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raven860's avatar

Have you ever confronted a child's parents regarding his/her behavior? How did it go?

Asked by raven860 (2174points) November 26th, 2011

As the question asks…how did it go?
When the other parents defended their child, what “reasoning” and tactics did they employ? I want to prepare for a confrontation with a “bad” parent in my opinion.

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24 Answers

bobbinhood's avatar

Unless the parent asks me for advice or is abusive, I tend to think how they raise their child is their business. While I have witnessed poor parenting, I have never confronted the parents about it. I’m having trouble thinking of a situation in which I would. The most I think I would consider doing if they hadn’t asked for my opinion is asking a question to get them thinking, and even that would require a pretty special set of circumstances.

raven860's avatar

@bobbinhood Something like 12 year olds hurting other children and stealing from stores and parent giving you the “I don’t know what you are talking about” and covering for their son/daughter in a way.- Maybe just to protect their reputation or something.

Coloma's avatar

No. My only expereince was when my daughter was 2–3 years old and the neighbors little boy was a tank of a 4–5 year old and he played way too roughly and was out of control. I’d just cringe when little “Kevin” came around. Seriously the kid was out of control and the parents were super lackadaisical in their efforts at “discipline”.

After he knocked my daughter down on the concrete in my garage and various other Kevin encounters I just avoided any play time with them as much as possible.

A new family moved in next door at the time and their 3 year old daughter and my daughter were perfect little friends.
I felt bad because it was obvious, neither of us, ( the new neighbors and my family ) were interested in more than the most casual moments with Kevin around.
Like waving goodbye when they drove by. haha

If the parents had behaved in a “normal” manner and not let Kevin behave like an idiot maybe little Kevin could have joined in the Reindeer games. lol

Too bad.

rooeytoo's avatar

I was recently chastised and advised by a flutherite regular to cease my whining about naughty children unless I was willing to intervene and correct the bad behavior. But I personally don’t think it is any of my business how people raise their children. Not to mention that most parents become highly indignant when someone else does intervene.

I know there is so much emphasis on bullying these days but I think it always existed and kids just learned to cope. My mom told me to take a different route home from school when I was being ambushed by a bully, so I did.

It would have to be some very serious stuff going on before I would get involved.

TheIntern55's avatar

I’ve never done it, but I’ve wanted to on so many occassions. I was in a big dinner theater production, in which us, the actors, were also the waiters. There were some little kids in the middle of the place, and they were running around and screaming and being so disruptive. Plus, it was scary trying to bring food and drinks to the people because they’d run in front of us or sit in the middle. The parents refused to do a thing. I was playing a Pink Lady, and I believe it would’ve been in character to yell at them. But I held it in.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Usually, it doesn’t go well – parents get defensive because they’re unable to see that they’re doing a bad parenting job. Never stopped me, though.

AshLeigh's avatar

I have.
They usually get mad. Especially since I’m still a child.
No parent wants to admit their child isn’t perfect.

TheIntern55's avatar

@AshLeigh That’s the reason I don’t do it. Adults don’t like being told off by teens.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@AshLeigh That is incorrect. My children aren’t perfect. Many parents don’t think their kids are perfect.

stardust's avatar

No. It’s really not my place to interfere in a situation like that. If the child was causing a disruption, I’d politely ask the parent to step up but otherwise, I wouldn’t open that can of worms.

mrrich724's avatar

My sister in laws kid: I tell her he’s a fuckin’ spoiled brat. Her response he’s always “tired” or always “just woke up” but he’s “not usually like that.” I was fed up and said “it seems like he’s always tired or just woke up.”

Regarding treatment of the child, I told my sister last night about how she shouldn’t leave her two kids at their grandparents house, b/c there is another family member there that’s always causing problems and the children are witnessing screaming and fighting. Her response: crying and screaming about how much she loves her children and how dare I question how good of a parent she is, and since She loves her kids more than anything, she knows what’s best and I don’t.

My advice, unless those children are in immediate danger, just hold your breath, b/c odds are all you are going to do is annoy the parent rather than get them to change their thinking/behavior.

AshLeigh's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, correction:
most parent’s don’t want to admit their children aren’t perfect.
I’ve never met one who didn’t get mad, if I told them their child was doing something wrong.

blueiiznh's avatar

Yep. Plenty of times.
Straight forward facts. Keep emotions out of it. Every parent will respond differently. It will be obvious which ones appreciate your feedback and which ones just don’t care.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@raven860 “Something like 12 year olds hurting other children and stealing from stores…”

I wouldn’t touch it unless equipped with undeniable proof… and even with that, I’d approach the store for the stealing. For the 12 year olds “hurting other children”, I’d approach the adult in charge of them during that specific event.

Then the store and the adult can approach the parents.

If nothing changed, then that child would no longer be welcome in my family company.

rooeytoo's avatar

Where were you all when this question was asked. I and others were attacked for not feeling an inclination to parent other peoples’ children, especially when the actual parent was right there observing the behavior!

perspicacious's avatar

Mind your own business unless you believe a child is in danger.

MissAusten's avatar

If I wasn’t directly affected by it, I wouldn’t say anything but would limit my own kids’ contact with the child in question. What I’d say to the parent would depend on how well I knew the person and whether or not I thought anything I’d say would be listened to.

When I worked in daycare, part of my job involved talking to parents about behaviors we couldn’t accept in the classroom. Knowing how to address a situation made a big difference. I would never call a parent and say, “Joey is such a brat at school. What do you do at home that makes him such a problem for us? He hits kids, throws toys, bites, and screams or whines like a baby when he doesn’t get his way!” What parent wouldn’t get defensive?! Instead, I’d start off by mentioning some positive things about the child. Then I’d say, “Joey has some difficulties getting along with his peers and transitioning from one activity to another. Does he do any of these things at home?” Then I’d ask how the parents address those situations and what works for them. Usually by this time I’ve come up with a behavioral plan for the child and I’ll tell the parent about it. In five years, I never had a parent react badly to such a conversation. It all depends on your tone and choice of words. Now, getting the parents to change their ways at home can be another issue, but at daycare we were always successful at getting the child to improve behavior while at school. Even when the parents could see that our methods worked, they sometimes insisted on not changing their ways at home which is something I never understood.

My daughter has a friend whose parents do things in ways that completely baffle me. When it affects me or my daughter, I have to say something to the girl’s parents but so far it doesn’t seem to have accomplished anything. They are the kind of parents who are always running very late and tend to forget to pick their daughter up from after school activities. The daughter is a nice kid, but I have to be careful about every relying on her parents and it drives me crazy. One afternoon, this other mom offered to pick both girls up from school so they could hang out. I had to be someplace and wasn’t home when school let out. Later I found out the mom was over an hour late. The girls walked to our house, then walked to my in-laws’ house, then were finally able to get the mom on the phone. I was livid. When the mom brought my daughter home, she was very apologetic. I didn’t tell or act mad at her, I just calmly said, “I told the girls they should stay in one spot and call me if they are stuck at school. I could have been home in five minutes. From now one, why don’t we just plan for the girls to walk to our house after school and I’ll make sure I’m home?” She understood I wouldn’t be trusting her to pick my child up from school again. She has also told her daughter to just walk to our house after a school activity if she can’t pick her up on time but without asking me. This happened a couple of times where the girl would show up at our door unexpected. Not a big deal, but what if no one was home? One afternoon she showed up as we were getting ready to leave. Another day I almost missed an appointment because the mom was so late picking her up, I had to drive her home. Nine out of ten times, the parents are very, very late picking the girl up. I did two things about it. I told the mom they should always call if the girl needs to come over after school to make sure we’re home. I also decided to firmly insist on driving the girl home myself instead of relying on the parents to pick her up on time. I’ve told the mom how her actions affected us, but she either can’t change her bad habits or doesn’t care to try.

If you decide you must talk to the parent in the situation you described, being direct and negative will automatically trigger the parent to be defensive. If you think the child is doing these things but you don’t actually know, be very, very careful how you proceed. If the parent is a friend of family member, think about how your relationship will be affected. Try to act in the best interest of the child, use a calm tone and carefully plan how you will word your phrases to achieve what you want without the conversation turning into an argument about blame.

If you think a child is in danger or there is some kind of abuse, contact authorities.

keobooks's avatar

This was something I hated so much and I was thankful that as a school librarian, I almost never had to do it. I actually had to do it in retail more often than as a teacher.

I remember having to kick a family out of the store because their kids were spitting over the balcony onto other customer’s heads. There was no way around it—several customers and employees witnessed the kids leaning over and there were gobs of spit all over the floor and on people’s heads. When I grabbed one of the kids, a big loogie was actually dripping about a foot out of his mouth.

The parents threw a few and demanded to see my managers. They said that I had no right to touch their children—making it sound like I was a creepy pedophile rather than someone trying to protect other people. They also said the store had no right to “tell them how to parent their kids” when we kicked them out of the store.

We had a meeting later and we were told not to touch kids in any way—even if we thought they were in personal danger (like falling over the balcony when they were playing with it—or climbing up a bookshelf) ironically because the store was worried about lawsuits. We could still kick out parents who refused to attend their kids and they were doing dangerous things.

I know—I know—parents are oh so sensitive and we can’t hurt their feelings and other people should have their shopping experiences ruined so that parents can feel good about their crap-ass parenting styles. Because god forbid kids learn to act like civilized human beings that have to answer to their behavior in public. It’s totally OK for kids to do things that would get adults thrown in jail for doing in public—so long as their parents don’t feel guilty about the incident.

Sorry—still bitter about it. You can bet that if my daughter gets caught being a jackass in a store, I will THANK the manager who stops her. I have no shame. I know kids do stupid things sometimes for the simple reason that they are kids. I won’t be mortified by her behavior (I hope) and I won’t be too embarrassed to make a grand departure from the store, carrying her kicking and screaming over my shoulder. That’s part of being a member of society and teaching a kid how to be a member of that society.

SavoirFaire's avatar

The only time I have done this is to defend the child from the parent. Otherwise, I take a child’s bad behavior to be either its parents’ fault or truly beyond its parents’ control. In the former case, it makes no sense to complain about the child. In the latter case, it’s nothing the parent doesn’t already know. Thus it would make more sense to either complain directly to the adults about their bad parenting, or simply to empathize if the parent seems competent but powerless.

laureth's avatar

It’s really difficult to do this well in retail. Two specific incidents come to mind, both from the fancy grocery store where I used to work.

We had a display of glass votive candle holders that, unfortunately, were within a small boy’s reach. He would grab a candle holder and throw it down on the tile floor, laughing gleefully as it smashed into a zillion little pieces. When I went over to stop the destruction, Mama got upset with me. “He’s our first-born son!” she hissed. “He can do anything he wants!” Our store didn’t have a policy where people had to pay for things they broke, so we just sucked up about $50 in broken glass.

At a different time, a little girl started bothering my cashiers, getting in their space behind the counter and grabbing change rolls in the cashier’s drawer. When the cashier pulled out the till to park it someplace else, the little girl clung to it so the cashier couldn’t move. The cashier reached down and started to pry the girl’s fingers loose and that’s when Mama yelled. “Do NOT touch my child!”

So, yeah, in general, parents haven’t been too happy when employees correct their kids, even if we’re trying to prevent loss, help the kids not get hurt (like on broken glass), or basically do our jobs properly. Good luck on your attempt.

MissAusten's avatar

It seems to me that the kind of children who behave so badly in public tend to have ridiculous parents who make crazy statements about their firstborn sons or refuse to deal with their kids’ misbehavior. I’d be willing to bet the kids you see who aren’t causing problems have parents that would want to know about and correct problem behavior.

keobooks's avatar

I’m going to set kids doing destructive things aside for a bit.

I was just talking to a friend of mine and she said that people confront her all the time about her son’s behavior—when he’s not doing anything wrong. People complain that he acts “too gay”. And total strangers come up and make suggestions about what she and her husband to do to make their son more manly. I can’t believe people just come up and make rude comments like that.

Her son is a little bit eccentric, but a very verbal and bright little kid who is 7 now. His “gay” behavior is that he is very neat and tidy and doesn’t like getting dirty. He has amazing manners and is well beyond his years in his conversational skills. He’s like a mini Niles Crane. I think he’s too young to have a sexual orientation—and there’s no reason at all he should be discouraged from being himself. His parents didn’t force him to be that way—he has been that way since he was less than two—I remember.

I found it heartbreaking to think that there were people offering up advice about how to make her son more butch. I also cringed thinking that he’s old enough now to hear and understand what these “well meaning” people were saying to his parents. What a load of junk!

Anyway, I was talking to my friend about this thread and I assumed that she would be all gung ho about telling parents with monster children to man up and parent their kids. But she brought this aspect of the question up and it made me think.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

The scenario that comes to mind to me is when my daughter took a tray of cupcakes to a friend’s baby shower, and another guest’s little 5-year-old girl proceeded to take cupcakes, one at a time, lick all the frosting off, and throw it in the garbage. After about the 5th one, my daughter said something to the mom, and the mom totally blew it off and let the girl continue to destroy all the cupcakes. I think if it was me, I would have stepped in and told the kid “no more” and put the cupcakes out of her reach, but then that’s me – the perpetual Mom.

MissAusten's avatar

@keobooks I think those are the same people who think it’s acceptable to question a total stranger about her diet, weight gain, heart burn, and other personal details simply because she is visibly pregnant. That kind of thing drove me crazy when I was pregnant!

I used to be friends on Facebook with someone I “knew” through a forum for artists which my husband runs. I quite often post ridiculous stories about things my kids say and do on Facebook, and this person would send me private messages advising me to be very strict, spank my kids when they deserve it, and not make the mistake of being their “friend.” All this because I’d share a hilarious mispronunciation or other “kid moment.” I tried politely asking him to mind his business, but after a while he’d send another message telling me I should spank my kids. WTF?

So you see, clearly not ALL of the world’s assholes are the parents of young children. ;)

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