• Wed, Feb 27 2013

Anonymous Mom: I Owe The Parents Of The Kid Who Bit My Son An Apology

kids bitingAnonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

A few days ago, I arrived home from work to find that my son had been bitten by another child. And no, that child was not a toddler from his daycare going through a somewhat common, but frustrating, biting stage. My son is seven. The biter is eight or nine. This happened on the bus as he was coming home from school.

My first reaction was obviously concern for my son, and whether the finger on which this bite occurred was badly injured. When he showed it to me, all I could see was a scratch and no broken skin, although the finger did look a bit swollen.

My second instinct was anger. Once identifying that my child was safe, the Momma Bear in me came out, and I saw red. How dare some punk kid harm my child! Lemme at ‘em!

Along with that anger, there were also feelings of confusion and incredulity. How does a child of that age think it is OK to bite another child? Especially my son, who was nowhere near him on the bus. The biter summoned my kid over to his seat, apparently for the sole purpose of biting him. How is this possible? What were his parents teaching him?

My husband, who was working from home that day, had apparently already waded into this mess prior to my arrival home and assured me that he initially had the same angry reaction. He explained, however, that he had already called the parents to talk to them, assuming he was going to have to yell and demand retribution and generally express his extreme displeasure in this situation and in their son. But what he found on the other side of that phone line was unexpected.

He told me that the mom seemed horrified and deeply concerned about what her son had done. He said that her reaction completely threw him off of his game. He was initially prepared to rail against her son’s actions, but she pretty much beat him to the punch. She said that she would discuss this with her son and come up with a course of action to address it. She would call him back later that evening to share what they planned to do.

My husband left that conversation both surprised and relieved. At first, like me, he had also seen red, as his Daddy Bear instincts emerged. But the mom’s extreme reasonableness and understanding of the gravity of her son’s actions, along with her willingness to take action, completely disarmed and assuaged his anger.

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  • Fabel

    This is a nice story where everyone involved behaved completely reasonably.

    I mean, that’s pretty much all I have to say about it, but things like this seems so rare lately that it bears acknowledgment…

  • Amanda

    How is this not the normal reaction of parents of an offending child? If my child bit someone, my first reaction would be to be mortified, and then to call the child’s parents and apologize profusely. Then to discipline my child effectively (writing a note of apology is an excellent way to do that). Is that not the typical reaction? Are we really to the point where parents are excusing such behavior? Really? Anyway, this article is great, and I”m glad parents were able to all be adults (!!!) and work through this reasonably. I hate to think this isn’t the norm, though….

    • Kate

      Unfortunately it isn’t the norm. Often parents begin to blame, well my son wouldn’t have bitten your son if your son hadn’t done A, B, C. Well my son did A, B, C because your son did X, Y, Z. Instead of saying hey don’t bite people and the other parent saying he don’t do A, B, C.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Unfortunately, I hear stories like this all the time from my friends who are teachers or otherwise work with parents a lot. “But of course little Timmy didn’t bite Fred! I don’t care if fifty people saw it! Well, he was just stressed, cut him some slack!”

  • Allison

    This is a fantastic post!

  • Katie Calvin De Hesa

    is it more common these days to run into parents who DONT address their childs’ behaviors? yes. sad. Sad that you and the hubbs were MORE than prepared to ‘go at it’ with the parents of the other child…Sad that our society has raised up more self centered, self-entitled, non-apologizing people than the opposite. one of my sons’ has behavioral issues and we still address behaviors that are out of line. its what we are supposed to do as parents regardless of all those other things.

  • Annie

    I’m not even a parent and this made me misty-eyed.

    I see judgment against parents all the time, so much so that I really think there needs to be a call to action the way there is to the online bullying epidemic. These two sets of parents get a well-deserved golf clap from this singleton, and I hope the biter’s problems are resolved soon. I can’t imagine what kind of stress and pain would drive a kid to do that, but it sounds like he’s from a nice family that cares for him.

  • quinn

    What a great lesson!! It sounds like we are dealing with 2 sets of very reaonable and responsible parents. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Sandy

    Anger is irrational, and in anger we say or think things without reflecting. You did right, contacting the parents and not being accusing (I experienced parents shouting and attacking parents before the parents even could explain or say a single word of apology) and most importantly you choose a written apology – showing emphaty for the boy. Ill say in this story is two pairs of extraordinary parents :)

  • http://maitribathbody.com/ Maitri

    I don’t think you owe them an apology, because they weren’t aware of your reaction. If you’d gone off on them, then yes you would. Kudos to everyone for handling the situation so maturely. http://maitribathbody.com

  • Abendwind

    You reacted reasonably, in my opinion. I don’t think you should apologize for what you thought.

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