Would You Confront Another Mom for Talking Poorly to Her Child?


For whatever reason, my three-year-old daughter tunes into emotions. Whenever she hears someone crying, she always points it out. I've encouraged her to hug people when they cry, to try to help people if they are sad by being kind. Mostly the other kids push her away, but I praise her anyway. I don't want her to be scared of people who are hurting.

Today we walked into a popular pizza place on a beach strip. We were quickly ushered to the crumb-littered section for people with small children. Fine, whatever, I understand. We sat down at a four-top, my daughter and I on one side, my son in the high chair on the end, and my husband on the other side. Directly behind me and my daughter, was a mother and son. They weren't but two feet away because when the little boy turned around, I could see his baby blue eyes. He was probably four.


A minute or so after we sat down I heard the mother scold her son quite loudly. Now, I am not one to judge other parents. Believe me, we are all doing the best we can. My first thought at hearing this was sympathy for her. I know that kind of frustration well.

My daughter, the people watcher she is, tuned into her harsh tone immediately.

Five minutes passed and the woman had now scolded the little boy for turning around, spilling food, grabbing food and talking. Throughout it all, I never even heard the boy's voice. The first time I heard him speak, was through his cry.

That's when my daughter let me know that he was crying.

Ten minutes passed and the mother took him to the restroom. On their way back she was pulling him by the arm and he was crying. They sat back down and things continued just as before.

My daughter was fixated on the toxic exchange between them. She doesn't know enough not to stare so she did, blatantly. "Hey honey, let's color. Look a horse! Hey honey, do you want some pizza? Hey honey, do you want to play with my phone?"

People, if I'm willingly offering my toddler my only access to taking pictures and uploading them to Facebook, then you KNOW I'm desperate to distract her.

Nothing could take her attention away from this mother and son and their dynamic. Each time he cried, she let me know. He cried three times in 15 minutes.

I began the loud passive-aggressive sighs and whiplash head turns every time she spoke to him harshly. She was unfazed. I looked around to see if anyone else was witnessing this scene just to make sure I wasn't being, you know, too sensitive. There was a man sitting with them who was obviously not the boy's father by his complete and total apathy toward what was happening. When I caught his eye he gave me a shrug as though he understood what I was thinking.

I struggled with this mightily. I didn't want to judge this mother. I know what exasperation and frustration feel like with toddlers in public. I have yelled, too. But there was something sadistic in her berating of this little boy. The way he didn't speak loud enough for me to hear, and yet nothing he said was okay with her. They way he looked when he turned around, his sad eyes. He couldn't do anything right to please her and he knew it.

When he turned around my daughter looked straight at him and yelled, "Hey, you turn around." Just like his mother had done minutes before.

I turned to her and said, "No, no honey. You don't talk to people like that. His mommy is talking to him..." And then I stopped and said a little louder, "And I don't like the way she's talking to him, it's not nice."


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