Post # 1
My best friend and I are in our early 30’s. She has a 5 and a half year old girl and a 4 month old boy. I don’t have children. The times that I have met up with “Jennifer” and her daughter “Abigail,” have been less than pleasant for me. I want to know if I’m overreacting. For instance, we ate at McDonalds a couple months ago and we had a blast playing in the play house, but Abigail kept trying to put her fingers in my mouth and then took crayons and started drawing and coloring on my shoes under the table. Jennifer just nicely said, “Abigail, don’t do that or you’ll lose your tablet privileges later.” Abigail didn’t seem to care.
Flash forward to tonight. Once again, we’re at a restaurant and Abigail starts trying to poke my eyeball and keeps stealing my phone refusing to return it. She’s disappearing under the table and running around, coming and going, climbing all over me and jokingly choking me, grabbing and playing with my hair while I’m trying to eat my food then she starts coughing on it. Then after picking her nose, she takes all the straws and starts opening them up out of their wrapping touching all of them. She starts demanding that I try one of her fries and I say “No Thank You,” so she starts eating my fries. I try to tell her “No” again and then Jennifer tells her “No” again, so she sweeps a bunch of fries from my plate onto the ground.
I get that I don’t have kids and if, for instance, a baby drooled on my shoulder or something, I’d just clean it up. I get that kids are dirty and it’s not going to be the same dining experience than if it was just adults, but when it comes to food it really disgusts me to have another person’s dirty hands touching what I’m eating.
I’m half tempted to say something to my friend or do I have any right to sternly talk to this kid? It just feels awkward disciplining another person’s child. Am I overreacting? Is this normal behavior for a 5 year old? She turns 6 at the beginning of April. I know Jennifer is exhausted and overwhelmed now with an infant and Abigail is a sweet girl, but she seems to rule the roost here. I don’t know how many more outings like this I can take.
Post # 2
TinyDove22 : that’s not normal for the 5 year olds I know. Actually my 3 year old niece is better behaved then what you describe. It sounds par for the course with my 1.5 year old though. I would try to make some child-free plans with your friend until the kid’s manners improve. If she questions you I’d say that you just don’t have the energy for the daughter and that you miss being able to have some adult conversation uninterrupted.
Post # 3
Yeah it doesn’t sound like that child is getting any sort of boundaries and her mom is just letting her do whatever. How is your friends mood? Could she be depressed?
As far as you disciplining her, don’t. That’s her moms job but if I had a friend who wasn’t disciplining her child when she is clearly acting out then I’m not sure how much I would want to be around them. Depending on how close your relationship is, I might say something along the lines of hey I’ve noticed some things and i know kids can be kids but it seems like Abigail could use a little more intervention
Post # 4
It’s totally normal behavior for a 5 year-old who hasn’t had boundaries set for her. That doesn’t make it acceptable. Your friend is just choosing not to teach her better.
I would never discipline someone else’s child though or try to tell them how I think they should parent. I’d probably just stop going to dinner with her if she’s going to bring the kids.
Post # 5
- Wedding: June 2007 - City, State
I’m literally the most laid back mom at my house, my toddler sits on the kitchen table occasionally and they climb on the couch, and there’s plenty of toys everywhere, but FUCK NO. I have a 3 year old, 6.5 year old, and a 9.5 year old. Hell to the no. I’m actually fuming from this side of the phone and if I were you, I wouldn’t go out with this friend again.
First of all the parent is not doing their job. At all. Even remotely. The child TOOK FOOD FROM YOUR PLATE AND DROPPED IT ON THE FLOOR. I would not be going out with this friend any more. The way the mother seems she would probably say “well you don’t have kids so you don’t understand”. And that is. a bullshit copout for her shitty parenting in public places.
To answer your question, no it’s not normal behavior for a 5 year old who has been taught manners and those manners are reinforced. If my kids touched someone else’s food or threw food we would be in the car and I would be apologizing profusely. I keep my kids on a pretty clean diet, and the only time they act like psychopaths like this child is when they have been eating gluten, corn syrup, and artificial colors. Fruit snacks and cheap junk food. I’m not blaming this kid’s behavior solely on a garbage diet, but given the mother’s shitty parenting that is probably what she feeds her kid. She sounds hyperactive and out of control, and most kids who act this way eat junk garbage fed to them by parents who think “this is just how children behave”.
We live in a block of 4 really nice townhomes. We are on one end unit, and there’s a family on the other end with two children 9 and 12 or 13. Their house is trashed from these 2 kids. Like just destroyed. They bring their junk ass food outside and litter everywhere. There’s broken toys….it’s like no one even gives a fuck. They feed their children hot pockets and easy mac for dinner. I found a fucking hot pocket sleeve in my bush the other day. I can’t stand it.
Anyway, I wouldn’t go out with this friend again. Her kid is acting like an asshole. And if you do put your foot down, don’t let her bully you in to thinking you just don’t get it because you don’t have kids. If my child threw food on the floor you would see the wrath of God come out of me. This reminds me of those tables you see are restaurants where the family with small kids leave and there’s an epic disaster on the table and the floor left behind for the server, which is so rude and disrespectful.
Post # 7
TinyDove22 : Doesn’t sound normal to me at all, I’d be annoyed and super embarassed to be in public with a child who behaved that way.
I’m not sure if I would say anything to your friend though, clearly she can see what her child is doing so she must not consider it a problem worth fixing, so who knows how well a talk with her would go over.
If you want to continue your friendship with her, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid the child forever but at the very least you can suggest adult dinners only.
Post # 8
I think Abigail has had no boundaries set for her, as others have suggested, and it’s a bad situation for your friend, her daughter, and society as a whole. I think it’s absolutely fine to tell her “no” sternly. You don’t have to sit there and smile politely as this child tries to poke your eyeballs and throws your food on the floor (wth). I would also not be shy in telling your friend that you know she is exhausted with 2 children to run after and getting together with both her and Abigail seems to be too much for everyone involved at the moment.
Post # 9
Not normal. And I see nothing wrong with direct eye contact and a firm “Uh Uh, no ma’am.” when she does something over the top like throwing food on the floor.
There is a difference between disciplining someone else’s kid and letting a child know what they’re doing is inappropriate.
Post # 10
Sounds normal to me, for a child who walks all over her mother and who could possibly be desperate for attention.
It’s normal for a child who lacks good parenting. Mom could also be distracted and any attention is good attention.
No one wants to be around bratty kids, not even people with their own kids.
I wouldn’t want to be around her. Try to spend time with your friend without the kids.
eta, absolutely talk to the child. You’re being rude, you’re being disrespectful, you’re hurting me, stop what you’re doing.
Post # 11
- Wedding: April 2017 - City, State
I would absolutely stop going out with that friend if her child will be coming along. She may very well be overwhelmed, but that doesn’t mean you need to get poked in the eye and sneezed on because she can’t or won’t parent her child. She needs to invest in a babysitter if she wants to continue going out with adults. I would have no patience for that kind of behavior from a child.
Post # 12
TinyDove22 : I just want to add that telling someone (even a child) to stop sticking their fingers in your face isn’t really disciplining them in my book. Inappopriate disciplining of other people’s kids would be for things that don’t involve you directly (even if they are embarassing or annoying you) like throwing their own food or screaming their heads off. When it comes to your body and your things/food you have a right to tell the kid to cut it out. Any parent who would get upset with you for telling their kid to stop poking your face is a shitty parent.
Post # 13
Ew. No.. that’s not normal. At all. Your friend needs to do her fuckin job and teach her kid how to behave in public.
Post # 14
- Wedding: October 2019 - Chateau Lake Louise
TinyDove22 : Regardless of what may or may not be “normal” you are under no obligation to let ANYONE invade your personal space, attack you physicially, or interfere with your belongings.
It isn’t “discipline” to say to a child “You behavior is upsetting to me. I like it when people are polite and ask before touching me or my things. If you can’t keep your hands to yourself, I am going to move somewhere away from you.” It is setting a boundary for yourself that she is not free to voilate without consequence.
Discipline is her mother’s responsibility, at which she clearly seems to be failing. You shouldn’t try to dictate what penalty she receives for bad behavior. However, you have every right to refuse to tolerate behavior that impacts you directly. Communicating that you don’t like what she is doing is a result; it is the natural outcome of her inappopriate actions. That is entirely different than disciplining her. It’s also a real-world consequence of voilating social norms; something that will continue to happen throughout her life.
Personally, I find it hard to respect someone who isn’t an attentive and responsible parent. Certainly, I won’t subject myself to spending time with badly behaved children. You aren’t obligated to tolerate this treatment from her child, so feel free to refuse to schedule activities where they will be present.
Post # 15
I think I would take the approach of turning down going out the next time the child is involved. If she asks be honest and say you do not want to be in public with her child acting the way she is.
Post # 16
No, this is not normal. I volunteer as a Girl Scout leader and we have half a dozen five-year-olds in our troop, and none of them behave like this. Do they sometimes get distracted or wild and run around a bit? Sure. Do they put their fingers in random adults’ mouths, choke people, intentionally take or ruin other people’s food? Nope.
I would personally have told Abigail that her behaviour was unacceptable whenever she did something to you. Crawling under the table? Not your problem. Fingers in your mouth, choking you, throwing your food on the ground? Absolutely your problem, and I wouldn’t be nice about it. “Abigail, you’re being mean and rude. I’m not going to visit with you again if you can’t be nice. And Mommy will be sad if you make all her friends go away.”
While it may not be your place to discipline Abigail in general, it’s certainly your place to decide on your own future actions—i.e., that you don’t want to be around her because of her bad behaviour. I’d communicate that to both her and her mother.