When Is It Okay to Discipline a Stranger's Child?

Recently, we had a few family members over for dinner and one of them brought their new girlfriend over for us to meet. I instantly took a liking to her and so did my children. She was warm and friendly and very polite, even offering to help me in the kitchen. She brought animal books for Anders and Danica and presented them to them just before we sat down for dinner.

Anders was reluctant to leave the books behind to eat, but with a promise that he could return to them as soon as he was finished, he took his place at the table. The food was served and the adults were chatting amongst themselves. My father-in-law had just begun a story about his new job when my son piped in to ask if we would read the books to him when dinner was over.

That’s when the new girlfriend put down her silverware, turned to Anders, and said “We do not interrupt grown-ups when they are speaking. It’s rude.” My four-year-old turned red and looked down at his plate while I saw red and considered chucking mine at her head. In the end she got off with only a stern look cast in her direction from meĀ  after I reassured my son that we would look at the books when we finished dinner, but the encounter left me fuming for the remainder of the evening.

Since then, I have told this story to a handful of moms. Some have echoed my sentiment that it is impolite to correct another person’s child, especially a stranger’s. Others have told me they think I’m overreacting. Personally, I think it’s up to the parent to discipline or admonish a child for their bad behavior — the only exception being if a child is doing something which could cause harm to them or to others.

Anyone else care to weigh in? When is it okay to to correct a stranger’s child?

Photo credit: Flickr

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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