Male Strangers Who Create "Small Talk" with Female It.....

Updated on July 13, 2016
T.H. asks from Philadelphia, PA
23 answers

...appropriate, inappropriate or neither in YOUR opinion?

Are they saying disrespectful things, not necessarily. But is it okay to ask questions or make direct statements to a child w/o acknowledging the parent or seeing if the parent is okay with that?

For example, offering a child food/candy w/o first asking the parent if it's okay. Or, questions about their family or schooling?

This is not a topic that's consuming me or stressing me. It does make me feel awkward though.

Any thoughts or experiences like this?

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So What Happened?

AZneomom - My post was NOT about greeting a child. There was no need to be sarcastic either, as "rapey" isn't a word nor was the word rape mentioned at all by me. Paranoia may be more present in you, than in me. So since you really didn't have much insight to share, bye.

Julie S - because as I mentioned below, it happens MORE often with my daughter, and it happened again today. I left out some details but there is no reason to be so confused.

B - no, it doesn't matter the gender, as a woman said something very inappropriate to my son when he was around 8 years old. And no, I didn't know her at all. But w my 7yr old daughter, it's usually men who attempt chatting w her.

Dana - I do see your point.

Reverend - great insight!

SB - I generally don't have an issue w people talking w my daughter or son. They're both friendly and conversational.

Beaver - Thanks for your insight!

Elayne- Very much appreciated. Thanks

Mamazita - Don't get it? No worries :-)

Michelle - I know everyone isn't a creep :-). I've had awesome male friends in my life. Still do.

Wild Woman - My daughter is 7. She's taught to be respectful, friendly, and kind. She responds in that manner as well.

Gamma - Thanks

Doris Day - No...I feel the same w females too actually, especially if they're forceful in their approach.

Margie- There were more details and examples. I wrote it out, then deleted. But I appreciate your reply in the little I shared.

Tadpole - We understand each other lol.

Diane - It's mostly men really initiating convo w my daughter. I see your point about stranger- danger and fear.

Nervy Girl - Thanks

Ladies, overall, because I'd never want to hinder my loves/children from growth, positive experiences, wisdom, or any other good thing, my ears have heard you all. I'm going to speak with my daughter and ensure that she gains insight from the insight I now have.

Featured Answers



answers from Springfield on

It's not something I worry about. Most kids are under constant supervision. By that I mean, if they aren't with their parents, they are with another adult - family or friends, teacher, camp counselor, etc. If a stranger is making small talk, it's usually another child's parent or supervising adult.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Never offer a kid anything to eat without clearing it with the parent. It may trigger a food allergy or contain ingredients that the parents don't allow for personal or religious reasons.

Questions like "Do you like school?" are fine. Asking for a detailed map of the school is hinky.

7 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Portland on

We homeschool and are out and about a lot. We see people on the bus, people at the bus stop, people at the store, the mailman.... gads, the list goes on.

I go by gut instinct. If I see a person who is setting my mom-dar (you know, mom radar) off, then I intervene and move us along. Or if we are on the bus, I might direct my son's attention to a more family-business topic of conversation that signals "we are done talking to you". It doesn't have to be done in a rude way.

You know, one of the compliments we receive about our son is that he is very comfortable talking to other people. The thing is, he's nine and would likely steer the conversation toward Minecraft, thus rendering said 'intrusive stranger' numb and braindead. We talk to friendly strangers nearly every day.

One would think I'm making light of this, but I'm not. I really don't perceive all strangers as 'out to get' my son. We have plans for what to do if we get separated, (sit down right where you are/find a mom or dad with a stroller and kids); we've talked about not giving personal information to anyone (if they need our address or phone number, 'good grownups' know to ask mom or dad, not a kid), and what 'good grownup' behavior is. (ie- Good Grownups will not ask you to open the door or find their puppy; a good grown-up sampling food for sale at the store is fine but a person offering their food --when we don't know them-- is not going by the 'good grown up' rules.)

I had my own bad experiences as a kid and have to agree--- the strangers are rarely, if ever, the problem.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It is never inappropriate for anyone to make polite conversation with anyone else. This question just makes me sad. Offering snacks to young children is a bad idea because of allergies, but many older people don't understand the whole allergy thing. Questions like "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" or "What school do you go to?" or "What grade are you in?" are the kinds of things you might ask a child you are chatting with.

ETA: My dad was a gum chewer (former smoker) and he was also from a time when it was bad manners to eat a candy or chew gum without first offering it to your companion. If he was chatting with a child and decided to chew a piece of gum he would certainly offer the child a piece first. It was never viewed as inappropriate or creepy, but instead kind and polite. I am so glad I live in a place where people are friendly and talk to strangers.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

The 'Stranger Danger' campaign in the '90's was a huge mistake. When you know 75 - 90 % of all sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows; you see it as fear mongering. The predator is usually a family member or friend.
We do not want to instill fear into our children. We want to teach them caution but not fear. It's fine for kids to talk to someone while in your presence. It's not okay for them to accept rides, candy or other food, or to help them in any way. If someone approaches your child in a park and asks for help to find a lost pet or wants to show them something they need to know to ask first. You also need to explain to children WHO a stranger is. This is difficult for children to understand. Just because the nice person at the grocery store or park or church talks to your child every time you see them this person is a stranger.
If someone approaches your child and it seems suspicious take a picture with your phone. Be friendly but start to walk away, keep going until you feel safe then call 911 and ask for an officer to meet you. You should be able to send the picture to the police with your phone.
If you have your car ***DO NOT GO HOME*** go to a busy location such as a gas station or shopping center. If you don't feel safe doing this find a group of people and stay nearby. If you go home the person could follow you. Have the police detain this person so you can leave safely. Also remember child predators will sometimes have a woman approach you and your child. If it honestly feels wrong get away.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Well, let's talk about the food. It doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman. Strangers shouldn't be offering kids food without asking the parent because of possible allergies.

The only difference in a man talking to kids and a woman talking to kids is if the person doing the talking is a bad person. Women can be bad people, too. We just don't want to believe another of our own gender would hurt a child.

I think you are being pretty sexist to expect a man to ask you if he can speak to your child. There are a lot of nice men out there.

When it comes down to it, you need to supervise your children so that you are aware of who is around them. But you also shouldn't just throw the entire male population out the window as if they are all bad.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

It depends. Male or female stranger goes out of their way to relocate themselves to talk to children they would not otherwise interact with? Yeah, weird. Male or female stranger makes small talk with children while waiting in grocery line, in the doctor's waiting room, sitting nearby in any situation where they just happen to be? Not weird. It'd be more weird if they were to avoid contact at all.

Today's society is all too willing to vilify and "make creepy" the good men that we love. Be careful. These good men are fathers, husbands, sons, friends. And by teaching our girls that men shouldn't interact with them, and our boys that men are "creepy," we're teaching them that men are not "child friendly." That has all kinds of negative, untrue implications.

As for giving candies or food...I would just immediately intervene with a quick, "Oh, that's very nice. Say 'thank you' to the nice gentleman and I'll put it away for after dinner. Right now is not a good time to eat candy."

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

If a stranger told my kid to quit playing in traffic - I'd be perfectly ok with it regardless of their gender (or my kids gender).
Things like "Be careful", "Don't throw sand (or mulch). It'll get into peoples eyes." - yeah, kids need to be told and sometimes strangers are the ones to tell them.

If it's "What way do you walk home from school?", "Are your parents home when you get home from school?" and/or "Do you want to see my puppy? Come into my van/car and I'll show you." - nope, not good questions - they are pumping for info either to take the kid(s) or rob your house.
And again - it doesn't matter what the gender of the person asking the questions is.
It doesn't matter what the gender of the child is either.

If an adult is hanging around kids at the playground and doesn't have kids of their own there with them - there's something off about that - and I'd be right there with my kid and not have my behind glued to a park bench with my attention exclusively on my phone.
I see parents do this and it aggravates me especially when their kids are running wild and the parents don't give a darn what they are up to.

There are some weird strangers out there - but kids who are molested are often molested by family members in which case it's not a stranger who is a danger.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I am kind of confused. You specifically say "male strangers" who create small talk with "Female children". Then the first thing you add to your what happened is "no, it doesn't matter the gender" Um, then why did you specify both genders, seems it does matter to you. You have sons, I am sure strangers have talked to them so why this specific question?

I have four kids, two boys, two girls and there was always people that struck me as off. Their actions didn't matter, it is just something off about them. You leave, very simple.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Well I will talk to both little boys and little girls so I don't see that that is inappropriate. Offering food or gifts is - especially since so many kids have food allergies. I was very happy for my son to talk with people when he was little - he could talk anyone's ear off and LOVED new people. The whole thing with 'don't talk to strangers' is just silly. The people who are actually dangerous to kids are the ones they already know (family and close friends are the most frequent abusers). I figured if my son was comfortable having a conversation with a strange adult then if he ever got lost, he would feel that he could approach someone for help rather than waiting for the creepy guy at the park to approach him.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Why on earth does the gender of the adult or child matter?

I have no problem with people talking to my children. Your CHILD should know to ask you for permission before accepting something to eat from anyone - someone without kids, or whose kids are grown, might not know of or remember the protocol to ask a parent first. it doesn't make them creep or wrong, and you child can politely respond with "I have to ask my mom first."

As far as family/school questions, what else do you talk to kids about? It's pretty much the kid version of small talk.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My girls are basically grown now but I don't recall a stranger ever offering them food or candy, that's pretty odd, where do you live? Is this a regional or cultural thing? And we talked to people all the time, men and women, in stores, when traveling, stuff like that. Sure sometimes a person might seem "off" and we would move along but beyond that I never felt socially awkward around men.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Um, on the way out of a restaurant yesterday I waved to a little boy in the waiting area and said "hi, pumpkin!". Was that rapey of me??

I think that, without the context of the incident you refer to in your SWH, this question comes off as paranoid and sexist. Of course it could be inappropriate...let's walk by your house and you show me which window is yours...that would be inappropriate. How old are you, is this your little brother, what grade are you in...all perfectly normal, polite conversation. It can also be very regional. I live in AZ but grew up in a small town in New England where everyone knows everyone. In my home town it would be rude to be chatting with a parent and totally ignore the kid. And you can't make it out of the grocery store with out a half dozen brief conversations. In AZ, people are much more insular and striking up casual conversation is not as common.

My husband, being a father, likes kids. He will say hi to them, regardless of gender. He would not offer food or candy without asking, but I hope that if he were at the park giving fruit snacks or something to our kids, he would ask the parent if we could share with our kids' playmate of the moment. Generally, there are probably way, way more circumstances where casual conversation with a child is just fine as opposed to something that should make you nervous.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I've never had an adult offer my kids food or candy. I wouldn't be keen on it. Wait. Yes, I have at Costco and Sam's Club. Otherwise, my kids only take candy on Halloween from strangers. They don't eat it until we get home.

My kids are now 14 and 16. When they were younger, we specifically told them NOT to tell people where we lived, school(s) they went to, etc. Now? Well we if are at a sports event, they will tell adults what school they go to. As they are typically another coach, scout, etc.

how old are the kids in question? What have they been taught to respond to? HOW have they been taught to respond?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Depends on the situation. The food thing is weird but some "old school" people might just not get it. I loved it when adults talked to my child at the grocery, etc. It taught him how to socialize with adults. Family and school questions are typical. No reason to feel awkward. Not everyone is a creep. This is a good time to start teaching your child "Charlie Check First".They have to check with mom or dad or babysitter first. And keep practicing this as a reminder. Examples:

Neighbor asks kid to go get ice cream. Check with mom.
Stranger asks kid to help find puppy. Check with mom.
Adult in store offers kid candy. Check with mom.
A different parent offers child ride home from school. Check with teacher.
You get the picture. If your child knows how to respond in different situations you are empowering her and giving her the tools she needs.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

ETA: I think small talk is good, and there is nothing wrong with asking about family and school as long as it is not too personal.
I wonder why you feel it's awkward?
I think it depends on the age of the child.

Offering food/ toys, not OK by my standards.
This is different from 'small talk'.
Any normally functioning adult would know not to offer food/toys to small child without at least addressing the parent first. Otherwise it is a red flag to me (should I continue to see this other person).

I think these type of situations present a great way for parents to see how their children interact with others. This allows the parent to see the child's comfort level and sense of boundaries and then discuss with the child if there is any concern.

We had a man hanging around baseball games this summer. It was the uncle of one of my son's team mates. He have me a bad feeling in my gut, but not much else about him was concerning.

About halfway through the season and having no verbal communication with him, he approached my soon to be 12 year old son. He was reading about 5ft away from me on a blanket while we watched my younger son play. My older son has a very profound speech impediment and cannot get words out right away or 'speak up' right away should something bother him, and he has a rather passive personality. So I feel he is a bit more vulnerable.

So anyway this uncle approaches my 12 year old and strikes up a conversation about what he was biggie. I think it's 'more normal' to also acknowledge parent, but whatever.... Until I hear him asking what grade my son is in.....where does he go to school...what's your name...what part of town do you live.....(what? Oh he// no...)

So I watched how my son handled it, and despite all the 'stranger' talks I had with him he felt giving the adult the respect of answering was more important then his gut feeling that the questions were too personal....So my son knew it was inappropriate he just felt powerless to set his boundaries. This is what all stranger/danger books and programs can't really teach.....

After the game we discussed the situation and how to handle it better, and that it is ok to set boundaries even if it comes across as rude.

Having been molested, and having been around sex offenders I can tell you at least 90% are male, and that about 80%will use friendship/ relationship to lure a child (to get in between the parental child boundary), and about 2/3 of child victims are female.

Again, you cannot control other people's behavior and 95% of small talk *is* harmless chitchat, but I think it's a great "live" opportunity for a parent to teach their child about boundaries and comfort levels.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I don't recall ever having a man make "small talk" with either of my kids. If one did, I think I would shut it down quickly since there is NO reason a man needs to be chatting with any small child, even if it's "small talk". NO reason. And just because someone decides to chat with my child doesn't mean they are being rude and they don't need to feel obligated to engage just because an adult is addressing them. Nope. Not doing that.

I did have a weird situation in our neighborhood park years and years ago. My daughter was probably 5ish and my son 3ish. They liked collecting colored BB's that were in the grass so I would sit on the bench and they would go through the grass and put them in little containers or baggies. A woman came pushing her kid in a stroller. Stayed away from me but made her way to where the kids were. Probably spent 5 minutes chatting with them...out of earshot but I could see the kids showing her what they were doing. She then acted like she was looking too and pointing them out to them so they could gather them. They start walking around and then I realized they were walking closer and closer to the pathway out of the park that was away from me. All of a sudden I thought, OMG, someone can be waiting there with a van and they could throw in my kids, the stroller and be gone before my fat butt can run over there!!!! I jumped up and yelled at the kids, ran over to them and said we needed to go. Even then the lady didn't say anything to me. OMG, I'm freaking out just remembering this! I think when you feel your spidey senses go off you need to really believe them and trust them.

We live in a different time now. Unfortunately we can't believe the "best" in people anymore, they have to prove it. I don't assume people are just asking innocent questions or have innocent intentions. I assume they want to take or harm myself or my kids. Sad fact, but it's true. Now when I go to stores I'm looking for the closest exits in case I need them. If people are not taking precaution's now, and especially with their kids, then that is really irresponsible. JMO. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I think small talk is fine...I just assume it is someone who likes kids and I chat with them too. It's a stranger...we move on and we don't usually see them ever again. I've never had a stranger offer food...except for the bank teller offering a lollipop. does not feel awkward to me. I tend to be an adult who likes to chat with kids. I just think they are cute and I'm being friendly. If someone were giving out creepy vibes I would move the kids along...but from what I have read most child molesters are not strangers but sadly they tend to be people our kids know, like and trust.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Depends on the context, I suppose. At the comic book store one week, a dude wearing a Rarity shirt was super excited to talk to my then 7 year old about My Little Pony. It didnt bother me.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

If they're asking particulars that would probably bother me too. General things like "are you having a good summer" wouldn't. Sadly, we always have to be always alert, just in case.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

It would depend on the person and circumstance.

I have that mom radar where you know if something is off. My kids kind of have it too. And I'm not overly sensitive to weirdos - but you can tell if a weirdo is approaching your kid, versus a kind person who is just showing interest in your kid. Or at least, I can (I think, for the most part).

So if a weird person is hanging around and being too friendly with my kid, and trying too hard, then that's off.

Like back off.

But that happens so rarely (if at all) with us because I'm there. Or my kids' older siblings are there. It's not like my kids run into this much. I think an observant parent is pretty much a deterrent.

People offering my kids food - pretty rare. In all my years, I've just had one older lady offer my child candy and he just looked at me for the ok. I said yes as it was clearly a kind gesture. She actually said that it was good I taught him to check with me.

I guess without more explanation as to what you mean exactly - it's hard to reply to this one. It would depend.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

annoying. and drives me nuts... most folks like to approach my red head, ruffle his hair and ask him where he got it. I HATE IT. don't touch my kid PERIOD. my child is not going to know where his hair came from. its kinda obvious its daddies when hes standing there with a red beard. we are rarely in a store with out daddy so theres no need to touch nor talk to my child about his hair. and dd is strawberry blonde which is dh's hair color and they ask her (shes 4) where she got her hair.. again people need only look at daddy for that answer.
no one has ever offered candy or food without asking me first. one kind lady asked if my child could have a coin (little plastic gold coin with a verse on it) you can talk to us as a family, you can acknowledge me and then talk to my child but don't talk only to my child, if you do you are likely to get a dirty look and we will move away from you as quickly as possible

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

If any adult is talking to a child about personal information they are out of line unless they are family or a friend already.

If an adult is just there and the kiddo approaches them and starts the conversation like some kids do then an adult can answer but not prolong the conversation or invite them to sit down by them.

As for offering food, kids today have parents who think food is bad in one way or another and they have more allergies than ever before. So I'd never offer a kid anything that I didn't clear with mom or dad first. Don't want a kid swelling up and dying from something I did.

So if an adult, perfect stranger, was doing this with your child then yes, I'd be watching them to see if they have kids at the place, how those kids react to this person such as are they quiet around them, submissive, or are they rambunctious and loving and happy? Their behavior would help me decide if I needed to report a stranger to law enforcement.

1 mom found this helpful
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