I’m a fairly new parent so I know I have much to learn. One thing I could definitely use some input on is when to say something and when to keep quiet when it comes to other parents.
I recently encountered a situation in a parking lot of a strip mall. I parked next to a woman who was using some pretty excessive force on her child in the back seat, in plain view, door wide open. It was actually quite disturbing. I won’t give details, but I’ll just say a belt was involved. I sat there and wondered what I should do. Do I confront this seemingly crazy woman? Do I call the police? Do I pretend I didn’t see anything? I called my friend who is a former Oklahoma County sheriff. She said that if it looks bad enough to me that I should call the police and let them handle it. She made a good point: If the woman is brazen enough to do this in a public parking lot, then how, God forbid, does she “discipline” her kids in the privacy of their home? So I took her advice. I called the police. The response was actually a bit infuriating. Dispatch and the responding officer said the same thing – “how a parent chooses to discipline their child is their business.” I asked the officer, “so then there is no line between child abuse and discipline?” He couldn’t give me an answer.
Here’s another situation. I’m at White Water Bay last weekend and I see a parent there with a small child – probably between 1 – 2 years old. The parent isn’t using any sunscreen and I could see the child burning up in the sun before my eyes. Her bright red skin looked so painful, but I didn’t say anything. Soon the guilt set in that maybe I should have offered my sunscreen to her at least, in a gesture where maybe she could “get the hint.” But then again, she wasn’t my child. Do I have the right to interefere?
I don’t want to be on “parent patrol” because I know that I, myself, am far from perfect. But when incidents like these find themselves in my presence, I find it hard not to step in for the sake of the kids.
How would you handle these types of situations? Do you find yourself getting involved with people’s parenting? Let me know on here or e-mail me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear thoughts from other parents.