I don't really know which forum is best for this issue, but I'll start here.
The other day, I was in a restaurant with my 4-yr-old and witnessed what was overtly and undeniably a woman emotionally abusing a child. She didn't scream, but enough people heard her to turn around and stare. She turned beet red and angry while scolding a little boy who was about 7. "You do NOT eat with your fingers. You use a fork. A FORK! You embarrass me, you embarrass yourself. I am SICK AND TIRED of you acting like a baby. You KNOW BETTER. Now PICK UP YOUR FORK. Ugh! I can't just can't believe you..." This went on and on and on and on as people (including me) stared appallingly at her and the poor little boy sniveled, cried, and sunk into his seat. The more he teared up, the harder she dug into him. Gee, bullying this little boy must have made her feel really strong and powerful.
Believe me, I'm not alone in thinking that this was just horrible. A lady at a table behind me exclaimed, "What a bitch!" But the angry lady, (she was either an older mom or younger grandma), either didn't hear her or ignored her.
Look, 100% of us have gotten so far at the end of the rope that we've snapped and said something stupid to our children. Hopefully, it's followed by a hug and an apology. I'm extremely compassionate toward stressed out parents because I've sooooo been there. But what I witnessed wasn't definitely wasn't impulsive snapping. I simply can't be non-judgmental in a situation like this. My heart just ached for that poor boy.
I felt the urge to do the same thing as the other restaurant patron and call the woman a bitch. But I refrained because I worried that it would make the woman lash out even harder, maybe even at the little boy. But since she was clearly making a scene, it's hard to put this situation in the nobody's-business category because she made it everybody's business.
Have you ever witnessed anything similar? What did you do? Is there an appropriate response in a situation like this?