Monday, October 10, 2011

on correcting someone else's kid

Touchy subject, folks.

Every mother parents differently. Every choice one makes is based on her own personal experience, research, opinions, morals, and values. We are constantly judged for those decisions and most of the time those decisions fit into the mold of whatever society is leaning towards at the time. For example, vaccinating your child. This subject has only seemed to intensify since I was pregnant and deciding if I was going to get a swine flu vaccine. At the time, it was one of the hardest decisions I was making because not only would this be affecting me, but also my unborn son. Now, the right to waive vaccines has blown up and to some degree, is out of control. But this has nothing to do with vaccinating your child. That's a whole other post. ;)

I've been around several friends who have children and as we chat and supervise our kids there are certainly moments when things might get out of hand, like a disagreement over a toy or misuse of a toy (for those older siblings). My comfort level in correcting the child(ren) solely depends on my interpretation of how the other mother might feel if I said something to her child. In general, I have no issue redirecting a child away from a situation that is causing a problem. Redirecting is all I do with Logan. His world grows bigger and bigger every day as he learns a new motor skill (climbing) or verbal skills (mine! no!). B and me are on our toes with Logan as he runs circles around us. But when another child is around, what do you do?

I happen to have a wonderful relationship with a friend of three boys. When all four boys hang out, issues are bound to arise and I find my mommy instincts naturally kicking in. On the occasion that has happened I have instantly apologized for correcting her children and without hesitation she has given me permission to do so. In turn, she has permission to correct Logan. We both understand that in no way will our methods of correction include a physical consequence. But we raise our voices just a touch, change the tone, and the children listen. With other parents this is not as easy, but I am finding my way around that very fine line of when it's okay to correct someone else's child and when to keep my mouth shut.

Bethany Joy recently posted about correcting a total stranger's daughter on the street. You can read it here. In short, she scolds a tween throwing a fit in the street over something so silly her mother was hardly paying any attention. Then, once mom heard Joy correct her daughter she snapped at Joy. Being defensive is one thing, but not taking responsibility for your child's actions, no matter how old, is just inappropriate.

Logan's latest fit was at church. It was during a children's service, thankfully, but I don't tolerate his wanting his way in public very well. He either listens or we leave and at this age I know the expectation for listening is low so we left. He was unhappy in the nursery and wanted to wonder through the pews during the service so I had no other choice than to leave. (I mentioned a few posts back about whether or not to let him cry it out in the nursery and I'm not a fan-yet).

On occasion I have corrected that rowdy child in the waiting area who keeps tapping on the fish tank loudly proclaiming "Look at me fishy!" or the child who bolts so fast out our front doors that if he kept going he'd surely get run over by a car in the drop off lane. I'm constantly paying attention to how my own child affects others around him and it baffles me when other parents don't do the same. The child yelling at a fish was nearly stepping on an elderly woman and mom was deep into a magazine. The child who dashed down the hall and almost out the front doors tripped before I could stop him so in a way, his consequence was natural. Mom was several feet back, hardly paying attention. These kinds of situations I just can't ignore and if mom wants to get up in  my face about it, so be it. Thankfully, that has not happened yet.

Now what do you do? Please share if you are the correcting type or do you let it go? Ignore the situation?

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