This question may seem a little strange, but I guess it does nonetheless have to do with parenting, or with how to relate with other parents and their children.

Last evening my girlfriend and me were in a club where there was an air hockey table. We wanted to play a round and started to get noticed by a curious little girl, who was the daughter of a couple who also was there. They didn't watch her closely (but hey, who could 100% of the time?). At some point she touched the surface where the disk bounces, and I told her not to do it again, because it was dangerous for her fingers.

I was stupid enough to not warn her that the disk may "jump", and guess what happens? In a perfectly fine match (disk never ever jumped away from the field), one time the disk flies into her eye.

Of course, it was not done on purpose, and I immediately felt bad about it. Neither me nor my girlfriend felt able to comfort the girl (it felt out of place for us to do it) and we called their parents to do it. We apologized too. The guy was absolutely friendly and basically said "things happen", while the mother took care of the little girl. After a while, I saw the child smile again and noticed she didn't have any "damage". I went to her and apologized to her too, explaining that we didn't do it on purpose, and asking if she was well now. I also shook her hand and presented myself and my girlfriend.

The mother was ice-cold.

How do I handle these kinds of situations, and avoid parents' rage? Was our behavior ok with the kid? Should we have comforted her right after the fact happened?

  • 1
    Welcome! How old (guestimate) was the child?
    – Stephie
    Sep 1 '16 at 14:07
  • 2
    So probably six or seven. (Or spent too much time at that air-hockey place ;-))
    – Stephie
    Sep 1 '16 at 14:18
  • 6
    Honestly, I think you handled it brilliantly. As a parent, if this happened to my daughter, I'd have been completely happy with you telling us what happened, and then showing the concern again later to check in on her.
    – PiousVenom
    Sep 1 '16 at 15:28
  • 2
    I absolutely respect the way you handled the situation. The girl's mother is just selfish.
    – Mikiko
    Sep 2 '16 at 8:10
  • 3
    Some parents are going to have an overly emotional reaction, for obvious reasons, and, especially if they left their kid to wander around a "club," generally unsupervised, there might be some overcompensation going on to deflect the mom's feelings that others might judge her as irresponsible. Sep 2 '16 at 16:13

As a parent myself, I think you handled it in the best way possible. You informed her parents of the incident immediately, and you followed up later. If I had been that girl's parents, I'd been extremely happy with the follow up. It shows that you were indeed concerned for her beyond "Will her parents be upset with me?" You went above and beyond what could reasonably be expected. And this also taught you a lesson about being a little more aware of all the potential dangers, and this will come in handy in the future, as well as when you become a parent(if you're not already). All in all, kudos to you. I only wish more people were like this.

  • Thanks to you and everyone else for the nice comments, but I still have one question that needs answering: should we have conforted the kid? It felt... complicated. Sep 5 '16 at 7:42
  • It might feel complicated, but don't let one person's coldness keep you from doing what you feel is right. As I stated, if I had been that parent, I'd have been thrilled that you checked on her and talked to her. I think most parents would have been.
    – PiousVenom
    Sep 6 '16 at 13:03

I'm a parent of two kids in that age range, and I think you handled it fine, given it was in a club. I'm not sure I'd say the same of the parents who brought a 6 or 7 year old to a club and didn't watch her more carefully.

If it had been in a hotel or someplace where kids would be more common, you might have asked the girl to stand away from the table a bit. Really, though, it's the parents' job to watch carefully enough to warn her about that.

Note that there might have been other dynamics at work. For example, it's possible going there was the dad's idea and the mom was mad at him, rather than at you, for what had happened.

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