Throughout the summer we have taken our two year old out to various activities and events. We’ve ventured to a kite festival, a folk festival, the fair, the bouncy house place, swimming pools and of course a multitude of parks. It’s been a good summer and she has had a lot of new experiences and a whole lot of fun.
I am a protective mother, some might say overprotective. I know this and have absolutely no problems with that label. She is my daughter and my (and my husband’s) responsibility is to keep her safe. Also, she’s only two. She still requires a fair amount of guidance and support.
Being a mamma bear I am always surprised, sometimes annoyed and occasionally even worried about parents that are on the complete other end of that spectrum – the passive parent. Now I realize that the term “passive parenting” is a little more complex and is a whole other topic for discussion so I am using it in a more general sense here.
Last week we took our daughter to the bouncy castle place. It is an awesome place, nice and open, relatively safe and not over crowded. She can run around without the need for us to be two steps behind or in front of her at all times. But, again, she is only two and we still keep a pretty close eye on her and, just as importantly, she wants and needs our engagement. Thing are always more fun when someone you like/love is enjoying it with you! That day there was another little girl there. She was older than our daughter, I would guess she was around 5. She was a seemingly well behaved girl and very patient with our little one (there are a whole lot of stairs to get to the top of the bouncy slide). Both of her parents were there, parked at a table eating, and eating and then eating some more. Not once did I see them even glance at this little girl. She had no peers with her. She was, in effect, alone. It was also painfully obvious that she did not want to be alone. She tried various times to engage her parents. She would be at the top of the slide and yell “Mommy! Daddy!” but her attempts to gain her parent’s attention were completely ignored. My heart hurt for this child. Never mind the fact that she could have walked out of the building without her parents even batting an eye, but she just so desperately wanted them to take an interest in what she was doing and they could not be bothered.
Another example of passive parenting that I’ve seen lately has been at the park. Parents park themselves on a bench and let the kids run wild. Now I understand that as children get older they need less close supervision and that giving them some space is appropriate and healthy but I don’t think that neglecting to monitor your child’s behavior in public is a good thing. When my two year old is trying to climb the stairs up to the slide and your seven year old rams her way through in front of her like a bull dog with absolutely no regard for her personal space or safety, well we have a problem. Not only is it unsafe but its confusing for a little one who is just learning things like sharing and waiting your turn. Don’t make me scold your child. And I will scold your child. I won’t punish or discipline because that is not my place but if your child is acting in a way that is inappropriate or dangerous in front of my daughter and you aren’t stepping in to parent your kid you better believe I am going to say something (just as I would say something to my child if she acted that way).
I know that sometimes outings with kids are also an opportunity for parents to get out of the house and sometimes it gives them a chance to socialize themselves with parents or other adults. However, your need to socialize or, just as often, be lazy, should not be more important than your child’s need for you to be a parent. If you need time to yourself then arrange for proper child care for your little one and take a break. Not only do they need your guidance when it comes to learning to socialize with other people, they need your attention to keep them safe, secure and confident.
Do you have some experiences like this? What do you do if another child is being bossy/inconsiderate with your little one and the parents/caregivers aren’t being attentive?