A 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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