Please Don’t Undermine My Parenting

Trying to discipline your children whilst out in public is hard.

Trying to get the balance between ensuring they know what they have done wrong, whilst keeping your head together isn’t easy, there’s no naughty step, no time out, just you, the kid and an audience of strangers gazing avidly to see if you lose your shit and do something worthy of being recorded and uploaded to Youtube.

I found myself once again in the unenviable position of having to tell the kids off, in public with an audience.

Oh joy!

My boys have a tendency to slide right up to and almost into someone's lap when we’re waiting for trains or wherever there happens to be seating.

Sometimes this is fine, we know the person to whom the lap belongs to, and cuddles and snuggles are fine.

But sometimes it’s a stranger.

A stranger who could very well have just massacred their family and fed them through a wood chipper, it could be one of those scary Tory/Lib Dem supporters or one of the great unwashed.

People whose laps my children have absolutely no business being near.

So on Monday, when Ethan sidled up to a lady sat on the bench at the train station and tried fusing their arms together by sheer force of will, I intervened.

siting on a bench

I moved Ethan to the other side of the bench, explaining once again about personal boundaries and how you shouldn’t ever get so close to someone, especially someone you don’t know.

He tried scooting back, I explained that people generally don’t want strangers getting so close, it was going well he was listening to me and taking it all in.

Until the lady piped up ‘Oh I really don’t mind’

Which Ethan took as an invite to slide back across the bench to her side.

I stood there, trying to hold back my wrath.

Who the hell did she think she was? Who was she to think that it’s okay to undermine my parenting?!

I make mistakes, I screw up and there are plenty of things I would have done differently but having my parenting undermined was just…….a low blow.

And in front of my children and a bunch of strangers.

Who does that?!

I wasn’t being mean or abusive, just stating clearly that he shouldn’t behave in a certain way.

Of course he ignored me, she had given him the permission to behave as he wanted.

I was relegated once again to being the mean mummy, the one who says no.

I’m sure she meant well, but she angered me.

Parenting is hard, without having a well meaning do gooder interfering.

I hadn’t raised my voice, threatened him or behaved in anyway that would make you think he was at risk, there really was no need to interfere.

Maybe I should have left him to ask her inappropriate questions, dig through her handbag and wipe his nose on her arm, perhaps then they both would’ve learnt to leave strangers well enough alone!

What is an acceptable way to respond in this kind of situation?


  1. Oh that's a tough one. If I was the lady I would probably have said, 'oh I don't mind.' thinking that you were feeling awkward about him being so close because some people get really funny about children being near them. I've never thought of it as undermining but actually, I see exactly what you mean because you were trying to get Ethan to do one thing and she invited him to do the opposite. That's tricky!!

  2. That is tough, I would have done exactly the same as the lady, without even thinking about it. Not to undermine you but to try and make is less stressful for you and I genuinely wouldn't have minded. But I totally see where you are coming from I am not someone who has just murdered my family - although there are times.......
    Hmmmm I would have maybe said ok so this lady doesn't mind but you must always ask Mum before you chat to strangers as not everyone is nice and maybe she would have got the message?

  3. Argh! That's tough. I try so hard to not get involved in things like that. At work I used to constantly be used to help people control their kids. The age old 'oh if you touch that, that lady will tell you off and ask you to leave the shop' kid touches, both kid and parent look at me for response. I walk off. I'm up for helping mums if I can but I'm not going to tell your kid to leave!

  4. I can absolutely see your point and in your shoes I would have been angry too.

    However.... (sorry!)

    The lady probably thought you were doing it for her benefit and not your children and thus was letting you know she didn't mind to try and make things easier for you?

  5. Do you know, I would have (and have in the past felt) exactly the same BUT I also have done the same as the other lady.

    It is a difficult situation.

  6. She probably felt awkward being the reason for the discussion with your son in the first place and maybe just said it. I can totally see your point though and I wouldn't see it how you do but now I will do because you are right x

  7. She could have said 'mummy is right, you shouldn't talk to strangers, but if mummy says ok, you can sit here again'. At least then, the would have allowed it, but only with your blessing. Best of both worlds.
    I am, honestly, very careful about what I say. Simply because, I tell my children 'good people tell you to tell your mum 1st' xx


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