Feedback Friday - Strangers Disciplining Your Children

If you know me at all, you know about my multiple personality disorder. I call her "Mama Bear" and, girl, she can mess you UP! I find myself speaking up and doing things in situations I would have never imagined in defense of my boys. I'm fair, strict, and discipline them when necessary...just don't YOU do it for me. It's just one of those things that sets off my switch (you know, the one that rhymes with 'witch'?).

Well, I got this article from Mom Logic yesterday, and I knew it was a Feedback Friday post in the making: (excerpt from Mom Logic)

"This happened to a Georgia mom on Monday. Sonya Mathews' daughter, Paige, was crying in the store when 61-year-old Roger Stephens told Mathews that if she didn't make her kid stop crying, he would. When little Paige continued to cry, he walked up to her and slapped her across the face several times. After he did it, he told Mathews, "See, I told you I would shut her up."

Mathews screamed at him and called for security. Another shopper stopped him. He was arrested and charged with cruelty to a child, a felony, and is being held without bail. Paige suffered no injuries, except for some redness in the face."

Now, something on a smaller scale happened to me once in a restaurant while we were vacationing at the beach about 5 years ago. We were having a wonderful night, The Big Guy and I were enjoying a drink and talking and the kids were playing and giggling quietly. They were playing a game where they were blowing on each other with a straw (I don't know, I guess it seemed fun). I can remember sitting there thinking, this is a great night.

Well, out of nowhere a lady at a neighboring table approached my kids and sternly scolded them for playing this game "Put that straw down! You could poke someone's eye out!" Then she walked away and returned to her table.

Have you ever heard someone say they "saw red"? Well, I became so angry at this lady for butting in that I saw black! I was so enraged I began to cry. Man, I hate that. The Big Guy kept trying to talk me down and then he made the fatal mistake of taking the boys to the bathroom.

I got up and spoke to the woman (through tears) and tried to make the general point that: if you want to say something to my kids, you gotta go through me first. (there were lots of "how dare you"s and "where do you get off"s amid sniffles and snorts). I'm pretty sure I made my point. But, in the end, it ruined my entire night.

Have you ever experienced this? Did you react as strongly? Is there a situation where you would ever discipline someone else's child while they were present (unless they were hurting your kid)? What on earth would you have done to the man in Walmart? (I would have put a beat down on that dude. They would have had to tear me off from him...just sayin'). Come on, let me have it with some Feedback!

**Don't forget my Tutorial Linky Party next Tuesday! I'm calling on all my creative readers to help me out during my vaca by entertaining my readers with some cool tutorials. Don't let me down!**

Oh! And check out this opportunity to share where you were on September 11, 2001, this mom has it together and this should have been my Feedback Friday post for today. Go to Where Were You on 9/11? to post your response..


  1. I agree with you. I wouldn't be very happy about either of those situations. If a child is in my home and being disrespectful, (parent not there) then yes, I would correct them when they are wrong. But out in public, I would not. I'd probably just think to myself that mom or dad need to do something. haha!

    I know for sure that if someone had slapped my kid in the store, I'd have to slap 'em back. AND in your situation, I can see me and my spiteful self, having one of my kids take the straw and go blow in her face with it.

  2. I don't have kids yet, but yes, i would defend them with all my powers, I am proud of you talking to that lady because what she did is wrong....

  3. I'm not a mother so can't say I have... though there were times in which i had the thought of doing something when someone else's kid is entirely out of control or annoying everyone but I always let the parents handle it and just stay out of range. If it was my kid I wouldn't like it... the thing about the straws... that woman was rude... it was straws for petes sake and if she really wanted to help she could've just politely asked/told you or just ignore it >_>

  4. I've been fortunate (so far), not to experience that. Of course, I'm sure I probably give off a vibe that says, "I dare you..." and so they just keep it to themselves. lol My AF - Remembering 9/11

  5. In my home kids need to try to follow the rules of the house, they aren't outlandish, just meant to keep everyone safe and happy (or atleast Mom happy). If a child disobeys the rules parent or no I will correct them and I expect the same to happen to my kids. But it public its different, unless someone is getting hurt stay out of it. And never, ever, ever hit a child especially one that is not yours.

    In your situation, I prpbably would have done the same thing. your kids were not hurting anyone.

  6. I feel for you!
    Just when I want my big bad wolfie with an attitude to come out, the tears overwhelm me, and I don't seem so scary as I attempt to sound mean and bad!

    It appalls me that people expect to enter the public and have control over complete strangers and/or their children.

    The nerve!

  7. I agree, I am not a person that would ever be physical, but if that happened to my kids/nieces/nephews that jerk would have some trouble walking away with the officer, let me tell ya. But I would be a blubbering the whole time, anger makes me cry too.

  8. This has never happened to me but if it did I would have to speak up. I am the one raising my children, not some stranger. People just too quickly about what is going on. Grr. And the story about that man just outrages me.

  9. I can't say what I would do, because thankfully, this has never happened to me, BUT if it did...it wouldn't be pretty!

  10. I honestly think you never know what you'll do until you're in a situation.
    Last month I took my six year old to the doctors for a hearing test. He was a preemie and we've had many problems over the years (most have been resolved because thank goodness we were surrounded by fantastic doctors). Unfortunately, I've realized in the last 6 years, dare I say how easy it is to get a PHD?
    The doctor checked his hearing, which he found to fine. He then preceeded to ask questions like: "Does your son ignore you, or not realize you're in the room?
    I knew what he was getting at, but I continued to listen.
    And that's when it came out of his mouth: "Maybe you would like to make an appointment with our doctor who works with children with ADHD?
    Talk about seeing red. I nearly breathed fire on the man.
    I than began to rant for the next 2 minutes about misdiagnosis, over use of drugs, irresponsibility, and lastly bed side manner.
    I'm with you Mom. I remember a day when people use to think before speaking!

  11. I would have been on that man so fast he wouldn't have been able to pop off to me on how he made her stop crying.
    I'm always very torn on saying something to someone's child. I don't want to be a parent who is quick to get onto another child because they are taking something from mine or not sharing with mine. However I've had moms do that to Kaitlyn. If a child wants what Kaitlyn has I try to get her interested in something else just to keep the peace.
    The problem I have had with people butting in like the lady you mentioned is they are normally friends or family. I have a childless friend who thinks kids should be robots. When she would watch Kaitlyn for me so would tell me later about feeding her the snacks I left behind one at a time. I mean one half piece of grape and so forth. At the time she was almost two and I was giving her several on her high chair tray to eat. If she climbed the stairs (which we let her) my friend was quick to say something.

  12. I would never do anything to anyone's kid. Ever.

    However, I have to say that kids really are annoying sometimes. Weaving in and out of clothing racks and up and down aisles at breakneck speed, hiding in under things and jumping out at people, yelling, screaming, kicking, throwing fits, etc. No, it wasn't that man's duty to smack the kid but it was the Mother's duty to do something to make it act right and obviously she did not. It isn't everyone else's burden that so many people opt to have children. There should be some reasonable expectation of civility when one goes out into public to eat, shop, whatever but with MOST kids these days, that expectation is not reasonable.

    I do not have kids. I do not like kids very much but neither do I see smacking one in any situation. That man was probably not very well disciplined as a child and turned out to think he could take control of whatever he wanted to take control of. Wrong.

    It just gets really annoying for those of us who opt to NOT have kids to have to put up with all those people who think that everyone should applaud them for having kids and think along with them that their kids are the sweetest and cutest things in the world when they are being obnoxious and loud, etc. etc. It just doesn't work that way.

    Anyway, rant over. I would never slap anyone (kid or not) and don't think the man had a right to either but kids really do get out of hand.

  13. I think this is something that is missing in our culture today and why so many kids act like they do. I TOTALLY think the man in walmart was wrong and I would have killed him. But if my child is doing something that I don't see (trying to get into the candy at the grocery store while I am checking out) I really appreciate a kind "Uh-oh, better ask your mommy about that." If we are at a friends house and her child and mine are both doing something wrong that I didn't see, I would hope the other mom would tell my son what he was doing wrong, not just her kid.
    I think the woman in the restraunt was out of line since you and DH were both present. But if my kids are doing something that I am not aware of, a kind remark from a stranger (or friend) is appreciated. It still takes a village :)

  14. No one but me has a right to physically discipline my child. And I agree, when I am present, it's my job to handle problems that arise.

  15. I'm afraid I would have gone ballistic if that man had done that to my kid. I'd probably be serving time in prison right now!

  16. the alter ego around here is called serial mom. no one may physically discipline my child besides my husband and nyself. however, i don't mind if one of my siblings corrects my children. that is how we were raised, too. all of the aunts and uncles had something to say. i have to admit, though, when someone who does not have kids steps in with comments and opinions, it gets my panties in a wad sometimes. that whole "walk a mile in my shoes" thing, you know? that walmart guy...pretty sure i would have lost it. and i could totally see myself breaking into tears over that lady's comment, too!

  17. I haven't been in that situation but I have a feeling if that man had touched my toddler it would be ON! That's all I'm saying. lol

  18. I have not had any discipline situations like that. Yet.

    I have had people try and tell me that my baby needs a hat (or coat, socks, blanket, etc.) I was tactful in answering them, but I was peeved.

  19. I have never dealt with this personally, but my mother-in-law told me about it a similar incident happening to her. An older lady walked up to her daughter (who was 9 at the time) and informed her that the fact she was blowing bubbles with her gum was disgusting and she should keep it in her mouth. As my MIL was telling me, it took all she had to keep from completely tearing into the lady. I can't even imagine, but I think the "Mama bear" instinct is a good thing to have. It says a lot about your devotion as a mother.

  20. I have to fight the urge to be a teacher when I'm out in public and kids are not close to adults because I'm responsible for disciplining others' children all day. I try so hard to to keep it turned off when it is not my responsibility. But when safety issues are involved or sometimes they are being so bad and no one is around, my teacher side comes out and I just can't help myself because no one else is saying anything.

    As far as Sam is involved, I'd have to kick a strangers butt for dealing with my kid. But I'm not the kind of mom that let's Sam get away with anything in public. We don't want him to bother anyone, so we tend to be less tolerant anyway. So I would be very angry if anyone felt the need to step in.

    I do, however, expect certain family and friends to treat him as their own. Notice I said certain. I don't know why, but it bother's me when some family/friends "help" but not others. Go figure!

  21. I agree that discipline is up to the parents, unless the "stranger" is being negatively impacted by the behavior. I have tried to cheer up random sad kids before though.

  22. I have had this happen! And every time it irks me to no end. I think it is ridiculous for a stranger to come up and tell me that my child is not dressed appropriately, or that she is uncomfortable, or that she shouldn't be eating that, or that I should make her stop this. I know very well that I am a good mother(I need not be shy about it.. I try my darndest-even though I do know that there is no such thing as a PERFECT mother) and I know that I do the very best I can. If I WERE a bad mother, all someone else nagging at me about would do, would be to make me angry at the person telling me what to do! That is the way that people are... if you push, they will push back at you, and it isn't going to change anything... actually it would probably make it worse. There are definitely other ways to approach a situation, and that isn't it...

  23. Good timing on this post...I have recently encountered many crying kids in the thrift store and Wal-Mart...they seem to be following me. I'm talking yelling, sceaming out loud crying...after a few minutes it can be very annoying and I even get a headache. When my kids did that, I would walk out of the store - with screaming, kicking kid in tow - take them to the car and talk to them until they calmed down or just went home. I would never ever stay in the store ... it would be totally inapproriate and unfair to everyone, my child included. My pet peeves are parents who do nothing or even worst: parents who scream and threaten their kids if they don't stop crying! That man however had absolutely no right to slap a child...or anyone. He deserves to be in jail and he's lucky no one else hit him in the store ... I would have been appalled and my "mama bear" would have come out if I had seen that. As for the lady in the restaurant, yes, she was out of line ... you don't discipline kids when the parents are present. HOWEVER, I do believe that other persons should do something if the parents are not around and the child may hurt themselves or others. I usually take them by the hand and ask them where they mommy is; go find mommy and then tell her. I do also believe that if someone tells me my child did something wrong, that I should thank them and then I will discipline my child. I do believe it takes a village to raise a child.

  24. Jennifer, I apologize for the delay in my response to this. I was out of town all weekend - yearly fishing trip. LOL.

    Anyway, this is a great topic, as always. The power of love for your children will make you do strange things. But they aren't strange when you're doing it. I'm sure many people have been in your shoes and I commend you for standing up and speaking your mind. Don't worry if there were tears when you did it - you did what you needed to do and I will guarantee that that woman thinks twice before doing something like that again.

    That guy in Walmart was absolutely wrong. I'm glad the kid is OK and that he was arrested.

  25. I had that happen when my oldest was about 2 yrs old. We were at our grocery store which was within walking distance of our home so we were very familiar with the friendly staff and surroundings. It was a slow night so while I checked out, I let Abby walk approx. 5 feet away from me and sit on one of the little old people carts. She was sitting contently, tickled pink to be occupied while I watched her. Behind me in line, approaches Menopause lady who was hell-bent to find SOMETHING in the world and I happened to be her next victim. Her poor hen-pecked husband looked as though he wanted to shrink and hide when she laid into me that I shouldn't allow my child to climb on that and that it could take off and she could be injured. The saleperson ringing me up assured her that there were no keys in it and that wasn't possible. She insisted that my child had no place to be sitting on there and that she could hurt herself or us when I blurted out "Yeah, or we could all step outside & be struck by lightening or..." coming up with the most ridiculous things I could imagine that could possibly hurt us. She retaliated with some "hmphs" and nasty snide comments. I feel so sorry for her husband who has to do deal with her on a regular basis.

  26. OMG, I have so much to say and so little time.
    First of all if a child's behavior is inappropriate, and the parent doesn't see it (maybe because they're used to it?) it's not the child that needs talking to, it's the parent.
    So, in either of the cases you wrote about, I would have been furious with the person presuming that it is alright to chastise my child.
    Now, in the case of the man slapping the little girls - excuse me, what does it mean that no harm was done except for two red cheeks? A lot of damage was done. We do not physically discipline our children, so this would have been extreme for my kids.
    oh boy, I babble but you get the idea.

  27. I had a neighbor yell at my son a few months back...whew I was so mad. My son accidentally by eveyone elses account there made his son fall. My son is 6 and his son is two. The man yelled at my son so loud it made him cry and come running home. The man apologized, but it still irks me when I see him. I tried to take the high road and then a nosey neighbor decided to put her 2 cents in saying that it wasn't that big of a deal and my son needed to be more careful (I get that..how many 6 year old boys are careful though). Basically this neighbor was blaming my son for a grown man acting inappropriately. I teach my kids that if you make a mistake you apologize and my son did apologize. I forgive the man for his knee jerk reaction, but then a few days later he tried to rationalize his behavior by saying my son was playing with no regard to his son's safety...well excuse me! Basically he was taking back his apology...I think he and the nosey neighbor gossip together a little too much. Anyway long story short..if someone is going to yell at my kids it better be me.


Tell me what you think!

Your Skin Fix, December Edition