Witnessing abuse. I just don't know what to do. - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-21-2008, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know there have been discussions about this before, but I just need some fresh and specific ideas.

I live in Chicago and take public transportation everyday. I feel like I regularly witness outright, undeniable child abuse on the bus and train. Parents smacking toddlers faces, yelling at their babies to "Shut the *&%$ up!" while they violently shake their strollers, parents shoving and hitting older children and telling them they are going to "beat the living #&*!" out of them when they get home.

Okay, so here's my deal. I have anxiety issues period that are usually already heightened when on crowded busses and trains (I feel trapped and overwhelmed by intense noises, smells, etc). I also have my own abuse traumas and witnessing violence of any kind makes me shut down. Also, 90% of the time, my 9 year old daughter is with me.

So, those issues withstanding, what should/can I do when I witness this? Because I know I should be doing something. Every time I witness and incident it haunts me and haunts and haunts me. I feel guilty and angry with myself for not doing anything. I feel that my complacency is contributing to the abuse of these children.

But, it starts happening, I freeze, don't know what to do, have a total internal meltdown freak out and then either my stop or their stop comes and that's the end of it. And I spend the rest of the day wondering, "Why didn't I do something? What should I have done? But, oh my god, that mother was so, so angry and she would've freaked on me and I have had dd with me... Should I have told the bus driver? Yeah, right, they would've laughed me off the bus... Should I call the police and give them a description of the person and where they got off the bus and what direction they headed? Would the police take me seriously?" And so on and so on.

This morning dd and I were riding the bus to her school. This woman had a 1.5 to 2 year old in a stroller facing away from her. The child was screaming and crying, the kind where they are gagging and retching. She'd ignore him, ignore him, ignore him and then she'd either yank the stroller really hard or hit him on the top of his head and tell him to, "Shut the *&%$ up!" Then she started holding her hand over his mouth. Oh my god, it was so awful. It was six hours ago and my stomach is still in knots. The bus was so packed and no one, including me, did a thing. The poor little one finally gave up and stopped crying.

Please don't flame me. I know I should do something, but what?
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:06 PM
 
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moved to Parenting

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Old 10-22-2008, 02:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Shonahsmom View Post
The poor little one finally gave up and stopped crying.
shonasmom for the mom the reason for her behaviour is rigth there. ignore him got the desired result.

i dont really know what to say. i dont think the main thing is children being mistreated. i think its about watching something abhoring to us and realising how powerless we are.

i am sure you would have the same reaction if you saw the homeless children in south america or the poverty in say india or bangladesh.

i feel i dont really have the right to say anything to you because i am not in your shoes - and so who am i to say anything.

we all have our achilles heel and i am sorry that you have to witness yours every single day.

please let me say while you feel soooo much compassion - remember you dont have to have the solution.

maybe you can be involved in some form of activism. would that help? volunteering somewhere.

i have two areas myself. all the depressed lonely people as well as parenting issues. it just blows me away that life doesnt have to be this way.

so for me i am trying to find grassroots organisations to be involved in. i am also researching how to come up with community events ideas that will bridge the gap. esp. with parenting. that will show the way to other moms that there IS another way of parenting. and funding is available to do that where i am.

i dont know what else to say. and you know what i also feel for them. those moms doing what they are doing. they dont know any better. under a lot of stress. and always assuming due to lack of knowledge that kids behave and understand like adults.

apart from this mama - i dont know what to say. all i can offer you are some big

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Old 10-22-2008, 02:30 PM
 
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I feel for you. As a former user of CTA, I have also witnessed similar situations and one time did I intervene. It was on the CTA train downtown to Oak Park.

It was a father letting his toddler daughter wander around the train car. Everytime she would get out of his sight, he would yell her name and loudly say "Get your *&#@! back here before I beat the #@$%^ out of you."

The bad language continued for several minutes and I could tell that another couple with a small child sitting nearby was getting uncomfortable hearing it. The swearing was really bad. We're talking f-words used as nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

I turned to the man and said in the nicest way possible, "Your daughter is adorable but your language is really ugly and it's upsetting."

Not only did he FLIP OUT, he got in my face, swore at me, called me a racist and continued to rant loudly until he got off on his stop.

So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Sorry you had to witness this.
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:35 PM
 
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Maybe bring an ipod with some soothing music and noice canceling headphones? There was nothing you could have done. Maybe if you can find a mantra, you can say that in your head. And if you feel up to it, maybe find a way to volunteer with a group that works to prevent child abuse through education. That way you'll be putting positive energy towards the problem, even if you can't do anything at a particular instance.
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Old 10-22-2008, 03:20 PM
 
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I am a bit teary-eyed imagining how you must have felt in that situation. I admit, as a mother I sometimes lose my cool... and I'd like to say that I haven't ever let my DD get to me enough that I let myself do something I wasn't proud of. I've swatted her bottom a few times and once I even told her to "shut up!" when I was trying to hear something on the radio and she had repeatedly ignored my requests for quiet so I could hear what I felt *at the time* was an important discussion on NPR. Boy, did I feel horrible that night.

But I'm not making excuses for what that mother was doing to her child. That poor child! I hate it when I see parents letting their children suffer because they have come to adopt the archaic belief that spanking and yelling is a GOOD way to exercise control over their kids. But my guess is that that mom was feeling pretty darned terrible herself. So in a sense, my heart breaks for both of them.

When I see parents behaving badly, it affects me, too. I feel the overwhemling urge to scoop up their child and snuggle and hug them and whisper kind words to them... Seeing a child in pain, either emotionally or physically pulls my heartstrings like a bulldozer.

So, when I see a child being tratedly poorly, I immediately try to spot a child being loved, because in most situations, there isn't anything I really can do for the sad child. So, I look for a babe sleeping peacefully in a sling or a little girl walking along holding her mom's hand and taking in the world around her...

It takes a little bit of the sting out.

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Old 10-22-2008, 03:25 PM
 
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Wright a letter to the editor of your local paper, etc.
Create a blog where you talk about these things you see - reference it.
Get people to see it without having to risk yourself to confront.

Your User Agreement here at MDC, read it and make it your friend and read the FAQ to answer all the questions of the (MDC) world.
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Old 10-22-2008, 04:07 PM
 
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I was in a position last month where I witnessed a mother repeatedly hitting her young DD (my guess around 2.5yo) outside my dr's office. I did intervene in the situation, and it got very heated very quickly. I wrote a post about it in the GD forum looking for some advice on how I could have handled the situation better should I ever encounter it again.

These are two of the pieces of advice that I received and found to be extremely helpful. Mainly it is about using GD techniques on the parent in order to help deescalate the situation. I hope their advise is able to help you as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
It's too easy to armchair quarterback. I think you did fine.

For myself I've found the rare time I've been in that kind of situation that it really helps to empathise with the parent. I forget where I picked this up - the technique is right out of How to talk so kids will listen... but I think I read a discussion online too.

So I might say something like, "Wow they can be so hard to take out at this age!... You must be really frustrated and angry..." (and then this is hard to convey but quite often at that point the parent will often respond with a litany of "the bad day" and it's pretty easy to work in something like "I figured it must be a bad day to actually get to the point of hitting this precious little defenseless person." Or something a little less smarmy.)

It is really awesome how sometimes reflecting the person's feelings will diffuse a situation.
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I think I would focus on the empathy with the parent AND with the child. Even if you were approaching gently, you were approaching with judgment and that obviously made her defensive. Who knows what she is like the rest of the time, what her motivation is, whatever. Rather than speculate, maybe I would try to say:

"Can I help? You seem really frustrated! Are you frustrated (to parent)? Are you frustrated (to child)?" If the issue is just putting shoes on, sometimes diffusing the energy and having another person step in can "solve" that problem. Sometimes when ds doesn't want to do something that I want to do, like leave a store that is closing, it helps if a store employee can gently tell ds that the store is closing, they are going to lock the doors, whatever.

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Old 10-22-2008, 04:17 PM
 
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I've ridden buses and watched this kind of stuff go on all the time, too. One day this lady was pulling a little boy by the arm down the street telling him to keep up or she would beat his &*(&^. He didn't have a jacket on, and it was cold, and the lady had a big jacket on and so did the older child walking down the street.

I don't know what happened to me, but something in me snapped and I decided that this was the last time I would just watch.

I crossed the street (my 3 kids were with me, me holding the baby) and said in a loud, confrontational, but not mean voice "CAN I HELP YOU?" I looked the woman right in the eye. I think I must have freaked her out, because here is this shortie in her face with all these kids (I'm five feet tall). She didn't really respond to me, but I think it must have helped a bit... at least she stopped dragging the child and yelling at him for a minute.

Is it a situation where you could talk to the mother, say something like can I help you?

Could you also talk to the bus driver? I've known some very preachy bus drivers (for lack of a better term) who will stop the bus and go back and talk to people about their behavior, over something as little as drinking water on the bus...


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Old 10-22-2008, 05:38 PM
 
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Well, I guess I will be the voice of dissent. Since becoming a parent, I have had to face similar issues with anxiety (crowding, noise, smells) and former verbal and physical abuse that are my triggers. For me, dealing with and healing my issues has allowed me to stick up for that child. I remember ma_vie_en_rose's thread and I agree with the techniques that she noted in her reply. By having the self-confidence to say something, you won't have to deal with the guilt. I know, easier said then done.

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Old 10-22-2008, 06:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by emgremore View Post
Well, I guess I will be the voice of dissent. Since becoming a parent, I have had to face similar issues with anxiety (crowding, noise, smells) and former verbal and physical abuse that are my triggers. For me, dealing with and healing my issues has allowed me to stick up for that child. I remember ma_vie_en_rose's thread and I agree with the techniques that she noted in her reply. By having the self-confidence to say something, you won't have to deal with the guilt. I know, easier said then done.
You don't need to feel guilty if you don't do anything.
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:35 PM
 
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woah hitting in public is a whole different story and here can get you arrested.

i have witnessed one in the grocery store when the cop was there.

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Old 10-22-2008, 06:37 PM
 
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For the woman holding her hand over the babys face, call 911 if you ever see something like that again.

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Old 10-22-2008, 06:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by emgremore View Post
Well, I guess I will be the voice of dissent. Since becoming a parent, I have had to face similar issues with anxiety (crowding, noise, smells) and former verbal and physical abuse that are my triggers. For me, dealing with and healing my issues has allowed me to stick up for that child. I remember ma_vie_en_rose's thread and I agree with the techniques that she noted in her reply. By having the self-confidence to say something, you won't have to deal with the guilt. I know, easier said then done.
Can you give me some examples where you stood up for a child in a similar situation and what the outcome is like?
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:49 PM
 
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I don't have any advise but I did want to offer empathy. I recently moved to Chicago after living 8 years in San Francisco. I am APPALLED at the violence, verbal and physical, I see every day towards children. On the bus. Outside of my daughter's school. Everywhere. If anyone dared to smack a child across the face in public in SF someone would be on the phone to the police in a heartbeat. If a mother threatened to beat the #%$& out of a child when picking her up after school the teacher would call CPS immediately. It seems to me that something needs to be done to turn this around because I know it doesn't have to be this way. I know confronting a stressed out mother on the bus won't help anything. But where to start, ya know?
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:56 PM
 
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Wow! I really sympathize. I was once walking to school (over 13 years ago), and I heard this mother slapping and cussing at a screaming child for wetting the bed. I am still traumatized by it, and I sincerely wished I would have called social services and reported the abuse.

I too have witnessed the mother on the bus cussing at a child. It is so uncomfortable, especially as I am a small person with a high voice, and I get easily intimidated.

I can't honestly give you an opinion about when you have to let things go, and when you intervene. Sometimes, I see parents ignoring a screaming infant in a grocery cart and I just want to say "pick the baby up!" I also see people walking babies in strollers or carrying infant seats while smoking. I want to say something then also. But, I just let it go. Nobody is perfect! I have yelled at and ignored my children on occasion.

However, I agree with the above sentiment. Physical abuse is a different issue. I think if I ever see/hear physical abuse again, I will intervene. Talking to the bus driver may be an option. I witnessed a man "telling" on another mom at the library. It was very effective--the hitting mother saw the librarian as an authority figure, and not just a meddler.

One thing I can suggest is to talk to your daughter, since she is a witness. Let her know that this is not acceptable behavior, and that you feel badly for these children.
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:57 PM
 
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While we feel really compelled to try to make the world a better place, particularly with regard to how children are treated, I don't think that it is the responsibility of anyone to change the parenting practices of anyone but themselves.
For starters, confronting a parent who is angry/frustrated enough to treat their child in such a way is very likely to end up with them taking that anger out on you instead, possibly putting you in physical danger. Secondly, even if you did manage to prevent the abuse at the time, it would almost certainly be only a very temporary fix. The parent in question is not going to change their whole behaviour and parenting outlook on the basis of an encounter with a stranger. To make the world a better place we would probably be better off encouraging 'good' behaviour. When you see an example of parenting that makes you feel awful, look around until you find an example of parenting you like and make a point of praising that parent for what they are doing right.
OP - you're pregnant and you usually have your daughter with you. There is absolutely no sense in trying to interfere directly and putting yourself and your children in a potentially dangerous situation. No one would expect you to - you shouldn't expect it of yourself.

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Old 10-22-2008, 07:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lisabeeprague View Post
For starters, confronting a parent who is angry/frustrated enough to treat their child in such a way is very likely to end up with them taking that anger out on you instead, possibly putting you in physical danger.

OP - you're pregnant and you usually have your daughter with you. There is absolutely no sense in trying to interfere directly and putting yourself and your children in a potentially dangerous situation. No one would expect you to - you shouldn't expect it of yourself.
:

I think if you have to ride this bus every day, you have to be aware that someone might try retribution if you do confront them. I would try to anonymously through the public trans. authorities. Can you call the bus company? And tip them off that there is someone being assaulted on the bus, you are afraid to report it for your safety, but need an officer to ride the bus or something to make it stop.

And if it is serious, call the police non-emergency line and talk to them. Get the beat cops name, and call him...


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Old 10-22-2008, 09:11 PM
 
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We have a non-profit group here that offers parenting classes and assistance for "at-risk" families (families at risk of domestic abuse). Can you find something like that in the city, and keep their business cards/pamphlets with you in your purse? Then when you see a parent struggling, you can just give them the number and say something like, "I can see you're having a bad day. Maybe this can help."

Just a thought...
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:02 AM
 
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We have a non-profit group here that offers parenting classes and assistance for "at-risk" families (families at risk of domestic abuse). Can you find something like that in the city, and keep their business cards/pamphlets with you in your purse? Then when you see a parent struggling, you can just give them the number and say something like, "I can see you're having a bad day. Maybe this can help."

Just a thought...
I like this. Just be careful. Any hint of criticism is going to get you in trouble, quick. Also, what about volunteering at the same place?
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:39 AM
 
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For starters, confronting a parent who is angry/frustrated enough to treat their child in such a way is very likely to end up with them taking that anger out on you instead, possibly putting you in physical danger.

:

Also, these people are already taking life's disappointments and anger out on their LOs. My fear is that the anger they feel from any confrontation will later be taken out on the children. In other words, I'm afraid a confrontation will not only not solve the problem, but will go on to make it worse.

For these reasons, I usually choose not to confront the parent.
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:41 AM
 
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It is really hard. Like a previous poster, I have just moved and am confronting this on a scale I've never imagined. I moved from a city on the west coast where that kind of thing is just really unacceptable and wouldn't be tolerated in public, to a city on the east coast where everyone is well invested in the "mind your own business" approach which has allowed people to be awful.

I am a mandatory reporter in my state, so I have to report any abuse I witness or have reasonable cause to believe is occurring. When I don't really have any information on the person, it isn't possible to do much with that. I know some mandatory reporters try to chat it up with someone to find out names or child's school or where they are going or some kind of identifying info. However, I would second that it is a good idea to call the police if you are seeing physical stuff manifesting right in front of you.

That said, yesterday outside my office I was hearing a baby crying and a dad (from the temp shelter currently in the building) repeatedly yelling at the baby to just "shut up!" I was getting so anxious just listening. I finally went out to the room where they were, and I just observed for a couple minutes. Here is what I saw:

The mother was sitting on some stairs, and the baby was plopped down (sitting) on the floor about three feet from her. There were many bigger kids playing around her, and there was an (unpredictable) ball flying everywhere which helped make the baby feel vulnerable. It looked a couple of times like she was trying to scoot to her mom but couldn't get the mobility. That seemed to contribute to her frustation, especially since she seemed like she was needing some comfort. Another baby, who might have been her twin, was crawling around as well. The crying baby was obviously sick. She kept sneezing and all this snot would fly out all over her face, which would make the crying worse. Then her dad would come up behind her and without letting her know he was there, he would reach around and wipe her nose. She was taken by surprise and also hated getting wiped. Meanwhile he would yell at her "Oh, knock it off" when she responded with tears, and then he would proceed to pace around the room telling her to shut up and stop crying as he waited for the next sneeze and interacted with the other kids.

I went and knelt down beside the baby. I crouched as low down as I could so I was on her level and I looked at her and just tried to model what would have been a nurturing response. I said, "Oh sweetie! You sound really upset. What's the matter?" The mother continued to just sit there, and it seemed okay, so I rubbed/patted the baby's back lightly a couple times and said, "You sound so sick baby girl! I'm sorry. I am miserable when I am sick too."

This seemed to really click with the mom and she said, "I know! I've been telling her dad we need to take her to the doctor, but he doesn't want to." So when the dad came back over to wipe her nose again I just repeated, "She sounds so sick, poor thing!" He didn't yell after that, and after asking the mom how old the baby was and telling her she was a very sweet baby, she said thanks and then picked her baby up and went to talk to a friend. It seemed to have difussed the situation.

Sometimes I think ignoring the parents but engaging with the kid works well. It just breaks the tension and occupies both. Other times, I say things to my kids, loud enough for the offender to hear, that I think might help. For example I might have said, "Oh [3 y.o. ds], that baby is crying. She sounds so upset." And then ds pipes in, "What's the matter with her?" And I say, "I don't know, but it looks like she feels really sick. Isn't it crummy when you feel sick. I wonder what would make her feel better?" And then hopefully ds would pipe in that the baby might want to be cuddled or something like that.

Other times I say things to my kids, not really intending to intervene but more because I don't want my kids witnessing that stuff and thinking that it is okay, and it ends up being unintentionally overheard, which can make things better or worse depending on the person. For example, one time this woman was flipping out on her daughter in a parking lot, just screaming in her daughter's face. Sometimes going up and offering to help in situations like that is good, but in this case I got the feeling that wasn't going to fly. ds however, said, "What is she doing?" I told him she seemed really frustrated and was yelling, and I told him that yelling like that isn't okay and that the mommy should do something to calm herself down. I am not sure, but I think she overheard me, and she seemed to at least get a little more reasoned about what she was yelling rather than just hurling insults and calling her daughter names. I think it just reminded her that she was being heard. I've occassionally tried to gently point out reasons for a child's behavior that had become an inappropriate target of the abuse. For example, "He looks so tired! I remember doing that when I was tired when I was a kid too. Is it almost naptime?"

In extreme situations I've been known to say, "You should know that I'm a mandatory reporter" (not sure if you want to use it if you aren't, but maybe when you are desperate). Or just "whoah!" and then flashing an alarmed look their way to let them know, "I just saw that, and you were way out of line."

I gotta say though, like you, I often freeze up and regret it later. I totally empathize!

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Old 10-23-2008, 03:34 AM
 
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And again with the mainstream mom turned elsewhere POV:

Do you not think that the reason that the mom is doing this at this time, possibly, is because she's out in public, because the environment is crowded and the child is in sensory overload and is screaming because it's the only thing that makes them feel more right, and whatever she's doing, she's damned if she does, damned if she doesn't? Someone in that bus is going to be judging her the minute her child starts screaming, and she's (wrongly) assuming that the only thing the other passengers want is to have a bit of hush. I don't believe the OP is in any danger, it's a struggling, overwrought parent- a human.

I like Sierra's idea of engaging directly with the child- I feel uncomfortable with talking with my children about what's going on in earshot, but if that works for her : Keep a toddler-friendly snack in your pocket that you can share if you want to. Empathise with the tiredness. Play peekaboo. Develop an obsessive interest in balloon modelling in public. Blow bubbles! (I just thought of that, but I actually really like that idea.)

I'm wondering if you might find resources through the www.nspcc.org.uk website or whatever the US equivalent is for the prevention of child cruelty (Is there even one? I can't find it through googling...)

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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Old 10-23-2008, 09:44 AM
 
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I witness the same kinds of things when I go to the WIC office. Some things that I try to do in addition to engaging the child is to start chit chatting with the mom. My mother lives in Chicago and I go visit her monthly, so I know that people there aren't real chit chatty with strangers, but if you start it they always join in. I'll say things that show empathy towards the mother, rather than angering her more by being real confrontational. I don't want her to get the "I'll show em!" type of attitude, thus taking more frustration out on the child, later. (am I making sense?)

Invite her to church or a bible study. Or ask if she can recommend one, by the end of your friendly conversation.

Or, if that isn't something you feel comfortable doing, carry some pamplets with you for organizations that help stressed moms cope. Just handing it to her as you or she exit the bus, without saying a word, says a lot.

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Old 10-23-2008, 11:36 AM
 
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As I others have said, my dilemma is that by intervening I may make things worse for the child later on when no one is looking. It is also hard to know what to do when you don't have the whole story. I think most of us have had a moment in public when our parenting could look pretty ugly to others, but most of us are also loving parents overall.

Personally, I think shaming or trying to argue with angry parents is the wrong approach. It may make them stop in public, but they will take that added shame and anger home with them, and possibly take it out on their kids.

When I see this sort of parenting, sometimes I ignore it, and sometimes I try to engage the parent. I try to make eye contact and smile and say something like "Kid, they can drive you crazy." Then maybe I would make a comment about how cute the kid is, or how smart he or she seems. I've said things like "It's always the smart ones who give you a hard time. My hope is that this gives the parent a chance to vent, and then refocus on the love and pride they feel about their child. It can be really hard to be nice to people who are being horrible to their children, but for me it has felt like the best of a bunch of bad options.

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Old 10-23-2008, 12:05 PM
 
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I like Sierra's ideas for engaging/defusing, at least where it's a matter of anger or verbal abuse being directed at the child.

I've had a couple of instances where, instead of just shrinking inside when I hear a parent being verbally rough with a child, I've started to chat/empathize - once a mom was being really tough on a little guy, and I learned that they were on their way for a 'fun' day at an amusement park, but it involved a couple of hours on transit, her stroller partly broke half way, and his energy was driving her up the wall. I complimented him on how patient he was being, he played some with my daughter, the mom relaxed some...

With physical abuse, I don't know that I could do that. Here, if it was hitting a baby, hitting in the face, etc., it would be downright against the law, and even 'spanking' is not something I'm used to seeing. On one occasion I saw a grandma smack a girl on the bottom at an event. I was shocked and just kiind of thrown, and I'm sorry to say my first instinct was just to make sure my daughter hadn't seen, and move her onto another activity away from that family. She had smacked her for being curious/touching something, and looking back I wish I'd made a pleasant remark about how it's hard not to have curious hands at such an interesting place, and so on, but I didn't think of it at the time.
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:30 PM
 
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It's hard to see another human being suffer!

It's interesting, what Sierra and others mentioned about regional differences. I live in a Midwestern city (but not Chigaco). Yet I haven't witnessed stuff like this on public transportation, or at the WIC office for that matter.

But if I did, I probably wouldn't have the same response each time. My response would just depend on my gut feelings about each particular situation. I like the idea of trying to connect with both child and parent and empathizing, rather than being confrontational.

And I'm almost always with my kids when out in public, so I can understand about wanting to help them process what they're seeing and not think it's alright. A few years ago, when dd2 was a baby and dd1 was 5, we were at the library when a baby was crying in a stroller.

The mother was waiting in line to get help from the librarian, and had her 6yo daughter take over the baby and stroller. And the little girl was laughing at the crying baby, jiggling the stroller, and telling her to "shut up!" I do wish I'd gotten involved and helped sooth the baby -- but then I was holding my own baby on me in the sling, and I've found that when my babies are small I tend to not get as involved with "other people's babies."

My 5yo was pretty upset that the baby was crying and no one was comforting her. The mother did eventually get her help and then come back to her children; if I remember right, she never picked up the baby, but I think the baby eventually stopped crying.

If I ever have a similar situation, I think I might ask if it's okay if I pick up and hold the crying baby -- and of course I have done that at times, and maybe I could've even done it while holding my own baby. I'm finding that as my children grow, I'm moving beyond just being so focused on my own babies, and actually feel I have something to give "other people's kids" (when my help is welcomed).

And maybe I'd also encourage my child (if this is welcome), to stroke a crying child or make some funny faces to cheer her up. I think being able to help would have been a positive thing for my 5yo that day.

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Old 10-23-2008, 04:36 PM
 
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I just wanted to come back and say that while my approach always involves empathy for the parent, I haven't been able to convince myself to say the things Dear Abby once recommended (such as, "They are so tough at this age," or "Kids! They can drive you crazy!"). I think the reason for that is that I know most victims of abuse internalize a lot of blame for their own abuse, and I guess I just don't want to contribute to that. I think there are other ways to empathize with the parent without making their actions sound justifiable or reasonable.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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Old 10-23-2008, 04:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierra View Post
I just wanted to come back and say that while my approach always involves empathy for the parent, I haven't been able to convince myself to say the things Dear Abby once recommended (such as, "They are so tough at this age," or "Kids! They can drive you crazy!"). I think the reason for that is that I know most victims of abuse internalize a lot of blame for their own abuse, and I guess I just don't want to contribute to that. I think there are other ways to empathize with the parent without making their actions sound justifiable or reasonable.
Very true!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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