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Is the Village Creating Your Little Monster?

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Shannon Des Roches Rosa, a mother of three and an amazing blogger, has a fascinating post up over at BlogHer about just who’s responsible when good kids go bad. OK, maybe not bad. But maybe a little hitty or snappy or rude.

Is it the parents’ fault? Or is it yours? That’s right — you, society. Us, in general.

Writes Shannon:

“Once children become social beings and start taking cues from people outside their family, social skills become a group responsibility. And, every time my freshly minted five-year-old walks up to an adult and smacks them on the bottom or otherwise misbehaves, and my apologies and reminders about appropriate behavior are brushed off with an “Oh, it’s okay,” because she’s little and cute  or you’re more worried about offending a potentially prickly parent than teaching a child about appropriate boundaries, you have fed my tiny monster anew.”

I know I’ve had my fair share of moments on the playground or on the sidewalk when I’ve wanted to correct the misbehavior of a kid not my own — and sometimes I have depending on the severity of the action — but there are many times I’ve shrugged it off, moving along to other things, smiling weakly and thinking, “Oh, it’s okay.”

But does this make me a monster maker? I’m not so sure about that. A kid learns in the home what is OK and not OK to do when out in public. It is the parent’s responsibility to keep an eye on the kid — especially one you think might misbehave — and correct said action. But still, after reading Shannon’s post, I’m wondering if I do have more responsibility to kids not my own — not a huge responsibility, but enough to let them know with a few taming words that they’re out of line. I call out things like hitting. But I let other things slide. Should I? Especially in this age when half the parents on the playground or at the mall are on the cell phone and clearly not paying attention?

Read the thought-provoking column here and the great discussion it created. I’d love to hear your thoughts: Who is responsible for the little monsters? Their parents or all of us?

Says Shannon:

Step up, people. You have my permission: kindly but firmly tell other people’s children that you are not okay with being treated badly! Really, it’s alright. If the parent is offended, feel free to roll your eyes or grumble about them on Twitter. Your responsibility is to the child, to society.

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