People Parent this Way? Really?!

Rob is father of 2 boys and husband to Mariandi. Avid tea drinker.

Today I experienced something that I couldn‘t quite believe. It's taken me a few moments to digest it, and I'm starting to see both sides, but it made me feel uncomfortable and I certainly wont be trying this with my boys.

Let me start at the beginning, or close enough. I was walking out of the local Aldi supermarket and in front of me was a middle aged woman and a petit young girl of maybe around 2 or 3 years old, it was hard to tell.

We were walking through the fairly quiet car park, and the woman proceeded to bark out commands, to this little girl carrying a box of cereal.

“Walk! Good, keep walking. That‘s right. Good girl.”

A car proceeds to slowly pull up to a space in front of us.

“Now stop! Isabella STOP STOP Isabella!

Isabella stops, doesn’t look back at her carer, doesn’t ask why. Nothing that I would associate with an inquisitive toddler.

Good girl, now walk”

The car proceeds to reverse into a space.

“STOP Isabella”

The middle aged woman passes the reversing car.

”Right, walk now”

Isabella starts trotting along side like an obedient puppy.

It’s at this point my ear close and my brain is the only voice I hear as I increase the distance between us.

Why was this woman treating this child like a puppy? Her tone was firm and authoritative, her whole language was much the same as you’d use to command a horse, or a dog to make them obedient.

Why did this make me feel uncomfortable?

Children are not animals. They may act like it and as parents we may have cause to raise our voice and be firm with a child, but for 30 seconds I saw that this child’s spirit was compromised. This pretty little girl was being well behaved granted, but she lacked the spirit and tenacity of most other children her age.

I felt that treating a child this way was devoid of compassion, love, and warmth — something I believe children require to become well-rounded, tender, and caring adults.

The other side

It worked. The girl was obedient. She stayed clear of the moving car and she never ran more than 2 metres in front. The woman looked calm, there was none of the typical stress I feel as a Dad walking alone with my toddler son who constantly investigates the world and has little sense of danger.

What do you think? Should we parent children with more firmness and authority? Share what you think on Facebook, or over on Twitter.

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