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Parents Talk: How Do You Handle Mean, Pushy Parents?

In this week's Parents talk, we ask for advice on how to deal with mean parents at sporting events, dance recitals and other extra-curricular activities.

Something happened a couple weeks ago at my daughters' dance recital rehearsal that left me a little angry, sad and speechless.

While waiting for our turn on stage, I overheard a mom berate her daughter for forgetting her tap shoes. The girl must have been maybe 8 or 9 and, from the sound of it, left her dance bag at home.

No big deal, right? That's what I thought. This other mom, not-so-much. I over heard her ask the girl, "How stupid are you?," sigh and act like her child had just committed a felony.

I didn't know what to say. I didn't know if I should have said anything at all. I do know it bothered me.

No matter what my children do, never would I call them stupid. The word doesn't belong in our vocabulary at home. Should it pop up, the kids get "the talk" about how the word makes others feel. I wanted to give that mom "the talk" but couldn't bring myself to do it.

My question is, what would you have done? Would you have stepped in and said something or let it go? Tell us in the comments.

Jennifer Zeis May 29, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I'm confused as to what an overweight person has to do with this article. Also, if someone is labeled a 'felon', it's usually because they've committed a felony.
Sarah Lacey May 29, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I'm all for "live and let live" parenting and do my best not to judge other parents on what they deem to be best for their family. I don't think you can justify the behavior of this mom as best for anyone. Likely, she was tired, agitated, and the LAST thing she needed that day was to have to go back home, get the dance bag, and then have to drive back. I've even been in that same situation, I've had a kid forget a dance bag. Yep, you are annoyed and frustrated, I know I was at myself AND my child. Why didn't I check that she had the dance bag before we left? Ugh. That being said, I would have not called her stupid, that's the part that's wrong here. The child didn't deserve that, I think is what Jody is saying. There is a time and a place for learning lessons, the mother could have done it at home after dance was over. Work on the child being responsible for packing the bag and getting it to the car. One mistake, especially by a child does not justify what happened here. I'm guessing that the mother would not enjoy hearing someone speak to her in that manner when the inevitable forgetfulness happens to her. One thing I try to always remember and practice: respect is mutual and it is earned. If you don't give it to your children, model it, and expect it in return, you will never get it. I will still try to give the mom the benefit of the doubt here, and hope she was having a rough day and that this behavior is not a daily occurrence in their family.
Maria Houser Conzemius June 01, 2012 at 04:07 PM
I've been known to intervene when I see a controlling bully destroy the self-esteem of their child or children. Why? Because I had it done to me, and I know what it feels like. I confronted a West Branch reserve police officer at Hoover House, or whatever the name of that restaurant used to be in West Branch. He was holding his small daughters' hands down on the table and was screaming at his entire family. The silence, the fear on the faces of the wife, mother, and small children told me everything I needed to know about this man. I confronted him, told him he was a bully, and called the West Branch police chief to ask him why he would have such a man on his force. "Not everyone goes into law enforcement for the right reasons," I said. The police chief did not answer to my satisfaction. Bullies don't belong in families and don't belong in law enforcement, either.
Maria Houser Conzemius June 01, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Rick Stamp, unfortunately, you've just upheld the kind of behavior that brings your own parenting into question if you are a parent. It takes a village, Rick, to raise a child. Bullying is best done by cowards out of the public eye. When a parent bullies a child in public and devalues them as people, then God only knows what happens in private. It's a bad sign when a bully doesn't know that he or she is one.
Maria Houser Conzemius June 01, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Sarah Lacey, then you walk away from tragedies a lot, don't you? I just went to the wake of a teenager who killed himself because he was so miserable. I tried to intervene and advised the family long ago to get family therapy, but it didn't help. Now they're in family therapy but the boy is dead. That's an awful feeling, for them, for me, and for everyone who tries to help and doesn't succeed in saving a child.

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