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MIL says DS has issues with respect...need perspective

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

DS is 4. The 2 examples MIL gave for her concern were:

 

1. DS went on a walk with FIL and our dog. FIL gave DS control of the leash but then saw dogs coming and told DS he needed the leash back to keep him and the dog safe. DS shouted "NO!" and grabbed the leash back. FIL firmly insisted on handling the leash and DS sat down and had a tantrum. After a minute or so he got up and peacefully continued the walk with FIL. (I was not there, this came 3rd hand from FIL to MIL to me).

 

2. DS went on a walk with MIL (2 weeks later) and his older cousin on a path that goes right by her house. DS decided he was tired and hot and wanted to go back. MIL said he needed to stay with them and that they would go home soon (DH and I had just left them and started walking back to MIL's house). DS just said he was going back and started walking back to the house. MIL said he needed to run and catch up to DH and I on the path. He didn't catch up to us but walked in the house at the same time we did through a different door so he must have been just behind us on the path.

 

So, those were the 2 examples she gave for being concerned that DS has an issue with respect and she's very concerned about him. She also has made multiple comments about how it's not ok for him to say "No" to her or FIL (especially regarding the dog walking incident).

 

Before and after each incident I talked with DS about respecting FIL and MIL. I told him if he disagreed about something he had 2 options: talk it over peacefully or just do it. I also explained that it was their job to keep him safe so they got to make the final decisions. After the dog walking, he ended up apologizing to FIL. After his walk with MIL (2 weeks later) I told him he would not be able to go somewhere with MIL alone next time as a consequence.

 

Please give me some objective feedback here!

post #2 of 34
Quote:

Originally Posted by bstandlee View Post
She also has made multiple comments about how it's not ok for him to say "No" to her or FIL

 

 


This comment by your MIL would concern me greatly. I want my children to know that it's ok to say "No" to any adult if they feel unsafe. So I would never feel comfortable saying to my child that it's not ok to say "no" to certain people and I'm very careful about what I say to my children. With the situation of walking the dog, I would address it by saying beforehand "If you and FIL are walking the dog together, you can probably hold the leash most of the time, but sometimes FIL will need to hold the leash to help keep the dog safe. You can help FIL during those times by handing him the leash calmly and you can help the dog by letting him know what's happening." (I also find giving the child something to do, rather than just something not to do, helps a lot.)

 

post #3 of 34

If you trust the grandparent (and it sounds like you do), I think it's fine to tell your son that he needs to listen to the grandparents. 

 

It sounds like your MIL means "respect" in the sense that he needs to respect that she isn't going to ask him to do anything against his best interest and that sometimes it's just not a good time to negotiate.  I am fine with that.  Some things are open for discussion, sometimes we can discuss things and let DD come around to our way of thinking, and sometimes she just needs to do what she's told. 

 

I trust my judgment, my husband's and our parents - really anyone whose care I would leave her in - to make the best call for her so I'm ok with telling her to respect their judgment and do what they ask.  Certainly one of the last things I tell my daughter on the way out the door when I leave her with someone else (which is pretty rare) is, "mind Nana, don't argue."

 

Teaching children to use their judgment is great, letting them know that sometimes adults will make bad calls and it's ok to trust your own gut, however there is just no way to cover every eventuality.  I would not think, for example, to give my daughter all the details of what she may or may not encounter and when or why not to listen to Nana on a walk.  I would just say - mind Nana.  Behave.  Don't argue. 

 

As for consequences, I trust my parents to deal with those - if you can't listen to me, we won't talk walks together because it's dangerous.  Or, we will go for a walk and if you can't listen, then we will come home.  I don't know if there's really much else to be done.

post #4 of 34

Sorry, double post.

post #5 of 34

I agree with your parents.  He left them on a walking path, and he wasn't going to do what he was told no matter what.  So, your parents aren't going to continue to let him hold the dog's leash, or go on walks with them if he doesn't respect them.

 

I know all it would take is one act of defiance like the incident you are retelling to make me say "no, sweetie, you stay with mom and dad, and we'll see you after our walk".  Because I wouldn't take him outside the house if he was in charge of all situations.  It's not safe for him, and it's not safe for the dog, and it's not really a good situation for the adults.

 

I only allow the word "NO!" to me if I asked a question or if it was optional.  "Do you want me to take the leash?" is optional.  "I need to take the leash while those dogs walk by" is not optional.  

 

I also think it's great that your mother in law is open to discussing this with you.  I hope she was respectful about it.  But, it's nice to have inlaws that want what's best for your kids.

post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post

I agree with your parents.  He left them on a walking path, and he wasn't going to do what he was told no matter what.  So, your parents aren't going to continue to let him hold the dog's leash, or go on walks with them if he doesn't respect them.

 

I know all it would take is one act of defiance like the incident you are retelling to make me say "no, sweetie, you stay with mom and dad, and we'll see you after our walk".  Because I wouldn't take him outside the house if he was in charge of all situations.  It's not safe for him, and it's not safe for the dog, and it's not really a good situation for the adults.

 

I only allow the word "NO!" to me if I asked a question or if it was optional.  "Do you want me to take the leash?" is optional.  "I need to take the leash while those dogs walk by" is not optional.  

 

I also think it's great that your mother in law is open to discussing this with you.  I hope she was respectful about it.  But, it's nice to have inlaws that want what's best for your kids.



Don't get me wrong, I think he was extremely disrespectful in each of these examples. And the consequence was that he didn't get to go alone with FIL or MIL after each of these incidents, but they happened on 2 separate visits 2 weeks apart.

 

As far as saying "No," our rule at home is if he disagrees with a request he can talk about it peacefully and try to work something out or he can just do it but he can't answer with a no. On the walk, I imagine the "No" was in a "I don't want this to happen" type of a reaction and not a "No" to a question/request such as "Will you give me the leash?" Still disrespectful but more of a tantrum than an outright refusal to do something FIL asked of him if that makes sense. Again, still disrespectful either way.

 

I guess what I'm needing perspective on is if this behavior is atypical of a 4 year old and if each situation was handled appropriately or if it seems there's a more serious issue we need to deal with in a different way.

 

 

post #7 of 34
It's very typical of 4-year-olds, and he should have listened to your inlaws, however no this is not a serious sign of disrespect, but only a serious sign of typical 4-year-old lack of listening to anyone. I think you handled things fine and I think your MIL was wrong to tell him he isn't allowed to say no to them. It is important to me personally that my children feel comfortable saying no to adults. You could talk to him about how to speak politely though when this kind of thing happens. Kids at 4 are still learning to be polite so it's understandable that he didn't know how to discuss it politely with them, but he is at an age where he is learning that, and these are teachable moments.
post #8 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by bstandlee View Post





Don't get me wrong, I think he was extremely disrespectful in each of these examples. And the consequence was that he didn't get to go alone with FIL or MIL after each of these incidents, but they happened on 2 separate visits 2 weeks apart.

 

As far as saying "No," our rule at home is if he disagrees with a request he can talk about it peacefully and try to work something out or he can just do it but he can't answer with a no. On the walk, I imagine the "No" was in a "I don't want this to happen" type of a reaction and not a "No" to a question/request such as "Will you give me the leash?" Still disrespectful but more of a tantrum than an outright refusal to do something FIL asked of him if that makes sense. Again, still disrespectful either way.

 

I guess what I'm needing perspective on is if this behavior is atypical of a 4 year old and if each situation was handled appropriately or if it seems there's a more serious issue we need to deal with in a different way.

 

 



It is disrespectful.  But, his intent and attitude make a difference in how I perceive it.

 

I' was picturing him refusing to obey in important situations, and actually turning around and walking home anyway... even though he was told to stay with them.  

 

If this isn't every time they tell him something.  (some kids are very obstinate, and will refuse to do anything asked of them) I'm sure they feel frustrated, but they wouldn't refuse to spend time with him.  If it's each visit, I can see why they'd be annoyed and at a loss for what to do when he acts like that. 

 

I still think it's nice that they can talk openly TO you, instead of behind your back.  My Mom would just call my sister in law and complain to her, but never say anything to me.

post #9 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post





It is disrespectful.  But, his intent and attitude make a difference in how I perceive it.

 

I' was picturing him refusing to obey in important situations, and actually turning around and walking home anyway... even though he was told to stay with them.  

 

If this isn't every time they tell him something.  (some kids are very obstinate, and will refuse to do anything asked of them) I'm sure they feel frustrated, but they wouldn't refuse to spend time with him.  If it's each visit, I can see why they'd be annoyed and at a loss for what to do when he acts like that. 

 

I still think it's nice that they can talk openly TO you, instead of behind your back.  My Mom would just call my sister in law and complain to her, but never say anything to me.

 

You're right, it is very nice she brought it up to me instead of behind my back (there may be some of that too though!). I didn't respond much at the time because I wanted to make sure I processed and analyzed what she was telling me. I'm planning on emailing her and thanking her for bringing it to my attention.

 

He is not defiant all the time. Mostly when he's over the edge (too tired, hungry, been on too many outings, etc.). But he's strong willed and tenacious and MIL has made multiple comments about how her kids were never like that and she can't believe how stubborn he is. So I'm trying to figure out if there's a more global issue with his behavior or if it's in line with his age and personality and just something we need to try even harder to be very consistent in dealing with. I'm thinking in these 2 instances her main concern is she doesn't feel she and FIL can keep DS safe when they're alone with him out of the house and I agree. DS will not be going anywhere with either of them alone until he's more consistent in responding peacefully to what they tell him to do.
 

 

post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

It's very typical of 4-year-olds, and he should have listened to your inlaws, however no this is not a serious sign of disrespect, but only a serious sign of typical 4-year-old lack of listening to anyone. I think you handled things fine and I think your MIL was wrong to tell him he isn't allowed to say no to them. It is important to me personally that my children feel comfortable saying no to adults. You could talk to him about how to speak politely though when this kind of thing happens. Kids at 4 are still learning to be polite so it's understandable that he didn't know how to discuss it politely with them, but he is at an age where he is learning that, and these are teachable moments.


This! I read your post and thought "sounds like a typical 4 y/o to me" shrug.gif

 

I think they are expecting an older child here...4 y/o still have tantrums and can have a hard time listening when they are focused on doing what they want...seems developmentally OK to me.

 

I would tell him as a rule "When you are out on a walk with anyone you need to use the buddy system and always stay together" something along those lines. Safety is a biggie so obviously that is important but at the same time 4 y/o can and do run off and if they are not physically fit enough to go after him maybe he shouldn't be out walking with them...

post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by bstandlee View Post

 

I guess what I'm needing perspective on is if this behavior is atypical of a 4 year old and if each situation was handled appropriately or if it seems there's a more serious issue we need to deal with in a different way.

 

 


In my experience, it's very typical. This is the age with my older son where we really did have to start being very consistent about our expectations with him, but he engaged in plenty of testing. It calmed down for a while, and now that we're entering 6, it's getting worse again.

 

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen has an example, I think, where the child misbehaved at a grocery store or something and the next time the parent goes out she leaves the child at home. And the child is all upset and she says "We can try again next time, but this time I am leaving without you because of last time, when you ran around" or something like that. We did this with my son at least once that I remember and it was really, really effective. Heartbreaking in that he had to miss out on that one trip -- and boy did that impact -- but that really is the natural consequence, that people won't feel ok taking you somewhere.

 

The talking it out is a challenge in a situation like that. If you haven't already, I might change it to "you need to do what trusted caregiver says first, and then we can talk about it."

 

post #12 of 34

I have a similar question and will post my details in a new thread, but wanted to say I agree with mamazee, who said it great, and other pps, - typical 4yo behavior, and this is the time to make sure reactions are consistent, as this is the time to teach them.  My older ds is 6.5 and definitely went through the very difficult 4yo phase.  Was hard to see that he'd ever improve, but he's sooo much more mature (not perfect, mind you) at 6 years old.   I wouldn't call it lack of respect at 4yo, but it's just semantics.  It's more situational as my 4yo demonstrates a lot of respect in many situations, but certainly has the "no" times.

post #13 of 34
Thread Starter 

I'm glad to hear it seems to be normal 4 year old behavior. I know it's serious, but I hadn't thought that much about it because I felt we had handled it each time and DS would not be able to go out with them again as a consequence. Having MIL bring it up in such a serious manner made me freak out a bit and got me wondering if we were totally blinded to a serious flaw in DS's character.

 

Given that it's fairly typical 4 year old behavior, that DS is most often very respectful and responsive to direction, and that we did give him a consequence and will be extra vigilant in being consistent I'm not sure what else MIL wants us to do about it. Thanks for the feedback everyone!

post #14 of 34

When I was reading your OP, I wondered if maybe your inlaws delivery of the request was the problem.  I give my children a lot of information about why we're doing something, how long we'll be doing it, etc.  It sounds like your FIL did handle the situation with a lot of information, but maybe not so much with your MIL.  If he's tired, thirsty, uncomfortable or whatever, he's going to need information about when he can feel better and what to do about it now.  So, I probably wouldn't say "we'll go home soon." because that's too vague.  I'd address how he was feeling and give him as much information about when we'd be home and that I'd be sure to give him a drink then.  I may even find a shady spot and sit down for a minute for the 4yo to recover. Maybe next time, she can bring a water bottle for walks.

 

My kids are used to me and don't do as well with my inlaws or even my parents.  My inlaws and parents grew up where kids just did what you said as soon as you said.  I've had to explain to my kids that if they are doing a task with their grandparents, they must act on requests quickly.  That's what worries my mom...that she won't be able to get them to act fast enough to keep them safe.

 

I noticed on your signature that you've had a lot of losses.  Maybe what your in laws are worried about is your son having  "Highly Prized child issues."http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/septoct2007p14.shtml 

I read this article and found some similarities to how I treat my oldest who was born a year after I had a still-birth.  The article does seem a little overgeneralized, but could be useful.  At 4, I don't think your child would fit this profile at all.  He sounds pretty normal for 4.

post #15 of 34

I run into a similar issues with my parents, although they know better than to express their feelings to me. I think it stems from the fact that we no longer control our children through fear. Respect and fear look pretty similar and when I was a child I toed the line because I didn't want to get smacked. It's hard for that generation to understand that we are trying to raise kids who have self esteem, confidence and the ability to make good decisions. One of the consequences of raising empowered kids is that sometimes they use that power in ways that challenge traditional paradigms of adult-child relationships.

post #16 of 34

Well I hope it's normal 4 yo behavior because it sounds like mine!  I really am trying to work on respect with her, but it's a process.   I find I need to prepare her what to expect and what's expected of he,r and remind her constantly to use her "nice" voice. 

post #17 of 34
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chaoticzenmom View Post

When I was reading your OP, I wondered if maybe your inlaws delivery of the request was the problem.  I give my children a lot of information about why we're doing something, how long we'll be doing it, etc.  It sounds like your FIL did handle the situation with a lot of information, but maybe not so much with your MIL.  If he's tired, thirsty, uncomfortable or whatever, he's going to need information about when he can feel better and what to do about it now.  So, I probably wouldn't say "we'll go home soon." because that's too vague.  I'd address how he was feeling and give him as much information about when we'd be home and that I'd be sure to give him a drink then.  I may even find a shady spot and sit down for a minute for the 4yo to recover. Maybe next time, she can bring a water bottle for walks.

 

My kids are used to me and don't do as well with my inlaws or even my parents.  My inlaws and parents grew up where kids just did what you said as soon as you said.  I've had to explain to my kids that if they are doing a task with their grandparents, they must act on requests quickly.  That's what worries my mom...that she won't be able to get them to act fast enough to keep them safe.

 

I noticed on your signature that you've had a lot of losses.  Maybe what your in laws are worried about is your son having  "Highly Prized child issues."http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/septoct2007p14.shtml 

I read this article and found some similarities to how I treat my oldest who was born a year after I had a still-birth.  The article does seem a little overgeneralized, but could be useful.  At 4, I don't think your child would fit this profile at all.  He sounds pretty normal for 4.

I can pinpoint in each instance some of the triggers that led DS to respond as he did: with FIL I had told both him and ds that FIL would be holding the leash the whole walk and that ds wouldn't get to hold it. FIL decided on the walk to let ds have the leash for awhile. So the issue would have been avoided entirely if he had stuck to the boundaries I laid out before the walk, OR if FIL had explained the limits of holding the leash...that he would need it back right away if they saw any other dogs.

 

With MIL, I'm not sure why she let him walk off by himself down the path. I don't see why she and her other grandson couldn't just come home at that point (they only stayed a couple more minutes anyway). Also, DS was hot, tired, and thirsty, and he'd been on that path many times and knew how to get back to MIL's house, and he could probably see DH and I just ahead on the path. Plus, DS's cousin is 11 and I think MIL was comparing the two and expecting more of DS all of a sudden (cousin was visiting from Texas).

 

I think you're absolutely right about MIL's generation having grown up with kids doing what they were told when they were told with no questions asked (and certainly no complaints or "No's"!). But of course they used fear, and as Vancouver Mommy said, there is a very fine line between fear and respect. I think adults get the two confused when they are expecting a child to do what they said as if they are a robot or a slave receiving a command with no thoughts or feelings of their own.
 

It's a strange feeling to think I can't let DS go with MIL or FIL by himself because they can't handle him. But we are working on it, and we are seeing improvement (which MIL wouldn't notice since she's not with him as much) so I guess I'll just trust that we are doing the best we can and DS will eventually get it and not be this way forever.

post #18 of 34

 

Others have said this already, but I'll say it again, your son sounds like a typical 4 year old. 

 

While I recognize and can totally relate to his grandparents' frustration, I seriously question labeling your son's behavior as 'disrespect.' I doubt your son's motivation for not listening and not following directions is that personal; his behavior probably has little to do with how he feels about his grandparents. He's four: chances are his sole motivation is that he's doing what he wants to do because he wants to do it. And he wants to do it now. 

 

Instead of focusing on your son's respect or perceived lack thereof, can your in-laws consider it a practical problem and focus on solutions? Have you found anything that helps your son follow directions that you can share with them? Are the IL's able to recognize when DS has simply had too much? Even adults have a hard time listening and cooperating when they're tired and hungry. My mother has a hard time recognizing my children's limits, then gets exasperated when they get whiney and uncooperative when those limits have been passed; I wonder if a similar thing might be happening with your ILs and son.  

post #19 of 34


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bstandlee View Post

 

With MIL, I'm not sure why she let him walk off by himself down the path. I don't see why she and her other grandson couldn't just come home at that point (they only stayed a couple more minutes anyway). Also, DS was hot, tired, and thirsty, and he'd been on that path many times and knew how to get back to MIL's house, and he could probably see DH and I just ahead on the path. Plus, DS's cousin is 11 and I think MIL was comparing the two and expecting more of DS all of a sudden (cousin was visiting from Texas).



I agree that your DS sounds like a typical 4 year old, to me.  It doesn't sound like your child has some kind of problem, it sounds like your MIL is concerned for his safety (which is great)  and expecting him to follow commands (which is not untypical for many adults but her expectations are out of line with his age).

 

I quoted the above because I did want to say that if your MIL was dealing with 2 children and 1 wanted to walk a little longer I can understand why she didn't want to turn around as soon as your DS wanted to. Finding a compromise would have been ideal but possibly difficult if your DS was on the edge of a meltdown. In our family we probably would expect the 11 year old to put the needs of the 4 year old first--but that's sometimes hard on the older ones. So maybe she was torn between the different needs and unsure how to proceed.

 

As far as your MIL letting your DS walk alone down the path, would you have preferred that she physically stopped him? Maybe by picking him up? If my child were walking away from me when I needed her to stay close i would physically stop her and carry her if need be. Is she in good enough shape to handle that and gentle enough in terms of discipline to restrain a child without hurting them? Would it be ok with you for her to put your hands on your child in that manner? (I'd pick my own child up in that situation but wouldn't want my parents or in laws to do the same unless my child was in imminent danger.) Maybe MIL felt she couldn't stop him by any other means but words and if he refused to listen to her words she had no other recourse and that freaked her out. I don't know just throwing a different perspective out there.

 

ETA In anycase sounds like both she and FIL got in power struggles with your DS (easy to do with a 4 year old) and are focusing on "he needs to obey" rather than "how could this have gone differently"...

 


Edited by Shaki - 7/13/11 at 6:05pm
post #20 of 34

i didn't read all the replies, just sorta skimmed so forgive me if this has already been said.

i am wondering how FIL presented the request for the leash, was it phrased as a question ie" can i have the leash please?" which leaves it open to be answered NO. or was it a demand ie" i need the leash now" which isn't a question. 

also i am wondering why MIL felt like your ds needed to finish the walk. if he was tired, hungry, thirst, bored, etc maybe it would have been better to just walk home with him or offer a piggyback ride. i have no idea how long the walk was, but sometimes little kids poop out faster then we think. was it later in the day so he had been awake awhile and busy and was tired? and even when he walked away they didn't make sure he was with you? i would wonder about that. like they didn't call out to you "so and so is coming your way" just so you know he is behind you so you could wait up for him.

i would talk to ds about the leash thing, because it isn't really safe for him to have the leash if other dogs are coming so even if FIL asked for it in a question he should still hand it over. i also don't like the "don't say no to adults" because i am sorry but they have a right to say no. maybe it can't be helped and they have to do the thing anyways, but still.

 

h

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