Cultivate Theme

Have you ever been in a situation where a stranger took it upon herself
to either instruct your kid or blatantly scold them in front of you?
It’s uncomfortable and complicated indeed- on so many levels. First,
if your ego doesn’t completely overtake you and send you on a rampage
to tell that person where they can “stick” their unsolicited advice, you
may feel inadequate as a parent. Why didn’t I address that issue with my kid first? Secondly, perhaps that other person is a friend, co-worker, acquaintance or other parent and has something valuable to offer- something you hadn’t thought of. Lastly, how is this total disregard for your status interpreted by your child?

Of course, when one takes it upon himself to discipline your kid in your
absence that’s one thing; when it is done in your presence- that's
another story.

Let’s address the first scenario- in your absence. Granted, if neither parent is available, the supervising adult has
the right to “gracefully” reprimand depending upon the circumstances.
It’s best to have this “who’s in charge” thing all figured out ahead of
time. When I send my kids to friends’ homes, I tell the caregiver to
“feel free” to reproach my kid as they see fit. Now, that doesn’t mean
that person could mentally abuse or take full advantage of my child by
sending them into 30 minute time-outs. To avoid this, before I send my
kid anywhere, I know the person well enough to assume this will not
happen. Yet, in the end, we are at the mercy of the unknown.

Second scenario- in your presence. Now this is a biggie and certainly many of you can relate as nosey
neighbors, moody cashiers, stressed-out servers and self- righteous
repairmen who are all more than willing to butt-in and flat-out scold
your kid at their own discretion. Some are sincere and believe they
are helping to better a situation and actually teach something. Others
are… well, let’s just say, busy-bodies who are more concerned about
being sued over your “happy boy with the new running shoes
slipping and falling on their property. Personally, this is the one
that irks me the most, especially when this obvious intention is poorly masked as genuine interest in your kid’s well-being.

Depending on from whom it comes and the particular situation, I seek to act
accordingly. I’m not omnipotent and with five kids under my care,
sometimes I’m remiss about addressing an important issue on the spot. I
simply haven’t enough eyes or ears to catch it all. If the person is
graceful and kind in their approach, I will thank them for their concern
and address the problem again, with my kid, my way. If the person is
overly neurotic, (I encounter this all the time with all the “retirees”
residing in my development,) or outright nasty and scares my kid, I will
politely, yet firmly state that as the parent, it is my
responsibility to instruct my child. Sometimes it’s necessary to tell
the nothing-better-to-do-with-their-time outsider to for example, let
the (bickering) kids work it out by learning some good negotiation
skills that’ll serve them well later in life.

Later, I try to always address what happened with my child so she will learn to respect
adults and authority from wherever it may come and also, why sometimes
the aforementioned must be totally negated!

What do you think? How do you handle it when an outsider interferes and admonishes your kid in your presence?

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