Boy Fights Mom in Grocery Store in Viral Video. It’s a Prank but It Still Matters

January 8, 2014  |  

A few days ago I came across the video of the woman who lost complete control over her kids in a New York grocery store. After watching the video, I wasn’t fully convinced that it wasn’t some kind of prank designed solely for the purpose of being featured on WorldStar Hip Hop. Turns out the woman playing the mom has a whole YouTube channel of videos showing her public pranks. Still the events that transpire in the video do serve as a great example of how to respond when you see a parent in over their head in public.

OBSERVE, BUT DON’T JUDGE

At some point, we see the cameraman approach the unruly child in question and tell him to stop eating fruit from the produce section. After getting a disrespectful response from the little boy (this is typically a telltale sign to back off), the cameraman then approaches the mother and tells her what a horrible job she is doing of keeping her kids under control. Plain and simple, he went from observing what was going on to judging her. The mother then makes a spirited attempt to chastise her son, only to have the young boy flip the script on her. The child curses at her, they get into a scuffle and the little boy snatches the blonde wig from her head and commences to running around the store with it. Things only go downhill from there. While the cameraman made some good observations about how we need to be more mindful of our kids in public, that didn’t give him the right to put her on the spot. If he wanted to record the footage and make comments about why it’s necessary to beat your kids, so be it. But he instigated the situation and forced this mother to deal with a level of chaos she was not equipped to handle. Public shaming will make it worse, not better.

So, let’s say this video was legit. From what I see, her children were not bothering him; they were just doing something he would not have allowed his children to do. But here’s the thing: the way we handle our kids is not how another person will handle their child. We all parent based on the competencies we’ve been given and it was very clear that the mother was operating with fewer competencies than most. If he wanted to record the footage and make comments about why it’s necessary to beat your kids, so be it. But he instigated the situation and forced this mother to deal with a level chaos she was not equipped to handle.

Parental Control Isn’t Built in a Day

If this were not some sort of ratchet performance art, this young man’s behavior would be totally unacceptable and the mother was clearly out of her depth as a parent. But I think we have to manage expectations when we encounter a parent who can’t seem to control their kid in public.

Here’s the thing about parental control: it isn’t something we can just deploy on the fly. The groundwork for respect and compliance have to already be laid in order for us to really have any influence over our kids. Parenting is a complicated blend of power, control, empathy and sacrifice. It doesn’t look like this mom had either of these. When we see children misbehaving in public, you can pretty much guarantee the challenges are even bigger and more daunting at home. It means someone dropped the ball a long time ago and any attempt to regain parental power and influence in that given moment is impossible. So as an annoyed on-looker, it’s important to remember that.

Know How and When to Intervene

I’ve witnessed a public parenting meltdown or two and what I’ve learned is that as much as we might want to intervene, we have to know our place and how to do it properly. Recently, I took my daughter to a doctor visit and a young mom was arguing with an older mom who didn’t like the way the young mom was handling her small son. The younger mom was agitated and reportedly dragged the baby by  his arm socket and repeatedly called him names while on the elevator. A few people on the elevator witnessed it, but the older woman was outraged and decided to address the mother directly about her poor parenting skills. This only made the mother more flustered and she caused a huge scene, threatening to hurt the older woman. Another woman on the elevator witnessed the same behavior, but she decided against addressing the mother directly and discreetly reported what she saw to security, expressing concern for the child’s safety. Before things got too out of hand, security showed up and the mother and child were escorted away.

The second woman handled it best. I personally wanted to say something to the young mother about how she was acting, but I knew anything I said would only direct her ire at me and I’d be a part of the spectacle. When possible, I try to avoid public mom shaming. It almost always makes a bad situation worse.

How do you respond when you see a mom has lost control of her kids in public?

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