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do i ignore my friends shouting at their poor kid?

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  • do i ignore my friends shouting at their poor kid?

    ok, disclaimer: i don't have kids. BUT: i was raised in a verbally abusive, controlling and sometime violent environment. since i do want kids of my own some day, i've always been interested in ways you can bring up and deal with kids that's different to what i went through, like how to give kids the best physical and emotional start in life. i read magazines, blogs, books, and watch tv programmes like nanny 911 and supernanny, you name it. so i know everyone will probably say ''you can't know diddly squat till you have kids yourself'' but i have tried to inform myself as well as i can.

    so i've just spent ten days in the company of my friends and their 3 year old daughter. and they shout. well, her mother shouts. at everything. EVERYTHING. not once in the whole ten days did she ever use a soft or controlled or low tone with her. from when they got up at 8am till the kid went to bed, she shouts at her. she shouted at her for playing with her hair clips, fiddling with the buttons of her jacket, not eating her dinner quickly enough, eating her dinner too quickly, doing her jigsaws the 'wrong' way, drawing on her etch-a-sketch the 'wrong' way... you name it, that poor kid got shouted at. i tried my best to ignore it, i really did. i understand that she's choosing to parent this kid however she sees fit and that ultimately she's doing the best for her. it's just - this was in my house. and in my house myself and my husband - even though we're having our own problems - we never shout. and we'd certainly never thinking about shouting at a child. it's as if her mum doesn't trust her to do ANYTHING herself. i was trying to involve the little one with what i was doing in the kitchen so she helped with the mixing and stirring and when she got bored of that i had her count out spoons of water from one tupperware jar to another. she was having great fun until her mom came in and ROARED at her at the top of her lungs that she was going to get her sleeves wet and she was going to RUIN our countertop so she grabs the spoons away from her and whips her out of the chair and back into the living room. kids make a mess, it's not as if we're that houseproud that a few splashes of water will do any harm. and you could see the kid was having so much fun. but this was about the 20th incident like that within the first two days they were here and i will admit i had to take a step away, go to our bedroom and i burst into tears. cause that's the way my mother shouted at me and well, it all just came too much to watch i suppose.

    her dad is able to deal with her in a rational calm way, and they're a pleasure to watch and listen to together, but her mom just has no control over her temper and is constantly hacking away at her self esteem to the point that sometimes the little girl gives her mom this look that breaks my heart, like she's afraid of her.

    what do i do the next time i'm in their company? ignore it?

  • That's a tough situation. I would try and discuss your feelings to her. But be prepared for the backlash. I think that possibly the mom is depressed, or stressed and taking it out on the child. In the best interest of both mother and daughter you or her husband should discuss this.


    • Never hesitate to help a child. She might not have anyone else. If these people were in your house, I feel you had every right to say something. It sounds as though the mom doesn't realize the lasting affect she is having on her daughter. Speaking from experience, you might be able to change the outcome of how she handles her daughter. Let her know how much it bothered YOU hearing her speak to her little girl in that way, because of how you were raised.
      just breathe . . .


      • There is a book called Scream Free parenting, it's about $12 on Amazon.. Maybe you can get it and gift it to her .

        Scream Free Parenting is not just about lowering your voice. It’s about learning to calm your emotional reactions and learning to focus on your own behavior more than your kids’ behavior . . . for their benefit. Our biggest enemy as parents is not the TV, the Internet, or even drugs. Our biggest enemy is our own emotional re-activity. When we say we “lost it” with our kids, the “it” in that sentence is our own adulthood. And then we wonder why our kids have so little respect for us, why our kids seem to have all the power in the family.

        If you can.. Sit down with your friend for a talk.
        Start with you are not judging her as a parent, you know she loves her daughter and is trying to raise her happy and healthy and to turn out to be a Beautiful woman someday.

        Then let her know how you felt for that 10 days. Don't tell her how you felt she was Wrong , but tell her it brought back memories from your childhood, that every time she yelled at her daughter, it was like she was yelling at you and you were just a youngster.

        Tell her you know you don't have kids ( yet ) but you have read, researched, studied many venues, books, movies, blogs, parenting sites. Just to make sure you yourself raise your kids ( when and if ) in a non hostile environment. And yelling is hostile.

        It may be that she was yelled at herself as a child, or even worse, and it may be a " learned " behavior. When we only learn one way to do things, we tend to stick with that way . But there are other ways to raise kids than the way you were , if in a hostile environment of Yelling and Smacking .

        If you can, you & your Hubby talk with her hubby. See if he can see the " problem " and if he can join in trying to readjust her ways of yelling at the daughter . She just may not know any different way . And may need to learn a different way .

        Personally I would say Something, I would just have a Good Think about it first.Then get support, her hubby, your hubby and get a plan together. Look around, find some books or DVD's. Then have the talk .
        Hopefully she will see this as help not just being Criticized and Appreciate the Intervention . She may not realize she is doing it .


        • She might not have anyone else. If these people were in your house, I feel you had every right to say something.
          I agree with these. As a child of an abusive home, you know how damaging it is, not just to be subject to constant negative behavior, but to have it be normalized. Maybe you can help her mom turn it around.

          But at the very least, you can ask that she not scream at her child AROUND YOU. If another adult made you burst into tears in your own home for some reason, you'd probably dismiss them, right? If you make it about your reaction and not about her action, she might get less defensive.
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          • thanks so much for the replies. at least i know i'm not over reacting!

            saying something to her directly i don't think i'd be able for. she has a wickedly short fuse and a few times said things to either myself or my husband like ''eh - who's the mother here, you or me?'' then kind of huffed off out of the room. but then, she's been like that as long as i've known her, about 13 years! if either of us did say something i could foresee our friendship with them ending. saying something to him might be easier, but it's like he either chooses not to see her behaviour, or else just accepts it as the norm, i'm not sure. when the kid was still a baby i offered my time to go and help out, minding the baby for a few hours here and there to give them a chance to go and do some shopping or go out for a meal. whenever she'd see me holding her i was never holding her the right way. or i'd have dressed her in the wrong clothes, or i was giving her her bottle 5 mins too late etc etc. it made me feel so useless and really kinda hurt if i'm honest. i did mention it to the dad, but he brushed it off and then things were strained for a few months.

            maybe i just need to woman up and say something.


            • Firstly, I admire you for wanting to step up. My own childhood was abusive in many ways and I wish someone had helped me to better take a stand for myself and/or did more for me. ITA with what Stariana said. In "public" this woman might be yelling. In "private" she might be physically hurting. Whatever her issues are, they are hers, not her innocent child's. I realize this little girl is only three. Is she a big talker and/or close (of sorts) to you? I ask because even taking her aside and telling her she is a wonderful person and to please never forget that could make a life-saving difference to her. All too often young children especially tend to believe labels be they screamed or written about them. Even in a smile way, you can/are already helping her not to. There are also tons of toll free hotlines out there. Maybe you could call Child Help and/or a local child advocacy group, explain the situation, and get some support/ideas for them. Doing so might give you support while helping figure out how to handle the situation. Good luck and even though I neither know you nor the family in question thank you for not being silent.


              • Originally posted by Darling View Post
                That's a tough situation. I would try and discuss your feelings to her. But be prepared for the backlash. I think that possibly the mom is depressed, or stressed and taking it out on the child. In the best interest of both mother and daughter you or her husband should discuss this.
                I agree. It really is not any of your business how they raise their child but no child should have to be yelled at like that. Discuss it with the mother and just express your concern.


                • I know many people say "It's none of your business how somebody raises their kids" but I never thought that was entirely true. Kids are very sensitive, and a parent yelling at them all the time is traumatic and near abusive. I agree that, at the very least, you should ask her not to yell around you. She'll become defensive if you try to tell her that her parenting needs work. Maybe you could also talk to her husband?

                  Years down the road, this mother will probably find herself with a rebellious teenager with an attitude. It will be the only way she can handle growing up around her mother. Then she'll complain about how her daughter is stubborn, rebellious, and short tempered, not realizing that she made her daughter that way. Poor little girl.


                  • It is not easy to just ignore hearing your friend saying bad words to her children. I guess you can talk about that randomly when you are having a good chat with your friend and she is in a good mood. Try to bring out the topic in a light way so she won't feel intimidated.


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