Julie M. Green blogs about a difficult challenge as a parent over on Real Zest. Talking about her son’s pre-school class she writes:
The idea is to have caregivers attend the early part of the program, before disappearing for the second half. During one of the first sessions, out of nowhere my son was broadsided as he sat (go figure) on a ride-on BMW. The other boy, who we’ll call Fred, threw my gentle giant to the ground. In a flash, I ran to console my startled and shaken son who lay howling on the floor next to the toy car. Literally minutes later, Fred’s nanny sauntered over, uttered the feeblest, ‘That wasn’t nice’, while Fred carried on riding the Beamer.
She goes on to explain how she felt conflicted about how to intervene, other than removing her son from harm’s way, due to the “live and let live” feeling about parenting approaches. As a counselor who helps parents of young children and works with teenagers on a daily basis, I felt compelled to respond.
Specifically, Ms. Green states “There is no right or wrong path as a parent — just the one you ultimately decide to walk, the one you have to live with at the end of the day.” While there is great debate over some of the finer points of parenting, there are some basic limits – limits that do get crossed over in some families. Legally, physical abuse crosses a line. As a professional, I’m legally obligated to report it. But sometimes abuse isn’t obvious, like a black eye or welts on a child’s limbs. Sometimes it’s a parent washing a child’s mouth out with soap for swearing or forcing them to kneel for hours as punishment. Or a child living in a risky environment with drug use or domestic violence. Nearly all of us can agree these are wrong paths of parenthood.
Another overlooked dimension of parenting is emotional neglect. Some parents use public humiliation to teach their children, often creating an unreasonable fear of failure in their offspring. In the incident described in this blog post, Fred is attended to at the class by a nanny. This fact makes me wonder about Fred’s emotional world at home. Is he often left with a paid caregiver? Do his parents take time for him when they are home? Or do they dismissively wave him away while they work on more important things? Either way, the scene above makes it seem like the nanny needs some parenting tips!
What are your thoughts on approaching other parents when you’re concerned about their child?