Don't Judge My Parenting, Don't Parent for Me

Kids are just people, they make mistakes and in the same way that you shouldn't shout at an adult for being a bit clumsy or making an honest mistake nor should you a child. Cut them and us a little slack, OK? We're trying our best.
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I came home from the school run this morning and I had a little cry.

An unpleasant encounter on the school run made me lose my composure, made my son cry and left me feeling sad. The reason? My 4-year-old son accidentally, and without an ounce of malice, ran into another school mum whilst riding his scooter as we made our way into school.

Now, I'm not saying he's perfect. I have told him to be more careful. Perhaps he shouldn't have ridden so close. But, then again, he's 4 and he makes mistakes. We all do. Isn't that a crucial part of how we learn?

He was not more than a few yards in front of me in pedestrianized area, and no I didn't see the precise moment of impact. I was talking to his friend's mum (shock, horror, oh the neglect!) whose son, incidentally, was riding his scooter just beside Noah. After the bump, Noah came running back towards me with tears in his eyes. I asked him to explain what had happened, I'd only caught a glimpse, but before he'd had the chance to reply the mother in question swung round angrily, shouting at Noah before shouting at me.

Shouting that "I should watch my children."

In a matter of seconds she had shouted at my son, who I think you'll find that if anyone's going to be telling my son off it'll be me thanks very much, and had also thrown my parenting skills into question in a needlessly aggressive manner.

And the effect this had?

Not the desired one.

Perhaps if she had waited for me to establish what had happened calmly, before flying off the handle, I could have asked Noah to apologize calmly and make amends. Somehow I don't think he would have felt brave enough to approach this strange lady who'd shouted at him on his way to school when he was already feeling upset and worried that he'd hurt her.

Perhaps too I could have done a better job of holding my composure.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Let's rephrase that, hell hath no fury like a mother whose parenting has been called into question and whose child has just been shouted at by a complete stranger.

So in a situation that could have been so easily rectified by a more civil response, one that allowed me to parent without jumping the gun, resulted in a brief yet unpleasant exchange of words. An exchange that left my son in tears and me feeling wretched. I doubt the woman in question felt over the moon about it all either.

So what am I trying to say here? Am I just trying to get what happened off my chest? Maybe. I have a terrible habit of going over things I'm unhappy about again and again, and I thought writing it down might help.

Though I do think there's something more to say here.

There's an unspoken parenting rule, though not everyone agrees, but you really ought to leave the parenting to the parents. Now I'm not talking about nans and grans, uncles and aunts. I'm talking about Joe Bloggs on the street. Shouting at other people's children is just not cool. Not cool at all, OK.

And I'm not saying you can't voice your opinion, that you can't bring unwanted behavior to the attention of a child's parent. And I'm not saying that you shouldn't tell a child not to run into a street, for example, there are times you may need to tell a child not to do something for their safety.

What I am saying is that where you're in a situation where the parents are present and something needs to be said, you should leave that to the parents. We all parent in different ways. There are shouty parents (yep, sometimes that's me), relaxed parents, strict parents, hippy parents, attachment parents, the list goes on. How each parent chooses to parent their child is their choice and you have no place to step in and override that.

And just one more thing to think about here.

If Noah were an adult who had accidentally knocked into you, would you shout at him or ask if he was OK? Would you shout at his wife or husband? Would you go out of your way to make him feel afraid?

If you answered yes to that question, I'm a little worried for you. Kids are just people, they make mistakes and in the same way that you shouldn't shout at an adult for being a bit clumsy or making an honest mistake nor should you a child.

Cut them and us a little slack, OK? We're trying our best.

Now I'm off to have a cuppa, the solution to an Englishman's problem. It's a shame Noah doesn't drink tea too.

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