I don't have any children yet, but I understand (or at least I think I do!
) what it takes to care for a young child. I strongly believe that it's everyone's duty to protect children. I realize that people parent in different ways and that we have to have respect for those differences. But if a parent is being neglectful or abusive towards a child, that is a different scenario altogether.
Ok. Here's my concern: I feel that something is not right with the way my neighbor cares for her 3 year old son. First, at 11 months old, the poor child would have crying fits when his mother and father had loud domestic disputes. I would be awoken at 4:30 AM often by the loud arguing and baby crying. The father was arrested about a year and a half ago for domestic abuse and disorderly conduct and no longer lives in their household. The mother has full custody and has a restraining order against the father of the child. I thought things would improve after her boyfriend left, however, the mother often yelled and screamed at the little boy: "Get over here!"; "Stop that!"; "I can't get any work done with you around!"; "No!"; etc. The boy would respond by crying and sometimes throwing fits. As he grew over the past 2 years, he's seemed to tune his mother out or answer her commands by saying a firm "No!". I've NEVER witnessed the mother hugging the boy, or comforting him when he cries, or showing love...maybe she shows love behind closed doors, I don't know, but I do hear her yelling at him when she's in the house. Also, when she is outside with her son, she often does a poor job of watching him...she's too busy engaged in mowing the lawn and other yardwork to be able to fully supervise her child. He wanders into other neighbors' yards. But what is especially worrisome is that he runs into the street with his toys and plays, then runs back into the driveway, then back into the street, and on and on...he doesn't know how to watch for oncoming cars. The street is not busy with cars, though, but we do have cars and some delivery trucks (like UPS) coming through at different times of the day. When he's in the street, his mother is not close by and often has her back turned. One day the boy lay down on his back in the middle of the road for a minute while his mother was in another neighbor's driveway...she never knew he had been laying down. Then that same day he disappeared for over 5 minutes, and when the mother finally noticed that her son was missing, she had a 5 year old girl look for him. So obviously she doesn't teach her son to stay close to her and to not go into the street unattended. The other day, the boy was riding his tricycle all alone in the street, and his mother was up by the house not paying full attention. When the boy got scared (possibly because he found himself all alone riding too far out from his house), he cried, so she raised her voice and said "it's time to turn around now." She didn't walk up to him to help escort him back to the house.
Am I being concerned about a 3 year old's well-being when I shouldn't be? Would you tell me to mind my own business and not pay attention to how this boy is being treated? Also, is it neglectful to allow a child as young as 3 take toys into the street to play, while the parent is several yards away from the child and is not carefully supervising the child's activity? What do you think about the mother mowing the lawn with the child running around? Is this mother's treatment of her child a form of child neglect?
Please, any comments and advice will be greatly appreciated.