At what point do you step in with someone else’s child? I think it’s easy when you’re a teacher or someone who is to be in charge of said child (babysitter, etc.) because the parent isn’t around and you can expect them to maintain a certain level of behavior. The gray area is when you are at a party/event/get-together and someone else’s child starts acting out. Now, I have good reason to bring this subject up, because I was recently witness to a situation that I wish I had acted on. No one was hurt but that doesn’t mean that child’s behavior won’t hurt someone in the future.
When several families are in one place to socialize and have a good time, it’s hard to keep track of children sometimes. Maybe I’m ‘that’ mom who likes to frequently check on her kids to make sure that not only are they behaving, but also not getting into any dangerous situations (when you live in the country, there are plenty of places to get in trouble :-p) but I’m fairly secure with that title. I’d much rather someone tease me about how I raise my children than have to make frequent hospital trips or worry that my kids said something ugly to someone else’s. And don’t get me wrong, I let my kids have some freedoms, but there are also consequences for certain behaviors and things I don’t allow. I am of the impression that more than likely, I probably won’t know if my child needs reprimanded unless I at least somewhat supervise.
Anyways, back to my question, when is it ok to intervene? At a get-together recently, my boys were running around and playing, having a good time, when my youngest comes up to tell me that a little boy is pointing a gun at and threatening to shoot him. Poor little guy thought it was real because that’s what the older kid told him. I didn’t do much other than just told my son not to play with or around the boy anymore. You see, in our house, we don’t allow ANY guns (sometimes not even water guns) to be pointed at anyone be they toy or otherwise. We feel it’s just safer that way and helps to develop a healthy respect for something so powerful. It’s the way I was raised and I believe it’s a good rule to follow. Back to the social event and a short time later, my oldest comes to tell my husband the same thing, that this kid is pointing a (toy) gun at people. I believe Mark’s advice was, “Tell him to knock that sh*t off.” I really don’t know exactly what my son went and told the kid, but all was quiet for the most part, at least until I looked out the door about 10 minutes later and saw the kid in question. What I witnessed made me sick to my stomach and like I said before, I wish I had done something. The little boy with the toy gun had it pointed at his chin and he closed his eyes and pulled the trigger….and THEN he made the little girl next to him hold still while he did the same thing to her!! It all happened so fast and they proceeded into the house that I think I was still in shock. What made it even worse is when I found out later that it was an air soft gun, not a toy gun. In my humble opinion, this was WRONG… I don’t care in the least to hear arguments about how they were just playing because my next question would be, “What is this teaching those kids?” How on earth can you even begin to think those kids will have any kind of respect for firearms with that being allowed to happen?
My husband and I are raising our boys in the way I was raised to repsect guns. We do NOT handle guns without adult supervision. We treat EVERY gun as if it were loaded. We do NOT EVER point a gun at something that we don’t want to shoot/kill (even if gun is unloaded) and this includes handling, the barrel is ALWAYS pointed in a safe direction. We ALWAYS keep our finger off the trigger until ready to fire. And we know and respect that they are tools not to be taken lightly or feared, but to be educated about. I have been so well trained with these rules that they are second nature. I cringe deep down in every part of me when I see a gun pointed at a person, no matter the reason (it’s unloaded, being cleaned, or they didn’t even realize it) and I hope to raise our boys the same way.
So what do you think is the best way to handle the situation I described? Do I address the kids? The parents? Both? Because in that situation I don’t think it would be good enough to just tell my kids to stay away. I’m certain it would be difficult to live with if I ever found out something happened and I hadn’t done my part to step in and stop it.