Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Surrogate Parenting - Not Welcome

I was pretty annoyed when I was having dinner with a friend and she turned around and told my daughter to be quiet as the grown ups were talking. She beckoned to my daughter’s crayons and suggested that she keep drawing and tell us when she was done. 

Granted that this was the second time my daughter had interrupted us in the course of our dinner conversation. The first time had already seen me giving her the same firm warning. 

But my daughter is 4 and as we all know, this is a tender age where she is still learning, and has to be taught not to interrupt and all the other areas of etiquette that make a child socially acceptable. The crux though is that as her parent, I would like to impart those lessons myself and I prefer that they not come from other well-meaning mums. 

Perhaps it is me being unnecessarily sensitive but I DO NOT appreciate other people telling my child what to do. This friend is also a mother and her children are older than mine, but I feel what she did was rude and imposing, at least in my books. To be fair, I am sure it was well-meant, but in my eyes, it was misplaced, unpalatable and these good intentions intruded into my private space. Way out of line, darling. 

We do go out on occasion with her family and sure, her kids misbehave too and when they do, I let their mom do her job as this is the person that should be their rightful disciplinarian. Since when in any parenting book, is it ok for you to allow your child to go by some other person’s dos and don’ts? For me, the carte blanche for matters in discipline should only be extended as far as the Grandparents or the main caregiver and no further. Even then it does not extend to my parents or my husband's parents physically punishing my child. I do not believe in sparing the rod to spoil the child either but that decision should be mine and my husband’s and no one else’s. 

I know that everyone lives by a different rulebook but how do you tell someone that it is NOT alright to tell someone else’s child off, especially with the child’s parents are sitting right in front of you? I also do not appreciate someone else overtaking my authority and I was offended. 

The perfectionist in me was NOT a happy camper but the PR person in me put up the usual “hostess with the mostest” front as I was hosting dinner. Plus it was just one of those nights at dinner where I did not feel like picking a fight so I told myself to let it go and did not say anything. Still incensed, I made a mental note that the next time this happens, I will not let it go without making my feelings clear. 

Why is it that other people feel a need to discipline your kids in front of you? Is that ok? What are the boundaries if any? And what would you do if you faced a situation like mine? Or in fact if you had indeed told off someone else’s child? 

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By EY 


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