SIL's behavior with kids worries grandma

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  October 22, 2012 06:00 AM

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I believe that my son-in-law has anger management problems that affect his children.

He's the main care taker as far as picking up the kids and taking them to sport activities. However, I observe that my grandsons are expected to do things as soon as they are told. Sometimes, he swears at my daughter in front of them, and puts her down. I've had my eldest grandson tell me that his parents argue and yell in front of them. When I recently was there, he gave his youngest son a hard slap on his bottom. This has happened before but this time I was fed up. I got angry and told him that there is no reason to hit a child so hard. Now he's saying I'm interfering in his disciple and I shouldn't have yelled at him. My grandsons are only 7 and 5 years old.

I worry on how he will behave towards them as they get older and have their own opinions, and test their boundaries. However, now I'm afraid that he will use our recent altercation to keep the boys from visiting or coming over to see me. I don't want my daughter to be in the middle but I don't see me changing my mind about my son-in-law. What is your advice on how I should handle this situation.

From: Nana, Edmonds (WA or SD? Nana doesn't say.....)


Dear Nana,

I agree that what you observed isn't great. I agree that what your grandson told you isn't terrific, either. But what you observed is only a part of the story. Maybe it's the tip of the iceberg or maybe these were off times for your son-in-law. Maybe, yeah, he could benefit from a parenting workshop or two, but just because he's stern doesn't mean he's abusive. And what a 7-year-old tells his loving nana may have some basis in truth but also could be rife with embellishment typical of a 7-year-old.

Take your daughter out, just the two of you and see what you can learn with some gentle probing and a sympathetic ear. Tell her your concerns about spanking but figure out a way to do it that doesn't make her defensive. Is she worried? Does she need support and help? Or are you over-reacting and butting in? I'm not saying you have no role here. You do. Over time, you can monitor the situation. Over time, as a loving, caring grandparent, you can serve as a role model for something other than what dad offers. But you can't do any of that if you don't have access. My advice? Mend your fence.

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1 comments so far...
  1. My daughter yells at my grandson, all the time. When he hugs her and tells her he loves her, she ignores him. She has very extreme responses toward him. But none are of love. She doesn't spend any fun time with him. He says his tummy hurts a lot and I asked about the color of his stools and he said black. I have spoke to my daughter about her relationship with her son but she is too defensive to have a conversation with. It is a complicated situation where her live in boy friend (Kris) (47) can't get along with her other son (21). She and her boy friend fight a lot. I am sick about this situation for Mark's sake. Kris moves in and moves out of the house with their arguments. Mark is in constant turmoil. What can I do to get my daughter to grow up.

    Posted by Sharon April 13, 13 11:08 AM
 
1 comments so far...
  1. My daughter yells at my grandson, all the time. When he hugs her and tells her he loves her, she ignores him. She has very extreme responses toward him. But none are of love. She doesn't spend any fun time with him. He says his tummy hurts a lot and I asked about the color of his stools and he said black. I have spoke to my daughter about her relationship with her son but she is too defensive to have a conversation with. It is a complicated situation where her live in boy friend (Kris) (47) can't get along with her other son (21). She and her boy friend fight a lot. I am sick about this situation for Mark's sake. Kris moves in and moves out of the house with their arguments. Mark is in constant turmoil. What can I do to get my daughter to grow up.

    Posted by Sharon April 13, 13 11:08 AM
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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.

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