Would you dob on your own child?

How far would you go to teach your child a lesson?

The recent riots in the UK led to the revelation that a mother, on seeing her daughter on CCTV footage involved in some of the rioting and looting, marched her daughter down to the local police station to be dealt with by the law. There is no doubt this girl needed to be taught a lesson and needed to be made accountable for her actions. The destruction was opportunistic and showed a complete lack of respect for others and the businesses they had worked hard to build, some of which were family owned, past on from generations. Do we applaud this woman who obviously felt that this was the only option she felt available to her at the time? Maybe for her this was a last resort and a cry for help for a daughter she could no longer control. Or do we wonder what had gone on previously in that child’s upbringing that had led this child to believe that this was a satisfactory way for her to spend her day?

I thought about this with regard to my own children, and asked myself (and my husband) if we would ever go to those lengths to teach our children a lesson. To clarify here, I am fairly confident my children would not participate in such practises as these, and this is an example in the extreme, but just how far would we go if our child stepped out of line and we felt we needed to hand over the reins to another authority?

Obviously with each different situation comes different circumstances and consequences. There is certainly the fear of a police record ruining future prospects when you are talking about handing in to the police. But this may be a much easier burden to bear if a child is heading down a destructive path where the consequences could be far worse.

But what about other situations?

Would you let a teacher know if you found the answers to an exam written on your child’s arm later that night?

Do you make them return a lolly that invariably turned up in their pocket after a visit to the supermarket? Obviously if you were still in the vicinity of the shop I’m sure you would, but if it was later that night and the freddo frog had already been devoured?

Would you say anything to the parent of a bullied child if you discovered it was your child  involved in the name calling or bullying or would you try and deal with your child behind closed doors?

Would you deal with these instances yourself, confident that you have the ability to make them see the error of their ways?

Our children are not born perfect and not born knowing all the rules. Sometimes these mishaps help to provide us with a teachable opportunity to learn right from wrong.

But are there times when somebody else needs to be the ones to pull our children into line?

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Maria Tedeschi (Mum's Word)

    I do applaud this woman for taking her daughter down to the police station. Because her daughter broke the law. And in the society we live in, we break the law, the police and courts step in.

    If it was my daughter involved in the rioting I’d like to think that I would still do it. Especially with CCTV footage it might be a bit naive to think that no-one else would recognise her.

    Yes I take my child back to the shop if they stole a lolly.

    If my child stole money from my wallet then I, obviously, will deal with that myself because it happened in my home.

    If a child is being bullied or being the bully I would let the school know if it was happening there. Or I would let the sports coach know if it was happening at sports.

    That’s not to say that I wouldn’t be doing what I can at home, but I give the teachers and coaches enough respect to say that they are in charge and should be the one’s who hand out the course of action.

    And well done for posting so soon after having a baby.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

    1. Martine

      Thanks Maria, and i think you raise a good point about respecting the teachers etc enough to allow them to hand out the punishments. Whilst we like to think we know our children well and what they are capable of, it does seem to be a common complaint from teachers that too often parents refuse to see that their children may be capable of wrongdoing.

  2. Trish

    Very difficult questions a 12 almost 13yrold – W in my extended family stole money (over $150 from her (foster) father’s wallet – she showed her school friend G1, G1 texted her mum, who texted the mum (also foster though blood related mum). That foster mum phoned the school immediately.
    The child W was taken to office and they ‘backed her into a corner’ at the foster mums insistence till she handed over the money less $15 already spent – she ran away from home that afternoon.

    They knew she’d run away because W gives goodbye letter to another Girl2 & goodbye letter for her [foster] mum/dad. G2 later after school tells her own mother -maybe W had run away, they open letter. Girl2’s mother couldn’t find foster mums mobile/work number so she called police to report her missing – while foster mum was on way home from work on train.
    Police call her. End result the foster mum was TOLD OFF sternly by the police for not dealing with W’s THEFT at home instead of through school. Blaming them for causing almost 13yr old to run away.
    W had taken money before they chose not to wait …police said she did wrong thing to call school [to get money back before it was spent.]

    1. Martine

      Wow, that was a tricky situation and unfortunately it seems there aren’t always easy solutions. In some cases it would seem that children need the weight of the law rather than the parents in order to learn a lesson…and most times i would have thought the police would be happy to help out early on to ensure some of the problems dont escalate.

  3. Sif

    I would, and have dobbed in my child. I was really tough on everyone in the family, but we really did feel it was a necessary preventative for the future. The backstory is that our son had a history of stealing, from us, from shops, and from friends places. It started when he was very young and didn’t know better. We tried all sorts of things, explaining to him that it was wrong, and how it affected other people – including people who seemed to have a lot. We were patient, we also took him to the shops to get the manager to explain how it was wrong. We even had him assessed by specialists – who said it was anxiety related. It went on for years? When he was 11 he stole a lego man from a friends house after a birthday party. We considered just dropping the figure into the child’s letter box but decided our son needed to face the music. He was quite distraught which broke our hearts but this was his best friend, the last person he should want to steal from. My Dh walked around to his friends house and the friend’s mother answered the door. Our son admitted he had stolen, handed back the figurine and apologised. He was never invited back to that friend’s house. The family has always been polite to us, but they didn’t encourage a friendship between the boys after tht day. It was a hard lesson for our son, but we feel it made an important impression about maintaining trust in relationships.

    1. Martine

      What a heartbreaking situation that was for you and you certainly should be commended for handling it so well. Whilst we often know the right way to handle situations in order to get the best results for our kids, it is very often easier said than done, particularly when we know it will cause our children pain.

  4. Grady Pruitt

    This is a great, thought provoking post!

    Whether I would tell or not would probably depend on the circumstances and past history to some extent. The important thing is regardless of whether any punishment is dealt in house or through other people is that the child learns that there are consequences to the actions.

    I don’t think I would involve a party that wasn’t already involved in some way. For example, I don’t think I would have contacted the school in the situation that Trish presents. That did seem a little harsh. At the same time, I do understand the parent’s desire to get the money back as soon as possible. I think it could have been handled a better way.

    I have not had to deal with any of these situations, and I hope that I never have to. Still, it is important to think about what you would do if the situation presented itself so that you don’t overreact and do more harm by trying to bring correction in the wrong way.

    Thanks for the post, Marline!

    1. Martine

      Thanks Grady. And a good point about being prepared to avoid overreacting.

  5. Marie

    I think the mother should have spoken to her daughter about it without judgement but a listening ear. She should have listened to her and maybe by talking and listening the girl may have come to her own conclusion that what she had done was wrong and may have even handed herself in. I do not think it was the right thing to do to hand her daughter over…by doing so she assumed several things about her and didn’t try to understand. Humans are more than their behaviours – there is thoughts and feelings behind it too.

  6. Erik

    Tough situation. Obviously its better to handle things within the family – especially as a parent, but in some extreme cases (like you say) you have to take another step and bring in the authorities. Obviously as a parent we don’t want to do that, but if we didn’t, what sort of parent would that make us?

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