Would You Step In?

14/08/2014 16:59 | Updated 20 May 2015

Child punishment

I've never been a particularly confrontational person; in fact, I do my very best to avoid arguments or conflict unless I'm really angry or fired up about something. On the odd occasion my eldest son has come home from school with a scratch on his cheek or a bruise on his shin, delivered by the class bully, all I want to do is yell and shout at the teachers, at the other parents, at anyone willing to listen. This is something shared by all parents, I think.

But, as I said, nine times out of 10 I shy away from getting involved in arguments, probably because I instantly assume I'm going to get my head kicked in; but the other day I was talking about bad parenting on a local radio station when the presenter posed a question.

"If you saw a parent screaming at their child in public," she said, "or smacking them too hard, would you say anything?"

Oh yes, I say, of course I would, and the presenter thanks me for my time and I hang up the phone.

Back at my desk, I start thinking about what I've said, and questioning myself. Would I step in if I saw verbal or physical abuse (for want of a better word) in public? Everybody likes to think they would, but when push comes to shove...would I?

There have been times when, exasperated and with three energetic children in tow, I may have done something which someone else could view as bad parenting. I'm not talking beatings, or yelling in faces; but raising my voice, perhaps, or bundling them into the car in my frustration and risking a limb being knocked or hurt.


How would I have felt if some stranger who didn't know me from the next guy started telling me how to raise my children? Do they know my circumstances, the stressful day I've had, the exhaustion of no sleep? Do they know that 99Slideshow-180404%

Suggest a correction