While plenty of people praise the joys of parenthood, raising a family isn’t for everyone. To be frank, parents are just kids having kids, but when there’s no structure in place, the aftermath may lead to children with unhealthy traits that make everyone genuinely horrified for what the future may hold. These witnesses recall moments when they saw inappropriate exhibitions of parenting in public and how they responded.
All content has been edited for clarity.
International House of Horror
“A couple of years ago I stopped at IHOP for dinner. Normally I don’t eat at IHOP but it was close to a store I had been doing some shopping.
As I waited for my meal, I noticed a table that had a few adults and about six children all aged between two and eight. The adults were just as rowdy as the kids that were bouncing around out of their seats.
One of the adults was drinking directly out of the Cholula hot sauce bottle on the table. As he was chugging it, he was being egged on by two other adults in the group. When my server came back, I told her what I saw and she immediately removed the bottle from their table.
Then out of nowhere, one of the women in the group started hollering. She frantically looked around before abruptly standing up. That’s when I realized there was an empty chair at their table. She looked out the window and ran outside. I saw her grab one of the children that had escaped from the table, a little girl, and haul her back inside the restaurant. When the server returned, all the adults at the table began to berate her for ‘not watching their child.’
I could not believe my eyes!”
Might Wanna Get Checked
“I was in Safeway shopping one day and there was this kid all over the place.
He was throwing fruit everywhere, kicking other customers, and being a complete nuisance. His mother? She was idly strolling the aisles with her cart, chatting away on her phone, just completely ignoring her child’s unacceptable behavior. I rolled my eyes and started picking out apples for an apple pie my grandma was making that day.
All of a sudden, I heard someone scream, ‘OW!’ I looked over and the boy had bitten a random dude’s leg. The boy bit him so hard that he broke the skin and blood was oozing down his leg.
I didn’t want to leave the aisle just so I could see what would happen next. The man yelled, ‘Why in the world would you do that!?’
Quickly the boy’s mother came over and angrily said, ‘Excuse me, don’t you yell at my son like that!’
What the guy said next initiated an awkward silence throughout the store.
The man looks her dead in the face and says, ‘Ma’am get your son checked as soon as you can! I’m highly contagious!’
Everyone in the store fell completely silent. The man who got bitten waddled over to the cash register with a huge grin on his face. As soon as he left the store the mom started sobbing.
I’m not sure if he really was sick, but his comeback was super savage.”
“Don’t Tell My Kid What To Do”
“I corrected another person’s child in public and will gladly do it again.
I was shopping at TJ Maxx and wandered over to the shoe aisle. There was a young woman walking through the aisles with her young daughter. As the mother browsed the shoes on the racks, the daughter trailed behind her, casually hurling shoes off the rack and onto the floor.
Without hesitation, I looked at the kid and said, ‘Don’t do that. They’re not your toys.’
The mother whipped her head around and told me, ‘Don’t tell my daughter what to do.’
I replied, “This is a store, not a kiddie playroom. Everything she throws on the floor has to be put back by a salesperson because you’re obviously not going to do it. I don’t want to have to deal with your kid when you should be.”
Without another word, she grabbed her daughter and walked away.”
“When my youngest child was about three years old, we planned a day at the local McDonald’s playground. She was having an absolute blast!
Soon after, a young mom came in with a boy who seemed to be about five or six. I watched as she tried to get him to eat his burger and fries.
The boy screamed, ‘no,’ before running off to play. Immediately, he was bullying other kids and being a real brat.
Occasionally, his mother would call out to him. ‘Honey, don’t do that! Be nice.’ Her efforts weren’t very urgent. She sat there, unmoving, doing absolutely nothing to correct her son’s behavior. Eventually, the boy ran over to her. I thought he was finally behaving for once. I even relaxed a little. But as the boy reapproached his mother, I realized how much of a gremlin he truly was.
Without warning, the boy ran over and hit his mother extremely hard and demanded his drink. My husband couldn’t help himself. He stood up with every intent to get to the boy but reluctantly sat back down. I had to cover my mouth to stifle my outrage.
The mother took no action to correct or stop him.
When it was time for them to leave, he yelled and screamed, refusing to go with her. The mother resorted to picking up his screaming, flailing body to finally leave the playground.
I still wonder if she was mentally sound that day.
Even my daughter, who had her share of tantrums in the past, was just as appalled by the boy’s actions. Funny enough, she never acted out like that again.”
“These Are My Kids, Not Yours!”
“I work as a cashier at a grocery store. I’ve seen a lot of crummy parents, but this one takes the cake.
One day I was ringing up a young mother. She looked like she could have been about twenty-five, and she had three children. The youngest one was in a baby carrier, her second one looked about as young as six or seven years old, and her third child was a girl that looked like she was ten years old or so. The second child was browsing the candy in line while the oldest was happily chewing on an apple.
I was almost done ringing up the items when I looked over to the girl eating the apple and said jokingly, ‘Uh-oh! Looks like you’ll have to pay for that apple, young lady!’ She giggled and said, ‘Nuh-uh. This one is free for kids.’
I then said, ‘No, you owe me a thousand dollars for that apple. Tell your mom she has to give it to me.’ Keep in mind that I was literally goofing around and even the little girl knew I wasn’t actually serious.
However, as I got to the last few items left on the conveyor belt, the mother gave me the evil eye. I began to place more items in bags before she angrily says, ‘You know it’s not right to lie to kids, right?’
I sincerely thought she was joking at first so I said, ‘Where’s my thousand dollars, ma’am?’
It was at this moment I wished I hadn’t opened my mouth.
The woman snatched the apple from her daughter who had already bitten several chunks out of it and threw it on the scale at the register.
‘Go ahead! Weight it then!’ The woman shouted at me.
It was far too late to see her inability to process the joke.
‘No, no, ma’am. It’s a free apple,’ I stammered. ‘I don’t have to weigh it. In fact, let me grab another for you. This one may be a bit dirty, now.’
The woman continues to yell profusely. ‘THIS IS HORRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE. HOW DARE YOU TRY TO PARENT MY KIDS IN MY FACE. THESE ARE MY KIDS, NOT YOURS.’
‘I’m sorry,’ my voice had been reduced to just above a whisper.
She then faces her daughter that had been going along with my joke. ‘You know what? Since you find her so funny, go live with her. Is that your mom, now?’
The poor little girl was EXTREMELY confused. You could see it on her face. Her yelling frightened the baby in the carrier. When he started crying the mother then said, in the nastiest tone, ‘You want him, too?! You’re clearly better at parenting than I am. Go get my daughter another apple, now!’
I went back to get another apple as she requested, and lo and behold, she and her children had disappeared, along with her groceries. The store wasn’t updated at the time, so there was no system to alert anyone that she hadn’t paid for the groceries.
So not only was she setting a terrible example for her children, but she also stole an entire cart of food.
She was the worst customer I ever had, hands down.”
“I was sitting at the kitchen table as movers were busy packing this family’s home I was buying furniture from. This middle school-aged boy came in and walked right past us without saying a single word. Not even a ‘hello’ to his mom. He completely ignored me and head straight for what I assumed was his room upstairs and not even a few seconds later, he comes stomping down the stairs in a huff.
What happened next still makes my blood boil.
‘Where’s my computer!?’ The boy shouted at his mother in a tone dripping with scorn. ‘I TOLD YOU not to let them pack it. You are SO STUPID!’ Without waiting for a reply he stomps off back upstairs.
I was absolutely floored. The mother looked at me sheepishly and shrugged her shoulders. She was clearly embarrassed. ‘Kids,’ she says calmly. ‘What are you gonna do?’
I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. I thought to myself, my kids would never disrespect me like that. If I had ever even thought of speaking to my parents in such a way, I would not live to tell the tale.
I later learned that the father was a monster who the wife ended up divorcing. I sincerely hope that kid doesn’t turn out just like him, but he definitely wasn’t on the right track.”
“He Was An Absolute Nightmare”
“I think it’s quite ridiculous when parents have no control of their kids, honestly. I had a friend who didn’t know how to discipline her child. We lived together at the time. I have a well-behaved daughter who was seven at the time. My roommate’s little boy, on the other hand, was an absolute nightmare. He was only 5, yet he would cuss, push, hit throw things and scream at the highest pitch imaginable if he didn’t get what he wanted. My roommate called her parenting style “free-spirited”. To me, it just seemed like laziness.
She had no alternative disciplinary actions. She did not offer a lick of guidance. I firmly believe that children need some form of discipline so they can comprehend what is right and what is wrong. I’m not saying you need to hit your children to discipline them. There are plenty of ways to discipline them without aggressive approaches.
However, this little boy ended up choking my daughter, yelling and spitting on her. When my spouse at the time tried to pull the boy away, my roommate accused him of abusing her son. It was absurd. Her unruly son was going to seriously harm my daughter had he not been separated from her.
Unfortunately, I ended up kicking her out. Her son was just too much to handle. Not putting your foot down as a parent creates entitled, spoiled little brats who think they can’t and won’t have consequences in the future.”
“Stop Hassling Our Kid!”
“This happened to my brother who always enrolled his kids in the most exclusive schools in Houston. His kid’s classmates and their parents were invited to a big crawfish boil my brother throws every spring.
One of the kids started jumping up and down on the sacks of crawfish. My brother’s friend that was helping with the boil immediately scolded him by saying, ‘Hey! Get off there! Stop jumping on the crawfish!’
So the kid ran off and told his parents, who then approached my brother. What they said next perfectly captured the child’s chaotic behavior.
‘Your help is hassling our kid!’ The boy’s father shouted.
My brother was perplexed. He said, ‘My help? I don’t have any ‘help’, but if my friend told the kid to stop then he obviously shouldn’t have been doing it’.
To my brother’s surprise, after his guests gathered among themselves to discuss their next course of action, they left! All the classmates, and all their parents lit out in a flash.
It didn’t hurt my brother’s feelings at all. The crawfish certainly wouldn’t go to waste. Their departure meant more for us! Together, we chipped in with pulling heads and he put the excess in the freezer for etouffee.
Clearly, the parents were great at teaching spoiled behavior!”
“While at the optometrist, a mother and her five-year-old son checked in. The little boy started crying belligerently.
‘No, no, no,’ The boy kept repeating. His mother and the front-desk receptionist tried to reassure him that the doctor would not be giving him shots. They went into the room to complete an autorefractor pretest. The boy’s wailing and protesting intensified. The door was left open, which unfortunately meant I and everyone else in the waiting area could see and hear everything.
The mother tried to demonstrate how easy the refractor was and then placed the machine back down. The little boy ran behind her and started hitting her on the back, screaming wildly as he did it. These hits weren’t little whacks, but full forced punches that collided with his mother’s back.
To my surprise, the woman did nothing about this. She then tells her son, ‘If you do this, mommy will take you to the toy store to buy a new toy.’
A short while after, the doctor had come out to view the insanity. He looked dead at me and said, ‘If that were my kid, he’d be getting the spanking of a lifetime.’
I’m not a big believer in corporal punishment, but at that moment, I was all for it.
Next thing we know, the little boy ran out of the office outside into the busy parking lot. The mother went after him but definitely did not rush to do so. Instead of quickly grabbing him and hauling him out of the parking lot, she continues to try and reason with him. Cars were honking, traffic was building up, and she still didn’t grab the kid. Finally, the boy came over to the sidewalk, but he was still yelling ‘ No!’ The two of them ended up taking off without coming back in.
I get kids being terrified of doctors, but for a parent to do nothing to assuage a kid’s fears and allow that child to physically beat her AND put his own life in danger because she believes in coddling said, child?
Get Up And Be A Parent Already!
“While on vacation on a Greek island, we were enjoying a glass of Moscato and watching the sunset, while our child and our friend’s children were playing nearby.
Suddenly, my daughter came over and said, ‘Daddy, there’s a boy throwing stones at us.’
Now the mother and father were sitting right next to the area the children were playing. They saw their child doing this, but did nothing. I told my daughter to carry on playing, thinking the parents would intervene the next time it happened.
This time I kept an eye on the children playing, and sure enough, the boy blatantly continued to throw stones at them while the parents just sat there. So I went over and asked them if they could please stop their child from throwing stones.
The father told me ‘ok,’ and was smiling as he said it. I explained to him in a stern tone it was no laughing matter and very dangerous, and he had better stop it or I would. I returned to my spot and continued to watch my daughter and the others play. Amazingly, the boy continued to throw stones at them. My patience had run out. I went over to the little boy, grabbed him by the wrist, and shook the stones out of his hands in front of his parents. ‘Astounding’ wouldn’t even begin to describe their response.
They remained indifferent to me handling their child. I found myself escorting them from the park. Before they left, I told them their family would not stop other families from enjoying the park.”
“I Want an Ice Cream Cone, Now!”
“I’ve had a couple very spoiled, rude, and demanding children come up to the counter of the restaurant I work. This one particular boy was obnoxious and whining demands that sounded like, ‘I want an ice cream, now!’ or he would shout, ‘no,’ in a tone that was extremely condescending, as if his grandfather that was with him was an idiot.
‘I said I wanted an ICE CREAM CONE!’ The boy then shouted at me.
I stood there silently waiting for the grandfather to address this. When he didn’t, I looked at the boy and other kids with a genuinely shocked look on my face and said, ‘wow, if my son talked to me like that, he wouldn’t get anything at all!’
I paused a moment to let the kid process it, then I added, ‘You know, you’re very lucky, to be able to spend time with your Papaw. My Papaw isn’t here anymore. He passed away. I’d give anything to be able to go out for ice cream with him again.’
I absolutely cannot stand to see a child act disrespectfully, especially toward an elder. I can’t help but speak up. I try to do it in a way that makes them realize what they’re doing, and influence them to take a moment think about their behavior, and how awful it looks. Perhaps it won’t change anything. But then again, the kid shut right up”
The Element of Surprise
“We went Christmas shopping two days ago. My five-year-old sister begged me to get her a Moana doll. We took it off the shelf and patiently waited in line. Off to the side, there was a young boy that looked to be the same age as my daughter, throwing a tantrum near a child-sized drivable electric car.
The price was an absolute rip-off. It mostly served as a storefront decoration.
The child convulsed. He had the typical shakes and screams young kids normally do when acting out. He was possessed by the Spirit of Christmas.
‘I wa-a-a-ant the car!’ He kept screaming.
Secondhand embarrassment rang throughout the store. The poor mother ineffectively tried pinching her son not so discretely but this only made him scream louder.
He started doing a tantrum blender shake again, demanding the overpriced toy car. He jumped, screamed, and bounced around. At one point, I just about had enough. I decided to step in and stop his whining.
‘Hey!’ I knitted my eyebrows together and crossed my arms.
The boy immediately stopped crying and looked at me. His mother and two other customers near her also watched me interact with him.
‘Are you……dancing?!’ I said with an ‘angry’ voice, before quickly changing my facial expression into the goofiest cross-eyed look that I could muster.
My sister started laughing very loudly almost simultaneously with the child. Only after the child started laughing, did the mother let out a chuckle of relief.
The other two customers also laughed. Everything went smoothly afterward as the child settled for the toys his mother already had in their cart.
So the lesson here, is that to end a tantrum, surprise the child twice. One to get them out of their current state of emotions, and another to give them a new emotion to focus on. Compare it to taking a child’s lollipop and giving them grapes. Both are sweet, but only one is healthy.
Surprise, and then distract.“
“I’m A Good Person!”
“About 10 years ago, I was babysitting my nephew. He was six or seven at the time. I took him, and my son who was one at the time on a walk to the playground a few blocks from my apartment.
There we encountered a girl who was around the same age as my nephew. For whatever reason, she began throwing sand at my son and nephew. Now there were a bunch of people at the park, and I knew at least one adult was supposed to be looking after her. However, no one else appeared to care, even though they saw what was happening.
My nephew asked her to stop. I did too, trying the nice route first. It was all in vain. The girl collected a handful of sand and chucked it. The sand nearly hit my toddler directly in the face. My patience vanished in the blink of an eye. If no one was going to put this girl in her place, I would.
‘Stop throwing sand, right now!’ I shouted at the little girl.
She stopped, but for whatever reason went and got her sister. She looked like she could have been around twelve or 14. To my surprise, this tween proceeded to argue with with me, a full grown adult!
She ranted on and on, and told me that I wasn’t supposed to yell at a little girl that I didn’t know like that.
‘If some little heathen is throwing sand at my children’s faces, and toward my toddler’s eyes, then yes, I will yell.’ I tell the older girl in an even tone.
The then cried out, ‘I’m not a heathen! I’m a good person!’
I just looked at her, smiled sarcastically, and said,
‘Lemme tell you a secret, honey. Just because you’re a ‘good person’, doesn’t mean you can do what you want without consequences.’
Then I turned on my heel, put my son in his stroller, told my nephew to come along, and marched us out of that park and right back home.
We had chocolate cake that night.”