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Why do some parents do this?

125 replies

Grumblepants · 27/09/2018 21:29

If two adults are having a conversation and a third adult was to interrupt unnecessarily, then this would generally be considered rude.
So why do some parents allow their children to interrupt and pander to it.
I have a few friends that do this and it's really bugging me.
I have been talking to friends about serious issues (and some times just general chit chat) and half way through little Timmy (or whoever) runs up and jumps in with "mummy look at me I can clap my hand" and friend then stops mid conversation to me to say "oh well done darling you are so clever, show me again....blah blah blah" . Meanwhile I'm stood there half way though (recent example) "so yes DS was rushed to hospital at the weekend and I honestly thought we were going to lose him because....oh yes I can wait while Timmy shows us clapping.......!".
Why do this? Just tell the child it's sodding rude to interrupt and to wait while you finish your conversation.
Ok rant over. And yes I get that I should just walk away from the conversation, but I just wondered if maybe some people don't actually realise they are doing it.
Aibu in getting really pissed with this or am I missing the other persons side to this?

OP posts:

mathanxiety · 28/09/2018 04:06


Children need to be taught this life skill by their parents. It is possible to get a 3 year old to wait, just as it is possible to get a 3 year old to sit and not hop up during meals or hit their baby brother when piqued. Agree with ErictheGuineaPig - start early.

YY to the hand thing, also to a hand signal.
The child who interrupts a lot has not learned to control the anxiety generated by seeing the parent's attention elsewhere. What they want to say is generally not an emergency. This seems especially true of interrupted phone calls ime.

You compromise with the hand signals and they gradually learn that a parent can do one thing and the child can do another without the parent paying complete attention 100% of the time, and it's all going to be fine.


onemorecupofcoffeefortheroad · 28/09/2018 06:57

When I was growing up if I tried to interrupt my mum when she was in mid conversation she would say “I’m talking - wait until I’ve finished”. I didn’t feel neglected or ignored (as one poster suggested) - I learnt that it was polite not to interrupt and there were times I just had to wait for her attention.

My kids are teens now but I said the same to them when they were small - of course if there was an emergency that’s entirely different but I’m pretty sure what the OP is referring to here is children just wanting attention for trivial matters. And I certainly never ignored them in a soft play area - as another poster suggested.

I would also make a point of turning back to them as soon as I could - within a minute - even sometimes if it did mean breaking the conversation.

That may sound contradictory but it was a balance between ensuring my friend didn’t think our conversation was unimportant to me - whilst also giving due attention to my child but mostly ensuring that my child learnt that I (and the world) wasn’t going to just drop everything the second they demanded it - because that isn’t how life works. (For the record they are now well-adjusted happy 18 and 20 yr olds).


0hCrepe · 28/09/2018 07:11

Well ‘Timmy’ didn’t know you were having a serious conversation. If I go to a friend’s house with a 5 year old I know to expect the child to be there and require attention from time to time. It’s part of seeing friends with kids!


JellyBears · 28/09/2018 07:46

I’ve worked for a family once where if his parents came home from work and I was chatting to them etc he would start shouting be quiet stop talking I’m watching the tv or something. The mum actually apologised and literally stopped talking. I see more and more of that with kids now. So rude.


IfNotNowThenWhen1 · 28/09/2018 07:56

If the child is over 3, it's not an emergency and they have something else to do (e.g playing with other kids) Then Yanbu.
Adult conversations are boring? So go play! The constant pandering is not nessecary and ignoring them doesn't scar them for life.


Bimkom · 28/09/2018 08:01

I was waiting with some other parents for one of DS's hich school parent/teacher evenings. As we waited, I was saying to this one - Oh DS and your son are in class X together, and they sit together at the front, and to that one, something else about the school, and the mums all looked at me, and said "Oh, yes, your DS talks to you!, we don't know any of this stuff". Ninety percent of mums say that all they can get out of their DC at that age is "nothing". Their teenagers no longer talk to them and they feel locked out of their life. Obviously there are other factors involved, but I firmly believe that at least one important factor is that their teenagers were told as kids that their conversation was not important, so they stop bothering to tell you things, and by the teenager years it upsets a lot of parents. To a five year old "I can clap with one hand" is just as important as the real life challenges of a teenager is to them. If you weren't there for their "I can clap with one hand", you won't be told about the far more serious issues (or even the basics) of their teenage years.
Oh, and just this week DH was walking down the street and one of DS's new teachers at school cross the road to talk to him. "Oh are you DS's father. DS is so polite, so well mannered, so enthusiastic, so lovely to teach". We get this from a lot of sources. DH says, "why does everybody seem to think they would give an arm and a leg to have a child like DS when I think he is just an obnoxious teenager?". But I think the answer has a lot to do with precisely these parenting styles. DS knows he can get support from home, and that is where he keeps the obnoxious aspects that go with being a teenager (although even there he has never been bad, compared with many of his peers, and even DH agrees he is coming out of it), and he is quite capable of differentiating between behaviour tolerated at home, and behaviour in the wider environment. When they are small, it is always you listening or not listening to them. But there comes a time when it is your children who makes the decision whether or not they talk to you or they talk to their peers (or no-one, and bottle it all up inside). From your children's perspective, if you don't respond when they tell you "they can clap with one hand" you are not talking to them when they have something important to share, and they will make exactly the same choice as an adolescent. Maybe you don't mind. Maybe the conversation of your peers is more important to you than that of your children, and you believe that is the correct message to pass to them. But then don't be surprised if they make the same assessment regarding you as they get older.


newhousenewstart · 28/09/2018 08:02

It may seem easier and quicker to answer the child immediately but it gives the message that it's OK to interrupt. I personally just respond with 'I'm talking to X right now and I'll speak to you in a minute' Of course it does still mean that you need to then interrupt your conversation a minute or so later but at least then the child will believe they will be able to speak once it's more convenient


BretonStripe · 28/09/2018 08:18

@Bimkom great post, and I agree with it.

However, like most things, it's about balance and being appropriate. If a child is taught respect and not to butt in constantly then when it does come to a parent with something important then they'll be heard straight away.

If they are taught that they come first no matter what, no matter that Mum's best friend is in the middle of telling her she has been diagnosed with cancer, that Mum will always stop the conversation immediately to listen to Timmy then there's a danger he'll grow up to be an entitled brat who thinks the world revolves around him.

It's like everything in life - you judge the situation case by case and do what you feel is right at the time. And hope you're doing a good enough job Smile


Branleuse · 28/09/2018 08:47

I think its just what happens if you meet up with someone with kids. I try and meet up child-free if poss because then you dont get interruptions.

I think its why people make friends with people whos kids are at a similar developmental stage/age, and its why people who dont have kids often dont retain their friends with kids. It works both ways.
There are allowances you have to make.

The going off to play with your kids thing is certainly annoying though, and i find that a bit of pain with my friends who have much younger children, but its a stage. If theyre still doing it when their kids are 11 and 12 thats a bit different


MarklahMarklah · 28/09/2018 08:51

I think it's rude too.
I've told my DC over and over that unless it's an emergency (eg someone bleeding, something on fire) then it's necessary to wait.
I go with "put your hand on my arm so I know that you need to tell me something when I've finished speaking." That way child is ready and knows that they have your attention.


mumofmunchkin · 28/09/2018 08:57

Thing is, you do have to teach a child not to interrupt. If my kids have something they need to tell us when we're talking, they are supposed to come and take our hand so we know they have something to say, and we will break off at an appropriate point to hear it. The 5 year old remembers 90% of the time, and just needs a prompt to take my hand the rest of the time, the 3 year old is just beginning to get the idea. Much younger children it's hard, and conversations will get interrupted.


PiperPublickOccurrences · 28/09/2018 09:02

Dd is 3 and we are trying to teach her to say excuse me

Having flashbacks to the most obnoxious child at playgroup who had obviously been told to do this and would come up to you, say "excuse me" and expect an immediate response. If you didn't respond immediately, she would repeat the "excuse me" every 3 seconds, getting louder each time.

She was simply not used to adults failing to engage with her when she demanded it.

Kids have to learn not to interrupt and that the world does not revolve around them,


TheColonelAdoresPuffins · 28/09/2018 09:05

I agree with you op. I have a friend who does this and it's ridiculous. All our kids are over 10 now and she still does it!


tictac86 · 28/09/2018 09:15

Because your not more important then a child. Grow up


Branleuse · 28/09/2018 09:17

a kid at PLAYGROUP interrupting is obnoxious?? OMG are you from another planet? theyre toddlers.

I have met tiny children who sit quietly and behave perfectly and dont interrupt and I have noticed that sometimes the parent thinks its because of their super parenting that the child is like that, but often enough, another child comes along and is far more lively.
Things like patience and being able to judge when to speak is something that is rarely well developed at a young age, and while its socially important to kindly discourage interruptions, its ridiculous to expect that if you are visiting somebody who has young children with them, then you arent going to get the same quality of conversation as those without, because children are PEOPLE. They dont always understand that adults think that they are the bottom rung of the ladder and should be silent until spoken to. It takes time and patience to beat that sort of hierarchy into them


PiperPublickOccurrences · 28/09/2018 09:20

She was about 4 at the time and yes she was obnoxious. She was a child who was used to her mum's undivided attention 24/7 and expected that from staff/helpers at nursery/playgroup too. If you didn't immediately stop what you were doing and engage with her, she would continue with her EXCUSE ME until you did. Not a pleasant child to be around.


Duskqueen · 28/09/2018 09:27

I normally tell my DD to wait as we are talking, it doesn't always work, I have stopped mid conversation before to ask her what she wants to tell and she then had to think of something to tell me, because she didn't actually want to tell Me anything she just didn't like the fact I was talking to someone else and wanted my attention, which is ok but on that specific day I had been sat right near her for 2 hours and she had completely ignored me. 😂🙈


Tunnocks34 · 28/09/2018 09:27

OH and I have been doing this with our 4year old son and didn’t really notice it until recently when my mum pointed it out. I think we just went the easier route of letting him tell us he’d seen a bird, and wowing rather than have him wine.

Now we say ‘x, we’re in the middle of saying something, please wait until we’re finished’ he cried and sulked the first couple of times, but now he’ll stand and wait.


IrmaFayLear · 28/09/2018 09:34

Absolute piffle , Bimkom.

The relative chattiness of children/teens is nothing to do with whether their clapping was ignored when they were three and far more to do with personality. I have one chatty dc and one taciturn one. One would tell me everything about their school day, and into their teenage years about friends, exams etc. The other is very much of the "nothing" school of conversation, and always has been.

Gosh, it is so irritating when people hold up their dcs as paragons of virtue and take all the credit for their superb parenting skills. Funnily enough no one does the reverse.

I think there is a time and place for interrupting. An eager short interruption - no problem. Continual wrapping around mother and whining "I want to go home " or "I'm bored " if someone comes round - very rude. Dsis also will simultaneously talk to dc on the phone - and I only speak to her about once a month. I just say, "Oh, I'll call back later." And don't. I do not want to hang on the end of the phone like a lemon listening to them talk about an episode of Peppa Pig at some length.


abacucat · 28/09/2018 09:46

Totally agree OP. Have one friend who always reminds her DD to wait until the adults have stopped talking, and not to interrupt. This mum has the best relationship I have ever seen between a child and mother, it is so loving. But she also is teaching her DD to be polite. But then she behaves like a mother, not like an adult trying to be friends with their kids.


JacquesHammer · 28/09/2018 09:53

I kind of figure if I’m seeing parents with younger kids present I’m not going to get their full attention.

But then it doesn’t bother me if an adult interrupts me either Grin

Children learn manners. A quick “oh how lovely but I’m talking, remember we have to wait” is quite sufficient. I’d far rather whoever I’m talking to feels comfortable enough with me to be able to acknowledge and interact with their child too.


OutPinked · 28/09/2018 09:57

They’re generally satisfied with that quick acknowledgement and it’s better than having them tug impatiently at your sleeve for an hour until you’re ready to answer.


IfNotNowThenWhen1 · 28/09/2018 10:14

Bimkom, that's all very earnest but it's a load of rubbish.
My teen tells me LOADS in GREAT DETAIL about EVERYTHING and always has.Grin
I was also very impatient with constant mithering, and yes I probably did ignore him at playgroups (not soft play couldn't afford it) while he played with toys as I was desperate for adult conversation.
He has tons of friends and is very sweet, but fuck yes when he was younger I told him "I'm talking!" Or "if noone is bleeding and nothing is on fire it can wait."
And if at 3 he had said to me "Mummy you are interupting, wait until there is a break in the conversation", and then went on playing." I wouldn't have been "horrified" I would have laughed.
And also, there's a HUGE middle ground between pandering to every inane utterance and expecting your children to "sit quietly" like Victorians!
Common sense people.


MidniteScribbler · 28/09/2018 10:18

I see the result of these children in the classroom. Children who really can't understand that they aren't the centre of the universe and don't know how to wait their turn.


TheDowagerCuntess · 28/09/2018 10:20

Nice Bimkom, but @IrmaFayLear is absolutely bang on the money.

You mention just 'DS'. Do you have another, out of interest...?

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