Helping a Child Shouldn't Put You in Hot Water With Her Mom

Mom Moment 27

santa arrives by tugboatYou know that whole "no good deed goes unpunished thing?" Yeah, I learned that lesson the hard way this past weekend.

Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my family and I head down to Mystic, CT to see Santa arrive at the town park by tugboat. It's so much fun and plenty of families turn out every year to greet good old St. Nick -- but the whole thing always makes me a little nervous because there are only pilings on the dock separating the crowd from the Mystic River -- not any sort of guardrail or barrier.

And as we were walking down the dock to find a good spot to stand and wait for Santa, a little girl (maybe three or four years old) ran right in front of me, and she was headed straight for the edge.

I instinctively put my arm out in front of her to stop her from running into the river -- and that's when I heard a snarky, somewhat annoyed voice say, "Oh, she's FINE!"

Yep, it was her mom -- and she seemed all kinds of pissed off that I stepped in and prevented her kid from falling into the icy river and potentially drowning. (I know, I have some nerve.)

Maybe I overreacted and the little girl was planning on stopping. Or maybe she's a miniature Olympic swimmer in training who would've been just fine had she fallen into the drink. Or maybe the mom had her eyes on her the whole time and was just about to go after her before I interfered.

Whatever the case, I felt as though I did the right thing -- but this mother obviously felt that I overstepped my bounds being that I'm a random stranger to her child and all.

So this brings me to a question that I'm not sure has a correct answer -- When is it ok to step in and help someone else's child if you are under the impression that they're in some sort of danger? Where are we supposed to draw the line between being cautious and going with our gut when we think something is wrong and standing by and letting an unfortunate accident happen?

It's a tough situation no matter how you look at it, but I know one thing for sure. If the same thing happens next year and I see another kid headed for the river, I'm stepping in just in case. To me, ticking off a parent is better than knowing I could've prevented an accident but chose to do nothing about it.

Help me out here -- did I do the right thing? When is it ok to intervene in a situation like this?


Image via Mary Fischer



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Em Chappell-Root

I got treated like the "Crazy Mom" once when someone pooped on a slide. I noticed it as my kids were about to slide, and another kid (maybe 2 or 3) was getting off. I didn't touch her, but I tried to prevent her from going back up as my husband got my kids down, and was asking, "Um, Who's daughter is this?" her mom came up and said, "She's Mine, what's your problem?" and I explained, "Someone pooped on the slide, and it's all over your daughters pants and shirt. I figured it was a good idea to stop her from sliding in it again." the mom was MORTIFIED, and hauled her daughter off to strip her down. The dad thanked us, but we never figured out who pooped. Several people looked at me like I was crazy for interfering, I guess they didn't care if their kids came off a slide covered in someone else's feces. My husband and I guarded the slide and "closed it" until park maintenance finally showed up, 15 minutes after we called. I tried cleaning it with a plastic bag and some baby wipes and bottled water, but it was too big a job.

tnyangel tnyangel

You did the right thing! Sometimes we risk being dismissed or a cranky mom yelling at you, but keeping a toddler safe is worth it. 


nonmember avatar kaerae

Unless the other mom has a blog, we'll never know how close she was or whether you overreacted. sort of unfair to judge on only one account. I had nosy moms say the same thing when my kids were tddlers and would go down the slide themselves at the park.I'm sure you do things with your kids that other moms would consider risky, too. The fact that you wrote about it instead of just blowing it off says more about you than the story itself.

Bloom... Bloomie79

Yes the fact that you, a blogger, wrote about your life experience... What were you thinking? Oh that's right, it's your job! 

Better safe than sorry in almost every case, could of been a crabby mom or it could have been her gut reaction, no judgment. 

abra819 abra819

Good for you!! I'd definitely be appreciative.

Austin Keenan

I don't think you should second guess instinctual reactions to perceived imminent danger.   

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

It's difficult to judge sometimes. A few months ago my son was ahead of me leaving school; there's a fair size area if grass between the school and the road and he reached the sidewalk while I was still about 15 yards away. A dad stepped in front of him and said something like "whoa buddy, better wait for your mom." Nothing rude and he didn't touch him but it really was unnecessary given he's seven and he knows not to cross a busy street like that without a parent there. I wasn't offended, I'd rather someone do that unnecessarily than fail to do it when a kid does need to be stopped. Having the mom tell you off might have made you feel bad but imagine how much worse you'd feel if you hadn't and the kid had fallen in. I'm sure the mom would have had some choice words for you if you'd failed to stop her in that situation too.

power... powertothekids

great job! i think you did a good thing.clapping

nikki... nikkivolkov

My sister and I stopped at a liquor store on a way to a party. When we pulled we noticed a parked truck next to us with its Windows cracked and a little boy in the passenger seat who couldnt have been older than three completely unattended. I was pissed, BTW this was summertime and hot no matter if the window was cracked. I took out a pen and a piece of paper from my purse and wrote a little note and slid it into the child to give his missing parent. It said " next time I might not be here when you get back". My sister and pulled two spaces over and watched till the dad came out with his purchase five minutes later. We drove away as the boy handed him the note. I know some people may think i crossed a line with another persons child. But some parents are plain negligent. I like to think we taught that dad a lesson.

nonmember avatar kay

Always go with your guts. It our most valuable asset as women

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