They're raising a child together but arguing about it

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  December 20, 2011 06:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

My boyfriend and I are raising his 4, almost 5, year old granddaughter. We constantly disagree about what time she should go to bed, not drinking liquids after a certain time in the evening, what she should wear and I could go on and on......

When you call her name she blurts out "what", when you correct her here recently she sticks out her tongue, if you try and get her attention she will ignore you until you call her name several times, if you try to get her to pick up her room she will either say "no I don't want to" or "you do it", if she doesn't get her way in public she acts out, if you are in public as I was the other night she turned to this woman and said "hey lady get out of the way", she constantly jumps on beds and sofas and I try and correct her and stop her and I think it makes him mad..............Of course when it is just her and I, I will not allow it but I feel when we are all together he gets upset with me for calling her down for doing some of these things. It is so discouraging and humiliating and when I try and talk to him, the grandfather, he says, "she's just a 4 year old". I do not agree with that. Children are a product of their raisings and my fear is if this keeps going on she is going to be totally out of control. I personally have never had children but I am the oldest of 7 and I have been around many many children and I know that this behavior is unacceptable. I am desperately seeking answers on how to make a difference in this little girl's life and and trying to convince my boyfriend aka the grandfather that the way she is acting is unacceptable and we need to get on the same page in trying to fix this and raise her and keeping it from tearing us apart.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to any advice you can offer.

From: Anita, Arlington, TX


Dear Anita,

Every child needs -- and feels safer and more secure -- when life contains structure, age-appropriate limit-setting, and consequences for misbehavior. Without those elements, life feels out of control to a child. She's constantly pushing the envelope in an effort to see when and where you will set the limits, or impose consequences. It's as if she's saying to herself, "Well, if I do this, what will they do? What if I do this?"

For you and your boyfriend to argue about her behavior isn't good for the relationship the two of you have, and it's even worse for his granddaughter. Children are ego-centric. They like attention. Seeing that her behavior gets her attention -- even though it's negative attention -- will only encourage her to continue to behave in the same way. In other words, this isn't going to get better, it's likely going to get worse. This isn't a good trajectory.

So how can you get on the same page? Enroll the two of you in a parenting class, read a book together, attend some parenting lectures. Get creative. Socialize with parents of her playmates, get him into conversations at the playground. Talking to other parents will hopefully turn some light bulbs on for him. Is she in preschool or day care? I hope so. At the very least, she needs to learn the rules and structure of how a group setting works; otherwise, she'll have a really hard time in kindergarten. Anyway, if she is in a school setting, what do the teachers say about her ability to follow rules and get along?

At the very least, Anita, try for the two of you to reach some kind of compromises and agreements about acceptable behavior and consequences. At the very least, agree to disagree in private. This article that I'm linking to here is about parental conflict, but the message applies.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

3 comments so far...
  1. Sounds like you two need to sit down and have a talk, a real conversation about what is 'ok' and what is not. If she does act out in public or at home, you need to come together to talk about what the consequences are going to be. And be prepared to compromise. Because "she is just a 4 yr old" and even though you might set up a plan and structure that works for the whole family, there will still be times she says "no" to cleaning up her room becase all kids do it. They continue to push the limits. The key is being consistant. I would also say to cut your boyfriend a little bit of slack. Although you two are raising her as a daughter, I'm sure inside he still feels like the grandpa that just wants to spoil his grandbaby.

    Posted by Jessy December 20, 11 10:37 AM
  1. I agree with Jessy except for the last sentence. I understand he would want to spoil is grandbaby BUT he does not have that role anymore. They are her primary caregivers. They have to teach this child what is socially acceptable behavior and what is not. It isn't just about getting into kindergarten and being socially accepted there. It is a life skill. It is their job to mold this child into a person who is respected and respects others. They must be on the same page. Like Jessy and Barbara said, you have to be on the same page and agree and disagree about consequence in private away from her. The comment "she is just a 4 year old" irks me. The behavior is not going to change unless you (her authority figure) stops that behavior. She is old enough to understand simple rules.

    Posted by jd December 20, 11 12:06 PM
  1. I am the oldest of 9 and have been around many children and know what is acceptable and unacceptable... That being said, all that means diddly squat when it comes to raising a child from the ground up. Sounds like you want the child, who is only 4 years old, to be on her best behavior at all times. Children are a product of their upraising and that could be wild child or unyielding, intolerant and repressed or somewhere in between. yes, you and grandad do need to be on the same page (or at least in the same book) but she's 4! (I've got 4 of my own including...if he finishes his project soon enough...a new Eagle Scout...and he jumped on the sofa until he was about 8)

    Posted by pkay December 20, 11 12:10 PM
 
3 comments so far...
  1. Sounds like you two need to sit down and have a talk, a real conversation about what is 'ok' and what is not. If she does act out in public or at home, you need to come together to talk about what the consequences are going to be. And be prepared to compromise. Because "she is just a 4 yr old" and even though you might set up a plan and structure that works for the whole family, there will still be times she says "no" to cleaning up her room becase all kids do it. They continue to push the limits. The key is being consistant. I would also say to cut your boyfriend a little bit of slack. Although you two are raising her as a daughter, I'm sure inside he still feels like the grandpa that just wants to spoil his grandbaby.

    Posted by Jessy December 20, 11 10:37 AM
  1. I agree with Jessy except for the last sentence. I understand he would want to spoil is grandbaby BUT he does not have that role anymore. They are her primary caregivers. They have to teach this child what is socially acceptable behavior and what is not. It isn't just about getting into kindergarten and being socially accepted there. It is a life skill. It is their job to mold this child into a person who is respected and respects others. They must be on the same page. Like Jessy and Barbara said, you have to be on the same page and agree and disagree about consequence in private away from her. The comment "she is just a 4 year old" irks me. The behavior is not going to change unless you (her authority figure) stops that behavior. She is old enough to understand simple rules.

    Posted by jd December 20, 11 12:06 PM
  1. I am the oldest of 9 and have been around many children and know what is acceptable and unacceptable... That being said, all that means diddly squat when it comes to raising a child from the ground up. Sounds like you want the child, who is only 4 years old, to be on her best behavior at all times. Children are a product of their upraising and that could be wild child or unyielding, intolerant and repressed or somewhere in between. yes, you and grandad do need to be on the same page (or at least in the same book) but she's 4! (I've got 4 of my own including...if he finishes his project soon enough...a new Eagle Scout...and he jumped on the sofa until he was about 8)

    Posted by pkay December 20, 11 12:10 PM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

Child in Mind

Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives