Yes, I Am One of THOSE Moms

I realized last week that I am one of those moms who butts in when my kids aren’t getting treated fairly. In my defense, I am a teacher, and sometimes that teacher persona takes over, but I am wondering if I am truly helping or just making the situation worse. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

A while back (a LONG while- like, when Ephraim was 2) we were at an indoor playground in a mall that had a little slide. There were a couple of kids who were going up the slide instead of down it. Had no other kids been around, I would not have cared, but there were a bunch of kids, including some toddlers, trying to go down the slide the correct way. And here were these two hooligans getting in everyone’s way. So I went over there and asked the two to go up the steps to the slide and come down the right way. Then I proceeded to stand there and play slide police for about 10 minutes. No parent approached me or shot me dirty looks, so I figured I was okay.

Fast forward to last week. After Ephraim’s T-ball game, the kids wanted to play at the ball park playground. There’s a spinny-thingy (don’t you love my eloquent description?) that my kids wanted to play on, but two girls were already on it. I told Madeleine and Ephraim to wait a few minutes and the girls would probably get off. Ten minutes later, the girls were still on, and in fact, the older girl was making the younger girl run in circles and spin the contraption while she (the older girl) just rode. Madeleine told me that she really wanted to have a turn, so I told her to go over to the girls and ask if she could have a turn. (You have to give me a little credit for trying to make my kid solve her problem herself before I butt in.) Well, the girls didn’t move. Here’s how the conversation (with the older girl) went:

Me: Hey, you guys have been on it a while. Can my kids have a turn?
Girl: We’ve only been on it 4 minutes.
Me: Well, 4 minutes is a long time. Someone else wants a turn.
Annoying Girl: We’re on it right now.
Me: And you can get back on after they have a turn.
Bratty Girl: Well, okay but she (pointing to younger girl) has to push!

In the end, my kids got to ride, but I was thinking some pretty terrible things about that little girl. And, I admit, about her mom, who was watching all this.

So here’s my question. Am I right or wrong? When do parents let their kids fight their own battles and maybe get hurt a little? When do parents get involved and try to help solve their kids’ problems? Where is the line?


  1. no idea, but I think you taught your kids that sometimes you have to stand up for what is right. Now, if your kids were, say 15, then maybe you were butting in, but they’re still young. They can’t stand up for themselves to bigger kids- I believe it is our job as Moms (or parents) to show them how it’s done.

    In an ideal world the mom of those girls would have seen your children waiting and instructed her kids to get off and give them a turn. However, it seems that more and more parents want someone else to do their job (that way they’re not the “bad guy”) so you did what you had to do.

    Good job, Mom!!! 😉

  2. Karen says:

    I always try to sit back and let them resolve their own problems first, but every now and then mama bear comes out and I have to defend them. So I totally understand 🙂

  3. Margie says:

    Karissa, I totally agree with the way you handled both circumstances. The only thing I’ve done differently in the past is — especially if we are at a local park, close to home, and I know the parent is watching because I’ve seen the parent at the park before or because I’ve seen the children in question running over to someone — I usually go over to the parent/adult, introduce myself, find some way to compliment their child’s playing ability and then say that my child wants a turn, wants to play with them, tell them my child’s name, ask their child’s name.

    I agree that many parents will let other parents do the “parenting” I also know that around here there are a lot of nannies of various ages that will not watch the children in their care very closely, so introducing myself to the adult lets me in on the caregiver situation and also lets the person know that I am watching more than how my children behave, I’m watching how they’re treated and I care about them all.

  4. Karla says:

    Well I am not sure there is a right or a wrong in this situation…to me it is almost more of a personality issue. Some people would feel comfortable stepping in and others would not. I have actually gone both routes with Michael. I have stepped in before but I have also at times simply told Michael he would have to wait till another time. In both cases, however, I used it as a chance to talk with him about appropriate behavior. I would say something along the lines of this is why we have to be careful how we play at a playground. He is very aware of how I feel about children not being nice or fair with other children, especially when they are smaller. All you can do is teach YOUR children well. I have had a few very proud moments when he would himself help to organize or change the behavior on a playground to include those younger or smaller than himself.

    • kksorrell says:

      I am so glad that he is sensitive to playing fairly. And you made a good point: either way, use it as a teachable moment!

  5. wherewander says:

    I really couldn´t say but I guess that Karla made a good point. I think of me and my own childhood when I was alone to fight my battles and how good it was when for once one of my parents stood by me.

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