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Dealing with Grandpa

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this or not, but here it goes.  Gentle discipline is working very well for our little family even though it is really difficult for us (especially 'in the moment') because neither my husband nor I were brought up in any way that would be called gentle or positive. 


However, we have run into a problem that I don't know how to address with my husband's grandpa.  We are really close with both his grandparents and they visit frequently and twice now his grandpa has treated our two year old in ways that leave me feeling uncomfortable and angry.


Once he very sarcastically and condescendingly said, "Thank you," at her because she had failed to thank him for something.  A few minutes later she thanked him for something and he failed to say "You're welcome," and I wanted to say it at him in the same tone of voice to prove a point, but I refrained. 


Just the other day she was throwing a bit of a fit (she hadn't napped, we are working on a new sleep schedule) and she threw some corn at the table and he said, "Bad girl! Shame, shame, shame!" as if she were a dog!


Both times I had no idea how to respond.  I hate confrontation, I never know what to say in the heat of the moment, especially when I don't want to hurt the relationship.  He's also a very sensitive guy who holds a grudge like nobody's business.  No matter how nicely I point out his behavior, it WILL cause him to become embarrassed, defensive and angry, even if he doesn't let it show.  So I need to approach this as nicely as possible so that hopefully one day he will forgive me.  I don't want to ruin our rapport with the only family we have close by, but I can't keep holding my tongue in these circumstances.  I just don't know what to do.

post #2 of 13

Since I don't know any of the people involved, it's hard for me to give advice. But it does sound like this needs to be addressed. Does your husband feel strongly about this too? In these types of situations, my husband and I always deal personally with our own family. Say if my MIL is doing something I don't like, my husband always steps in and talks to her. I hate confrontation too and I hate to offend people. My husband though feels comfortable stepping in and saying, "Mom, this isn't right." Normally there is little or no offense this way. If I confronted her, then the relationship might be hurt. (By the way, I love my MIL and we rarely have any need for confrontations :)

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I don't think my husband would be comfortable doing that, but I will talk to him about it.  I was thinking I might talk to Grandma and see if she'll mention it to him.  My husband might be willing to take responsibility for that, he's closer with his grandma and she's much more level headed. 


Thanks for replying, just getting it out there helped and your advice helped me think of new ideas of what might work for this situation, so thanks!

post #4 of 13

How did your daughter react?  

If she moved past each incident easily, you could consider just letting it go.  I can't tell how far apart these instances were, so it's hard to know if this is a regular pattern or an infrequent occurrence.  


If the "bad girl" happens again, you could chime in with "Yes, it's a bad _idea_ to throw corn" and try to label the behavior instead of the child.  He might pick up on what you're doing differently without feeling embarrassed about it.

post #5 of 13

I'm feeling a similar way, we only see my inlaws in person once a year but when we do we live with them for 2 weeks.

They are wonderful and loving grandparents but have a very different way and come from a different country.

They have never and never would be violent towards the kids but are constantly telling them "I'm going to break your bottom" or "I'm going to slash your bum". It is said in a playful way rather than an angry one but I still don't like it.

Our next trip DS will be almost 2 so I am not sure how I want to react since he will be able to pick up on more of what is said to him, they say it over skype often but between their accents and the fact hes doing something else it goes right over his head.

I think we will just see how it goes when we get there since I know DH will not fell comfortable confronting his parents ( they don't use emotions of feelings in their family, weird!)

post #6 of 13

I think speaking to the Grandma is a good idea, if you feel like that approach will be received well. My husband is the same about confronting his own family, which does get on my nerves, I have to admit. I think he thinks its easier to just not deal with the situation, but sometimes you have to! Do you think that, given his personality, Grandpa would still take offense if you went about correcting his behavior in a really lighthearted, sort of self-deprecating way? For example, after he yells at her you could say something like, "Oh DH and I have been reading up on discipline and we know it's kind of weird and kooky, but we're trying a technique where we don't yell at her." Would he still get embarrassed by something like that? I've tried that kind of thing with my in-laws with rather mixed results (I can never tell what they're thinking) but I think sometimes self-deprecation can make an impact. 

post #7 of 13

I would not point out Grandpas behavior or in any way focus on trying to change him. Instead I would make consistent use of the phrase "I've got this, thanks," and remove my child to a private area to administer whatever discipline or processing I felt was needed.


"I've got this, Thanks" is a strategy I picked up from the other mamas on this board and it's remarkably effective. Plus it can be said in good humor and with a smile, so you can be polite and friendly while still letting the other person know that you handle discipline of your child, not them. It also lets your child know that you are looking out for them and don't approve of other people yelling at or shaming them; again YOU handle their discipline. removing your child to a private place protects them from being embarrassed and protects you from back seat driver type Grandparents throwing their 2 cents into the situation. If the back seat driver follows you to try and "help" (my mom has done this on occasion) you can just say "Please let me handle this," and, if needed, move to another space away from the back seat driver grandparent.


So for the corn incident I would have said to Grandpa "I've got this, thanks" then I would have removed my child from the room and talked with her privately about what was going on, then I would have made sure that the corn got cleaned--preferably my child would clean or help clean--if my kid was having a massive meltdown I would wait until they were calm enough to help. If waiting wasn't an option I would clean it and let my child know that I expect them to help clean next time they make a mess.


I think an important thing with this approach is that you do actually discipline your child in the way that you feel is appropriate. That way no one can follow you around saying that you haven't done anything. Further when they observe you handling a situation competently they may actually learn more, and be more inclined to change, than if you just told them all the things they were doing wrong.


One final thought: when a grown up is being  mean, sarcastic, etc with a child--especially a family member who it would be difficult to confront about their behavior--I think getting the child out of the room and away from the grown up is a good strategy. You can just scoop your child up and leave. Either with a polite excuse "Let's go potty" or something more direct "lets take some space while the grown ups calm down" or don't say a word just remove yourself and your child from the room.


I hope this made sense and is of some help!




post #8 of 13

I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this or not, but here it goes.

post #9 of 13


Originally Posted by Isabel412 View Post

I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this or not, but here it goes.


Thank you for sharing.


post #10 of 13


Originally Posted by Isabel412 View Post

I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this or not, but here it goes.


Seriously? At least reply with a question, comment of your own thinking, or an experience of your own...not just post a random sentence from the OP. *steps off soap box* 

post #11 of 13


Originally Posted by C is for Cookie View Post



Seriously? At least reply with a question, comment of your own thinking, or an experience of your own...not just post a random sentence from the OP. *steps off soap box* 


Pretty sure Isabel412 is a troll trying to get post counts.... I flagged him/her.

post #12 of 13


Originally Posted by sere234 View Post



Pretty sure Isabel412 is a troll trying to get post counts.... I flagged him/her.


Yeah, I did too.

post #13 of 13

OP:  I'll often use an observational "I don't think that [what you just said] is going to help".  It's not confrontational, get's across that you and someone else probably deal with whatever kid situation just happened differently, and (idealistically, anyway) may help whomever reflect on what they say.  



The sarcastic tone about manners words - you might get somewhere by saying to your kid 'I think grandpa is trying to say that he appreciates being told 'please/thank you'.'  Then you're explaining what he's doing in a way that your kids will understand more clearly.  You're also being more polite about it, and hopefully that may lead to him being polite about it also.  

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