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I'm sure most of you have been through this with at least one or two family members, so I would love some advice.

My in-laws (all of them) are incredibly harsh when it comes to discipline - they spank, they threaten to spank, they use time-out quite liberally ("That's the 2nd time you asked for a cookie and I already said no - go to time out!") and when all else fails, they tell the kids how terrible they've been and shame them until they cry. They are not bad people and they mean well, but they are barbarians when it comes to disciplining children. They put no thought into their parenting whatsoever - they just repeat what was done to them. My question is how should I deal with that when they start thinking DD needs discipline - probably 6 or 8 months from now? We all get together at MIL and StepFIL's house often. MIL feels it is her right and privilege to discipline her 2 other grandchildren and I see no reason to believe she will feel any differently about my child. However, when she believes spanking is an acceptable way to handle a tantrum and time out works for everything that doesn't warrant a good slap, you can see where there might be a conflict. She also believes in forcing a child to sit at the table until they clean their plate of all the food you thought they should eat - including new foods they don't want to try - and sending them to bed if they refuse. (She once held my SIL on the ground and literally shoved artichoke into her mouth and forced her to swallow it once when she was a kid just because she wouldn't try it.)

I don't think any of this would matter to me because I could choose to ignore them. However....how in the world will we be able to all get together without conflict between the little cousins if my DD is treated so differently from them? Because it won't just be the parents treating them differently, kwim? I refuse to allow my MIL to treat my DD the way she treats my nieces. Period. She cannot talk to her the way she talks to them, force her stupid food rules on her the way she does to them or threaten and punish her the way she does to them. I can't see how this would be anything but obvious and won't that cause tension? Like won't everyone, including all the kids, think, "Oh, Richelle thinks her DD is so special that she gets better treatment than everyone else"? How will we handle that? Should we even care?
 

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Ei-yi-yi! That's a tricky situation. For starters, you need to talk a lot to dh and make sure he really understands and supports GD. Talk about a lot of what-if scenarios. If dh isn't completely supportive, you'll have major problems. He should be the one dealing with his family. You should be ready to swoop in if it looks like MIL is thinking of disciplining. She has the right to make rules in her house so you'll have to be on your toes to enforce them before she gets a chance. I think it would be difficult to have a calm discussion about your parenting style without making her defensive. You could tell her that you'll take dd home anytime she isn't behaving up to MIL's standards. You could also volunteer to host gatherings so that you are on your own turf and make it known that there is a no hitting rule in your house which applies to adults as well as children. You could explain that you think it will confuse dd if she sees hitting and you are afraid she will emulate the adults and think hitting is OK, not understanding why they are doing it (not that I understand why, either
). Personally, I wouldn't want my ds to witness the kind of interactions you've described. Maybe you can say something about how you have such great memories of what fun your grandmother was and that you want dd to have similar ones so you don't want MIL to discipline, just let you or dh know if there is a problem and you'll take care of it. You would like dd and MIL's relationship to just be about fun and love, so you'll take care of disciplining and feeding veggies.

Good luck!
 

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I was in this same position about two years ago with both my parents and MIL. I agree with trying to keep situations on your turf if at all possible, but for the first year and a half that was almost impossible for us. DH agreed with me, but still left most of the interactions between grandparents to me.
First, I was always present when grandparents were with DS - I would kindly but firmly correct them when I saw things heading in a direction I didn't care for and several times removed DS and myself from their presence when I felt interactions were very inappropriate. No words, just scooped him up and took a walk, drive, ect. Second, I had to eliminate any second guessing as to what anyone else thought about what I was saying or doing. This is your dear child and you are the voice. Don't worry about how you are being judged by family, you are doing what is right. If you are met with hostility from MIL, remove yourself and your child until she comes around. I had to do this with my own family, and believe me, they learned how to treat my child appropriately in order to spend time with him. Stick with it.
 

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Luckily, my MIL felt she was too "old" to know much about the new way of doing things. She was interested in learning, especially about nursing, etc. It was my mom I had a problem with. She spanked my oldest (oldest grandchild, I did not have the luxury of being prepared but should have known, she spanked me). She knew my feelings on it and did it anyway. She did not see Beth unsupervised for about a year. Recently I heard her threaten her with a spanking and reminded her that she would be be free to see them whenever she wanted to if she laid a hand on either of them.

I agree, DH HAS to be on board. He probably needs to be the one to confront the situation. But, if he can't or the situation can't be improved, consider staying out of the situation as long as possible. But, since it is not your family but his, at the very least, you both need to handle it. You should not alone.
 

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Definitely agree that your DH needs to stand beside you 100% on this. Even if there's a point he disagrees on in the heat of the moment he must always be supportive of you with the agreement that you will discuss it between yourselves in private later.

Obviously, any visits without you there are out of the question for now.

But the bigger problem is how this is going to affect your child. I honestly believe that a child who is surrounded by kids being hit and punished is going to rapidly become desensitized to it. He will also be affected by it in negative ways, in some way countering all the good your doing by being gentle with him. So you need to really think about the role these people are going to play in your lives. This isn't as simple as 'don't do to my kid what you do to yours' since he is going to be surrounded by it anyways.

I think at some point this will inevitable come to a head, and I don't honestly know what the solution is. You can't really expect these other parents to "not discipline" their children just because you are there. You can't expect to change everybody to your way of thinking, either. And any attempt you make to do so will be met with defensiveness, hostility, and probably derision.

If it were me, I would have my husband explain what the problem is, and see if everybody can figure out a solution together. Though with the mentality they hold towards their kids, I doubt very much if they'd be interested in working something out, let alone respecting your feelings.

 

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I've BTDT w/ both sides of our family, and I tell ya, it stinks. Dh's family was much easier to talk to about things than my family though. (my mom still has a switch/belt sitting beside her chair for my sister's kids.
: ) What we did was one day when dd was born I just told them-you are NEVER to hit or discipline our kids. If they need discipline either dh or I will do it. I let them know pretty quickly that if they ever hit our kids that would be it for our relationship. It was hard to do, but my kids are more important than me feeling weird about it. Luckily for us, dd has never been there when my sister's kids get hit, so we haven't really had to deal with it.

However I have always let it be known that I don't agree w/ spanking, and have no qualms at all about engaging my sister and my mom in a "debate" about spanking.
I have actually "won" my sister over to not spanking, just by being an example to her. (although she still lets mom hit them-whatever!) So maybe if they observe you showing GD, maybe someday they will follow suit??? One can only hope.
But yeah, I agree-I would NEVER leave your child alone with them-EVER.
 

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oh mamma I am so sorry for you we are living the same ordeal but we have chosen to seperate from them we see them 1 or 2 times a year and not all of them eighter...thats not right for all I know but it is for us...it is very hard and scary and I wish I could say it gets easier but you do become stronger..I will say that I was not strong in the beginning to stand up for my self but I became much more confident as a mother and protector or my kids and myself.....so good luck and believe in yourself and you will be fine,,good luck
 
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