Cervantes: Does it really take a village?


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Every once in a while, I find myself on the receiving end of some cliché. Whether it is “there is always a silver lining” or “this isn’t the end, just another beginning,” there is always a sense of disbelief that resonates from me. One cliché that has always bothered me is the one that states, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Now, to some people that means that the parent can rely on the help of others to give a child the best life possible. However, there are also those who seem to use this highly used phrase to justify butting in and taking discipline into their own hands.

Take, for example, an incident that occurred last week at Marcy’s Diner in Portland, Maine. Darla Neugebauer, owner of the diner, snapped at a not-quite 2-year-old girl who had been crying for roughly an hour, after the couple and the daughter had waited for 20 minutes to be seated and 40 minutes for their food, according to the mother. According to USA Today, Neugebauer stated that she “slammed [her] hands on the table and said, ‘This needs to stop.’ ” The little girl then ceased her crying.

The parents of the girl, Tara and John Carson, tell a different story. They say that their daughter had only started crying toward the final 10 minutes of their meal, and that Neugebauer’s screaming was not justified. This incident has stormed through the many outlets of social media, with debate taking place over which group (the parents or the owner) was the “correct” party.

On one hand, I understand where the owner is coming from. She is trying to run a business, and part of that responsibility is to ensure the enjoyment of one’s patrons. If there is a factor, such a child causing a disrupting scene, then it is her job to rectify the situation. If this had been a case of rowdy teenagers, I doubt people would be as concerned. Then again, teenagers know better than a toddler.

I can also see why the parents are upset. I have a great deal of “Mama Bears” in my family and know just how protective a parent can be when their child is involved. Furthermore, I doubt whether there are parents who can honestly say that they would react positively to their parenting skills being criticized.

In a unique situation as this, where the exact information seems to be lacking, one must find the common ground between both accounts and evaluate them.

Neugebauer yelled at a toddler in order to bring some semblance of peace to her diner. Did she react too strongly by yelling? Did the adults have a responsibility to handle their daughter and respect the common courtesy that goes hand in hand in a restaurant experience?

To answer both questions, yes. This is a situation in which there is no true right or wrong party. Both made mistakes, and both had their reasons. Does it take a village to raise a child? If this instance is any example, I’m sure the people in said village would get along better.

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