Dealing with other people’s children | Family Events

A threat to civilization as we know it 

They’re everywhere and you simply cannot escape them.


I have no problem disciplining my neighbor’s kids when they play at my home. My house, my rules! The problem is when our families get together and the parents don’t discipline their own children for things I routinely correct when their kids are in my care. I’m very comfortable with the kids – should I keep offering my positive discipline even when their parents are around? Post answers on our Family Events Facebook Page.


Last week we asked Family Events readers to offer advice to parents who slip into bragging and hyper-competitive behavior with other moms and dads. Here’s what our experts suggest:

I think it is ridiculous. These parents are totally encroaching on grandparents’ exclusive rights!

Grin and think to self – my little one is even more amazing, so much so, that I don’t have to brag on him. They obviously can see for themselves, that’s why this conversation is going where it is going. Then, thank the Lord and don’t add to the brag fest… Silence is golden…

Talk to your friends even more about their children.

It is always important to lead by example. While others are bragging about their children it is important NOT to respond in like… in time, when the fun has gone out of the comparison stories because there is no more comparing, the braggarts tend to change their approach… and the biggest winners are the children of BOTH as they no longer have to live up to an inflated version of themselves.


They follow you to church on Sundays. They sit behind you on airplanes, in restaurants, even in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. They disrupt family reunions and afternoons at the park.

They’re the unwelcome but ever-present subtext to countless moments of irritation and unpleasantness. And now that it’s spring break, they’re out with a vengeance, just waiting to raise your blood pressure and steal the peace of mind you hoped to find with a good book at the pool, or under an umbrella at the beach, or while enjoying a movie with your kids.

It’s not politically correct to admit that you don’t like them, but let’s face it… our culture is suffering because of them and someone needs to do something.

That’s right. I’m talking about other people’s obnoxious children.

Case in point: While enjoying a visit to the rooftop-dining patio of our favorite Mexican restaurant, my daughters and I spent a good portion of our evening enduring the noise and antics of the children at the next table whose games included “Drop Tortilla Chips and Ice Cubes onto the People Below.” Meanwhile, mom and dad chatted as though their children were not pelting innocent passersby from above.

Begging the question, How could you not notice your children throwing objects at other humans? More to the point, Why would you not stop them? Why would you sit there and do nothing?

But nothing is exactly what those parents did, and everyone else at the restaurant suffered because of it (not to mention the folks walking around with tortillas in their hair).

Nobody’s kids are perfect

Now, you might say, “Hey Marybeth, easy for you to be critical. Your kids are getting older. Some of them vote. You’ve forgotten what it’s like to deal with wee ones.”

No. I haven’t forgotten, and children don’t necessarily outgrow the propensity to thoughtlessly irritate the people around them. I feel sorry for you if you get stuck sitting next to my son on an airplane as he does that nervous leg-bouncing thing. But we’re working on it.

The point is, we’re working on it. As a parent, I’m well aware that my children are capable of annoying others because, guess what? They sometimes annoy their parents! It’s our job to help them grow in thoughtfulness of the people around them.

I’ve asked several mom-blogger friends why they think so many parents simply let their kids run amok in public, seemingly oblivious to the impact they’re having on others. One mom thinks it’s a reflection of parental guilt – folks with busy work lives and stressed out schedules tend to cut their kids too much slack because they want what little time they spend with them to be pleasant.

Some parents treat their kids more like friends than children and don’t assert authority over their behavior. Still others simply don’t know what to do to get their kids to “listen” (I’d start by using the word “obey” instead!).

Then there are the parents who seem to have an uncanny ability to tune out their children’s misbehavior and believe the way to solve the problem is for the rest of us to tune out, too. Unfortunately, if you’re the one with salsa on your head, that’s easier said than done.

When is it time to speak up?

Most of us have been in situations where we’ve struggled not to blurt out a strong word of discipline to someone else’s child. When the disks in your spine are throbbing thanks to the child in the row behind you, kicking your airplane seat from coast to coast, it’s all you can do not to yelp. (But don’t. They’ll land the plane and kick you off.)


What can you do? Sometimes an obvious glance, coupled with an audible sigh, are enough to send the signal, “Begging you to get your kid under control.”

Other times, you might need to speak up, but if so, always direct your comments to the adults, as in, “Folks, could you get your kids to stop tossing ice over the balcony? You may not have noticed they’re hitting people below.”

Compassion, as always, is the key. Give parents the benefit of the doubt and always speak cheerfully, in a voice that says, “We’ve all been there,” even if you know in your heart your child would sooner have climbed naked into an ice maker than thrown frozen bombs at strangers.

If a lack of discipline lets children get away with unacceptable behavior, they’ll conclude the world revolves around them and they won’t learn consideration or respect.

Parents don’t always know what to do. The answer? Do something.

Thanks for reading and sharing Family Events!

Take good care until next week,


Articles to Follow
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This week’s best buys at your local bookstore
Your Four-Year-Old: No More Misbehavin’:
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Stop Second-Guessing Yourself - The Preschool Years: NurtureShock:
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What Your Preschooler Needs to Know: Parenting According to Grandma
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The host of The Parenting Show offers proven strategies for tough cases.

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