Crying Girl on Plane

What do you do when you witness poor parenting.

Comments (92)

(92) Anonymous, January 8, 2014 4:19 PM

You may not like this, but... your own reporting, you did not witness bad parenting by either the mother or the father. What you have witnessed to is bad passengers. Each and everyone of you that was witnessed the on going augrument, who had it within their power to complain that the situation was disturbing them, and didn't: failed the good passenger test. If enough had complained, would not the parents and child have been spoken to? Would this had not sent a larger, more meaningful, and effective message to the family? No, Lori, I think you're great; but, any passenger, that was disturbed by the disturbance, that felt emotionally involved, who didn't complain to the staff failed that family; failed that child, failed themselves and their fellow passengers, and the airline. It is just my opinion. The only right you had, because it was disturbing your flight, you didn't exercise: to complain to the staff.

(91) Irwin Graulich, December 23, 2013 2:11 AM

You should not feel guilty

Rebbetzin Lori--It is very dangerous for you to get involved unless you were on an El Al plane and the father was wearing a kipah. You never know how someone will react and a strangers comments or involvement can make the situation much worse, as well as enrage both parents.

I know how guilty you feel, but that is the wrong emotion. A meshuganah parent could get enraged, smack you and tell you to mind your own business. It should only be reported to the police if you see that the child is struck so that it could break a bone or draw blood. Unfortunately, that is the only solution possible without knowing a lot more details.

(90) Emelda Rodriguez, August 21, 2013 4:29 AM

An opportunity to pray

Witnessing an act of poor parenting is very discouraging. As a by-stander, you can only close your eyes for a second and begin to pray for peace and protection not just for the child but for the family as a whole. Words can sometimes bring awareness but it can also make the situation worse.

(89) chava, February 14, 2012 9:17 PM

Let's lighten up a bit

Let's lighten things up a bit. Jeanne Robertson (a"h) was a very funny (non-Jewish) comedienne. I think the stories she told were true. She spoke of a mother arguing loudly with her teen daughter on a plane. Everyone was looking down or up or anywhere to avoid staring. The last line was from the teen, "I'll go out with him even if you don't want me to. And he is, too, a nice boy. Why else would he be doing 200 hours of community service?!

(88) cherishashem, January 23, 2012 6:39 AM

My heart will tell me the best things to do.

I would discreetly tell the flight staff to call the the grounding airport security to hold the parents for questioning. If the flight staff chose to talk to the parents themselves instead, I would attempt to walk over with them. The flight staff would not have heard my silence. I would have supported whatever they chose to do except to allow them to do nothing. I feel they could then choose to make a discrete call to the landing airport authority to avoid negative confrontation to all on the flight. The worst thing to happen would be for the parents to recieve charges of not handling their daughter appropriately. The parents shouldn't feel concern at all if they're not hiding child abuse evidence. Thank you for asking for our input.

(87) Anonymous, November 20, 2011 7:19 PM

When appropriate, do something.

One evening I was in a grocery store where a young child, about 2 yrs old, was sitting in the seat of the basket crying loudly. This went on for a while. I was near the child and went over and spoke to the child in a gentle way - "What are you crying about?" "There's no need to cry." I've found that often when a stranger speaks to a child, he/she will stop crying, at least for a few minutes. The child becomes distracted from whatever was disturbing him/her. I began to talk to the mother - I had 4 children in 5 years. Found out this was a single mother, working 2 jobs. Was trying to get her grocery shopping done before going home to put the child to bed. The child was crying because he/she was tired and should have been in bed at that time of the evening. We passed each other in each aisle and I spoke to them each time. The child began to smlle. A much more pleasant shopping trip for all - mother, child, shoppers, employees of the store.

(86) Anonymous, January 31, 2011 9:48 PM

I witnessed on a subway

I was on a crowded subway in NYC and a woman walked on with a screaming hysterical child. The whole train went silent watching this child scream and thrash and attempt to run away from the hand firmly grasping his hood. This went on for a few minutes and no one was doing anything. I felt like I needed to do something, but there were no officials around. Then, the woman took the boy's hood and covered his face with it. I got off at the next stop and reported this to the subway dispatcher with the woman's location. It was terrifying and I know I made the right decision.

(85) sarah alvandi, January 11, 2011 4:42 PM

If I don't know something, I would not say anything, because I think it's like shooting with your eyes closed; and if I have trouble shooting with my eyes open, why even attemt doing with eyes closed? So I think you took the right step.

(84) Anonymous, July 12, 2010 8:25 PM

Chicken is in the eye of the beholder!

Although there have been others, one situation that I recalled was being in a department store and hearing a mother berating her son who was sitting in the cariage and was only about three. He was crying and crying. Still she kept on and on and on "I can never go anywhere with you!" "You always have to ruin my time." "Go ahead and cry." and so on, including some more ruff remarks. I knew I should say something but I was a little afraid. Everyone was looking at her as she kept on, but no one said anything. Finally, I yelled from one of the isles-STOP BERATING HIM ALREADY! Then I ducked. There was a clerk, who I hadn't noticed before, next to me who was crouched down ticketing some items. When he looked at me questioningly, I whispered, "come on somebody had to say it " And he gave me a big smile. When I next looked the woman was looking around the store but she had finally stopped yelling at her poor son.

(83) David C, June 26, 2010 7:07 PM

continue from # 82

And by the way, the kid went back to being happy.

(82) , June 25, 2010 1:26 AM

When I was in the airplane traveling to Florida, from New Jersey last year, a little boy was screaming at the top of his lungs. Who wants to hear screaming in the middle of the flight?! Well, I was seventeen at the time, and wearing hearing aids (and I've been deaf all my life), and I turned them off. Darn, I could still hear it- muffled, mild-pitched screamo. "If any one has a Chihuahua on this plane, please lend me his electrical collar shocker!!", I thought, lamenting my disturbed nap. Despite the screeching, I wanted to bonk the kid with my back seat for he was closely behind me, which was feasible... However, his parents were there, expressing embarrassment and humiliation. In the corner of my left, naked eye, they really wanted to vanish from the face of the earth. Don't really censure them for that matter. Meanwhile, a female flight attendant zipped pass me before I could order a drink. Eventually, I turned my hearing aids on. I have Linkin Park, NickelBack, The Fray, and Demon Hunter. My mother told me that listening to a screaming hard rock band like Demon Hunter will damage my ears; I can top that. The inundating of the kid's screaming, which seemed interminable, was apparently effective on my damn ears. Without resisting the compulsion, I turned them off (that is, my hearing aids) and leaned my ringing ears on my right, and I observed the clouds through the half-closed window. Blamed myself for turning them on my nap. It took approximately thirty-minute for a five-year-old to shut up.

(81) Anonymous, March 13, 2010 8:05 PM

none of your business

I usually agree with you Lorie. But when it comes to your family, it is not your place to "call the authorities." Talk to the parent, this is good. But don't think you are g-d and can decide that a family matter is your place to butt in on. H" has made the situation for them. Don't play G-d and think you can change what is mazal given to them. Parents parenting is family business and people disagree what is parenting. I was spanked as a child and I came out ok. In fact, I think I am better than most people morally. Just because a parent slaps their child does not mean there is more going on than a slap. And slaps are not enough to separate parent from child which is what could happen should you not stick your nose out of what is not your business.

(80) Ruth, March 1, 2010 9:42 PM

poor parenting

I am the only child, it was not a choice my parents made, they simply did not have more kids. I was a very spoilt child whining a lot. My mum occassionally slapped me when I deserved that, I did not enjoy it, but I believe it was necessary. I have no trauma because of it and I think my mum has been a great parent. I did not find anything so disturbing about the plane couple. Perhaps we should not exaggerate. One needs to observe more carefully the family in order to judge parenting skills. There are many parents with poor parenting skills and yet they do not punish their kids physically and on the other hand one can be a great parent although slapping sometimes their kids.

(79) Elizabeth, February 25, 2010 6:51 AM

Hmmm, earlier commentor may have a point...

At first glance it does sound like this child was crying out for help. I was beaten terribly by my dad, over and over and over. But I ASSURE you, I would NEVER have acted out like this child did...because he would not have done anything in public, but would have waited until we got home. And I surely would NEVER NEVER have said to him, "Don't slap me." Maybe this mom has slapped the child before...but I wonder...may be a child with Ausperger's too...they do some very attention grabbing things...we have grandchildrenwith have seen some things. And if they are contained in small places for a long time, or in any way overstimulated...well, such a situation could possibly arise. And no I don't believe my grandchildren are slapped either...some of these disorders happen to children who are exceptionally bright. And they could overhear something on TV, or see this happen in a store or something and parrot what was seen. A very hard call for a passerby to know what to do!!

(78) Alyssa, February 18, 2010 11:50 PM

Yes! This has happened to me...

I have had this conversation with my Mother many times, where we're trying to figure out what to say when you witness bad parenting, or IF you should even say anything. I remember a few years ago, I was at walmart and there was an adorable little boy probably about one year old, in the seat of a shopping cart being pushed by his dad. The little guy was making happy sounds, squealing and giggling and getting a little loud and his dad was getting really frusterated with him. He told him to "shut up" which was enough to shock me(who talks to a baby that way?!) and then I was even further shocked when he actually smacked the baby's face! What has happened to people? Where is their compassion, patients, sensitivity and love? This child wasn't even acting up. He was just a happy baby making happy sounds! I was horrified. I wanted to say something but I was really just shocked, and plus I was only about 14 so I didn't know if it would be wise to confront this guy personally. On top of that, what was I going to say to him? Would he have listened? I suppose thats out of my control. All I can do is take action and do what I can and hope that what I say makes a difference. I've decided that if I ever witness anything like that again, I will definitly say something.

(77) Anonymous, February 15, 2010 5:08 AM

sometimes kids just lie

you mentioned that the girl kept screaming "why don;t you believe me?" the whole time... so obviously there is "honesty:" issue and then she says "don;'t slap me" , you do not think she was doing it on purpose for the show? please... kids do that all the time... My son screams that he loves brocoli everytime we are in a grocery store and tries to get me to buy a huge bag of it, then of course at home he does not even touch it. When my husband's coworker visited he told him with tears in his eyes that he is 5 and he has 5 toys and when he will be 6 he wil get 6 toys- he sounded very believable except that he has 5000 toys... kids know what gets attention and they often say it that way, they are very aware of the show and audience. Abused child would typically sit quietly in the flight because that child knows that he/she will really be slapped for misbehaving, so that child is scared. when a child puts up a flight long screaming show and then at the end says "don;t slap me" - that is just for a show, she was well aware of the audience and she played it perfectly.

(76) Anonymous, February 9, 2010 6:45 PM

If you weren't asked, stay out of it

I think that grandparents face this kind of test all the time, when their kids deal with THEIR kids in a fashion different from what they think is right. All the opinions I've seen agree that, unless asked for advice, grin and bear it.

(75) Pietrina, February 9, 2010 4:13 PM

Discipline doesn't start on the plane.

Wow! Lori, you received some negative comments. I am surprised. My feeling is that your friend gave you some very good advice. The point is not judging the parent, but to advise them on some obviously necessary parenting proceedures. The problem is that parents are not training children at home on acceptable behavior in public and then they expect them to behave well under uncomfortable circumstances. Having some fun things to do in the plane would be a simple thing to prepare the child for the long ride. There is little a stranger can do to affect change, but when there is an opening I feel it is our oblligation to instruct and encourage.

(74) Rachel, February 8, 2010 8:09 PM

Stressed-out parents sometimes just need help

When I've seen being parents being too tough on kids, I often offer to help. For example, once on a trans-Atlantic flight, a little boy of about 3 or 4 started misbehaving and his father hit him. This made the boy cry, so his father hit him again. At that point I went over and quietly said to the father "You must be very tired, but I'll be glad to hold your son and walk up and down with him for a bit." The father declined, but he then cuddled his little boy and rocked him to sleep. I've found that this non-threatening approach (from an admittedly non-threatening looking middle-aged mom like myself) often makes a parent stop and realize that they're hurting the child and not helping the situation.

(73) louis, February 8, 2010 3:38 PM

bad parenting?

It's funny how there are always "back seat drivers: and also "back seat parents". People want to parent other peoples kids in public not knowing anything about that other family. So now the person in this video switched from siding with the mother on the plane to the kid because the kid said "don't smack me"? So the parent is bad because she may thump the kid on the backside for acting a fool in public? And you're just assuming the kid got smacked before just because she said "don't smack me". Wow. Whoever wants to "get involved" in other peoples parenting should just snatch the kid from the "abusive parent" and raise it yourself instead of pointing fingers at the parents. Because when you point an accusatory finger at someone there are three fingers pointed back at you accusing you of worse plus the thumb is there as a witness to the entire transaction.

(72) Anonymous, February 8, 2010 3:00 AM

Hitting = BAD

I was hit as a child - painfully, whenever my mother was frustrated about my behavior. The hitting was nearly always accompanied by shouting and name-calling. I was not a bad child, and I definitely would have listened better if she had spoken to me softly, but firmly instead of getting physical. Now I have several young children of my own. I do raise my voice, unfortunately - I still have much to work on - but I would never dream of hitting my children as my mother did, or calling names. Granted, my personal situation was more complicated than just the hitting, but I was very emotionally scarred and cannot condone any sort of violence toward a child.

(71) Anonymous, February 7, 2010 10:43 AM

I feel that in this case you should not judge the parents negatively. parents have the authority to decide and act in the best interest of the child. It was said once a man was jailed for robbery and murder. He requested that he would like to meet his mother. she met him, he hugged her and then bit her on her ear. the judge pulled him up for his action and asked him why he behaved in this manner. he replied 'if my mother had not pulled my ear for my misdemeanor and bad behaviour during my childhood, i would have not been standing in front of you and serving a sentence in the jail. she did not correct me in the right manner by pulling me up, i thought it was right way to do and hence enjoyed doing it.' besides i have read that when we go up in heaven for accounting of ur deeds, we are questioned : did u raise good children? did u correct them when they behaved wrongly? so in a way parents have a role to play, as a judge to decide and guide children on the right course of action.

(70) Suzanne, February 7, 2010 4:47 AM

Bad Parenting

In the school that I where I worked, I had a lot of opportunity to see bad parenting. I also had opportunities to see children set thier parents up, by saying such things. I mean people that NEVER hit a child. I was taught a long time ago that most parents really are doing the best that they know how.

(69) Chaya, February 6, 2010 11:52 PM

What I did when a father kicked his kids & why it made things worse

Long ago, when I was shopping for chairs in a nearly empty basement furniture departmenmt two 8-10 year old boys saw me "trying on" chairs and quietly sat some nearby. When the adult male who was walking with a mother holding a newborn saw this, he became furious and yelled demanding that they come stand in front of him. Both boys silently walked toward him but stopped just out of his reach as though expecting to be hit. That further enraged the man and with his heavy boots KICKED at them. I lost contol when I saw that and I screamed at him that it was a crime to kick children and not only could he be arrested for that but he should be. My initial reaction was pride for having spoken out against the violence I'd witnessed. I sincerely doubt that man ever again kicked a child--in public. When I saw the faces of the boys and their mother my heart sank. In their expression I saw that they knew there would be hell to pay when they got home. To this day I am haunted by the thought that my oh so 'righteous' reaction might have caused futher injury to already hurting people. In the decades since that incident I have continued to replay that scene hoping to find a response more protective of a family living in terror.

(68) Beverly Kurtin, February 6, 2010 10:05 PM


It's funny you should bring this up just now. Last week I was doing my grocery shopping and her child was whining about EVERYTHING. Every time the kid opened his mouth it was to say, "I want." Finally, the parent slapped the kid so hard that his face instantly went 90 degrees from where it had been and I heard a SNAP from his neck. I immediately called 911. That was plain out-and-out child abuse. The police showed up promptly and questioned the mother who lied like a rug. Fortunately, six or seven other people had witnessed the vicious attack and the child's face still bore the huge red mark of his mother's slap. The child was screaming, "My head hurts, my head hurts," then he vomited. The paramedics had just showed up and I told them the kid needed an immediate CAT scan; it appeared that he was bleeding into his skull. My thoughts were confirmed when the kid went into a grand mal seizure. I later found that he had survived (I have friends in the emergency department) and mama went to the pokey. Not reporting child abuse is a crime in Texas, so all I was doing was keeping the law. I am a multiple stroke survivor; I know the symptoms and that child fit the description. Lori, I do not judge you one way or the other. You did not actually witness any abuse. In my opinion, you are off the hook.

(67) Jennine, February 5, 2010 10:57 PM

Further, if a parent is severely "badmouthing" a child

If a parent is severely "badmouthing" a child ... my gut feeling was to walk over to them & tell them, if you tell a young child the "bad" names & things that (you think they are) they'll develop a horrific self esteem, & feel accepted, & may become what you call them, or worse. What does a witness do in that case as well?

(66) Barbara, February 4, 2010 11:41 PM

I like your friend's approach

It is NEVER right to hit a child, except perhaps if they have run out into traffic. Even then, I would prefer a different approach. The only way to help a parent who did ask for help is to tell a parable, such as what happened with my own kid who was similar. Since I really did have a difficult child with psychiatric issues, I am speaking honestly. This happened today. I was able to tell a friend whose autistic child may also have psych issues that my child turned out okay. He began to understand how to negotiate the world. She felt somewhat relieved with t he notion that her child is not doomed for a lifetime. In the case of poor parenting, I sometimes intervene with the child directly, especially if the child is related to me. Most children respond well to redirection, so I ask them to help me. They love being important helpers! Sometimes, with people I know, I may express concern and ask how it feels for them to deal with this situation. When they can talk it out, they often find better choices. With my own son, I remind him that my biggest failing as a parent was raising my voice too often. When he flies off the handle easily, I ask him to remember how it was when he was young and I was angry. He has to agree that there is a better way and often will try another approach.

(65) Kip Gonzales, February 4, 2010 8:30 PM

A little discipline is good.

Very good. It bothers me most when a kid is misbehaving or having a melt-down in a supermarket, and the parent fully ignores it! If a small reprimand doesn´t work, the cart needs to stay there, and the child taken outside immediately. The same in a church or synagogue service. You shouldn´t then wail on the kid, but let them know in a firm way, that such behavior will not be put up with, and we´re not going back in till you calm down! When they learn that at an early age, big problems like that don´t usually come up later.

(64) Sarah, February 4, 2010 8:01 PM

Lori way off the mark

Lori, Isn't it a mitvah to judge people fairly, to give benefit of the doubt ? (dan le'chaf zechut). You didn't even see anything happen and you already labeled those parents negatively. Your prejudgment of them made me feel very uncomfortable and I am surprised that you jumped to conclusions like that. Like the others wrote in their posts, you have no real information on which to base your conclusions and I think you are wrong to make assumptions regarding those parents who you don't at all know.

(63) , February 4, 2010 5:07 PM

Child not scared

My only thought is if the child was really mistreated than she would probably have been a lot more well behaved. Due to fear, parenting is difficult and trying as we all know. And if I had a child screaming the whole trip than I probably would have been threatening a slap too! It's hard to judge things, It wasn't that long ago I was in a doctors centre with these bratty children giving their mother a hard time, I noticed she was very negative about her children, whilst at the same time loving but exasperated at what to do. Her mother was with her, and she also was negative but loving. The thing is while they were not parenting the best the love was there, I think love can cover a lot of mistakes, somehow. My advice though would be lot of positive words, communicate to children like they are adults, but so they understand, talk to them like friends, so they can establish good judgements, be forgiving to them and yourself and know how to say sorry. Finally judge softly and definitely use the, I and try to relate and show empathy until you know all the facts and can weigh it up well then you just don't know. Do You? Cheers Sharon from Australia :-)

(62) Tammy, February 4, 2010 4:15 PM

I just went through a very similar experience. My kids had vacation for mid winter break and last week we were at a Disney theme park in Orlando. While my husband and I watched our kids on a roller coaster, a clearly irate mother was smacking her kid around. The 5 year old little boy then had an accident. The woman went ballistic. She began cursing him loudly in front of us and others and began to actually shove him. SHe said things like "you*****kid, look how You make me shame you! Look at all the trouble you cause me, you are such an ****". I was horrified. Clearly, this poor little boy was being bullied by his own mother, but the truth is, I was scared to confront her. She was physically large and had an imposing and threatening look. The poor child was a small, skinny kid, who probably suffered such abuse on a regular basis. It just broke your heart. I was so angry at her for victimizing her young child and traumatizing him, yet I felt I could not safely approach her at all. I was literally in tears by the time they passed by. Others around me, also uncomfortble, also stood around not doing anything. Upon reflection, I should have approached park personnel and have them confront and deal with this woman who was obviously not embarrassed by her tirade. I regret my inaction and feel terribly sorry for this young boy, who if left in the care of this 'mother', will suffer severe long term consequences.

(61) Ray, February 4, 2010 3:44 PM

Thanks for addressing this

I too was on a plane last year and there was a 1 year old boy on his Mom's lap sitting in front of me, the Mom was trying to keep him quite by having him chew the headphones and when he got fussy she would pinch him tor slap him to "be quiet". My heart was breaking for this poor child, I kept offering him snacks ( better then headphones) and trying to talk to the Mom but when they left I felt so sorry for this baby. It is so hurtful to see children being mistreadted, It is difficult to know how to intervene in these situations.

(60) Ray, February 4, 2010 3:10 PM

Thinking you know something may be a mistake.

Slapped maybe maybe not. Kids don't always tell the truth. Parents are not always wrong. Because your kids were normal and easy to raise does not mean they all are. Children with problems may not be better off raised in foster care. However, I will admit that it is nice to have all of the answers. Most people are not that lucky. Your life must be very easy. Ray

(59) Anonymous, February 4, 2010 2:41 PM

To the adults: Would it be effective if you were hit?

The child needed assurance and validation of her suffering. She was faced with stone-faced withholding parents. For those adults who commented that it's fine and non-damaging to hit a child, see how you feel when you are treated that way. The child is taught that he or she can not trust the people who are supposed to care most. This mistrust lasts all through life. I have been in situations like that. I talked to the child, and gave him pleasant attention. He was always well-behaved with me. He had to act up to get any attention from his parents. A child also feels abandoned when his or her feelings are ignored or unacknowledged. This leads to fear, and can make a child cry more, louder and harder. I think Mrs. Palatnick had a good idea to use non-threatening "I" statements to calm the situation. Sometimes, one is too stunned to know what action to take, and one misses the chance, as seems to have happened on this plane. One must practice and role-play the proper responses, so one is not caught unprepared, like a martial arts expert. There is a good book called "Verbal Judo" on how to be prepared for difficult situations. The author was an English teacher who had the toughest violent students. He used to be a policeman, and had to face domestic violence situations, and crazy violent people. I hope this book will be helpful to people.

(58) Boomie, February 4, 2010 2:16 PM

We're not G-d

Who knows....maybe the girl actually DID do something dangerous, and got her first slap on that plane? We never know what goes on inside other peoples' houses. What right do we have to butt in? That's why States have created laws of "mandatory reporters" of abuse (I am one being in Hatzolah). But the rest of us should really mind our own business, unless the abuse is obvious and blatant.

(57) DMM, February 4, 2010 8:45 AM

My policy is that I only potch my children for going into the street or touching medicine - situations of real danger. My oldest is 3, I have only had to do it 3 or 4 times. I explain the consequences, and wait till I am calm to administer 1 smack, hard enough to be felt, but not to be sore afterwards. After the first time I did this, my daughter spent about 3 weeks saying "I don't want a potch!" with a terrified look every time I even said her name sharply. Yes, I explained to her many many times that I wasn't going to potch her for something minor, and that if she would not run into the street or touch medicine, I wouldn't potch her again. You really have no idea what actually happened with this girl. If her parents were able to keep their cool the whole plane ride, I doubt they're the type to smack a lot. A 5 year old is definitely old enough to know how to manipulate her parents, and the public. Think about it - if you, or the best parents in the world, had a kid who was screaming the whole plane ride, when it was finally time to get off, you would probably be frustrated and want to get her off as soon as possible. You would probably make some comment to that effect... if your child responded by saying "don't hit me!" what would you do? I would be totally embarrassed that people think I am a 'hitter', and scared that someone would report me. If you stand up & announce to the whole plane "she's making it up, I don't do that on a regular basis" everyone will REALLY think you are guilty. The only option I see is to tell the child "I'm not gonna hit you, turn around and walk straight!" and leave as soon as possible. Which is what the parents did. What could you, or a parenting guru, have done differently? Sometimes, you DO see instances of real hitting and/or threatened abuse in public - the response then is a very good question. But I just don't think that the situation Lori described merits condemnation of the parents.

(56) Anonymous, February 4, 2010 8:32 AM

great presentation of burning issue...i get involved

you might call me a busybody, or G-d's secretary...but i feel so bad when i witness such episodes, i usually go over and offer to help, tell the child a story, etc. i travel frequently on buses in Israel, and i often get a positive response. i try to praise the child to the parent afterwards. if the parent is talkative and looks interested, i might offer advice, or book reccommendation. that's my idealogoly, doesn't happen that often. due to our changing way of life, lots of people need guidance - i apprecaite getting it myself! yes i have children, married and little, so i am in the process, always trying to improve! i think a friendly offer is always in place...thanx for this video, gives us all what to think about, and hopefully be prepared for the next opportunity. kol tuv...

(55) Dicken, February 4, 2010 7:45 AM

First, get the child's attention

I, and both of my kids, was hit ONCE in our childhood. As my kids are now nearing 50 years of age, we all bear proof of one thing: get the child's attention FIRST, then he/she will listen to reason. Each one of us did.

(54) sharona, February 4, 2010 6:08 AM

my message

I think you have a good idea about saying to someone, "What I do is......and it helps." Then you're not criticizing but just giving nice advice. For my child, I would do different methods depending on what they are complaining about. First I would have them tell me calmly. Then if I need to say no, I would tell them that their complaining is not going to do any good because I still say no.

(53) Anonymous, February 4, 2010 3:12 AM

Show Mercy and Provide a Model

UNLESS the parent's behavior is clearly a cause for concern (when it would then become a legal issue), I usually try a strategy that I learned 20 years ago from La Leche League. The following really works: SHOW MERCY and PROVIDE A MODEL. Walk up to the parent with an understanding smile and make a comment to the effect, "What a beautiful/handsome little ________; It is really hard to be a mom isn't it?" or "Wow, you really seem to have your hands full. My kids are nearly grown-up now. May I hold the baby (etc.) while you take a deep breath de-stress, etc?" I served as a teacher (preschool through college) for 25 years. One of my biggest challenges was working for 15 years as a faculty member at a local community college with pre-education and child development majors. Many of my students were poor, single mothers and culturally diverse. One of MY earliest lessons (THEY taught me more than I ever taught them) was that I was working to change “parenting styles” that had been ingrained for generations. Without love and mutual respect, my students would have never “heard” anything that I had to say. If they had only felt my condemnation and judgment, nothing would have changed…. not in their lives and especially not in the lives of their children and grand-children. A final thought…. Healthy, secure, “empowered” people, as a general rule, do not mistreat others.

(52) Anonymous, February 4, 2010 1:42 AM

hitting children

Are you saying that a parent can NEVER hit their children? There are times that in certain situations and NOT out of anger, that a parent is able for Chinich to spank thier child. No not really hurting them!

(51) Anonymous, February 4, 2010 1:36 AM

what to do in light of poor parenting

Standing in line in the post office were an African-American couple with a small child. The child wasn't disruptive, but he wasn't standing absolutely still, and every time he moved, the father pushed or struck him to stand still. Those of us on line, cringed, but no one did anything (I am not African-American and wouldn't feel comfortable offering advice). When I brought this up in conversation with friends, the husband (a Ph.D, in science) said I was right to do nothing. In this case, he felt this was how they train their children to sit in church, respond as told; this is their culture. I've always respected this brilliant friend, but there have been times I've disagreed with him anyway. I don't know what I should have done. Had it been a Jewish family, would I have done something differently? I don't know, and I still feel bad about the little boy.

(50) Anonymous, February 4, 2010 12:30 AM

report to authority

The law states that you must report any abuse/neglect incidents regarding children to the State Child Protection Office. Each state is different. If need be take the child and call the police, and the Police will call the Child Abuse authorities. You can not ignore this. You can be held liable if you do nothing. You must report it. The State will decide the seriuosness and take appropriate action.

(49) Ava, February 4, 2010 12:21 AM

I've been in this situation

I've been in this situation many times. I too have tried to make a non threatening comment to change the dynamic. I might want to yell at the parent, but I know that won't help. I figure at least they know someone's watching them, even if they're not receptive. And I've called police when the situation seemed to call for it. Once I witnessed a man being very abusive verbally to his son at a park. I wrote down their license number and called 911. They assured me they'd track the car and send an officer to visit and make sure everything was okay. Most of us have "lost it" at one point or another, but you can usually tell the difference. If a caregiver has "lost it", then they just need some support, vs. a pattern of abuse that needs deeper attention. We are all responsible for attempting to get help for a child in an abusive situation. In our society, when it's a stranger, that usually means contacting the police as a starting point.

(48) Marsha, February 3, 2010 11:41 PM

Something to think about

In my humble opinion, do not offer advice or get involved, except in the two following cases: (1) The adult is asking for advice. (2) It is dangerous for one of the parties involved, such as where one is actually witnessing a parent out of control where the child may get hurt. In such a case, I would call the police and let them handle it for safety reasons. Also, they should have more experience in dealing with these situations and, hopefully, be able to diffuse the situation. If the adult is physically abusive to the child, who says the adult won't turn on you and hurt you? I base this on the following piece of advice given to me years ago. I wanted to know what my role is as a parent to my married children. A week or two after the completion of sheva brochos for my eldest child I asked a close friend of mine the following question. Since she has been married did her parents ever go over to her or her spouse to comment on something they feel isn’t correct or could be done better? Her parents are considered ‘choshev’ people (well-respected and important people) to Jews all over the world. Her answer was that they do not give advice unless asked and that is what I should also do. If I am like this with people I know very well, how much more so I need to be careful with total strangers?

(47) Anonymous, February 3, 2010 10:18 PM


How can you judge what is good or bad parenting? Unless you can walk in those person's shoes, you can not begin to understand or know the truth about a person's life situation. Who knows what the child was really saying. I have seen many children who fabricate stories of such treatment. Sad, but true.

(46) Anonymous, February 3, 2010 9:45 PM


We have likely all witnessed parents who are ' unfit '. We have likely hear grandparents who happily announce that they can spoil their grand kids then go home happy not to deal with the grandchild. I was in Beijing China two years ago. I went for a walk in the hutongs/shantytown district. I saw a child maybe 3 or 4 years old sitting in a chair loudly crying a phrase in Chinese. It was perhaps, " I am sorry Daddy ". The father was speaking casually with two friends sharing a drink. I walked past and then hid around a corner. After about 5 minutes , the father went to the son and yelled at him. The child kept on crying. It was loud and constant and heart wrenching. I kept asking myself what i should do. I lasted 10 minutes. I went away while the child was still crying. I was in a different society. Give the benefit of the doubt to the parent. It was very difficult to say nothing. You psychologist friend is theoretically correct. Wait for an opportune time to say something and with great tact. I am going to venture to guess that 1 out of 10 you are thanked and given the story of frustration. The other 9 times you probably get told in no uncertain to mind your own business. Parenting is a very very touchy issue. The fit parents always look to improve themselves. The unfit parents do not. This is merely my insignificant opinion as you asked for. Very much enjoy your messages even though i disagree with them from time to time.

(45) Anonymous, February 3, 2010 9:21 PM

The situation can be very complex

Hi Lori. I understand your reaction but the reality is that listening to this story I just feel sorry for the parents. I had a child (who is now 24 years old) whose behavior was so rotten when he was young that it is a miracle that I'M alive. Thank G-d, he grew up to be very well functioning young guy, but many times it was very, very hard. I really don't know what the answer is - but I would definetly NOT jump to any conclusions about these people being abusive parents. BTW, I also had two other kids who were quite "normal" behaviorally and if they were my only children I probably would be quick to make an "abusive parents" judgement, too.

(44) ruth, February 3, 2010 8:52 PM

"self" defense

You are right that parents are very defensive when it comes to being told, especially in such a situation, how to parent their child, and they will have their filters up, their particular armor against hearing what they will feel is negative criticism. So yes, the way to do this would be to personalize it, but even then you run the risk of escalating the situation when you are not there. Sadly, some parents are not good at parenting, and they sometimes even perpetuate the abuse they got from their parents, as any attention was a positive, as strange as this might sound. It's sad, but certainly abuse that is evident must be stopped for the sake of the child so active hitting I think requires some intervention or attempt. There is this gray area, when a rough word and certainly a slap, not necessarily terribly vicious, will provoke another to feeling, what do I do? I am saying, sometimes we need to surrender and not do anything, knowing anything we do will make it worse for that child. People who abuse have short fuses, and they also sadly use their children as scapegoats. As a therapist I feel the more cosmic answer lies in massive education about parenting, through movies, through the schools, and through giving these parents, opportunities to learn that might just open up their own wounds to review and new insights that could be passed on to their children in better behaviors and enhancing ways of being.

(43) Linda, February 3, 2010 7:48 PM

Are you parents understanding?

You often see in stores, children out of control in a fit of crying, one time i seen a boy about 12 have a complete mental breakdown at the end of his crying. We have an AURA out there ringing in our ears, if you spank your child in public, you'll be arrested, Is it not more ccruel to let the childs emotions get out to a place where they are warped, then to spat them, and get their attention, to "stop I Mean it NOW" Maybe children need to be explained to about If you misbehaved and I have to get on to you, I will get taken away from you, and you will be put in a foster home, IS that what you want? and with older children they threaten, I'll call the police. Tell them call them you won't like the next home you are put in. The Key is to make them listen when they are small, and mean what you say, three times and your gonnaa suffer the consequences. My kids were all well behaved they knew better.

(42) gerry, February 3, 2010 7:26 PM

Offer Help

As a grandmother there are times in the grocery store where I see children behaving poorly and parents frazzled - at their wits end - my time is free - I'm not under any pressure so I go up, offer to entertain their children while they finish shopping. Some children are easier to have fun with then others but it's rare the parents don't take me up on my offer - I walk around the store close to the parents and talk one on one to the children - tell them some cute story, share their interests and when mom is finally at the checkout point everyone is happy and I've usually had a ball - another day when I'm back in the store again that child runs up and gives me a hug. I'd have probably offered to sit with the child on the plane - exchange my seat with one of the parents temporarily - and tell the child an entertaining story to break the attention on the negative feelings the child is having - it usually doesn't take long - the child just wants reassurance someone cares about them and is starved for real attention and its fun to give. Gerry

(41) Janet Beeching, February 3, 2010 7:23 PM

if you must strike a child

If you must strike a child, do so with only a shoestring

(40) , February 3, 2010 7:22 PM

sometimes I smiply go to the mother and say: there is a very helpful book I´m sure you would like as I did: "How to Talk so your Kids will Listen and How to Listen so your Kids will Talk", by Faber and Mazlich. Elisabeth

(39) Anonymous, February 3, 2010 6:42 PM

Maybe this woman needs some serious help raising her children.

As someone mentioned up above that nobody should take this scenario as a bad thing because this happens to lots of parents out there in the world. I remember when my now lovely 8 year old daughter used to behave like that girl on the plane while I used to go shopping with my daughter at age 5. My daughter also has a bit of special needs, but I am currently working with a child therapist at her school now and my daughter is behaving much better than before. My relationship is becoming so much more comfortable and happier with her. I feel I really love her so much that I just need to truly understand what she is feeling when she gets so angry. We are working on her anger and other feelings now. Perhaps this is what this woman on the plane really needs. Not everyone was born to understand all circumstances of raising a child. Children are People too! I use to give my daughter paches when she was little, but I spoke to Rabbis and Doctors about this kind of thing. I don't want my daughter to feel hurt or abused so both my husband and I stopped that. Now we just tell her by serious looks or punishments that her behavior will not be tolerated!

(38) Welton, February 3, 2010 5:30 PM

Keep it in the "I" and then compliment

When a child punches the parents buttons, (s)he obviously is smart, so distract the unruly child by speaking kindly in the "I" and then pay a small compliment to or about the child. It distracts the child and leaves the parent with a warm, good feeling inside that someone sees her child as smart - and possibly her as a good parent. In the case of the parent on the plane, the something left behind as an abusive father and years of toys as the mother took the child and forever excaped an abusive situation. Saying tehillim for the child and mother is also a must!

(37) mgoldberg, February 3, 2010 5:12 PM

How do you know?

All the comments but I don't think you knew if those parents ever did more than potch their kids behinds, and that's fine. Those who say...'never, ever', I think are dead wrong. That kid tantrumed the whole flight and wasn't potched... but you took her statement to mean she was overly so slapped. You have no data to suggest you are correct, except the whining kids comment. As for giving your help and sticking your nose in... that's fine. But just look at how many jumped to sing out how never ever was the meaning here for everyone. I say, baloney. Never in anger is a good idea, and to do a potch judiciously and realizing that lot's of talking and instruction have to preceed and follow thereafter is not a bad idea. I told my kids teachers from kindergarten that a gentle potch on the tush was fine with me if talking didn't work and they were aghast because the times won't allow anything like that. I was just smiling and letting them know that they're mommies and I'm a dad and I would trust them to be able to know when and if it was necessary and so on. Anyway... I just think the assessment is too vapid and without proper evidence in this case of your flight and what you saw. But noticed how so many said that never can any slap be used... ever.

(36) Anonymous, February 3, 2010 4:46 PM

I certainly need your advice. Do you?

I find it interesting that while many people can easily identify OTHER people’s poor parenting skills, no one believes that they themselves have poor parenting skills. How is that possible? In reality, I am very hesitant to criticize other people’s parenting skills since I have grave doubts whether my skills are any better. In reality, my skills may be quite poor – even after raising seven children of my own. I work on them day and night, but there are (too many) occasions when I let my anger cloud my better judgment. Hence, my advice is that if you ever witness someone with poor parenting skills, give YOURSELF the good parenting advice. In reality, if you direct your advice towards yourself, it may be going to the one person who will most likely listen and act upon it.

(35) Anonymous, February 3, 2010 4:22 PM

teach the kid not to tantrum

The time to nip the tantrum is when the child is very young, the first times it happens. The rule at our house (we don't hit) was, if you are going to carry on like a mad fool, you have to do it outside. I gently put my kids outside the door a couple of times, and they quickly learned that 1) noone can hear or see them (of course we could, but they didn't figure that out) and 2) it is cold, boring and no fun to be out on the porch having a hissy fit. Now, as a teacher, I concede that there are very some children who would be able to carry on carrying on for longer than my children did. They are exceptions. The first time each of my children tried to pull a tantrum in a store, all of the goods were left behind in the buggy and we walked out of the store full speed and went home. This is hard to do in an airplane, but then, this behavior was probably not new. The mother in this situation on the plane obviously had an issue with something the child had said and it must have been very important to them both. Perhaps something had been lost or left behind or broken? I am concertned that the mother could not convince the child that this would be dicussed at a more appropriate time and distracted her with a book or a game or even with writing down what she was feeling or drawing a picture. The child should have been told and shown that she was disturbing other people. I thought from you opener that the young couple next to you would announce at the end of the flight that they were never going to have kids. Keep up the good work.

(34) Al Nadohl, February 3, 2010 4:12 PM

hitting your child

When I grew up in the fifties, I got hit when it was deserved. I turned out OK. Now I work with law enforcement and parents on preventing crimes against children. Personally from my point of view, the only time I would hit my kid is if he/she ran out blindly into the street. Then give them an explanation of why it's dangerous.

(33) Anonymous, February 3, 2010 4:07 PM

It is a clear American syndrom. Kid knows his/her rights and if he/she don't get what "rightfully" belong to him, bingo, it is a show time. A 10 years old boy was threatening his mother, 'If you would not give me so and so, I'll tell neighbours that you are so and so.' Do I have to fill sorry for the kid who, nebach, has to force his mom to take care of him , or do I have to be sorry for mom who, nebach, got trapped in American philosophy. I was witnessing it . Sorry for my English, it is my second language. Shalom. PS. We don't know whole picture, so we should not jump to conclusion. It might be regular show of drama Queen.

(32) Anonymous, February 3, 2010 4:06 PM

It is never right to hit your kids

i am a psychologist and have raised 2 kids of my own, and never felt the need to hit them. Also our parents didn't hit us either--my mom always explained things to me. It is true that hitting or slapping just teaches that violence is a solution. Children are sentient and respond to communication. Lori you did nothing wrong--you made an effort to find the father, and it just didn't happen, but your intention was there. Personally when I have seen crying children I sometimes go up to the child and communicate with them, talk with them directly say things like, hi what's up. It sounds as if you are having a bad day. Then I might say to the mom, she seems really tired or something equally non threatening, just trying to change the mood between them. My teenage daughter often goes up to crying toddlers and tries to make them laugh, to help the parent indirectly by bringing joy to the child, and it usually works. (she has also got a few babysitting jobs from these connections!). But it is true that it is impossible to effect change in someone who is not interested in changing.

(31) Devorah, February 3, 2010 3:51 PM

I'm with you, Lori

I was once in a reverse situation where I regretted not saying anything. I was in a waiting room together with a mother and her special-needs son. The son was obviously very simple and he was asking her the same question over and over. The mother patiently responded every time. I was so impressed that I wanted to say something. I didn't.

(30) Nechama Goodman, February 3, 2010 3:43 PM

If I can, I try to say something

My main observation of "poor parenting" is in the grocery store or Costcos where I see MANY young children NOT belted in the carts. It is my pet peeve. Time permitting, I go up to people of all kinds. Anyone with a young child not belted in is fair game. I say various things to people ALWAYS "I" statements. Sometimes I say jokingly that I am the Seatbelt Police. Then I say that it makes me nervous to see children not belted in because a child of mine once had a very serious accident. I have about a 90% sucess rate. Parents even thank me. On rare occassion people are defensive. Then I walk away. I know that this is their problem not mine. If at all possible one should try to speak up. I figure that if I prevent one child from falling out of the cart, I have done a great mitzva!

(29) Suzanne, February 3, 2010 3:24 PM

Judge Not

We simply do not know enough about the situation and real relationship between the parents and little girl to pass judgment. I was very uncomfortable to listen to the thrust of your comments because they were a "slice of a moment". Too many people offer advice when in fact they are unaware of a difficult dynamic in a family. I detest unsolicited advice; it ruined a relationship with a sister-in-law. Does the girl have learning disabilities, a strange set of personality traits, emotional problems that are chemically based (the fact that she engaged her mother in arguing the entire flight is a clue that something is really wrong), is she manipulative, was she deliberately trying to embarrass. Why should any kid be permitted at FIVE to have such a big mouth? What is going on here, Lori?

(28) Ahuva, February 3, 2010 3:23 PM

Manipulative Child

Good parenting in public is nearly impossible and this child was clearly taking advantage of her parents' predicament, including wheedling a promise of "I won't slap you" out of her mother. Had I been the mother I'd have said, "I'm glad you realize you deserve to be slapped, now go ahead and walk down the aisle."

(27) Nancy Wainwright, February 3, 2010 3:06 PM

not necssarily the truth

You must also consider that the child was not telling the truth about being hit. I had a friend who told this story on herself. When she was a child and had a disagreement with her mother, she would run out of the house screaming: 'Don't beat me again". The issue with this was that she had never been beaten! Finally, the mother, having had enough of the false accusations and angry looks by neighbors, said, Now, I'm going to show you what being beaten means! That ended the accusations! So unless you see the act, try to remember that children can be creative and devious. The accusation just might not be true.

(26) Lisa, February 3, 2010 3:03 PM

manipulative, nondisciplined child

I think this child was acting out and trying to manipulate her parents. She sounds like a child who has NOT been disciplined, and has learned to use a manipulatiing and embarrassing technique in public when she wants to get her way, or simply seek negative attention. If that little girl truly had ever been slapped in her life, she would not have been screaming on the plane in the first place. I know from my own mother slapped my brother and I whenever she was frustrated about something, We lived in fear of her, and therefore NEVER tried to get our way about anything, and certainly never had outbursts, both publicly and at home. I became an elementary school teacher in my 20's. It is astonishing how much the world has changed since I was a child. Kids LIE. They make up all kinds of ficticious scenarios. I don't know if it is because of the garbage on TV, or simply the state of our society now. As one commenter said, America places a lot of emphasis on psychology, and not so much on discipline. I live in America, and I would say that I have to agree. The children behave terribly in the schools, and whenever I would try to discuss that with the parents, they would just tell me that when their kid was in school, it was my problem, and they only wanted to deal with their kid when they were at home. Children are being raised now NOT to respect others, but rather be more concerned wtih themselves. Our society is raising a very self-centered and undisciplined generation.

(25) Anonymous, February 3, 2010 3:03 PM

striking in anger not good, neither is fence sitting

Doing nothing harms both the child and the parents in the long run. What does Hashem require of us - But to do justice, to love kindness., to do what is good... With crying and screaming in a confined space for a long period, we can perhaps offer to diffuse the situation as Aviva suggests. Lori does not mention this child's age. Distraction works great with many age groups, change the topic with the adult so they forget what is amking them so upse will make for a smoother plane ride. I am a Nurse Practitioner and Certified Nurse Midwife. When Physical violence has erupted in my privated office against minor children, I have called child protective services, because that is the law. I am prepared for the cosequences afterwards when people have verbally threatened me when they refuse to take responsibility or their own behavior.

(24) , February 3, 2010 2:43 PM

How do you know??

How do you know it was poor parenting? the child may have been doing really dangerous things and gotten a potch on the tush a number of times and now, after whining for a flight, palyed it up for the crowd....? You didn't see the parents hit the child once, yet, you assumed they were bad, and addressed the issue as if you knew..... and you didn't

(23) Guy Sutton, February 3, 2010 2:30 PM


First off, I look forward to your part every week!!! You ROCK! About this child, oy, well, like a few comments up, I could not determine just what the child has in mind, perhaps a little manipulation making it 'seem' that she gets hit a lot? Most folks that in fact do this, would just have smaked her right there if they were really a habitual hitter, at least that is my thought. I think the kid was after something and did not get it, extra money for the trip, a window seat perhaps, who knows. Sounds like it could just be a spoiled child with a vivid tale to tell should she not get her way as the way to embarrass the parents. I am not sure how I would act either, probably like the rest, just let it be and perhaps pray for all three of them that evening at dinner..... PLEASE keep the great stories coming, they are the light of the day....... Your FAN! Guy

(22) Anonymous, February 3, 2010 4:10 AM

Not always as it appears

When my now fairly wonderful sixteen year old was five, we had an incident where she got angry about something and ran into a crowded mall. I stopped her and held her against a wall and told her to never do that again. (I can't remember ever doing this other than this one incident.) An onlooker called the police and our family was separated and questioned. We were finally released after a half hour or so of separate questioning. Did I learn something from this? Did my wife? Did my daughter? Did my other children? I realize HaShem arranges all of our challenges - and I yet I have questions about this one. My message is to be careful, be empathetic and like you said, speak in first person. I would also say that criticism is better received from other Jews - so in Israel when you're with "family" you're more likely to give and receive words of support and guidance and not take offense. just some thoughts...

(21) Estelle, February 3, 2010 3:48 AM


The description is not sufficient to convey that these parents were actually parentig poorly. There are times when one must slap a child. How do you know what was behind the whole incident, what the dynamics of this family were? I believe, Lori, that you are way too influenced by the American psychological syndrome. With all due respect, try Shlomo Hamelech's wisdom instead - "one who witholds the rod hates his son." Society has become overly neurotic with jumping to accuse parents of abuse. Believe me, if society was a bit stricter and more disciplined with their kids, rather than being so permissive, there'd be a lot more well adjusted kids around. Perhaps the pyschologists would be a lot less busy, but I wouldn't feel too bad about that (sorry Dr. Salomon!). Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein, the great mashgiach of the Mir Yeshiva, would teach his kids about the realities of Gehinnom in order to instill in his kids Fear of Heaven,which is essential to blocking one from sin. Today, if he did that, he might be accused of child abuse!

(20) Yocheved, February 3, 2010 12:59 AM

We NEVER hit a child

No matter what the situation, children must never be hit - no matter what he/she does (even if it is potentially dangerous), weather we are angry or we composed ourselves first. There are a number of excellent reasons, some of which are that this teaches a child that it is right to hit; and that this can damage the parent/child or teacher/child relationship. What must be done, then, is to 1)curb the misbehavior and 2)teach the child the right way, while planting proper values (The two must not be confused). For more information, read the parenting book by Rabbi Lawrence Keleman, called "To Kindle a Soul". You can buy it on his website - It is an excellent book. I highly recommend it to all parents and teachers.

(19) Shatron, February 2, 2010 9:26 PM

situation not clear

It's not clear to me that the child was not simply acting manipulatively. If she were a battered child, she wouldn't dare scream the whole trip. So maybe she's even a little older than you thought and she knows that parents are not supposed to slap kids and she used that to embarrass them. Something in the story doesn't figure.

(18) chaya, February 2, 2010 9:01 PM

i agree with meir, comment #8

my sister in law was at the park with both of her VERY active children who dont always listen to her. they started running off to the street, after she had tried using her WORDS, nothing helped but giving them a lttle slap on the hand. a woman saw this, started yelling at her and wanted to report her. i know my nephews pretty well and i know my sister in law, she is not even close to an abusive mother. she is a great mom and if she didnt potch them from time to time that would be a lack of parenting because they will never learn other wise. i think the woman that wanted to report her is very naive with all due respect. she made my sister in law feel very a shamed in front of all the other woman in the park. so unless you know of proper abuse chas veshalom and not educational abuse dont get involved. i have two kids of my own i once slapped my eldest on the hand and he hit back so i made it my OWN rule not to potch him again because it wasnt educational for him. so for now the good old time out is what works for him.

(17) meir, February 2, 2010 7:29 PM

to #9 and #10

I don't know what other word should be used then the word in the mishna for "hit" The word that is used in the mishna is a standard word for hit and there is nothing extraordinary about it. To #10 there are of course degrees to hitting and a physial abuse is obviously not at alI what I am talking about and I agree that hitting out of anger is also not good. But not every child that got a few slaps are messed up and of course it is better to try other means first but if a parent decides to give a childa potch for the right reasons I don't think the parent needs to be locked away and that everyone should be worried about their parenting skills and that Lori should go crazy with worry about this child's future.

(16) Anonymous, February 2, 2010 7:05 PM

do not get involved

Lori, I think that you generally should not get involved because like you said, people who are not ready cannot hear you. Most likely the mother would have gotten defensive especially because you really did not know the whole story of what was going on. Whether it is someone you know well or a stranger on the street, you cannot change them; you can only change yourself. I agree with you, though, that it is very upsetting to witness.

(15) Aray, February 2, 2010 2:15 PM

Do not lie

If you really didn't have a child that acted in this manner you can't say I had a child like such. I was at the bank when a little boy was acting up and I helped the parent by offering the child something to distracted him and it worked. The father thanked me and was able to save face,

(14) Rachel, February 2, 2010 12:51 PM

Proceeed with caution

1. Sometimes kids say things that are crazy. My niece once shielded her head and yelled in the middle of a parking lot "mommy, don't hit me", she never gets slapped/or hit in that manner. 2. Getting social services involved, and potentially breaking up a family often only makes it worse for the kids. Finding a way for the parents to learn better parenting is THE best way, even if they are never perfect.

(13) Anonymous, February 2, 2010 9:23 AM

Be Careful

I made it a policy that I would only potch my children for going into the street or touching medicine - situations of real danger. My oldest is 3 1/2, I have only had to do it 3 or 4 times. I explain the consequences and wait till I am calm to administer 1 smack, hard enough to be felt, but not to be sore afterwards. After the first time I did this, my daughter spent about 3 weeks saying "I don't want a potch!" with a terrified look every time I even said her name sharply. Yes, I explained to her many many times that I wasn't going to potch her for something minor, and that if she would not run into the street or touch medicine, I wouldn't potch her again. So you really have no idea what actually happened with this girl. I agree with #8 - if her parents were able to keep their cool the whole plane ride, I doubt they are the type to smack a lot. A 5 year old is definitely old enough to know how to manipulate her parents, and the public. Think about it - if you, or the best parents in the world, had a kid who was screaming the whole plane ride, when it was finally time to get off, you would probably be frustrated and want to get her off as soon as possible. You would probably make some comment to that effect... if your child responded by saying "don't hit me!" what would you do? I would be totally embarrassed that people think I am a 'hitter', and scared that someone would report me. If you stand up & announce to the whole plane "she's making it up, I don't do that on a regular basis" everyone will REALLY think you are guilty. The only option I see is to tell the child "I'm not gonna hit you, turn around and walk straight!" and leave as soon as possible. Which is what the parents did. What could you, or a parenting guru, have done differently?

(12) Anonymous, February 2, 2010 9:14 AM

I made it a policy that I would only potch my children for going into the street or touching medicine - situations of real danger. My oldest is 3 1/2, I have only had to do it 3 or 4 times. I explain the consequences, and wait till I am calm to administer 1 smack, hard enough to be felt, but not to be sore afterwards. After the first time I did this, my daughter spent about 3 weeks saying "I don't want a potch!" with a terrified look every time I even said her name sharply. Yes, I explained to her many many times that I wasn't going to potch her for something minor, and that if she would not run into the street or touch medicine, I wouldn't potch her again. So you really have no idea what actually happened with this girl. I agree with #8 - if her parents were able to keep their cool the whole plane ride, I doubt they are the type to smack a lot. A 5 year old is definitely old enough to know how to manipulate her parents, and the public. Think about it - if you, or the best parents in the world, had a kid who was screaming the whole plane ride, when it was finally time to get off, you would probably be frustrated and want to get her off as soon as possible. You would probably make some comment to that effect... if your child responded by saying "don't hit me!" what would you do? I would be totally embarrassed that people think I am a 'hitter', and scared that someone would report me. If you stand up & announce to the whole plane "she's making it up, I don't do that on a regular basis" everyone will REALLY think you are guilty. The only option I see is to tell the child "I'm not gonna hit you, turn around and walk straight!" and leave as soon as possible. Which is what the parents did. What could you, or a parenting guru, have done differently? Now sometimes, you DO see instances of real hitting and/or threatened abuse in public - the response then is a very good question. But I just don't think that the situation Lori described merits condemnation of the parents.

(11) Anonymous, February 2, 2010 2:20 AM

Think before getting help

I am a parent, and someone once called the police on my husband and I for 'neglecting our children'. I can say that the way the police screamed at us was horrible for us and for our children to see. It was on yom tov and they totally traumatized us. We may have made a mistake but it was taken way out of proportion. Basically, we had just moved to America from Eretz Israel and we weren't used to the different culture in America. We were used to living in a small safe religious environment where parents let their young children go shopping alone, take the city bus a lone, play in the park alone . . . So when we left our kids sleeping in a hotel room and would go in and out to check on them every 15 minutes or so, someone noticed and called the police and the police go so mad. They said our kids could have died or gotten kidnapped. They even threatened to take away our children from us. So remember what you are doing to these parents if you call the police on them, weigh the pros and cons to see if it's really worth it.

(10) Anonymous, February 2, 2010 12:08 AM

Lori is completely right

hiting children is not only physical abuse it is even more so emotional abuse. You can see in everyday life children who have beem slapped and the like might be well behaved but theyre really messed up deep down. One might not be able to blatantly see it as some can function normally, but it makes its mark deep inside. They dont really know any better, so they just live life normally. On the other hand you can see children where they were admonished by humane speaking and non-abusive methods and grew up to be exceptional people and parents. Kids who were punished by physical force will most probably do the same to their children. And just becuase parents use non physical punishment methods does not mean they have well behaved kids. Some of the best parents that use non physical methods have kids that are "hard" un-cooperative kids, and the parents still dont hit. Whats more if these kids are physically admonished then they will become totally messed up and extremely difficult. The way to bring up children is to be loving and when needed to get one's point across and to admonish in a humane speaking manner. It will make its mark for the best. Lori is completely right! Kol hakavod to her.

(9) Leah, February 1, 2010 4:24 PM

Comment for Meir #8 on the comments section, I was asking my rabbi something regarding this type of issue and he said that when we look at the laws on disciplining a child the word used is "strike". It's an odd word, no? The word is ambiguous. He said that in the old days it meant to hit. Now days it means to give words- to strike the child. In this day and age one cannot discipline a child in public for fear that the child will turn the parents in to the ploice. On the other hand we do have a major breakdown of proper parenting in this country and abroad. Most parents, I think, release anger and frustration in the hit on their kids and not proper discipline. In this case, even without knowing all of the nuances, I side with Lori.

(8) Meir, February 1, 2010 6:01 AM


Wow! it is amazing what the word slap can do? All of a sudden the girl is an abused child!! The parents seemed to be calm the entire plane ride they seemed to be able to control themselves and all of a sudden eveythig is topsy turvy! Just a couple of generatons ago it was the norm to hit your child and I think everyone would agree that they were raised alot better than this generation. Who knows if the kid has really eve been slapped and who knows how hard, maybe she was just given a potch or two. Perhaps Lori has not experienced having crazy , difficult children and a lucky to have relativley well behaved children who listened for the most part. I don't know but I think it was very naive, way to judgmental and too early to tell if the parents were parening incorrectly? unfortunatly our society has made it seem that everything can be handled with words and it is a sin tantamount to idol worship to hit. Even the Mishna says a rebbe can hit a student and a parent can hit a child(second perek of makkos check Rashi and the mefarshim). I remmember reading that Chazal say hitting opens the heart. I think Lori was way off the mark here and jumped too conclusions without knowing the entire story and I think if she did meet the family she would have been gravely mistaken and she was saved from alot of embarassement.

(7) , February 1, 2010 1:34 AM

Last week I let my child stay by her grandma for the night. When i came to pick her up she threw a fit that she wants to stay. Well she needed to go home. After trying to talk her into it and trying to calm her down I picked her up and carried her while she was kicking and screaming. On my way there were people standing around who were looking at me as if i am killing her. "What are u doing with your kid.. one said," Let me tell you I wanted to give my kid to them and say, "Here, you should try". We judge people by what their kids do and how they act and let me tell you it is wrong. I give my children lot of love and care and at that moment I was judged as a bad parent. It is wrong. Just because our precious psychologists have decided that we should not spank our children, our kids have lost all respect for us. Im not saying that you should hit children, but please, when your kid is throwing a fit, sometimes you should

(6) Rachel, January 31, 2010 9:58 PM

I say it's still better for the child to be with a parent & not with foster parent, I am not at all surprised that there are kids being slapped around today, unfortunately a lot of parents who need parenting lessons are totally ignorant.

(5) Anonymous, January 31, 2010 6:19 PM

That's Life

You only saw a sliver of what happened. Truth is this couple and the child sound exactly like my brother, sil, and niece. Their child is far and away the most spoiled and difficult child you've ever seen and yet the mother smacks her kid way more than I feel is appropriate and certainly not in a calm manner. You'd wonder how this is possible to raise a spoiled kid when they should just be terrified. My niece is smart enough to make a scene whenever they are in public or just carrying on in their apartment so the neighbors start threatening to call the police (and yes they can figure this out at a very young age). I have tried so many times to talk to both my brother and sil and it's hopeless. If I who have an excellent relationship with them can't do anything, what makes you think you as a stranger can do anything. Unless someone wants help they cannot be helped and many were raised in a similar manner at home or the parents undermine each other (my brother won't discipline at all while his wife does it too much). It's sad but I have given up and tell myself this is life. Unless you see outright abuse there's nothing you can do.

(4) Rut Ashirah, January 31, 2010 6:06 PM

Prayer last resort

As a slightly older parent (children ranging in age by 18 years) I often see parents loose their cool with children. Sometimes I wonder how a child is supposed to decode a mixed message. If I am able to do nothing for the child, I try to aleviate the parent's anxiety, by lending a "helping hand", and try open an opportunity that way - not always possible. But if all else fails, I will remember that child in prayer for days, even months, often when lighting Shabbat candles, "reminding" H'S baruch Hu that the child and parent needs His help, after all, He is the Partner in that child's conception, and thefore has to be Partner in raising him or her too!

(3) Anonymous, January 31, 2010 4:25 PM

Other Side of the Story

I am in no way defending the parents on the plane for parenting the way they did but sometimes it pays to look deeper. I have a younger brother with special needs. Baruch Hashem he is on par minus his behavior problems. When people see him around they assume nothing is wrong with him. I can't begin to tell you how many comments I have gotten. "Don't you think your being harsh?" "Oh my, so heart breaking." or just the stares we get. I am NOT saying that hitting a child is the answer. I don't think any parenting expert will say that. But if a parent is being harsh (again, not hitting) perhaps the child has a behavior issue or is just a diffucult child. Sometimes it pays to look a bit deeper.

(2) SusanE, January 31, 2010 3:43 PM

An Entire Planeload of Passengers Can't be Too Wrong.

Hi Lori, I've been in that situation probably 150 times in public places. After 50 years of noticing I can tell you that It's ALWAYS the parents fault. A hyper child or a sick child or a tired child. I've seen stupid parents feed their kid a can of Coke then expect them to sit still for an hour. Sugar and caffeine filled kids on a plane or in a restaurant or at a movie? Duh! Whose responsibility is it to see to the childs needs first? The parents. On the airplane, Lori, if you didn't like the way the parents were handling their child, you could have asked the attendant for assistance in behalf of the child. That would be the proper first step. I truly doubt that the child would have benefited from your interfering. Especially after hunting them down in the airport. It probably would have gone badly for the kid. ~ ~ In the plane, It could be that the kids ears were reacting to pressure and maybe thats what the mother didn't believe when the little girl was screaming "You don't Believe Me". It is excruciating pain. It happens to children and babies all the time in poorly pressrized cabins. Attendants are trained to deal with most child problems while in the air. ~ ~ If no other passengers in the entire plane offered to help, the ones sitting closest to the family might have known more about the situation than you diid. There might have been a resson they didn't offer to help. I think you NEVER want to creat a confrontational situation while on any airplane. There was a reason you didn't get up to help while on the plane. Your instinct was telling you something. I've learned that I shouldn't offer help if I can't follow through.. If we see abuse happening in any public place and interfer, we have to see it to its conclusion. A child is slapped for whining, and the adult tells you to mind your own business and slaps the kid again for crying, then what? Child Protective services? Are we willing to take it that far?

(1) Aviva, January 31, 2010 2:01 PM

"Side" With the Parent

I'd heard that it can be very effective to help diffuse the situation if you "side" with the parent when you first approach them. Not so different from what Mrs. Palatnik is saying when she suggests an opening line of "I used to have a child like that...." The goal is to get the parent to calm down and stop attacking their child. You can accomplish that by letting them think they are being understood and sympathized with.


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