Laura Mazza gets that kids have all kinds of personalities. Some are sweet through and through. Others (cross your fingers it's not your kid) can be demanding or aggressive when sharing a space with other children. But if that kid is misbehaving or harming her child, the mom of two is making it clear that she will have no problem stepping in and reprimanding the stranger's kid.
The Australian mom and blogger sees that her view can seem sanctimonious, but she was so alarmed by what happened at a play center last week that she had to speak up.
Mazza writes in her "Mum on the Run" Facebook page that she tends to be "helicopterish" when her kids are in play areas to make sure they're safe and play nicely. She's not about preventing her kids from socializing with others but knows that she's responsible for her own child and her own child's actions.
"If my son snatches, I correct him. If my daughter smacks, I correct her. If my kids are a--holes, I step in. This behavior is not OK at any age," she writes.
But sometimes the misbehaving child isn't hers but someone else's. At the play center, Mazza saw two 5-year-olds ram a mini driveable car into her daughter and, instead of apologizing, the kids laughed when she fell over. Mazza wasn't having any of it and told the kids, "Hey, that's not nice. Please stop."
Soon after, the mom watched two kids push and smack her son as he was trying to go down a slide and once again found herself saying, "That's not nice—stop!" (She later notes that she said it in a low, non-threatening tone.)
I'm gonna be a real sanctimummy here, and possibly an unpopular opinion... but I needa get this off my chest. Kids will be kids. Kids are snotty, they're possessive, they're demanding, they're...
"I've never liked to tell a stranger's kid off, but if you're gonna pretend you can't see it because you wanna sit and chat, then I'm gonna tell your child off," Mazza writes. She says she's just as lonely, tired and sleep-deprived but she's also "not in the business of raising a--holes."
If you're gonna pretend you can't see (misbehavior) because you wanna sit and chat, then I'm gonna tell your child off.
Really, it all comes down to understanding that being a parent really does take a village. If she sees a kid climbing on top of a jungle gym and is about to come falling down, she'll catch him (which also happened that day). And if other parents see her children cross boundaries, she hopes they'll tell her kids off, too, or let her know about it. Speaking up comes from a place of respect, not judgment.
"This is the sense of a community. Mothers, if we don't have each other's backs like this, then how can it be a smooth experience for all? This is a village, and it only works if we all do our part. That way we can all have a good time," Mazza writes.
Because we’re always parenting our children, it takes real effort to look at our discipline strategies objectively. Good intentions can become less-than-effective habits quickly, and that can leave us operating blindly, disciplining in ways we might not if we thought much about it. Here are some parenting mistakes made by even the best-intentioned, most well-informed moms, along with practical suggestions that might come in handy the next time you find yourself in one of these situations.