Dear helpful strangers, there are moments when you let a mother parent the way she wants to parent. Even when you don't agree with it.
By now you've seen the video of an irate mother asking a stranger to get out of "her space" because the stranger was trying to "help" her with her child, who was throwing a tantrum. By the time the video rolls, we see the mom getting physical with the stranger. She spits on the stranger, and soon punches are thrown. No bueno.
According to Hot News Now, the altercation took place at the Albany Medical Center and, as the mom says, she was "trying to ignore the tantrum" when a woman, who most likely thought of herself as a "good Samaritan' took a seat nearby and asked if she needed help. The mom says no, but the stranger doesn't leave.
The slap was uncalled for. The violence was uncalled for. However, when a mom tells you she doesn't need help and to leave her alone to parent her child, you have to respect her wish. Especially if you see that the child is not in any immediate physical danger. Your heart may ache for the child, but guess what, it's not your child. A mother knows what works for her child and what doesn’t. I don't personally ignore a tantrum, but I have to believe that maybe that's a method that has worked for this mom. Again, it’s her child. Not mine.
I recently had a similar encounter when my son threw a tantrum in the hallway of a residential building. A neighbor peeked her head out and asked what was the matter. I told her my son is throwing a tantrum. She saw me trying to calm him down and she closed her door and went about her business. Another neighbor came out and tried to tell me something about it being her Sunday afternoon and she needed to relax—I pieced her words together through my son’s screams.
I turned to her and said, “He’s a child throwing a tantrum. It happens.” To which she replied, “Well, manage your child!” I saw red! Why did that woman say that? I have to admit I lost control and started screaming, “EXCUSE ME? EXCUSE ME?” (It's the first thing I could think of). I continued screaming “How dare you? You must not have children. This is what they do. How dare you?”
I lost control, and I was way too loud. I’ll admit it. But there’s something about when a stranger tries to monitor your parenting that will turn even the most well-mannered woman into a raging fool. Does the stranger know what kind of child you have? Do they know how many times you told your child “I love you” today? Do they know you tell them “you are my sunshine” every day? Do they know that the tantrum started over something silly, but came from a place of love? Do they know if there were such a thing you’d get the Awesomest Mom of the Millennium award each year because you’re a damn good mom? Of course not. All they see is the tantrum and think, Oh this could be chance to be “Captain Save-a-Mom.” No thanks!
In this case, the mom was sitting in a hospital cafeteria. Did the stranger take into account that something serious could be happening—maybe a family member was sick or she lost a loved one? We don't know all the details just yet.
But as Denene Millner over at MyBrownBaby says, as moms of color, the sad reality is there's already a microscope on our parenting skills, and styles, and the stakes are often higher. Of the mom’s verbal and physical assault of the stranger she writes, “This kind of release could easily have serious consequences—particularly for women of color and our children. Our nation’s foster care system is full of children who were put there because “good Samaritans” took it upon themselves to “intervene” in the parenting choices of Black and brown folks.”
Everyone involved could have walked away from the situation. But, but, but...
Has a stranger ever tried to intervene when your child was having a tantrum? How did you handle it?