Hot-headed aunt not a great role model

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  June 2, 2010 06:00 AM

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Barbara:

I need opinions please. My twin sister & I were at the club pool today with all of our kids. Some other kids had water guns and started squirting everyone. Our kids thought it would be fun, so they all played together. The other kid's father told his son do not squirt anyone in the face, but he continued to do so. All of a sudden I see the father grab my nephew -- not his kid, I remind you, my nephew -- and man-handle his arm and pull him up to his face and scold him. I (mama bear) immediately called my sister's name, and she didn't get up as fast as me. I went in the pool and got in the man's face and said, "What do you think you're doing? You have no right to grab him like that." He says, "Yes ma'am, you're right, but he squirted my son with the water gun." I said, "Water guns shouldn't even be in the pool. Don't you dare grab him like that. If you touch him or any of my kids I am calling the police."

Okay, Barbara, did I do the right thing? What the hell was this man thinking? Could I have called the police? He did apologize but that was not good enough for me. Please help.

From: Mandy, Slidell, LA

Hi Mandy,

I think you over-reacted, but I wasn't there and it's hard to know for sure.

He was defending his son -- is that really any different from what you were doing? He shouldn't have grabbed your nephew -- and he admitted that. Why couldn't you accept his apology?

One thing for sure: Your nephew will remember his auntie coming to his rescue and this story will probably become part of family lore. Whether it's a positive memory will depend on how he read the situation ("I could have taken care of myself, why did you butt in?" vs. "The man was scary, you really saved me.") How old were these boys? You don't say.

There's a bigger issue for me here. I always wish parents would model for their children to resolve conflict peacefully. I wish that was in every parent's head, world-wide, because that is what the future of our world depends on.

You can still do that.

Once the man released your nephew and apologized, he was trying to cool off the situation and you heated it back up. At that point, your behavior was nothing to admire. I wish you would tell the kids that you regret not accepting the apology. The man was wrong to grab your nephew, but is your nephew blame-free here? Was he squirting in the other boy's face? Did the man shout at him to stop and he didn't?

Here's what else you could do to turn this into a great learning experience:

Have a conversation with your sister and all the kids about how dangerous squirt guns can be in a pool and guide that to a decision to write a family letter to the club asking them to make a new rule: No squirt gun play in the pool.

I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with
some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

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25 comments so far...
  1. Wow what a temper. I agree with Barbara -- the man should not have grabbed your nephew, but it does not sound as if he was violent, and he let go and apologized.

    On the other hand, it sounds as if your not-so-angelic nephew was squirting kids in the face. It does not sound as if you or his mother were dealing with that at all -- instead, another parent had to step in and say stop. And when your nephew *still* kept at it, and you and his mom *still* did nothing, that man had to run in. That's when he grabbed the boy's arm.

    The way I read this, your nephew was playing inappropriately even after being told to stop, and you and mom didn't care. And you over-reacted seriously once you ran in to protect your misbehaving nephew.

    Posted by jlen June 2, 10 07:19 AM
  1. yup - agree with the previous advice. the guy shouldn't have grabbed or scolded the kid, he apologized, nobody was hurt - move on. it sounds like a minor incident & to threaten to call the police? pu-leeze. they would've thought you were a loon. there are kids being shot in the street in broad day-light & you want to waste their time w/ a water-gun fight at the local pool? sounds like there was enough blame to go around & it wasn't such a big deal to begin with. take a deep break & move on.

    Posted by AnotherDottingAunt June 2, 10 08:12 AM
  1. I like Jen's read of the situation. Your willingness to protect your nephew is admirable, but where were you and Mom when the Dad was clearly indicating that he needed your nephew to back off? You waited until the situation became unacceptable to him, then pulled your Mama Bear act. Then, once he explained himself you found it necessary to threaten to call the police? I suspect you might have been playing to the audience a bit at that point.

    I do agree wholeheartedly with you on one point - why do people find it cute to arm their little devils with squirt guns, then ask them not to squirt anyone? I can't stand squirt guns and telling a 5 year old not to squirt Aunt Susie because she's wearing a silk shirt is simply throwing down the gauntlet to him.

    Posted by JBar June 2, 10 08:40 AM
  1. Fathers dont realize that its on "PC" to touch or scold someone else's child. I think sometimes men should be given a break in this area. For instance, my husband and I were at an outdoor event and I was trying to take a picture of my 2 kids on a bench. 2 other kids ran up and started climbing on the bench and my husband took them off the bench and told them we were trying to take a picture and could they just wait a minute. he was very nice about it, but he did pick up the younger child (maybe 4 or 5 years) and take him off the bench. Well the mother saw and started yelling at him from across the lawn. Telling him "I cant believe you just touched my child!" And then continued to scold him. Thats just overreacting in my opinion.

    But if this man grabbed your nephew rather forcefully, I think that he should not have done that. But I think it would be OK for him to tell him not to use the watergun to squirt his son in the face. And if he had to pull him away (gently) to get him from spraying the other boy in the face, then I think thats OK too. But it sounds like he was kind of rough with your nephew.

    Posted by Kristen June 2, 10 08:49 AM
  1. I am confused here. You said the man told HIS son not to squirt anyone in the face but continued to do so... So why would he grab your nephew???? AAAH!!!...Your nephew was actually the one misbehaving and like JLen said you and mom just turned the blind eye to it! OH but it's society's job to raise your kids and your sister's kids!!! I see how it is. This man should not have felt the need to discipline your nephew. Everyone will agree he should not have grabbed him to begin with, but he was busy parenting his kid and everyone else's apparently. If you have the chance to see that man again, you really should apologize to him for having to do your sister's job in the first place.

    Posted by J June 2, 10 08:58 AM
  1. Another vote in support of the first comment... the time for your nephew's mother and grizzly-bear aunt to step in was when he was misbehaving.

    All you taught him at this point is that he can misbehave, and you'll help him avoid the consequences.

    Had it been my child, I would have thanked the man for his apology and told my nephew he was in the wrong.

    Posted by HollyP June 2, 10 09:14 AM
  1. Barbara says "...how dangerous squirt guns can be in a pool"

    How dangerous is that? Before taking the choice of toys from other people, shouldn't one at least make a half hearted attempt to prove that they are dangerous?

    Barbara, please help me understand the "danger" of a squirt gun in a pool so I can make an informed decision about how to handle those weapons in my backyard.

    Posted by HBX June 2, 10 09:29 AM
  1. oh for pete's sake - why was it ok to sit and watch the boy continue to squirt people in the face? you don't do anything about it then? but when this man is trying to protect another child you jump into action?
    this boy was already asked to stop, didn't stop - so this man did somehting to make him stop.
    you are totally over-reacting. maybe if this boy had proper supervision this incident wouldn't have happened!

    Posted by kiki June 2, 10 09:43 AM
  1. If you didn't want someone else to handle the situation then you or the child's mother should have dealt with it before the parent of another child needed to step in. You guys owe that man an apology and you nephew needs to learn that his misbehavior will be dealt with- preferably by the adults in charge of him- or by the random adults around him.

    Posted by stephanie June 2, 10 10:15 AM
  1. I had a similar situation where the man owned the pool and had invited parents and children who he knew to have learning disabilities; we had all taken a class together (his own sister was there and didn't care for him!) quite specifically, language-learning disabilities.

    I was addressing my child and repeated that we needed to leave and to please come out of the pool. These are young children and nobody was in danger when this social reject tried on my shoes and grabbed my child and scolded him saying his pool, his rules, and you listen to your mom ... in front of everyone. It was uncomfortable for everyone. There couldn't have been a person there with any intelligence who could not figure out the man was out of line.

    I changed my children while explaining how wrong he was to speak to my child and to put his hand on my child. I did emphasize to my child that the man was off kilter and out of line, in no way was it my child's fault. It was clearly none of this man's business.

    Upon leaving with my children, in front of everyone I spoke to him face to face with others hearing. He tried to justify his behavior, never apologized and I told him no, you are wrong and you are on notice now and you'll not ever put his hand on my children again. He tried to argue and I stated , what you did was inappropriate, illegal and do not ever try to wear my high heels again!

    He is a fool. I called the police and made a complaint and asked to be notified if it ever occurred again. I would come as a witness to his behavior and was sure others would come forward as well. Everyone applauded me and realized what a kook. No, not a bad day ... just a weirdo who is impressed with himself in his own small world!

    Yes, I'd speak up and kudos to the aunt for doing so. I only handled it better cuz when I am really, really angry, I step back, breathe, and speak clearly and succinctly. You do what you have to do to protect the innocent. I also interjected that the man who assaulted my child would not have had the courage to do that if my child's father were there.

    Posted by bea June 2, 10 11:54 AM
  1. I'm confused. I did not read that the father apologized. He gave a "but" message: "He says, 'Yes ma'am, you're right, but he squirted my son with the water gun.' " That's not an apology -- it's a justification.

    Posted by Clud June 2, 10 12:17 PM
  1. Sorry, no matter what the situation ( life/death safety issues exempted ) NO ONE should be putting their hands on someone else's child!

    Posted by J June 2, 10 12:52 PM
  1. I'm so confused!!!!!!!
    It doesn't say anywhere in the letter that the nephew was misbehaving, or even had a water gun in his hand. Or that the father of the other child tried to get the mom’s attention to calm the nephew down. The letter says “The other kid's father told his son do not squirt anyone in the face, but he continued to do so”
    It was not Mandy’s place to reprimand the other child for squirting people in the face after the father told him not to. The father of the child should have come over to you and had a discussion on if your kids can’t play nice, then they can’t play. But that doesn’t sound like what happened.
    I don’t get why everyone is so quick to blame the parents for not watching what was happening, because she obviously was watching when the guy “man-handled” her nephew. I probably would have reacted the same way, police threat and all. If the father couldn’t handle his own child squirting people in the face, who is he to discipline my nephew! I personally think if the nephew squirted the other kid in the face, the other kid could learn how it felt, and probably didn’t like it too much.

    Posted by MB June 2, 10 01:15 PM
  1. I don't know about this particular situation... the story is hard to follow. But one thing is for sure -- it is sometimes hard to know the right reaction to a given situation. Parents need to protect their children but also to provide learning experiences and to allow children to learn to stick up for themselves. I suppose that (hopefully) they will learn how to stick up for themselves through careful and appropriate modeling. I am not sure that getting in someone's face is ever a good model.

    Posted by see3132 June 2, 10 01:38 PM
  1. I don't understand some of the reactions to this letter. Reading exactly what it says, this man's son was the one squirting kids in the face - the father asked him to stop but he continued to do so. It sounds like the nephew just did the same thing back to the kid, so I don't understand why people are saying these women weren't paying attention and owe the man an apology. If anything he owes them an apology 1, for not taking his son out of the pool or taking the gun away after he continued to squirt other children in the face and 2, for grabbing the LW's nephew. It sounds like the LW WAS in fact paying attention to everything going on - if she wasn't she wouldn't have seen the guy grabbing her nephew. I wouldn't react well at all to someone touching my child. Even if I thought another child had done something wrong to one of mine, I'd take it up with the parent, I would NEVER lay my hand on another person's child.

    I had an incident where I took my kids to the playground and as we were getting out of the car, my daughter kicked a rock across the parking lot. She didn't purposely try to aim it at anyone, she just saw the rock, casually kicked it, not really paying attention (as many kids do) and it just so happened that it hit a woman in the ankle as she was getting out of her car. I immediately told my daughter that she needed to apologize - as she started saying sorry, this woman stormed over and started SCREAMING at me for being a bad mother and not having control over my children without even knowing what was happening. I asked her to calm down and told her if she would just stop yelling for a minute, she'd hear that it wasn't done purposely and my daughter was trying to apologize to her. She didn't seem to care at all. 15 minutes after being on the playground, this same woman came over and apologized to me for overreacting. My point is don't always assume that another parent isn't watching or not doing what they're supposed to do with their children.

    Posted by JR June 2, 10 02:13 PM
  1. MB -- the letter has been edited since this morning when I posted. Now although the language is better the story is less clear; the letter states her son was playing with the guns but it is no longer clear whether he was squirting people in the face. Still, "mama bear" did nothing until another parent stepped in -- and it still reads to me that the water guns were being used inappropriately. If this LW thought the guns shouldn't even be in there why did she do nothing when the kid began using one?

    Posted by jlen June 2, 10 02:34 PM
  1. Sometimes parents and aunts/uncles etc just need to butt out!
    Kids with squirt guns squirt other kids in the face. It's a fact of life. They can deal with it, why can't the so-called grown-ups refrain from hysteria?

    While the guy shouldn't have resorted to manhandling, (fathers often don't pussy-foot) he should have shouted--"whose kid is this?" But if your nephew wasn't physically hurt, then YOU AND YOUR NEPHEW should have graciously accepted his explanation/apology as he clearly admitted his reaction was wrongheaded.
    That would have been the best lesson the kids could have learned from the situation.

    I think you had a need to grandstand.

    Posted by Joanna Dark June 2, 10 03:00 PM
  1. "I said, "Water guns shouldn't even be in the pool."
    ________________________

    Then why in the world did you let your kids join in the "fun?"

    LW, you're coming across as disingenuous, and the story, as written, is full of holes.

    LW, I think you need to take a breath, and in a few days rewrite the incident as if you witnessed the scene and wasn't a part of it.

    Afterwards, move on. Live and learn.

    Posted by Sherry Lane June 2, 10 03:36 PM
  1. How dangerous CAN squirt guns in a pool be? (Genuine question. I am usually really good at imagining all sorts of potential dangers.)

    Posted by Ajay June 2, 10 05:06 PM
  1. Please tell us Barbara why the heck you edited the letter after posting it? The version that Jlen, Another Doting Aunt and I responded to had more details than this version does. Jlen's post number 16 is right on, as was her first post. This is disingenuous of you to change the letter to conform with the comments. Jeesh, way to skew the comments to create more controversy.

    Posted by JBar June 2, 10 11:14 PM
  1. Hi JBar, Thanks for commenting and for reading. I can understand why you would be frustrated, but I'm afraid you are mistaken. The letter was not edited for content at any time. After the letter was posted, I edited it for capitalization (it was originally posted with all caps) and punctuation. I did not edit, remove, or change any of the language in the letter. Barbara has confirmed that she doesn't see a difference between what the letter-writer sent to her and what's posted now on the site.

    I can assure you that we have never, and would never, change a letter to conform with comments. That would go against our company ethics policy - not to mention it'd just be so very, very wrong.

    For the record, any editing that's done after a letter is posted is done by me, and not by Barbara. As for why we would edit a letter after it's posted and not before, that's simply a matter of when Barbara has time to enter a letter into our system for publication and how that timing corresponds with my work hours.

    We hope you will continue to read and comment, as these discussions are beneficial to all of us.

    Posted by Angela Nelson, Boston.com Staff Author Profile Page June 3, 10 09:35 AM
  1. I'm confused about why the LW allowed her children to play with the squirt guns then used as her argument, "Squirt guns should not be allowed in a pool." That part doesn't make sense, and actually much of the letter doesn't make sense. Why was this man suddenly upset about the water-gun activity when he allowed his son to play?

    If someone grabbed my child you can bet your a$$ I would intervene, but I think I would have done it differently than this parent, and certainly would have used a different argument.

    Posted by poppy609 June 3, 10 11:54 AM
  1. i dont see that the letter was edited.

    anways - why cant water guns be in a pool? whats the point of letting them play with them?

    fwiw - you totally over-reacted. seriously - chill!

    Posted by blue June 3, 10 12:03 PM
  1. I haven't read all the comments yet, but did anyone address the first few commenters who have the story wrong? It wasn't the nephew that was shooting kids in the face. The LW wrote, "The other kid's father told his son do not squirt anyone in the face, but he continued to do so. All of a sudden I see the father grab my nephew -- not his kid, I remind you, my nephew." We have no idea if the nephew was squirting kids in the face.

    Posted by poppy609 June 3, 10 01:05 PM
  1. Is it me, or are parents just incredibly critical of one another? Really, the LW wrote in with a question because she wasn't sure if she was right. In my view, she did overreact. OK. There's my response. But I have no idea whether or not she was ignoring her nephew's behavior beforehand so I'm certainly not going to hurl accusations.

    I can also understand that if some kids are playing with squirt guns at a pool, it's not going to be easy to keep your own kids out of "the fun." But if someone from the family who brought the guns then winds up manhandling your child/nephew over them, you might state that maybe they shouldn't have been playing with the guns in the first place. Does it make perfect sense? No. But does everything we do as parents make perfect sense?

    The LW's reaction to the man definitely put me off. But what bothers me much more is how quick we are to attack other parents (with glee -- with gusto!) instead of acknowledging how quickly things can happen and how hard it is to know exactly the right thing to do in the midst of it all -- while disciplining our kids, protecting them from harm from themselves and others, and still giving them the freedom to just be kids and get squirted with water at a pool.

    Posted by owelle June 7, 10 03:14 PM
 
25 comments so far...
  1. Wow what a temper. I agree with Barbara -- the man should not have grabbed your nephew, but it does not sound as if he was violent, and he let go and apologized.

    On the other hand, it sounds as if your not-so-angelic nephew was squirting kids in the face. It does not sound as if you or his mother were dealing with that at all -- instead, another parent had to step in and say stop. And when your nephew *still* kept at it, and you and his mom *still* did nothing, that man had to run in. That's when he grabbed the boy's arm.

    The way I read this, your nephew was playing inappropriately even after being told to stop, and you and mom didn't care. And you over-reacted seriously once you ran in to protect your misbehaving nephew.

    Posted by jlen June 2, 10 07:19 AM
  1. yup - agree with the previous advice. the guy shouldn't have grabbed or scolded the kid, he apologized, nobody was hurt - move on. it sounds like a minor incident & to threaten to call the police? pu-leeze. they would've thought you were a loon. there are kids being shot in the street in broad day-light & you want to waste their time w/ a water-gun fight at the local pool? sounds like there was enough blame to go around & it wasn't such a big deal to begin with. take a deep break & move on.

    Posted by AnotherDottingAunt June 2, 10 08:12 AM
  1. I like Jen's read of the situation. Your willingness to protect your nephew is admirable, but where were you and Mom when the Dad was clearly indicating that he needed your nephew to back off? You waited until the situation became unacceptable to him, then pulled your Mama Bear act. Then, once he explained himself you found it necessary to threaten to call the police? I suspect you might have been playing to the audience a bit at that point.

    I do agree wholeheartedly with you on one point - why do people find it cute to arm their little devils with squirt guns, then ask them not to squirt anyone? I can't stand squirt guns and telling a 5 year old not to squirt Aunt Susie because she's wearing a silk shirt is simply throwing down the gauntlet to him.

    Posted by JBar June 2, 10 08:40 AM
  1. Fathers dont realize that its on "PC" to touch or scold someone else's child. I think sometimes men should be given a break in this area. For instance, my husband and I were at an outdoor event and I was trying to take a picture of my 2 kids on a bench. 2 other kids ran up and started climbing on the bench and my husband took them off the bench and told them we were trying to take a picture and could they just wait a minute. he was very nice about it, but he did pick up the younger child (maybe 4 or 5 years) and take him off the bench. Well the mother saw and started yelling at him from across the lawn. Telling him "I cant believe you just touched my child!" And then continued to scold him. Thats just overreacting in my opinion.

    But if this man grabbed your nephew rather forcefully, I think that he should not have done that. But I think it would be OK for him to tell him not to use the watergun to squirt his son in the face. And if he had to pull him away (gently) to get him from spraying the other boy in the face, then I think thats OK too. But it sounds like he was kind of rough with your nephew.

    Posted by Kristen June 2, 10 08:49 AM
  1. I am confused here. You said the man told HIS son not to squirt anyone in the face but continued to do so... So why would he grab your nephew???? AAAH!!!...Your nephew was actually the one misbehaving and like JLen said you and mom just turned the blind eye to it! OH but it's society's job to raise your kids and your sister's kids!!! I see how it is. This man should not have felt the need to discipline your nephew. Everyone will agree he should not have grabbed him to begin with, but he was busy parenting his kid and everyone else's apparently. If you have the chance to see that man again, you really should apologize to him for having to do your sister's job in the first place.

    Posted by J June 2, 10 08:58 AM
  1. Another vote in support of the first comment... the time for your nephew's mother and grizzly-bear aunt to step in was when he was misbehaving.

    All you taught him at this point is that he can misbehave, and you'll help him avoid the consequences.

    Had it been my child, I would have thanked the man for his apology and told my nephew he was in the wrong.

    Posted by HollyP June 2, 10 09:14 AM
  1. Barbara says "...how dangerous squirt guns can be in a pool"

    How dangerous is that? Before taking the choice of toys from other people, shouldn't one at least make a half hearted attempt to prove that they are dangerous?

    Barbara, please help me understand the "danger" of a squirt gun in a pool so I can make an informed decision about how to handle those weapons in my backyard.

    Posted by HBX June 2, 10 09:29 AM
  1. oh for pete's sake - why was it ok to sit and watch the boy continue to squirt people in the face? you don't do anything about it then? but when this man is trying to protect another child you jump into action?
    this boy was already asked to stop, didn't stop - so this man did somehting to make him stop.
    you are totally over-reacting. maybe if this boy had proper supervision this incident wouldn't have happened!

    Posted by kiki June 2, 10 09:43 AM
  1. If you didn't want someone else to handle the situation then you or the child's mother should have dealt with it before the parent of another child needed to step in. You guys owe that man an apology and you nephew needs to learn that his misbehavior will be dealt with- preferably by the adults in charge of him- or by the random adults around him.

    Posted by stephanie June 2, 10 10:15 AM
  1. I had a similar situation where the man owned the pool and had invited parents and children who he knew to have learning disabilities; we had all taken a class together (his own sister was there and didn't care for him!) quite specifically, language-learning disabilities.

    I was addressing my child and repeated that we needed to leave and to please come out of the pool. These are young children and nobody was in danger when this social reject tried on my shoes and grabbed my child and scolded him saying his pool, his rules, and you listen to your mom ... in front of everyone. It was uncomfortable for everyone. There couldn't have been a person there with any intelligence who could not figure out the man was out of line.

    I changed my children while explaining how wrong he was to speak to my child and to put his hand on my child. I did emphasize to my child that the man was off kilter and out of line, in no way was it my child's fault. It was clearly none of this man's business.

    Upon leaving with my children, in front of everyone I spoke to him face to face with others hearing. He tried to justify his behavior, never apologized and I told him no, you are wrong and you are on notice now and you'll not ever put his hand on my children again. He tried to argue and I stated , what you did was inappropriate, illegal and do not ever try to wear my high heels again!

    He is a fool. I called the police and made a complaint and asked to be notified if it ever occurred again. I would come as a witness to his behavior and was sure others would come forward as well. Everyone applauded me and realized what a kook. No, not a bad day ... just a weirdo who is impressed with himself in his own small world!

    Yes, I'd speak up and kudos to the aunt for doing so. I only handled it better cuz when I am really, really angry, I step back, breathe, and speak clearly and succinctly. You do what you have to do to protect the innocent. I also interjected that the man who assaulted my child would not have had the courage to do that if my child's father were there.

    Posted by bea June 2, 10 11:54 AM
  1. I'm confused. I did not read that the father apologized. He gave a "but" message: "He says, 'Yes ma'am, you're right, but he squirted my son with the water gun.' " That's not an apology -- it's a justification.

    Posted by Clud June 2, 10 12:17 PM
  1. Sorry, no matter what the situation ( life/death safety issues exempted ) NO ONE should be putting their hands on someone else's child!

    Posted by J June 2, 10 12:52 PM
  1. I'm so confused!!!!!!!
    It doesn't say anywhere in the letter that the nephew was misbehaving, or even had a water gun in his hand. Or that the father of the other child tried to get the mom’s attention to calm the nephew down. The letter says “The other kid's father told his son do not squirt anyone in the face, but he continued to do so”
    It was not Mandy’s place to reprimand the other child for squirting people in the face after the father told him not to. The father of the child should have come over to you and had a discussion on if your kids can’t play nice, then they can’t play. But that doesn’t sound like what happened.
    I don’t get why everyone is so quick to blame the parents for not watching what was happening, because she obviously was watching when the guy “man-handled” her nephew. I probably would have reacted the same way, police threat and all. If the father couldn’t handle his own child squirting people in the face, who is he to discipline my nephew! I personally think if the nephew squirted the other kid in the face, the other kid could learn how it felt, and probably didn’t like it too much.

    Posted by MB June 2, 10 01:15 PM
  1. I don't know about this particular situation... the story is hard to follow. But one thing is for sure -- it is sometimes hard to know the right reaction to a given situation. Parents need to protect their children but also to provide learning experiences and to allow children to learn to stick up for themselves. I suppose that (hopefully) they will learn how to stick up for themselves through careful and appropriate modeling. I am not sure that getting in someone's face is ever a good model.

    Posted by see3132 June 2, 10 01:38 PM
  1. I don't understand some of the reactions to this letter. Reading exactly what it says, this man's son was the one squirting kids in the face - the father asked him to stop but he continued to do so. It sounds like the nephew just did the same thing back to the kid, so I don't understand why people are saying these women weren't paying attention and owe the man an apology. If anything he owes them an apology 1, for not taking his son out of the pool or taking the gun away after he continued to squirt other children in the face and 2, for grabbing the LW's nephew. It sounds like the LW WAS in fact paying attention to everything going on - if she wasn't she wouldn't have seen the guy grabbing her nephew. I wouldn't react well at all to someone touching my child. Even if I thought another child had done something wrong to one of mine, I'd take it up with the parent, I would NEVER lay my hand on another person's child.

    I had an incident where I took my kids to the playground and as we were getting out of the car, my daughter kicked a rock across the parking lot. She didn't purposely try to aim it at anyone, she just saw the rock, casually kicked it, not really paying attention (as many kids do) and it just so happened that it hit a woman in the ankle as she was getting out of her car. I immediately told my daughter that she needed to apologize - as she started saying sorry, this woman stormed over and started SCREAMING at me for being a bad mother and not having control over my children without even knowing what was happening. I asked her to calm down and told her if she would just stop yelling for a minute, she'd hear that it wasn't done purposely and my daughter was trying to apologize to her. She didn't seem to care at all. 15 minutes after being on the playground, this same woman came over and apologized to me for overreacting. My point is don't always assume that another parent isn't watching or not doing what they're supposed to do with their children.

    Posted by JR June 2, 10 02:13 PM
  1. MB -- the letter has been edited since this morning when I posted. Now although the language is better the story is less clear; the letter states her son was playing with the guns but it is no longer clear whether he was squirting people in the face. Still, "mama bear" did nothing until another parent stepped in -- and it still reads to me that the water guns were being used inappropriately. If this LW thought the guns shouldn't even be in there why did she do nothing when the kid began using one?

    Posted by jlen June 2, 10 02:34 PM
  1. Sometimes parents and aunts/uncles etc just need to butt out!
    Kids with squirt guns squirt other kids in the face. It's a fact of life. They can deal with it, why can't the so-called grown-ups refrain from hysteria?

    While the guy shouldn't have resorted to manhandling, (fathers often don't pussy-foot) he should have shouted--"whose kid is this?" But if your nephew wasn't physically hurt, then YOU AND YOUR NEPHEW should have graciously accepted his explanation/apology as he clearly admitted his reaction was wrongheaded.
    That would have been the best lesson the kids could have learned from the situation.

    I think you had a need to grandstand.

    Posted by Joanna Dark June 2, 10 03:00 PM
  1. "I said, "Water guns shouldn't even be in the pool."
    ________________________

    Then why in the world did you let your kids join in the "fun?"

    LW, you're coming across as disingenuous, and the story, as written, is full of holes.

    LW, I think you need to take a breath, and in a few days rewrite the incident as if you witnessed the scene and wasn't a part of it.

    Afterwards, move on. Live and learn.

    Posted by Sherry Lane June 2, 10 03:36 PM
  1. How dangerous CAN squirt guns in a pool be? (Genuine question. I am usually really good at imagining all sorts of potential dangers.)

    Posted by Ajay June 2, 10 05:06 PM
  1. Please tell us Barbara why the heck you edited the letter after posting it? The version that Jlen, Another Doting Aunt and I responded to had more details than this version does. Jlen's post number 16 is right on, as was her first post. This is disingenuous of you to change the letter to conform with the comments. Jeesh, way to skew the comments to create more controversy.

    Posted by JBar June 2, 10 11:14 PM
  1. Hi JBar, Thanks for commenting and for reading. I can understand why you would be frustrated, but I'm afraid you are mistaken. The letter was not edited for content at any time. After the letter was posted, I edited it for capitalization (it was originally posted with all caps) and punctuation. I did not edit, remove, or change any of the language in the letter. Barbara has confirmed that she doesn't see a difference between what the letter-writer sent to her and what's posted now on the site.

    I can assure you that we have never, and would never, change a letter to conform with comments. That would go against our company ethics policy - not to mention it'd just be so very, very wrong.

    For the record, any editing that's done after a letter is posted is done by me, and not by Barbara. As for why we would edit a letter after it's posted and not before, that's simply a matter of when Barbara has time to enter a letter into our system for publication and how that timing corresponds with my work hours.

    We hope you will continue to read and comment, as these discussions are beneficial to all of us.

    Posted by Angela Nelson, Boston.com Staff Author Profile Page June 3, 10 09:35 AM
  1. I'm confused about why the LW allowed her children to play with the squirt guns then used as her argument, "Squirt guns should not be allowed in a pool." That part doesn't make sense, and actually much of the letter doesn't make sense. Why was this man suddenly upset about the water-gun activity when he allowed his son to play?

    If someone grabbed my child you can bet your a$$ I would intervene, but I think I would have done it differently than this parent, and certainly would have used a different argument.

    Posted by poppy609 June 3, 10 11:54 AM
  1. i dont see that the letter was edited.

    anways - why cant water guns be in a pool? whats the point of letting them play with them?

    fwiw - you totally over-reacted. seriously - chill!

    Posted by blue June 3, 10 12:03 PM
  1. I haven't read all the comments yet, but did anyone address the first few commenters who have the story wrong? It wasn't the nephew that was shooting kids in the face. The LW wrote, "The other kid's father told his son do not squirt anyone in the face, but he continued to do so. All of a sudden I see the father grab my nephew -- not his kid, I remind you, my nephew." We have no idea if the nephew was squirting kids in the face.

    Posted by poppy609 June 3, 10 01:05 PM
  1. Is it me, or are parents just incredibly critical of one another? Really, the LW wrote in with a question because she wasn't sure if she was right. In my view, she did overreact. OK. There's my response. But I have no idea whether or not she was ignoring her nephew's behavior beforehand so I'm certainly not going to hurl accusations.

    I can also understand that if some kids are playing with squirt guns at a pool, it's not going to be easy to keep your own kids out of "the fun." But if someone from the family who brought the guns then winds up manhandling your child/nephew over them, you might state that maybe they shouldn't have been playing with the guns in the first place. Does it make perfect sense? No. But does everything we do as parents make perfect sense?

    The LW's reaction to the man definitely put me off. But what bothers me much more is how quick we are to attack other parents (with glee -- with gusto!) instead of acknowledging how quickly things can happen and how hard it is to know exactly the right thing to do in the midst of it all -- while disciplining our kids, protecting them from harm from themselves and others, and still giving them the freedom to just be kids and get squirted with water at a pool.

    Posted by owelle June 7, 10 03:14 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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