When my children interact with their peers*, I try to be the silent fly on the wall, present but not involved. If something happens that really bothers me, I either call my child to another room to say something or wait and talk to my child after the friends are gone. Usually I say nothing. Children have enough sense to quit playing with peers who are mean and squabbles between friends are an important part of learning to get along with others. Something I thought was a rare phenomenon until recently is the parent who “tells everyone else and their children how to talk”. This parent regularly calls the peers of their child to complain about the way others spoke to their child. They also call teachers, coaches and anyone else who hasn’t used exactly the right words with their child. I can only assume that they also call landlords, employers and the parents of co-workers. I have never called another child’s parent to tell them how their child should talk and I have certainly never told another adult how they may or may not talk to my child. I am not talking about anything obscene or even questionable. I’m talking about being told that my child wasn’t “nice enough” or didn’t “pick their child” for a team or didn’t say what their child wanted them to say. The only thing that makes this comical, is all the parents who’ve been victimized by “tell everyone else how to talk” parent, are calling each other and trying to figure out how exactly they are supposed to control their children’s dialogues with other children. The end result of all this is either a young adult who demands an end to this behavior and devastates their parent or a lonely young adult who is incapable of functioning in the world. All that any of the rest of us can do is utilize caller ID.
* The exception to this rule is Internet interactions. They are handled completely differently, since they don’t only interact with the children who I’ve met and had in my home.
Previously: Parenting styles (part 1)