What would you have done?

On Monday my family went to the first sandy beach at Park Point. When we were done enjoying the scenery and the water we began to pack up our car. There was another family packing up its car, but the adult woman in the car was swearing at the three young children who were under 5 years old. It was not just a few swear words, but a vulgarity-filled yelling directed at a child who did something that the adult deemed unacceptable. There were other bystanders, but no one said anything.

I rolled down my window and was about to speak up for these poor kids, but then I thought about how the adult in the car might own a gun or be carrying. It has bothered me ever since and is making me rethink my views on firearms. I’m wondering what some of you would have done. The three kids stood outside the car and looked so sad. I thought about when they enter our schools and swear in class because of the example they were given. This was right here in our town and I felt powerless because everything I am reading about says that carrying a firearm is what everyone should be doing.

What would you have done?



about 4 years ago

Unfortunately, I don't think anything could be done that wouldn't result in an escalation of the issue (gun or no gun).

Best thing you can do is to make sure you and yours are taking a more positive approach to child-rearing.


about 4 years ago

I engage the children. I would have said "hi" to them, as if I knew them. That might have burst the bubble this woman apparently lives in.


about 4 years ago

Wow, Endion, what a sad way to end your outing.  I think you were right to be concerned about escalation.  Unfortunately, those kids will someday have a counselor/police officer/lawyer assuring them that they are good kids, for whatever good that will do.  I think I would have smiled and said "hi" to those kids, then talk about it with my own kids when I got home...or since I myself don't have kids, thanked God that I grew up with great parents.


about 4 years ago

Was she physically hurting the children?  If not, I would not have gotten involved.  Her behavior was out of line but any intervention you could provide at that point would have only been temporary.  If you truly had concerns about the welfare of the children you should definitely report it to the police or social service.

As for the gun portion of your statement, I am confused by your reaction.  Random shootings are very rare (even more in our neck of the woods).  You have a much better chance of dying just driving down the road than you do of some random person shooting you.  Those who have legally obtained firearms and have gone through permit to carry classes do everything in their power to deescalate situations.  That is part of the actual training.  I would be more confident that because of carry laws that "bad" would less likely to randomly engage people in that manner.


about 4 years ago

Clearly, you should have shot the swearing parent with your own firearm first. Then told the kids to get minimum-wage jobs to support themselves.

Honestly though, that sucks. I am not sure I would have said anything either for fear that the person would retaliate against me. Perhaps making eye contact with the kids and giving them a nod or something might have helped, but ...


about 4 years ago

I am confused as to what guns have to do with the situation. The fact that you were concerned about that tells me that you are far too concerned about guns in general. 

Guns aside, most people do not take kindly to strangers telling them how they should parent. 

An option would have been to take down the license plate of the vehicle and report the incident to child protective services. Vulgarities aside, what you describe sounds to me like verbal abuse and that is not something to be taken lightly. 

That way you avoid confrontation, and you might save the children from a toxic environment.


about 4 years ago

All of you have great points. I did look at the kids and shake my head. They all three at once just looked up after getting out of the car. They stood there for a moment in dead fear. I tried to show them as much empathy as I could with the disgust of my face. They were so young and I thought, "if this is how they are learning how to respond to an order how will some teacher in a classroom ask nicely and get the child to respond?" I feel for all of the people involved, but I also felt helpless.

As far as the gun thing goes I think it was just a reaction to what is going on nationally and within our own state. The guy pulling the gun on the dad teaching his kid to ride a bike, pictures of assault rifles at Target, those kids in Grand Rapids gunned down and recorded by the victim of the robbery, or the guy who shot his neighbor for giving his kid a hard time or lymes disease from a deer tick that happened near here recently. It is like I felt it was necessary to say something as it was so loud and vulgar, but the thought that the woman might have a weapon popped into my head. I should have written down the plates. I cannot convey how wrong the yelling was, which made me wonder if it was the mother or just someone taking care of the kids - like an older sister.

It was a moral dilemma and I thought I would share it.


about 4 years ago

C'mon people, it's 2014!  I thought we're supposed to take out our cell phones and video cameras.  Then you can come to a website like this one and shame them publicly.  Hell, you could have gone viral with this, slap some ads up on your Youtube channel and bingo-bango you just turned a profit!


about 4 years ago

Sometimes just saying, "Hey there, need some help?" can disrupt the stream of invective such that the person takes a breath and gets a hold of him/herself. Not always, but sometimes.


about 4 years ago

"Hey there, need some help berating your children?"


about 4 years ago

Heh, the "...getting a hold of yourself so you stop acting like an asshole to your kids in public" is what I try to imply, but point taken.


about 4 years ago

I've done the "Do you need some help?" thing. The mom declined, but did calm down. Or you could say, "Looks like you're having a tough day. Did you enjoy the beach?" I'm not trying to say you're obligated to say something like that, but it probably would not escalate the situation. I agree you wouldn't want to say anything that makes a parent more angry when they'll possibly take it out on the kids.

Even if the parent isn't physically violent, I'd say you could call the police and report a person being verbally abusive with three young children, and that you're concerned for their safety. That would be true. Problem is, they'd still all go home together, parent more angry than ever.

Sorry you had to witness that. It's a sad reminder what some kids live with.


about 4 years ago

Hardly a day goes by I don't regret cleaning the clock of this dude I saw hit this sweet little girl in Arizona for no reason one time where you got a lot of these types. He looked like the mother's twisted BF and about three weeks out of becoming a full time ped. Sadly, not much you can do to alter her persona right then and there accept the last two advice bits maybe. Reverse psych is a good angle. 

The only obvious effective answer to me is choosing beaches 2-37 instead where it's less of a circus/all around better people who don't embody the ubiquitous lazy American, and pray for all the kids around the world in harm's way. No matter how bad those kids have it, they still won the lottery being born here.


about 4 years ago

This is very interesting because I had a VERY similar experience on the beach 3 summers ago and I still wonder if I should have said anything. A mother was screaming and swearing at her kids, calling them idiots, and my blood was boiling I wanted to say something so bad, but we were the only ones on the beach together and I was pregnant at the time. I felt so distraught for those children and the memory still haunts me. I often wonder if I should have stepped in somehow...


about 4 years ago

How sad, and those kids will probably turn out like the jerk faces their parents are. What a terrible environment to grow up in. I don't know what I would have done. Maybe I'd  just hang out and make sure they didn't physically abuse them. Not sure about your thinking on the firearms however. I do own handguns and have a permit to carry. If I was packing I would be much less likely to do or say anything. As one of the previous commenters remarked, the last thing I would want to do is escalate the situation with an already pissed off individual. I don't carry to make my dick larger (ie; open carriers), I carry to protect myself and my family from a worst case scenario.


about 4 years ago

This is a tough one. I've often wished I could make citizens arrests for bad parenting. It is hard not to feel angry and helpless and even fearful. However, I've seen people intervene successfully in situations like this. It has to be done gently, with sympathy for the out-of-control adult as well as the child. The state of Minnesota has resources on just this issue: 

The Wakanheza Project

I found out about it in the New York Times' parenting blog.

When to Interfere with a Parent in Public?


about 4 years ago

Unless amongst the swearing there were threats there's really nothing that can be done. As a mandated reporter I have called in on people swearing they were "going to beat their kid's ass when they got home" due to their crying. But really unless the cops see this kind of behavior when they show up or they find other reason the child is in danger when they arrive nothing can be done.

It sucks to see parents who misunderstand and ultimately take their children for granted. Lord knows I get frustrated with my kids but I always remember my reaction to it needs to be meaningful.


about 4 years ago

First, I'd never escalate an already heightened confrontation.  I would have gotten the license plate number, called the police, and told them you were fearful of the childrens' safety and well being from what you saw.  

Also, anyone with a legal permit to carry knows that their gun is for self-defense only when they fear for their life or the life of their family.  Criminals will not abide by legal carry laws, nor will they take a legal carry class where it is taught to always always avoid confrontation.

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