I have had one of the worst migraines I’ve had in a long time over the past few days. It started just before the stomach flu I had. So I spent almost 48 hours inside my house while the weather was glorious and sunny outside.
But enough was enough. Other than an hour I spent out at the dentist, I had to get out of the confines of home, and I had to get my son away from all electronic gizmos and gadgets we have here.
We went to the zoo today for about 90 min. We have a membership so we can go and come as we please. I’s only a 15 min drive from the house, so it’s perfect for those days like this when we just need to stretch our legs and yet see exciting and interesting things. Plus, animals.
During those 90 min, we witnessed three (3) mothers screaming and spanking their children in public, for things that, in my opinion, didn't warrant the spanking. Two of those incidents didn't really warrant the screaming, either, though I understand how that can happen, and have been guilty of screaming at people, not just my kid, in public many times when they didn’t deserve it, because I was simply at my wits end and lost all hold on my patience.
My son stopped to stare at all three incidents when they were happening, and as much as I tried to guide him away, he was rooted to the spot. After the first incident, he said, "[boy's name that mother screamed out] must've done something really bad.”
(Side note: my son hears a name once, he will call the person by that name. If you call your buddy, “Hey, Butthead!” that will be your buddy’s name even after he tells him his real name. That’s how my son’s mind works.)
This was my answer to him:
“Every child is different. Every parent is different. Every family is different. When you see a parent yelling at a kid, you have to mind your own business. You may not think it was something so bad that the kid deserved to be yelled at, but that isn’t your call to make. Unless you see a parent punching a child in public, you just walk away, okay?”
I repeated that statement the other two times when we saw mothers screeching and smacking their kids behinds and arms, and my son stopped to stare. He didn’t say anything the other two times, and I don’t know what he was thinking. But he just nodded and said, “Okay.” in that ‘well, I’m gonna do what you say but I don’t like it.” tone of voice.
So here are my questions to you, Internet. And when I say “you”, I don’t just mean parents. Because everyone, parent or not, has probably seen a public scenario where it looks like a parent is losing it on a child, and may have even witnessed those parents carrying out a form of corporal punishment.
- How do you answer a kid who sees another parent punishing their child using physical means in public?
- How do you react when you see a parent punishing their child with physical means in public?
- Would you ever step in in a situation with parents and kids? Would you do nothing at the time and call 911 or Children’s Aid later?
- What is your opinion on how I handled the situation? Let’s keep some things in mind: (i) I have never hit my child in public (I have spanked him at home once and I’m not proud of it; this was before he was six years old, and it was one swift swat), even when he has hit me (which he has done several times and how he reacts in red anger because of his ASD); and (ii) I have had a screaming match with my child in public (more than one but fewer than five), and nobody has ever interfered when it was happening.
I am looking for answers here. I am at a loss. It was much easier to explain why the turtles were climbing on each other’s backs than why a mom hits her kid and we say nothing about it when he has been told all of his life that hitting someone is wrong.
So here’s your chance. I will not judge anyone’s opinion, even if you call me a bad parent or a bad citizen. And I hope nobody will judge yours if you are courageous enough to speak your mind.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But at what point should we stop overlooking the imperfection and try to reason with them, or interfere?