On a nice day in Small Town, USA, the local park is a fairly popular location for families. One particular evening, my active little one and I enjoyed an hour at the park together. I loved watching my child smile and giggle and yell “Fun!” on the swing. However, when my night came to an end, I was upset with myself because of what I experienced at the park.

While the majority of children playing were 5 and under, there were a handful of boys and girls estimated to be 10-12 years old hanging out. I didn’t pay any attention to them until I saw one little girl walking away while one boy shouted, “I didn’t really mean that you were fat!” I glared at them for a second and then focused on my child.

As more children left, I heard the banter from the two boys and two girls. I was stunned when I heard multiple swear words, dirty innuendos and a lot of “Bro!” from the two boys. At one point, the girls were pretending to do gymnastics in the grass. “Tuck your shirt in!…No one wants to see that!…Who are you trying to impress?” And in the spectrum of what I heard that evening, these were considered kind.

Ask me if I said anything to those children.

The answer is no. And I regret it.

I hope and pray parents, teachers and youth leaders are doing all they can to teach and demonstrate appropriate behavior. Sadly, I know that is not a reality for some. But as a “Park Mom,” I could have stepped in and said something. I would have if my child was involved in any way. I should have at least attempted to end it. It really does take a village to raise a child. My comments could have been enough to put things into perspective to both the boys and girls.

I’m upset at myself because I don’t want those girls to go to bed replaying and continuing to dissect what those boys said. I’m upset at myself because I don’t want those boys to go to bed thinking they are cool for treating their peers with such disrespect and dirty words.

As a boy mom, I have huge task ahead of me to raise a Godly boy and man. I want to teach him he and every other child are worth so much and his character and actions carry weight the older he gets. Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight. I have to set the example and practice what I preach. 

I will use my guilt as courage to speak up at the park or movie theater or anywhere I see this type of behavior and put an end to it. I know I would want the support, especially from other parents, if my children ever acted in this manner. While parents play the biggest role in shaping behavior, I think us “Park Moms” can give a fellow Mom a hand when we see fit.

Kara Stevens

Kara Stevens is the wife to a wonderful Marine and mommy to beautiful little boys in Central Nebraska. Besides her growing family, her loves include the outdoors, cooking, writing, and spending time in prayer!