Strangers Are NOT Allowed to Yell at My Kids

Rant 549

toddler boyA couple of weeks ago, I went to a community lunch with my 3-year-old twins. It's open for all members of the community and filled mostly with Senior Citizens, parents with their kids, and various other often-smiling people. We've been before and generally everyone is in a great mood, mingling with others, with lots of the older folks saying how adorable the little ones are. It's in a large space with long lunchroom style tables. Good times. Good food. Friends. Lunch! On this particular day, I went with my friend and her daughter and we sat at the end of a table with my kids who were acting like little angels eating their food all prim and proper with napkins tucked into their shirts and not a crumb spilled on the table. 

Of course that's not true. My kids are 3. They were sitting. They were eating (the butter off the bread). And my son was getting a little loud. And that's when it happened.

My son started shrieking. And as most of us know, any kind of shrieking or screaming seems to be catching when it comes to kids. I didn't want my daughter to join in so I was doing my best to diffuse the situation without calling too much attention to it because I also know my son, and the best ways to deal with him when he's doing something he shouldn't be doing.

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He was shrieking and then laughing, so I tried to get him to laugh more and then did the distraction technique asking him if he wanted more bread with his butter. Food! That might work. And as this was happening an older man walked over to our table. He didn't speak to me at all, he instead spoke directly at my son with his finger pointing at him and sternly telling him how the older people are bothered by his screaming and that he needs to stop right now. I don't remember his exact words, but I remember that long, mean finger wagging in my child's face and the look of frowny faced anger on that man's. My son instantly stopped shrieking and began to cry.

I'd rather hear an occasional shriek over a child crying. I would also have preferred it if this man spoke to me first before taking the liberty to yell at my son who wasn't doing anything that awful. And besides, it's not like it was quiet in there. Everyone was chatting, there was a vibrancy in the air, people were happy, the community was coming together. And I was trying to get him to stop. And he's 3! My friend, who loosely knew the man, told me he's always been like that -- one of those kind of meanies. A yeller.

I just don't think it's okay for a stranger to yell at your child. Unless it was one of those absolutely necessary kind of extreme situations where yelling could save them from harm or something. This was just a 3-year-old being a 3-year-old and not even a particularly naughty one. And I was working on it -- I am the mother. This stranger yelling at my child with me right there felt like an insult to my parenting. 

As the man was pointing and scolding my child, I tried to tell him I was working on it and that I was sorry, but my son started crying and my focus was then on getting him to stop. Letting him know that he doesn't need to be scared of this mean strange man, hoping he doesn't have nightmares of that pointy finger. But I have.

We haven't been back to community lunch since. I'm not sure if I'll ever go again.

Do you think it's okay for a stranger to yell at your child? Has something like this ever happened to you? What would you do if you were in my situation?


Image* via Michele Zipp

*Photo taken at doctor's office, not when he was in process of shrieking.

a mom's life, discipline


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nonmember avatar krelia

Parents should proper discipline their children when they act out in public. Teach them it's not proper to be like that as it can irritate others around them. To many parents nowadays let their kids run around wherever they want when they are out and just generally don't care so I'm not surprised a stranger would say something.

bills... billsfan1104

I hate parents that make excuses for their bratty children.

onefo... onefootcutiepie

Wow. You've got a looooooooooooong road ahead of you lady.

doodledo doodledo

No not ok. I hope you had the presence of mind to put the old curmudgeon in his place. If you did not, then the message your three year old received, is that it is ok for hostile people to yell at him and be mean to him.

I don't tolerate anyone, stranger or not, to act aggressively towards my child for any reason, it is not acceptable.

If someone is so sensitive to noises including loud children, then maybe they ought keep their old ass at their own home, where they can have a reasonable expectation of quiet.

doodledo doodledo

I hate assholes that call children bratty.

Shandi80 Shandi80

There are few things more irritating than a screaming child - sorry if this offends but - it is the truth and the truth hurts sometimes. The older man had to say something to your child because while you were *trying* to get the situation under control, it clearly must not have been enough since he was bothering the other guests.

Moms everywhere need to realize the world does not revolve around your kids!

insei... inseineangel

I can't wait for the day someone tries to yell at my kid. They're going to be in for one hell of a surprise. As a person, I don't take that, never have. As a mother? If you yell at my child, I'll give you a 5 second headstart to get as far away as you can.

2cent... 2centsCDN

What would I have done? Probably explained to my child that they are bugging other people with their noise and that is why the man got angry. Consider it their first lesson in respect for other people when they are out in public.

I've found that children often behave better when they've been told not to something by someone other than their parent.

MaryC... MaryCimino

You'll be amazed how many parents DON'T reign in their kids, I've had to kick people out because of their kids. You're precious snowflake is disturbing others, either handle it or get out before an old woman handles it for you. I've seen it happen, that kid became a perfect angel in our store after that.

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

I'm sorry but there is nothing more irritating than a shrieking child who wont sstop. I'm with 2cents on this one, sometimes the most effective telling off is the one that doesn't come from the parent. I know sometimes that it can be difficult to get kids to calm down, but your kid wasn't crying out because he was hungry, needed a nappy change or  nap, he was acting up. Maybe it was just the excitement of being there at the community lunch with so many other people. Don't take it to heart though- he's a little kid, it's what they do sometimes :)

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