I have been going to different playgroups and parks and there is definitely a group of parents that like it easy. That means they stay on the benches and engage in an interesting conversation with other parents. While I don’t find it wrong at all as I also like to have a chat with grown ups, I believe it is my responsibility to watch my kids, too. I may be engrossed in a lively conversation with my friend and yet, I still keep an eye on my children at the same time. Most of all, because I want to be sure they are safe and in the park. That being said, I am able to spot a dangerous situation and help my 3 year old if she is in danger. But I see many parents simply assume that because their kid is older that doesn’t mean they need to be watched at all. But that is just plain wrong in my opinion. The older kids may not require help but they need some parenting, too.
Recently I observed a scene where a couple of 6 year olds played under a play structure and bluntly told my 3 year old to go away. As I overheard it I asked them why, a park is for everyone. My thoughts on that are that they don’t need to play with my child but telling her to go away is rude. There was enough room for everyone to play. I understand that older kids don’t always want to include little ones in their play and I am fine with that. But I believe parents need to teach them respect to other people, especially younger ones. Park is not a private property where a 6 year old can dictate rules who can use what space, it is for everyone. So how can you teach your child if you are not there to observe that behavior?
Another example. My older daughter was playing tag with 3 younger boys. While at the beginning it was a totally innocent play, it suddenly became violent where the boys caught her and tried to knock her down on the ground. She yelled no and that made them even more agitated. One of them tried to kick her because he was mad she didn’t let him do what he wanted. The parents were not there to see what was happening at all. Such behavior is not something I would like my children to display but there was no mom or dad to tell them that it was not acceptable. I was vey upset about this.
I have talked to many parents about their parenting styles. Some have philosophy that kids can figure it our on their own. Partly, I have to agree with this because most of my childhood I spent roaming around my neighborhood with my friends and parents were not there at all. But we were told to be polite and treat everyone with respect. Today, however, we live in a different world and since parents are already in the park with kids they probably should pay more attention to the conflicts. Leaving everything to kids may be a good option if they have a good upbringing and strong values. But letting them be strong and confident on expense of someone else is not always a good idea. I teach my girls that I want them to be independent and self-confident and stand their ground but not to hurt someone’s feelings or bodies in the process. That means I want them to know when they are right it is OK to say NO or YES and walk away from a danger but not to make someone else miserable just because.
I find some parents bluntly egoistical and teaching that to their kids. They are accepting to see their kids misbehaving, hurting others, destroying other kids toys or they close their eyes to that. Yet, they seem to be offended when the same happens to their children, then they become very outspoken and loud in defending their offspring. I think we need to be fair and protect other people’s children and their toys, too. We need to show our children that other people have feelings and deserve fairness.