Dear Annie: Last weekend, my daughter, my grandchildren and I attended an exhibition at a well-known museum in Chicago.
While waiting to enter, I saw a boy around eight years old trying to comfort his toddler sister, who was crying. The mother was not present.
However, when she returned, she snatched the little girl away and slapped the boy viciously on his ear. He cried out in obvious pain and ran to a nearby wall, sobbing.
My daughter and I could not contain our shock and dismay, but we did not approach.
The woman came after the boy and he ran. My daughter followed discreetly and heard the woman berating the child.
He explained that he was trying to get his sister to stop crying, but the mother shouted that he had embarrassed her and should not have held the girl.
I am a retired psychiatric nurse. To hit a child in such a manner is child abuse. It is especially harmful to hit a child on the head or ear. Such a blow can damage the delicate structures in the ear and cause permanent injury.
Ten minutes later, we saw them again, and the little fellow was still rubbing his ear.
This mother needs counselling. I would have notified security, but there were large crowds and a lot of noise, and I doubted they would help.
Now, I feel I should have said something. At least let parents know they must not hit their children on the ear or head, or jerk them or shove them. If they are having problems with stress and child-rearing, there are social agencies that will help. — Indianapolis
Dear Indianapolis: We pray this was a one-time loss of control on the mother’s part.
No matter how badly a child is misbehaving, hitting him, especially on the head, never makes the situation better. In this instance, we would have approached the mother gently, said it was obvious her kids were a handful, and asked if she needed help.
It is a tactic that can calm the mother down and let her know others are watching. It also shows the children that adults are willing to protect them. If the mother continued to be abusive, the next step would be to call the police.
Dear Annie: Is it proper to have a baby shower for a second or third child?
Two of my cousins are having showers because this time around it’s going to be a girl instead of a boy.
I already spent plenty on the showers for the first kids and don’t feel it is right to expect people to spend any more. What’s your take? — Out of Money
Dear Out: According to Peggy Post, it is OK to give showers for subsequent children, but only if the guest list is limited to very close relatives and friends, and any remaining guests don’t include those who already attended a shower for the first child. And you can, of course, decline the invitation.
Dear Annie: I want to add another perspective to “Troubled in Ohio,” the non-religious woman who is considering marriage to a minister.
As a young minister’s wife, I learned that “religious” is defined differently by each member of the congregation. It didn’t take long to realize I wasn’t going to live up to most of the expectations.
Some found it inconceivable that I couldn’t sing in the choir or play the piano.
Others felt I should be more capable of leading a prayer group. Some thought my ineptness in the kitchen was proof my husband married the wrong woman.
My response? “We married for love.” And apparently it shows, because after 40 years, people say they can still see the spark in our eyes when we look at each other. — Meant for Each Other
Dear Meant: Members of a congregation somehow feel entitled to pass judgment on the minister’s spouse. It comes with the territory. You have handled it well.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.