Thursday, April 14, 2011

When another parent bullies your child

Regular readers of this blog might remember a post circa Navratri in which I mentioned a woman who has been haranguing the brat. The haranguing has been continuing and with no lessening, in fact, getting worse by the day. Her issue, she feels the brat is targetting and bullying her son and beating him up when the fact of the matter is that both kids are equally aggressive and the brat, while no angel, is perfectly non controversial when it comes to other children, but only has his hackles rise when it comes to this particular woman's son.
Strangely enough, the brat and her son are good friends, who often come to blows over trifling things. My philosophy when kids get into scraps is to separate the two and give them a firm warning. Give them both warnings. I donot believe, as she does, that a child should be publicly yelled at and humiliated. Which she does often enough with her own son, and sadly had begun doing with my son. The brat, before I could intervene on one occasioned had already backanswered her, much to my shock, given he is not a child who back answers, and while he got pulled up for the rudeness by me later, at that moment I was rather stunned that the child could very well stand up for himself from verbal assault by an adult, a rather Virago-ish adult at that, on a rampage (details of the backanswering: She tells him I'm giving you the last warning not to fight with my son, the brat replies, without missing a beat, Who are you to give me a last warning?)
This had been going on for a while, and things reached a head the other evening when she screamed so loudly at the brat and indirectly at me, that the entire building complex came out to watch (Incidentally, this is a lady who has chased a watchman with a stick to beat him, so one doesn't put anything past her). At that moment, I did not respond. I ignored her. I collected my child and moved off. I asked the other children present about what had happened and gathered the facts. The facts were that her son had started the fight, the brat was merely playing on his own. If the brat is assaulted he is too much of a mard ka baccha to accept being hit without retorting in the same manner. The brat had a bump on the back of his head where the other child had banged his head on the slide. The trouble being the brat doesn't cry. Her son begins wailing loudly at the slightest pretence.
The next day I had decided something needed to be done. I was not going to do a similar fishmonger style screaming in the compound exercise with her. I worked out a plan of action. I would invite her for a conversation in the presence of two trusted and sensible friends in a neutral location. I would try to figure out what her issues with the brat are. I would try to resolve the issues. I would also warn her off. Simultaneously, I also made letters to the chairman of her building society, and took legal counsel on filing a harassment and intimidation of a minor case against her. Because the last incident had her using abusive language against the child. Something all the children confirmed when asked independently.
At first she refused to meet for a discussion. Then she did a volte face and agreed. We sat down and I tried to approach the topic as calmly as I could without spitting in her face. Her issue, she said, was that I was not 'controlling' my child that is why he had gone 'out of hand'. I thanked her for her concern and informed her that I was a parent who was doing my job and she didnt need to do it for me. And if she had any issues with my son, she was to bring it to me, and not to yell at my son. I spelt it out very clearly that she had no legal or moral authority to shout at my son and use abusive language and that she had crossed boundaries. She of course, denied using abusive language and insisted all the four five kids who repeated her sentence verbatim were lying, including of course, my son. Never mind. Even without the abusive language, she has no standing on which she can keep periodically yelling at my son. Even if he and her son are fighting. Kids fight. They fight and are best friends the very next minute. Now ever since she has been targetting my son, none of the children in the building want to play with her son, for fear that he will run off complaining to his mother and she will come abuse them in similar manner. The child cycles alone in the compound, children run away from him. I pointed it out to her that her child was being ostracised by the rest of the children because of her attitude and was she going to fight his battles for him right upto college. I dont think she realised it till then, that no other child was playing with her son. I pointed out to her that the brat has never in his life answered back either me, his father, his grandmothers or his aunts. Nor his teachers. Nor any other adult he has come in contact with. Why did he backanswer you, I asked. It is because he has no respect for you. You cannot command respect from a child because you are an adult. You have to earn it. And at that moment, the way you were screaming at the top of your voice at MY child, I am glad he replied to you. Because it shows me HE can fight his own battles, unlike your child who you are mollycoddling. I hated making it a my child, your child thing. But I was pretty furious.
She has now agreed to bring her issues with my son to me now. I am waiting to see if her promise lasts. If it doesnt, I have my letter ready and Plan B on standby. I gave her a chance to redeem herself and get over her uncondonable behaviour. What would you have done in my place?

32 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:37 AM

    Mrs Manral,with certain authority vested in me by my devine self i say unto you-You are nobody to reform the world.
    Playing with the fruit of such a tempramental hag will only abort ur oft repeated attempts at reasoning. Needless to say,baby Manral will be reproached and accused reciprocally and no headway is foreseen. Such women diss,hiss and spread negativity.break out of the loop,u cant repair ...

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  2. I dont believe such moms exist. and am I glad brat replied back to her! Honestly kids fight and kids make up. As long as it does not get beyond hand, we should just let them be. The more we interfere the worse it becomes. You did the right thing Kiran. perfect way to make her understand.

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  3. wow pretty awesome how u handled it!dont have a kid yet but when i do will keep this in mind for sure!

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  4. amrica guy3:56 AM

    children fight,then moms fight.
    arguments and counter-arguments.
    it leads nowhere.
    kids should resolve fight amicably and amongst themselves,& not come running to mumma for cover.Once spilled on to mums,it becomes even bigger-clashes of egos.
    Agree with anonymous above-u cant reform the world but teach ur own kid.U did handled smartly,but wat do ya do when the other person is lame?

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  5. When a woman is this angry, it means she's got things going on in her life, and her anger is coming out sideways at your son. Which is not appropriate at all.

    I often tick off others' kids, but only after I've tried approaching the parents and it's obvious that they will not lift a finger to discipline their kids. I don't think that's you, so this woman needs to see your line very clearly. And a firm telling off and separating of fighting kids is appropriate, not abuse and name-calling. I think you're going about it the right way, and feel really sorry for the other boy, glad you made her see what her behaviour is doing to her son.

    Have experienced this on a much less intense level. With one mother telling her daughter to punch my son in the stomach because he'd stamped her foot. I think half these parents are more immature than kids.

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  6. Anonymous6:56 AM

    Wow, I'm so noting down all the points you made; in case its ever needed. You handled the situation so well......though I believe that woman may not change.

    Rashmi

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  7. As much as I applaud you for having the faith in your child and not reprimanding him even if the situation seemingly asked for it, for standing in the face of someone who dares threaten your child and for sharing it with us with your head and heart still willing to hear out our opinion - I would've acted differently.

    As a person, before a parent, I've met many such people and have discovered that their nature is not just difficult, but pretty much impossible to change. The woman you're describing has little care for the society she lives in or her image in it. And knows only how to point flaws before accepting her own. All of this, unashamed of her actions and behavior.

    What this could lead to, for your sake I hope her turning over a new leaf and showering affection on her own child and yours - but also perhaps more spite and hatred towards you and your not so little one.

    I would advice you to keep distance from her, and ask your son strictly to back off from her kin. Although I'd hate for him to lose a friend in the process, but it's best that she learns her actions affect all those around her. Also, its best for your sanity and your child doesn't need to be in the company of someone who swears at him or creates a scene. Such things are hardly beneficial for an impressionable mind.

    The letter and Plan B, although may sound effective, but will only end up humiliating her and making her even more determined to be horrid to you and your child. I suggest keeping your calm and peace, telling her if need be that your child will no longer be playing with hers and reason it out with your child.

    There isn't a point standing in the face of fire and asking it not to burn you.

    Good luck on this adventure called parenthood. Lord knows, I need it just as much!

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  8. Well, for starters, I would've done a banshee act and put any fishwives to shame. You held it together and made your points clearly and coherently. And brought about an amicable settlement.
    'Good job' sounds a tad too simple!

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  9. Wow, I would be mad at the lady and avoided her at all costs... and ask the kiddo to not bother... Man... amazing at being so up front about it... hmm.

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  10. I think you handled it great! Not only was it a very effective way, it also teaches the brat to work things out instead of - like you said - yelling like a fishmonger in a public place.

    And really, how can a person hurl abuses at a child?? Shocked!

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  11. Sunita7:50 PM

    Well done Kiran! You have handled this situation perfectly. I've also witnessed several such stances where parents fight like alley cats when their kids pick up a fight. But the irony is that the kids make up and become friends again.

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  12. I think all this nonsense and sense of entitlement happens when parents fall all over themselves to fulfill their child's every wish. Their worlds are just not inclusive enough for other people's wishes and desires and the necessary adjustments they will have to make for those.
    The bully mom's child may end up even lonelier than before is she continues her foolish diatribes against Krish and other kids.

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  13. Anon: LOL. Love the language. Not trying to repair anything. Just trying to keep the atmosphere in the park pleasant for the children, and keep my son bolstered. And yes, I had this conversation and brought her son and my son at the fag end, to show my son, that yes, Mamma has spoken to the lady, and taken up for him, and he can count on his mamma to take up for him if anyone yells at him. Without yelling back.

    R's Mom: I tell you. How wierd and over reactive some parents can be. I'm the type who says only come to me when blood is drawn.

    Saritha: :)

    Amrica Guy: I do what I can to keep my child safe. Without making the atmosphere unpleasant. That's what I tried to do.

    Starry Eyed: I stay on the other extreme, even if the parent is not disciplining their child, I believe it is not my place to discipline their children, all I can do is ensure my child is safe and keep him disciplined. Ergo, I would never tick off anyone else's kids. Maybe tell them in a nice way not to do what theyre doing. Parents can be very bristly.

    Rashmi: LOL

    LimeIce: You make perfect sense. This is also one of the reasons I didnt want it to escalate, I wouldnt put anything past her. I keep my distance any which way from her, the child has been told umpteen times to keep a distance from her son, but, alas and alack, theyre like magnets and end up playing together all the time. Hopefully, I can only wait for this best friend phase to grow out and gently steer the brat towards another best friend.

    Deej: LOL. Honoured.

    Garima: I had been avoiding her for months now, but the brat and her son, can't keep kids apart now can we when they play in a group.

    Clueless: I so cant yell. LOL. Sometimes though I really wish I could.

    Sunita: Exactly, the children are friends the next minute and want to play with each other. It is she who was getting all worked up.

    Dipali: Hopefully she will understand now that Ive pointed it out and stop.

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  14. Would have done what you did (if I could think it up that is!)

    Go woman!

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  15. couldn't agree more with LimeIce...made some real valid points...no matter what you do, this behavior will most likely continue. she seems like a difficult person by nature, somebody who is immune to reason.
    distancing yourself and Brat is perhaps the most suitable solution although it will be hard for you to explain this to brat since he and the boy are buddies.
    good luck....whoever said parenting is easy?

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  16. I think you have done the right thing too.

    There really is a need for balance between intervention (and at a parental level NOT letting the kids fight) and the opposite side which to me is summed up by "suck it up"- let it go, and just get on with it.

    Your situation needed a parent to step in and it was really the mum who was the bully, - the apple never falls far from the tree!

    We recently posted on the need to chastise children and provide clear rules and also about smacking. These topics are controversial but in my opinion,if you set a child clear boandaries and they know right from wrong,they will be able to self regulate when confrontation arises.

    Please drop over and comment on our posts when you have a minute too!

    http://beourbest.blogspot.com/

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  17. Our job as parents is to teach our kids to be independent and survive on their own with dignity. If we interfere too much in their lives, we are not performing this basic duty of parenting.
    Creating dependent children who are unable to survive without our interference, is a violation of their basic rights.
    Situation well handled.
    This lady has serious problems with her life and/or marriage. Extreme next step should be an invitation to lunch and a tete a tete. Not a letter to the lawyer.
    You could save your son from her stupidity and ease the pain of her problems at the same time
    uncannybal
    P.S. The brat turned out to be a chip off the old block after all. Well done to him too !

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  18. Not enuf guts to reply to my comment eh?

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  19. Choxbox: Knowing you, you would have done much better and been more sensible about things. I just let things escalate to a really bad level. I regret that now. I should have stepped in earlier.

    Sukanya: I maintain my distance, but I find it difficult to keep the brat away from her child, which is why I found it necessary to try and resolve the issue to the best of my ability without it getting really unpleasant.

    Jill: Thank you, your post was most educative and informative. My principle has always been to let the children sort it out amongst themselves unless blood is being drawn, this is perhaps the only incident I've stepped into.

    Uncannybal: By your logic I havent had the guts to reply to Choxbox, Jill and Sukanya. Could you even consider that someone might not be 24 x 7 on the computer replying to comments.

    But, here's what I say. The tete a tete has happened. It happened the other day. Most politely. Lunch I dont think I could do with her.
    Thank you for the compliments on the situation well handled and the brat being a chip off the old block.

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  20. Thnx for the reply. By the way, this comment was left over 2 days ago along with another comment in ure April CSAAM blog and another comment in ure first CSAAM blog over 3 weeks ago. Hence the curiosity over the selective replies (since no acknowledgement or reply was received for any of my comments until now)
    uncannybal

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  21. Uncannybal, surely you do realise you tend to jump the gun, you've done this earlier on my Chanakya's Chant contest at Thirtysix. I have never claimed to be great at replying to comments in detail. I suggest you dont take unanswered comments so personally. A blogger can be busy, right.

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  22. Aaah ok. My apologies. No issues then.
    By the way, why did u block me on Twitter?
    Uncannybal

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  23. blinkandmiss1:55 AM

    Hats off to you for dealing with the nuisance in a calm manner, with grace.

    The rowdiness reminds me of a certain Ms. Bindra.

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  24. Aaah so you delete comments u have no reply to huh? Thats pretty weak. Im dissappointed
    Let me try again. So y did u block me on Twitter?
    Uncannybal

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  25. Uncannybal: Maybe, you should be doing some introspection. Why DOES someone block someone else? Do you go about with the same impatience and arrogance on Twitter as well?

    K: Situation well handled! It is a fine line we parents have to tread between making our kids independent enough to tackle their own problems and knowing when to step in and stand up for them.

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  26. Well handled in your inimitable style although like Deej I'd have done a banshee and a fishwife rolled into one .
    Uncannybal - I do think children need a little protection when older people ram into them - and a child as small as the brat is , given that the woman did not leave them to reconcile their differences which any reasonable person would have done .As to blocking on twitter I'm not surprised - maybe a little self intorspection would help you understand the situation better ? Cheers

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  27. Kiran...I just read this post.

    I think you handled this situation very sensibly. But taking legal action is going too far, in this case, simply because you will have to continue living there after that. My first instinct would be to not allow Krish to play with the other child, then again, if they want to play then who can stop them. I really would continue to monitor the 2 children when playing together and not allow it to get out of hand and if you happen to see the lady shout at him calmly approach the lady and let her know that she has gone too far and remove the child from the place and keep walking.

    Great composure Kiran and very lady like :)

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  28. K, like I said before, hope this talk works.

    I don't like to get offensive on another's space but a commentor before me is verging on the trollish. Uncannybal, I'm referring to you. More than anything else, it is rather pathetic to constantly pick on Kiran when you don't even have the courage to put a name and a face to your bullying. Especially when you have already made a big fuss over something that turned out to be your fault in the first place. Did you apologise to her as publicly as you were rude to her?

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  29. Isint that interesting. We r talking here on a blog that questions 'Should we interfere in our children's affairs?' And here r u ladies interfering in Ms Manral's affairs.
    Because when one steps in to handle someone else's affairs, what one is basically saying is 'Sorry, u r not intelligent enough to handle this. So let me handle this for you.' So the person learns that 'If something is too difficult, Mommy will handle it'. Now he grows up and gets married and when a difficult situation comes up he tells his wife 'Let me ask my mother'. End of marriage
    So now you ladies, who r masquerading as her friends, r basically telling Ms Manral, 'Sorry but u r not smart enough to handle your own affairs, so we will handle this for you'.
    And I who show her enough respect to be direct and ask for answers, is called a troll. Just because she likes the word and feels the right to fling it around will utter disrespect. What irony
    Uncannybal

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  30. uncannybal : no one is interfering in mrs manral's affair this is a blog and we dont like the way u are dealing with responses to it...

    a blogger is a human being with a offline life too we dont write but thats not the only thing we do, it doesnt suit to bother anyone so much

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  31. I bow to you, Lady K!! I think you handled it brilliantly! I don't know what I would have done in such a situation. Now, thanks to you, I do.

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  32. Hey everyone, thanks for the comments. As usual, have been dillydallying on replying...apologies...
    Blinkand miss: I tell you!

    Cee: Exactly, till when does one step in for a child, a child needs to learn to handle their own issues, unless of course, one feels that it is something beyond their capabilities.

    Eve's Lungs: No you wouldnt, you would be all calm collected HR type professional and negotiate...

    Shobana: Removing my child is physically not possible if he doesnt want to go. Hanuman ka foot hai woh. Immoveable. LOL.

    Sue, I hope it does too, she's abroad at the moment and there's peace and calm on heaven and earth.

    Mons, was this the one you said I hadnt replied to?

    M4: Gah. You my dear, would handle things in a much more generous manner, you would feed the bully your delicious cheesecake and make her your fan for life.

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