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Friends/relatives say inappropriate/non-gd things to or around your child

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
How do you respond? Everytime we are with my family, someone says or does something inappropriate -- and that is the understatement of the year. I've made a few corrections, but I've also let a lot go. I'd like to hear what others are doing.

Here are two examples. Not the most troubling situations to be in, but they are uncomfortable nonetheless.

Tonight my father told Simon -- who isn't even a year old yet! -- that we haven't had a good singer in the family and that he would love if Simon become a professional singer. I know this is just my dad's silly dream, but it isn't something I want him repeating to Simon. Simon can pick his own dreams. He doesn't need to feel bad if singing isn't his thing; I don't want him to pretend to like singing to appease Grandpa. When I was growing up my parents made it clear that they thought I should become a doctor or a lawyer. I didn't even end up thinking about what I wanted to be for myself. I just selected lawyer and said that for years and years because it seemed so important to them.

What about all those people who say ridiculous and annoying things like "Oh he's being a typical male! (Just because Simon is lounging on a chair for 2 seconds!) He just needs a beer!" Or similarly stupid, "He's flirting with all the girls! What a ladies man!" (Sometimes I respond to that that he might be gay.)

Those are just small examples. Just about every time we venture out of the house, it seems, something of the sort happens. It really sucks to be around people who don't understand how we view things. It bothers me more than it probably should. I need more like-minded friends. Or should I say I need SOME like-minded friends. Living in a small town can be the pits. We're hoping to move in the somewhat near future. Anyway, please share with me how you deal with situations like these!

Sorry to get off track. It has been a long day!
post #2 of 22
Woah, it sounds like you are really frustrated, and in my opinion, justified, because these are the types of things that REALLY would bother me as well...at one I guess I wouldn't be too bothered, but just knowing that behavior isn't going to stop at one is what I am sure is what really gets you...

Remember though, a child's biggest influence is their parents, so just simply the fact that he spends 90% or more of his time with you, can guarantee you and hopefully ease your mind that these other people, while VERY annoying and upsetting to you, will not be a big factor in how your son thinks and feels etc....that is important to remember at this time...now when your son gets friends his own age who have weird opinions on stuff...then you have to worry, as peers DO have a big influence....but you are nowhere there yet...so *breathe*....lol

It depends how ballsy you want to be, on how you handle it...me, personally, with most people, I would try to say as gently as possible, but as firmly to get my point across..."Dad, it would be fantastic if Simon expressed an interest in music, but I don't want to put any pressures or my dreams on him and I would appreciate it if you didn't either...right now he is REALLY interested in soccer/painting/coloring (whatever)...he would be happy to show you one of his drawngs/soccer moves (whatever)..."
If that doesn't um, well, shut him up to put it bluntly, then you may have to get a bit more agressive, but if he has tact or whatever, probably that would stop it....

In terms of the sexist comments, I would nip that right in the bud too, because I DO NOT want my daughter to have gender roles FORCED upon her ( I can just hear the 'lil princess' type comments now grr) ...and I would say something like, "

um, I know you think it's cute to assume my son is a "typical man" but he is a one year old child, and I prefer not to lock him into a role right now, society will take care of that for me thanks"....

...but I am kind of um, blunt when it comes to things like that, because while I do try to spare feelings, my daughter will not be the victim of someone else's hang-ups and myopic world views for entertainment value...

Again though, don't stress too hard, as long as your son doesn't have like, prolonged contact on a daily basis with these people, chances are it won't make a strong stamp on him, which is good....start employing the whole "you know how Granpa is" tpye thing now (as in, we love him but he is crazy and we all know it but don't say anything) attitude...not suggesting your Dad is crazy by any means, but we had attitudes like that when we were little in terms of when someone would be a certain way, my mom would explain they were set in their ways and we don't agree but we can't change them but we know inside they are wrong in their opinion type thing but we love them so we kind of just roll with it type thing...

but to me that is kind of a last effort, I would nip it in the bud now though...you can't change other people but you can control how you respond and what you are comfortable being said in your son's presence...

you are right, being in a small town sucks ...my town is big but closeminded and mainstream for the most part...so DO seek out likeminded people, they are out there, you just have to find them!!

Good luck to you and your family and I completely understand!
post #3 of 22
I usually either ignore or speak my mind in a friendly "I don't agree with that personally" kind of way. For instance, I was at a health clinic with DS (10 mos old) this week and he was playing with a baby doll. The volunteer who was signing people in came over to me and the following conversation ensued:

Volunteer: Is your baby a girl or a boy?

Me: A boy.

Volunteer: But he's playing with a doll?

Me: Yup, he likes dolls.

Volunteer: But I thought only girls played with dolls?

Me: Nope, kids can play with whatever toys they like. My little brother grew up playing with dolls and he's a very manly man. He just happened to like dolls better than trucks. So does my son.

The volunteer looked very confused and walked away. I thought it was a funny conversation to have in this day and age, but I'm getting used to it.
post #4 of 22
it is hard for me to be like that, because truthfully, I can be a bit of a um, ya know *B* word when it comes to things like that...
If the person seemed GENUINELY confused, curious etc, of course my attitude would be accordingly, but what I find is often masked as curiosity, is also approached with a wrinkled scowl of dissaproval and a *tsk tsk* type attitude that infuriates me...
I probably would have added in a dramatic sarcastic whisper "you don't suppose he is GAY do you??" (provided my child was too young to know, or out of earshot otherwise I wouldn't want to confuse he/she with things they didn't understand yet or have them genuinely think I was serious type thing (as children don't get sarcasm sometimes etc)...

...but that is just me...
post #5 of 22
Oh gosh my GMIL always makes comments about how she would parent/discipline DD differently if she was hers. I just tell her that DD's lucky that I'm her mother. I hate to be a bitch but really I don't want her input. I don't want to hear her selective memories about how her children knew better than to reach for pretty things on shelves when they visited someone's home. At 24 months? I don't think so and you know I don't even care. It's not worth it to me to beat it out of my child so that she konws not to show interset in a new setting. I mean what a frightening concept to view that as a positive. She also hits her cats when they misbehave (I'm not talking about a beating just a bop on the head) but then seem baffled when DD hits the cats. Umm she's just following your crappy example.

My parents (in particular my mother) on the other hand are far worse with just tone of voice stuff and how they act/what they say to my younger sister. I don't really want my DD around that environment where my sister is casually called dumb all the time and in a way that none of them even seems really conscious of it. It's not like my mom says it because she's mad or something. Which is of course worse than if she was trying to hurt my sister because it would be easier to work on. Yep families can really suck sometimes.
post #6 of 22
Personally, I just ignore it and do damage control later with the kids. The most I would do is engage them in the way dido1 described. If it's a persistantly bad situation, we stay away. If they ask, we tell them why.
post #7 of 22
I frequently spend time with my sister and her 2 sons. Her family is the polar opposite of anything even close to GD. Her husband frequently jokes about how their 2 yo. ds has a small penis. (Sigh.) When my sister tells him not to say things like that, he replies, "Well, he doesn't understand anyway." (Sigh again.)
First, I'm certain the kid DOES understand (he knows what "penis" means and he certainly understands the concept of size.) Second, their 4 yo. ds also understands.
Luckily, at 11 mo. my ds is too young to understand this yet. But the day will come when he does. Any suggestions for this?
post #8 of 22
I think we all deal with those kinds of comments, unfortunately. I'm pretty kicked back, so I usually let them go unless it is something that *really* bothers me.

I figure Alex is going to hear those stupid sterotypes anyway, and it's my job to teach him that while some people think that way *we* think differently, and that's ok.

I live in a small town in Alabama, moved here a few years ago from California. You would not believe some of the things people say!!
post #9 of 22
i'd personally look at it as a golden opportunity to let your child see you advocate for him. when someone makes a gender-biased comment, you make your own statement about your beliefs. it's always better/more affirming to articulate your own beliefs in the face of opposing ones. so i say let 'em say those things. and make sure you pipe in and express your own beliefs. your dc are bound to hear that kind of stuff all of their lives...better let them see you model appropriate reactions/responses from the get-go!
post #10 of 22
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post #11 of 22
But what about comments that completely UNDO what you're trying to accomplish. Like the time DS decided he wanted to try wearing underpants when we were at my in-laws house. Then he had an accident and FIL said, "shame on you. you wet your pants." BOOM. In one fell swoop he undid everything DH and I try to do. I didn't worry so much about the immediate end of potty training, since I'm perfectly happy to wait until DS is ready again. But to SHAME my child at such a vulnerable moment? DH said, "We don't use the word shame with our children, so please don't ever say that again." But the damage was done. GRRRR.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraN
DH said, "We don't use the word shame with our children, so please don't ever say that again." But the damage was done. GRRRR.
Sounds like your dh did just the right thing. And you know what- there may have been some damage on the potty training front, but your little guy also learned that his parents love him and will stand up for him. That's a great thing to know.
post #13 of 22
GRRRR is right. I'd be tempted to turn around and say, "Shame on YOU; you opened your mouth and all your brains fell out. BAD GRANDPA, BAD, BAD!!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraN
But what about comments that completely UNDO what you're trying to accomplish. Like the time DS decided he wanted to try wearing underpants when we were at my in-laws house. Then he had an accident and FIL said, "shame on you. you wet your pants." BOOM. In one fell swoop he undid everything DH and I try to do. I didn't worry so much about the immediate end of potty training, since I'm perfectly happy to wait until DS is ready again. But to SHAME my child at such a vulnerable moment? DH said, "We don't use the word shame with our children, so please don't ever say that again." But the damage was done. GRRRR.
post #14 of 22
Oh boy, I was just thinking about this today. People keep saying to ds, "you're such a good little boy" or "good boy" like he's a dog. I ignore it because I think dh and I can make a difference in what we say to him and will explain to him later when he can understand. He's a reflective, content 18-month-old so I think that's why people always say that to him.

Also: Grandpa keeps talking about making him into a baseball player and working on his throws, that he'll be the next big thing, that he's going to train him, etc.

So far, ds likes basketball! The child is only 18 months old!

Oh well.. it's my experience that you're always going to find people that undermine what you're trying to teach.
post #15 of 22
If the subject is one I am passionate about (i.e. not spanking), I bring it up immediately. If someone says to me I should spank my son, I very firmly and clearly state my feelings and position on the subject.

My family knows now not to try to debate me on those issues. And I have informed them of alternatives, which they will pass onto others (i.e. I am a passionate cloth diaperer and babywearing, and mow my parents are well versed on cloth diapering and babywearing). I am sticking to my decision. No matter who thinks they know better.

Smaller issues I bring up later. Like when my son is not around, I mention what bothered me and why it bothered me. People have been accomodating. I will probably continue to tell the person the manner I which I intend to convey those message, but respectfully, clearly and with explanation.
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dido1
I usually either ignore or speak my mind in a friendly "I don't agree with that personally" kind of way. For instance, I was at a health clinic with DS (10 mos old) this week and he was playing with a baby doll. The volunteer who was signing people in came over to me and the following conversation ensued:

Volunteer: Is your baby a girl or a boy?

Me: A boy.

Volunteer: But he's playing with a doll?

Me: Yup, he likes dolls.

Volunteer: But I thought only girls played with dolls?

Me: Nope, kids can play with whatever toys they like. My little brother grew up playing with dolls and he's a very manly man. He just happened to like dolls better than trucks. So does my son.

The volunteer looked very confused and walked away. I thought it was a funny conversation to have in this day and age, but I'm getting used to it.
I've had a similar thing happen to my dd. She looks really cute in blue so I like to have her in blue shirts with shorts or pants. Everytime she's not wearing pink I get asked if she's a boy. ANd when my husband's family met dd for the first time at 7 onths, they all said "I thought you said you were pregnant with a girl...why didn't u tell us you had a boy?" I told them she was a girl and they all insisted I was wrong for not piercing her ears as an infant! I told them I rather let her decide when she's older whether or not she wants a hole in her ears.
post #17 of 22
Ugh.
That would -really- upset me. And i would certianly be frank about my opinion of their behaivior.

MIL is kind of like this. She is veeeeery assertive about how she thinks DD should be raised.
She has a secret stash of frilly clothing at her house to put DD in while we're not around. :P
Needless to say, she gets supervised visits only.
post #18 of 22
Sadly, I think there's always going to be someone who not only disagrees with what you're doing as a parent, but who feels the need to express that disagreement, even if in a "subtle," insidious way by speaking to your kids.

I used to get VERY angry with my MIL for this. I've realized over the past few years that I'm not going to change her mind or her actions, and the only thing I can control is my reaction to her, and what I model for DD in front of her.

So - I make sure to respond as soon as I can when she says or does something that makes me crazy. I agree wholeheartedly with the posters who've said that being an advocate for your child is a great way to show love and respect for that child. The message you send is consistent - the silly things that other people do are just little blips.

HUgs.
post #19 of 22
MOst of what you giys are giving as examples I would just role my eyes at and move on. My children know my mom is crazy and that my dh parents say inappropriate things. we just laugh it off and if there is something that needs to be addressed we address it when we get home. Occaisionally it requires an on the spot addressin' but usually it can wait until we are on our way out.

I htink a lot of you are over thinking things. And by over reacting you are telling your children it is a big deal. Whn they very wel may have not even noticed the comment had you not made a big deal out of it to begin with. Don't underestimate your childs ability toknow what doesn't line up with your lifestyle and who is a joking and weird and nuts and silly.
post #20 of 22
lilkya,

I respectfully disagree. I have seen my son undone by something a person does (like someone spanking him for getting food on the floor, which in my world is fine, normal and what vacuums and brooms are for), and I will not tolerate it.

Know the saying "little pitchers have big ears?" Well my son hears everything, repeats much of it and takes some to heart. Kids are smarter than some people give them credit for. I am not taking that risk. They do hear, they do understand.

I also will not tolerate someone underminining me because they think their discipline style is better. Spanking or the threat of is not allowed under any circumstances, as I feel it teaches my son violence and that it is a way to solve a problem. I have seen firsthand after the threat of spanking my a relative, my son start to aggressively act out more violently. So if at that moment, I say, "well, John, violence is not the solution to any problem, much less this one. We do not hit children." My son gets the impression the person was out of line and not acceptable.

Same with perpetuating gender differences. My son has a doll, and when something like the previous situations I rememdy the situaton immediately. I want my child to know I advocate for him, I want him to see other people are not always right, and I want him to see he matters.

I have more to say on the matter, but my son is stirring.
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