Another parent disciplining your child is one of those uncomfortable parenting moments we’ve all either already run into or will at some point. Sure, you have no problem telling your mother or sister your discipline preferences, but another mom on the playground or a mom friend, well, that’s a whole different story.
Here’s how to handle the situation with grace:
Take a Breath
Take a deep breath, count to 10 — it doesn’t matter what tactic you employ, just do whatever you need to do to prevent jumping on the defensive. Although reacting defensively when another parent disciplines your child may be your first reaction to the situation, that will definitely not lead to a constructive conversation. So, before you do anything, take a minute or two to gather your thoughts and get a broader view of the situation. Taking a breath will also help you to examine the environment you are in. You may find that it is not the right time or place to start a conversation.
Extend a Thank You
Even though you may not agree with how the other parent disciplined your child, acknowledge that you are confident that her discipline came with good intentions. We all parent differently. Some moms may have a sterner demeanor than you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re treating your child disrespectfully.
A good way to approach the situation is by extending thanks for the fact that, when your child was in her gaze, she acted the same way she would with her own child. Acknowledge that you understand how her actions show she cares. This action sets the stage for a neutral ground where you can move on to the next step.
Start a Conversation
The person who disciplined your child may not realize what he or she did was upsetting to you at all. So, by starting off on the right foot with the previous steps, you can change the direction of the conversation from being primarily focused on you and your child to one of two-way communication with the other parent.
Explain why you felt unsettled, ask questions and take this time as an opportunity to learn more about his or her parenting style. That approach is guaranteed to have a better outcome than a quick-tempered or passive aggressive response. Not to mention, you may learn a thing or two and gain some new insight.
“A good way to approach the situation is by extending thanks for the fact that, when your child was in her gaze, she acted the same way she would with her own child.”
Of course, we understand not every situation is going to be appropriate for the steps outlined here, but for minor disciplinary actions, these steps will most likely aid the situation in moving forward.
Keep in mind that old child-rearing saying, “it takes a village.” You can’t be the eyes and ears for every second of your child’s life. You may find that this experience opens a path for you to trust other parents more and create a larger community where your child will thrive.