I Didn’t Reprimand My Son the Way You Wanted Me To

I’m a big fan of play-dates. I think it’s important for my kids to build upon their social skills and to fortify those friendships that, for some, may last a lifetime. However, with all of the play-dates come other adults who parent differently than I do – and that’s okay, as long as we can all respect the different parenting styles.

kids playing ball in field with trees

The more my other mommy friends and I get our kids together, the more likely an argument, fight, or injury will occur amongst the kids. That’s just basic mom math. And, boys, especially, can be rough play-date participants. Plenty of wrestling, running, tumbling, jumping, and competitive play goes down whether we’re in public places or in someone’s backyard. They are some busybodies, but I do my best to teach my sons that having a lot of energy to release is fine as long as it’s released properly. I don’t teach them to use their hands to resolve anything, but sometimes these young ones will act on hyper-active impulses, and “Oops!” We suddenly have ourselves a situation resulting in what can be a very awkward mom vs mom moment.

Before I continue, let me just say that if someone is hurt or if my son is behaving like a bully, then I absolutely would want to know so I can handle it immediately. But, I believe it’s best to let the kids work problems out themselves. I am a huge proponent of this practice. This momma reminds her kids often, “My tattle ears are turned off, guys!” [cranking the invisible tattle knob I have by each ear]. But when the other parent is the one tattling, it’s hard to ignore, so Mommy needs to jump in.

If none of the aforementioned acts have taken place, I, personally, don’t see a reason for a parent to intervene, let alone bring in the other child’s parent. We all have different perspectives, and I can respect that her take on the situation might be different than mine, so I oblige and do what I can to quell everyone’s concerns. But, it might not be as effective as she was hoping.

It’s hard to please everyone. If I’m compelled to reprimand my son, right there, on the spot at a play-date, I feel under plenty of judgmental pressure. She heard her son; she brought it to my attention; and, now, she’s watching me try to have what should be a private moment between my son and me. Just as we all raise our children differently, all of our children learn differently, and public shaming, embarrassing, or serving consequences in front of others might not be the best way my child learns right from wrong.

It’s important to trust the other mothers we’re entering the play-date with. We need to trust that they’re doing right by their children and if a situation were to occur, we have to assume they’ll handle it how they see fit whether that be on the spot at the play-date, in the car on the way home, or later that evening at the dinner table. There’s no need to demand a quick fix or to follow up. And, there’s certainly no need for judgmental feedback, gossiping, prying, or tattling. We want to fortify the adult relationships at play-dates too – not build walls and criticize.

Respecting each other’s personal parenting style is a key ingredient to a successful play-date.

It is no secret that we all parent differently. There is no one right way. A large group setting calls for diversity in all shapes and forms. Interests, behavior, attention span, energy, and emotions all vary from one child {and parent} to the next. One must enter such a situation with an open mind, no expectations, and positivity. I’m not necessarily going to approve of every child’s behavior at a play-date. And, yes, I wish sometimes other mother’s would intervene more than they do, but I don’t bring it to their attention. I don’t make them feel like they are doing this whole motherhood thing wrong. I chalk these occurrences up to life lessons of adversity for my kids (because they will need to know how to solve problems without me one day), and I, too, view them as a test of my own judgement – keeping my patience and reasoning in check.

So please, before calling attention to another mommy or rushing to “fix” a non-violent altercation between children, remember that how you perceive the situation will not be the same as how another mother views it. Sometimes we get into full-on “mama bear” mode and don’t stop to think first. We’re all just trying to get through these mommy trenches. Let’s make it a little easier on ourselves and each other and enjoy the ride as best we can, especially when together.


Jennifer Gonzales
Wife to my high school sweetheart, Ross, and mother to 5 children: Trip, Conner, McKenzie, Piper, and Sutton, I am a born and raised Southern Louisiana Lady. I am a graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy, received my Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Secondary Ed. from LSU followed by my Master’s of Education from UNO, and for the past 15 years, I have been outwitting high school boys as an English teacher at Holy Cross School. When I’m not grading papers, driving to baseball practices, or making grocery runs, I can be found cheering on my LSU Tigers, cutting up with my girlfriends, and attempting DIY projects around the home. I’m all about sippin’ some wine during the sunset while the kiddos play in the yard and the hubby works the grill. I’m living my best mommy life these days and am always happy to share the journey with others!


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