My Mommyology

Learning from Motherhood.

Always Ask The Child’s Mother First


Before I had them, I was the doting aunt that didn’t mind being around kids.

There was once a baby shower where boyfriends, husbands and kids were invited.  A cute little boy (whose mom was then an acquaintance but has now become a good friend) came running up to me.  I was seated at the dessert table, and he pointed towards the goodies behind me.  I saw he was asking for a brownie, and I automatically reached over to get one for him.  He was too cute to resist!

Somewhere in the motions of me reaching for the brownie and him reaching up towards the said dessert, I caught his mom’s gaze from afar.  I smiled and mouthed, “he’s asking for this“.  My hand hadn’t made it all the way down (and his fingers were inches away from the brownie) when she jumped up and ran to get him, saying, “No no no no…” to me.  She did it very pleasantly, but in the end the little boy realized he’d been spotted and that he wasn’t going to get his brownie treat.  He started to cry, but his (wise) mom was able to distract him quickly enough with something else.

I also caught my then-boyfriend-now husband looking at me and he reprimanded, “You should have asked first.”

What I couldn’t understand then is something I TOTALLY understand, practice and advocate now.

I find I’m constantly in that mom’s shoes:  pulling my kids away because well-meaning friends, family and relatives just hand my kids sweets, treats, and all these other things without checking with me first.  I understand everyone just wants to see them happy, but it doesn’t make my job as a parent any easier (and parenting is already hard to begin with!).  In fact every time I’m put in this position, I think of that mom friend and how irritated she must have felt towards me then.  I don’t blame her, because that’s how I feel now!  Even when the children are polite and ask nicely or wait patiently for their turn.  I have been told many times that my kids are hard to resist… but I cannot say it enough:  PLEASE ASK ME FIRST.

Borrowing this from

Borrowing this from

Moms are already the bad cop by default, and we don’t want anything else to reinforce that unless it’s absolutely necessary.  Often enough we’re the rule enforcer, the one that’s more strict, and the “un-fun” one (as my niece would say).  We have rules that you may not know about.  And we have rules that are different from your own, for reasons you may not understand.  I’m personally happy to share ours when asked though, and I would guess that other moms would too.

What if the child is allergic to something you offer, or it’s against the doctor’s orders?  Only a mother will know.  And it’s safe to assume that if the nanny also tells you so — then take heed (because in my case) she has been properly briefed.

Another thing is to ask mom IN PRIVATE.  If you dangle chocolates in front of a child’s face and say “Look what I have!  Oh but let’s ask your mom first,” it puts us moms in an awkward position.  And the poor child, it’s like such a big tease to see it and to not be able to get it!  It’s not fair to them and all the more it causes trouble.  But I’ve also found that if I’m consulted first in private, if it doesn’t go against some of our non-negotiables (like no sweets after 6pm), I will bend and compromise.  I’m happy to find a win-win-win solution, because I too like seeing my kids happy and being given special care and treatment.  But I need your cooperation too, as do most moms.

Why should we give every mother this courtesy?  Because all our parenting styles are different.  We all operate under different rules and circumstances.  This small effort is a subtle way to show mom, “I respect your style.”  Letting mom know can also help her plan a little better.  And give us moms the benefit of the doubt.  We don’t want to be mean or difficult, just because.  In the end, whatever happens to our children, be it a tummy ache, an allergic reaction or a tantrum — we have to deal with it.  We have to explain why and why not.  It’s all on us.

Something else needs to be said too.  When you ask — WAIT FOR A RESPONSE.  Some people know the “rule”, are great at asking — but they don’t bother waiting for mom to reply!  They just do what they want anyway.  Why ask then, out of posterity?!

How can you expect them NOT to want it?  It's a totally unfair test of E.Q...

How can you expect them NOT to want it? It’s a totally unfair test of E.Q.

Once I was asked if Sam could have chocolates (this was before lunch).  I said yes she can have a few but after she eats a proper meal (who doesn’t know that chocolates ruin a child’s good appetite anyway?!).  The chocolates were left in front of my poor daughter who just kept staring at them.  After a few minutes of Sam’s prodding (that I was so patiently trying to ward off), my instructions were ignored and Sam was told she could reach into the box and take a small bite.  That’s not exactly very helpful is it?!

This is for all the other moms and parents who go through the same things I do.  I am completely aware — no one purposely wants to cause trouble, or break the rules.  Everyone just wants to help or to please the child.  But I hope this helps us all realize that the best help you can give is to mom by asking first (and listening next of course).   Just respect that boundary, and things will go smoothly.  Everyone will get what they want, and we’ll all live happily ever after.

Author: mymommyology

I am the mom that I am because of my two wonderful little girls. They teach me everyday.


  1. Thank you thank you thank you for this post!!! I thought I was the only one who felt this way. Not only is this a courtesy to other moms, but it totally reinforces the whole “It takes a village to raise a child” ideology. It would be nice for our children to be surrounded by people who provide consistency when it comes to rules. Most of the time, we end up talaga the “bad cop”, when in fact we’re only trying to do what’s best for them. For me, it’s more important to raise a child well than to be a “popular” or “favored” grown up to them. Anyway thanks again. Loved this.:)

  2. you took the words right out of my mouth, Jenny! I’ve always been annoyed at people who keep expecting it is okay to feed (or give) my kids things without asking me, thinking it is the same in their family. Thank you for writing this.

  3. I’m pretty sure most moms are the “enforcers,” like how your niece refers to you as the “un-fun one.” I think that’s why my kids call me the “fun sponge,” because they say I suck the fun out everything too 🙁 *sigh* Yes, parenting is the hardest job in the world, but it makes it so much easier when we hang out with like minded parents! Thanks Jenny for this post! RIGHT ON POINT!

    • I can’t imagine you as a fun sponge Mish, but then again I’m not your child! 🙂 Thanks for reading! And I agree, surrounding ourselves with like-minded parents helps a great deal!

  4. Ask a Mom or Dad first, amirite? 🙂

  5. Amento that! Nicely spoken for all the Moms out there! I babysit my grandkids every so often and I know I dote on them a lot but the rules in their house as I have observed is strictly followed and enforced even at our own house if they are here! I had my own rules when my kids were growing up but now it is my daughter’s that needs to be enforced.

  6. Agreed! My daughter coughs terribly when she eats choc, or sweet biscuits or soda or even yogurt drinks. At home it’s easy because there are none available, but with other people it’s just plain hard. Ppl don’t know how bad her cough will be at night, or that the cough will turn to fever. I hated it when ppl give sweets to her and I said no and look at me as if I’m not courteous. I’m just looking after my kid, and am doing my best to do so.

  7. Grandparents…

    • Hahaha. I didn’t say that! 😉

      • Bernard said what I was thinking the whole time…do you believe this applies to grandparents? (It looks like they get a pass?) And I’ll take it one step farther and ask, what about family parties? So your children are surrounded by doting aunts and uncles (not to mention cousins), who only live to spoil your child? I’ve seen it break my in-laws’ hearts every time my SIL shuts them down because she doesn’t want little Johnny to have a treat after dinner (grandma loves to bake).

        • Thanks for the question! With respect to grandparents and , I honestly think it will depend on your own personal family dynamics, and how you can communicate and negotiate for a compromise that’s acceptable to all parties. But in general, one of the things I’ve learned is that we can only really control ourselves (as parents and as people). So it could just be a matter of adjusting your expectations. Those that will spoil and “ruin” routines are occasional, and you can choose to adjust your expectations towards that. Coach Pia has re-assured me many a time that children will know the difference between your rules and the “exception to the rule” — the parties the grandparents etc.

  8. Yes! Thank you for saying this because I totally agree. I hate it too when they ask me whether my kids can have this or that in a manner that makes everyone stare at me and say ‘how can you say no?’ when I disagree. Sometimes, because I am the ‘no-fun’ one, they sneak my kids somewhere and give them a treat and I will find them munching on something I don’t like.

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