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When, if ever, is it ok to tell someone they're parenting their child wrong?

For example, a pregnant mom was having a hard time with her preschool aged son at lunch today. The boy was climbing into the windows of the Chipotle restaurant, calling his mother "stupid" and running around the place. The mom had spoken to him several times and you could tell she was really trying to get him to settle down, sit down and eat but he just kept pushing the boundaries. She finally had had enough and got up from the table, grabbed him by the wrist and took him into the bathroom saying it was time for a spanking. Obviously the kid kind of fought her and yelled "NO!" a few times but she took him into the bathroom anyway.

Let's assume you could hear him getting swat on the butt and the next thing you know, the manager of the Chipotle is pounding on the door saying loudly "Is everything ok in there?" The mom opens the door and calmly says "Yes, we're fine. I'm disciplining my child." and closes the door. The manager then pounds on the door, opens it up and screams "PLEASE STOP! You can't do that here!"

The mom asks, "Can't do what? Spank my child and talk to him about his behavior?"
The manager says "No, you can't spank him here. I'm VERY offended. Look I'm shaking." and holds out a shaking hand. The mom replies, "I'm sorry you're offended but this is how we discipline our child when he is unruly and causing a commotion like he is right now." The manager says "Well, you can't do that here."

The mom says "Fine we'll leave and we won't be returning."

The mom takes the child back to the table where the grandmother is sitting and sits down, clearly upset. After a few minutes she asks the manager to speak with someone higher up. The manager says "I'll give you the number for my boss but there's no one higher than me here." The mom says, "That's fine, I'll take that number please."

When the manager returns with a piece of paper the mom says "I understand that everyone has differing opinions in how to parent their children. If I had been beating him, starving him, sexually molesting him, I'd understand your need to step in. However, I was disciplining him the best way I know how when we've had the kind of experience we did today. Whether you choose to spank your children is your business. It is not against the law to do so and I really think you were wrong to escalate the situation further." The manager said "It's wrong to spank your child. Just as bad as all those other things like abuse and someone had to step in and save that child!"

Who is right in this situation?

PS - Sorry this is so long and thanks to those who read it all and answer honestly.


Asked by EwansMommy at 4:58 PM on Feb. 16, 2011 in General Parenting

Level 20 (9,165 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (16)
  • The manager was out of line, in my opinion.

    Answer by Syphon at 5:02 PM on Feb. 16, 2011

  • The manager has the right to say something. They are in charge and I am guessing having worked in a restaurant before that he was the general manager of the store and had gotten a complaint from another customer or a server. At that point he would have had to have stepped in. Frankly, I would have probably done the same thing in his shoes. I would not have argued with her. I would simply have asked her to leave.

    Answer by gemgem at 5:03 PM on Feb. 16, 2011

  • I would have done the same thing this mother did.

    Answer by mommytoJames512 at 5:04 PM on Feb. 16, 2011

  • Oh wow, that's tough. I could see both sides equally....

    Answer by mama2br00ke at 5:02 PM on Feb. 16, 2011

  • But the mother was doing nothing illegal. She was not disturbing anyone else's eating experience. In fact, she was removing the child from the area where he WAS being a disruption and calming him down. For the record, when she brought him back out, he sat quietly and ate with no further disruptions.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion and sure, the manager may feel strongly against spanking. I just don't see how it was her place to interrupt the mother and tell her she couldn't discipline her child there.

    If the manager was Muslim and some Christians came in and said a prayer to their God and the manager was offended, is it her place to step in and say "You can't pray here. I'm very offended!"???? No. It's her OPINION! And no one should be forced to abide by someone else's opinion.

    And that's my opinion. ;-)

    Comment by EwansMommy (original poster) at 5:10 PM on Feb. 16, 2011

  • The question is not whether the mom should or shouldn't have spanked the child. The question is when is it ok to step in and assert, enforce even, your opinion on how someone else should parent their child.

    Comment by EwansMommy (original poster) at 5:12 PM on Feb. 16, 2011

  • No one complained to the manager. As soon as the mom headed to the bathroom, the manager ripped her gloves off and marched right behind the mom.

    Comment by EwansMommy (original poster) at 5:15 PM on Feb. 16, 2011

  • Exactly! It's a eating establishment! Not a counseling session. I still say it's none of the manager's business and she was out of line and only made an embarrassing situation worse.

    Comment by EwansMommy (original poster) at 5:16 PM on Feb. 16, 2011

  • And the mom was not the one being loud, actually. She was pretty calm. It was the rambunctious kid that was being loud. And then the manager pounding on the door. It's not a big place. The whole thing made me feel bad for the mom. She really didn't need that stress while pregnant.

    Comment by EwansMommy (original poster) at 5:18 PM on Feb. 16, 2011

  • I can respect you opinion. But, no one has a right to strike another human being in your place of business. It doesn't matter if your "own" the person you are assaulting or not.

    I am a mental health professional who has worked in school and clinics with many, many children. It is well established that spanking is not a preferred, respectable, or humane and I would probably get my license yanked if I ever suggested or condoned it.

    We teach our children to be violent when we hit them. Period. Why do you think so many of us spank? Because we were taught to.

    Answer by ImaginationMama at 5:20 PM on Feb. 16, 2011