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AIBU to expect this woman to discipline her daughter?

(37 Posts)
StarsAreShining Thu 07-Jul-11 19:58:44

I really don't believe that I was in the wrong, but feel so angry that I have to get this out. Was at a play area with my 3.5 year old son today. Been a bad day. Found out that he has to have more bloody tests at the hospital, then bumped into his dad at a shopping centre when he'd told me he couldn't come to the hospital because he was working. I don't have much confidence, so rarely take my son to places where there are going to be a lot of people, but I thought it'd be a nice treat for him.

As soon as he started to play, he was told that he wasn't allowed on any equipment and they were refusing to let him do anything. Physically stopping him. He's incredibly sensitive to this kind of thing, so I encouraged him to stand up for himself and just carry on playing, but they persisted and he ended up lying on the floor and crying. I told him that they were being selfish and he can do whatever he likes, but he believed that he couldn't play. He cried and told me that he was scared of them, but perked up when I said I'd be near him on the play equipment. This all happened while I was sitting next to the mother of one of the girls. At no point did she step in and do anything.

The group disbanded, and were fine on their own, apart from this one little girl. She was being particularly nasty to my son, and he's not very confident, so is actually quite shaken by this stuff. It takes him a long time to get over it, and he still asks whether naughty children he's encountered in the past will be at a play area, because he's scared of them. I tried to gently deal with it for a while, but it was having no effect, so I ended up having to speak to the girl myself and tell her to stop it and that the play equipment was for everybody to play on. I felt incredibly awkward about doing this, as I'm a very nervous and unconfident person, but her mother was doing absolutely nothing. When she grabbed my son and tried to pull him off the equipment, I told her (quite angrily I suppose) to stop it, then turned to her mom in an INCREDIBLY awkward way and said something incoherent, like "Could you..... you know?".

To cut a long story short, I was shouted at by the mother and told 'She is only a child, you know', as though my son isn't. Apparently, her age means that her behaviour is cancelled out. She was visibly very angry at me. Then proceeded to tell her daughter to 'play nicely', but finished it off with 'but you are only a child' whilst glaring at me. Basically, a free pass to do whatever she likes. I think she'd been sitting there getting more and more wound up at my attempts to control her daughter's behaviour.

I was stunned. I rarely go to these kinds of places because I get so anxious that my breathing changes and I have heart palpitations! I felt gutted that his treat was spoilt. She looked like such a normal woman, too! I just raised my eyebrows at her, but really felt like punching her in the mouth.

Was I in the wrong? I tried not to step on her mother's toes for quite some time, but really, I can't let that happen. I was hoping for a plucky passer by to jump to my defence and say 'Hey, she's right! That's not cool!', but this will have to do :D

StarsAreShining Thu 07-Jul-11 20:00:39

I think that all of my future posts should automatically come with a second post apologising for the length.

DoMeDon Thu 07-Jul-11 20:04:02

YANBU to think she should have encouraged her DC to play nicely. YABU to think she should 'punish' her.

You sound passive-aggressive. Maybe assertiveness classes might help with the anxiety. Your DS will pick up on your nervousness and it might benefit his 'sensitive' nature if you learn to be less so.

FabbyChic Thu 07-Jul-11 20:04:51

You was in no way in the wrong, you need to stand up for yourself and your son if you want to get on in life, you cannot allow yourself to be walked all over as this will rub off on your son, and he will also be treated like a door mat when he gets older with people shitting on him from a great height.

Take some self confidence classes or do something to make yourself stronger, be strong for your son, he only has you.

GypsyMoth Thu 07-Jul-11 20:07:59

Oh stars she sounds awful!
Poor little ds. And poor you.

Maybe try going a little more often? To build confidence. Not everyone is like this!

Rosebud05 Thu 07-Jul-11 20:08:20

You did the right thing which sounds like it was very difficult for you.

I was pondering these sorts of situations whilst ambling around Ikea yesterday, and I really truly believe that in our nuclear family based society, most of us don't have a bloody clue how to parent and just bumble along. Saying 'play nicely' is crap and meaningless. I think sometimes we cover up our own lack of confidence by either attacking someone who happens to be there (you in this case) or justifying our kid's behaviour because we don't know what else to do.

Soft play is the devil's work. Fact.

SmethwickBelle Thu 07-Jul-11 20:12:21

Sounds like an unsettling experience and these places can be intimidating at the best of times. I don't think you were unreasonable to expect a bit of parental intervention.

In these situations I wouldn't leave my near-four year old to sort it on his own, I'd bluster over and hold his hand as he climbed up, and if necessary over the other children.

When a gang of bossy girls was monopolising the trampoline in a very unpleasant way at softplay once and my poor son had been waiting so patiently for ages (and was NEVER going to get a go) I took his hand and said breezily, "oh lovely its your turn now and helped him on, got on with him and merrily bounced with him, my considerable weight sending some of the slighter mini witches flying.

mumblebum Thu 07-Jul-11 20:14:37

You weren't wrong but soft play is full of people like this IME which is why I don't go if I can help it.

DeWe Thu 07-Jul-11 20:19:04

Actually I think that's a time when you need to get the staff involved. It's no good for them if they have children physically preventing other children from going on.
I'd have done a couple of me going on with him and if they persisted I'd have got a member of staff to come over.

TheLaminator Thu 07-Jul-11 20:28:36

Jeez, sounds like a hidious woman. We encounter an awful lot of non-parenting at the playgrounds & stuff around here. Ifeel awful about it afterwards (for a little while ;) ) but most of the time I have absolutley no trouble stepping in a times like this. Mainly when its older kids running riot on toddler equipmtment, being overly aggressive & practising their bullying techniques on the little ones. It pisses me off when parents turn a blind eye, or just too plain busy to see whats happening - its bad enough keeping an eye on your own without having your heart in your mouth about unattended others.
Others are right about getting some confidence tricks under your belt. Not everyone is l;ike this, but you will encounter mad people & you`ll have to be able to big up & show your son how too.
My MIL is sooo nervous about everything & subsequently massively passive aggresive. infuriating & unnapealing. I can see how my hub has leared some these behavoirs from her.
My family are a bit more gobby smile

Graciescotland Thu 07-Jul-11 20:43:55

I used to run in to a bit of this with my nephew, shy, big for his age and not very physically confidant. I used to body block kids like this literally get between them, down at their level, with your back to the little bully. Then I'd play on the equipment and he'd follow. I'm sure I looked like a muppet but he had fun. I think it gave him confidence to know that I'd intervene.

LolaRennt Thu 07-Jul-11 20:57:59

dewe makes a good point, if they want to continue to have customers the staff should get involved. The mother shoudl have done something. Its not your fault you are a nervous person, but you must practice at bein more assertive. I am now but wasn't always. Sometimes you just have to fake it, and it will come.

StarsAreShining Thu 07-Jul-11 21:31:37

Thanks for agreeing with me! Funnily enough, I'm now more assertive than ever. This was quite a big deal for me. There was a time I'd have teary eyes just because somebody had spoken to me!

It wasn't actually a staffed area, just a free play area in the shopping centre. So there was no option but to deal with this myself. (I think you've misread my post, DoMeDon, I didn't mention punishment.)

Can you explain what you mean by 'passive aggressive'? Obviously, I know what this means, but had no idea that I was being passive aggressive. Why do you think that?

I'm just never sure of how to deal with these things. My son is confident with other children (very easily approaches them and makes friends). It's just this kind of thing he's not good at dealing with. I'd be so happy if he could just brush it off and carry on. There has been some slight improvement in this area though. Never know whether to say something myself or mention it to the parents. This is probably the most confident and assertive I've been in my life. It's something I'm still working on smile

StarsAreShining Thu 07-Jul-11 21:41:39

Oh, just realised that you may have gotten that from the title of this thread. I used the word 'discipline'. I just meant that I wanted to her to explain to her daughter that this wasn't ok and prevent it from happening. Not start lashing her in the middle of the play area! :D

Rubitue Thu 07-Jul-11 22:03:30

DoMeDon, discipline is not the same as punishment. If you look at the derivation of the words the former, and the one that the OP uses, comes from to educate, hence why we have academic disciplines.

OP YADNBU. If a child was behaving like that to my son I would certainly expect his parent to do some parenting and at least explain to them that is not a nice way to behave, especially in a public play area - as I would if it was my DS being the aggressor.

skybluepearl Thu 07-Jul-11 22:10:38

you haven't done anything wrong and were right to expect mother to keep her child in order

NobbedaBuilder Thu 07-Jul-11 22:26:56

I would have told the child off myself and told the mother. As for she's only a child I would have said that my child is only a child and violence isn't acceptable. Although to be fair it sounds as though even if you had all the confidence in the world there was no talking to the mother. You could have snitched to the staff I suppose.

biscuitmad Thu 07-Jul-11 22:29:09

Playgroups are better to take young children. I do go to a soft play centre but only once a month. I have found if you go nice and early then its not so busy. Towards lunch time I have notice you get the mums that come in and just sit on their arse and let the kids run riot. IT drives me mad.

Try going early, or your local park instead.

misdee Thu 07-Jul-11 22:33:28

how old do u think the little girl was?

needanewname Thu 07-Jul-11 22:45:20


I have had to say things to chidren before and I will do it again. But then if I saw my child do something I would ensure that they stopped straight away.

needanewname Thu 07-Jul-11 22:45:38

Of course that should have been YADNBU!

DizzyDummy Fri 08-Jul-11 01:08:52

Oh your poor son! This has happened to my son many times at soft play areas and my DP says I look like 'an enraged maternal gorilla' as I wade in to rescue him from the horrid little gits children.

debivamp Fri 08-Jul-11 01:21:21

You were so in the right. I had a similar experience, only difference was I told my daughter to stand up for herself and tell the boy to leave her alone. The boy persisted and I told my daughter that it was ok to push the boy away (he had bitten her and was trying to do it again). The boy’s father heard me and told me I was a bad parent. Well that started it. Enough to say that he left the play centre very quickly after getting a verbal lashing – what kind of parent does not stop their child biting. Parents don’t seem to realise that all children need empathy training………

cejay Fri 08-Jul-11 20:20:36

Soft play areas are often bad news - a terrible combination of too many children who have yet to learn the kind of social skills of sharing etc that they (hopefully) learn at school. Add to this lots of parents to see the soft play place as the only time in a stressful day to sit down and have a bit of peace.
Having said that, I would never let my own child behave in such a way to others and although it was horrible for you, you are certainly not alone in feeling this. Challenging other parents is a really difficult thing to do.
Some good suggestions on previous posts such as going to a park if possible - or going somewhere with a friend and their children.

JarethTheGoblinKing Fri 08-Jul-11 20:43:47

DMD Passive agressive? hmm confused

OP, you don't sound passive aggressive in the slightest. One thing to remember though is that your DS needs to see you standing up for him if he can't do it himself. If the girls mother wasn't doing anything then (IMO) you are well within your rights to remind her to play nicely/the play equipment is for everyone etc etc.

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