It used to be said that it takes a village to raise a child. And that was from a time, I'd like to believe, that everyone cared for each other's children. Now, everyone is too afraid to "parent" another person's child. Why has it become so egregious to discipline someone else's child? On two occasions last week, I was left wondering – if parents don't discipline their children – is it really out of line for others to do so?Scenario 1
I was chatting to an acquaintance the other day. We were sitting in her lounge sharing a cooldrink and just chit-chatting the hour away. Her 4 year old, oh, let's call him Naughty Boy, was playing on the floor with crayons and puzzles, scribbling over the images on the wooden pieces. As she and I chat the 4 year old gets irritable and eventually jumps up and firmly says, "Come we go to the slide."
"Just wait, Darling, mommy's talking to the aunty," was her reply.
Naughty Boy then jumps onto the coffee table, stomps his foot and shouts, "NOW! I want to slide NOW."
I half expected the table to crack in half and see the green other-world open up to fetch the little blighter. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.
"Now! I want to slide Now! NOW!" The only things in the room bigger than the tantrum must have been my wide eyes and shock-dropped, gaping mouth.
I expected to hear a stern talking to and perhaps even see a yank from the table but instead, I heard her softly say. "No Darling. Don't jump on the table. Come down please."
He didn't.Scenario 2
At a party the other night one of the guests' children proceeded to unpack the host's DVD collection with fatty, oily, chicken-eating hands, wiping his hands on the floor and the DVD covers as he went along. His mother saw – but did nothing. His father saw, but no dice. The host saw and – aside from actually going red in the face and gritting her teeth – she said nothing. We all saw – and we did nothing to stop the child. But we all thought, "If that were my child…"
After the party the host told me that a number of guests had said she should have checked the child since the parents hadn't.
But it seems our fear of offending the parent leaves us to malign the child. Shouldn't we still help each other to raise better citizens in South Africa? Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to discipline someone else's child? Did you or didn't you?