parenting styles that what the random person says really doesn't mean anything. I've been told that I need to spank, that I need to let my kids cry it out, that I need to let them get used to playing by themselves and that I shouldn't breastfeed. I've also been told that I shouldn't go to work and I should spend every moment with them and shouldn't have stopped breastfeeding when I did.

    One time at a playground I was told I was endangering my children's lives by letting them climb up high on a structure and trusting that they wouldn't do anything crazy. And then just a few days ago my dad told me that I was causing my DD to develop phobias by instilling a culture of fear, by always urging caution and telling them they would fall down and hurt themselves.

    So it's not so much what the message is, or what I'm actually doing so much, as who is saying it and what particularly vulnerable state I'm in at the moment. If I'm having a bad day, and I'm feeling insecure, or I want the approval of the person who is criticizing me, then I'm going to dwell on the message, whether or not it is a worthwhile one. I can't think of any time anyone has said anything to me -in the moment- that was helpful. DH and I have both had discussions about parenting decisions after the fact that were helpful, but it was only after we were calm and could think about what could have been the better option.

    The only time anyone has been helpful has been if someone actually helped me with a child instead of saying something, like by offering a hand when one kid was doing something I needed to help with and another kid started running away, or by offering a sympathetic smile and "I know how it is."

    Also, I just want to point out that even in the book "Raising Happiness," the author points out that her daughters say loudly in the supermarket "You are HURTING MY BODY!" when she touches them and my DS shouts, "You are hurting me, Mommy!" when I grab his wrist when he tries to run away from me for the umpteenth time. I don't know how that would look to an outsider, but I would be not happy if I was trying to corral my kids and my son ran away from me again and I caught his wrist just in the nick of time and someone lectured me about hurting him. I think his discomfort- if it is physical- is very minimal, but if he found out that it made strangers lecture me and made me embarrassed, he'd use it against me, loudly and more often.

    I'm kind of rambling and writing fast because I'm due back from a break at work (yes, I work), but I do want to say I think Bridget said it really well:

    I honestly think the best one can hope for if they were approached about their parenting in a negative light is that the mother may go home and think about it. I'd be surprised if someone was able to show appreciation in the moment, especially since those sort of moments are usually plagued by out of control emotions as it is.
    And I may have to come back and edit this later if it didn't come out right.


  12. #12
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    I'd probably be angry. How can someone who has seen my child for about 30 seconds know more about them than I do when I am with them all day long? Very rarely is someone's advice going to be helpful. Now, if there was a safety issue (a real one) and I was somehow truly endangering my child then I would be appreciative of the help.
    Jessica (32) and Ryan (32). Madelyn born August 5, 2009; Malachi born December 23, 2010 and Nathaniel born July 19, 2013. Lost a loved baby 02/29/12, 05/14/12 and 07/05/12 all due a serious allergic reaction to fabric softener.
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  13. #13

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    Interesting to see all the responses to this post....I have to say that a lot of the comments seem to be more in regards of parenting styles rather than a situation when something seems off or abusive which my original question on the other post....

    I have never felt the need to intervine when someone is parenting...whether i agree or not....like many said...too many styles and many people do different things....The only reason i would speak up is if maybe i feel the parents seems to be abusive (like the sample of the parent slaping her child in the face).....but many times like in the situation i witnessed is hard to tell whether it was a moment thing where the mom lost it a bit or it was deserved to be a bit harder with the kid because it was needed......

    I mean i have seen things that to me where just terrible.....like this summer we were at a park with a splashground and the playground next to each other...this family with 2 kids one older maybe 6 or 7 girl and a baby....well i am not sure what happened but the 6/7 year old girl all of a sudden was missing her bikini bottoms....and she was sitting on a towel next to the dad with her legs open...yes open in the middle of the playground like it was normal....she was naked on the bottom....i was appalled...i mean....what is there was a perv around???....but she was both her parents, they were aware and they apparently did not care their daugther was naked on the bottom showing her parts in a very crowded park.......
    do i agree???...No....but i did not say anything as it was not my place....

    Now to respond to the original post.....i have never had a stranger say anything to me...so i am not sure how i would respond or feel...i guess it would depend on the situation.

    I have had my in laws make random comments....like why we don't cut my DDs hair shorter....apparently they feel girls need to have shorter hair.. or why we try to do organic food...or other stuff like that....that kind of stuff pisses me off when it comes from them but then again that kind of critical comments has nothing to do with being abusive or not...

  14. #14

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    I was going to say it hasn't happened to me before, but it has I guess with relatives and at the grocery store when Ky was a toddler and was being his nutty tantrum prone self. It didn't bother me though, people saying anything and actually since I have lived in many black lower income neighborhoods, when Ky misbehaved at stores I thought it was funny because old grandma's would look at him and say "boy, you better stop that or you might get a butt whuppin" lol. Some would take offense to that but I honestly don't take most older people seriously anyway when it comes to parenting and I thought it was pretty hilarious. Also, I do and did spank and most of the time when a lady would say that another lady would reiterate the same and talk about they'd do if he were with him and most of the time he would stop being that way lol.

    In my family, I don't take them seriously either. They are critical of a lot of things about my life in general but most of us are to the point where they don't bother me and will just gossip behind my back and it doesn't bother me at all since I'm not sensitive to talky talk that people do.

    I also have spoken to parents before when we were out places, like at the park or stores or swimming lessons and there were little kids acting crazy and their parents would always be apologizing and speaking of how they didn't know why their kid was acting like that and they didn't mean to be disruptive and I would just tell them that it isn't a big deal and that is just how some kids are. This was especially an issue when Ky was about 5 and he took swimming lessons and there was a 4 year old boy (just turned 4) in his class who was pretty wild and wouldn't listen to the teacher or follow directions well and his mom would be so apologetic and seemingly embarrassed at his behavior but I thought he was adorable and funny and a sweet kid. He was the youngest in the class so his behavior did stick out and I remember the mom comparing her son to Ky and I told her that Ky would have given her little boy a run for the crazy 4 year old award if they were the same age lol. We became pretty good friends and I still talk to her and her son is no longer like that now that he is 9.

    Erin

  15. #15

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    I actually did say something to a parent at the ER once for being abusive. It was a young mom and she was there with her infant. Baby was maybe 6 weeks old and kept sticking her fists in her mouth because she was hungry. She was making hunger cues. And this woman pulled the baby's hands out of her mouth and slapped them and told her no really firmly. Then she looks at her friend and said that she kept trying to get her to stop sucking on her fists, but she wouldn't stop. I saw red. It was all I could do not to take the baby physically and just hug on her. I told her that babies suck on their fists to tell you they are hungry. It's a reflex and they can't help it and it's not a behavior issue. I told her to stop hitting her baby and feed her instead. Then I told her that babies that age can't be disciplined, and I don't remember what else I said, but I was really pissed. I'm pretty sure I told the ER staff what was happening too. There was certainly no way to mistake what was happening for anything but ignorance and poor parenting and abuse. Slapping a baby that young is abuse no matter how you spin it.
    Mary Jane, doula and mom of Vada, Brynna, Tea, Moira, Kyan, Ambria, Aslan, and Anakin.
    “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaryJane View Post
    I actually did say something to a parent at the ER once for being abusive. It was a young mom and she was there with her infant. Baby was maybe 6 weeks old and kept sticking her fists in her mouth because she was hungry. She was making hunger cues. And this woman pulled the baby's hands out of her mouth and slapped them and told her no really firmly. Then she looks at her friend and said that she kept trying to get her to stop sucking on her fists, but she wouldn't stop. I saw red. It was all I could do not to take the baby physically and just hug on her. I told her that babies suck on their fists to tell you they are hungry. It's a reflex and they can't help it and it's not a behavior issue. I told her to stop hitting her baby and feed her instead. Then I told her that babies that age can't be disciplined, and I don't remember what else I said, but I was really pissed. I'm pretty sure I told the ER staff what was happening too. There was certainly no way to mistake what was happening for anything but ignorance and poor parenting and abuse. Slapping a baby that young is abuse no matter how you spin it.
    That poor baby! That mother needed some parenting classes. I hope that mom got help. At the Wic office I saw a lady and a two month old it sicken me because I could smell them come into the office. The grandma, mother, and baby all reeked of smoke really bad. It took everything I had not to say anything. Then the grandma was practically shoving the pacifier in the babies mouth. I was with friend and the friend knew the family and told me later that WIC was keeping an eye on the family. Apparently if the baby wasn't cleaned properly they'd report the family to CPS.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by texaschic View Post
    If someone came up to you and said something about the way you handled a situation with your child, how would you react?

    While I've never had anyone confront me, I've definitely gotten those 'been there done that' looks from other people which actually make me feel better that my kids aren't the only crazy ones around! But I would think, and hope, if I was acting rough or inapporpriately with one of my kids, someone saying something to me (nicely) would snap me out of it and while I would be very embarrassed of my behavior, I would also be thankful for it as well.
    My oldest is 16.5yrs and I have 9 kiddos...I've never had anyone confront me. I've gotten various looks but no one has ever commented negatively to me about how I handle my kids. So I can honestly say I have no idea what I would do.

    But then again, I can't imagine myself being rough or acting inappropriately with my kids in public. I really can't imagine needing to be "snapped out of it".

    In general, my preference is that people mind their own business :-)

  18. #18

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    I don't think I would react well to a stranger commenting to me about my children or the way I'm taking care of them. I have never had that happen to me but I would probably be upset. No one knows their children better than they do. I have felt that at times the urge to comment about parents being rough but I just give a nasty look instead. I had a lady yelling at her 3 year old like if she was grown and I wanted to say "Hey relax she's just a little girl" but I just shook my head. Unless I know a person well I wouldn't offer parenting advice unless they asked.

  19. #19
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    I would be really pissed off if someone commented on the way I was handling a situation with my kids. NO ONE tells me what to do/say/how to act to or with my kids.
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