Author Topic: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?  (Read 7590 times)

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Softly Spoken

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"Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« on: December 12, 2012, 12:16:34 AM »
I hope this thread can remain civil because I know it is a hot button topic, but I am really curious on where etiquette-conscious people draw the line when it comes to interacting with kids you aren't directly responsible for. I've read many posts on here from people complaining about rude children and the parents who allow them to be rude (and are often rude themselves). I've also read posts from parents who are appalled by rude people who have stepped over the line with their children. Since many discussions on here are about how to handle rudeness, I am wondering if there is a separate rule book for children?

FWIW, I do not have children but I have worked as a nanny, I like children, and they like me. :)

My friends mother once told me "children are savages until taught otherwise." It may sound harsh but I think it's true - manners and good behavior are learned, not inborn. The stories on this board are proof that some people never learn! ::) I have always enjoyed teaching kids, and I've found many to be eager to learn the secrets to being a "grown-up" and show how well-behaved they can be. Finer points of etiquette may be lost on younger kids, but I can't wrap my head around parents not bothering to teach kids the basics. Especially considering that many etiquette rules also overlap with/support safety rules that it would benefit children to know!

So you may be annoyed at the running, screaming child who is disrupting the party, but you only glare at the parents and hope they have the decency to do something. What about "it takes a village"?

If a kid is acting up and there is no grown-up in sight, my instinct is to a) ask them where their grown-up is and b) calmly suggest that they be polite and use their "inside voice" or something to that effect. I would never scold a child, but if they were in danger or endangering something/someone else, I would sharply warn them. If they were hitting I might grab their hand, or at least try to get between them and their target. Maybe that means I am appointing myself head sheriff/busybody...I'm not sure. Sometimes I feel like SOMEBODY has to or else there will just be a lot of post-disaster property damage and hand-wringing. :-\

It seems like us innocent bystanders can't win - if we ignore the kids and something happens we get angrily asked "why didn't you stop them?". If we try and intervene we get jumped on by the heretofore invisible mama or papa bear who is incensed we would dare to parent their child. I would never dream of disciplining another person's child, but when it comes to issues of etiquette and how to behaved in a civilized manner I do not see the harm in educating anyone of any age.

When I was a shy tween, I once had a younger cousin climb on me (literally climbed like I was a jungle gym and without an invitation to do so) and pull my hair (eye-watering yanking not playful tugging) - while her parents looked on with "isn't she cute and rambunctious" idiotic grins. >:( My parents and aunt also looked on with grimaces, but said nothing (my parents later apologized for that). Are personal space and/or property the only justifiable defenses? Should I have said "Get off me" to the kid, or "Get her off me" to her parents? When I tried to push her off me, I was met with all three protesting "But I/she wants to plaaaay!" >:(  :'( >:( :'( >:( Arrrrrrrgh!

What do you do when kids are rude...but they aren't your kids??? :(
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Danika

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2012, 03:12:21 AM »
Before I had children, I said nothing. I was scared to speak up to children and adults alike.

Now that I have kids (although, they're still little - toddlers and preschoolers) I am learning to assert my authority.

I feel that if something is a matter of safety, danger and/or property destruction, I speak up immediately and firmly. Not screaming, but not overly sweet. Anything else, and I don't get involved.

For example, if I see a kid yanking a dog's tail, I will say "Stop! Let go! Do not pull the dog's tail. He doesn't like it and he might bite you." If I see a kid coming down a slide about to land on a small baby, I will say "Stop! Do not come down. Look out and make sure no one is there first!" If I see a child or adult leaning on a parked car that is not theirs and it looks like the brass rivets on their blue jeans are going to scratch the paint, I say "Hey! Watch out. You're going to ruin that car."

If it will affect my child, and someone is rude to one of my children and their parents are nowhere to be found or don't stop them, I will say "Hey, do not talk to him/her that way. That is rude."

But if I hear kids dropping F-bombs, or they don't say thank you if I help them with something, I don't say anything. That's not my business at that point.

bonyk

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2012, 04:17:14 AM »
It depends on the situation, and how much it affects me.  I don't feel it's my responsibility to teach random kids how to behave, so I just focus on getting the undesired behaviors to stop. 

I'm a special ed teacher, so I'm used to redirecting behaviors in such a way that the kid doesn't even really know I've done it.  So if I'm at a party and there's a kid running around like a loon, I would get him/her to stop without a 'confrontation'.  Of course, I'd probably try to avoid parties with those parents in the future.  In public, I'd probably just ignore unless there was danger involved.

In your specific case:
When I tried to push her off me, I was met with all three protesting "But I/she wants to plaaaay!" >:(  :'( >:( :'( >:(

I'd deadpan, "Then she'll have to stop hurting me first", with a quick cheerful follow-up of, "Cute Rambunctious Girl, show me how to do a somersault!"  It gets her off you, and you're still 'playing' with the adorable little tyke.  Non-emotional is best, IMO.  Stick to the facts, and move on. 

Fleur

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2012, 05:19:31 AM »

I have zero tolerance for ill behaved children in public. In a supermarket near me, children have the infuriating habit of playing with scooters indoors. More than once I have been bashed into with a free range scooter. I always say 'oi, watch where you're going' in a very sharp voice. Normally the parents are nowhere to be seen. I have never had an angry 'mama bear' after me, but if I did, I would tell them to rein in their child.

MamaMootz

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2012, 08:28:42 AM »
Coming from the perspective of a parent of a pretty well behaved 10 year old but she has her moments:

It's a fine line. I would be irritated if someone tried to discipline her before I had a chance to do so. But I also have taught her from the time she learned to walk not to run amok in stores, or restaurants, and to always say please and thank you. She only tried to act up in a restaurant once when she was 3 and I promptly brought her outside. She didn't like that because she didn't get to be inside with the "fun" so she never pulled that again.  She gets compliments on her manners quite often and that's a point of pride with her, too.

I agree with bonyk, I think. It depends on the situation. For example, kids running around in a parking lot or going to cause someone harm by their actions - I will stop them. But things like what happened right before we moved with one of DD's friends, no.... DD's friend was going to have  birthday party shortly after we moved away. We were walking to DD's friend's house when I heard her tell my DD "Oh you won't be here for my party. Well, that's OK, because you can mail me a $50.00 gift card to Justice for my present." While my head was ready to explode from this and I saw DD cringe when the sentence came out of her friend's mouth because she knows how I would react if she ever did something like that, I held my tongue because this is not my child or hill to die on.

Did anyone see the show they had -- on one of those hidden camera shows where they purposely put kids into a diner situation and told the kids to be obnoxious and run around the restaurant to see if the other patrons would stop them? I think it's what would you do or something like that. None of the adults really did anything or spoke up, except for a couple of people who were teachers, interestingly enough.

"I like pie" - DD's Patented Bean Dip Maneuver

Sharnita

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2012, 08:35:50 AM »
lol, it can be hard to turn the teacher off.

Venus193

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2012, 08:43:15 AM »
Thus far I have done nothing in these situations beyond giving the parents the Icy Glare of Death. (TM)  I have zero tolerance for kid noise and less for their invasion of my personal space.  While I am far better at controlling my temper than I was when I was much younger I don't tend to run the risk of bringing out the Mama or Papa Bear in any parent.

However, if a parent were to bring a kid into my Starbucks while I'm there making jewelry and s/he tried to grab my stuff I'd give a Wicked Witch Stare and say "Don't you dare!" in my best demon-voice.

CaptainObvious

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2012, 08:59:16 AM »
Thus far I have done nothing in these situations beyond giving the parents the Icy Glare of Death. (TM)  I have zero tolerance for kid noise and less for their invasion of my personal space.  While I am far better at controlling my temper than I was when I was much younger I don't tend to run the risk of bringing out the Mama or Papa Bear in any parent.

However, if a parent were to bring a kid into my Starbucks while I'm there making jewelry and s/he tried to grab my stuff I'd give a Wicked Witch Stare and say "Don't you dare!" in my best demon-voice.

You make jewelry in Starbucks? And they don't care?

Venus193

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2012, 09:09:15 AM »
No.  My local Starbucks doesn't mind at all.  It's not the highest-traffic one in the area, most of the regulars already hang out for hours with their laptops, and very few people who hang out in there have children with them.  I usually eat either breakfast or lunch and I clean up after myself.

MrTango

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2012, 09:14:37 AM »
If the child is family (i.e neice or nephew), I'll address the child directly.

If not, then I ask the parent to "Please control your child."  Most kids I've been around seem to pick up on this without too much further intervention on the parent's part.

ETA Disclaimer: I have no children of my own.

MommyPenguin

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2012, 09:18:09 AM »
I think that parents sometimes have a little more leeway with this sort of thing when they're with their own kids.  Because I think that other parents see it more like "whichever parent is closer" than interfering, at least with small things and not real discipline.  For instance, I had my girls at the dance studio last night for gymnastics, and they had set up a ton of giant seasonable inflatables for decoration.  Kids were constantly trying to jump on them like giant trampolines, or hug them, or crash into them.  Every time it happened near me, I'd say, "Hey!  Don't do that, you'll pop the display!"  I never once had to say it twice, and never had to raise my voice (the "Hey!" was just loud enough to get their attention).  I don't think I was out of line, and I didn't have any parent or kid take issue with it, although of course the parents weren't generally nearby.  I did notice one mom whose kid went and jumped on it, and she said, "No, sir!  Get off that right now!" without even stopping, and as soon as she passed by her kid went right back to jumping on it.  <sigh>

WillyNilly

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2012, 09:19:06 AM »
My policy is no different for children then adults.  So if I'd ask a an adult to stop doing something, or to please move, or to not yell, etc, I will also ask a child.  As far as I'm concerned people out in public are all equal, regardless of age.  I especially think if a child isn't being directly supervised by their parent that is a communication to the larger world that the parent considers the child old enough to be treated like a regular member of society, just like anyone else of another age group.

AlansGirl

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2012, 09:21:56 AM »
I had a funny incident this weekend that sort of fits, though these weren't random kids in public but belonged to some close friends.  We were out having dinner at a neighborhood tavern that has several video games, a skill crane, etc. in line near the front and when we go there, our friends' children (5 and 14) like to play the games.  The games take quarters so we're often giving the kids dollar bills to put in the change machine for quarters, and right after one such trip, I saw the 5-year-old (Brooke) putting quarters in her mouth.  Her parents didn't see her, as they were sitting on the opposite side of the table.  I called out, "Brooke!  Stop that!  You don't put quarters in your mouth!"

The words were still hanging in the air in front of me and I thought of previous threads on EHell.  I immediately said to Brooke's parents, "Oh my gosh, I am SO sorry!  I had no business correcting your child!"

Brooke's dad:  "Oh please, correct away!  Especially if you see her doing things like sticking quarters in her mouth!  Have at it!"

Brooke's mom:  "Yeah, feel free!  And hey, there's money in it if you can get her to put her toys away."

MrTango

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2012, 09:23:15 AM »
My policy is no different for children then adults.  So if I'd ask a an adult to stop doing something, or to please move, or to not yell, etc, I will also ask a child.  As far as I'm concerned people out in public are all equal, regardless of age.  I especially think if a child isn't being directly supervised by their parent that is a communication to the larger world that the parent considers the child old enough to be treated like a regular member of society, just like anyone else of another age group.

The only issue I have with this is that children are not adults.  They are generally not yet capable of understanding the risks/consequences of their actions the way adults *should* be able to.

For example, if I saw a kid doing something dangerous, I'd probably do (or at least say) something to stop them.  If I saw an adult doing something dangerous, my concern would be to ensure that they aren't going to hurt anyone but themselves and then move on.

WillyNilly

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Re: "Parenting" kids that aren't yours?
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2012, 09:27:34 AM »
My policy is no different for children then adults.  So if I'd ask a an adult to stop doing something, or to please move, or to not yell, etc, I will also ask a child.  As far as I'm concerned people out in public are all equal, regardless of age.  I especially think if a child isn't being directly supervised by their parent that is a communication to the larger world that the parent considers the child old enough to be treated like a regular member of society, just like anyone else of another age group.

The only issue I have with this is that children are not adults.  They are generally not yet capable of understanding the risks/consequences of their actions the way adults *should* be able to.

For example, if I saw a kid doing something dangerous, I'd probably do (or at least say) something to stop them.  If I saw an adult doing something dangerous, my concern would be to ensure that they aren't going to hurt anyone but themselves and then move on.

Well by then its a safety issue and not an etiquette issue. 

I was really just referring to bothersome stuff - blocking doorways, yelling or singing too loudly indoors, kicking a seat, etc. I would ask an adult or a child to "please stop" equally.