Do You Intervene In Other Families’ Drama?

I’m not always on my best behavior, even in public where other people might see and hear me.  In fact, there have been times in the parking lot of the gym that I thought someone might attempt a citizen’s arrest for the way I was demanding my kids get into the car.  I’ve lost my shizz plenty of times in Target, Costco, small retailers, the pharmacy, and the park….OHMYGODTHEPARK….Who hasn’t lost it at the park?

No one has ever stopped me and suggested that I think of a nicer or more patient way to interact with my kids.  To my knowledge no one has ever tried to give my children sympathetic pep talks about having me for a mother.

But if you saw me ranting in a seriously out of control way — cursing out my kids in the throes of a rage rampage– would you say something to me? To them?  I hope that you would, because if I get that out of control, I probably need some help, and so do my kids.

Click here to see my piece at Huffington Post about how I intervened the other morning when I saw a father blasting his young daughter– F-bombs were flying.  He looked very out of control. But I didn’t know for sure.

Have you ever intervened? Ever wanted to but been too scared? Is it really none of our business how parents talk to their own children?


21 thoughts on “Do You Intervene In Other Families’ Drama?

    • What’s insane is how fast it all happened. That couldn’t have been more than a 5 minute interaction and I am still thinking about it. A lot. And I will for a while.

    • Exactly. It totally depends on so much: age of the child, the demeanor of all parties, the context, the weather, my mood, my fear level, likelihood that someon has a weapon. . . on and on.

  1. I worked as a child abuse investigator for several years before my son was born. I can tell you that this little girl probably hears this rant a good deal, and that it is probably worse behind closed doors. However, I will caution anyone who wants to publicly intervene. Embarrassing this father will only backfire on the child. Most of these parents take out all of their negative frustrations on their children– especially the ones that strangers cause when they interrupt a public tirade. My advice is to find out any identifying information you can, contact the police, and request a well-child checkup. Then, contact The Department of Children Services. They will interview the child outside of the presence of their family, and refer the parents to services that will assist them in handling their anger. I hope this helps!

    • I’m not a child abuse investigator, but I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express one time. I think this is the best advice, although I think what you did is great too. Even if the tirade did continue, or she received some backlash if her father overheard you, then at least she knows someone outside of her home recognizes this as inappropriate at minimum, and most likely abuse. Maybe she thinks this is just the way it’s supposed to be? Maybe she’ll tell a teacher about the nice stranger lady that gave her words of encouragement on the street, and that teacher will read between the lines and report it. I even wonder if fantasywritermom would think it might be helpful to alert the principal at the school so she can try to identify the child and have her teachers keep a watchful eye on her for signs of emotional or physical abuse? But what I REALLY hope is that this Dad just had an extremely bad day, took it out on his daughter, then realized it and hugged her close and apologized to her before she went to bed that night. One can hope.

  2. I still think about the two instances in one day, in the same place, that I didn’t intervene. On the subway every day, I wish I had coloring books or or something to distract kids so that their parents, who are screaming and yelling or just snippy, can sit a minute and be quiet. I did it once; the mother had tears in her eyes. Sure, I’d just bought those crayons and coloring book for my own kid, but that $4 could be better used right then. Other times? I simply walk away (then think about it for weeks on end.)

  3. I don’t just get involved in other families’ drama, I get involved in the drama of a whole freaking county in Mississippi and create an entire blog dedicated to it, lol. And I even had a person from the area comment and basically tell me to stick my nose elsewhere. (

  4. Last night my husband and I were catching up on NCIS, and long story short, one of the main characters, Abby, wondered if there was enough good in her, if she’d done enough to combat the bad in the world. Gibbs told her she hadn’t accounted for the “hit and runs”, those small acts of kindness she’d performed and then she was gone, never to see the results of her actions. If nothing else happens, you made an impact on that girl for one moment. Maybe it will be the beginning of something good.

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