Friday, November 20, 2009

Philosophical Question

If you saw a parent who was struggling with or trying to discipline their child what would you do? What situations would lead you to help or intercede? What situations would you ignore? Or would you gawk (don't lie)?

Here is where this question comes from:
Today we had a 'discipline incident' which involved Jack basically loosing his bananas in the front yard (while strapped in the stroller) and it continued as we went inside. He wanted to get down and play, but we had other things to do. As I turn to go put the stroller back in the car (at this point Jack is still inconsolable) I see my next door neighbor who I don't know very well at all opening my front door holding a toy for Jack.
Two things go through my mind simultaneously 1. is she really opening my front door? and 2. I don't want him to get a 'present' right now because the last thing I want is to reinforce this behavior. So as I meet her on my threshold I say "Now is not a good time." and she tries to insists and I repeat "Seriously, now is NOT a good time!"

So what do you think?


Brenna said...

Unless the parent is actively beating the child, I leave well enough alone.
Some people think they're helping....ah well.

Kate said...

In that situation (child safe, parent didn't seem to want help) I would have left well enough alone.

However, sometimes parents seem to be looking around for someone to help them, particularly if they have more than one child with them and in that case I might step up and ask if they needed help. Also if a parent is distracted by a misbehaving child and their other child looks like they may be about to get into a dangerous situation. That's about it unless the parent is being abusive to the child or it's an older, larger child who is being abusive to the parent. I wouldn't necessarily advise that for everyone but for my old job I had a fair amount of training on safely restraining children and adults who were out of control and a danger to themselves or others.

Is your neighbor an idiot because seriously, giving a present to a tantruming child is so not a good idea and anyone should realize that.

Emily said...

I definitely think my neighbor was trying to help... she always seems super nice. But I would never help someone that I did't know well, because I would never presume that what I thought was helping would actually be helping. So yeah, it made me really uncomfortable that she felt that I needed help.

emk said...

I first read this last night and was just signing in now to leave a comment when I saw the one you added. I also think it sounds like she was just trying to help. I'm sure that there was SO much stress in the moment for you and her actions were likely what she could think of in a pinch to try to make it better. (Her actions weren't informed by thoughtful post-incident reflection time like you've had.) Regardless of whether that's what you would have decided to do in the moment, caring and helpful neighbors can be hard to come by and I hope you can just focus on the fact that she meant well!

melaniet42 said...

Wow. Sounds to me like the neighbor is butting in. Good intentions aside, if the parent says that it's not a good time, don't push it. It's rude to step in and try to "parent" someone else's child when the actual parent is on site and handling it.

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on whether it's "struggling with" or "disciplining" their child. In a situation where the parent is struggling, I'd be inclined to ASK if I can help (because God knows, we've all been there), but I would only help if the offer was accepted. In the discipling situation, I'd stay out of it. Where Jack was in his home, I'd have asked YOU, can I help. Gigi