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SIL's behavior with kids worries grandma

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

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.....)


Are visiting grandson's bad behaviors a bunch of bad habits or something more?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 27, 2012 06:00 AM

My 6 year old grandson is spending the summer with me. I thought that the lying, stealing, wetting pants (day and night), picking at other kids and just saying mean things in general to other children (older ones) was because of the change in his environment but I have learned that these are the frustrations my daughter is dealing with on a daily basis. He has a sister 3 years younger. I want to make absolutely sure I am giving him exactly what he needs and be able to give her sound advice on how to deal with these issues. Please help me help him. Thank you so much,

From: Denise, Fort Myers, FLA


Thumbs down on "Little Devil" as a nickname

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 13, 2012 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,

My question is regarding a name that my mother-in-law uses very loosely toward my 22 month old. When my daughter does typical toddler things my mother-in-law calles her a "little devil." I feel that this is not an appropriate term to use at all, especially toward my daughter and directly to her. I have told my husband that I do not want her saying this and have asked him to speak with her. He thinks that it's not a big deal; I think he just doesn't want to address this with her. I am a little out spoken but I feel I should not be the one to address this topic.

Thank you
From: CJW, Providence, RI


Visit with stepmom needs some prep work

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 10, 2012 06:00 AM

My husband's stepmother recently almost overdosed on prescription drugs. At her last visit to our home, my husband's father told us she was much better, but when she got here it was the same old thing. She was falling asleep at the table, falling asleep in the middle of interacting w my 2 year old , and inappropriately showing affection ie. long kisses on the cheek ( because she was falling asleep). Almost like a heroine addict. I told her not to pick up my 2 month old, she still tried. I told her not to pick up my 2 year old and she did multiple times. It was frightening.

Then she confronted ME! Told me she wouldn't have come if she had known she was going to be treated that way. My husband and I are meant to go to visit them and we are arguing over the duration of our stay. My husband insists we must visit them at their home and that she's doing much better now. I do not want to be put in that position again. I told him I could do 2 hours and he is telling me it has to be 4 hours. Honestly, I'm so unbelievably uncomfortable around this woman at this time that I don't want to go at all.
Please give me a better perspective. How can we stay in a relationship w his dad and stepmom while she is suffering through this and still keep our sanity and children safe?

From: Erica, Glendale, AZ


Stopping parents' fighting starts with acknowledging it, not pretending you don't know.

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz June 7, 2012 06:00 AM

I am aware that my daughter and son-in-law have horrible screaming matches in front of my 1 year old grandson. Drinking is sometimes a factor, stress and workload are others. Neighbours have been involved in calming them down and separating them in order to cool down the situation. These same neighbours have spoken to me out of concern. I recognize the danger of this situation and its ongoing effect on my grandson and feel I need to discuss this with them. How do I initiate the conversation, when they don't know that I am as aware of the problem as they think? I want them to manage this, not wave me off as if it's all imagined or exaggerated. Thanks.

From: Joanne, Toronto


Keep your cool when grandmother interjects herself

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 16, 2012 06:00 AM

When the mother is punishing the child (and the child is shouting because of the punishing) then the grandmother comes and ask the mother to stop punishing the child. What should the mother do?

From KL, Malaysia


What's grandparent's role when discipline gets harsh?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz January 13, 2012 06:00 AM

We were celebrating my daughter's birthday at her house. My grandchildren were upstairs playing, my daughter's two children and a friend. The children began arguing and they called my youngest granddaughter out of her name and began teasing her. She came down stairs crying and I saw her first. Her dad heard her and asked what was wrong. She began to tell him and he (the dad) asked if her brother was also taunting her. She said yes. The father called the brother downstairs and began yelling loudly about what he had told him at another time about taking up for his sister and not joining in with others when someone is talking about her. Well, it [end up] in a "WOW" situation. The father took the son outside in the front and began yelling and telling him he should stand up and not be a sissy. I came outside and began listening. I did not interfere. After a while, I went inside to get my daughter who was still upstairs trying to console the daughter. She went outside and my grandson was crying profusely. She tried to talk to her husband and he refused to listen and she could hardly get a word in. Finally, she said, "If you don't stop, I am going to call the police. He said, "Call the damn police, I don't care." I motioned for my grandson to come inside. They continued to talk. Finally, I asked my other daughter to go outside and try to get him (them) to stop. It was getting terrible and I didn't want her neighbors to see any disturbance. They finally came inside and he was still very angry. The two of them went upstairs and continued to talk. My son-in-law kept saying, "I guess you (my daughter) just want him to grow up and be a sissy."

He made my grandson cry and cry, it hurt him so bad. Long story short. Will I, a grandparent, be out of place to talk to my daughter and or my son-in-law about how I feel about what happened or should I just let it pass over and pray for the best? Please help me because I haven't slept in two nights.

From: Yawyer, Atlanta


They're raising a child together but arguing about it

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

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


Explaining about a dead grandma

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz December 6, 2011 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,

My mother passed away over 17 years ago, and my father has since re-married a wonderful woman named "Ruth". I have a very good relationship with Ruth - we talk a few times a week on the phone, go shopping together and generally enjoy eachother's company.

When my daughter was born two years ago, I never hesitated in having her call my step-mother "Grandma Ruth". My daughter loves spending time with her Grandma Ruth and the two of them have developed a very special relationship that I'm sure will continue in the years to come, which I'm very happy about.

My question is, how and what do I say to explain the unique family circumstances to my daughter? She is just starting to understand families and the idea of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins, and she loves to look at our family picture albums. I've shown her pictures of my mother and I refer to my mother as Grandma "Sally". So far, she hasn't raised the fact that she hasn't met Grandma Sally but I know that she will eventually ask me where Grandma Sally is and/or whether Grandma Ruth is my mommy.

How do I explain it all to her in an age appropriate manner? The lesson I'd like to convey is that good things (Having Grandma Ruth be part of her life) came come out of bad things (not meeting Grandma Sally). But I know someday I will have to explain the concept of death and dying to her, and I'd like to have a pre-school appropriate response so I am not caught off-guard.

Thanks, From: Motherless Daughter, Newton, MA


Why's this boy so mean to grandma?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz November 14, 2011 06:00 AM

My grandson, almost 5, is not nice to me. He will go so far as try to me hit me and outwardly exclaim that he doesn't want me near him. This same behavior does not occur with my husband, his grandfather. I see this grandson about twice a week. After a while as I remain with him, we will play and we begin to interact well. He will always say he doesn't love me. I will always tell him that I do love him.

His other grandmother has a very aggressive personality. My son-in-law is extremely close to his parents. I am also close with my daughters. I can't help but think that this other grandmother is promoting herself to my grandson in some way. I never say anything about his other grandmother. My two other preschool grandchildren from another daughter are both openly loving to me and my husband. Any suggestions? (We will be on a family vacation in December and my plan is to sit down with my daughter and try to discuss this situation with her without putting any blame on the other grandmother.)

From: ESL, Long Island


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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