Crazy, hyperactive, misbehaving children


beachbabe
on Aug 22, 2011 @ 03:43 pm

I had kind of a less than ideal situation on my hands at church yesterday. But first I'll give you a bit of a background.

Our pastor's kids are a little... hyper. And I rarely see them behaving. And when I say that, I mean VERY rarely. For example, we went on a camping trip last month. My husband was sitting in a lawn chair with a cup holder and a can of Coke. One of the boys (I think he's 3 or 4) began kicking the bottom of the cup holder so the can would come flying out and spill all over my husband. This back fired luckily and just spilt on the ground. I can't remember if the parents were around or not. But as he was kicking the cup holder, he was staring at smiling at my husband. He knew exactly what he was doing.

That's just one example. They also throw things at visitors, have tempter tantrums (and not just the odd one like regular kids), etc.

But yesterday, this was the issue: there's a portion in the service where we greet everybody. During this portion I felt something down by my feet. I look down to see this same kid with his head between my two feet and looking up my dress! We don't know this family all that well so I just asked him to stand up and kept on with my conversation. So I keep moving out of the way and he keeps adjusting to see up my dress. Finally he stopped but he still laid on the floor. I was already frustrated and I knew this period would be over soon so I just ignored him. Then I feel something wet on my foot and I realize he is SPITTING on my foot. So I have this puddle of drool on my foot and dripping into my shoe. NOT PLEASED. I said to him, "Are you spitting on me?!" and he just looked up and spit his tongue out. So I went to the bathroom to wash off my foot and come back, trying to remain calm! When I come back, he's in my seat and my husband is trying to get him to move. I'm standing waiting for this seemingly endless greeting period to finish and he puts his legs and feet up and is kicking my butt. My husband finally got stern (but not harsh, it's not our kid) and told him to go back to his seat. Then his mom came. I don't know if she saw anything. She didn't say anything to us though. And we've been to their house once for lunch so she does know us reasonably well! We're kind of in that phase where you have spent time and gotten to know each other but aren't at the level of "good friends". If that makes sense haha

So I wonder this. Do I tell the parents? This really bothered me. I felt violated by a 3 year old! But at this point, any discipline they'd give him is futile since he won't remember he even did it. I just think it'd be awkward to have this conversation with them. Plus, this is kind of the last straw. We dread going to church because of these kids and apparently it's not the first time they've lost people because of their behaviour (we're not members and we've only been going since about December or January). So if we begin going somewhere else, there's definitely no point in telling them. This is the pastor's children. This is an example of only one kid, but they're all like that. What would you do?
 


4 Replies


mamaluv
sheesh! on Aug 22, 2011 @ 04:37 pm

Wow, you are really in a pickle!

First off, being the pastor's kids is kind of neither here nor there. I have met some very strictly reared pastor's children and some very lax reared pastor's children. I am also good friends with some (now grown) pastor's kids and know that they have special challenges sometimes - often moving around, often not well paid, the pressure of having to maintain a higher moral standard than everyone else in order to be a good example... it's tricky growing up like that. Some kids take well to it, while others act out in outrageous ways.

So how do you deal? I think you guys did the right thing by eventually telling this kid to knock it off. It's one thing when it's a 3-yr old baby, but entirely something else when he's 8 or 12 or 15. Kids need to learn boundaries from day one, and if the parents have had difficulties instilling them, then hearing it from strangers might shame them enough to behave, at least in the moment.

It's really too bad to hear that these children seem to be the cause for several people leaving the church already. You have to wonder if the parents are (a) unaware, (b) don't care, or (c) have tried everything but nothing's working.

If (a), someone needs to tell them. Perhaps by letter to spare people's feelings as much as possible? Maybe even anonymously if you're really uncomfortable, although that makes it difficult for those parents to get additional information about what their kid was up to.

If (b), again - someone needs to tell them. They need to understand that this behaviour is making people uncomfortable and making participation in church uncomfortable. How can you possibly concentrate on the pastor's sermon if someone's spitting on your foot?!

If (c), these parents need to consider asking their pediatrician about behavioural problems. This could be something as simple as adjusting their parenting behaviour or as complex as a diagnosis - which might lead to a different way of handling.

So now I've gone off on a tangent, sorry! Back on track. I've had a person critique my child to me before. No one likes to hear anything negative - either out of protectiveness or embarrassment. But if the critique is done tactfully, it can be helpful to the parents.

If this comes up again, make mention to the parents. If they react badly, then maybe you should consider finding another church. But maybe, just maybe they don't quite realize just how bad the situation is. In your case, this sounds like a really awful experience. In my case, the person felt my child was being too loud (we were at Walmart, so whatever. Still, I did march my kids out of there as quickly as I was able).

I have also had to give critique. A kid was bullying my kid, and when I mentioned this to the other mom, she burst into tears and started sharing some of the difficulties she's been having. It was actually kind of comforting for her to know that her kid was being equally naughty whether at home or elsewhere (because if it's just at home you take it personally).

Verrrry tricky situation, but don't let it pass. It probably doesn't make too much sense to bring up the past situation, but if the behaviour is ever repeated, let the parents know right away as tactfully and as non-confrontationally as possible. It's really hard to hear negative things about your kids, but it's so good to be able to know what they are up to so you can take steps to fix it.

Good luck, and keep us posted!
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TammyK
ummm on Aug 22, 2011 @ 04:53 pm

Wow beachbabe, I felt uncomfortable reading about the situation so I can only imagine how disturbed you must be feeling. I wouldn't know what to do in your situation either. That being said, good luck with whatever you choose to do in the end but ya..that is NOT right. It's really disturbing!!!
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beachbabe
Thanks for the tips! on Aug 22, 2011 @ 04:59 pm

Alot of what you said is it what makes it harder for me to say something. I don't know exactly what their situation is (financially, life at home, etc) and the last thing I want is to make them feel inadequate. And I definitely don't want to come across as someone telling them how to raise their children, especially since I have none of my own.

My brother-in-law (who also goes to our church) pointed out that he has noticed that as soon as they see their mom or dad come back into the room, they stop the behaviour. They are still a little rambunctious with them around, but not (always) as bad as the spitting incident! So it is possible they aren't aware how bad the situation is. But I feel they're never so far away as to never ever see them like that! Who knows.

I do put myself in their position and I'd certainly like to know that my children were behaving this way so I could correct as quickly as possible. My husband feels the same way. But it always seems a little iffy when talking to someone about their kids!

@mamaluv - I like your idea of bringing something up the next time something happens. By then it will have been 3 incidents that directly affected my husband and I. So let's say next Sunday, one of them does something again. Would you write a letter with all 3 incidents or just the newest one? Or would you talk in person?
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mamaluv
answer on Aug 22, 2011 @ 05:13 pm

I would say it like this:

"This Sunday, something happened involving your son. The situation was.... xyz. I have been nervous about approaching you about this before because this was not the first time, but I didn't want to offend or put my nose where it doesn't belong...."

Be as kind as you possibly can, but also make it clear that the behaviour makes it difficult for you to enjoy the service, that you have tried to ask him gently to stop but it did not help.

By saying that stuff happened before you demonstrate that this is a pattern of behaviour, but by not going into all sorts of details, you're not heaping more fuel on the fire and making them feel so inadequate such that it causes more problems. They will probably ask you to clarify, so at that point you can get into detail if needed.

Be prepared for the eventuality that your words will be taken the wrong way. Be prepared for hurt feelings. But also be hopeful that maybe in some small way, you are helping their family in identifying behaviour that any parent would want to correct.
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