A few days ago, my husband and I went out to meet some relatives for dinner.  On the subway ride into the city, a large family group entered our car: an woman about 50 years old, two younger women with a bunch of young children and a teenage boy.  They all spoke over each other LOUDLY.  I think the whole car could hear them.  One of the younger women used words like "shit" and "fucking" in front of all the children.  She had a baby on her lap.  They also took out a big bag of fast food and started eating it, passing it around, right there on the subway.  None of that bothered me too much, but then I heard the older woman tell one of the kids, "Shut up or I'll slap you!"  She threatened to slap him twice. 

It disturbed me and I wanted to say something to her about it.  By accident, my eyes met those of the teenage boy, and he looked very embarrassed.  I said to my husband, "She just threatened to slap a child, in public."  He told me no to 'make a scene' and I did not, but now I think I should have.  I should explain here that in our relationship, he is the one who warns me not to transgress social conventions.  But I think in this case I should not have given in to the convention of 'let's pretend this isn't happening and not get involved'.  People should not threaten others with violence, especially not children.

So what would you do in this situation?  What should we do if we see parents threaten to slap their children?

I live near Brooklyn's Chinatown, and two or three times I have seen Chinese mothers slap small children in public.  They did not do it hard, and they seemed to do it only to quiet the kids, but it made me uncomfortable.

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I would ignore it. Of course i still remember when kids used to get spanked in public and psychological, verbal, and physical abuse were the norm. I we'll never fix stupid.


Do you have children?...

What was the "societal convention" involved?... was it just the idea of questioning the parent as to their course of action with their child?... or was there more?... later you mention witnessing Asian parents slapping their children in public, was there a racial factor involved?... I'm curious, you mention fast food being brought out and passed around in a way that left me with the impression that you disapproved, then said it didn't bother you that much... then why mention it?... 

Personally I see a difference between slapping a child or spanking a child vs. beating a child... example, you have a child reaching for a stovetop burner that's hot, what would you do?... try to reason with the child and warn them of the danger, potentially letting the child A. ignore you, or possibly B. continue in defiance, and touch the stovetop burning themselves (which could lead to another adult seeing the wound and questioning your parenting skills possibly even to the point of calling child protective services on you)... or do you slap the hand with a stern vocal reprimand not to do that?... 

Example... a parent is dealing with an unruly child in a park, the child is in full blown temper tantrum swinging his very solid toy around hitting other children (on purpose or even by accident) causing injuries... the parent could try to reason with the child in mid behavioral outburst, or could grab the child by the arm turn them around and deliver a couple of stinging spanks to their rear end, to get the child's attention, take the toy away, sit them down, and be the strong parental authority figure...

Other examples could be made... but I'll stop there...

Ultimately I don't have a problem with a physical punishment aspect to parenting... a slap or a spank is ok... beating is not... a parent hits their child with a closed fist is cause for action...

I don't have a problem with a parent raising their voice to a child... swearing/cussing not so much, but I'm not going to hold it against a parent if I hear it...

Raising a child is a difficult thing to do... and the last thing a parent needs is someone else coming in and undermining their parental authority...

Something I do have issue with though is the "No Spanking", "Spanking is Evil and or Abuse", and "You can't say No to a child" culture that has become prominent over the past couple of generations... the more that takes hold, the more I see children that have no respect, that are spoiled little brats, want want want, me me me... and then they become adults with those very same behaviors...

And we wonder why society is coming apart at the seams... if you don't get this reference, turn on the news... I'm guessing I will be in the minority here on this subject, and will be savaged for my thoughts on the matter, but I'm ok with that... I can take being slapped around...   ;)  


i agree with you RIGGSON. i could  NOT have said it better  myself.  this whole "handle the kids with uber care so as  not to mess with their fragile little mind's"? yeah..that's  bs.   beat a  kid with a leather belt? no.  a couple swats to the posterior? HELL YES!!

to the  OP? it isn't your  business.  pure an simple.  did she  hit the  kid? no? odds are the cops would've laughed at you. i would say more  but..*shrug* it wouldn't make a difference.

RIGGSON I agree with you I was spanked and maybe even slapped a time or two and I think I turned out pretty damn good if I do say so myself..

I agree, anger should be reigned in before spanking, just to be clear I'm not talking about spanking out of anger, I'm talking about discipline...

And I find your use of "Rule of Thumb" interesting in this discussion, are you familiar with it's origin?... ;)

And the problem with the way things are now, even the use of denial of a meal could and probably would be looked at as neglect, abuse, etc...

Rule of Thumb and switches... yes, it is... sorry, every time I hear the term now, I think of The Boondock Saints...   ;)

And wow, I hadn't heard of the "excessive" time out rule... 

I'm not a fan of hitting children, and I include spanking in that. Physical force against a smaller being is just never OK in my book. No one in my family spanks, and everyone in my family was a typical child, with typical tantrums and bad behaviors. But, somehow, the adults managed to control us without physical force. It's not rocket science, really. 

Having said all that, I probably wouldn't have said anything. I might have stared the woman down if she looked over at me. I'd have offered the kids an encouraging smile and, with it, tried to convey the sentiment "don't worry, you'll choose their state funded nursing home as revenge". But, that's about it.

The truth is, interfering in cases like this doesn't really do anything. My saying something isn't going to change her parenting methods. Might even make the parent more mad that the scene causes commentary, and she'll take it out on the kid later. 

Do you have a large group of children to tend to on a subway that are all screaming hungry and your three transfers from your small apartment that houses you and your two grown daughters and their children?

I'm guessing not, if the woman didn't beat the child in front of you and cause physical harm it's none of your business unless your a social worker.

Not everyone raises their children the same way or by a book.

The next time you want to do something about how someone else is raising their children that isn't breaking any legal laws walk right up to them with all your self righteous anger and hand them the keys to your apartment, your debit card and pin and the numbers to all the nanny agencies, if your not willing to do that then it's none of your business.

When Riddick wants the pup to give up the golf-ball, he shows dominance and the dog gives it up.

When he wants to break-down Dahl, same applies - albeit with a different flair.  All sweet like ;)

My son is grown now with 3 children of his own. I spanked his behind when needed. He was always verbally warned ahead of time and if he still ignored then a spanking took place. He was never bruised or marks made on him. There is a difference in discipline and abuse. A child can be disciplined without attacking their self esteem. I never called my child names or yelled. He was always spoken to in a voice that I would have wanted myself to be talked to in. I don't like to hear the foul language myself and I'd never speak it in front of my children. We are suppose to be setting examples. I would not have said anything unless physical abuse was evident and then I wouldn't have had any problem notifying the authorities. 

A lot of you say it's none of my business, and most of the time I would agree with you. I have no children myself, so I make it a point not to criticize how parents do thier job, because what do I know? As I said before, I have seen mothers not just threaten to slap children, but actually slap them, and I did not interfere. I believe that corporal punishment can be effective discipline, so long as it does not become abuse.
In this particular case, it was not just the threat of a slap that bothered me. The adults behaved as badly as the children--loud, rude and obnoxious. Now that I think about it, I cannot come up with a single difference between the adults's behavior and the children's. So I got the impression that a slap would not be any kind of discipline, but the disparate actions of someone not in control of herself or anyone else.
Would I have made a positive difference by saying something? Not likely, but I felt so sorry for this family, like I should do something to help them. That is not like me. I tend to live and let live, and people have accused me of not careing enough about others.
Anyway, there is nothing I can do now. And I suppose that speaking up back then would have had too high a risk of bad consequences. So minding my own business was the right thing to do. But doing the right thing ought to feel right and good. I don't feel that way about this. I feel like something awful happened in front of me and I did nothing about it.


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