Friday, August 8, 2008

On Ring Tail Tooters

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We have a couple of Ring Tail Tooters in our family.

You know, Live Wires.



I think they make drugs for these types of children, but being that we like living on the wild side, we do not partake.

If someone informed me that one of my children had been swinging from the chandelier in the auditorium at church and had knocked the podium into the baptistry and I would be responsible for the damages, I bet I could name that offspring in 2 guesses.

The thing is, we own up to our Ring Tail Tooters. We embrace them. And always fully investigate any reports about them.

Don't get me wrong, we certainly don't want our Ring Tail Tooters destroying property or generally annoying others. We administer discipline as called for, make apologies and restitution, and provide plenty of opportunities to practice self control.

It's just that we normally don't doubt when we hear that one of them has done something that is a recognized behavior of the ring tail species.

That is why I am baffled when I run upon a parent of another Ring Tail Tooter who is in complete denial about the species of child she birthed.

Like last night.

One of my children had an adversarial encounter which ended in blood and tears. (Most likely there was sweat, too.) The other child in the encounter is a well known Ring Tail Tooter. As in, the name of this child brings knowing nods and tales of property damage.

But, when I approached the parent about it, she immediately came to his defense and questioned the accuracy of my account.

Then, she suggested that my child just doesn't play well with others.

Excuse me? WHAT?! My child doesn't normally come away bloody from playing. (Her child came away unscathed.)

I really don't understand this attitude at all. I wonder how anyone can be so deluded about the true nature of her child.

I also wonder how a parent thinks she is doing any favors for her child by denying any wrong doing. Wouldn't it be a perfect opportunity to talk to a child about self control and apologizing when appropriate?

I suspect this is how children like Ben are brought up.

So, what do you think? How do you approach a parent who is in denial about a child's bad behavior?


Liz said...

Patiently, prayerfully, enduringly and with gritted teeth... this is a hard subject for me because I have such a hard time not saying, "So your kid is perfect and NEVER does anything wrong. Can I be like you when I grow up!" Which I can tell you doesn't solve One little thing. Good luck and maybe let Dad handle it! E

Brenda said...

I'm not sure there is a way to approach them. Denial is a very, very strong thing!

I taught many little "angels" of parents in denial!

Threeundertwo said...

I know exactly the type, and I could use the same advice. It's amazing to me. I really worry about the future of these kids.

Melissa said...

I also have one of these kids and am fully aware of it. We try so hard to stay on top of his behavior and I'm constantly trying to help him control it.

When I come across another of these types with a parent in denial, I never say anything. I probably wouldn't even bother to give too much of an explanation of what happened, knowing that they wouldn't believe their "angel" had committed any wrong doing. Then I just explain to my kids that all people are different and just because another kid does something doesn't make it right and blah, blah, blah. I also make sure to enforce the whole "I'm not so-and-so's mother," when they receive punishment that the other culprit doesn't!!!
I don't worry about parenting other people's children, just my own, even though it will directly affect mine in the way that the other child grows up. There's a terrible end product in a child who never has to be responsible for bad behavior.
Melissa K

Smockity Frocks said...

I guess my mistake was thinking the parent would want to know about the misbehavior. If my child needs correcting I definitely want to know about it, so I assumed others would feel the same.

Anonymous said...

Oh Smockity,
You've touched my heart with this post. We had a horrible encounter like this at our church a while back. The other childs' parent was physically holding my boys' arms and screaming at them. Of course, when we tried to approach the parent we hit a wall. We were told that if we parented the same way he did, our boys wouldn't act the way they did. Wow! What a slap in the face from someone who is a Christian.
After correcting our children for their part in the wrong-doing and having them apologize, our response was just simply to pray, as a family, for that family every day. We even went out of way to just be friendly and kind. We explained to our boys that not everyone does things the same way, even as Christians. We wanted our boys to be aware of their sins, confess them and make restitution, if necessary.
Over time, nearly a year now, our two families have made up some ground. We may never be "close", but we do believe that all the praying we've done has helped to bridge the gap the once exsisted.
Julie P

Amy said...

I'm am by far not one for conflict, so I'm not sure how much I would say. When my oldest was younger though, I (and the rest of our play group) had some problems with a couple of ring tailers whose mom never did anything about their behavior. So another mom and I decided we would just not leave our children alone with hers. That way we could step in when necessary. I also continued to report things to the mother that deemed reporting in hopes that over time she'd see just how often thigns arose about HER children. But if I couldn't be with my kids, say in Sunday school or something, I'm not sure what I would do other than bring it up with their teacher and to keep an eye on and then that is a 2nd person reporting to the parents. They'd have to catch on eventually that their kid in not an angel. Or at the very least, admit they don't care to discipline.

Kara said...

Oh, boy that is always a tough situation. I always cringe when having to deal with "those" parents because I know nothing I say is going to help them "see the light" about their children. The hardest I've prayed for someone are those that have wronged my family or myself the most, because well I just don't know what else to do:)
And I personally believe your ring tail tooters are quite lovely!

A Hopeful Hollar said...

I'm in agreement Kara. It does seem like the teen years will probably bring it all to light. By that time I think the truth can no longer be hidden and they will truly see everything that was once ignored.

Meliss said...

In general, if a person is in denial, I have learned that reason doesn't work/help/solve anything and usually will make the problem worse.

I think the reason why this situation bites is because you and your child are the subject of unjust judgment and the judge is immune to the truth.

I have to read I Peter 2: 21-23 to get my thinking straight in these situations.

Summer said...

It has been my experience that these parents know what their child is really like (they do live with them after all) but possibly due to embarrassement or lack of knowing how to deal with the child's behaviour, they are in denial to the outside world. Pray for the family, as it is most likely upsetting for them to know that their child misbehaves and hurts other children. Also, though I think it is still right to let the mother know what her child has done, even if she seems not to believe you.

Anonymous said...

That's so hard. Is there an older sibling who can be there when the stinker is around? My kids all stuck up for each other.
Actually, if you've confronted the parent yourself, maybe you should involve the church. That scripture isn't only for adults.
I know it hurts. At home, the situation would be addressed and dealt with and justice would be served. It's hard to get beat up and no one does anything about it.

Holly said...

Ugh. That is hard!

I don't think there is any way to win on this one. :(

I DO adore your little sweeties, though. :)

Sarah said...

I have several "ring tail tooters" of my own, and am very willing to admit to their tendencies.

I don't think you can ever talk sense into those types of parents. They live in a dream world, trying to deny their child's tendencies. I think it is easier for them to live in that world, than to face the problems and deal with them!

3 for school said...

I'm very late reading this post, but it hurt to read it because my sister's children have gone through this from a neighbor (and member of their church.) Even the police have been involved---to the point that they have advised my sister on the legal limitations. The children in that case have the knowledge of their parents, but the parents refuse to acknowledge the wrong. In fact, the children were probably goaded by the parents. The situation changed enough to become tolerable when other children became witnesses of it, thank goodness. (They were willing to be awful when only my sister's family knew about it, but once others saw the behavior, they began to be ostracized.) It took lots of prayer and talking within their family to find their own peace about it.

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