Ask Miriam | Should I Have Stood up More for My Child?

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little girl in red sweater holding fall leaves
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Dear Miriam,

My family recently attended a fall festival that had a semisupervised children’s play area. The attendant checked kids in and vaguely made sure they were following the rules. Several kids were clearly pushing boundaries and acting wild, but nothing seemed dangerous or noteworthy. However, the attendant singled out my child to leave. We just moved on to another part of the festival and didn’t talk about what had happened, but I’m wondering if I should have stood up for my child more or found out whether something else happened that I didn’t see.

Signed,

Fall Festival Fail

Dear Fail,

Semisupervised is really the worst level of supervision. Fully attended spaces tend to be more clear about the rules and consequences, and unattended spaces say, “play at your own risk,” and parents are likely more attentive. The in betweens are always the hardest part of parenting.

Assuming the attendant wasn’t thrilled about staffing the unruly kid section of the festival, you did the right thing in moving on and not making it into an issue. Had the attendant asked you to answer for your child’s behavior or treated your child in some inappropriate way (besides the ask to leave), you may have wanted to follow up, but even then, it may have been hard to identify someone in a management position, or even what you would have liked to have happen next.

Similarly, if your child was inconsolable at being asked to leave, you may have wanted to find a way to work things out with the attendant. Even then, though, it may have been better to buy your child off with another cider donut and not get into an unnecessary and probably ineffective conversation with someone with virtually no power who you’ll probably never see again.

It sounds to me like everything ended well enough at the festival, and there are no lasting grudges or damages. However, next time you encounter an unfamiliar play space with inadequate supervision, maybe you’ll rethink whether that’s a positive environment for your child. Perhaps you need to have a talk in advance about how to handle that kind of space. Or, it’s possible that you need to situate yourself in such a way that you can observe your child’s behavior and make a quick exit if things are getting out of hand, regardless of whether your child or someone else is instigating.

Public spaces have different and sometimes hard to comprehend rules, from a child’s perspective. While such experiences can be fun opportunities, sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and enjoy the parts that work and walk away from the semisupervised not-so-great parts.

Be well,

Miriam

1 COMMENT

  1. “Buy your child off with another cider donut”. You make things OK for a child by giving him/her food? No wonder we have an obesity epidemic amongst children. What an awful way to settle this issue.

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