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Sticking up for my kids while avoiding hurting someone's fee

 
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Snickers18




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Jan 26 2014, 1:51 am
There is a woman who comes to our house every Shabbat afternoon, for lunch and socializing. She feels very close to us and especially our kids and tries to parent them. Today was the not the first time I've heard her ask my son if he wants to go to his bed over something that happened. He gets upset, and then she "disciplines" him over his reaction.

She is 60, no kids, and to my knowledge has not been in a relationship since I've known her. She is rather estranged from most of her family, so this is really her first shot at having a relationship with children. Her last attempt ended up with a restraining order against her (I didn't know her at the time, but she speaks about it publicly), but that got cleared up.

I get tense when I overhear these interactions because I want to do something about it, but:
a) don't want to embarrass her publicly (we have a bunch of other guests).
b) don't want her to feel badly.
c) don't want to sour her relationship with the kids. She really does love them, and they love her. She just feels a little too comfortable in her love, I guess.

However, I don't want my kids to feel like I am constantly placing others' feelings before their own and ignoring situations where they are being wronged.


Keep in mind that I have already delicately broached a different issue with her. She used to do things like lick off the cake knife and return it to the plate, and it was causing other company to not want to eat, so I did bring that up. However, this particular topic kind of attacks what she sees as her identity as someone who is a kid magnet. She mentions it quite often, and it is obvious this is something she feels good about. This is meaningful to me because she battles with depression, and these types of interactions help keep her going during dark days.

I've thought of a few different ways my husband and I can try to address it (asking her to let us know immediately if she feels a situation needs diffusing, as that will help with consistency, etc.), but I am wondering if any suggestions here will be better.

Thanks! Smile
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Onisa




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Jan 26 2014, 3:45 am
I will be harsh. I love and respect my mother because she put us ( me and my brother above all relatives and friends and coulleges and ect). I didnt feel like a center of the world or that I can do whatever I want. But I knew that only mammy can praise and punish and others can do so if mammy agrees and lets. It helped me to build a burrier in situations of bulling and mistreating by others( teachers, doctors). I always went to mummy to ask, if they right, or was I right.

Yes. My mother didnt let anybody to discipline us or tell comments to us. She used to say " thank you for telling my daughter about her dirty dress, let me go with her and fix it", " oh.. Please stop telling my son about the toys around the room, we will deal with it after you leave". Sometimes she was nice and some times not at all. If she wasnt we would be used by our relatives as a source of venting all the time.
Your children dont have any obligations to help her with depression, they arent her psycologiests.

Talk to her. Tell her that you have a specific way of upbringing and it causes real damage when somebody intervents. Ask her to turn to you if she is displeased with a child. After she makes a comment come and do your comment not straight negative but supporting Your point of view.
Oh! I see somebody isnt happy with your behaviour, I cant say Im happy either but I think it is nothing major. You should appoligise and contunue playing you dont need to go to your room.
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anon for this




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Jan 26 2014, 7:17 am
I agree with Onisa that you need to establish boundaries. Perhaps you can first try saying, "The children consider you such a fun guest, I'd prefer that you not shadow that relationship by having to discipline them. If you have a concern about their behavior, please bring it up with me privately first, and I will handle it. That way you don't have to be the 'bad guy.'"
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amother






Post  Sun, Jan 26 2014, 7:34 am
You sound like a real sweetheart.

That said, there is a time and a place to be tougher. And when it comes to your children I think this is it.
I would be extremely wary of such behavior, particularly in light of her history, and prioritize my children immediately. I would talk to her in advance in private but more importantly I would talk to my children and clarify that you are in charge and if she "disciplines" them they should come to you immediately. She may not listen to you or "remember" the "new rules" which is also why you MUST set it straight for your kids. Also, it is an important boundary that they need to know which applies in many situations and many areas.

You can be "nice" and understanding of her situation without penalizing your children. You can be nice and still set very important and clear boundaries. Good for you for picking up on this situation.

hatzlocha
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amother






Post  Sun, Jan 26 2014, 7:37 am
impressive that you don't want to hurt her feelings...but this isn't really about her and you cannot sacrifice what is right and healthy and crucial whether or not she gets upset.

You can say it all in the warmest, nicest way possible...you can even make it like it's about consistency for your children so you have to be the only disciplinarian or whatever. or you don't want to "burden" her...you can get your point across and establish the new reality. keep saying nicely "oh remember we have new rules" in order to help the kids or whatever.
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amother






Post  Sun, Jan 26 2014, 7:38 am
plus you can remind yourself that if you don't address this now chances are it'll just blow up bigger later with more chance that her feelings will be hurt
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FranticFrummie




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Jan 26 2014, 7:44 am
I don't mean to hijack your thread, but I'm in sort of the same position as your friend is.

This is a hard one for me, because my best friend has VERY difficult, wild kids, and the parents are super laid back about it. I constantly have to bite my tongue around them, but sometimes I need to say something. It usually comes up when one of them is terrorizing or physically harming DD, who is too sweet to stand up for herself. (If the kids are just trying to kill themselves, it's not my business to get involved. I figure they've lived this long without my help.)

If I find that the parents are deep in conversation, or not in the room, I may be forced to take it upon my self to say "Dovi, stop hitting Rivky!" Of course, because they're wild, there have been times when I've had to physically stop the hitting - which starts a screaming tantrum from the offending child. I HATE the idea of putting my hands on someone else's child, but I won't just let DD sit there and take a pounding, either.

I can't just get up from the table and drag my poor daughter home, so how do I intervene without stepping on the parent's toes? It's gotten so that I'm one of the few people who will even come to them for meals anymore, as it is.

Don't get me wrong, these kids adore me. When they are feeling bored and ignored at home, they will come over to my house unannounced, wanting a snack, to use the bathroom, to play with my dogs, and to hang out in my kitchen. I set very strict rules at my house, and they seem to crave the structure and boundaries.

Getting back to your issue, is there a chance that your guest is not super comfortable around kids who are highly energetic? Do you think she might see you as not being involved enough in their discipline?
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imasinger




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Jan 26 2014, 7:50 am
You are all much nicer than me.

There was someone who invited herself to our Shabbosim and YT that did this kind of thing. While there were a few other issues, too, the upshot is that after several warnings, I stopped taking her calls, and have nothing to do with her.

I cannot bring myself to have someone in my home who hurts my children and interferes with my parenting. I needed to put my family first.
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Snickers18




 
 
 


Post  Tue, Jan 28 2014, 10:47 pm
Thanks for your responses. It's a touchy situation. We are the only Jewish people she feels close with here, and we do care about her, so I was hoping to communicate with her in a way that will maintain our relationship without our kids having to suffer. Even if the kids wouldn't care, I still think it sets an unhealthy precedent for her to be doing this since we have a lot of people in our house regularly, and I don't want everyone to try to get a piece of the kids (in that regard). They need their space, too.

FranticFrummie, actually, the issue is that she is *too* comfortable with them. My kids are pretty quiet and get along really well with other kids, and when we have guests with migraines (etc.), I will take them away from the general population. One scenario I can think of is when my 5yo (G) and 3yo (D) were playing together in the corner of the room. There are 100 pieces of the game, and they always split it 50/50 and play alongside each other. D accidentally got some of G's pieces, and G said, "Hey! Those are mine, I need them back" and took them back. She didn't know anything about the even split and entered the scene and told G that he has to share, took them away from him, and handed them to D (telling him, "You see? I'll take care of you"). G got upset and tearful and shook a fist in the air. She asked him if he wanted to go to his room and said she's not going to let him behave like that. I asked what's happening, and she said, "I'll tell you what's happening! G won't share his toys with D." I explained their system to her, and she backed down, but the point is, if she hadn't gotten involved, it wouldn't have escalated. She loves spending time with them, but she sees herself as somewhat of a child expert and doesn't realize there are certain lines that should not be crossed with other people's children.

My husband and I agree that this cannot go on. She happens to be coming over this evening, and we will speak to her when everyone else is gone. We're just going to be straightforward and tell her that kids need consistency, and they need to know that we back them up, and they can't be getting mixed messages by having everyone who comes over instruct them, especially when it often runs contrary to our instructions for them. We will tell her it's for our own kids' safety and security and a benefit of that is that they will be able to have the best relationship possible with her as a result.

It will all be said out of a place of love, so I'm sure she will hear it as such. Thanks again for taking the time to respond. Smile
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amother






Post  Wed, Jan 29 2014, 7:04 am
I have regular guests who yell at my kids. I knew I had to speak up to them even though I'm not a confrontational person. My kids' feelings have to come before theirs, even though they are disabled. So one Shabbos, during dessert, ds was making a mess with his ice cream and they started yelling. I was sitting right next to ds, but they didn't even give me a second to deal with the situation myself. I said to them, "Did you think I couldn't yell at him myself? You thought I needed help from my guests?"

They said they weren't yelling. One said that all he said was Uh Oh. So I told him he did yell, just not with words this time. I pointed out a time he had yelled with words earlier that day. He claimed to know nothing about it. His wife said she would never yell at someone else's kids because they are not hers. But she does.

For a couple of weeks they didn't really yell, but last week I told the wife 3 times, "I can yell at him myself, thank you." I told the husband once. This week we are not having them.

I will have them again, but I will start making a point that it can't be every week. Maybe 3 weeks a month to start with. I find that they only yell when they've been coming every week. After a week off, they behave better for a week or 2. I do feel bad for them, but my kids have to come first.
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amother






Post  Wed, Jan 29 2014, 7:04 am
I have regular guests who yell at my kids. I knew I had to speak up to them even though I'm not a confrontational person. My kids' feelings have to come before theirs, even though they are disabled. So one Shabbos, during dessert, ds was making a mess with his ice cream and they started yelling. I was sitting right next to ds, but they didn't even give me a second to deal with the situation myself. I said to them, "Did you think I couldn't yell at him myself? You thought I needed help from my guests?"

They said they weren't yelling. One said that all he said was Uh Oh. So I told him he did yell, just not with words this time. I pointed out a time he had yelled with words earlier that day. He claimed to know nothing about it. His wife said she would never yell at someone else's kids because they are not hers. But she does.

For a couple of weeks they didn't really yell, but last week I told the wife 3 times, "I can yell at him myself, thank you." I told the husband once. This week we are not having them.

I will have them again, but I will start making a point that it can't be every week. Maybe 3 weeks a month to start with. I find that they only yell when they've been coming every week. After a week off, they behave better for a week or 2. I do feel bad for them, but my kids have to come first.
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amother






Post  Wed, Jan 29 2014, 7:25 am
Op good for you!

it is easy for boundaries to get crossed when one is a "child expert" -- which usually means someone with no children-- and even with her best intentions, like she wants to have a "close" relationship with the kids. Her need to 'parent" doesn't come before your and your children's needs. It just doesn't work anyway.

bottom line you have it right and hatzlocha and hugs -- you sound like a great parent and person!
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