What Is the Grandparents' Role in Disciplining Your Kids? - Mothering Forums
Gentle Discipline > What Is the Grandparents' Role in Disciplining Your Kids?
Addy's Mom's Avatar Addy's Mom 12:41 PM 06-28-2010
I need some objective, healthy advice. We go over to my parents' house each Sunday for dinner with the extended family, and it's a nice chance for all the cousins to play together.

My 3.5 year old melted down last night because he'd had a very long day (and missed his nap). Just after dinner, he did a very weird shrill wail before he burst into big fat tears, and I was juggling between trying to figure out why he was upset (other than being tired) so I could possibly fix it, and just about ready to scoop him up into a hug (which works wonders for calming him down when he's like this), when my mother started in on yelling at him for making "such a fuss."

Yes, his wailing was annoying. I get that. And yes, my style of parenting is "very" different from my mother's with her whole "children should be seen and not heard" thing.

Anyway, should grandparents have a role in discipline when the parent is right there? What would you have done? What should I have done? (I picked him up with a big hug and left immediately). I don't think she should have any role, but I'm wondering if I'm biased because we have very different disciplining styles.

Knitting Mama 01:02 PM 06-28-2010
I would have left immediately, like you did, and then I would have spoken to her later on about it. Yes, she is your mother, but the way I see it, she had her chance to raise her kids and now it's your turn. As well, she probably did things differently than her parents did, and by the same token, you are also doing things differently.

This is a sore spot for me, though, because my in-laws are constantly getting on us for our parenting choices, like co-sleeping and no bottles.
AndVeeGeeMakes3's Avatar AndVeeGeeMakes3 01:03 PM 06-28-2010
I'm of the mind that my parents (and sister, and very close girlfriends) are sort of my "team mates" in disciplining my child when we're all together. That said, I would not allow my mother to yell at my daughter. I think that I would just pick her up (the child ) and take her to another part of the house/room/whatever, and do as I would normally do. Then, later, I'd tell my mother that I appreciated her wanting to participate in disciplining my child, and that I do want her to be involved, but that we are making a concerted effort to avoid yelling. I would NOT make it about HER parenting choices, because she'd likely come back with, "Well, I yelled at YOU and you turned out fine." It would spiral and become not a discussion about the issue in front of us. If she went there (and I imagine my mom would go there), I'd just say, "That's not what we're talking about, and, yes, I did turn out fine. We're just making a different decision." I would NOT make it about a value judgment of my mom. Basically, I just would be trying to get her on the team, not tell her what a bad player she is. HTH.
momtoTnT's Avatar momtoTnT 01:33 PM 06-28-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndVeeGeeMakes3 View Post
I'm of the mind that my parents (and sister, and very close girlfriends) are sort of my "team mates" in disciplining my child when we're all together.
This is how we operate too. If someone crossed a line, I'd say something, but that has never happened (so far). There have been times where my kids have been told to stop doing something that I wouldn't necessarily have an issue with, but those times have been at other people's houses, and we follow the rule of "their house, their rules".
newmommy7-08's Avatar newmommy7-08 01:48 PM 06-28-2010
I battle this same fight with my inlaws. They just insist on chiming in when I'm in the middle of handling it. When FIL raises his voice it scares the heck out of DS so I have to switch from discipline to comfort which manages to teach NOTHING! I always shoot him a look and say I'm right here and handling it THANK YOU! doesn't do any good for the next time but I have to say something!
laughymama's Avatar laughymama 03:49 PM 06-28-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndVeeGeeMakes3 View Post
I'm of the mind that my parents (and sister, and very close girlfriends) are sort of my "team mates" in disciplining my child when we're all together.
This is us. Our parents are on the same wavelength we're on for the most part though. They tend to discipline DS the same way they see us do so.

I would definitely step in if anything got inappropriate or went against how we feel is the right way for us to do things.
Alyantavid's Avatar Alyantavid 04:03 PM 06-28-2010
If I'm right there and handling it, they have no role in discipline. We have a big "village" and my kids absolutely can be disciplined by friends or family if I'm not there. But it has to be valid. Yelling at a 3 year old for a tantrum seems a little much to me.

However, they all discipline the same way we do, so I don't have to worry about spankings or anything like that.
Jaesun's Dad's Avatar Jaesun's Dad 04:07 PM 06-28-2010
>>should grandparents have a role in discipline when the parent is right there?<<

Both my partner and I agree on a firm "no" to this. Luckily the grandparents are 3,000 miles away so it's not likely to ever become an issue.
broodymama's Avatar broodymama 04:11 PM 06-28-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaesun's Dad View Post
Both my partner and I agree on a firm "no" to this. Luckily the grandparents are 3,000 miles away so it's not likely to ever become an issue.
Same for us. When we are there, we are the ones responsible for discipline.
happysmileylady's Avatar happysmileylady 04:14 PM 06-28-2010
I get together with my parents and siblings and such quite a bit also. We all discipline each others kids as necessary, my parents as well. We are all basically on the same page as far as our approaches to disclipline so there aren't any real concerns about conflicting issues.

But in your situation, where you were in the middle of handling something, that would probably really irritate me.
crunchy_mommy's Avatar crunchy_mommy 04:20 PM 06-28-2010
I'd say no, they should let you handle it, unless the child is breaking their rules in their house (picking up something breakable, for example), but even then I would expect them to model their 'disciplining' after my own (no yelling, hitting, threats, etc.) DS is only 16mos so there's no real 'discipline' yet but I have no problem if my parents take something from him that they'd rather he not play with (though I may tease them about it later ) or if they tell him 'no hitting' or 'come back here' in a firm, gentle way. Actually I would expect the same if I were not there as well, though that won't happen anytime soon anyway.

I guess what it really comes down to is different disciplining styles. Would you have had an issue if your mother 'disciplined' basically the same way you would? (scooped him up in a hug etc.) I would tend to think no... I think the issue is less whether gparents should discipline your kids & more whether they should discipline in a similar way to your discipline. I don't expect them to copy me word for word or anything but I would be firm that there should be no yelling, shaming, physical punishment, etc.
AllyRae's Avatar AllyRae 04:27 PM 06-28-2010
My viewpoint is that I am in charge of my children--if I am there, I am disciplining if need be. If I am not there, the children can be disciplined by the adult in charge as long as it is not violent discipline. I also believe that other people's homes should be respected and if my child is bothering or disrupting in that home, regardless of whether *I* think my child is acting within the realm of normal, it is my responsibility to rectify that. If my child is shrieking to the point where the homeowner is not comfortable with it, I remove my child to another room and help her calm down. It is not ok for someone else to yell at my children, but it is also not ok for me to allow my children to be obviously disruptive in an environment where the homeowner is no longer comfortable with it. As a guest, me and my children are not to be intrusive and are to be respectful of the rules and expectations--if for some reason, they aren't, it is my responsibility to make it so that my children are happy and the host is not intruded upon.

And trust me, with 2 of my 3 kids having significant emotional and behavior special needs, I am frequently dealing with it. I have had to move a raging child to another floor of the house and shut the door (because her rages are 1-3 hours in length) and let her rage in a private area because it is quite disruptive and anxiety-provoking to the host we were staying with. Everyone has their limits and screaming/raging is not comfortable to witness.

So I guess my answer is the adult in charge of the children is responsble for discipline, and if I am there, that person is myself. However, *I* am responsible for ensuring that my children are acting appropriately for the environment they are in, and if it is not an environment where they can be comfortably, I remove them for their own comfort and for the comfort of the hosts. There's nothing worse to an upset toddler than keeping them in a place where other people are getting upset and lashing out at the upset child...
meemee's Avatar meemee 05:19 PM 06-28-2010
my dd is almost 8 and it has worked very well for us.

everyone is allowed to discipline my child whether i am there or not there.

so far it has worked very well for all of us.

yes my mom has made mistakes. something like yours. its usually been when she is under stress. i figure i have done the same myself, so i can understand. usually for my mom all i have to say is 'maaaaa... she hasnt had a nap. she is tired.' and my mom would go 'sorry i know. i understand. i shouldnt have yelled but i am feeling overwhelmed with so many people here.' my inlaws have never gone over the top.

however i have totally trusted my mom and my inlaws with my dd. in fact it was my inlaws who first introduced me to GD. i noticed as she grew older she would 'tolerate' far more discipline from my inlaws (my moms far away) than me. we could say the same thing but she would listen to her gpa better than she would listen to me. sometimes what they said irked me but i dd was fine with it. in fact she did not like it when i said something to her gparents so i did not say anything again.
travelingmom's Avatar travelingmom 05:28 PM 06-28-2010
Ugh... I just went through this with my mom during a 2-week visit home recently, so I'm right there with you... There's nothing more frustrating than trying to think through how to address your child's needs and behavior and having someone else--even a grandparent--interrupt and do something that completely defies your philosophy and beliefs about discipline.

I think you handled the situation well for two reasons. One, your child was able to witness you protecting him instead of leaving him to be scolded by your mom, which would do absolutely nothing and would likely only upset him (and you!) more. Second, he obviously was tired, so leaving early was a logical way of handling the situation.

I think grandparents should be a part of their grandchildren's lives, but should only involve themselves with discipline if it's okay with the parents and in a fashion similar to what the parents are doing. Otherwise, it's probably easier on everyone involved if they just stay out of it and leave the disciplining up to the parents.
Ruthla's Avatar Ruthla 05:43 PM 06-28-2010
In most cases, grandparents/aunts/friends/etc shouldn't be disciplining when a parent is right there. There are a few exceptions:

1) Explaining a house rule, when it's the person's house, or a personal boundary (don't put your feet on my couch, I don't like to be touched like that, etc.)

2) Emergencies, when the child is about to injure himself, another person, or damage property, and there isn't time to wait even 10 seconds for Mom or Dad to respond.

3) When Mom or Dad isn't responding- you've repeatedly told Mom not to let Junior do that, but Junior keeps doing it and Mom is letting him- or when Mom is off in another part of the house with another child or involved in some other project and can't get there to respond in a reasonable amount of time.

4) When the adults have discussed it ahead of time and agreed to be "teammates" with discipline, are both on the same page regarding how to discipline, etc.

IMO, your mom was way out of line. You just don't yell at a child for yelling, especially when both parents are right there!
One_Girl's Avatar One_Girl 06:51 PM 06-28-2010
When dd was younger I made sure I seemed like I was on top of things so I didn't have that problem too often. If a grandparent saw something that I didn't or that I wasn't sure how to address I was fine with them stepping in and I tended to back them up. Now that dd is older I like to have someone else taking over once in a while so I can relax for a little while. I don't have family that would yell or do anything else though so it isn't a worry for me. Now that you know that shrieking fits happens to be a button pusher for grandma, I think you should quickly remove your child to another room at the first sign of a tantrum coming on. That tends to eliminate advice or "help" from other people.
mistymama's Avatar mistymama 06:54 PM 06-28-2010
I think this really varies depending on the grandparents, and their respect for your parenting beliefs and style.

My Mom and Dad for example are wonderful with ds - my Mom is fully allowed to discipline ds, but that's because I know she is gentle, kind and is going to treat him with dignity and respect. When he's with her, he really gets away with everything and is spoiled rotten - but she's well within her rights to tell him not to do something, redirect him, etc. She does it gently and it's all good.

My in-laws? No way in HELL. Dh and I both are on edge when we are over there because his Dad especially judges our parenting and can get snappy, grumpy and mean. I feel I have to hover near ds to make sure nothing is said or done to him that would upset him or us .. and yes, it's stressful. We visit them maybe 2x a year. The inlaws are in no way allowed to discipline ds, and I would (and have!) quickly put a stop to any attempts to do it.
Addy's Mom's Avatar Addy's Mom 11:33 PM 06-28-2010
Thanks for all of your feedback. It gives me some good things to think about.
mamazee's Avatar mamazee 11:37 PM 06-28-2010
It sounds like you were working on it, and she basically overruled you. My mom did that once. That's not OK. If you're handling it, they need to leave it alone.

OTOH, if I'm not handling something, and a grandparent gets involved and does so in a gentle loving way, even if he/she handles it differently than I would, I relax about it.
bluebirdiemama 11:44 PM 06-28-2010
Is this the first time it has happened? From your post it sounds that way to me, in which case I wouldn't assume that she is going to resist doing things your way. Is it possible that she just made an error in judgement? If you have never spoken to her about this before, that may be the case?

I have trouble with my in laws. Not so much MIL, but def FIL when it comes to discipline. I just assume he's not trying to do any harm (the first time) and tell him firmly that we don't do things that way.
nextcommercial's Avatar nextcommercial 12:14 PM 06-29-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndVeeGeeMakes3 View Post
I'm of the mind that my parents (and sister, and very close girlfriends) are sort of my "team mates" in disciplining my child when we're all together. That said, I would not allow my mother to yell at my daughter..
Me too.

My Mom wouldn't yell at my daughter. But, I wouldn't have left her to scream while I quietly and calmly tried to figure out what I could do to fix it. I know how much my Father hated that kind of noise, so, I wouldn't have let it go on. We either would have gone into a bedroom, or out in the backyard.

My family disciplined my child just fine. (for the most part) and I was so grateful to have them on my side. My daughter knew she had a bunch of people who loved her.
Addy's Mom's Avatar Addy's Mom 01:34 PM 06-30-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post
Me too.

My Mom wouldn't yell at my daughter. But, I wouldn't have left her to scream while I quietly and calmly tried to figure out what I could do to fix it. I know how much my Father hated that kind of noise, so, I wouldn't have let it go on. We either would have gone into a bedroom, or out in the backyard.

My family disciplined my child just fine. (for the most part) and I was so grateful to have them on my side. My daughter knew she had a bunch of people who loved her.
Just for the record, my son was loud for all of 10 seconds. I didn't "leave him to scream."
nextcommercial's Avatar nextcommercial 01:53 PM 06-30-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Addy's Mom View Post
Just for the record, my son was loud for all of 10 seconds. I didn't "leave him to scream."


No. I didn't mean YOU.. I meant myself personally. Sorry. That is what it looked like, but not how I meant it.
Addy's Mom's Avatar Addy's Mom 02:00 PM 06-30-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post
No. I didn't mean YOU.. I meant myself personally. Sorry. That is what it looked like, but not how I meant it.

No worries.
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 03:16 AM 07-02-2010
My parents are welcome to tell my children what to do. They're gentle about it, no yelling, but they do have firm boundaries.
enigo's Avatar enigo 05:53 PM 07-02-2010
I'd say they have no reason to discipline, especially in this case where you were already handling it. My mother does the exact thing and it drives me nuts.
Anna's Lovey's Avatar Anna's Lovey 10:48 AM 07-03-2010
If my mom or my MIL did that, I would definitely have a "talk" with them right then and there. That's just disrespectful to you and your lo. If your mom is doing something that is hurtful towards your lo(yelling at her) then it is your responsibility to set boundaries. It hasn't been much of an issue with my mom and MIL both living far away but if it ever came up I would have no problem arguing my case for GD. If they wind up not being on the same page, then I will tell them not to discipline my child.
AndVeeGeeMakes3's Avatar AndVeeGeeMakes3 01:37 PM 07-03-2010
I think it's important to remember that little ears and eyes are there with you, too. It's a good opportunity, I think, to model how we handle conflict. IRL people get yelled at, treated rudely, etc. It's not okay to yell, or speak disrespectfully, back to someone, just because they've broken the rule of how you think people should behave.
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