A Parenting Question

This is a situation that I witnessed while on the bus this week and I’d like to know what you would do.

There is a mother with two children (both about 2 – 3 years old) in a stroller. The girl is sleeping in the front and the boy is playing with the mother’s cell phone. The phone starts ringing, so the mother takes the cell phone and answers it. The boy starts making motions to try to grab then phone and when the mom ignores him, he starts screaming. When that doesn’t work, he starts crying. The mother continues her conversation and I can see the boy’s brain working. He looks at his sleeping sister then at the phone and starts hitting his sister. She wakes up and also starts crying. The mom tries to calm down her daughter, finishes her conversation and then soothes her back into sleeping. Eventually, she gives the cell phone back to her son.

The thing that really bothers me about this is that even after he hit his sister, he got the cell phone back. I do understand the pressure in public situations to keep your children quiet but should that take precedence over keeping boundaries?

If you were the mother, what would you have done?

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “A Parenting Question

  1. Amanda

    It’s always so hard to say what I would do, as I don’t have children of my own yet. However, I don’t buy into that theory that if you aren’t a parent you can’t have opinions on parenting! After all, we all HAVE parents and we all have to interact with each other out in the world.
    I feel for that mom, as it can’t be easy being on public transportation with two children in a stroller. Still, I feel like when the child starts screaming you need to end your conversation and deal with that, especially when you’re in a public place where nobody else can escape the screaming. Kids will yell, it’s the nature of things, but when they’re acting up for attention I feel like parents need to DO something, not just ignore it and hope it stops.
    There was somebody in Target yesterday (don’t know if it was mom or dad) with a toddler. I don’t know what was happening, but this child was screaming so loudly that you could literally hear them everywhere in the store. Targets are pretty huge…impressive lung capacity on the kid!

  2. I’ve only had Essie for a month or so but sometimes she just has to bark at us. We could try to distract her give her the toys and what not but sometimes the best way to get her to shut up is to just ignore her.

    We know she’s well fed, has toys, just went to the bathroom and all that. Sometimes she just wants to be as annoying as possible.

    It’s the same with kids, especially if they’re tired. They’re super cranky and like to make noise. Could the mother have distracted him by giving him a different toy, maybe. The thing is no one knows really.

    Maybe he has a habit of acting up when given too much attention in public or she knew he was super tired too but wouldn’t sleep so he was extra cranky. We don’t know their situation just by observing a person a few feet away.

  3. Jen

    Honestly, my child wouldn’t be playing with my cell phone to begin with, as it’s not a toy and I refuse to use it as a “distraction” in difficult situations. Secondly, the moment the child started screaming, I would have gotten off the phone and addressed the issue with the child by correcting him and NOT giving him the cellphone back (even though he wouldn’t have had it in the first place). I am a strong believer in teaching children to behave before they go out into public so that they don’t disturb others. Hopefully this doesn’t come across as sounding snooty but I think it is so disrespectful of other people when parents basically ignore their children hoping they will stop. And yes, I do have a lot of experience with this and it is quite possible to take many children out (with more than one in a stroller or carseat) and have them all behave and not throw screaming/crying/temper tantrums, I think it boils down to very consistent parenting and keeping the same rules at home that you would out in public (assuming there would actually be enforceable boundaries and proper parenting at home).

  4. I have no idea what I would do… probably start crying myself then swear to never take my kids in public again. The problem is, if you don’t have proper discipline at home, you can’t expect to have it in public.

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  6. I agree that I never would have given the cell phone to him to begin with. If one of my children is screaming while I am on the phone in a public place, unless it is an emergency, I get OFF the phone!! A screaming child definitely needs more attn than a cell phone even if he’s screaming just to get attn.

    I also agree that discipline starts at home. Children will always test their boundaries, but it helps when they know exactly what those boundaries are.

  7. First I would have cut the conversation short to deal with the situation. You can always call them back. The little boy would have gotten in trouble for hitting his sister and would NOT get the phone back. After the situation was dealt with I would call whomever back – to show that he doesn’t control things.

  8. I wouldn’t have even answered my phone. I carry my cell with me at all times but if I have my kids with me, I very rarely answer it, unless it’s my husband. I’ve got 4 little ones and if I take my attention away from them for even a minute while out in a public place, something bad is bound to happen!!

    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today and making my SITS day so special!

  9. Rae

    I have to agree with all of the get off the phone/stay off the phone thoughts. Yes, it is hard for parents to feel as if they can’t do anything when with their children, but sometimes parenting is just intense.

  10. Jen essentially summed up my views perfectly. That seems like a cop out comment but it was phrased too perfectly to try to reinvent!

  11. Clare

    Jen summed it up perfectly. R. would not be playing with my cellphone, I would have ended the conversation and certainly not given the phone back. I have been lucky in almost four years I have only had one public meltdown. Its not easy.What gets me is that other mothers and fathers give dirty looks and shake their head when it happens, Like it doesn’t happen to them! When R. had her meltdown she was refusing to get in her stroller in the middle of a mall after pushing another child in the play area! A kind man came over and said “Would you like some help?” I should have given him a medal. Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest

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