I accept the fact that as mothers, we all do things a little bit differently. Free-range, helicopter, encouraging, demanding – we all fall on different places on the parenting spectrum and that’s okay. I don’t need everyone to be just like me, I’ve already got that covered. And since I don’t have to live with other people’s children, I typically don’t weigh in on how they raise them. However, there are some situations where I do impose my own parenting style on someone else’s child and (in my opinion) with good reason.
1. When They Are In My Home
When I visit someone else’s home, I honor their rules and customs. When you come to my home, I expect you to do the same. I don’t allow my children to jump up and down on our couches and I won’t let anyone else’s child do it either.
2. When I Am Responsible For Someone Else’s Child
If I am chaperoning a field trip, babysitting for a friend, or supervising a children’s party, I now view the children under my care as my own (temporary) children.
3. When My Children Are Present
As a mother, my role is to teach my children right from wrong. My own personal belief is that I should also teach them to stand up for what is right and speak out against things that are wrong (as respectfully as possible, of course). So, if someone else’s child is doing something that I have taught my children is wrong (e.g. not using manners, being careless with someone else’s property or something of value), I will correct the child whether or not the parent is there and whether or not we are in my home.
4. When the Behavior is Blatantly Wrong
Some behaviors are so egregious, I will address them if the other parent will not. For me, these behaviors are stealing, causing physical harm to someone else, and lying.
5. When They Are Disrespectful
I understand that parents pick and choose their battles. One battle I never back away from is when my own children are disrespectful to me, another adult, a culture, religion, or country. And though I know that no one WANTS their child to be disrespectful, I realize not everyone feels as strongly about it as I do. Because this isn’t behavior parents champion, when I notice it I do address it (firmly and politely) so the child understands the behavior is inappropriate.
I know not everyone will agree with me, and honestly, I appreciate our differences. I’m not saying these are rules of engagement every parent should follow, but they are the ones I live by. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic, whether or not you agree with me. Sometimes we learn more from people who disagree with us! So, in any of the situations above, do you think I am overstepping my bound with children who aren’t mine? Or do you think there are even more situations that warrant parenting someone else’s children? Please share your opinion.