In this parenting thing that we're all in together, it's not essential that we see eye-to-eye with other parents. It is inevitable that we are going to encounter others whose parenting philosophies don't match ours. What's important is that we don't catch any of our offspring in any hostilities. This guest post has been provided by Claire Smith of Ministry of Mum, and I know she would appreciate your opinion.
Recently I have been subject to something which I consider to be pretty low - the parent that punishes somebody else’s child. I’ve felt compelled to write this blog because it is completely beyond my parenting style and comprehension. So much, in fact, that as well as wanting to rant, I’m curious to know if other parents share my view or if I’m the one that’s completely off my head.
In a nutshell, about a month ago my six year old daughter might have borrowed but probably nicked a mini camera from a mate, resulting in her being banned from that household. To give you some background, we don’t get along with the parents but we have never let this interfere with the children. What happened is this – my daughter went over to play and two days later I discovered that she had this mini camera which doesn’t belong to us. She told me that her friend had said she could borrow it. I was cross because my daughter can be a bit of a magpie - I know my daughter and even though I'm secretly hoping she'll rob something worthwhile one day (new Uggs, Barbour jacket, cash), she’s got to learn that you just can’t take something if you fancy having it for yourself. Of course life took over and we didn’t end up returning the camera until the next day. Anyway, that night my husband who had been away on business and knew nothing about this, received a text from the Dad (who he never speaks to) saying something along the lines of “You may be aware that your daughter stole a camera from our house. We have been looking for it for days. As a consequence she is no longer welcome here.”
These are my thoughts:
1) I don’t think the family even knew it was missing. Because if you couldn’t find an item in your house, the next thing you would do is contact the parents of the child that had been over to check if that child had it. Plus the mother really knows my daughter. She’s known her very well for over three years.
2) Yes my daughter might have ‘stolen’ it and yes she should know not to do this. But no kid is perfect. I’ve had kids over here that have drawn on the furniture, hit my kid, thrown stuff but surely you just have to let this stuff go.
3) Who knows what goes on between six year old girls? Her friend could very well have said she could borrow it. She probably didn’t, but nobody knows that for sure and the friend isn’t likely to admit that now.
4) The parents are projecting the way they feel about us onto our child. And, at the end of the day, SHE’S SIX.
5) Kids will be kids. I know my daughter is no angel. If she did nick it then of course she needs to be reprimanded but surely this is my job?
The other day we ran into the family. Their daughter greeted my daughter like you would a long lost friend. It was sad to see because indirectly the other girl is being punished too as they really do love each other. However the girl said to my daughter: “I’m not cross with you. I’m still your friend. But I’m not allowed to play with you.” This is what got me. If the parents want to tell their daughter the truth then that’s their prerogative, but my daughter knew nothing about the ban. She didn’t need to know. All she needed to know was that if she had taken the camera, then that’s wrong. As I said SHE’S SIX and nobody knew for certain what happened. Oh but she knows about the ban now. She has been questioning me about what this means and of course she’s confused and upset.
It’s got me thinking because maybe my view on this incident is too ‘relaxed’. I am able to laugh off stuff because they are children and, you know what, nobody was harmed. Or am I actually laying the groundwork for the hash-growing, car-jacking, old lady-mugging youths of tomorrow? Probably not. But I have to remember that although there are lots of you out there who 'get' me, there are also people who look down with scorn. You all know them. The parents who believe that their children are perfect, can do no wrong and are seriously shocked by ‘naughty’ behaviour. Who do not want their children playing with the not-so-perfect kids. I understand that everybody’s parenting is different. I respect that the camera incident was a big deal to the other family but what I can’t respect is the way that it has been handled. In the grand scheme of things it’s not a serious incident, there are far worse things that go on with children.
So judge away. I’m very interested to hear your views on this. Especially if it’s ‘don’t project your shit on to another person’s child’. Because surely that’s what our own children are for ;-)