Anyone who knows me knows that despite me having a very strong willed toddler I don’t accept naughty behaviour and I always make sure my little girl knows her boundaries and behaves when we are out and about. I praise her for good behaviour and we use time out and other tactics such as no treats, toys, TV etc for bad behaviour. So you can probably understand me being upset when a stranger shouts at my two year old child in public and then attacks my parenting skills!
I recently met up with two friends in a family pub. We all have two children, toddlers aged two and babies between 4 months and 11 months so we wanted somewhere child friendly to have lunch and a nice chat.
When I arrived one of my friends was already there and had picked a table at one end of the pub that was quiet anyway and where there was only one other couple seated nearby.
Whilst we were there two couples (who I would say were in their 50’s and 60’s) came in and sat across the room from us and behind me. As I had my back to them I hadn’t even noticed them.
When the children had finished their meals my friends kids got down from the table and started running around our small area of the room giggling with each other. My daughter remained at the table but looked a little left out, so as it was quiet in the pub I gave her permission to get down from the table and join in.
Admittedly they were a little loud, not shouting, just giggling with one another. We did tell them to calm down and be quiet and after only a couple of minutes of them playing my friend was stood up and about to go and bring them back across to our table when the incident that has stunned me happened!
We were finishing the brief conversation we were having when one of the men that had sat down across the room suddenly shouted very loudly and aggressively at our children to “Be quiet and sit down because they couldn’t hear themselves talk”. He shouted so loud that not only did he make our children burst into tears, but he actually made me jump!
My friend said to the man that there was no need for him to shout at two year olds like that and him and his wife proceeded to tell us how they were being unruly and obviously didn’t listen to us.
We gathered our children and sat them back at the table, all of us sat in stunned silence, yet quietly seething that someone could be so nasty to three small children.
I eventually stood up and walked across to the table where the group were sat. This is quite out of character for me as I tend to avoid conflict in public. However this had really upset and annoyed me. I apologised for any disturbance our children may have caused and said I understood their point but stated that it was unacceptable to shout in such an aggressive and nasty manner at two year olds like that. I said that had they politely come across to our table and asked us to get them to be quiet we would have happily taken action sooner. (Even though they had only been playing for a few minutes.)
The man who had initially shouted didn’t actually argue much but his wife piped up again and started criticising us as parents. I walked away and then she started shouting across the room questionning our parenting skills, saying our children obviously didn’t listen to us, we had no control over them and her kids would have never dreamed of behaving like that.
This was like a red rag to a bull for me! How dare she criticise me? She doesn’t know me? My kid is two years old and was giggling and having fun with her friends. The pub has 3 sections to it and was empty! There were 4 other sets of people in the whole pub yet they chose to come and sit by our table and then complain! I turned around as she was mouthing off and shouted at her that regardless of what she thought about us it was totally unacceptable to shout at two year olds like that, end of!
At this point the manager, who knows us well, stepped in and went to their table suggesting that they may like to move elsewhere, to which they declined and stubbornly stayed put.
The whole episode really ruined what was a nice catch up with friends and instead of having our dessert we were about to order we paid up and left.
On leaving I apologised to the manager if our children had been loud and said I understood where the table were coming from but they should have just approached us or her to ask them to be a bit quieter rather than so aggressively shouting at our children. The bar manager actually said that the man had been out of order and that it was a family pub after all. She said he chose to sit where he did out of a pub that has lots of seating in different areas and was practically empty. She said not to worry and we were welcome there anytime. She said please don’t let it put you off. I thought this was very kind and nice of her and it made me feel better to know that this man had obviously totally over-reacted and that others hadn’t seen a problem.
Prior to having children I admit, I was possibly judgmental of others. I had a low tolerance to excessive noise, bad behaviour or tantrums. We can’t all understand others 100%, we all have our own views and opinions and that’s what shapes society. However as a parent now I am more understanding. I know the difference between bad behaviour and fun loving children. I have seen bad parenting and those that let their children get away with anything and be unruly and know that’s certainly not me. I’m not saying my child is an angel, she can have the most spectacular tantrums and be stubborn as hell, but I take action and I understand the right and wrong ways to approach something.
I have been in situations in soft play centers where parents blatantly for the entire time they are there pay little attention to their children and their behaviour, choosing instead to read a magazine, be on their phone or chat with their friends. Whilst their toddler is repeatedly battering another innocent child around the head! On such occasions I have politely said to the child in question, “no please don’t do that, that’s not nice.” However I have NEVER shouted at someone elses child. Not even one of my friends children.
If this woman had children herself she should have probably been more understanding, patient and known how to deal with the situation appropriately. Instead her and her husband / partner showed total ignorance, lack of tolerance and aggression towards others. Great traits for raising children don’t you think???
Have you experienced anything like this? What are your views? Is it acceptable for a stranger to shout at your child? Would you shout at another person’s child? I’d love to hear your comments.