A few weeks ago, I witnessed an incident that disturbed me greatly; I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I had just finished teaching music classes at the recreation center, and I was having a snack in my classroom before packing up to leave. Within a few minutes, I heard the booming voice of an angry man echoing through the lobby, followed by a child crying.
Hearing a child having a public tantrum, and even listening to a stern adult reprimand said child isn’t exactly a novel event at a family community center. But the intensity of this one made me venture out in the hallway to be a discreet voyeur. I saw a little boy running around the seating area, and a man who appeared to be his grandpa shouting angrily at him. His anger appeared to be out of proportion with what the child was doing, and I looked around me to see how the other patrons felt about it. Everyone in the lobby, including the women at the reception desk, were as wide-eyed as I was.
“You’re BAD!” the man yelled as the child wailed on. He continued to berate him and several more times added, “That’s what you get for being BAD!” I felt like I had witnessed something violent.
I caught a woman’s eye and she shook her head. The man, his wife, and the crying child got in the elevator. My heart pounding, I went to the front desk to talk with the staff, who informed me that this family were regular patrons of the recreation center. We heard them get off the elevator on the ground floor, and the man was still hollering. “Oh, you want to wear your boots,” he taunted the child. “Come on, think about it- you don’t wear boots in the pool!” The contempt in his voice chilled my blood, and the volume of the exchange left all of the parents and grandparents sitting in the lounge area looking uncomfortable.
The first thought I had was, Somebody should call this child’s parents. They should know how the grandfather is treating their child when he’s caring for him.
And then, to my great surprise, the father stepped into view. He was there with the child, witnessing this verbal assault, and doing nothing to intervene.
“Obviously this is how he was parented himself,” the receptionist remarked sadly.
I felt enraged, and helpless. Shouldn’t someone do something? Should I do something?
In the end, I waited until the family moved into the locker room, their voices having quieted. I wasn’t the only one who was conflicted. I talked with several other adults, two grandmothers, who both said, “I wish I would’ve said something. I just wish I knew what to say.” I felt the same way- I had wanted so badly to speak up.
What I really wanted to scream out loud was, “Hey, you- angry grandpa! Leave him alone! He’s just a toddler and you are damaging him!”
• Hand the grandfather a brochure for Non-Violent Parenting or Love and Logic, or perhaps even a quote: “It is easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult….choose your words wisely” or maybe, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.
• Tell him, “People are staring at you, and it’s not because we think your grandson is out of line. It’s because you, sir, are a bully.”
• Give him $5 for his grandson’s future therapy fund. Kids who internalize that they are “bad” end up in therapy, if they’re lucky.
• Distribute the business card of a local parenting coach and say, “Toddlers are so frustrating, aren’t they? There’s a better way to handle them than yelling and name-calling. Here’s some more information. “
But in the end I said nothing. The first voice I heard in my head was my husband’s, reminding me not only was I at my place of employment, but confronting an angry stranger wasn’t a good idea.
I told myself he was right.
• Who knows how the man might have reacted, if he was so volatile to his own family?
• What if he had a medical condition or dementia, and I was just meddling?
• Is it really any of my business how another family chooses to raise their children or grandchildren?
• What if I got in trouble with my employers?
I convinced myself that walking away was the right thing to do, but part of me regretted it. Is it not our responsibility to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves? If this man had been treating his wife as cruelly, surely another patron would have intervened; aren’t children more vulnerable and in need of more assistance than adults?
Clearly this man was a product of “old school parenting,” a practice some modern parents are still in favor of. “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” “Children should be seen and not heard.” But one advantage we as “modern parents” have is more research, education, and resources. Verbally abusing, intimidating, humiliating, and name-calling are no longer considered effective parenting techniques.
Many people I spoke with after this incident told me that nothing I could’ve said would’ve changed this man’s mind. In other words, he was a lost cause. So, after a certain age, we apparently dismiss individuals of being capable of change. Your racist father-in-law, maybe, or your grandmother who makes offensive remarks about your lesbian cousin- these people are clearly incapable of changing their ways, so what’s the point of even trying?
What would you have done? Is it our obligation to educate adults whose cruelty may be damaging their children? Or do we stick with the popular MYOB policy that characterized the old school parenting era? When is it our business to intervene?
This post is part of Finish the Sentence Friday.
This week’s sentence was, “What I really want to scream out loud is…” suggested and co-hosted by Tarana of Sand in My Toes
Next week’s sentence is: “My favorite decade is..”
Janine at Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
Kristi at Finding Ninee
Kate at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine?
Link up with us below, and share your favorite posts with #FTSF!
Sadly, I think you wouldn’t have been able to change this man’s mind either and sounds like he has been this way for a long time from all you did share here. You are right though that doesn’t make it any better or right, but I guess just is what it is. Not sure what I would have done, but probably similar to you and not wanted to make more of a scene. Seriously, conflicted though just reading this and definitely not a clear cut reaction to something like this.
I know- it really leaves you feeling conflicted, doesn’t it?
Okay, it is my bed time and I am all spun up after reading this! This is when you wish your loud mouth friend was there and could get into with him so you can live vicariously through them. I ask myself in these situations ‘What would Samantha Jones (a la SATC) do?’. I need to have her balls for these types of things, but unfortunately I only have maybe the balls of Richard Simmons. I hope that poor little kid has someone in his life who treats him with some respect. Sometimes I wonder if my daughter will have a gigantic ego because my parents fawn all over her and she can do no wrong, but then I think everyone needs someone who thinks that about them. I hope that little boy has someone to negate some of that negativity.
I am laughing in spite of myself. The balls of Richard Simmons- ha! And yes, channeling one’s inner Samantha is a great idea! I have a close friend who once confronted a restaurant owner who was berating one of his waitresses when he thought nobody was still in the building. She ripped him a new one- I stood there trembling in fear but trying to silently convey my indignation and support. She is my hero. Such a Samantha. 🙂 And yeah- doesn’t this just rile you up???
I kind of agree with you (and Janine) that your words would have done nothing but enrage him further. It’s horribly sad, but I’m not sure there is anything you could have done. 🙁 🙁 🙁
I know. I wanted to throw something at his head, though. Hey, maybe that’s what I’ll do next time. :p
Stephanie, this reminds me of a situation we happened upon in Mesa Verde National Park last summer. A father was berating a daughter who was probably 12. We heard it going into the visitor’s center. In the restroom I found the girl sobbing to an unsympathetic mother. We kept running into them for the next hour….the father was always yelling at the daughter. The mother and other child were ignoring the situation.
Finally my husband could take it no longer and approached the family, calmly asking the man why he was being so rough on his daughter. Both parents proceeded to tell him how “out of control” she was, how she never did what they said, etc. Michael suggested that there might be other ways of addressing this, that berating a child in public was extremely demeaning. I found it so odd that both parents were actually talking calmly about this, as if adults deserve to be treated politely but children don’t. Finally the mother suggested that this really wasn’t any of our business….and Michael agreed.
I have no idea whether the situation got better or worse after everyone left for home. I was saddened because, even if they think twice about publicly degrading the daughter next time, her home life must’ve been hell. And…..her teen years were just beginning.
Would’ve I had the guts to do the same thing as my husband? No.
Wow, I have the utmost respect for Michael for his actions- he is a brave, self-assured man. I love your observation about the adults speaking calmly, as though only other adults should be treated with respect. It’s interesting how these random encounters can linger with us for years, isn’t it?
Oh man, this is such a hard and tragic thing to witness. And the fact that so many children are abused in so many ways is absolutely heart-wrenching. I probably would have done the same as you. I would have wanted to, but been at a loss as far as what, and gone back and forth. I wonder if he is always like that at the center.
When I was going to the Y there was a woman in the family locker room with her daughter one day. The daughter was verbally abusing and attacking the mom, throwing a real fit (I had actually seen them one time before and the daughter through a major fit then over having the wrong hair clip and the mom handled it really well). I think the girl was about six. She was either spoiled completely rotten or there were some issue – I’m thinking there were some issues. Anyway, the mom lost it and started screaming, and I mean SCREAMING, in the crowded locker room, and crying. But she wasn’t saying mean things to her daughter, she was screaming, “Why are you doing this to me??!” And the daughter continued to berate her and they fought like two peers. She was around the corner from me so I couldn’t see her, but everyone in the locker room was frozen. Nobody knew what to do. Do we pretend like this isn’t happening, do we hug her? I think eventually someone went and helped her, but I can’t remember exactly. It was really disturbing.
Oh, man, that is really disturbing. I think the majority of people are just too uncomfortable to get involved, unless it crosses the line into something physical. That makes me sad.
We had an incident like this in a Burger King once. We pulled into the parking lot just before a man and his two small children. As we were walking in, he got out of his car, removed a girl from the car, plopped her forcibly down on the back of the car and yelled at her for some time while wagging his finger in her face.
They came in after us and sat near us. He was harsh to both of them the entire time. My son was fairly small at the time, and he just sat completely still, quietly eating and listening to this man tell his kids how bad they were and how they weren’t going to get this or that at home. We didn’t talk through the meal–I just watched my husband as he visibly restrained himself from getting involved. After we left, my husband talked about it for days, debating back and forth on whether he should have said anything. 🙁
Ugh- it seems many of us have these types of experiences, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks about them for days and days after, second-guessing my lack of action. :/
Sometimes, the elderly are just so set in their ways. I think engaging with him would have turned it into a bigger scene and you would have ended up the “Bad Guy”!
Sucks, but such is life.
I am also grateful that my children have a loving a non-angry grandpa!
Cheers to non-angry grandparents! 🙂
I’m thinking directly confronting an angry person is a bad idea. When I see something like this happen, I usually don’t do anything. If I can, I will try to diffuse the situation, by distracting the adult somehow, but that doesn’t happen often.
Regardless, I feel sad for days and pray for them all many, many times.
I agree- it’s a bad idea. But, oh the helplessness at watching something like that and doing nothing!!! :/
Sadly, this the kind of situation we witness more often than we should. It could be in the form of yelling, hitting or ignoring a child, but it really disturbs me for a long time afterwards. The problem is that parents are the only ones with authority over their children (except in extreme cases) in our society, and people get really upset if anyone were to intervene. I feel really sorry for these misguided people who are ruining the most beautiful years we have as human beings.
Well said, Tarana. Glad to have you as a co-host this week! 🙂
Unfortunately, there really wasn’t anything you could do that would make that situation better. He might have turned his wrath – verbal and physical – on you and the whole thing could have become so much more tramatic for all involved. If this is a regular thing, you could perhaps put in a call to child services but, if the abuse is purely verbal, proof might be hard to find is witnesses are reluctant to testify.
I agree- I think I ultimately did the right thing by doing nothing, but it still makes me wonder…
Such a difficult and heartbreaking dilemma. I would have probably handled it the exact same way and similar to you would have kept wondering if there was something else to do. Something I could have done differently. I loved the point you make here – If this man had been treating his wife as cruelly, surely another patron would have intervened; aren’t children more vulnerable and in need of more assistance than adults? – So true and I’ve never thought of it that way. I wonder why it is that we’re more hesitant when it comes to children. Maybe we fear the intensity of reaction more, maybe because this is about discipline and that’s more of a grey territory than a grown man being verbally or otherwise violent to a grown woman where clearly there’s no discipline aspect involved or maybe it’s because we fear damaging the child even further by initiating a conflict with their family member. UGH. These situations suck so badly. I might have asked someone in a managerial position at the center to interfere next time and to explain that this kind of behaviour won’t be tolerated any longer.
I know- I’ve tried to prepare myself for all sorts of “future scenarios”, knowing that they are regulars at the rec center. I think asking management to intervene might be the best approach, although my own husband even suggested calling the cops next time. It’s so hard to know what type of behavior counts as crossing the line, isn’t it?
Let’s hope the child’s dad talked to the Grandpa after the fact.
My dad is the Angry Grandpa. He was like that with my siblings and me. He’s like that with my kids (my son actually, my daughter is just about a little angel and never really did much that merited correcting–I still don’t know how she’s mine ;)). I’ve said things to him over the years–and I’ve been very clear: I am the parent now and we’re doing things MY way, if he doesn’t get on board, he’ll have this Mama Bear to deal with.
Well, he was at it again with my nephew a few weeks ago here a my house. My sister was nursing her baby and not able to get up to deal with it. So she looked at me with the “help!” look in her eyes. Off I went again. I stayed calm, but was very firm. He didn’t say anything in response.
The next night at dinner, my nephew was very wiggly and busy which drives my dad crazy. He bit his tongue and didn’t say anything, but did get up and leave the table as soon as he was done eating. So, he heard me this time … but I’m sure we’ll have this same conversation again.
Good for you, Jen. That takes real courage and integrity. xo
Oh what a tough situation. My insides were churning just thinking about that little boy being called “bad.” I don’t know what I would have done either. I hate the idea though, that once people get to a certain age they are incapable of changing their views or behaviors. I really hope that I don’t become ornery and close-minded just because I’ve lived a certain number of years.
I know- it’s a discouraging concept isn’t it? I’m not sure whether I believe it’s true, but it seems like it’s just easier to dismiss people as being a lost cause at some point. Ugh.
I probably would have handled it the same way. So sad for that child. Hopefully it was an isolated incident. Obviously little people can be extremely frustrating sometimes, but we need to find different ways to get them to comply, behave, etc.
Well, there are many more effective ways to get them to behave- name-calling and intimidation are NOT effective parenting tools. Sadly, I bet it wasn’t an isolated incident at all.
oh no, that makes me cry, but I agree that if you had done something it would have only backfired. What if he had gotten angrier and took it out on the toddler? What if he retaliated against you? It breaks my heart, but I pray, pray that God is watching over that child and doing SOMETHING to help them.
I know- all those what if’s sort of paralyze you…
Had you handed him a brochure he’d most likely have ripped it up – right in front of his little lad. The fact that neither dad nor grandmother spoke up is just so telling. This verbal abuse is a constant in this family. So sad.
We had a situation at swimming a few years back. While our kids were doing laps for swim club a dad from the public swimming session that just ended was seen batting his son on the head with his hand. A friend of mine, another mom, got up and went right over to the dad.
“We do not hit our children. Do not hit. If I see you do that again I am calling the police.” The father was livid. But also gobsmacked. The kid looked terrified. Dad grabbed son and hustled him out of there. My friend kept saying “I just had to do something, I just had to do something.” I was so proud of her. Never saw those two again but I do wonder if what she said had an impact.
Wow- that’s incredible. Good for you- I so admire people who are able to do that.
I doubt I would have said anything to the man, either….people who parent that way tend to get irate with others who try to change their minds. I was parented that way, and was able to put my foot down with my mother and stop her from behaving that way toward my children, but that’s much different than approaching it with a stranger.
Yes, it is different than approaching a stranger, and good for you for putting your foot down with your own children!
Such a tough call… I can feel how sick you felt. I know how sick I’d feel. Would I say something, do something? I don’t know… I do know I’d spend days afterwards imaging myself doing something, changing something…
Yes, I had some lovely confrontational fantasies, but if it happened again, I don’t know if I’d do anything differently.
Ugh… my heart breaks reading this- and I feel traumatized just knowing about it. How is it that people still even at their age- with their old school thoughts in ANY WAY think this is okay??!! I am MORE angry about the dad allowing it to happen.
I don’t know if I could have watched it happen without saying something- although I believe you and your hubs are right- nothing would change, and who knows the risk you are putting yourself in.
I admire the people who are brave enough to speak up in those situations- I really do. I want to be one of them. I’m with you- I was so upset at the dad for allowing it.
I agree that the most likely scenario would have been that the man wouldn’t have been receptive to any criticism. And, I wouldn’t have intervened either. However, I do like to think that if someone approached it that he admired, then maybe he would have been more open to change. We do give older people set in their ways a free pass a little too much. I hope and pray the father of that child learns to set boundaries with his parents. You would think if he was parented that way, he would want to protect his own child from it. I witnessed a similar event once in a parking lot, a parent speaking horribly to his child and calling him stupid. I was sick for days about it and wanted to scoop that little kid up and tell him how amazing, and beautiful he was. But, instead, I got in my car and felt like crying all the way home.
Oh, that makes me feel like crying, too. 🙁 You make a great point- maybe we can’t intervene with strangers, but if we were in a trusted position with a friend who respected us, that would be a better time to speak up. Although I worry about damaging certain friendships I have now by voicing my opinion that name-calling or spanking isn’t ok. Ugh, that makes me feel like a coward.
I honestly don’t recall what I said now, but I remember being stopped in my tracks in a store several years ago when I heard a mother – with a venomous tone – scream at her child “You want something to cry about? I’ll give you something to cry about!” I think I flew around the corner intent on getting between her and the kid if she was about to take a swing. I know that didn’t happen, but I did light into her, my own eyes tearing up. I can still hear/see my Dad using that one with his arm pulled up like he was going to backhand me. He didn’t, but as you can see, that tone/threat left quite an impression. Bad enough at home, but to do that in public for a minor offense …
Oh, Chris, that makes me feel sick to my stomach. Good for you for following those protective instincts- you are right- these things DO leave a lasting impression on children.
I have done nothing more than I care to admit. The only time I came close to blowing up at a stranger was one that had almost caused an accident. We were pulling into the same shopping center and I said if she was parking anywhere in vicinity I was going to let her know about her crazy driving. I had Christopher with me too. Really though, what would it have solved? She might have apologized, she might have cursed me out. I hope she drove to another section of the shopping center because it had been a close call and she didn’t want to face me. That was totally off the subject though. In these cases I don’t know when I would speak up.
I remember an Our Land post – can’t put my find on the story but it seems like it was about someone who had spoken up for someone or someone had spoken up for them and it made such a big difference in their life. If anything in speaking up in front of the child, that child would know that behavior was not normal or acceptable. I’ll keep that in mind “next time”.
Thanks for that last paragraph and reference to Our Land- that’s really good advice, actually. I think most of us admit that we are afraid of the “what if”s in these types of situations- what if we inadvertently endanger ourselves? I think that’s human nature.
Gosh. I honestly don’t know what I would do in that situation. You are right, I probably should intervene. But I do not believe I have it in me. I would also worry that I would make the situation worse, that bad grampa would wait until private and then get really pissed. Of course if he is like this in public you have to wonder what they are like behind closed doors.
That’s what scared me- what goes on behind closed doors if that is their public behavior? I also worried that it would be worse on the kid later if someone intervened and embarrassed that asshole, I mean, Grandpa.
NO! NO! NO! NO!
Oh Stephanie I read this with my entire soul squeezed into a small, shivering ball and SCREAMING that this is TERRIBLE.
I’ve seen this before. I’ve witnessed it TO MY FACE, as a FATHER verbally berated and chastened and belittled his 3 year old son into apologising to me for something which wasn’t even the kid’s fault…the dad was just a horrendous, horrendous bully. And I was struck dumb. And all I could do in that instance was reassure the kid. Because HE (the child) should know, if he trusted me, that he DIDN’T have to apologise. That we were cool. That we were friends. And that I cared for him.
I think that’s a great approach, Lizzi- reassure the child- try to get that message to register in their hearts and brains that THEY are ok and that we care. Ugh. So sad.
I know it’s hard. I guess I’d think that maybe this old guy was left keeping the child for the parents and he was just old. He felt physically bad, felt frustrated that his son wasn’t parenting. I’ve recently started working with some high risk teenagers and as hard as it is to think. This child isn’t in a situation never as bad as lots of kids are. But who is to know. It is hard to witness.
You’re right, Jamie- there are kids who survive far worse situations than this. I try to remember that all parents do the best with the knowledge and circumstances they’ve been dealt, but yes, it is hard to witness such cruel parenting in action.
What a terrible situation. I totally understand your desire to DO SOMETHING. I too hate to be just a bystander, it makes me feel somehow complicit in the behavior. But it’s a guessing game as to what you could have done or said to actually make a difference, and like other commenters mentioned, there’s always the possibility of making it worse. Such an awful dilemma. My thoughts and prayers are with that child.
Thanks Katie- it sounds like most of us are in the same boat. 🙁
Yes, it does make you feel complicit in their behavior- excellent point! Thanks for your comment. 🙂
If only his words haunted him the way they have haunted you. In the end saying something probably would not have made a difference, but I would feel the same way you do. I’m starting to think yelling and screaming has become the new spanking. As parents we are our children’s advocates and it’s sad to me that his own father was allowing the grandfather to treat him this way.
I think you’re right- and I am sometimes guilty of shouting or snapping at my kids, but it was the malice in his voice that haunted me the most.
A frustrating situation, no doubt. I find it sad that a grandpa would be so vile and mean. I get frustration since I have 2 toddlers of my own, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to be verbally abusive either. I have to hope that the father said something to the grandpa once they were home and didn’t say anything there for fear of making an even bigger scene.
Oh God, Steph, this makes me so sad. Just thinking about somebody telling my son that he’s bad makes me tear up – having it come from his Grandpa? That poor little boy. Honestly, I do not know what I’d have done. I like to think that I’d have said something but in reality, I would probably have been passive aggressive about it and loudly said to somebody else that I couldn’t believe he was such a jerk. But likely, probably, I’d have said nothing. And then obsessed over whether I should have. And then blogged about it. I’m so sorry that you even had to witness it. It just sucks.
Do you wish you’d have said something now? If he’s there a lot, you may get another chance, right? Although how awful it’d be if he then took that out on the poor kid? Ugh.
Oh Oh my, this is a hard one. On the one hand, we don’t want to meddle, but that poor child… to call him BAD, instead of addressing the behavior, is like parenting no-no #1… I’m not sure what I would have done, but thanks for making me think about it.
Yeah, I’m still not sure if I would do anything differently next time. I really have no idea. :/
I read this post on my phone, in bed, last night just before I was about to go to sleep. It really disturbed me and I couldn’t get it out of my head and sleep did not come easily. When I woke up this morning, it was still on my mind. I’ve thought about it a lot and my main conclusion is this: approaching that evil grandfather (or any other parent/grandparent/carer with a similar disposition) would most likely be futile, but I wonder if it would do more good in the long run to be able to say something quietly to the child who is being publicly abused, if that were possible. Perhaps saying “you’re not bad, sweetheart. Some adults say nasty, nasty things sometimes that aren’t true. You’re a good boy, okay. Always remember that”. Perhaps the bully would yell at you too but maybe that is a small price to pay because maybe, fifteen/twenty years down the track when that child is on the brink of choosing between two life paths – one that leads to self destruction and the other to healing – that they will remember that not every adult they met in their entire life thought they were bad and maybe, just maybe, that memory will be what leads them in the direction of therapy and healing, rather than an eternity of self hatred and a continuation of this vicious cycle of family abuse. Other than that, it is possible that ask the rec centre to source out some posters from The Department of Child Protection (that’s what we call it in Australia) or somewhere similar that promote anti-abuse messages, particularly ones which depict children as victims and ones that illustrate how damaging verbal abuse it? If the family of this little boy are regular visitors to the rec centre, perhaps they have some sort of membership card and have given their details to the rec centre management team, in which case the staff are within their rights to look up his name and make a call to the Department of Child Protection (or its equivalent in the USA). One phone call might not do anything, but if several phone calls are made by different people, then something probably would eventuate from those phone calls. we all need to remember that abuse continues to thrive when good people do nothing.
I love that notion, Lizzy, of saying something that would somehow stick with the child and be a source of inspiration and comfort. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful comment. xo
That is such a tough situation. I don’t know what I would have done…probably the same as you. I was in a situation recently that I had trouble shaking off. A kid openly bullying another waiting for his karate class to start. I was waiting for my daughter to get out. He was taunting and trying to gang up with another kid…not physically, but teasing in a mean way another girl. I sat and watched, gave looks to the kid, looked around and saw some other parents noticing. I left that day feeling like crap that I didn’t step in but I worried the parent may be nearby and did not want to get “in trouble” for overstepping my boundaries. I saw the kid at the next class and watched for his behavior prepared to say something. He started off some mild teasing with another kid but then class let in. Finally, since it kept eating at me, I told the owner’s of the business and they took it seriously..not sure if they said anything to the kid or not. Anyway, these situations are just hard…knowing when to get involved or not. When it comes to physical violence, I will always step up or call the police. Its the other gray areas that are so tough.
These situations ARE so hard- and every one is different. It sounds like you handled yours just perfectly.
I feel like I should be all mature here and say that I wouldn’t intervene but I probably would. Actually, I have. I do wait to see if the parent will calm down but, while I’m waiting, I get all wired. I can’t stand it and I say something. Goodness knows it probably won’t make a bit of difference to the parent or grandparent but, hopefully, the child will see, if only for a moment, that his parent’s behavior is not okay. Some stranger thinks he should not be treated like that and is willing to stand up for him.
I had a comment, but I erased it because I didn’t feel like having some tight ass jumping down my throat about what I’d said. The short of it is that it’s not your business how others are raising their kids, unless it’s criminal behavior. The kid was acting like a toddler, right? That means he’s still okay and not so afraid that he doesn’t even act like a toddler should. IDK. I’ve yelled at my kids pretty harshly a few times and felt bad about it later on. Maybe this guy did too, or maybe he just doesn’t care. Somebody on the staff could have told him to keep his voice down maybe without associating it with his shitty parenting skills perhaps.
Yeah, yeah, I get it, which is why I said nothing. Though do bear in mind that I am irritable, yell sometimes, and swear, so if it made me that upset it was pretty bad.
Oh, MAN. This is a toughie. I mean…I would like to think I would think of a calm way to say something to diffuse the situation. (maybe saying “Can I help you”, to the grandpa) I definitely would have done that if no parents were around because the grandpa was definitely overwhelmed and maybe just speaking to him and engaging him would have helped ratchet down his anger. But then to know that the parents were definitely on board with what was happening because they were right there…ugh.
If I saw this with an older child, I’d probably try to catch their eye and smile letting them know that someone was in their court, but with a toddler this isn’t helping.
In reality in *this* situation, I’d have done nothing…and just felt crappy about it. Blergh. –Lisa
I know- it’s so tough. I agree with how to handle the older child situation, but the toddlerhood thing makes it much more challenging. Blegh- I hate this. 🙁
I don’t think there is a right answer here. It’s a tough dilemma. Are they kind and loving at home and it just happened to be a horrible day? I think we’ve all experienced that…a day when we just lost our temper. You have the additional pressure of having it happen at work. I think you did the right thing. Possibly, if you see them again, you can say to the grandfather, “It looked like you were having a difficult day when I saw you last. I hope everything is better today.” At least he’ll know that people were watching.
I really like that, Jennifer- great idea! Thanks!
I assume since you were working that your girls weren’t with you, Stephanie. But what about the other children who witnessed this man’s behavior? What a difficult conversation to have with your child, about parents or grandparents who berate and belittle. There is no way I would let any of my kids’ grandparents talk to them that way – how sad that dad stood by and did nothing.
No, my girls weren’t with me, but you make a great point. I feel like I might have made some very loud, passive-aggressive commentary to my kids about how those words weren’t okay and that’s not how we treat people we love. :/
I wish I could say I would do this or that, but ultimately, this is a tough decision. I’m not sure it was the age that had me, but from what you describe the feelings of veracity and truth the grandpa exhibited. It’s one thing to discipline your son, it’s another to knock him down, which this grandpa seemed like he was doing. I don’t think there’s anything you could do. Even if you managed to hold him off at the location, that possibly might have made it worse at home. Having experience in this realm, the abuser might think that it was some ploy to have someone else get involved. The only suggestion I could make was calling CPS. But I don’t know if it that’s enough for them to prosecute or remove the child. This is terrible.
I know- this is a hard one, huh? There’s yelling, and then there’s name-calling and belittling. Totally different things.
Ugh. This is the WORST, isn’t it? You’re so helpless yet want to do nothing more than lend a hand. Or fist. To the grandfather’s face. My son’s preschool is in the same building as a daycare and there is one daycare worker who speaks to the children like what you’ve described in this post. I reported her last year, yet she is still employed. Makes me want to scream.
This post made me so upset! I cant stand watching adults lose control and inflict life long damage on children, especially because they don’t even know they’re doing it. I’m sure it’s not angry grandpa’s goal to hurt the toddler but that isn’t the point, the point is that he can do better and he needs to learn how. I wish there were more tools available to people that taught them how to parent to the best of their ability other than having to rely on their own parents model; because let’s face it: the cycle of bad parenting is hard to undo once you’re in it. :[
Such a tough situation! I’m sure that I wouldn’t have said anything either. Just today I saw a young mother tell her young daughter, “Stay right here.” Then, she went to her car across the street to get a cigarette. I had to tell the little girl, “Don’t go in the street! Your mommy will be right back.” Then, the mom proceeded to blow smoke in the girl’s face while telling her “Hurry up and eat! I’ve got things to do.” I felt so sad for the little girl. As I sat there with my own 3 daughters, I just wanted to say to that young mom, “We all get frustrated, but there’s a better way. And, you can’t just walk away from you child in public place like that. And, second hand smoke from your cigarette could kill her!” But, I said nothing.
Anna And. Not hungry
I waited to read this post because I don’t like to feel badly for other people’s children, it just hurts too much. It hurts because you are right, there is nothing you can do. He wasn’t physically abused, although we know verbal abuse is just as bad. But in the end, it’s not our business, but being a bystander can be haunting. I have been there too.
I’m sorry it’s staying with you. I don’t know what else to say…..
Hi! I searched this problem today because a similar thing happed to me today. I was walking my 2 kids through a grocery mall parking lot. Suddenly a mini van bolted backwards then turned into a parking spot. I mean so fast. I could already tell someone was upset. A women and 4 kids approached the van . I thought omy she’s going to get it. Something happened earlier. He got out of the car and processes to yell an swear at the women and kids. She ddidnt say anything. He pretty much threw one of the kids in the van. He was standing around still complaining. I felt like I had to tell him something. I mean he could have hit someone with his car. I told him to take a breath and calm down . I did it from about 30 feet away!!! He saidcwhat? Ming your own F in business! You don’t know my life. Get out of hear. I told him not to talk to me like that. He yelled out that no wonder I am a single mother! Well, a man stop and told me don’t talk to people like that kind of idiot. Especially when my kids are around. After I felt so bad that I did that in front of my kids. I think if someone interacts with these kinds of people maybe they will think twice about abusing someone or calm down later so not to cause a car accident. I am sorry for being loud. I never swore but I feel I stuck up for the kids in the van and show them his behavior is wrong. I called my mom to tell her about it. I feel a bit better. I think people should report abuse or in the right situation point out their is a problem with their behavior. Take Care out there!
I’m so sorry that happened to you- it’s awful, isn’t it? Thanks for taking the time to share your experience here!