An Open Letter To the Parent Who Just Tried to Discipline My Child


Dear Parent I’m Going to Assume Means Well because the Alternative is that You are Just a Jerk Who Just Tried to Discipline my Child,

Unless my child is in imminent danger and you are yelling for her to stop running into traffic as a bus barrels down on her as you scream, “NO! Get back here right now! Stop it right now!” in order to save her life, or the life of another child is in danger thanks to her behavior and you are screaming, “Do not push that child off the edge of the stairs!” in an effort to save the other child’s life, do not dare discipline my child in front of me. It’s inappropriate, and that’s just how it is. I am a firm believer in disciplining my child when he or she is doing something wrong, but I’m not down with you doing the same while I stand right here.

Here’s the deal; we are all different. Perhaps I’m okay with my child doing what she’s doing, and that is why I’m not disciplining her. Perhaps I’m not ignoring her and unaware of her actions; perhaps what you are so offended by is just fine by me. The thing is that you just don’t know, and if I’m standing right there watching and not disciplining her, chances are good I don’t want you to step in and handle the situation for me.

Listen – I know that sometimes there are situations in life that require you intervene and discipline my children on my behalf when I am standing right there in front of you. Perhaps that situation occurs when my child is endangering the life of another, her own life or we are in your home and she is breaking one of your rules. Even then, however, I’d prefer you simply say to me, “May I ask your daughter to please take her cup back into the kitchen? Since we have white carpet and don’t allow our kids in the living room with their cups, I’d like to enforce that rule,” to which I will happily reply, “Please, go ahead,” and all will be well. In fact, I don’t mind you saying something to my kids about the rules in your home at any time so long as you’re not sticking her in time out for breaking them unknowingly, you know?

I also have no problem with babysitters and teachers and coaches disciplining my kids when they break the rules. However, when I am standing right there, please do not discipline my child. If you honestly believe that I am not aware of a situation, please say something to me such as, “Your daughter just dumped a bucket of sand on my daughter’s head and she’s very upset,” and I will then thank you for letting me know and handle the situation myself. However, don’t let me catch you lecturing my child on appropriate behavior when I’m right there and completely clueless as to what is happening.

You see, I deal with this a lot. There is a certain family member in my life that has no boundaries whatsoever when it comes to disciplining my children. This person does not always agree with my particular method of parenting and will actually interrupt me as I am speaking to my child about her behavior and starting lecturing her or even attempt to send her to time out – and it makes me nuts. This person has been asked time and time again to stop, but it never works. I was even made aware recently that she actually spanked one of my children at one point – something we do not do, do not believe in and will not resort to (hey, to each his own).

I was furious. I’m all about her being in charge when we are not here and she’s in our home caring for our kids, but I am not all right with her putting her hands on my children and I am not all right with her taking discipline into her own hands when I’m already handling it. As a parent, it’s my firm belief that it is my job to discipline my child; not yours.

So to those of you that feel the overwhelming need to impose your parenting beliefs on my kids as I stand right there watching; give it a rest. I’m not hating on you. I’m just saying that I’m not all right with that. I like to think that you have my best interests and the best interests of my child at heart and you are doing what you feel is right, but it’s not right. It’s not right unless you are her primary caregiver in my absence or she is endangering a life.

On that same note, when your kids are in my house and my kids come out of their bedrooms to tell me that your kids are disobeying some of the most basic and most amazing rules – like no drawing on the walls with markers – and I go in there to make them stop, perhaps you might want to follow and handle that situation. I feel quite awkward in my own home when another child is doing something of this nature when I’m clearly upset about and you don’t seem to think that it’s a big deal. Am I to assume that your kids are allowed to use markers on the walls in their own home, and it’s no big deal whatsoever?

You see, I like to put myself in the shoes of others before I judge, and I often see situations from both sides. When my kid is misbehaving at your home, I know it’s hard not to want to say something to them, but it’s also inappropriate when their parent is present. If you do have an issue, speak to the parent and let them handle it. Put yourself in my shoes and ask yourself if you would love to find me disciplining your kids in my house with you right there.

You wouldn’t; I know this. Remember, friends; discipline someone’s child only if it’s a matter of life or death or mom and dad left you in charge. Thanks and that’s really all.

Photo by Getty Images


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