with author Jackie Morgan MacDougall
mom to mom: stay out of my village
On the Competitive Parents episode of The Ricki Lake Show, Tiffanie wasn't shy about sharing her no-holds-barred parenting philosophy. The cheer/football mom is determined to push her daughter and son to be the very best at everything they do and makes no apologies for her behavior at home or on the sidelines.
Watching Tiffanie on the show, I can understand her passion. I can recall a few times where I screamed (albeit, in my head) from the sidelines when my child didn't seem to be trying as hard as I know they can. Don't we all want our kids to reach their potential and become as successful as possible? While my expectations don't seem to match Tiffanie's, until I walk in her shoes and live her life, I really don't know how best to raise her children.
The parents that get my blood boiling aren't those who instill a competitive spirit in their kids, but who feel the need to compete with other parents. Let's not pretend that doesn't happen. It's those moms and dads who believe they're so good at parenting, they feel the need to extend their skills into your family. Take a recent example I personally experienced.
My child gets antsy at sporting events, walking around when not on the field and picking grass when the coach is talking—totally appropriate for a 5 year old. But using athletics as an learning opportunity, we don't allow her to sit with us during the game or hang out eating snacks while her team is on the field—she needs to sit on the sidelines and be part of the game. She is the one who begged to play football, after all.
Anyway, last weekend, when she came over to chat with us while the game was in full swing, we turned her around and asked her to sit back down with her team and cheer them on. No big deal... just how we handle it. Not two minutes after she sat down, another mom got up, walked over to her and sat down on the ground right next to her. While I couldn't really hear what was going on (I was about five yards away), I sat and watched the private conversation happen, not all that comfortable watching the scenario but letting it play out before reacting. At the very least, isn't it weird that another parent would even want to get involved?
I turned to my husband and asked him how he'd react if it were one of our sons and another Dad walked over for a heart-to-heart. The reaction from my always mild-mannered man said it all. Yay, I'm not a crazy control freak!
After the game, like any self-respecting mom, I didn't talk to the mom but instead took it to Facebook to ask some Friends of Ricki to weigh in with their thoughts. Should we be more open minded to others being a part of parenting our children or should other parents mind their own beeswax, keeping out when not personally invited to intervene?
TEAM "It Takes a Village"
Ingrid is open to another mom's intervention, "But only if it is said in a loving way with constructive advice / sandwich feedback otherwise C. It's all in the tone and language."
Kelly agrees. "Sometimes another parent can see something that I can't with my child. People always have more patience with my children than I do in crises situations. Maybe the other parent was stepping in to help give the weary parent some much needed rest.
Wade: "I would want the parent to ask my permission first, but under these circumstances I wouldn't be quite ticked off."
Adrienne: "Sometimes kids listen better to other parents than they do their own."
Not only did Megan think the other mom did the right thing, she sees me as the ungrateful, judgmental one. "First, why weren't you talking to your kid? Second, if you are participating in some kind of team activity, then that person has knowledge of your kid and could very well be providing some great help. If you are watching & your kid is showing no signs of being scared or uncomfortable, then get off your high horse & realize it does take a village and kids often benefit from learning from other adults. Then talk to your kid & find out what was said - be gracious and thank the adult for their consideration."
TEAM "It Goes Too Far"
TeamRickiSK: "It takes a village, however that village has a common ground, which is mutual parenting tactics and respect, including internally knowing boundaries in various situations—also known as common sense."
Renee: "I wouldn't want someone talking to my child without me knowing what they intended to say first.... I'd be super annoyed. Also, I would NEVER take it upon myself to do that to someone else's kid - I mean, a friend, a coach, teacher... one thing - but just another parent who my kid doesn't know? Not okay."
Melissa: I would definitely have a problem with it unless I knew the parent well personally and we were friends. I would actually consider it an affront to my parenting and take offense, whether or not the other parent was "just trying to help". Sorry, but if I want your help, I'll ask for it. Don't just assume I want or need it.
Heather: "I'd give them the benefit of the doubt, suspiciously, then make my final answer after a conversation."
Brandy: "I think it would depend on age of my kid but also what that parent was saying to them. If they were trying to be helpful that is one thing, if I was there!...totally another...It's my kid, get off."
Julie: "Totally would depend on how well I knew them as well as my child knowing them. If a good friend I would have no issue whatsoever talking to them.....acquaintance or just another parent I would not be okay with the situation and would have walked over and participated in said convo."
Louise: "I would have preferred if the adult asked permission or acknowledged this tactic to the family before sitting down."
Camille: "Honestly, I would not feel that the parent was trying to help, even if they were, unless I really knew them and they knew my child. Could be my type A, always in control personality, but I would feel offended and would probably approach the parent after the event to say a "passive aggressive thanks" and try to find out what they said to my child. It could also be that my kiddos are not completely typical and we've been through countless hours of parent training to learn how to parent our kids and sometimes that helpful intervention from a well-meaning parent can undo an entire morning of "working on a behavior". Bottom line, talk to me first before approaching my child... Wish I could be more grateful."
What say you? Does it take a village of strangers to help raise our kids? Or should others stay off your parenting island? Sound off in the comments!