Parenting… it’s not for the faint at heart, am I right?
Just this past month alone I was faced with a slew of scenarios where I felt out of my element. I had no idea what the “right” thing to do was, so I just went with my instinct. Lets just say that I was crossing my fingers and toes in hopes that I don’t screw up my kids (or other people’s for that matter) too badly.
Which brings me to my question… Is it ever okay to discipline somebody else’s kid? I’ve written a similar post about this topic just last year when I yelled at somebody’s kid. You can read about that HERE. The more recent scenario didn’t have me yelling but rather, teaching somebody’s kid an important lesson.
As a stay-at-home-mom I have the “privilege” of watching my kids ALL THE TIME! I get to see who they interact with and how they interact. I get to know their friends and frenemies and often times, I end up acting as a parent to both. Recently, after school, we stayed around in the school’s playground as we normally do. I always make sure to come fully stocked with snacks because… KIDS! We are always more than happy to share our snacks with others (as long as we know them or they ask their parents first of course). Some of the kids we know really well and feel very comfortable – almost too comfortable at times. One day last week there was a 9- year old who felt that it was simply okay to reach into my backpack, and into our snack bag whenever he felt like it. Over and over again. The thing is, I don’t mind and I would have been happy for him to eat as many snacks as he wanted (as long as my kids got their share too), but not without asking. Even my kids know better and to ask if they want something. They don’t just simply reach into my private bag and grab what they want. It’s a simple lesson and rule but clearly, not something that this particular 9 year old kid was taught. I “caught him in the act” a few times and remarked that it’s okay for him to eat our snacks as long as he asks first. He said “okay” but clearly, it wasn’t okay because he kept doing it over and over again. At one point, he was pulling the snack bag away from my 2 year old and handing out the snacks as if they were his own. Obviously my kids were not having any of that. I had to speak out at this point telling him that he needs to have better manners and ask first, and that he was acting less mature compared to my 2 year old. It was harsh, but it was also the truth and I thought he needed to hear it. Obviously everybody’s parenting styles and philosophies differ and I actually know the mother of this kid very well and I think very highly of her. Sometimes I just think it’s important for kids to learn about different styles and ways that people operate so they can see alternative ways of dealing with certain situations. Whether or not this will have a lasting impression on him or not, I’m not sure, but I’m glad I spoke up.
Similarly, I hope that if my kids ever act inappropriately when I’m not around that someone else will say something to them. In fact, this did happen recently. My oldest son Kyle was acting inappropriately after school a few weeks ago. He kept pulling a tree branch and eventually it almost completely broke off. One of the after-school daycare workers came and (gently) scolded my son (I was just a few feet away speaking to another parent and didn’t notice). Once I was notified of the incident and brought up to speed, I looked at Kyle who was visibly upset and instead of scolding him (again), I just told him that it was a good lesson. Somehow the topic of pulling on branches never came up in my parenting him – so I was grateful when someone else, who witnessed his inappropriate behaviour, was there to set him straight!
So is it ever right to discipline somebody else’s child? I would say yes! If it’s going to help my kid became a better, more responsible person in society, then yes – please discipline him and teach him a different way of doing things! I’m only human after all… two eyes, two hands but three kids. The math doesn’t add up and we all know we can use the help of a village every once in a while!