Have you ever been in a situation where someone began to parent your kid in front of you and their style of parenting was not in line with yours? Or what about people who are constantly telling you how to raise your child? Or telling you it’s time to transition your child from breast to bottle? How about informing you that it’s high time you began potty training or *gasp* cross the line and implement their “recommendations” after you have repeatedly and politely declined wanting to do “insert task/advise” at this time (or ever)? I think this has happened to many of us (if not all) and the bigger problem is: How do you handle it?
One of the many things I love about my daycare provider is that she asks what we are doing at home so we can all be on the same page – she works with us to maintain consistency in Henry’s life – which almost everyone can agree is what is best for any child. I know that while I am at work if Henry throws a toy at another person or breaks down the baby gate to implement his escape plan that starts with traversing the stairs (yes, that actually happened) he will get a time-out or the toy taken from him. That’s what we discussed and that’s how I would handle it at home. I can see that these efforts at both daycare and home are working because Henry is “getting it”. He knows that if he does something at home or daycare there is a warning (depending on the offense) and that warning is “If you do that again you will get a time-out. Do you want a time-out?” and when he’s home the answer is a very emphatic “No Mama. No time-out.”
But there have been times when I am with friends or family members who may have had children or not and they have taken it upon themselves to step in and start “parenting”. Henry will start to act up/throw a tantrum and I will begin to handle it in our parenting style, which is a cross between a lot of different methods. I am firm and let him know I am there but I don’t coddle him or give into him. I want him to understand that he can’t always have what he wants when he wants it and if he does want something that the way to get it (if it’s appropriate) is by using his words/actions positively not by throwing a fit. But I have friends/family members undermine me by giving him what he wants or baby talking/coddling him when I am trying to parent him. It’s frustrating, yes, but it’s not going to turn him into a serial killer. So instead of creating a bigger issue I let it go.
But sometimes I have to assert my position as Henry’s parent and that I’m the one, along with my husband, who will determine how he is raised and what he is ready for or not ready for.
I love my parents; they are amazing parents and even better grandparents. They are not push-over’s with Henry and they definitely don’t let him get away with murder at their house. I know that when they say things or do things it comes from a place of love, previous experience and with the best intentions. But, on the rare occasion I wish they wouldn’t. For example Henry still uses a soother or “SuSu” as we call it, and a few weeks ago my Dad made a comment along the lines of “he needs to get rid of that thing”. I know his intentions were good, but it’s not my Dad’s call (and it is already a point of contention in my house as my husband thinks the same thing but I digress). It’s comforting to Henry, it’s been proven that it is not doing harm and the kid isn’t even 2 years old yet! His SuSu is his security blanket and I would rather him have his SueSue in his mouth then his fingers. I am lucky, because I can say this to my Dad and the topic is squashed and we move on. I don’t have to worry about leaving my son at their house and them hiding his soother from him for “his own good”. At the same time, I shouldn’t have to explain my reasoning for my son having a soother to anyone. My son, my choice and if it turns out to be true about soothers and teeth it will be me who pays the orthodontist.
Again, I’m the parent. I don’t make these decisions without a lot of thought and consideration of the effects on Henry’s future.
Another example of backseat parenting came as I was in the elevator last week and Henry was asking for “bub”. There was lady in the elevator with us and she asked me what he was saying so I told her he wanted to nurse. She couldn’t hide that she was mortified! She began to tell me how he was too old to be nursing still and that doing so would traumatize him and lead to problems later in his life. I asked her if she had any children, she said no, but that she studied psychology and knows what she is talking about. As I left the elevator, I smiled, held the door open for a minute while Henry squirmed in the stroller and said “I will be sure to tell my son about the woman who tried to save him from the trauma of me still breastfeeding him at 20 months old when he graduating from University or College with honours cause my breast milk helped with his brain development among other things. I am sure he will find a way to forgive me. Oh and FYI, breastfeeding him at this age is well within the recommended time period as outlined by the World Health Organization. ” And then I let the doors close and walked away.
I can be sassy and I stand up for myself with strangers without hesitation but it’s hard when it’s a friend or family member. I have been lucky with my parents/friends, its only been little things that I can either let go or talk to them about. But some people aren’t so lucky.
I have a friend who is nursing and supplementing with a bottle (formula and pumping), the child’s grandmother is constantly over her shoulder telling her that the baby is hungry and not getting “enough”. She has all these (bad) recommendations such as poking holes in nipples to increase the flow, even implying she stop breastfeeding because it’s not working.(her child is well under 1 year and breastfeeding is very important to my friend). Recently she went out and bought a faster flowing bottle and tried to force it on my friend. And it doesn’t stop there, every decision my friend makes as a parent is undermined and questioned by the grandmother. You would think my friend was on 16 and pregnant and never held a child before, let alone attempt to raise one! When left alone with my friends baby the grandmother takes liberties she really shouldn’t and does things against my friends wishes. She has been confronted about it many times but still continues this behavior, and what is my friend to do, this person is a grandparent? She is not only dealing with the stresses of being a new parent, she is dealing with someone who is not respecting her boundaries and her choices as a parent.
Now if it were me I would lose my mind. How would you handle it?