Vigilante Parenting

They strike fear into the hearts of reasonable and well mannered parents everywhere.They are the dads that scream at you and your 5 year-old on the playgroundbecause your son’s kickball accidentally landed on his daughter. They are themothers who call your house to “inform you” that your 7 year-old would not holdher daughter’s hand on the class field trip. They are the people who would callthe police if you ever attempted to leave your sleeping toddler in the car(windows open of course) and race into the dry cleaner. They are the motherswho tell the teacher how to manage her classroom.They are the vigilantes, the KGB, the parenting police. They lurk, watching andwaiting to strike the moment you make a mistake. Racing over to "helpfully" point out justhow awful you/your children are before you can even process what’s happened. They are the people who, despite all evidence to the contrary, believe they know more and better about your children that you do.

When confronted with these officious individuals the best thing a well manneredmother can do is smile politely and say “I’m terribly sorry but I never involvemyself in my children’s disputes” or “I appreciate your concern, but I’ve gotthis. Thank you.” If an apology is in order do so pleasantly and quickly, “I amso sorry about that. Algernon is working on his hand-eye coordination. Look atthe time! We must run - he has fencing in 20 minutes. Goodbye.” Do not linger.Do not over-explain. They are waiting for an opening to exhibit theirsuperior knowledge and skill in all things parental.

The most frustrating part of such encounters aside from the total invasion of spaceand privacy is that these people are out there making hard working, wellmannered modern mothers doubt themselves and their children. Well cringe no more! Doubt no more! You are doing a fine job and you do not need to stand aroundlistening to the ill-mannered, know-it-all, playground pariahs.


Megan said...

Is a well mannered mother ever allowed to deck the hockey Dad who, having never played hockey, gets in her 8 year-old goalie's face to tell him to pay better attention when the poor child has had over 240 shots in 204 minutes of play and allowed only 25 goals (one of said goals which was scored by this man's son who was "playing" defense). Assuming physical violence is out, how should a well mannered hockey mother proceed?


It's even worse when they criticize the fact that your children are playing "unsupervised" in their own (i.e. MY) front yard...even though you are right inside preparing them a healthy dinner and periodically peeking out the window to ensure they do not (a) kill each other or (b) stray from their own front yard...(my children are 9, 7 and 6...they need reminders to watch for cars before going after their wayward ball, don't talk to strangers, etc., but I think they are capable of playing 4-square in the driveway without me hovering over them).

Anonymous said...

One would think their time would be better spent monitoring their own children -- perhaps telling them not to try to hold hands with an unwilling victim!!

Elizabeth Hammond Pyle said...

Megan, I am thinking that youth hockey and manners might deserve an entire post of its own... oh there is so so much material.

Anonymous said... have just described my neighbor....I hope XXXXXXX reads your post and takes the hint!!!

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