My Fabulous Life

Get your hands off my child!

So I had an interesting experience today that I had to share to get some feedback.  I was at Walmart (don’t judge, I love Walmart) picking up some sunscreen and bubble-juice, as my daughter calls the bubble liquid for our Gazillion Bubbles products.  I only had Nevaeh, my 2 year old, with me which made it easier to shop.  While I was paying at the check-outs she asked if she could go over to the little ride area.  You know, the rides that used to be 25 cents when we were little and are now $1.  Frugal me does not pay for these rides, so my kids have never been on them there (besides, we’re going to a fair in a few weeks where I’ve already spent $$ on the ride bracelets ahead of time, my kids get to ride…just not at Walmart).

So it’s my turn, and I’m keeping an eye on Nevaeh while the associate is scanning my items.  I see two women walk up with 2 kids and put them on one of the rides.  Nevaeh is watching curiosly but at a distance.  The kids start arguing so the grandmother grabs the kids and hauls them off the ride.  I’m not sure if her tactic was to use my 2 year old as an example or if she actually thought she was doing something nice but…

I hear, “Do you want to ride sweetie?” to which of course my 2 year old shyly nods yes, and then, “Ok sweetie, come here.”  She then lifts up my child and places her on the (still moving ride).  At this point I’m already right there, having seen her reach for my child.  I grab Nevaeh, pull her off the ride, saying “Uh. NO.” and turn on my heel to walk away.

Behind me I hear, “Oh?  Does she get dizzy?” from the grandmother.  And all I could think was, no she doesn’t but you’d be dizzy if I clocked you like I’d have liked to!  Nevaeh is two and a half years old and 28 pounds. She’s tiny and trusting.

WHAT gives people the ok to touch another child?  I don’t care if she’s cute, I don’t care if she nodded yes she’d like to go on the ride.  This woman didn’t even look up to see if a parent was nearby, nor did she seem to care.  We have to be so careful about our children and as a community we should be watching to ensure all children are kept safe, not encouraging behavior like that!

If that wasn’t MY child standing there I think I still would have walked over and looked around for the parent thinking, “Why is this woman picking up someone else’s child that she obviously doesn’t know?”

I wondered if my friends would think I was overreacting when I posted about it on Facebook but so far, others feel the way I do.

What about you – is it ever ok for a stranger to touch, to pick up, your child without your permission?


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    • I think that in our culture we are so very protective of our children, as we should be. Sometimes though, it is to a fault. We teach our children “stranger danger”, and not to talk to people they don’t know… etc. etc. I think that it creates unnecessary fear for us as parents, and for our children. The world definitely is sometimes scary, there are definitely people that are bad and will hurt us if we allow them the opportunity to. However, MOST people are not a danger. MOST of the time if you leave your car door unlocked everything will be untouched when you come back to it. In other countries they actually live by the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”. I have seen in other countries… people scolding children that aren’t even theirs, and the parents thanking them because somehow this bad behaviour went under their radar. Here, in the US, we are so afraid and territorial when it comes to our children and our families. I’m sure this woman had the purest of intentions when putting your little girl on the ride… she is part of your community, and she is part of the village raising your child. She meant no harm. I personally embrace these opportunities for my children to interact with new and interesting people, its reality, it’s part of the world that they live in. Of course it’s always difficult to know what to censor and what not to… I trust my gut for this, and generally interactions with community members are fine by me.

  • I have mixed feelings about this. I would not be happy if that had happened to my child. But i know through the years where i have been at the park with my kids and another kid is looking at you and said culd you help them because they need help getting up on something and yes i have helped them and even my Husband has helped kids get up at the park area also. As maybe the parent was not close by or what ever the situation was. I don’t think that i would do what the Grandmother did. We all are different of how we are as a parent and we want to protect our kids from harm.
    But it seems you take one turn of your head and something can happen.
    So the way you reacted is the way you felt and that is fine and i hope the Grandmother realized why.

  • Some of us are overprotective, worrying fear-driven parents who go to extremes to protect our kids sometimes. 🙂 We love our kids to death and we often assume the worst about people (kinda “glass half empty sort of folks 😉 As my daughter gets older, I have become more aware of how my anxiety and overprotectiveness are teaching her to be anxious and fearful of new people and situations. It’s a fine line between teaching them to be smart with new people and being fearful that there’s a rapist around every corner. It’s also an easier line in some senses. It’s easier for me as a parent to tell her to distrust ALL new/unfamiliar people (though very young children need this simplicity to begin with) I just need to be sure to supplement that thinking as my kids get older. I want my kids to be friendly and respectful, to care about other people and not be afraid to go out and build relationships! They just have to learn to be smart about it! I need to model this behaviour myself.
    I agree with the others above who are concerned with the way we’re teaching our kids that all strangers are scary or dangerous. Society has changed, not just because people have become more dangerous, but because we have become more fearful of perceived or imagined danger. We have left no opportunity for people to be good! (Having DH’s working in jobs like ours doesn’t help either, does it? 🙂
    Age appropriateness should also be considered. This woman should have known that a 2.5 year old should not be helped onto a moving ride without a parent in case of fall, etc. Maybe a 2.5 year old shouldn’t be out of the buggy….. it’s all what you’re comfortable with. Like you said, if she’s not right beside you, you can’t predict what other people will do!

    Sidenote: My mom is actually my dad’s second wife, married when I was 7. She would have been 15 or so when I was born, being 9 years younger than my dad. She’s one young grandma with 4 grandkids and she’s only 42! Not always creepy – but in this town, I totally get what you mean 😉

  • Tough one.
    Upon Reflection? I shocked to say I AM that grandmother! I helped a kid into the swing at the park the other day. He was watching the other kids, mine included, I was pushing her, swing for a while and he couldn’t get into the swing (bucket style). I said do you want to get up? He said yes and I left him in. I didn’t even think about it until now that had someone done this with my child I’d have lost it. In fact when my child wanted to get down I also explained to him that he needed to get down now because he’d have been trapped in it had I walked away and I took him out of it.

    In all honesty it NEVER occurred to me until just now that I had crossed a line in any way until I read this. Now I’m feeling kinda awful because I know if it’d been my kid I’d have not reacted well. I mean, I KNOW I didn’t mean him ANY harm or danger but looking back how did his parents know that?

    Wow, you’ve really made me stop and think.

  • i wouldn’t have cared. and i would have helped a child up too probably. not if it was moving though. was the ride on? i also agree with the couple of people who were saying that you shouldn’t have let your child go that far by herself at 2. like it or not, the time it takes you look away and pay for your purchase, is enough time for someone to grab her and run. im from small town so i *would* let my kids that far at 2 but i also adopt the mantra of “it takes a village” so i wouldn’t have minded if someone had picked her up at all. ok just having typed that, my heart skipped a beat. apparently i am not ok with it. someone i don’t know that is…..maybe i wouldn’t help a complete strange kid onto a ride either. so it seems i do agree with you. someone i don’t know really shouldn’t lift my kids onto anything. say hi, ask where there mom is so you know they aren’t lost, move on..

  • Truthfully? Every time I took my daughter to church she was passed around and carried by my mother-in-law’s friends and other church people, many of whom I’d never laid eyes on before. I didn’t mind, as long as there was always a member of our family in the room and nobody tried to feed her candy. Now that my daughter is 2, she likes to try to run away from me in public places, and although she never gets too far from me, I can’t run after her for too long and I’m always grateful to the people who catch her so I can catch up and grab her. As long as nobody actually hutrs her or takes her out of my sight, it’s all good. 🙂 I know not everyone will agree with that and you absolutely have the right to prefer strangers never touch your daughter, but I wouldn’t dwell on it since everything turned out fine. 🙂

  • I sat down last night and discussed this with Ady. If someone tries to pick her up to kick scream and punch..That is pretty sad that we have to scare our children that everyone is bad…What do we do when they truly need help they are going to be scared to ask anyone for help!! It’s so hard raising kids now a days..There are so many freaks out there..

  • after watching the video footage of the man who grabbed a 7 year old girl in a US Walmart (she’s ok) who was only 1 aisle over from her mom, I think I’m with you. In my circle of people I know, I’m ok with them doing stuff like that. At our local park, I’m ok with other parents helping – I help, too. But is not a big store and it’s not really a community there. I’d have been bothered, too. I’m guessing she wasn’t as far as people think she might have been and was within reach. Maybe the Grandmas saw you and knew you were there and it was all innocent – but you can’t know that. And she could have looked around for a parent to say ‘May I?” It’s sad we have to be so careful – but when anyone can come along and try to walk away with your child, we have to be.

  • I probably would have been upset too although i may have explained in a loud voice that ‘Mommy needs to be with you when you go on any rides’. I want my girls to be ‘aware’ of strangers but not afraid
    I too have helped children at the park but not first without finding the parent or having the child to ask their Mom or Dad if it’s ok. I try to act the way I would hope other parents/grandparents would with my children. I hope by doing that my children as adults will act the same way towards other people’s children.

  • I think first reaction is “Thats my chikd so dont touch” However if you analyze the situation it was a grandmother seeing it as well I’m going to get my $1 worth and let someone else ride. You also have to consider that grandparents are from a different generation, they see simple situations like this as innocent and normal(of course this is back when those rises were $0.25 and there were not apps for sexual predators in your area, times have changed)

  • When my oldest, now 5, was still a toddler I told someone off for putting their hands on him. We were at an indoor play structure at our local shopping mall. My small but mighty 3 year old didn’t take any guff from bigger kids. His size may be small but his attitude surely isn’t. An older and bigger boy began pushing him as a result of an incident on the slide. Apparently my little guy was in his way and he was determined to get past. The bigger kid shoved. My little guy turned right around and shouted, “hey! Don’t PUSH!” and stood looking him directly in the eye. The bigger kid grabbed him and as he did, in swooped mother who had not being paying particularly close attention to the conflict. It seems she assumed my little guy was the instigator. She grabbed him, rather roughly by the arm and tossed him aside so that she could get in front of her baby bully and began shouting at him. As I strode over to them, mercury rising, I thought- “ok, public place, full of children, and certainly not the time to practice any of my kickboxing skills”, though that’s what I instinctively wanted to do. Instead I tapped her on the shoulder and she stood up looking rather shocked and irritated at having her “discipline” interrupted. I looked her in the eye, and said with quiet ferocity, “you should know better than to EVER lay hands on someone else’s child. Consider yourself very lucky that we are in a public place, full of children, or we would be a very different conversation.” I scooped up my little one and left her standing there gobsmacked.

  • If you don’t want anyone touching your child, don’t let her walk over to the rides alone. This seems a bit overly paranoid to me and the woman was clearly trying to be kind to your child. No one is suggesting that you put your guard down, but your daughter needs to learn how to trust her judgement, and this is an excellent example of a good starting point.

  • I think it’s weird personally, I wouldnt pick up someone else’s child without asking. I can see how she wasn’t trying to be rude, her intensions were good (just a different personality I guess) but I agree with you, that would have made me very uncomfortable.

  • Sorry, I think you over-reacted. It was a Grandma who saw a little girl probably looking like she wished she could be on that ride so the lady probably thought she was doing something nice. What did you grabbing your daughter away so quickly from someone who was merely being nice prove? Never be nice back to someone who is being nice to you. If everyone would be a bit nicer to others this world would be a better place. At the same time though when my daughters were two I would never have let them walk to the ride alone, I was too scared something would happen to them.

    • I totally agree with the November post from Gail. I have always told my children to be polite and have good manners with strangers, but NEVER leave with them. Society is sadly becoming antisocial. It takes a village to raise a child.

  • I saw the title and thought this was going to be about some random stranger picking a newborn baby out of your cart. The first thing I see is you let her go to the kiddie rides and I know the distance they are from the cash registers, even if you are talking about the registers right in front. So if you were so overprotective I could not see how you could allow your then 2 year old to go there alone. Second the woman was a grandmother who was there with her grandkids not some slimy vagrant hanging out to grope kids. She probably felt sorry for your daughter and maybe even thought her mom couldn’t be bothered with her and just sent her there. She was trying to do a good thing. So yes, I do think you overreacted. Society has changed but that does not mean all people are bad and I think for the most part people are good and with 5 kids I have dealt with many people doing things for my kids, trying to hold them, etc. She was of the age she could be in nursery school where the teacher, teacher’s helpers and other moms would think nothing of helping her get on a swing, paint or escort her to the potty. When you are at a party with other moms do you ever help someone’s child? My friends do and also on the playground with our children if a child needs help we would help them, we are moms. I think the Grandma tried to justify your abruptness and comment with her comment of “does she get dizzy” because she was probably very shocked by it.

  • Totally agree with Carolyn. I think if you are confident/casual enough to let her play somewhere a short distance away, without you right next to her, WHILE you are checking out and for all intents and purposes DISTRACTED, then yeah… you really shouldn’t have been too upset. What if the cashier said your card was denied or that one of the items you got was leaking everywhere or that her machine was down and your transaction didn’t go through properly? ALL kinds of things could have distracted you further, and the fact that your kid wasn’t RIGHT next to you? Not a great parenting choice. You should be thanking someone up above that it was JUST a Grandma with good intentions and not a pervert who snatched your kid and ran, with you not right next to her. All it takes is a few seconds, so you lucked out pretty hard.

  • I also have mixed feelings about your experience. I’m a self-admitted over-protective mom. On one hand, my first reaction is “get the hell away from my kid” but then I also think “if worried about stranger danger….don’t let a 2 year old stray from your side” but I would never presume to judge how another person parents their child so don’t take it as a criticism!

    That being said, Stranger Danger is a tough lesson. You don’t want to terrify kids into thinking all strangers are bad cause when they see you having a friendly chat with a stranger, they get confused. I have a 12 and 8 year old and have always taught them that not all strangers are bad, but we don’t know which ones are….so it’s just safer to wait for MY signal and to stay close. The follow up to that is that if ANY STRANGER tries to touch them, they are to scream “STRANGER” at the top of their lungs and kick, scream, bite, punch and any other physical retaliation they can come up with. Yes, it could be a grandma who gets the brunt of that, but hey…. even a person from another generation has watched the news and an intelligent person knows this is not 1950 anymore!

  • I don’t blame you at all. If I had a child, they wouldn’t be getting out of the cart. (At 2 anyways.) As Danielle said, there are many terrible things that strangers can do to your children, but not ALL are pedophiles, or bad people. Unfortunately I was raised from my mother, that basically everybody was a rapist and never to trust ANYBODY, especially men, and I wasn’t allowed to go to sleepovers for a long time, because she didn’t trust men, even if she had met them before multiple times. Women are usually seen as okay by most people, in comparison to men, but think about this: Tori Stafford, who we all probably know about, was lured in by a WOMAN and killed by a WOMAN. So women shouldn’t be all innocent. Unfortunately, unlike 50 years ago, we have to be much more careful with our young ones, as unsafe situations are everywhere. (Probably why the grandmother didn’t think much of it.) One time I was also in walmart, and I heard a couple with their young children talking about a terrible incident that had happened. The husband wasn’t watching their son for a second, and he found him with another man. I was very freaked out this whole trip… and surprised, because I don’t think they did anything about it. Be careful with your children, we do not want to see another missing child alert on the news!!!

  • i reallize that we are all afraid of strangers touching our children ,but has anyone made them aware off famillys and freinds touching them or taking them.when a child goes missing or has been touched it is a proven fact its someone you no, sorry to say. so its not just the strangers you need to watch but the pepole you no .

  • Absolutely agree with this !! It is never appropriate to handle someone else’s child (without the parent’s consent). Unless the child is in danger and needs to be physically removed from the situation, which is the only time it is appropriate. I would not be happy if anyone handled one of my children, and even as a mother myself I would never handle a strange child (unless in a life-threatening situation etc). As you’ve said, small children are especially trusting and vulnerable, so it’s a very sensitive issue.