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When someone else disciplines your child

Just when I thought I couldn’t get any more surprises as a parent, this happens to me.

It was one of my most confronting experiences as a parent, and one that really opened my eyes to the parent I am and want to be.

I was recently at a pharmacy getting some iron supplements for my pregnancy (not uncommon I hear).

My little one had been so good all morning. He came with me to the hour long midwife appointment at the hospital. Then we spent some time walking around a nearby pond looking for ducks. We then popped into the pharmacy on our way back to the car.

Prisoner behind jail bars

I was being served by a woman who was probably twenty years my senior, so around about 50 years of age. A bit younger than my Mum, I guess.

Bub was at my feet while the pharmacy assistant and I were discussing folate levels in multi-vitamins. “No I don’t want a multi-vitamin,” I said again. “The folate levels give me headaches”. I’m not sure she believed me.

Bub reached for the nearest object off the closest shelf. Some echinacea.

“Uh huh,” I said to him taking the container of pills. “No, thank you”. And I put the container on the shelf.

The pharmacy assistant moved me a few steps away to the Blackmores multi-vitamin range.

Then I hear her say loudly.

“Uh huh… NO!”

I looked down and saw my little one had grabbed the container again. He wasn’t putting it in his mouth. He wasn’t banging a glass shelf. He wasn’t holding a bag of syringes. He wasn’t pulling all the containers off the shelf. He simply had it in his hands and was looking at the label.

She didn’t yell or scream. But her voice was raised and piercing nonetheless.

I felt miffed.

Actually, no I didn’t. I was p!ssed off!

I have never had anyone ever discipline my child in front of me. I have always been there putting boundaries and guidance in place for him myself. I’m actually quite strict on him. When we are out at restaurants, I don’t let him run around the tables. When we are at someone else house, I make sure he only touches toys. He doesn’t run through supermarkets, and he must always hold my hand on the street, in shopping centres and in car parks.

I wanted to say to her, “I’ll do the parenting thank you,” and give her one of my dirty mummy looks, which means ‘bring it biatch! (I save these looks for moments such as these).

But I didn’t. Instead I bent down to my little one’s level and took the container from his hands and said, ‘No, thank you sweetheart. You’ve been such a good boy all morning, I will only be a second and we can go.” I then held his hand and went back to the lady.

I was surprised at my response to be honest.

I was surprised that I reacted so strongly to another person growling at my son when I was there to do it myself. Isn’t it an un-written rule that when the parent is present it is the parent’s responsibility to discipline their children, not strangers? Unless of course another child is hurt, that child is in danger, or the parent doesn’t see, which I know happens sometimes in parks. But this wasn’t any of those situations, and he wasn’t doing anything ‘naughty’. He was doing what all kids of his age do, exploring his environment.

I was also surprised at my ability to remain calm. I realise that despite my initial regret at not telling her off for growling at my son, I actually led by example. I showed her there were much better techniques at guiding children than raising your voice. I showed her that I, the parent, was actually in control, and that she didn’t need to step in at all.

I still think she’s a stupid cow, but I am proud of my gentle parenting style, even when I wanted to jam the echinacea down her throat.

Has a stranger ever disciplined your child in front of you? How did you respond?

You think this is confronting, check out My Most Defining Moment as a Mother.

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About Lauren Jackman (157 Articles)
Lauren Jackman is the author of Canberra Mummy. A self-confessed perfectionist, Lauren writes about the truth about pregnancy and parenting for perfectionist mummies. Lauren is a mum, wife, author, runner and a not a bad cook