I was at playgroup yesterday, and most of the other parents and children had left, leaving several children (ages around 2) and my almost 4 yr old dd at the table. The other mothers were sitting close by their children, and I was standing several feet away. One little boy reached for the activity my dd was working on, and she yelled at him "this is mine, don't touch!". The little boy started crying and
this boy's mother immediately grabbed her child, got in dd's face and screamed "you may not yell at my ds. You are a bad girl and you deserve a smack! You need to share if you want to be a big girl!" It was really loud and everybody just froze, including me. This mother then took her son to the other side of the room, and my dd started crying. I heard the other mother say "good, you made ds cry, you should be crying." and then muttering about me coddling my dd when she climbed into my arms.
I know that dd should not have screamed, but my view is that at least she was using her words instead of hitting (which would have been the alternative several months ago!). I've had a couple of playdates with this family before I starting working, which provided a handy excuse to stop them as my parenting style is extremely different. This mother spanks, and has told me that I need to get control and break my child's behavior before it gets bad. She has mentioned that she needs to control her son to make sure he listens and behaves. DD is high spirited and energetic, but usually behaves very well. Her teachers rarely mentioned her behavior and when we go out we often get comments about how "cute" and how "good" she is.
I didn't say anything at playgroup because a) I was in shock, and b) confronting this mother there would only have escalated the situation. Another mother afterwards said she was glad I didn't say anything because the other mother was "off" and it would have made everything worse, but she agreed that I do need to call her. So, somehow I need to get up the nerve to call her and say that I don't like it when she screams at my dd and calls her bad. We do not hit in our house and I would appreciate it if she would respect my discipline choices. I can just imagine how this conversation will go...
I hate conflict, and I will be seeing this family every week at playgroup.