I know, I know. Those words are pretty harsh. And anybody in their right mind would probably take offense to being spoken to that way. So if that is the case, please tell me why on earth a parent would say those words (or worse) to their child? Anybody? Nobody? Hmm…
I have seen and heard parents, especially mothers for some reason, say some terrible things to their children. Once when I was at a McDonald’s in New Orleans, I saw a mother, her son and her friend come in and grab a table. I didn’t think anything of it, until I heard the mom say, “You better sit yo little ugly *blank* down before I knock the *blank* out of you.”
I had to look up from my Double Cheeseburger add Mac Sauce to see what was really going on. Did she really just say that, all loud and proud like it’s okay? Even sadder, though, was the little boy’s reaction, or should I say…lack thereof. He just sat there, unfazed, continuing to do what he was doing. It was heartbreaking because it told me that he was used to his mother’s behavior and it didn’t bother him.
But it bothered me.
I sat there, silently seething over what this mother had just done. How dare she speak to him like that? Wtf is wrong with this chick? Why didn’t her friend say something? Hell, why didn’t I say something?
And this is where the cognitive dissonance set in. (What can I say? I was a psych major.) While I know it’s wrong to speak to a child like that, I also understand that that was not my child. Heck, I didn’t even have a child at the time! So what could I tell this woman about raising her son? I concluded—nothing, hoping someone else would eventually tell this mother that her words were harmful to her young, impressionable son. I wanted someone else to act, say something, so I could say nothing. Classic Bystander Effect and Social Psych 101, ftw!
But seriously speaking, what does one do when faced with this situation? Talk to the mother? “Ma’am, please shut the *blank* up and stop talking to your son that way.” Or appeal to her maternal side? “Ma’am, you know, it can really screw your child up when you talk to him like that. Have you seen the show, Criminal Minds?”
It’s just such a fine line that we all must walk. To speak up or not to speak up? To walk away from the situation or to walk toward the situation? My gut tells me to go forward, fight the good fight and stand up for the tiny humans. My realist mind, however, says, “Shut up, cuss the mama out in your head and keep it moving because you don’t want to be Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax.” I’m just saying…
How do you feel when you see a parent disrespecting their child i.e. calling them names, making fun of them, etc.? Have you ever intervened? What was the result?