At Annie’s birthday party my nephew got a bee in his bonnet (or more specifically chocolate in his mouth) and decided that it would be a great idea to punch me as many times as possible. This was one indignity too many – I was already dressed as DJ Lance Rock – so I scooped him into my arms, told him that hitting is NOT acceptable, and took him over to my sister so that she could deal with him as she saw fit. Since I am the boy’s uncle I didn’t feel I was overstepping my boundaries by disciplining him, but I was/am wary of doing any more than I did because even though he is family, he isn’t my kid.
As difficult as it is to figure out what’s appropriate when it comes to disciplining one’s extended family, it is far more difficult to figure out how to discipline kids you have no family connection to at all. Tame as my discipline of my nephew was, most parents would freak if they saw an adult scoop up their kid and firmly tell them hitting is not acceptable. In fact, if someone did that to Annie, I’d probably raise an eyebrow or three. (Yes, I have a third eyebrow.)
Here’s the thing though… as Annie gets older and makes more friends, there will be times when I will be expected to keep her friends in line. I remember many-a time as a kid when my friends’ parents had the unenviable task of keeping my crew of bratty buddies from killing ourselves by jumping off the roof or the like.
So how can an adult in these situations know what is and isn’t appropriate? Personally, I would be okay with another parent disciplining Annie if she got out of line, but only if they did it in a way I deem appropriate. And therein lies the complexity in all of this. Not everyone sees discipline the same way.
Would I let another parent hit my kid? Oh “h” to the “n.” Yell at my kid? Still not going to be happy. In my mind there is an appropriate way to discipline my kid, but I can’t expect other parents to know that. I can’t expect them to let Annie run around like a crazy kid either though.
It’s complex for sure. While I have a little time before I have to worry about this too much, it won’t be long before I am at a Chuck E Cheese with ten kids under my command! Just the thought gives me chills. How do you parents out there deal with this?