You know how we try not to judge people? I’m terrible at that. Really terrible. But it’s mostly because other people are terrible parents.

Tonight we were at a law school party, thrown by the wives’ club. The Bwun was having a great time running around with other kids. He was across the room from me when I saw a little girl (probably a year or two older than him) walk up and push him over. It was absolutely intentional and unprovoked. Behind me I heard the girl’s mom say, “No, no. That’s not nice.” And that was the end of it.

I know I tend to keep a very close eye on the Bwun, and it’s probably too involved. But I think there’s something to be said for paying attention to what he does and actually responding. If the Bwun pushed someone over – or pushed them at all – and I saw it, he’d go straight into time out, regardless of where we were. Otherwise it would just seem like he can get away with bad behavior as long as there are a lot of other kids around, and as long as I was busy socializing.

I do enjoy getting to spend time with other grownups. But when I have my kids with me, they take priority. I don’t necessarily enjoy that part – it would be nice to not be a mom every single minute. That’s what I am, though. Being a bad parent is easy. Being a good parent is exhausting. I may be exhausted…but I prefer that to letting the Bwun bully other kids. (He’s too little to be much of a threat, anyway.)


8 Comments on “Parenting”

  1. Deborah Simonds says:


    Remind me to tell you what happened at the mall play area this past week.

  2. Kim says:

    I do know what you’re saying, so I hate to play devil’s advocate, but I just wanted to point out a different viewpoint. There are some parenting philosophies that encourage allowing children to work through their conflicts and disagreements as best they can, and only step in to facilitate when absolutely necessary. The logic being that there isn’t always an adult around and children only learn to develop their own problem solving skills through experience. It’s thought that removing a child to time-out removes the opportunity for learning through the process of conflict resolution and punishes the child without working through the social consequences. That being said, if a child is an obvious danger or continues to harm another child unprovoked then stepping in is definitely necessary, but there are some schools of thought that do suggest taking a more backseat approach and seeing how things develop and providing the tools to cope with the situation when necessary. Situations where kids take each other’s toys come to mind as examples of this as well. Anyway, not saying I don’t totally see where you’re coming from (and how heartbreaking it is to see your child hurt), but just pointing out that there are other schools of thought on time-outs and discipline…

  3. KHL says:

    Sorry, but children do not “learn to develop their own problem solving skills through experience.” It’s a nice idea, but it is a fairy-tale type of idea. Parents who use a sit-back-and-watch approach and only intervene when a real danger of physical harm is present are not responsible parents. A parent is responsible for guidance. And they cannot guide passively from across the room. Young children need a parent who will intervene immediately because that is the only way they can connect the behavior, the situation, and the intervention. The intervention needn’t be harsh or even punitive. Talking to one’s child is intervention. But it does need to happen in order to allow the child to learn a better way.

  4. mika says:

    I’m pretty sure that Lord of the Flies is an example of “learning through the process of conflict resolution” and “working through the social consequences.” Society has rules, both legal and normative; we don’t always allow grownups to work out their differences without intervention. If a little kid takes another’s toy, what happens? Have you ever been around kids who take toys? There’s a lot of shouting, hitting, and crying. It seems like it would be a lot easier to just teach your kid not to take toys away from other kids. I think your assumption is that in this case, the taker would learn that it makes the other kid feel bad to have his toy taken away. But two- and three-year-olds don’t understand empathy that way!

  5. Kim says:

    You’re correct that two and three olds aren’t at a developmental stage to understand empathy, I think what I meant about the toy thing was from the opposite perspective though. Even if you teach your child not to take toys, they will inevitably be around a child who will do it to them. You can however teach even a two or three year old child to respond to this type of conflict not with hitting, biting, or crying, but with using their words and offering up alternatives. Rather than running in to intervene if your child’s toy is taken/takes a toy, the child may be able to say things like ‘it was my turn with this toy’ , ‘it’s not nice to take toys’, or ‘you can play with this book until I’m done with the truck’. Basically, letting the child come up with strategies to resolve the conflict rather than having an adult swoop in and resolve it for them. The adult would be more of a facilitator. Obviously these strategies would have been developed in conjunction with an adult’s guidance, but allowing the child to use them independently when the situation emerges. It’s not quite empathy, but it is an attempt at reasoning with the other child. Obviously, the older the child, the better reasoned, but you get the idea.

  6. Stephanie says:

    I think if you are going to teach them how to deal with a situation like that then the first few times you may have to intervene so your child knows what to do in the situation. A three year old is not going to understand if you give him a hypothetical situation about toy taking and how to deal with it. At that age it has to happen for them to understand. But really I think the post was not on how a child should react to a bully but about how the parents of the bully responded and why they haven’t taken the time to teach their children how to behave when around others. Plus this wasn’t a conflict or disagreement it was blatant bullying. Perhaps taking them out of the situation to speak to them about the bullying and then having them apologize would be a good way to teach them not to do such things. If you then decided that they still needed a time out so be it. That would be a parents decision. I think what happened in this situation is that the Bwun was pushed down and did not fight back so there weren’t any social consequences for the bully. All the bully learned was that they could push some little kid around and mom did not really care.

  7. Jaime says:

    One of the most enlightening moments for me as a teacher is to meet the parent at Parent-Teacher Conferences. Most of the time, the thought that comes to my mind when meeting a parent for the first time is, “Aahhhh…..THAT’s where little Billy gets it from!” Of course, there are exceptions to every rule; but for the most part, children and teenagers who have a pattern of misbehavior, bullying, and poor grades have parents who take a more hands-off approach to parenting. You’d be surprised how these kids treat their peers, their parents, and other adults, and how the parents do nothing but bleat, “Now, that wasn’t nice,” or “Don’t do that,” or “Don’t do that again!.” Parents these days are afraid to discipline their children for fear of damaging their delicate self-esteem or their children not liking their parents. As a result, little kids grow into big kids who have problems with bullying and unacceptable (or irresponsible) behavior, and the poor parents cry to the child’s teacher, “I just DON’T KNOW what happened to our Billy! He’s such a sweet, compassionate boy! I don’t know why he behaves this way!” I’ll tell you why, lady: because the child never learned:
    1. There are rules and expectations both in the home and in the “real world.”
    2. “Because I’m the parent, that’s why.”
    3. For every action, there is a positive or negative consequence…and there’s nothing you can do to change those consequences.
    4. Respect. Respect for their parents, respect for others, respect for other adults, respect for other people’s property, respect for other people’s feelings.

    Okay, I think my rant is over. I just felt like I had to say something because I see the result of weak, ineffective parenting every day in my job, and it causes problems for the child, the parents, and everyone who has to work with that child. Love your child enough to discipline him. Love him enough to give him the correction he needs, in a way he will understand at his level. He will thank you for it one day.

  8. mika says:

    I appreciate everyone’s input. I still maintain that you need to be involved with teaching your kid how to interact with other kids when they’re this young. I might add that the little girl pushed another boy a few minutes after she pushed the Bwun; this other boy pushed her back and she fell down, and her mom went over, comforted her, and gave her a cookie. I think this goes well with what Jaime said, that a lot of parents don’t want to discipline their children because it’s “mean.” Furthermore, I’ll say again that I truly believe many parents are simply too lazy to effectively discipline their children. To repeat: being a bad parent is easy. Being a good parent is exhausting.

Be opinionated! We certainly are.

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