Helping a Mom in Public: Dos & Dont's for Strangers

LOL 107

toddler running awaySometimes parents of toddlers are totally overwhelmed and need help. And sometimes parents of toddlers just seem overwhelmed, but really we'd love it if you could just mind your own business. It can be hard for a well-meaning stranger to tell the difference. When should you step in to help, and why are parents of toddlers so pissy and defensive all the time, anyway?

Relax. I've got all the answers right here. This is a list of the ways parents of toddlers would love your help -- and when we don't want your help.

More from The Stir: When Strangers 'Parent' Your Kids in Public: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

Please open the door for me when I'm struggling with the stroller. You're not obligated, but I do appreciate it.

Please don't tell me children don't belong here, wherever we are.

Please don't give me a lecture on disciplining children while my toddler is in the middle of a meltdown. I can't hear you.

Please just give me a sympathetic smile and move along when you see my toddler back-bending and caterwauling mid-tantrum in the middle of the cereal aisle in the grocery store.

Please don't offer him candy, either.

Please don't offer my kid any food of any kind, ever, come to think of it.

Please keep your dog the hell away from my toddler while he's strapped down, helpless, in his stroller.

Please tell me if something disgusting is leaking from my toddler's pants. I don't want to know, but I need to know.

Please tell me if you just saw my toddler put something in his mouth. Especially if that something is still alive.

Please hand me a tissue if you happen to notice my toddler's face is coated in mucus like a glazed donut.

Please don't tell me I'm "doing it wrong" -- whatever "it" is.

Please offer to help me juggle my bags if you see my struggling, but don't just start grabbing things because I have no idea if you're about to rob me.

Please body-block my toddler if you see him running directly into the street.

Please don't clutch your pearls and offer to call the paramedics if my toddler falls and scrapes his knee. He'll be fine, really.

Please don't tell me my toddler is too big to still be breastfeeding.

Please don't make that scary face at my toddler. We are not amused.

Please don't tell me it's too dangerous for my toddler to jump/slide/run. I know his limits, and so does he, for that matter.

Please tell me if my toddler has kicked off his shoe and thrown it out of his stroller. Bonus points to those of you who pick it up and hand it to me.

Please direct your sneezes and coughs and belches away from my toddler's face.

Please offer my toddler a seat on the bus. Actually, give me the seat because I'm more tired -- the kid can sit on my lap.

Please tell me this time passes quickly because, honestly, I only hear that 100 times a day and I need to hear it again.

Thank you.

What kind of help from strangers do you appreciate?


Image via Richard Stephenson/Flickr

safety, discipline, tantrums


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nonmember avatar Krystal

Uhh we already read this today from another stir writer, you can't just switch it around and call it yours.

Lucia Bevilacqua

Here comes all the "you're being too picky" comments. This article, simplified: be polite and respectful, not a sanctimommy or lecturer. It's different for everyone; what the author wants and doesn't want maybe different from your views.

Movie... Moviebuff

I dont want to listen to your kid throw a fit in the store. Guess what to whole store doesnt need to hear it so get him to be quiet and teach him that there are other people who shop there and dont need to hear him scream.

nonmember avatar Mia like movie buff I don't want here your child scream its head of in the middle of the of the store.

Todd Vrancic

I'm sure the parent doesn't want to hear his/her toddler screaming in the middle of the store, either.  Please remember the parent is doing his/her best to control that and cut them some slack if they can't do it in five seconds.  They really don't need an overgrown toddler (you) having a meltdown at them because they haven't calmed their child fast enough for you.  I know that's not how you see it, but when you are the target of comments like "really, MY children would know better that to have a tantrum at that age!", that's how it seems.  Walk a mile in their shoes, and ease off, 'kay?

jalaz77 jalaz77

Haha. These are pretty funny and true. Some people try to intervene when it's not necessary. The elder generation thinks we are a bunch of idiots parenting children when they forget they had to learn too and their elders thought the same way about them.

Btw, this is her article, the one that was written earlier was about strangers parenting your child. It wasn't a list of helpful do's and don'ts

Marcella Shambles

My favorite thing to say to someone with a crying child "I know that song well"  I look at the child and smile and tell him/her about the song my daughter used to sing just like that and so on, looking at the adult and smiling too.  Based on the feedback I get from the adult, I know if I should proceed with trying to distract the child to help calm the situation or just move on.  Very rarely have I had to just move on - and while sometimes it is only a momentary lapse in tantrums, 3 out of 5 times it calms the child enough for the caregiver to take over.

Cassandra Huber

If your toddler is screaming inside the store, all through the store, then you are not doing your best to control the child. You are just a crappy parent. The second your child is out of control, take that child to the car until they calm down. If you have to leave your cart full of stuff, oh well.

ds79 ds79

What a bunch of mean nasty women some of you are! Sheesh...lighten up a little bit. People who take themselves so seriously make me giggle. A little bit of toddler screaming now and then never made anyone go deaf. If it ever happens to you I hope people passing by are a lot nicer than you:)

Alice Longworth

In return PLEASE

don't run people over with your SUV sized stroller.

don't bring a feral toadler to a fine restaurant, wine tasting, or adult movie or concert. 

 keep your shrieking, grabby child away from my leashed dog.

 discipline (including removing) you child when it is having a meltdown.

Restrain your child &, if you can't & I try to keep it from killing itself, don't start yelling at me for touching it or accuse me of trying to kidnap/molest the creature.

don't use "clutch your pearls."  It wasn't clever the first time & now  is trite and unimaginative.

don't let your toadler kick the back of my seat ; I am not amused.

 listen to me if I tell you that your toddler is trying to dig in my purse or is attempting to pinch or kick me. Bonus points to those of you who apologize..

direct your child's sneezes, coughs, booger laden finders and leaky pants away from me.

make your kid get out of a bus seat for the handicapped or elderly

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