Once upon a time, two families went on holidays together. They had five kids between them, and if there was any bickering or trouble, one of the parents would deal with it – not all four. Everyone agreed with each other’s decisions and were happy for their child to be reprimanded by whichever parent was handling the situation.
It’s a nice fairytale, isn’t it?
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One I’ve heard of in urban legend, but never experienced in real life, because I think there’s only one time when it’s acceptable to discipline someone else’s child; when their parent isn’t there.
Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble; maybe not immediately, but eventually.
By ‘discipline’ I don’t mean asking for a please or thank you. I don’t mean shouting “knock it off” when there’s six kids screaming in the pool. I don’t mean stepping in when there’s a safety issue. I don’t mean telling a visiting child, “this is the rule in our house.”
All of that is fine – and to be expected. I’ve certainly done those things to other people’s kids, and I don’t count that as disciplining. It’s basic respect and manners.
But when the parent of a child is present, and discipline – parenting which leads to punishment – is required, it’s up to them; even if that means they choose not to.
It. Is. Up. To. Them.
I feel strongly about this; every parent has a right to discipline their children as they choose. You do not know what that family’s story is, what issues that had that morning, or are working on in private.
So if a parent is there, butt out. Shhh. Stop it.