To have judged this mum?(343 Posts)
I've just witnessed some awful parenting in a cafe and feel slightly rubbish that I looked away and said nothing.
Sitting in a cafe at lunchtime with my two girls (youngest a toddler, oldest 10). On the table next to us are two women, clearly friends, and their collective 3 children (a baby, an 18 month old-ish and a toddler of a similar age to mine). Lots of smiling between the kids, parents chatting etc. All well, until it's time for them to leave.
Woman 1 grabs hold of the toddler with no preamble, no warning, just reaches over and grabs him while still chatting to her friend. Child predictable yells "no", starts crying and kicking off about leaving. Mother forcibly shoves him into his pushchair next to the 18 month old sibling. Child now crying in earnest. Mum gets down in his face and yells at him to "shut up or I'll give you something to cry about". Child now desperate. He reaches out and grabs something from the table, knocking some bottles over. Mother immediately hits him. It then becomes clear that he's grabbed the bottle because he was thirsty. Mother now gives him the drink, telling him for not telling her he needed a drink and being "a naughty boy" instead. At one point she apologise to the friend she was with who said "it's ok". The woman then said to the child "she doesn't think you're ok. She thinks you're a naughty boy who deserved that smack".
My children were really upset by this. When this woman shouted, she really shouted and they were really close to where we were sat.
I kept quiet throughout but to be honest I wish I'd said something. If this woman behaves like that in public, lord knows what those children go through at home. Notably, when she shouted in the toddlers face, the 18 month old sitting right next to him didn't even flinch.
The other mum, with the baby, gave me a "sorry" look as they left. I'm hoping that maybe she's in a position to intervene if needed.
Where/how did she smack him? Not that it matters, but was it a light spank on his bottom or somewhere else?
I've always said that if I saw somebody shouting at their kids I'd say something but it's easy to freeze in that situation.
That sounds so awful but I agree with Derlei, I would hope to say something if I see something that awful but would probably be so stunned
On his arm. He was sitting in the pushchair where she'd practically thrown him.
How old was this child? Disgusting behaviour but I understand why you felt you couldn't intervene
Oh thats awful. I wouldn't intervene seeing a parent shouting as Ive lost my rag with my lot plenty of times but Ive never laid a finger on them. Im not sure what you could have done though, its a difficult one.
Well I think you're being a bit holier than thou op. This is a snap shot of her parenting. I don't think you need to convince yourself you've witnessed something utterly awful.
The child was about 3. He wasn't very verbal so possibly younger than that. Shouting in his face to the point where my 10 year old was upset was pretty extreme I think. Smacking him even more so. Poor kid.
Awful behaviour, she's doing it in public so open to judgement. But no point intervening , it won't have been a one-off and you won't change the situation, and either you would have been attacked upsetting you and your child or one of the poor mites would have copped it later. Sad to say but best to keep out of it.
Child now desperate. well, he probably wasn't desperate, you don't get desperate from being told its time to go. Angry, yes, noisy yes, lashing out, maybe, I don't think your choice of words is likely to be accurate here, and so maybe not in the rest of your post either.
She sounds mean, but there is nothing illegal here. I don't think it was your place to intervene.
I knew it would only be a few posts before the 'snapshot' thing was trotted out.
Whilst not ideal, until you do sound extremely judgemental.
You act like that in public then you're putting it out there. I'd have thought the same as the OP.
Yes maybe the mother was strung out, maybe her son is driving her nuts 24/7 and she'd had enough but, do that in public so it affects other people and their children, expect to get an opinion on your parenting at least.
But polly, she didn't give an opinion. She came home and posted on mumsnet to signal that she is such a virtuous mother because she judged another mother.
Fwiw it would upset me too. But any situation can be a lesson in judgement or a lesson in understanding.
Note I said understanding, not condoning.
Respectfully, northern, I'd like to disagree. Violence against a child is truly awful. Poor toddler.
Also, if that's how she acts in public, what does she do at home?
I don't know much about this but I'd assume that if a child is used to being hit/abused then when the parent signals that the hitting is about to start, wouldn't the child shut down out of self-preservation? I.e. Learned behaviour to mitigate the escalation of violence? I'm not saying this is violence but if you are extrapolating this to the parent being more violent in private then the child surely would have responded with subdued self-protective behaviour? Even a toddler can learn this.
Is this true?
I don't know enough about it but it seems odd that if there is a pattern of abuse that the toddler would escalate it by grabbing a drink. I mean if you are used to being hit, you don't think about being thirsty when you come under threat, you think about mitigating the damage by being subdued.
Awful awful behaviour. It's very hard to intervene. I was advised to talk to the child in this situation as it's most effective way to get the parent to calm down. Sort of "mummy sounds very cross, are you ok?"
Not true, MajorGeneral. Not in a child so young. They keep on trying to elicit a normal parental response.
YANBU at all, Flowersinyourhair.
Mummyoflittledragon ' I was advised to talk to the child' By who?
Wouldn't this inflame the situation even more with a stranger coming up to your child saying ' mummy sounds cross are you ok?'
I was abused and have volunteered all my life for local kids groups for abused kids. Abused children that age don't bother crying, would not throw a tantrumn, would be as good as gold in fact because they go into 'self-preservation mode'. The behaviour you described doesn't point out to an abused child - still doesn't make it right.
My therapist advised this. I don't know if it would work. It was after such an even where I didn't intervene and I haven't witnessed anything like this since.
I don't know where you come from, but where I live it is illegal to hit children.
When she screamed in the child's face, I would've gone over, and asked her if we could have a word. Then I would explain to her, the potential damage she is inflicting on her children, by acting this way. Then I would offer her some tips, on how to behave around her children.
If she responded with anger, I would tell her that if I EVER saw that kind of behavior again, I would call social services.
Mind you, I have been working with children, and their parents, for some years now :-)
YANBU I hate seeing parents bully their children like that - sometimes I think it's the case that they were parented that way and they don't see any other way of going about it. Parents like that seem totally incapable of dealing with the frustration of having kids.
I can understand why you froze. I only once intervened in that kind of situation but in that case the mum was repeatedly hitting a crying child in a buggy.
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