The following question came in a Boston.com readers' Q&A on Monday with Child Caring writer Barbara Meltz
Question: My sister (my nephew's other aunt) can be very mean to our nephew. He lives with her and our parents. I have heard her say things to him like he is "full of ___." I know that I need to have a talk with her and remind her that he is only a 10-year-old CHILD, but any advice on how to phrase this? I am really worried that she is going to affect his self esteem, etc. There are really no other kids in the family, and I think people forget that he is just a CHILD, but it is really out of line. Thanks so much!!!
Barbara Meltz: Concerned aunt, Whoa! That's more than an issue of self-esteem; in my book, that's abusive. One suggestion is to remind her of the Golden Rule. If she doesn't want to hear those words coming out of his mouth (spoken to her, no less), she has to stop using them with him.
Of course, it's possible that if she's using this language, she doesn't have problems hearing it, either, so that might not work. At the heart of this is a hard question: How much does she care about this boy? If you think she does, then you can appeal to her sense of what's good for him.
It may be that she simply doesn't know. Would she be open to reading a book about parenting? Or attending a workshop? For you to lecture her probably just comes across as you being self-righteous. What's needed here is to find a way for her to gain some solid information; hopefully, she cares enough to do that.
Do you agree with Barbara here? Have some advice of your own? Let us know in our comments section, and check out these previous Child Caring posts: