Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I recently listened to a woman fret and fume about her daughter’s parenting skills. “She has no idea how to handle things. I can’t believe she’s doing this and saying that. Her daughter is going to be a mess. There are no boundaries and when my granddaughter comes to my house she screams and throws things when she doesn’t get her way. It’s only going to get worse the older she gets. She’s turning into a four year old terror. What should I do?”

I asked if she really wanted to know what I thought. If someone truly wants my opinion I’ll gladly offer it, but I’ve learned people don’t really, especially when it comes to parenting. She said she was at her wits end and any suggestions would be appreciated. I was concerned she wasn’t going to like what I was going to say, but she asked.

“First, this little girl is your daughter’s child to raise. If your daughter and son-in-law feel the screaming is her way of expressing herself and they don’t want to squelch her creativity, that’s their prerogative, because she is their daughter. I agree with you, they are going to be in for it if they don’t gain some control. The hardest thing to do as a grandparent is to keep your mouth shut unless advice is asked for. On top of dealing with an out of control child, you may put a wall up between you and your daughter if she is at all defensive about her ability to be a good parent.”

“However, when the child is in your home, you can calmly and matter-of-factly explain to your granddaughter your house rules don’t allow for screaming and throwing. I assume you didn’t allow your daughter to behave that way when she was growing up and you can say the house rules haven’t changed. The only reason to scream and yell is if the house is on fire and the odds of that happening are slim.”

The woman looked at me blankly and said, “Thank you. I’ve never thought of it in that way. I’ll give it a try. It is my home isn’t it?”

I smiled relieved she wasn’t upset, “It is and things are a little different when you’re on your turf. You’re the one in charge at your house, not a four year old.”

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