Who's the parent?

The other day we were at a get together at a friends house. There were a few different couples, a couple babies, and our kids. They also live in the apartment complex that we do so space was tight at best. We had previously gone to dinner that evening and it was getting close to the kids' bedtime. Needless to say they were a little restless and starting to have a few melt downs. One of our friends was sitting on the floor and playing around with the kids. For about the 5th time that night Emily took a toy away from Palmer that he wasn't really playing with and they both erupted in whining and fights. Typical late night behavior that is not stellar but not that big of deal either. Much to my surprise though the friend that was sitting on the floor proceeded to "get after" both Emily and Palmer in a very stern tone. He wasn't mean or inappropriate but he was definitely "parenting" them by pulling them apart and sternly telling them that their behavior was unacceptable and would not be tolerated. I could tell from the look on both of my kids' faces that they were as shocked by this response as I was. Again our friend was not doing anything that either Bret or I had not done before or probably would have done had we been given the opportunity.

This type of situation as happened before with other friends in this group as well. Bret and I's personal rule of thumb is parent our own children and let other's worry about theirs. The one exception is if the the behavior of the child is putting them self or someone/thing at risk of harm. If someone is hitting/biting/scratching someone else or if they were climbing up on top of a table and trying to jump off or something along these lines we would probably encourage the child to stop. If the parent was standing right there we would give them a chance to respond first. I also think it is different if you are the adult in charge. Obviously if you are watching the child or if they are at your house on a play date this is different.

I'm not upset...or least not really upset. It just rubbed me the wrong way. The friends in this group all have much younger children and I can't help but wonder if their opinions/actions on this issue will change as their children get older. I can't imagine any of them liking someone else disciplining their children.

The other thing that is weird about my feelings on this issue is that I think it's different if it's someone you are really close to. For example family. I have watched grandparents and aunts/uncles get after the kids and it didn't rub me at all. The kids listen to them and it's never a big deal. I have a few really close friends that I think I would be fine with also. I don't know the whole thing leaves this funny taste in my mouth. I'm curious as to what you all think. Would you discipline your friends' kids if they were fighting or whining? How would you feel if someone did this to your kid right in front of you?

1 comment:

Darci said...

I think i've probably been the person who scolded other peoples' kids before without even thinking about it...just assuming that the parents didn't notice. oops =)