5 Times I'll Parent Your Kid My Way

Mom Moment 41

monkey barsA couple days ago, I read an article written by a mom who is sick and tired of other mothers trying to parent her kid at the playground -- by hovering over them and helping them get up and down ladders, on and off the slide, etc.

You know the moms she is referring to, right? The ones who stare you down at the park like you're some sort of neglectful idiot who doesn't give a crap about whether or not your kids get hurt? And then they take it upon themselves to step in and "help" your poor, ignored kid? (We've all run into them at one point or another.)

I sat there reading her words nodding my head in agreement, because I too want my son to learn to figure out problems on his own, and I want him to have a sense of independence so he doesn't rely on me to do everything for him. And I don't want or need any other mom stepping in to assist him simply because she doesn't agree with my parenting.

One particular line in her post about her feelings on why she feels that kids need to navigate the world on their own really struck a chord with me. She wrote:

I want them to feel capable of making their own decisions, developing their own skills, taking their own risks, and coping with their own feelings.

Wow. Amen. I honestly don't think I could've summed things up any better than that.

But even though I totally agree with everything she said, I also believe there are certain times when it is acceptable for moms to intervene and parent another mother's child.

  1. If the child is physically hurt -- As much as we vow to keep our eyes on our kids at all times, every mom turns her back once in a while, particularly if you have more than one child to look after. If another mom's kid is injured and she isn't right there to help him, it's definitely ok to rush to his aide.
  2. If another kid is harming or bullying your kid (or another kid) -- I won't lie, I've scolded another mother's child on more than one occasion, and I'm sure I'll do it many more times as my son grows up. If another child lays his hands on my kid or is bullying him in some way, mama's stepping in. And I'd expect other moms to do the same and put my son in his place if he's out of line.
  3. If you truly believe a child is in danger -- And I'm talking about real danger, like the time I stopped a little girl from walking off a pier and falling into the river. (Her mom didn't appreciate it. But she should have.) It's better to step in and do something than wish you'd intervened after seeing something terrible happen.
  4. If the child is in your care -- Whenever my friends, parents, etc., help me out and watch my son, I tell them it's ok to discipline him as they see fit. I don't want him thinking he can get away with misbehaving simply because I'm not present.
  5. If the child asks for your help -- Uh-oh. Maybe I've been one of those hovering playground moms a time or two -- because I've happily obliged when another mom's kid has asked me to push him on the swing or help him down from the monkey bars. (But how can anyone say no to a child who is asking for help?)

When do you think it's ok to parent another mother's kid?


Image via mimsmithfaro/Flickr

discipline, elementary school, friends, kid activities


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Irene Belen Jones

That is a very touchy subject and I agree with you. I really don't believe in "it takes a village" but I do believe in community. people need to understand the difference. Thank you putting the boundaries out there.

early... earlybird11

Agreed. At the park last week there was a mom with 6 kids with her. Not sure how many were hers but one of her kids got stuck on a high playground spot and was crying. After trying to flag the mom.I confirmed with the kid if she would like my help down. Mom never even looked our way ... the whole encounter lasted around 5 min and that mom never noticed

nonmember avatar Gretta

If a mother's neglectfulness is making me uncomfortable then I am going to do something about it. Irritated mother or not.

nonmember avatar Carly

I work at a Burger King, and one day as I was coming back in from my break, I walked in through the front doors and saw a little boy, maybe 3 years old bolt out of the ladies room giggling, and I automatically assumed he had run away from his mom, sister, grandma, whatever (don't even start about how the restrooms are always gross, I personally cleaned it right before my break lol). Anywho, I knelt down in front of him and put my arm our so he couldn't run out the door and said "hey little man, where do you think you're going?" And he just giggled so I said "you gotta wait for your mom, okay?" And right as I said that she walked out of the restroom and glared at me because GOD FORBID AN 18 YEAR OLD GIRL WOULD TALK TO HER CHILD. She stormed out. Luckily, my manager saw the whole thing, told me she thought the woman was being a bitch, and let me have an extra 10 minutes for my break lol

Blues... Blueshark77

Nice one, Carly! The mom should have been grateful her little boy didn't run out in the parking lot and get hit by a car. Kids can be so fast and put themselves in danger without realizing it.

For me it wasn't so much parenting other people's kids as watching other nannies' charges. I was being paid to watch and play with the kids (plus I enjoyed my work). The other nannies would always sit around and talk while the kids, and I mean toddler age, would be runnning around trying to leave the playground or get stuck on equipment, etc. I would be so scared to get a nanny after what I've seen or use a daycare, funny considering that's what I used to do for a living.

nonmember avatar Cecilia

I haven't ever had experiences really with other parents parenting my daughter but I have on occasion had to step in a the park. My 2 year old (and another young child) were waiting at the top of a roll slide very patiently to go down while 4 7-10 year olds kept trying to run up. After a while I finally had to step in and tell them that they needed to let the little kids have a turn too. Or else my daughter would have never gotten her turn. Sometimes I believe it is necessary to step in but it should always be done In a polite manner.

nonmember avatar mom

I lost my best friend cause of #2. The bully was almost 3x my sons age, at her house. No one said a thing. I was so disappointed & hurt. My son was physically hurt. Smacked. Punched. Bruised. Teased. Not the kids parents or my 'friend' said a thing. But I watched MY kid cause I knew u couldn't trust THAT kid.

nonmember avatar Laura

I think it is a touchy subject. Iv been a nanny for almost 10 years now and have an almost 4 yr old daughter of my own. When Im watching other peoples kids, there is a big difference as to how I handle things when the parents are present with me (just leaving, or coming home) and how I handle it when its just me and them. Unless it were a dangerous situation that I would have to step in on, im much more reserved when the parents are present as not to over step boundaries, and I take on the responsibility of a parent when they are away with no reserve.

As for my daughter, she doesnt know a stranger and is all about hugging everyone she sees, even wanting to kiss them sometimes and its what I love about her.. that shes just so friendly and loving but its also frustrating to take her out anywhere because of it, And thats the only time people have stepped in about my own daughter. Most think its adorable but weve gotten the few who have commented saying "you really need to teach that child some boundaries" which has hurt my feelings before.
I have stepped in on the playground before because of bullies but try to facilitate it more to be a conversation between my daughter and the child who is bullying or the other way around by asking her to use her words with them and tell them she doesnt like when they do that, that it hurts her feelings and to please stop.

Mommy... Mommyx2....

My thoughts are similar, but it is a hard call on the "neglectful" parent thing.    What is the child's age?  Are the parents on their cell phone or some other device and NEVER look to their child?  Is the child about to truly harm themselves.  When I am at a park I am conscience of all the children around but my eyes are mainly on my son.  He has been a victim of bullying on multiple occassions at parks because of his "quirks".  Once when he was younger as I hovered around him I did speak up to a group of girls who were trying to tell him where he could walk and where he could not.  I told the girls it was a public park and my son would go where he pleased.  I believe they were shocked to see me on the ground looking up at them, since most the parents were letting even their smallest children climb this huge play area alone.  After some time one of the girls came to me as I pushed my son on the tire swing and she said she was sorry for being mean to him with the other girls and how she was wrong.  I just about cried.  I was not rude to them, but I did let them know he had every right to be in "their space".  The girls mom then offered us some bottled watter.  This time had a good out come.

Lorelei Cisne

I have a different perspective. I love it when other parents interact with my kids at the public playground. I think the fact that they feel some connection with my kids, even though they are total strangers, is beautiful. I prioritize that connection over everything else, and as long as it doesn't seem to harm my kids, I go along with it. In order to prevent confusion, I usually let the parent know that we have different rules, but I also tell my kids that when we go to the playground we sometimes have to observe the rules of other people. e.g., I let my kids go up the slide, but some people have hang-ups about it. I teach my kids to go with the flow.

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