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  Topic Review (Newest First)
06-27-2013 01:21 PM
contactmaya
Quote:
Originally Posted by zenaviva View Post

What do you mean, that you'd try to get her information?  Like what, her name and address and phone number?  What purpose would that serve?  Not trying to be rude, just curious.
 

Yes, i would happily hand out my 'details' to some random stranger....

06-26-2013 06:00 PM
PrimordialMind
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post

The creepy thing about that incident is that if we all succumbed to our lowest base nature, we'd be capanle of the same. greensad.gif

I dont believe everyone's lowest base nature is to be verbally abusive. I believe thats only the case if we have unresolved issues from being abused ourselves.
06-26-2013 12:28 PM
zenaviva

What do you mean, that you'd try to get her information?  Like what, her name and address and phone number?  What purpose would that serve?  Not trying to be rude, just curious.
 

06-26-2013 09:33 AM
demeter888

In the situation you described, I would move on about my business.  I could not think of a way to confront the woman without it traumatizing the child much more deeply.   I would go home and cry for that boy, then look for a way of being a child advocate under better circumstances.   Some battles just have to be left for a better day.  

 

Now, however, if there was any way I could get that woman alone or away from the kid for a few, I'd try to get her information and explain that her behavior was abusive and not OK.

06-25-2013 10:37 AM
Turquesa I just wanted to thank you moms for sharing your background. It provides insight into these posts that makes discussions so much more valuable. For the most part, I've shied away from the parenting forum because sensitivities run high in here as we struggle to do our best. The creepy thing about that incident is that if we all succumbed to our lowest base nature, we'd be capanle of the same. greensad.gif
06-23-2013 01:02 PM
PrimordialMind OP, i didnt mean it as a judgment, only an assessment. I think that we all have the ability to assess if it is a normal, everyday occurrence vs a rare thing. I know that we're taught to always remain neutral, but if we really listen and pay attention to the parties involved, its not that difficult to figure out if this is normal for them or not. This is why i shared the story i did--to show an example of when its a normal occurrence. I think the biggest red flags are when the parent is doing it matter-of-factly--there doesnt appear to be much concern over other people's reactions, they just keep doing it, the tone of their voice is more even keel than someone who verbally abuses rarely (because its become a normal part of their speech), and the child is also more likely to turn inward than outward (they are used to the abuse and since it usually happens when no one else is around, they are conditioned to not act out to get attention).

So, in the case of the OP's story, the fact that the mother kept going on and on and not caring that other people were staring and even reacting shows that its more than likely a common occurrence. She doesnt have the natural shame that should rear its head in a situation like that. In the personal stories PPs have shared there is the common theme of saying a few words or sentences, feeling bad either because of other people's reactions or simply because of natural shame and then not repeating the behavior. You see the difference? They probably also didnt have an even tone since they're not used to speaking that way, and their child probably reacts strongly to the words, crying loudly or screaming or another form of acting out. In the case of the child the OP talked about, it sounds like he was crying quietly and trying to disappear--a clear sign that he is used to the abuse.

Maybe its clearer to me because of working in the public around kids for several years, so i have enough experience to notice the differences. When I think about it, though, i think it has more to do with trusting my instincts. I'm not afraid to go with my gut reaction and notice how something makes me feel on an intuitive level. OP, it sounds like you're afraid of trusting your own instincts and feelings, for the sake of not being "judgmental" (you even used that term when it comes to assessing the situation, which shows how scared you are of doing it). The only way to truly know how to react is by listening to yourself, which means you need to be willing to step out of the neutral zone, stop feeling afraid of judging, so that your true feelings and instincts can shine through. If you're constantly uptight then you're not going to be able to trust yourself. Trusting your instincts is very important in a case like this because you will be better able to assess if it would be good to try to distract the mother or help her feel better so she stops hurting her kid or leaving the situation alone since you've assessed that this is more than likely a common occurrence. You can also be able to assess if you should call the authorities or not.
06-23-2013 12:11 PM
zenaviva

I'll just make a quick comment that's kind of a tangent...  I am in a caregiving relationship with my spouse.  People don't generally know that, it's not like he LOOKS disabled.  Due to his brain injury, he has trouble regulating his emotions, and he is often short or rude, or even has outbursts.  These happen in public sometimes.  I imagine it's been on more than one occasion that passerby thought that he was abusive, or that I was passive or possibly abused or whatever.  I've taken caregiver training and am pretty aware of when to react and when to let a situation go, etc.  I'm not saying at ALL that this is the norm for between-adult-interactions, but just saying that yes, it is the case that sometimes the situation is not what a casual observer sees from the outside in.

 

On one occasion, when I was heavily pregnant, we were in Epcot (had a babysitter for the kids, so it was just us) and were waiting in line for a snack.  DH was in a great mood (really, really rare for him... it's usually a battle to get him out of the house, much less Disney!!) when he made some offhanded comment to me that someone else overheard.  I didn't even register what he said as being rude (it's almost like Tourette's that he has, he swears a lot, etc.) but they turned around and started telling him off.  He got out of line immediately so as not to bother the people in it anymore, and we ended up having to leave right away.  He was absolutely crushed, and me being really hormonal at the time due to the pregnancy just burst into tears because what was supposed to be a once-in-practically-never opportunity for a date night out, was ruined like that.  The stranger?  I bet she was really well-meaning.  I have no hostility towards her, but it was just really cruddy the way that turned out.  Haven't gone on a date since.  I'm thinking I should carry around "disclaimer cards" to hand out to people in the future.  You know, like the ones that say, "my child is not a brat, he's autistic" ones?  It'd be like, "My husband is not a jerk or an abuser, he has a brain injury, thanks for your understanding."  Etc.  I don't know if it's a good idea or not, but maybe it'd work.  Maybe not.  Meh.

06-23-2013 10:50 AM
limabean I don't want to attack your perception of what you saw. It was over the line for you (and apparently for several people around you), and that assessment is good enough for me. I love your Anais Nin quote -- that probably played into my reaction, because the mother's quote that you posted is something similar to what has come out of my own mouth on my worst day, and I certainly don't think I'm an abusive mother. It's scary to think that someone could see a moment in my life (like those 2 women on the escalator I mentioned earlier) and label me Abusive, or Bad Mother.

But you know what? Those judgements, deserved or not, are a risk we all take when we are in public, and I think it's eye-opening to think about how much strangers do notice when we're out and about, and to consider how they might perceive our speech/actions.

So it might not even be a "does this fit the legal, prosecutable definition of abuse" thing, but just an "is this how you want people in your community to think of you" thing.
06-23-2013 10:30 AM
Turquesa
Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

I agree. But you and I are operating from different premises, which I hesitate to bring up because you've said a couple of times that you're not interested in discussing the aspect of whether this mother's behavior constituted abuse.

So in my context, I'm saying that when one adult partner (in an otherwise healthy relationship) has a bad day and begins to mistreat the other, they both have the option of stepping back and taking a breather before interacting again.

Whereas you're thinking of the abuser/victim dynamic, where the victim is so emotionally beaten down that s/he doesn't struggle against the abuse, and might even feel as though it's deserved. Which is very real and valid. I just wanted to clarify that I don't support the whole "Why don't abuse victims just leave?" thing.

Thanks for clarifying. I agree about the variation in context.

As for debating the mother's behavior, I mostly didn't want to get bogged down in defending myself and my impressions of the event. I was just after some advice as to handle myself and the situation. But this event definitely made me (and others around me) really upset and uncomfortable, which is why actually agree with Zenaviva that it may be a good idea to reflect on what our ideas and definitions are of "verbal abuse."

What was it about this event that triggered me? Everyone was weighing in on their views of what constitutes verbal abuse, and it made me remember that famous Anais Nin quote: "We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are." So much goes into how we perceive these things.

I did an online search of the "verbal abuse," and the only definitions I could find were extremely sweeping. I understand the concern about using the term liberally because in some situations it can sound inflammatory. Not every marital spat or child-scolding fits that mold. I do think that verbal abuse definitely exists, though, but I need to reflect a little more on my own definition of it, as well it was about this particular encounter that crossed the line for me.

So yes, let's go ahead and have that conversation. I'm curious what others think. When does someone cross the line between say something jerky when they're in a bad mood . . . and outright verbal abuse? Tentatively reflecting, part of my issue was how long the encounter dragged on. When I say something stupid to my kids, I'm usually not persisting with the matter because even in my worst moods, I'm actually regretting what I'm saying *while* I'm saying it.

But I'll have to give the matter a little more thought.
06-23-2013 10:07 AM
One_Girl
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post

That's what I said.

 Most of your post just reiterates points that I already made.  But it can be very, very hard to leave an abusive relationship of any kind. 

You're right, I misread your post and read it as you arguing the need to judge this woman not just her actions as many Pp have suggested from the start. I really need to wear my hideous glasses when I read long posts

It is hard to leave and there are a lot of societal pressures that contribute to that. Feelings of being judged and judgments we make about others and not wanting to be like them come into play there too but hard and not possible are different things. I think a thread just about how judgments, making and directed towards us would be an awesome spin off but I don't know where it would fit if we look beyond parenting to the effect of our lives and selves.
06-23-2013 10:00 AM
limabean
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post

But it can be very, very hard to leave an abusive relationship of any kind. 

I agree. But you and I are operating from different premises, which I hesitate to bring up because you've said a couple of times that you're not interested in discussing the aspect of whether this mother's behavior constituted abuse.

So in my context, I'm saying that when one adult partner (in an otherwise healthy relationship) has a bad day and begins to mistreat the other, they both have the option of stepping back and taking a breather before interacting again.

Whereas you're thinking of the abuser/victim dynamic, where the victim is so emotionally beaten down that s/he doesn't struggle against the abuse, and might even feel as though it's deserved. Which is very real and valid. I just wanted to clarify that I don't support the whole "Why don't abuse victims just leave?" thing.
06-23-2013 09:24 AM
Turquesa
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I think that don't judge in this context means don't assume she is an awful mother who always interacts like this based on one time seeings her having an awful interaction with her child, not don't judge the action. You can't know how someone parents just from one interaction.
 

That's what I said.

 

 Most of your post just reiterates points that I already made.  But it can be very, very hard to leave an abusive relationship of any kind. 

06-23-2013 08:40 AM
One_Girl I think that don't judge in this context means don't assume she is an awful mother who always interacts like this based on one time seeings her having an awful interaction with her child, not don't judge the action. You can't know how someone parents just from one interaction.

I don't feel that strong judgment about other parents is helpful for myself personally because in judging I also put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect and when I cracked I did so badly because I wasn't expressing my annoyance in healthy little ways all along. It is easy to contain those emotions with a young child but as they get older and parenting becomes harder stuffing emotions also becomes harder. Part of not judging for me comes down to what I need to do to be good parent.

I disagree with the assumption that victims of dv can't leave or that one episode of bad parenting means you are acting just like an.abusive spouse. They can leave but choose not to for a variety of reasons, many leave and return, and some of us do just leave. And I would be very surprised if many parents raise their children without ever snapping at all or even got through marriage without one nasty fight. There are many past threads by mdc members about snapping because it is something that happens between family members. Family pushes your buttons like nobody else can.
06-23-2013 07:53 AM
Turquesa

Oh wow!  This discussion has gotten so fascinating that it may be hard to keep this post focused! :lol

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

So, this mom's issue was that the 4 year old boy wasn't sitting up straight and using his fork?

 

Oh, just to clarify, the boy that I witnessed was about 7.  The 4-yr-old was my own DS, who was at my table obliviously eating his pancakes, thank goodness! lol.gif  Great idea on handling the situation, by the way.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennyanydots View Post


my point is that although it is a useful perspective, the relationships are not analogous. in one relationship you're the other's equal, and in the other, you're their caregiver. I don't command my DP, and he doesn't command me. I would never dream of telling him to be quiet or sit down and my feelings would be very hurt if he did so to me.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

Adult partners have the option of walking away. The angry partner could walk away if s/he needed a break, and the other partner could walk away if s/he felt mistreated.

Parents and children don't have that luxury -- they have to stick it out whether they're at their breaking point or not. Which is hard and sad for both parties -- the parent can't take a break to regroup when she feels herself getting out of control, and the kid can't say, "That's it, I'm outta here" if things go too far.

 

Here I'm definitely going to disagree.  I've had a lot of experience working with IPV victims (intimate partner violence), and maltreatment of ANY form--from verbal abuse (or just being a jerk) to outright physical violence--and to any person occurs because there is an unequal dynamic in a relationship.  At least in the IPV context, 100% of physical abuse begins with just verbal abuse, which wears somebody down psychologically.  I'm not sure if that's the case with child abuse, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is. 

 

While I agree with Identity Crisis Mama's assessment that an adult-to-adult-caregiver relationship is more on par with an adult-to-child dynamic, there's still a psychological complexity that occurs between "equal" adults.  There was a horrible study (horrible as in cruel) back in the 1960s in which kenneled dogs were shocked at their feet.  At first they yelped, resisted, and tried to escaped.  Then futility took over.  They still yelped but passively accepted their fate.  That's where we get the idea of "learned helplessness."  That also helps answer the question that so many people ask of IPV victims, "Why doesn't she just leave?"  It's because *she* (in some cases *he*) is not only disadvantaged psychologically, but also often economically.  They're also often isolated socially from friends and family, and taught that they can't survive without the abuser.  So the question is less "why doesn't she leave?" and more "why does the abuser do this to her?" 

 

Now my scenario of the man and woman in the restaurant may or may not be an IPV situation.  Witnesses can't know just by looking.  But I would be very, very careful before assuming that adult-to-adult encounters are "equal" and as easy to end as "walking away."  

 

The other issue I have with the this point is. . . for the sake of argument, let's suppose that there *is* an equal dynamic in the adult relationship. How does that make publicly humiliating and psychologically tormenting a child more tolerable?  I agree that it *is* more tolerable in our culture, but I don't think that's right.

 

 

 

Quote:

Quote:

Originally Posted by PrimordialMind View Post

OP, only you know how severe it was. We werent there so all we have to go on is what you described. It doesnt sound that bad by your description, but sometimes it can be hard to appropriately describe how intense a situation was. So, in reality, it doesnt matter how people assess it, all that matters is you were there and you saw how severe it was.

Personally i typically dont bother with saying something because there is really not a whole lot a random stranger can do to help change a situation. Its true that sometimes a parent is just having a bad day, but sometimes you can tell this is just how they are. In a case where the verbal attacks keep going on and on, like what you described, OP, its probably the latter. I hate to say it, but short of contacting the authorities, you're not going to change their lives by speaking a few words.

 

First off, thank you.  I wouldn't be pouring so much into this thread if the situation had been just someone's trivial bad day.

 

Second, a big reason that I started this discussion is because in many ways, I am afraid to act, partly for the reasons you mentioned.  But I also know that Zenaviva was right in saying that it could make things worse. From my IPV work and all of the literature on IPV that the worst thing you can do is humiliate an abuser because their response is to regain that lost power by committing more abuse.  Again, I DON'T KNOW if she actually abused that boy.  It's very likely that she did not, and that I witnessed a one-time incident.  But it's important to tread cautiously when we don't know either way.

 

Another aspect of this discussion that I want to explore is the don't-judge maxim.  If we're not careful, "don't judge" becomes a way of saying that we're not allowed to have an opinion on anything.  I think that "don't judge" should come with the disclaimer that there is a difference between juding a person and judging an action.

 

With the woman in my OP, I actually don't think it's a good idea to judge her.  There could be any hundreds of explanations for her behavior.  Maybe it COULD have been an exceptionally bad day with an exceptionally rare moment of her taking it out on the boy.  Maybe a loved one was on a death bed or something else horrible and stressful.  Maybe she was abruptly coming off of some psychotropic medication, and taking another dose would have calmed her.  Maybe she herself was abused (verbally, physically, sexually, etc), and was repeating some cycles and patterns.  Maybe she beat the poor child behind closed doors.  greensad.gif  I'm not in a position to judge her because I don't know a thing apart from what is happening in that moment that I witness . . . and my own subjective impressions of it. 

 

But judging the action?  You're darn right I'm going to do that.  It was horrible. 

06-23-2013 06:35 AM
IdentityCrisisMama
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post

Suppose a parent crosses your own threshold, ie they behave publicly in a manner that you consider verbally abusive. What, if anything, is an appropriate response?

There have been times where I have been able to intervene when a parent is having trouble with effective, gentle discipline. The way I go about it is to "help" the parent by disciplining the child in my own way. This obviously works better with friends and family (people you kind of know) but I have had some success in public. So, this mom's issue was that the 4 year old boy wasn't sitting up straight and using his fork?  I might make eye contact with the boy and point to my fork and give him a little wink and smile and then a big nod when he used it. Then maybe I'd straighten way up in my seat to remind him to sit up. Maybe the mom would see my help and realize that there's a nicer, more fun way to make reminders. In your case (once it got really bad and the boy was crying), I may just walk over on the way to the bathroom and say something like, "Aw...it's so hard when you're sad at a fun dinner out with mom," and then kind of commiserate a bit with the mom by making a comment or light-hearted joke about dinner dates with 4 year olds. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post
I did have an interesting thought, however. What if it had been a man and his wife or girlfriend? What if he verbally tore her down, publicly humiliated her, and even revved up his efforts as she teared up and shrunk down in her chair?

Would we be having this discussion? "We shouldn't judge." "He probably had a hard day." "Well, I've heard worse." "Well, it's not like he was beating her."

Or do we have different standards that change with each victim and aggressor?
 

Yes, it is very different for me. I think part of that is that I do not think the relationship with a child is the same as with a partner... but another part of that is probably societal conditioning that tells us on treating kids poorly is acceptable. greensad.gif  In the case of two equals (a non-caretaker relationship) I don't know what I would do but I can imagine myself telling the abuser to not be such a jerk or offering the abused a ride home. 

 

A better analogy would be an adult caring for another adult (special needs, elderly). Of course, we can imagine a caretaker being a bit short or stern out of stress...but we just don't see adults out right yelling or shaming other adults with special needs, do we? I'm not saying it doesn't happen behind closed doors but it's taboo in public. This is were I think the societal norms come in that trains us to tolerate one level of behavior towards children and another towards adults. 

06-23-2013 01:07 AM
PrimordialMind OP, only you know how severe it was. We werent there so all we have to go on is what you described. It doesnt sound that bad by your description, but sometimes it can be hard to appropriately describe how intense a situation was. So, in reality, it doesnt matter how people assess it, all that matters is you were there and you saw how severe it was.

Personally i typically dont bother with saying something because there is really not a whole lot a random stranger can do to help change a situation. Its true that sometimes a parent is just having a bad day, but sometimes you can tell this is just how they are. In a case where the verbal attacks keep going on and on, like what you described, OP, its probably the latter. I hate to say it, but short of contacting the authorities, you're not going to change their lives by speaking a few words.

Let me share a story that came to mind while reading this thread: i used to work as a cashier in a candy store, a long time ago before i became a mom. I've always had a soft spot for kids, though, so sometimes it was excruciating to witness some of the interactions between parents and their kids. There was one little boy, about 7, who came in with his mom. He was filling his bag with candy when he accidentally dropped a few. Not a big deal, it happens all the time. She became extremely stern and drill sergeant-like, telling him in a scary even tone that he is a failure, how could he do such a thing, that he better stop dropping them, on and on. And, of course, these insults just made him drop more candy which made the insults more severe. She never raised her voice, though, which was the creepiest thing, but the little boy was shaking and crying by the end of it all. I had never heard such extreme verbal abuse before, i wish i could describe it better but i cant remember her words exactly, just the intent behind it. She was literally trying to annihilate him with her words and it definitely wasnt a random occurrence--this was how she was raising him. I stood there, with my mouth open, unsure of what to do or say and then she came over to me to pay. This was the most painful part, at least for me, because i couldnt stand seeing that little boy crying and feeling so ashamed and not being able to reach out and hold him and tell him it'll be okay. I couldnt because i was a mall employee, i was supposed to just do my job and not get involved. The most i could have done was call security but was that really going to help this child?? I knew from another experience in that candy store that calling CPS doesnt amount to much if you dont have some sort of proof. Its just my word against the parent's. Oh, how i wish i could have said something, though, especially when she was being friendly towards me while paying. She went from extreme verbal abuse to this fake, ice cold niceness in mere seconds. It was the creepiest thing i've ever experienced. When they left a moment later, i watched as she immediately started digging into him again as if she never stopped. It is extremely horrible to witness something like that and the sickest part is the reality that nothing you say is going to change the circumstances, it is simply too severe.
06-22-2013 11:53 PM
mamarhu Thank you for bringing up this interesting discussion. I too have intervened with compassion for the mom in situations like this. While I agree the kid really deserves the compassion here, helping Mom calm down and regroup seems to be the best benefit I can hope to bring about. One time, I was that out-of-control parent. I still feel justified in my anger (but not in how I expressed it). I had gone to pretty extreme lengths to set up a once in a lifetime, make-or-break opportunity for ElderSon, then 15, and he sabotaged it. Clearly, in retrospect, it was my goal for him, not his. But he could have said "no, thank you", rather than publicly humiliating me. Long story, but I made a scene as we were getting out of the car. No idea that anyone had seen it. But when we got back to the car, a stranger had left a note under my windshield wiper, saying "I know you love your son, and want the best for him. I don't know the whole story, but I do know that the way you were talking to him will only push him away, not strengthen your relationship. Please tell him you love him. That is all he really needs to hear right now." I wish I could thank the kind stranger. That was exactly what I needed to hear right then.
06-22-2013 09:25 PM
mama amie In regards to my own relationship with my son, I have actually told him he can call us out if we're getting too "hot". Of course it is most important that we keep ourselves in check, but DH and I both lose patience a little too easily at times. I wanted to empower DS to stand up for himself when he feels others are being disrespectful or unkind. He know he can always tell us to calm down or ask why we're so mad. These statements coming from him help us remember that he is a young person, not something to be controlled or disrespected. We do the same for him when he starts losing control. I reinforce this in play situations by reminding my son and his playmates that they can and should let their boundaries be known, and to ask for help if needed.
06-22-2013 09:12 PM
limabean Adult partners have the option of walking away. The angry partner could walk away if s/he needed a break, and the other partner could walk away if s/he felt mistreated.

Parents and children don't have that luxury -- they have to stick it out whether they're at their breaking point or not. Which is hard and sad for both parties -- the parent can't take a break to regroup when she feels herself getting out of control, and the kid can't say, "That's it, I'm outta here" if things go too far.
06-22-2013 07:49 PM
One_Girl I do think it would be different if it was an adult talking to another adult this way. They would have been asked to leave and the police may have been called if they were outside and one seemed loud or threatening. Adult relationships aren't typically as draining as the parent /child relationship so there tends to be less tolerance of disturbances that involve only adults. Adults do sometimes have really bad days and they make each other cry, deliberately or not, but that also isn't something I think is worthy of judgment unless safety is a concern.
06-22-2013 07:25 PM
zenaviva

To stir the pot a bit, let's say my DH and I are eating at the restaurant table next to yours, and you overhear DH "command" me to do something... where it doesn't register for me to be upset, but it wouldn't fly in your marriage.  Would that be perhaps distressing to you in some way, even if it wasn't to me?  Obviously, you would be able to see whether or not I was crying in the corner, so that would make a difference too, but would you perhaps judge regardless?

 

OP, I think we keep coming back to the idea of what is and what is not abuse because it's relevant to the nature of the discussion.  It's not just our own personal definitions of abuse that matter, but in a way, what IS the common definition of abuse.  There's a really muddled middle ground between "definitely abuse" and "definitely not abuse" and it is very hard to generalize how one would act in that sort of situation.  (Or to imagine how one would like to act in said situation - which obviously takes some courage to do so.)  If a law is being broken, that's an easy and clear-cut thing.  But yeah, it is such a difficult topic to figure out.  When should we mind our own business, just how much are we responsible to the people around us, how do we do the most good and the least harm?  I don't know how to answer these questions hypothetically, but thank you for bringing it up.  It's good food for thought.

06-22-2013 07:06 PM
Jennyanydots
Quote:
Originally Posted by zenaviva View Post

I get what you're saying, sort of... but I'm not sure I agree.  It's not OK to tell a spouse to sit down, if you're polite about it?  I tell my spouse to sit down all the time.  wink1.gif  And he does the same to me, and I don't mind.  Or I'll tell him to quiet down if he gets really loud in public, or he'll tell me to xyz, whatever.  It's not a parent-child relationship, but still.  I'm just not sure I understand your point.
my point is that although it is a useful perspective, the relationships are not analogous. in one relationship you're the other's equal, and in the other, you're their caregiver. I don't command my DP, and he doesn't command me. I would never dream of telling him to be quiet or sit down and my feelings would be very hurt if he did so to me.
06-22-2013 06:51 PM
zenaviva

That, yeah, I've had happen before as well.  I've never had it get to the point of actually arguing with the customer, but I will try to say something nice to someone if I feel they're being treated unfairly.  I guess I'm not very confrontational in that way - maybe I should be! - but I would rather just say something positive to the clerk or whoever when it's my turn, to let them know that I saw what happened and that it wasn't fair to them, or what have you.
 

06-22-2013 06:44 PM
dalia
Quote:
Originally Posted by zenaviva View Post

I get what you're saying, sort of... but I'm not sure I agree.  It's not OK to tell a spouse to sit down, if you're polite about it?  I tell my spouse to sit down all the time.  wink1.gif  And he does the same to me, and I don't mind.  Or I'll tell him to quiet down if he gets really loud in public, or he'll tell me to xyz, whatever.  It's not a parent-child relationship, but still.  I'm just not sure I understand your point.

I think the difference would be the "shaming" part of it. For example if I said to my DH, "Sit down you fat idiot! You are an embarrassment to me!!" Then that would be pretty bad. But just telling him to sit down or arguing is a whole nother thing. I wouldn't interfere.

One time I was at Starbucks and the guy in front of me started being really rude and mean to the employees because their steamer wasn't working. I told him to leave them alone and that it was not their fault. It turned kinda crazy and we ended up yelling. I am not proud of that part of it but I do feel that people need to be defended. The girls were so grateful to me that one of them teared up and they gave me a free drink! I can't help but try to defend people I feel are being bullied but for some reason I feel very powerless when it comes to people mistreating children.
06-22-2013 06:30 PM
zenaviva

I get what you're saying, sort of... but I'm not sure I agree.  It's not OK to tell a spouse to sit down, if you're polite about it?  I tell my spouse to sit down all the time.  ;)  And he does the same to me, and I don't mind.  Or I'll tell him to quiet down if he gets really loud in public, or he'll tell me to xyz, whatever.  It's not a parent-child relationship, but still.  I'm just not sure I understand your point.

06-22-2013 06:22 PM
Jennyanydots Yes, that is a good point. However, the relationships between spouses and parents/children are very different. Even the normal commands we give our kids would not be acceptable if issued by one adult to another. For example: please sit down; stay right there; stop touching that; come back right now, etc.
06-22-2013 06:22 PM
zenaviva

For me personally, it wouldn't make a difference as to whether it was a woman or a child.  Or a grandmother or pet.  If someone is setting off my danger alert, I would treat that the same.  If there was a clear emergency, I would do SOMEthing.  If in a large group, try to stand up to the aggressor (and hope others would back me up), or call the cops, or something.  But no, I can't imagine myself interfering if there was just an uncomfortable conversation going on.  I guess it does depend on being there in the moment, and is hard to tell over the Internet and generalize.

 

ETA:  The point in showing compassion to the parent (in that situation) is not the end all and be all.  It's a method of diffusing the situation.  Of COURSE the child needs empathy too.  But ramping up the tension with the parent while shooting sympathetic looks to the child (or whatever) isn't going to help them in the long run...  What might help them is to help the parent calm down, step back, maybe re-evaluate their incorrect response, and let them fix it.  Hopefully.  Otherwise the parent might just take out more aggression out on them later.

06-22-2013 06:13 PM
dalia VERY good point. If it were a man yelling at a woman like that I would be like "OH HELL NO!" and would probably have said something. For some reason it seems like people feel they are intruding when they comment on someone's parenting.

And absolutely the little boy needed compassion. 100% agree.
06-22-2013 06:07 PM
Turquesa Mama Amie and S& D had what I was looking for. Thank you! In a situation like this involving verbal abuse, a call to CPS isn't even on my radar. But you both provided some productive but compassionate responses. This woman was so volatile that I don't know that following her to "talk it over" would have been a good move. The same applies to cute, humorous, ice-breaking comments. There's definitely a time and place for those, but they only exacerbate explosive anger that this woman was showing. I guess situational context is everything.

OK, that's the topic that I wanted to address. But this thread has opened up some others.

Again, I'm not really interested in the topic of whether or not my impressions of what I witnessed are valid or whether or not it's considered "legitimate" verbal abuse. You either believe it or you don't.

I did have an interesting thought, however. What if it had been a man and his wife or girlfriend? What if he verbally tore her down, publicly humiliated her, and even revved up his efforts as she teared up and shrunk down in her chair?

Would we be having this discussion? "We shouldn't judge." "He probably had a hard day." "Well, I've heard worse." "Well, it's not like he was beating her."

Or do we have different standards that change with each victim and aggressor?

Interesting questions.

Sometimes I think that we tow a fine line between explaining someone's behavior and excusing it. I agree that this woman needs empathy and compassion. So does that little boy.
06-22-2013 04:25 PM
zenaviva

As much as I wish everyone treated their children (and spouse, and everyone else for that matter) with kindness and respect, I do think that it's a disservice to children who are truly abused and in need of intervention, to interpret less-than-kind (and yeah, even outright mean) comments as abuse.  It's a spectrum.  There's a difference between the definitely non-GD spanking approach (which I definitely don't advocate, but don't see as *abuse* necessarily) to people genuinely torturing their precious children, maiming them, breaking bones, scarring etc.  I think the same goes for verbal abuse.  Being sarcastic, mean, etc... Is it nice?  No.  Will it harm the child long-term?  Sadly, it's a possibility... but then again, it MAY just be an off-day for the mother and there is a big apology coming, etc.  Truly CPS can't go around taking kids from every "bitch" of a mother.  You might feel righteous about calling the authorities and reporting them, but for all you know, the family would be placed under MORE stress (a TON more stress) by being reported, and things might get worse.  Or, the child might be removed altogether, and I don't know how going to a foster home and being ripped away from all you know would necessarily be better than staying with your parents who may or may not be less-than-kind on occasion.

 

I am a firm believer than most people who lash out are suffering on the inside, and need compassion more than judgment.  Getting the law involved on someone else would be a last resort for me.  I would rather try to see if I could help if it was feasible.

 

What I would do, in an ideal situation like that, is to try to be discreet in talking to the mother.  For example, instead of walking up to their table all conspicuously, I might try to "head to the restroom" at the same time they were leaving, or something like that.  Maybe say something sympathetic, or tell them I've been there, or something.  Once I was in a store and another mother was clearly yelling at her son.  He was maybe 10-11 and clearly embarrassed.  She was going on about why he couldn't be like other people.  I said something to her about how I have that conversation with my kids every other day, and smiled.  I wasn't trying to encourage her, but it did distract her.  She started talking to me about how frustrating it was for her to have an ADHD son, and she went on to vent about how she's exhausted and his new meds aren't working, and this and that.  It was a total stranger, but it seemed she really needed to vent to someone.  I listened to her for a minute or two, and then she just sighed and apologized to her son, and went off, a lot calmer.  I ran into them a few minutes later again and they were smiling and having a good time (it seemed) by then.  I think that situation went just about perfectly - she didn't get offended, she got to vent, I think she realized that she wasn't acting "right" - and I would hope that if I ever acted like that in public, that's the sort of reaction I would get.  Someone to maybe remind me to take a step back, sympathize, etc.  It's a different situation if someone is too far gone, though, and those methods wouldn't help them.  I don't know.  It's a tough call.  I think I would rather err on the side of caution though before judging someone else's less-than-stellar parenting moments.  (Unless there was outright and undeniable abuse going on, in which case I'd consider that an emergency and would treat accordingly.)

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