Moms Talk: Parenting the Neighbor's Kid
Is discipline ever appropriate if it's not your child?
By mid-July, most families have a summertime schedule that typically includes beaches, pools, parks and zoos. Packs of multiple moms can be seen with their gangs of kids as the theory that entertaining the young ones is easier in groups is put to the test. As the long days roll on, however, the heat and tensions rise and the bickering between siblings and friends begin.
It’s at this point that parents usually step in to referee the fights and correct their children’s behavior with punishments that range from the standard time-outs to the threats of loss of ice cream.
It’s also here where lines are sometimes crossed and frustration levels with behaviors and other people’s kids can come to a head. And sometimes, this frustration leads to some parents stepping in and punishing kids who are not their own. For the most part, the other moms I pal around with have the same mentality as I do — we have enough on our own plates and choose to focus on our own kids and do not discipline other women's children.
One mom in particular, however, shocked me one day when she decided to single out my youngest child and separate him from the group by putting him in time-out. When I went to intercede, I was physically blocked from my son and told that she was handling the situation. It's at this point that all my Mama Bear instincts kicked in and all I wanted to do was get to my crying son. It didn't matter to me that he did need to be punished for his actions, what mattered was that my baby was confused and made even more upset by having someone else deal with him so harshly. All the children were involved in the incident that my son was punished for, but this particular mom made the decision to discipline him individually and without consulting with me first or even let me handle the situation in my own way.
Needless to say, I was offended by the mom and her tactics and there was no relief or thought of, "oh gee, thanks so much for taking care of that problem." I didn't appreciate her actions or mentality in any way and have made it a point to try and avoid her and keep my children away as much as possible as well.
So, as parents start slipping to the end of their proverbial rope and the countdown for first day of school begins, when is it appropriate for moms or dads to step in and punish a child that is not their own? And what type of punishment is acceptable and when does it go too far? And if the mom is present, is it OK for the non-parent step in at all?