To be worried about these children based on a small window into their life?(176 Posts)
To start, I know I'm being a tad UR. My judgeypants are so far up my own backside they are coming out of my mouth.
DP and I went out for breakfast today. Opposite us was a family with two small children aged maybe 1ish and 2ish.
They were both filthy. No coats, no socks (not warm today and was drizzling outside) the little girls hair looked like it hadn't been brushed for days.
Both parents were eating, kids had nothing. Swigging coke out of baby bottles.
Neither parent said a single word to either child until the older one started banging her head against her high hair repeatedly and mum told her to 'shut up being annoying'. That was the only exchange the whole time.
I have a toddler, I know it's tiring, I know sometimes you forget the coat, I know they get dirty, I know they smear food in their hair and they can go from pristine to child protection messy in 0.2 seconds but it just felt like too many variables and I was left feeling very uneasy and I'm still thinking about those two babies now.
I can understand why, but can you actually do anything now? Do you know the family or see them at other times?
Well you've kind of talked yourself round in a circle.
"I have a toddler, I know it's tiring, I know sometimes you forget the coat, I know they get dirty, I know they smear food in their hair and they can go from pristine to child protection messy in 0.2 seconds"
So your only real problem with this is the coke and the fact they didn't speak to the kids while eating their breakfast, other than to tell the child to stop banging its head?
You mean they weren't even eating a sausage roll?
At that age, I would have given my DC their breakfast before going out for a cooked one with DP. They would not have had coke in a bottle though, they are 8 and 9 and still do not have coke. That alone does not make me a better parent than anyone.
I would have talked to them though. They may well have looked messy and dirty quite quickly.
Hard to say unless you have more information really.
Worra it just felt like too many things all together you know?
They were literally silent. No babbling from kids, no chatter, nothing at all. And the way the little girl was banging her head over and over...
It just gave me a horrible gut feeling.
Never seen them before. Not likely to see them again. Don't think I would be brave enough to say anything anyway...
usual not even a lonely Pom bear.
Its perfectly possible the children had eaten at home you know, my DC when little wouldn't have wanted to wait until DH and I were dressed and ready to leave the house to have their breakfast, sometimes they wanted milk and breakfast within minutes of getting up! I wouldn't get a 1yo and a 2yo separate portions anyway I don't think, they'd just have one of my sausages and a bit of toast?
My 2yo is often barefoot even after I've put shoes and socks on her, and her hair often looks like a birds nest. If we go into a greasy spoon cafe for brekkie I leave the coats on the car so they don't stink afterwards
Well even if you were brave enough, what exactly would you say?
Since everyone seems to drive everywhere, I doubt being dressed for the weather is important. I'm sure they probably fed the kids before going out and as for the kids not babbling, well perhaps they normally do but in the time it took you to eat your breakfast, they just didn't?
I get what you mean about a 'feeling', but honestly I would have put it out of my mind by now. There's not enough to worry about from what you've said.
I know. There's no way DS would wait for his breakfast! He would insist on eating mine though!
I wasn't so much the lack of food. It was the culmination of all those things together, the blank look on the kids faces, the head banging, the silence... What toddler do you know that doesn't make a sound?? Not even a babble? And is it not normal to chatter or at least say some things to your children??
There is absolutely nothing you can do in this situation, and I think you know that.
All you can do is hope you were wrong, and try and wish that if you weren't, it will be picked up by people who are in their lives. GP? Health Visitor? Friends or Family.
You have to let it go. Give your DC a cuddle!
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
You saw people parenting pretty craply but what could you actually do/ say over their breakfast that would make a positive difference? I can't think of anything, tbh.
Either it's a low point/ one off for them or it's the norm. Either way, still can't think of any solution you could have offered.
I get what you mean though. Yes it would probably make me feel uneasy too. However unless you know them, know where they live and see them regularly, there's nothing you can do about it.
Families come in all shapes, sizes and with all sorts of funny habits and ideas about parenting - if one if the parents had leaned across the table and clipped the child round the ear you'd have been justified in saying something, but as it was, its just one of those things
You know shit parents live amongst us they eat breakfast and walk past us on the street you were probably right to be concerned
I know there's nothing I could. have done.
They would have weirded me out anyway I think... Burger and chips at 9am AND a dessert! Full blown dessert - sticky toffee pudding and custard!
wanders off to get a life and stop food stalking other tables
I know there's a trend on MN not to judge, but sometimes you have to go with your gut. We weren't there, and if you were uneasy, fair enough. It's a good thing to show concern for others.
Is this showing concern or judgement?
I mean starting a thread on a public website about this family?
Also OP I'm with you totally, & MN will always tell you not to judge & that one cigarette the mother is smoking is her only one all day & that one breakfast was the one out of 7 where they did not chat happily together & dress top to toe in Boden etc etc. I'm usually 100% behind the no judging part but you have instincts for a reason & they're not usually wrong!
I had a similar situation once, there was a girl at DS2's school who was in the year below him so they were never friends. The mother came into the playground with child around 1 who never ever wore socks or shoes, not even in the winter. I know that some children will not keep socks on but then you would cover his feet with a blanket or something wouldn't you, not just leave them out in zero temperatures every morning Mon-Fri. But this child made no sound either, nothing. Not a babble or a giggle or a peep & he never smiled. And here comes the whole of MN to shout SN & Hidden Disabilities at me, but being a MNtter I'd already considered those & I still thought it worth speaking to the school. I'd much rather be wrong about that child than right. There were also things about the little girl that left me uneasy. So I popped into the school office & mentioned them & the school thanked me & that was it. But a couple of months later the little girl was dropped off at school by somebody else & I never saw the toddler again but hopefully they are both healthy & happy. I did find out later that SS were already working with that family so in this case, my flagging them meant nothing.
But in these situations I always think that there are loads of threads on here from adults who were abused & who wished somebody would have stepped in, as it was fairly obvious at the time something wasn't right. Everybody makes excuses for shit parenting & usually it is just a bad morning or a bad day, but there are some occasions where a child slips through the net & they do need someone to make that first enquiry. I'd much rather look like an interfering twat & be wrong than to ignore my instincts & leave a child in need.
Sounds really crap, OP. It would have made me really sad tbh. You can report families if they look like they need support, or the children do, I'm not sure if it does any good but the NSPCC were very thorough when I called them a few weeks ago.
Sometimes you just get a gut feeling about a situation and often ime you are right. I work with children and families and sometimes there just is a feeling you can't quite put your finger on. So YANBU to feel worried about them.
Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it though.
How can she report this family when she doesn't even know them?
Not to mention why would she, based on what she saw at breakfast?
I'm not sure what these sort of threads achieve though.
Judging the family is not exactly showing concern, is it?
"The welfare worker lies awake
But the law's as tricky as a ten-foot snake
So Timothy Winters drinks his cup
And slowly goes on growing up"
What can you do? Shit parents are everywhere. Sadly there's no law against giving a baby a bottle of coke for breakfast.
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