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Mean Mom at the Beach

I need some advice/reassurance from y'all about something that happened at the beach on Sunday because it's still really bugging me. It's a bit of a long story, so my apologies in advance!

So M.Banana and I were at the beach late Sunday afternoon and there was a young family sitting next to us. I'd say the mom was in her mid-20's, her kids were around 6 (girl) and 8 (boy) and it looked like she had brought two friends or maybe siblings along as well. All was good until the little girl got into trouble for something in the water. I don't know what happened to cause her to get sent out of the water because I was on the beach when it happened, but she looked pretty bewildered. Her mom comes charging up the beach about 3 minutes later and immediately screams at the girl and asks her why she's not sitting down. The girl says she doesn't have a towel and starts crying. Her mom then screams at her again and asks her why she forgot a towel (um, she's 6?) and then yells at her to sit down and stop crying. At this point, other people start to notice what's going on. The girl sits down, but is still crying and the mom screams and her and says that if she doesn't stop crying, she's taking her to the car. The girl screams and says she doesn't want to go to the car, and the mom grabs her by the arm and says they're going to the car. The little girl screams that she "doesn't like the car" and tries to run away from her mom, and then the mom grabs her by the neck of her life jacket and drags her back to her seat.


I'm going to be honest here, I looked away after she grabbed her by the life jacket because it was incredibly upsetting to see her treat such a small child like that. There's always cops around the area to deter people from drinking etc. so I'd already mentally decided that I would flag one down to go check on them if she actually dragged that poor kid to the car. She ended up just screaming at her more to shutup and stop crying and then left her alone, screaming and sobbing, and stomped away back into the water. That poor girl was crying so hard and everyone around us looked quite horrified by what had just transpired, but nobody said anything. I just felt so bad for her that her mom a) treated her like that and b) left her sitting there alone when she was so upset. So I knelt down near her chair and talked to her. Basically I just said that it was okay for her to be upset, and that it sucks to be sent out of the water when everyone else is in there having fun, but that I promise she'll have plenty of opportunities to go swim in the lake and that if she's in trouble it's probably better to just have a little rest right now, take a deep breath and try to calm down. She just sort of did that catching her breath from crying so hard thing and nodded the whole time, but she totally calmed right down.

I noticed her mom coming back so M. & I went back into the water in case she was coming to yell at me, because then Hulk JB would've come out. Not pretty. But I kept my eye on them for the entire rest of the time I was there, and she was eventually allowed to go back in the water and seemed okay.


So here's the thing: I'm not a mom. I've got 5 nieces and nephews that I've always babysat, but I don't know what it's like to deal with the day to day stress of being a parent. I know that it's not always pretty and sometimes you overreact, but this was just over the top. In my opinion, she crossed over the line from discipline, to just being mean to her kid. I understand that she probably deserved a timeout, and maybe she would've gotten upset without all of the screaming and grabbing, but that's not an excuse to be mean to your child and leave her sitting there alone and sobbing. I don't know if I overstepped by trying to comfort the little girl because she's not my kid and I don't know what happened, but what I saw was very disturbing. Maybe it's just my job that makes me so wary, but I tend to think that if the mom freaks out at her kid like that in public, what is she like behind closed doors?

So, my fellow GTers (especially parents!), did I do the right thing? Or should I have just let her calm down on her own? Or am I being overly judgmental of that mom?

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