A mom explains why she has no problem disciplining a stranger’s kids
A trip to a public play spot can be incredibly stressful for a parent. Not only do you have to watch your kids to make sure they’re not jerks to anyone, you have to watch the other kids to make sure they’re not jerks to yours.
Because unfortunately, not every parent is paying attention.
Laura Mazza, the voice behind the Facebook page Mum on the Run, wrote about this particular parenting conundrum and why she has no qualms about stepping in if someone else’s child is out of line.
“I’m gonna be a real sanctimummy here, and possibly an unpopular opinion… but I needa get this off my chest,” she writes.
Mazza acknowledges that kids being kids, there’s going to be a certain amount of nonsense going on, especially at a public play center. And while she tries not to be a “helicopter” mom, she still keeps an eye on her children and intervenes when needed.
She doesn’t like telling off a kid other than her own, and says her responsibility is to her own kids. “If my son snatches, I correct him, if my daughter smacks, I correct her, if my kids are assholes, I step in. This behaviour is not okay at any age.”
“However, today I found myself saying the words ‘hey, that’s not nice… please stop’ to two little kids. Kids that weren’t mine.”
Her reasoning? “Because no one else was gonna do it.” Mazza saw other children being rough with her son and daughter and their parents were nowhere in sight — so she took care of it herself. She also witnessed a little boy in an unsafe situation with no adult there to help him and took matters into her own hands, even though it wasn’t appreciated.
“I watched a little boy climb on top of a jungle gym where his mum had no idea that he was about to come falling down, and I caught him. She came over when she saw a stranger carrying her kid and gave me a dirty look while she snatched him off me.”
She writes, “I’ve never liked to tell a strangers’ kid off, but if you’re gonna pretend you can’t see it because you wanna sit and chat, then I’m gonna tell your child off.”
PREACH. We have enough to stress about as parents. The last thing we need is to watch our little ones being pushed around by another kid while their parent sits idly by. Momma bear powers: activate.
Mazza says, “I’m not perfect, not even in the slightest. But I’m polite and I’m not in the business of raising assholes.”
She understands the value of chat time with other moms, but never at the expense of another child’s safety. “I’ve been up all night too, I am desperate for social time too, I’m lonely, I’m tired, my neck hurts and everything else…but I also don’t believe that my kid is entitled to pull your kid’s hair because I want a hot coffee.”
As far as her public scoldings go, Mazza tells Scary Mommy, “I’ve never had a parent respond because they literally have their backs to their child and are too deep in conversation to notice. And I’m not talking about 6-10 year olds… I’m talking three-year-olds.”
And younger. “I even stopped a tiny toddler, would have been one, from escaping the play centre and crying for his mum. It distressed me thinking his mum had left the play centre but she was just sitting there oblivious.”
She’s understanding to a point when parents need to unwind briefly, but it doesn’t mean they can completely check out. “When yesterday happened and all those kids were wild (as kids are) my first reaction was to tell the parents, but I could see they weren’t interested. I saw them push over other kids and their parents saw and didn’t bat an eyelid so I figured they probably don’t even care.”
We all need time to relax, but unless we’ve paid a babysitter, we never get to pause being a parent. Mazza’s plea is a simple one — if you’re on duty, be on duty. The end. Don’t put the onus on other parents to discipline your unruly kid in public.
She signs off with a heartfelt call for parental community. “Mothers if we don’t have each others backs like this, then how can it be a smooth experience for all? This is a village and it only works if we all do our part, that way we can all have a good time.”
“Watch ya damn kid.”