If My Kid Is Being An Asshole, I Want You To Tell Me

In the past couple weeks I have found myself in a few different awkward positions where I haven’t quite known what the right thing to do is.

In one situation, one of my kids got hurt by a friend’s kid.  Like struck in the head with a rock.

Should I say something? It was an accident. I knew the kid felt bad.

I wanted to say something, but I never did.

Another situation did not involve my kids. But I was told that the teenage child of someone I’m not super close friends with but someone I like and see around once a week or so has been engaging in behavior that is unhealthy. And illegal. Stuff that would devastate me if I found out it was one of my kids.

What should I do?

Should I say something? Or stay out of it?

I know if it were me, in both those scenarios, I would want to know.

I think many of us moms find ourselves in these situations.

Not knowing whether we should speak up or not.

So I’m going to make it crystal clear:

If my kid whips a rock and hits your kid in the head, I want you to tell me.

Whether or not it was an accident.

If my kid talks to you disrespectfully, I want you to tell me.

If my kid is doing drugs, I want you to tell me.

If you see my kid in a place you think he or she might not have permission to be, I want you to tell me.

If you hear my kid is doing drugs, even if you aren’t positive it’s true, I want you to tell me.

If you think my kid might have gotten shitfaced at a party but aren’t positive that’s true either, I want you to tell me.

If you know my kid has lied to me about something, I want you to tell me.

If my kid is being a bully, I want you to tell me.

If my kid is not being a bully but is just being a general asshole, I want you to tell me.

If you know my kid is having sex with someone, I want you to tell me.

If my kid is using really inappropriate language around other children, I want you to tell me.

If my husband is cheating on me (he’s not, he hasn’t, but you know, hypothetically) please tell me.

If I have a visible booger in my nose, I want you to tell me.

If it is apparent to everyone but me that I have gotten my period, I want you to tell me.

If you find out one of my kids is pregnant, I want you to tell me.

If there is a big, black hair sticking out of my neck or my chin or any other part of my body above my waist (or below for that matter), I want you to tell me.

If my kid is hanging out with a drug addict or a drug dealer or a prostitute or a convicted felon or someone who is more than three years older than he or she is, I want you to tell me.

If my kid is doing shit on the computer that you wouldn’t want your kid to do, I want you to tell me.

If my zipper is down, I want you to tell me.

If my mascara has run down my face and I look like I just went a couple rounds with Mike Tyson, I want you to tell me.

If my skirt is tucked into my underpants, I want you to tell me.

If there is something going on that isn’t on this list and you are torn between telling me and not telling me, I want you to tell me.

And if you want to inform me of any of the things on this list but aren’t sure how to start, just say:

Remember that time you said if your kid was being an asshole you wanted me to tell you? Well…

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74 replies
  1. Deanna
    Deanna says:

    yeah, I would rather know sooner rather than later. It’s easier to “fix” or get help to fix sooner. Later….just makes them job security for me….

  2. rANIA
    rANIA says:

    I was in your place 2-3 months ago. I was shocked watching a 4 year-old pushing down my then 10 month old son because he was looking and smiling at him. The worst thing was that the parents were watching and said nothing! Two days later I saw a 10-year-old pushing down the stairs of a playground another child. THe child was crying so much! Again the parents of both were there and nobody said sthg. It looked so strange to me! How are these children going to know what is ok and what is not! I would also like to know!

    • Hope
      Hope says:

      OMG! I’m the mom who gets involved in other people’s kids and tells those children to knock it off. I’m always within boundaries I think are appropriate – I never touch the child and I keep my distance but it takes a village and no way am I going to watch a child emotionally, physically or verbally hurt another. And I expect parents/adults to appropriately do the same with my kids. I need help parenting, we all do and we should support each other! I would have been horrified, as you were, to witness what you did.

      • Oline Wright
        Oline Wright says:

        I enjoyed reading this blog post. I am one of those people who if she thinks someone might not have noticed something I will likely tell a person. I am a parent that looked straight at a teacher who was telling me she knew my son knew the work but he wasn’t doing the classwork and told her So flunk him. Don’t give him grades he doesn’t deserve.

  3. ashley
    ashley says:

    If it were me, yes I would want to know. It’s always hard being the one who is giving the unpleasant news. I want to be able to correct the behavior. I would hope and assume that the parents of these kids would to.

  4. Jennifer Duke
    Jennifer Duke says:

    I totally agree. Although, my biggest beef usually comes with other people trying to discipline my kids or dealing with the problems instead of me. If they’re babysitting my kids or something, that’s different, but if I’m at the playground, party, or whatever, tell me or my husband.

    • chanTell
      chanTell says:

      I understand wanting to discipline your own child and address the issue but as a mom of 5 who has kids over all the time and entertains very frequently I am not always going to hunt down the kid’s parent to get them to stop doing something mean, violent, rude or unsafe in my home. I will tell you about it but probably after I have said, “That is not
      allowed in our house and if you want to be here/play with so and so, you cannot do that”. If someone has a problem with that I am totally okay with them turning down invitations in future. I am also okay with someone doing that if one of my kids is being rude or destructive or unkind when they are at their house.

      • Sandra Mort
        Sandra Mort says:

        I don’t think it’s about asking people to track them down over every little thing. I think the point is that if you think you SHOULD but don’t know if it’s socially acceptable to, say screw it and do the right thing. It’s entirely possible that what you think is worthy of finding me is something that I might consider insignificant and vice versa. So? If somebody says “I thought you might wanna know…” you say “thank you for looking out for my kids” and you deal with it the way you think is appropriate and everybody is happy.

      • Angie
        Angie says:

        I do the exact same thing. Also, just as my mother did to me when I was growing up, each time one of my kids is going to someone’s party/house I remind them to mind their manners and follow the house rules of both their own home and the one they will be at. If i don’t let them jump on my couch I sure the hell expect them not to jump on someone else’s, even if it is okay with tjose people.

      • Evelyn
        Evelyn says:

        Totally. When I read, “discipline,” I read it as code for punishment, like spanking somebody else’s kid. I think it is always appropriate to state the rules of the house and draw a clear boundary line for kids.

    • Sherrie
      Sherrie says:

      I would like to say that I have a three strikes rule. First strike I just talk to the child/ren involved. Second strike I go to the parent. If I don’t know the kid I will find out who the parent is. Third strike I have no problem putting the kid in a time out or “chasing” them away from the area where my kids are.

  5. Sallyr
    Sallyr says:

    I experienced a similar situation, with my then three-year old son, and his then six-year old friend, the daughter of a woman I had called “best friend,” for almost twenty years. I had observed the aggression, as well as treated the injuries, numerous times. On a few occasions, when I actually witnessed the the interactions, I tried to intervene. However, without parental support, my attempts were futile.

    One of the final ‘attacks,’ occurred while my son was strapped in his car seat. This young girl, was angry because she wasn’t given what she wanted. She took her frustration out on my son, by scratching his face, forehead to cheek, including his eye, with her fingernails. When I realized what had happened, I yanked him, and his car seat, out of their car and told her that she had better deal with her daughter’s aggression issue, or I would be forced to take drastic measures. (Notably, her aggression decreased, but still existed, although somewhat controlled.)

    Several months later, it reappeared, unchecked and almost covert. I attempted to speak with my “friend” about it, but she referred to it, as being “normal.” (Yes, I should have ended the friendship, but really was hoping to find ‘resolution,’ rather than just ‘running away.’)

    Finally, my husband and I spoke to our son, who to this point, had been taught ‘not to hit.’ We told him, “If she hits, pushes, punches, pinches, scratches, pokes, pulls your hair, bites, or otherwise hurts you, and the adult(s) present will not attempt to stop the ‘hurt,’ you have our permission to hit her, as hard as you can, in an effort to stop her. Then, run straight to one of us, (Mom or Dad) and tell us what happened.”

    It only took one time. I heard the scream and subsequent crying. Next thing I saw, was my son running into the living room, as if his hair was on fire. He stood next to me, as she came sobbing, to her mother, “He hit me, really hard!” I looked at him, asking, to which he replied, “She was trying to push me off the top bunk bed.” I hugged him, and replied “You did good!” Her mother, “my friend,” looked at me, as if I was nuts, but that was the last time she ever tried to hurt him in any way.

    They became, and still are, 20 years later, the best of friends! Both of them, have grown up into wonderful, intelligent adults. As for my friendship with her mother, your guess is as good as mine! For some unknown reason, she decided to end our relationship. Crazy thing is, I continue to have a close and wonderful relationship with both of her girls, as do my husband and our three children! Weird, very WEIRD! That’s all I can say!

    • Redbull
      Redbull says:

      How may I ask did your son snd you continue to have a close relationship with her children when you where no longer friends with the mother?.

  6. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    I agree, I want you to tell me. However I think the reason people DONT say anything is because of how many parents respond: with anger towards the messenger, immediate denial their kid would do that, excuses, etc… I think it’s just as important to tell people “WHEN you tell me, I will simply say thank you and it will be handled/addressed immediately. I will not be angry with you or make excuses. Thank you again for your concern for my child’s well-being.”

  7. michelle
    michelle says:

    Easier said than done – I’ve done this four times, nicely, calmly and with respect. One parent was completely awesome, the other three times the parents were rude, dismissive and accused my kid of being the problem.

    No my kid was not under the neighbor’s house getting high and no my kid did not offer your kid xanax.

    • Paul K
      Paul K says:

      Like. I notice the author chose NOT to put herself out there and actually say something. Sure, this is cute and funny, but put up or shut up. Rings pretty hollow

  8. Am
    Am says:

    In my experience, telling people things of a sensitive
    Nature frequently get turned around and the old
    “Don’t shoot the messenger” idea comes into play.
    I’m all for people telling me – I’ve just had a couple of experiences where I have explained to moms what I saw their children doing and somehow when all was said and done – I was feeling bad and apologizing for the entire matter. Sometimes if the kid is an asshole, it’s genetic.

  9. Alison
    Alison says:

    Yes, yes, YES!! I always tell people to call or text me if they ever have trouble with my kids when they are over for play dates. I tell them I WANT TO KNOW if there is any issue. I ask again at pickup – did they play well together? Just in case they were afraid to say anything, I prompt them. My friend’s son was over and he pulled down my daughter’s pants after following her upstairs when she went to change into bathing suit (they are seven) and I thought that was really inappropriate, but still struggled with whether to tell her. I was texting back and forth with husband asking whether I should mention it. In the end I did, and just said truthfully, ‘because I would want to know – we are not upset, and she is not mad at him, just feels it was inappropriate.” If I see kids mistreating each other (especially with mine on receiving end) on playground, I have no problem stepping in and telling the kids it’s not right and making them apologize. It takes a village!!

    • Sandra Mort
      Sandra Mort says:

      I don’t see a problem with outsiders saying “that’s not appropriate” but forcing an apology would make me angry. My kids have been raised to be honest and requiring an apology that isn’t meant is a lie. I have found that my kids almost always voluntarily come back and apologize… UNLESS they’re being pushed. I think that this part is stepping over the line from “preventing harm” into the land of “discipline”, which should be done only with the parents’ involvement.

      • SLR
        SLR says:

        Of the two comments of yours I have read, it appears that in the end you would be one of those parents that would blow off and not take seriously what you have been told. At first you appear agreeable, then there is a “but if”

        • Ks
          Ks says:

          I totally agree–don’t try to make my child do or say anything. It’s not your job. Stop them from hurting someone else? Fine. Tell them “that’s not okay” or say “I won’t let you hit her”? Fine. Thank you. But don’t cross the line of trying to force an apology, shame, put into a time out or otherwise punish my kid.

          I take parenting very seriously, and believe wholeheartedly that children treated with respect treat others with respect. It is certainly true with my kids most of the time. Apologies, which are optional, are heartfelt and genuine, and when they don’t want to apologize it is usually because they need time to not be embarrased about what they did and step up and own it–just like it is hard for adults who wrong someone else. So when my child does something wrong, my focus is 1. What’s up–what’s going on with you that you did that, and how can I help? 2. What amends are possible–how can you fix this? What do you want to do? It is up to you but I will help you figure it out. 3. What can we do to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again? How can we avoid this in the future?

          So no, I’m not okay with forced apologies, and im not one of those parents who just turn away and ignore poor behavior. I doubt the OP here is either. Usually parents who refuse to force apologies are pretty thoughtful about parenting IME.

  10. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    This is so important, more so these days than in the past. Seems like In the past, common sense and conventional morality was a little different (50’s & 60’s) but nowadays, everyone is too PC to interfere, or even tell a parent for fear of retribution or some other retaliation. This is NOT HOW IT SHOULD BE! Children should be brought up with manners, BOUNDARIES, consideration for others, etc. but it is hard to find PARENTS WHO HAVE THOSE ATTRIBUTES THESE DAYS! Parents are encouraging fights and videotaping them for posting on the Internet for crying out loud. SERIOUSLY???? Even moms are into it, encouraging their preteen daughters and teens to fight others. Bullying is as much as a part of adults’ lives now as with the kids, even on social media. My kids are 24 and 34 yrs old now. They have become independent, useful, REASONABLE AND COMPASSIONATE members of society. BUT STILL TELL ME IF THEY DO SOMETHING WRONG BECAUSE THEY NEED CORRECTION EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE ADULTS. AFTER ALL, THEY WILL BE RAISING MY GRANDCHILDREN! I want them to be strong, independent, and reasonable human beings too. Maybe I’m too much of a baby boomer. But right is right and wrong is wrong. And consequences are imperative to creating a functioning human being. Thank you for the soap box! Sorry if I offended anyone….well, maybe not so much 🙂

  11. Christine
    Christine says:

    My son was in the fifth grade, one of his best friends was being mean to him, culminating in his friend throwing my son’s lunch box on the floor while my son was in the lunch line, taking my son’s seat so that my son had to sit by himself. My son never said a word, the parent of another boy who witnessed it told us. My son broke down, crying, when we asked him about it, saying that his friend was doing these mean things for a little while. I decided to call his mom, my friend, after agonizing about it. She responded great, thanking me and, immediately, she confronted her son and made him apologize. I was so relieved. In follow up conversations about the incident, my friend told me that her son was so upset that he cried, he never intended to be mean and was sorry my son was so upset. She said my son was probably just being sensitive… REALLY?? My son never said a word, the incident, including a description of the malicious intent was given to us by SOMEONE ELSE. I just smiled, said a skeptical, “Maybe” and reiterated that the incident was reported by someone else, someone concerned enough about what happened to tell us. My son was not being over sensitive. It’s just hard for people to admit and accept that their child did something mean or wrong. I have forgiven but I won’t forget. We are all still friends but I keep a cautious eye on things and have talked to my son about standing up for and defending himself if needed regardless of who it is….

  12. Brenda
    Brenda says:

    You go, Mom!

    And for anyone who wants to tell someone else something bad about their kid, don’t hold back. Be friendly and diplomatic about it, but do it. If they get ticked off and tell you to mind your own business, get over it and move on. There will come a day when they’ll think back about the time you tried to warn them and they wouldn’t listen. And you won’t have to feel guilty about holding back if that kid turns out to be a bad adult and does something else much worse.

  13. Mama
    Mama says:

    So, you want other people to tell you those things about yours kids but you haven’t told those two moms (or dads) about their kids behavior? Pick up the phone. Otherwise, double standard.

    That said, yes to these bullet points. It takes a village, right?

  14. Kate
    Kate says:

    I totally agree. I want to be told. However, please do so without sounding judgmental or accusatory. I’ve had a friend call to tell me nicely that my son was giving her son a hard time on the bus & wanted to work together to resolve the issue. We did & everything is fine. I had another “friend” several years back with a different child whom was only 6, call the principal of the school to complain about an incident between the children resulting in my child getting in trouble when both children were equally at fault.

  15. Stephanie de montigny
    Stephanie de montigny says:

    Absolutely! I’m so glad someone finally put pen to paper and wrote down these thoughts. Same goes for the whole food-stuck-in-teeth thing; tell me! And honestly, sometimes I wish people would tell me if I am the on being the ass. We’ve all got our bad days, mind as well not make it someone else’s too..

  16. Mary
    Mary says:

    Most of comments seemed to be talking about grade school age or younger children. What about Middle School and High School age kids. Example: if you hear from your high school age daughter or son that another kid is pregnant or using drugs, or is just plain mean – and “trusts you not to tell”, what do you do? Retaliation from other kids can be so miserable to deal with at that age.

    • Tread lightly
      Tread lightly says:

      Indeed. If you have your kid’s confidence it is golden. Be cautious so as not to betray that. Discuss with them their perspective on where you should go with this information, and let them know your side. But a great relationship is hard to build and can be damaged easily.

  17. Nina
    Nina says:

    I’ve found that most parents don’t want to know what their kids are doing, especially teenagers. If they did, they would check their Instagram, Facebook accts, etc but they don’t. I’ve seen some terrible things about my friends’ children and was met with an icy thank you after telling them what I saw. Unless it’s incredibly seriously, I don’t say a word.

    • Lisa
      Lisa says:

      Same here Nina. Parents are not always receptive to the news that their little Johnny is anything less than perfect.

  18. Diane
    Diane says:

    It’s especially hard when the parent is sitting right there and their kid is being an asshole. The parent seems blissfully unaware that their kid’s behavior is inappropriate. What do you do when the parent thinks it’s ok?

  19. Virginia Mom
    Virginia Mom says:

    A number of years ago my high schooler threw a party in our home when we were out of town. Once I obtained the names of all the attendees, I called each parent and told them where their child actually was (when they had given completely different information to their parents). While none of the parents thanked me, I hoped that my actions opened a dialogue between the children and their parents about what had happened. I certainly would have appreciated it if someone called me and told me where my child had been. Our rules for our child changed after that. We weren’t entirely restrictive, but I think we made better decisions as informed parents than as uninformed parents.

    • Tread lightly
      Tread lightly says:

      Just left a comment below about my reaching out to a parent ahead of the party…. where I was shut down! Party went on, but my kid felt betrayed by me.

  20. Susan
    Susan says:

    I have always told others that I want to know when my child is acting up. However, as the mom of teenage boys I have found that some parents may not share the same parenting style as you do therefore use your words very carefully. Going to a party, experimenting with drugs, or being with girls may be viewed as the “boys will be boys mentality.” Additionally, parents may know full well that their child is being an asshole but prefer to stick their head in the sand or may be embarrassed that yet another person has pointed it out to them. Although in theory most parents express a desire to know when their child is acting inappropriately, it usually doesn’t end well. My boys have chosen to find different friends to hang with when they decide they don’t want to deal with a certain friend. When deciding whether or not to tell the other parent, I prefer the trust and communication I have built with my sons over the parent who may not receive my “expert” parenting advice.
    Good read and please do tell me if I have a booger hanging out of my nose. I will accept it graciously.

  21. KErri
    KErri says:

    I agree that it would be great to know those things, but I have to say sometimes I hear stuff (and I don’t know if it is true or just a rumor ) and I haven’t had the courage to tell the parents…..even though I would have wanted to know, but here is my advise…..when people are retelling the stories be compassionate and do not share that child’s ( or adults) name. I think knowledge is power and letting people know what goes on can be a educational experience, but when name dropping happens it’s just plain gossiping.

  22. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    The best, kindest, most loving, and at the time very difficult thing any of my child’s friends every did was to break confidence and tell his parents my child had talked of self harm. And of course, his parents let us know. When addressing it with our child we made sure to say he broke confidence out of concern and it was actually a loving act. He understood. I also made sure this young man knows he did the right thing, and that our child understands.

    When safety, health, life are at stake, I will risk friendship, anger, it doesn’t matter. It’s like a punch in the gut, but you would want to know too.

  23. Amy
    Amy says:

    If no one tells me and I don’t know how can I fix the behavior? I’m always in favor of telling or being told.

  24. Karen
    Karen says:

    I have found that writing down said kid offense, or printing social media inappropriate post and mailing it, anonymously to the parent allows the relationship with the parent and the child to continue without being awkward.
    The parent can deal with the issue as they see fit. It’s sometimes important for me, as mom, to continue to have a good relationship with the offending child.

    • Sam
      Sam says:

      Sending something or contacting someone anonymously is such a bull $hit move. If you can’t just come forward, don’t bother. Getting bad news is hard enough, but adding in the anonymous factor makes things worse. You are constantly wondering who it was that sent it while also trying to figure out if the info is real. It’s a horrible feeling…

  25. Tread lightly
    Tread lightly says:

    DENIAL. Some parents reside there. When my kids were in High School. Through open communication with my kid, and observing unusual behavior, (asking Mid-week if they could sleep over at a friends house that weekend). I found out about the party ahead of time. I called the parents, was assured that there was no party- both parents were going to be gone, and the kid staying with relatives…. My son just misunderstood… Well the party went on. My kid felt very betrayed by me.

    Moral of the story from my perspective was, protect the relationship with your own kids, Venture cautiously into what you disclose to others, based on your relationship with them, and how you have discovered the information.

  26. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Such an awesome post. I have told my friends this so many times. I can’t fix it, if I don’t know about it. Thanks!!

  27. PandaJ
    PandaJ says:

    I work with small children, ages 3-5. We have a policy of telling parents about any incidents- ranging from physical violence to throwing a fit to being rude. It has been disheartening to see how many parents shrug it off or just chalk it up to “That’s just the way they are.”. We’ve developed a parenting culture that excuses lazy parenting and it’s just easiest to ignore these issues. Until we start acknowledging that parenting requires more than having everyone dressed and fed, how can we expect people to be consistent and correct and teach their children how to behave?

  28. Stomperdad
    Stomperdad says:

    First, I would say something to the kid so they would know that I knew. Then I would (hopefully) tell the parent. And if you came out of he bathroom with TP stuck to your foot, I would tell you.

  29. cCrist
    cCrist says:

    YES! It drives me crazy when a person sees their child doing thing and refuses to do anything or tell their child to stop behavior. At the pool the other day, this kid came in and immediately picked up my son’s diving toys from beside our chair and started tossing them into the 8 ft. The mother just sing-songed out, over and over, have you asked if you can play with those? The child completely ignored her and kept doing it. He was not a strong enough swimmer to go get the toys and my child retrieved them and brought them back to our chair, and the kid did it again. The mom responded the same way. Not once getting up and telling her child to stop and making him ask. My son is 6 and was getting tired so I finally stepped in and said Please, stop. The kid still tried to pick them up and toss them again! I finally told the mom unless she wanted to swim to the bottom of the 8 ft and get our toys she needed to stop her kid. She stopped him, but I was the bad guy.

  30. Angela K. Quinn
    Angela K. Quinn says:

    You started this article with the question should you respond in the two scenarios.

    1st: the one where your child was hit in the head with the rock. The answer is no, absolutely not. Not now and not then under the circumstances you describe because you say that the child himself showed remorse. That is much better than having a parent reprimand him any day. His own contrite heart is your most likely remedy to stone throwing not your verbal reprimands.

    2nd: I have read and re-read the wording of your post to make sure that I do not misunderstand the situation before I post this comment and sound harsh or uncaring. My answer is again no, absolutely not. To mention what you have heard to anyone is to spread hearsay. You have been told something about someone that you don’t even really know. The spreading of this kind of humor had the potential to possibly help if you are believed and the potential to turn into all types of rude gossip whether it is true or false. This kind of thing can change a person’s whole future and many times it is a small thing blown out of proportion but the person involved never gets to tell their side before tongues wag. To test my theory let me ask you this, what is now your opinion of this person of whom you have absolutely no proof but the word of a gossip? So much pain is caused by information passed and concealed as “it if for the best and necessary”.

    I pray you will at least consider for a moment my opinion since you did ask for it. Thank you.

  31. Giada Weiss
    Giada Weiss says:

    We all say we want to know but sometimes don’t HEAR what others are saying. Just putting that out there for thought. But you are right. I was told my Mom #1 that the son of Mom #2 was the big drug dealer at our local high school. I tortured myself whether to tell Mom #2 what I had heard. I didn’t KNOW it.

    Son of Mom #2 went on to have a significant drug problem, which continues to this day. There is no doubt that it would have been the end of our friendship if I had said anything AND that it would not have resulted in any changes for that kid. What would Mom #2 do with this info? Confront her son, who would deny it. Or maybe they already knew. These are tough issues.

  32. Kirsten
    Kirsten says:

    So…..I have a son who is frequently out of line. He has been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety disorder and RAD. He is adopted and suffered abuse in his early life. I also have a daughter who is adopted and has zero residual issues….she is very rarely out of line. I rarely take eyes off my son, anywhere. And I quickly move to correct behavior. But, I do it in a very specific way as taught by our medical team of trauma therapists and psych doctors. Our friends are all aware and are kind. They often invite both kids to playdates, but if I cannot be there, I usually would only send my daughter so as to not put either my son or my friend in a difficult position.

    In this context, I definitely would want to hear if my daughter did anything that needed correcting….absolutely. in theory I should want to know about my son….but truth be told, it is sad and exhausting to hear all the minor infractions and I so so appreciate my friends who let the little things go (too touchy or can’t wait in line etc). More important though is that I really need for other people NOT to discipline my kid. Ibhave been trained to do it a very specific way. He has consequences for actions though they may not be immediately apparent to a random parent on a playground. They are designed to give him consequences without shame. It can go very very badly if his PTSD gets triggered….but a random parent who doesn’t know us would not know what they are doing until it’s too late. I try hard to always have eyes on him, but if my daughter falls and skins a knee….well, it could happen that I don’t see a problem arising. Then, it would really be best for a patent to tell me, but not to intervene with my child.

    Just throw this out as food for thought. You don’t always know what is going on in families….the kid might not actually be an asshole….and the parent might not be one either. It’s hard to judge sometimes….

    • Russty Brazil
      Russty Brazil says:

      Thank you so much for what you said. This was a great reminder that not all kids can handle the same things. My daughter who has different medical issues can have a meltdown in a heartbeat. I’m sure other parents see me as coddling her in public, when the reality is that I’m trying to contain the situation and at the same time make her feel safe. She is not a danger to other kids, but can be a danger to herself. I am lucky to have her big sister who is great with her and can often pick her up and help to soothe her, but that doesn’t always work and sometimes we have to just leave. I’m sure other parents don’t understand.

    • Karen
      Karen says:

      I hear you! I also have an adopted son; he appears to be your average boy until “something happens,” and that something is unpredictable, impulsive and occasionally frightening. People say to me “You’re over-reacting! He’s just being a boy!” Until there’s an incident, and then they want him to be isolated from others. Hearing about the minor infractions aggravates me terribly because I know it can be so much worse, but I understand parents wanting to share & call attention to it in hopes of stopping it. I think, in my situation at least, most peoples’ ideas of what constitutes “bad behavior” is limited to what they know; if you have a kid who can’t stand quietly in line, or occasionally hits another kid, count your blessings. Mine is the kid climbing the walls & trying to hang from the light fixture. Or sneaking off & throwing everyone in a panic. Or trying to climb into the bison enclosure at the zoo and physically resisting me, his sister, & several adults who are trying to stop him. (He was 4). When a parent tells me “Your kid threw sand!” at the park.. I say thank you and whisper a prayer I can get him off playground quickly without exacerbating whatever has set him off. Sometimes this involves a redirection, which can sound like a reward to other parents.
      So I guess what I want to add is, Yes, some parents truly don’t want to know their little angel is a beast (I’ve experienced this too, when I’ve done the informing). Some parents do want to know and spring into action. Some parents (like me) just need you to know “I hear you, you’re right, it’s bad behavior, but if I go tearing across the playground to scold this child, all hell will break loose.”
      I’m not saying “Don’t tell me,” because bad behavior is unacceptable, regardless of a child’s situation or history, and I do want (and need) to know. I’m saying “Don’t freak out/judge me” if I don’t handle it the way you would, or react the way you think I should react. I’m saying not every situation is what it appears to be. Some kids do truly have issues–some carefully controlled, not readily apparent issues–and some parents do have special training. Some parents desperately want to be part of that village everyone keeps talking about. I’m a huge fan of second chances.

  33. Kiki
    Kiki says:

    I get why you are saying this….but.

    No way would I do that. There’s no upside for me, and no way for me to know if you are this parent or one who will not react well to something like this. The best possible result is an unhappy mom, the worst case scenario is Tiger Mom In My Face.


  34. Elle M.
    Elle M. says:

    Parents don’t want to be told their child is misbehaving. I’ve tried in the sweetest, non-judgemental, oh-by-the-way-thought-you-should-know-I-did-the-same-thing when I was a kid, no biggie, etc, and it has never been received well. Keep in mind I am 40, married with college aged kids and so zero competition b/c I don’t have a child. I have spoken to parents of children I have coached (8 yrs old) and parents of high schoolers. Every single mother feels intense shame and reacts defensively or with a cold shoulder. “Helping” is a thankless job and this messenger has been shot too many times. I’ll tell you if you have food in your teeth. Kids? Nope. That’s on you. Husband cheating? Made that mistake, too. The only solution there is tell HIM to tell his wife in 48 hours or you’ll tell the whole world. It works beautifully.

  35. Maggie
    Maggie says:

    I might copy this and ask parents at a school open house to highlight the things they want to know about and cross off those they don’t. While some of you are saying that you would not say anything, because the parent might react poorly, please keep that in mind the next time that you hear from your child’s teacher. We are faced with this scenario often…telling parents their sweet angel was a bully, asshole, rude, disrespectful, thief…etc. It is never an easy thing to have to tell a parent. BUT, you’d be amazed at the number of parents that then turn and attack the teacher.

    We also, as a nation, need to look at what we choose to call entertainment. Our youth are bombarded with people acting like assholes from sports to reality T.V, to Congress. How can we raise respectful children when we cheer ugly behavior and pay to have it brought into our living rooms?

    Just some thoughts. I loved the article.

    • Jessie
      Jessie says:

      It’s funny, from other parents,yeah, I wanna hear if my kid is full on asshole, otherwise I’m OK with the other parents managing if I’m, for some reason, not there. But from a teacher, I want to hear it all. Every little piece of assholery….I feel like teachers are around them more and more capable and equipped to see patterns and make judgements on them.
      I’d rather hear from them, all day.

  36. melissa
    melissa says:

    sort of. see, i appreciate being told, but unless it involves violence or screaming or hogging the swings, i will not appreciate a random stranger telling me my child is misbehaving (please note i consider verbal abuse violence as well) because i am not raising my children to their rules. teachers, absolutely, but people who dont know me? not so much. if my kid kicked yours, tell me and i will deal with it. but if my kid said a toy is stupid, dont come dob on her (actual example of an actual incident) about it just because you dont let your children say the word. stupid isnt swearing unless it is directed at a person in my house, so im not going to give a shit, and im going to think youre an interfering judgmental cow. sorry, but thats how it is.
    my only issue is when someone feels the need to be all business like and serious, sit me down like theres a massive issue to tell me that my child has done something – which i absolutely agree was unacceptable and she was disciplined accordingly – and they felt i should know because obviously it was way out of line….. and then ten minutes later, when their kid does it, its somehow cute, and when i point that out deny that it is the same thing. especially when my child never did anything like that before meeting their kid. she didnt necessarily learn it from that kid – god knows she can come up with enough crap on her own – but if it is wrong when mine does it by her standards, why is it ok for HER child? that is where i have issues.
    however, if my wedgie is showing or i have cake in my hair, please tell me.

  37. KAT
    KAT says:

    I think it is important here to distinguish between “your kid is BEHAVING like an asshole” and “your kid is an asshole”. As parents, we all encounter other kids that have moments that they are little jerks or generally just have bad behavior. Hell, sometimes we think our own kids are behaving like little assholes, but that doesn’t mean they ARE assholes. It just means the parents need to be watching and/or correcting this behavior so the child learns what is socially appropriate and what is not. I myself have been on the receiving end of the “your kid is a little asshole” statement, from my own sister nonetheless (never mind the fact that her daughter was actually in the wrong about an argument she started with with my kid). It came out of her mouth, it ended badly, and we haven’t talked since. My point is that it destroys friendships, it destroys relationships, it destroys families. So even if you feel someone’s kid is being an asshole, you should find a constructive way of addressing the situation because quite frankly, if you feel the need to actually tell someone else that there kid IS an asshole, you are actually the asshole.

  38. Tracie
    Tracie says:

    I completely agree and feel the same way! I want to know what my kids are doing, good or bad. Unfortunately, is always seems like the kids who really need correction have parents who don’t want to know. My teenage sons had some friends to our cabin, and one of the friends did something illegal and dangerous. I let all the parents know, because the other kids watched it happen and didn’t stop him. Every parent and kid involved apologized, all kids were disciplined EXCEPT the kid that did it! He lied to his mom and told her it was someone else. She told me he felt like he was being ganged up on, and he didn’t do it. She stopped speaking to me when I presented her with irrefutable evidence. That kid had since asked to come to my house. I told my kids to tell him he had to apologize and admit what he did first, because I won’t have liars and people I can’t trust at my house. He has yet to do so. Having a mom that would rather bury her head in the sand is doing this kid no favors. He’s since been involved in at least 1 other illegal activity that I know of. I’m willing to bet that prisons are just full of people who’s parents never dealt with them correctly the first time they were told their kids did something wrong.

  39. Debbie Viola
    Debbie Viola says:

    The world would be a much better, kinder place if everyone watched over their kids and taught them to respect other people and property. My kids are grown now, but I am scared for the world my young grandchildren are growing up in. It seems like those that hold their children accountable for their actions are in the majority.

    Debbie Viola

  40. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Great article. I so agree. And yet, I have had a couple of moms get mad at me for telling them things I thought they should know about their kids. One mom (a friend of mine!) was so mean to me when I told her that her child was looking at porn on my computer. She accused me of lying and making things up. “How dare you accuse my daughter??” She said to me. This has made it hard for me to tell other moms stuff because I am always nervous they will get mad. But I always tell, because I would want to know if it were my kid!

  41. amy
    amy says:

    Last year my niece’s took my son who was 4 at the time to the park and some little kids pushed him down some stairs and the dad just watched and did nothing but took the kids and left now on another note this happened this year at school my son must not have liked what some little boy was doing or something because he took the kids head and bashed it on the table……….

  42. Claire
    Claire says:

    Refreshing! As a teacher, I find that a lot of parents don’t want to know the truth. I totally feel the same way as you, I want to know!

  43. Sally
    Sally says:

    I’d rather be told that they thought my child was being rude, then for someone else to discipline my child. I had a neighbor (an adult neighbor) yell at my child that she was just mean, and a bully in front of other neighborhood children because my daughter spoke up and told her children they shouldn’t be doing something. (They were making a mess of another neighbors flower bed…. kicking woodchips all over). My daughter felt humiliated, and in the end I had to go talk to the other mom and let her know I’d rather her tell me the behavior she thought was bad then to call my child names. Tell me and I will take care of it. Needless to say she doesn’t talk to me and my child chooses not to play with hers.

  44. Jessie
    Jessie says:

    Yeah, I guess I want to know, but I think everyone also sees different stuff as real issues. For example, if someone told me my kids (when they become teenagers, they’re 1 and 2 now) were looking at porn, I wouldn’t think that’s a big deal.
    I guess I would thank them so I can have another realistic sex discussion with them but I don’t consider that a problem.


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