I took my kids to a field trip this morning. Afterward, they wanted to stay and play on the playground with the other kids. So I hung out with the other parents, sneaking periodic peaks at my kids to make sure they were okay.
At some point, a couple of women somewhat older than our group showed up with their grandkids. Everything seemed fine, until one of the women came storming over saying that one of the “big boys” had thrown a plastic chair and it nearly hit her grandson. It wouldn’t have been hard to deal with it, except that she came over and accused the entire group of not properly supervising our children. She claimed that she had “repeatedly” spoken to the kids and asked them to play in a less “rough” way, but that it was finally “out of control” and we needed to do something.
I asked the woman why she ahdn’t come to tell us that there was a problem sooner, and she said that it didn’t matter, we should have been watching the kids. From where we were (about 10 feet away from the kids), we didn’t see anything inappropriate going on. It seemed to come from nowhere that we were put on the defensive.
My question is this: Why do perfect strangers feel that they have any business telling my kids (or anyone else’s but their own) what constitutes appropriate behavior (aside from outright aggression)? I certainly approve of someone telling my kids to stop if they’re hitting/kicking/biting or otherwise displaying intentionally mean behavior. Otherwise, I prefer that people let ME know that my kids are doing something they don’t like.
I guess the reason this gets my dander up is that I think people have very strange views these days about what is or is not age-appropriate behavior, and they feel free to tell people they don’t know how to parent their children. Sorry, but I don’t need that kind of help. When I want advice from a complete stranger, I’ll ask for it.
As a result of today’s experience, I have now instructed my kids to let me know if an adult they don’t know has told them what to do or not do. It’s a completely different story if they know the other adult–my kids are instructed to listen to their friend’s parents or other trusted adults. I have no problem with other adults giving behavioral correction to my kids; I just expect strangers to alert me, not directly speak to my children.