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Passenger Telling Mom to Control Toddler on Flight Dragged: 'Shut Them Up'

Newsweek 12/28/2022 Leonie Helm
Children on planes. Stock image. A pregnant mother has had her confidence shaken after an unpleasant interaction with a couple of passengers on the way home from holiday. © yaoinlove/Getty Images Children on planes. Stock image. A pregnant mother has had her confidence shaken after an unpleasant interaction with a couple of passengers on the way home from holiday.

A woman has explained how her confidence has been knocked after an unpleasant interaction with an older couple while flying home to the U.K. from Spain with her husband and their 18-month-old son.

In the Mumsnet post, user Willowtree88 wrote that the family flew 3.5 hours for a relaxing few days in Spain "to get away together as a family after an extremely stressful few months."

The mom explained that her work contract has not been renewed; she is heavily pregnant and suffering with sciatica; there has been illness in the family; and the couple have had to sell their home and move in with her mother.

The mom went on to describe an unpleasant-sounding couple who constantly berated the family during the flight, complaining about the behavior of their toddler, whom the mother described as "a delightful passenger."

The poster added that they "work hard to minimize disruption to other passengers whilst meeting them. We are lucky that my son has never cried or fussed on a flight and didn't on this one."

Despite this, the couple allegedly verbally let rip on the family, asking them to keep their child from "kicking my seat and shut them up whilst you're at it."

The man then told them they were irresponsible parents who shouldn't have a child on board if they couldn't control it. The mom wrote that "he even raised his elbow as if going to hit him until another passenger stepped in to tell him to calm down."

The angry pair eventually moved seats away from the couple. The Mumsnet user wrote: "It's really knocked my confidence about taking my son on experiences like this, particularly on my own."

Ninety-one percent of Mumsnet users voted that the mom was not being unreasonable.

Jordan Bierbrauer, a licensed clinical social worker in Colorado with mental-health organization Thriveworks, told Newsweek his thoughts about the unpleasant interaction.

"The mom's feelings here are totally valid and from the information they provided, it appears that they were doing their best to manage the situation and be accommodating to others around them. However, despite our best efforts, we cannot control other people's reactions; we can only control our reactions to other people."

Bierbrauer added: "To find peace within this exchange, I would encourage the poster to use the idea of 'dialectical thinking,' which is essentially 'putting yourself in someone else's shoes.' I would challenge her to think about the vulnerabilities that this other couple went through prior to sitting on the bus or the plane.


"Perhaps they had a day full of unfortunate events, and this was 'the last straw.' This does not excuse the husband's behavior, but humans are fallible and bound to make decisions that they may later regret.

"When it comes to what they could have done differently," Bierbrauer added. "I would encourage them that it does not appear they did anything wrong. Being a parent comes with challenges, but they took time to interact with their child and made the child a responsibility.

"It is unrealistic to think a child would be silent, as children are expressive; which they should be, because that is how they learn. Children have the right to speak and interact with their family," Bierbrauer said.

"I think that the mom was justified in their actions, and I do believe that they were reasonable in their response. It sounds like this was an emotionally charged situation, but yet, they handled it with grace and they should reflect on that proudly for managing themselves well. Rather than letting it knock their confidence, put it down to an unpleasant experience they had very little control over."

Mumsnet users were supportive of the mother, with susan12345678 writing, "Sorry that you experienced that, it sounds so upsetting. Try to put it behind you, you did nothing wrong."

Pineconederby posted: "You should have accidentally spilled a drink on him – whoops," while Ponderingwindow commented: "He sounds like the kind of person who always finds someone or something to complain about on every trip."

Newsweek was not able to verify the details of the case.

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