SETTING BOUNDARIES WITH STRANGERS

Do you let strangers correct your child’s behavior? If they are doing something wrong does it bother you for someone they do not know to say, politely, be careful, watch out, or stop you may get hurt. In general I don’t mind. If another mother catches something while my head is turned for the most part, if done with respect, I really don’t care. There have been a few exceptions one being in a grocery store where I ended up going off on an older woman, because she crossed the line from be careful to additionally chastising my child and she met “mama bear”. Anyone who knows me knows you don’t want to meet her.

This weekend I had an encounter with a woman without boundaries. She thinks she can pull and chastise any child or step in when a parent is reprimanding and “assist”. In this situation she not only attempted to interfere with my husband and I correcting our son, but she pulled a friends child in my care and chastised him for nothing before I fully realized what she was doing. I had already corrected any problem and the kids were not being disruptive. They were being kids. If I weren’t in church and in a peaceful place she probably would have gotten way more than the silent icy brush off she received. I also made it a point to notify my friend of the incident and clarify her son had done nothing wrong and should not be punished.

I want to make something clear, this is not to start a whole tirade about church “mothers” and their lack of boundaries. To those of you who are not familiar with the term “mother” in the church, it refers to older women, usually very active in the church, who have raised their kids. It is meant to be a term used to show respect for these women.

I cannot say that lack of boundaries is a common problem in my church for me. Many of the woman who you would consider a “mother” in the church are very respectful of the boundaries of parenting. However, this incident started me thinking. How should you let someone know they have crossed the line? My friend went so far as to call the woman in question and notify her she was out of line. She was respectful, but firm. I let her know, when she tried to interfere with us, her “help” was not needed. I do agree with the direct method, but how do you get ahead of the issue? With me personally, I make sure I or someone I trust, with a similar parenting style, is taking care of my kid. I am usually present to catch big problems and as I said before minor corrections do not bother me. Children must learn how to take direction from adults who are not their parents. Where I am often concerned is in situations like this past weekend. This person had no clue about my kids or my friend’s. She had no connection and yet felt comfortable taking a hands on approach with our kids. That is not OK. My friend’s son does not have any diagnosis, but he is a 9 year old boy with his own quirks and a strong introvert. My son is ADHD and a strong introvert. These are not the kids to decide you want a sudden bonded relationship. I know my friend’s son knows me and trusts me, but he said the most he has ever said to me on Sunday. Yes, he talks just fine, because he can’t stop running his mouth with my son. I don’t take it personally, I am a strong introvert myself. He connects in other ways, like choosing to sit next to me when his mom isn’t available.

I don’t have a solution for this problem, but I do think parents with different kids are particularly hesitant to allow strangers to correct their kids in any way. There is so much more to dealing with issues of emotional and impulse control than a good talking to. Also, for our kids their misbehavior is typically triggered by other factors. How do you deal with strangers correcting your kid?

The irony of this weekend is all of my kids did extremely well in church. My older son had faith formation which he participated in without incident. All of my kids plus two of my friend’s kids, and all the kids are friends, sat together without major disruptions. My oldest had her faith formation after church which she did well in. My husband took the boys home right after church. We were there for a long time and other than one problem we were gold. All of this without ADHD medication. To me that is a win.

Black ADHD Mom

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