Extended family gatherings... differences in parenting


#1

Oh the JOYS of the holidays bring out the best in everyone! :smiley: :rolleyes:

We have similar issues on both sides of our family (DH’s and mine) with extended family parenting styles - and there always seems to be weird feelings or upsets during the holidays when everyone gets together.

For example - one grand-neice on my husband’s side is a screamer… and what would be considered rude behavior (not greeting grandparents, silent stares when asked questions) is brushed off under the excuse of shyness. But yet, the parents don’t step in - in fact they DEFEND the screaming and lack of social awareness… “she’s just having a moment - we let her scream it out in the other room”… or “sorry Grandma, she’s being shy today and isn’t talking”…

It’s really challenging to watch! If MY kids were behaving this way I’d instruct them that it’s rude to not talk to someone when they’re asking a question!.. And if they were screaming I’d pick them up and correct them in the other room and expect them to come out and apologize! This is how they act in front of FAMILY that they KNOW, it’s not like they’re complete strangers!

I’m all for letting the parents decide what’s right when it comes to parenting their children… but at some point it’s blatantly RUDE! I mean, come on - poor Grandma! Once another uncle tried to step in and say “Answer the question, sweetie - Grandma’s waiting!”… and that’s when all hell broke loose about parenting styles and all that jazz.

Sigh… very similar issues on my side of the family… :blush:

Anyone else?

Any advice on how to avoid hurt feelings or upsets?


#2

I guess I just feel sorry for the Grandparents. :(

My MIL really had her feelings hurt - saying things privately to me like "I raised my children very differently, so it's hurtful"...

At what point do we step in to defend grandparents? :blush:


#3

It sounds to me like this grand niece might have some issues beyond just being ‘shy’. Screaming, lack of social awareness,blank stares…say to me something more is going on. How old is she?

Maybe if she and her parents are family you don’t see often you’re just getting a glimpse of her behavior and don’t really know what’s going on. Maybe what they are saying is that saying hi and answering questions is more than their DD is capable of comfortably right now. Maybe they don’t correct her b/c they know it’s beyond her present capabilities.

Sure, if she is a typical kid, she should say hi and answer adults, but it sounds like she isn’t. I wouldn’t assume she’s just being allowed to be rude, b/c given the small amount of info you’ve given, I’d say she’s not.

To avoid hurt feelings I’d just accept what the parents are saying and accept her for who she is right then. Especially if you only see them once in awhile, it’s not really a big deal IMHO. I think if you and your DH are doing your best with your kids, that’s all you really can do.


#4

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:1, topic:177991"]
For example - one grand-neice on my husband's side is a screamer... and what would be considered rude behavior (not greeting grandparents, silent stares when asked questions) is brushed off under the excuse of shyness.

I'm all for letting the parents decide what's right when it comes to parenting their children... but at some point it's blatantly RUDE!

[/quote]

Sounds like our step-niece. She's always been what I would describe a seemingly unhappy child b/c she's always "overtired" or whatever and thus in a bad mood. :rolleyes: It's challenging b/c I think much of her behavior is due to the fact that since her parents divorced when she was like a year old or somewhere around that age, her mother (now married to my husband's brother) never really disciplined her (she's 6 1/2 now). In fact, I've heard SIL say "I'm sorry" after disciplining her. :eek: It's actually quite sad b/c this girl just doesn't seem like a normal, happy kid. What also bugs me is that our DD loves to play with her and looks up to her of course, so I have to make excuses to DD sometimes for why she isn't being that nice to her. :(

And oh yeah, they live next door to us and we see her almost daily.

We are definitely the most traditional with our parenting, though none of my siblings are married or have kids yet. I'm pretty sure they'll mostly parent the way we do (or so I think!) but with DH's side it's different. :shrug:

I guess I don't have any advice, just wanted to commiserate with you! :p


#5

[quote="shannyk, post:3, topic:177991"]
It sounds to me like this grand niece might have some issues beyond just being 'shy'. Screaming, lack of social awareness,blank stares.....say to me something more is going on. How old is she?

Maybe if she and her parents are family you don't see often you're just getting a glimpse of her behavior and don't really know what's going on. Maybe what they are saying is that saying hi and answering questions is more than their DD is capable of comfortably right now. Maybe they don't correct her b/c they know it's beyond her present capabilities.

Sure, if she is a typical kid, she should say hi and answer adults, but it sounds like she isn't. I wouldn't assume she's just being allowed to be rude, b/c given the small amount of info you've given, I'd say she's not.

To avoid hurt feelings I'd just accept what the parents are saying and accept her for who she is right then. Especially if you only see them once in awhile, it's not really a big deal IMHO. I think if you and your DH are doing your best with your kids, that's all you really can do.

[/quote]

Grand-neice is 4... other family members with similar issues are 4 and under as well...


#6

[quote="shannyk, post:3, topic:177991"]
It sounds to me like this grand niece might have some issues beyond just being 'shy'. Screaming, lack of social awareness,blank stares.....say to me something more is going on. How old is she?

Maybe if she and her parents are family you don't see often you're just getting a glimpse of her behavior and don't really know what's going on. Maybe what they are saying is that saying hi and answering questions is more than their DD is capable of comfortably right now. Maybe they don't correct her b/c they know it's beyond her present capabilities.

[/quote]

No, it's not a matter of capabilities - it's truly lazy parenting - and they'll admit it! The parents themselves don't agree on discipline techniques - nephew told his mother that his wife feels guilty every time she disciplines... :shrug:

My side of the family is even more complicated... :rolleyes:

Sigh... ah well...


#7

As a mom who went through a period of time with my child where she struggled with severe anxiety I know what the other side is like. My daughter did seem rude at times because she wouldn’t answer or would answer with a shrug and I was embarrassed because I knew she looked rude. And there were people including family who were snarky about it. I wasn’t going to explain her personal issues to everyone either and even if I did people believe what they want to believe and some people believe in trying to make a child do something they are emotionally incapable of at the moment. I’m not one of those people.

I used to be very shy as a child, and it was my mother who tried to force me to do things, the memories still make me angry.

As for the screaming, don’t really know what that is about. I wouldn’t judge.

My daughter is doing much better now but is still reserved. I love my daughters English teacher because she totally “gets” her. Her gentle way has absolutely drawn my daughter out and she doesn’t see my daughter’s shyness as a character flaw. At conferences talking to her math teacher and talking to her English teacher you would have thought they were talking about different kids.

So- really I don’t know what is going on with your niece but she’s not your child and your not her parents, try to give them the benefit of the doubt.


#8

See - but wouldn’t talking about it be helpful? :shrug: I mean, at least that way sweet old Grandma wouldn’t have her feelings hurt? :o
I don’t think anyone was being snarky in our situation - just sort of speechless.

I totally understand true shyness - I was very shy as a child. But when you can TALK about the situation you can treat it properly! Discuss the shyness on a regular basis - make Grandma aware so she can be as non-threatening as possible… just open up communication so that feelings don’t get hurt and impressions aren’t negative. THAT’s how true shyness can be handled in a loving and sympathetic manner! :thumbsup:
That’s GOOD parenting!


#9

What is there to talk about? They said she was shy........what more is there to say?


#10

Well, like rayne89 was pointing out - she felt embarrassed because she *knew *it looked rude…

(I’m not trying to give you a hard time at all rayne, just wanting to understand… :slight_smile: )…

If you KNOW something looks rude - then it probably is. :o
Say THAT! Mention something more than “she’s just shy” because that *sounds *like an excuse. Go into detail - explain the situation…
“I know she seems rude… she just really gets anxious because she’s been so nervous about seeing you all, right honey? I’ll sit here with you and let’s go say hi to Grandma together, okay?”… something like that to work through the situation together. That doesn’t sound like an excuse - it explains the situation fully and gracefully.


#11

*Hi EM :wave:

My son was one of those screamers. At 4, sadly, he'd drop down in the middle of a store, and start kicking and literally screaming, until I bought him a particular toy. I was not good at disciplining. When my dh would be with us, he would look at me with shock...''you're letting him get away with this??'' I would say, ''ignore him, I'm not making a scene here.'' He would pick him up and briskly walk him out to the car. I'm not sure what happened from that point. :ehh: lol That said, I think that on a very real level, they are probably mortified by the behavior. I was. My son also acted ''shy'' at parties, and so forth...clinging to me, ranting and raving. He is such a good kid now...it's hard to believe that was the same kid.:eek: I admit, I babied both of my kids, so I take some responsibility for his behavior. When I see parents who just let their kids scream, I remember those days, and feel for them...that they just don't know what to do, really. I could have used Nanny 911 back then. Thank goodness I married the man I did, because he was strict enough for both of us. :o

But, my advice, would be to grin and bear it for the day/days you're together. There is nothing you can really do. You can pour yourself some egg nog, and just smile. :D*


#12

[quote="whatevergirl, post:11, topic:177991"]
*Hi EM

My son was one of those screamers. At 4, sadly, he'd drop down in the middle of a store, and start kicking and literally screaming, until I bought him a particular toy. I was not good at disciplining. When my dh would be with us, he would look at me with shock...''you're letting him get away with this??'' I would say, ''ignore him, I'm not making a scene here.'' He would pick him up and briskly walk him out to the car. I'm not sure what happened from that point. :ehh: lol That said, I think that on a very real level, they are probably mortified by the behavior. I was. My son also acted ''shy'' at parties, and so forth...clinging to me, ranting and raving. He is such a good kid now...it's hard to believe that was the same kid.:eek: I admit, I babied both of my kids, so I take some responsibility for his behavior. When I see parents who just let their kids scream, I remember those days, and feel for them...that they just don't know what to do, really. I could have used Nanny 911 back then. Thank goodness I married the man I did, because he was strict enough for both of us. :o

But, my advice, would be to grin and bear it for the day/days you're together. There is nothing you can really do. You can pour yourself some egg nog, and just smile. *

[/quote]

Thanks for the perspective... :) Yeah - the egg nog does help.

We've been there with scenes before too... and I'm certainly not saying I've got perfect kids or a perfect parenting style - I just feel bad - especially when it's family and there are hurt feelings involved. :o

I guess in the bigger picture - these "hurtful" situations seem to pop up between generations - when a parent sees their child parenting different than they did. Do the now-grandparents still have the right to correct the grandkids when they're screaming - "This is unacceptable in MY house." :shrug:

That's where I feel confused I guess - when my kids are misbehaving outside of my sight I *EXPECT *the grandparents to step in a correct it. If it's unacceptable behavior at Grandma & Grandpa's... then that's the way it is - those are the rules. But these situations I experienced had conflict between the parents and grandparents - WE parent this way - but you're in OUR house...

Ah well... just another aspect of fun parenting times... :D


#13

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:10, topic:177991"]
Well, like rayne89 was pointing out - she felt embarrassed because she *knew *it looked rude...

(I'm not trying to give you a hard time at all rayne, just wanting to understand... :) )...

If you KNOW something looks rude - then it probably is. :o
Say THAT! Mention something more than "she's just shy" because that *sounds *like an excuse. Go into detail - explain the situation...
"I know she seems rude... she just really gets anxious because she's been so nervous about seeing you all, right honey? I'll sit here with you and let's go say hi to Grandma together, okay?"... something like that to work through the situation together. That doesn't sound like an excuse - it explains the situation fully and gracefully.

[/quote]

Well I did keep telling people she's shy at first but then she starting repeating it "I'm shy" and I felt like it was unhelpful because now she was seeing as that's who she was. Kids listen to what's said about them and absorb it even if they're not speaking.

It was actually more complicated than that in my daughter's case. Part of my daughter's issue was scrupulosity. An example being someone asks her "Did you like the cake?" She would shrug because if she wasn't 100% sure she really liked the cake she felt she was being dishonest and that would be sinful. She looked indifferent and rude but I certainly wasn't going to explain to everyone what was going on. How this came about I don't even know because we are relatively laid back parents - I always thought scrupulous kids came from harsh parents, I guess God's way of teaching me not to judge. It really was quite difficult for a while because getting a straight answer from her was an exercise in frustration and her shrugging made her look obnoxious.

She has been to counseling and things are much, much better. I remember being excited when she answered a question with yes instead of a shrug or "I guess". It was a big step for her. She's still socially more reserved but nothing like things were. She still says "I'm shy" but we're slowly and gently working on that.


#14

Grandma needs to put on her big girl panties in her own house. Honestly, I know it's a problem but she's the only one who can change it if the get togethers are at her place.

I am never at a loss for correcting misbehaving children when they are misbehaving in my house or my car or in my care. And, I've never had a parent confront me about it either. I have nieces and nephews of my husband's that have vastly different parenting styles between his two siblings. One set are mannerly and well behaved, the other set are banshies.

If sibs or inlaws want to have misbehaving children in their own environments, that's fine. But when they are in my sphere, it's my rules.

I think your MIL should make the behavior expectations of grandchildren clear to each one.


#15

I was an extremely shy kid. My mom would get embarrassed about it, and would tell me how rude I was. The result was that my self confidence plummeted even further. I am still trying to forgive my mom for "throwing me under the bus" so to speak, socially. Her primary motivation seemed to be herself - she was embarrassed that I wasn't a social butterfly. She was concerned about what people would think about her as a mother for having such a shy/rude/etc. child. She wasn't thinking about how her reactions would hurt her little girl's already fragile self esteem - because it wasn't about me, it was about her. Now I have a shy child, and I try to not throw her under the bus. If people want to think badly about my parenting, or if I am embarrassed, that is a small price to pay if I can protect my dd's emotions a little bit - because I know the long term difficulty that damage can do. There are times when I make it a matter of manners, but at the moment of the child being "shy," I try not to give big explanations - it may alleviate my embarrassment, but it would cause my dd to be more embarrassed, and I choose her over me. And frankly, when it is a matter of shyness, I choose the shy child over the offended adult too - the offended adult will get over it, but the shy child might really be suffering. My style is to tell her ahead of time, very specifically what I expect. And I might give a little coaching on the spot as well, but it is a tricky balancing act between instruction and protection.

Ok, so all that said, I can't judge the situation your shy niece is in. It is entirely possible that it is simply lazy parenting that is causing this difficulty. But since it won't make a difference either way in her behavior, you're probably better off if you allow for the possibility that they are making specific parenting decisions in order to help her. What might help Grandma (since she is a close relative) is for the parents to explain the situation to her later, when the child isn't around. But it is not necessarily worth the child's self esteem to explain to mere aquaintances what the child's problems are.

As for the uncle who tried to encourage the shy child to answer Grandma's questions, my advice for the next time would be this: if the parents are present, stay out of it. You will be seen by the parents as meddling in their parenting if you try to do that, particularly if you know it is NOT the way the parents handle it. If the parents aren't around, a gentle statement like that isn't a big deal (although it may not be effective), but when they're there, it only serves as a criticism of their parenting. Best bet is just to let it go, and try to assume the best.


#16

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:12, topic:177991"]
Thanks for the perspective... :) Yeah - the egg nog does help.

We've been there with scenes before too... and I'm certainly not saying I've got perfect kids or a perfect parenting style - I just feel bad - especially when it's family and there are hurt feelings involved. :o

I guess in the bigger picture - these "hurtful" situations seem to pop up between generations - when a parent sees their child parenting different than they did. Do the now-grandparents still have the right to correct the grandkids when they're screaming - "This is unacceptable in MY house." :shrug:

That's where I feel confused I guess - when my kids are misbehaving outside of my sight I *EXPECT *the grandparents to step in a correct it. If it's unacceptable behavior at Grandma & Grandpa's... then that's the way it is - those are the rules. But these situations I experienced had conflict between the parents and grandparents - WE parent this way - but you're in OUR house...

Ah well... just another aspect of fun parenting times... :D

[/quote]

I tend to agree with you, but then I don't. My mom sees my dd quite often and so I don't mind if my mom corrects her (neither does hubby). However, last week hubby and dd drove mil home and stopped for lunch along the way. DD was asking for dessert and mil said no (probably in her stern, unwavering way) with my hubby there. My hubby talked to his mom that it would be much easier for my dd not to get upset if mil actually participated more in dd life in a warm manner (the women in hubby's family tend to be rude "but honest" at some of the worst times :shrug:). As for my dad (who lives out of state), when he's in town, he's the spoiling grandpa, so if he does any correcting it's usually to tell me to relax and just let him spend time with dd without my interruptions :o

It all matters on the relationships. However, if sil admitted that she is a lazy parent, then really, there is nothing anyone can do, except maybe bil.


#17

Oh, and be careful to what is said infront of the child. My dd still says, "you're suppose to listen to your mom" or "you're suppose to listen to your dad". Ugh, my parents are getting much better about how they talk to me infront of her, but they aren't fully there yet.


#18

I would agree with this, and what Em said about grandparents disciplining, stepping in… whatever… when kids are misbehaving. I wouldn’t say that a 4 yr old not saying hi on cue is misbehaving though, neither would my kids grandparents or great grandparents so maybe that’s just where I’m coming from. :shrug:Shy kids don’t need extra pressure.

Frankly I am grateful for grandparents making clear expectations of behavior at their home. It only bolsters what I already teach my kids.

In the situations like holidays etc. where there are relatives that you don’t see often etc., I just think it’s best to take it for what it is, keep you own kids in line, and assume the best about the other parties. I’m a grown up and I get very anxious about the holidays and seeing people I don’t know well and who don’t ‘get’ the unique makeup of the members of my family. It can be an anxious time for everyone, probably best to let thee little things go. If grown ups are anxious, imagine how the kids can feel!

Putting yourself on the other end is good to…Em’s relatives could very well think HER parenting is ‘off’ and they would think that based on their own experiences with their own child. I think we all project that way somewhat.


#19

Don’t worry - grandma wears big panties! :wink: That’s where the conflict came in. Unlike you, her daughter-in-law argued and yelled and then the whole family marched out! :cool:… all for Grandma saying “Yelling is not acceptable in my house” (I heard it - it wasn’t a very stern voice)… :blush:

I really truly understand all the comments you’re all making regarding true shyness - and I totally, completely agree! 100% :thumbsup:
From the looks of the situation, though… I really don’t think that’s the case…

Ah well…


#20

[quote="shannyk, post:18, topic:177991"]

I would agree with this, and what Em said about grandparents disciplining, stepping in..... whatever..... when kids are misbehaving. I wouldn't say that a 4 yr old not saying hi on cue is misbehaving though, neither would my kids grandparents or great grandparents so maybe that's just where I'm coming from. :shrug:Shy kids don't need extra pressure.

Frankly I am grateful for grandparents making clear expectations of behavior at their home. It only bolsters what I already teach my kids.

In the situations like holidays etc. where there are relatives that you don't see often etc., I just think it's best to take it for what it is, keep you own kids in line, and assume the best about the other parties. I'm a grown up and I get very anxious about the holidays and seeing people I don't know well and who don't 'get' the unique makeup of the members of my family. It can be an anxious time for everyone, probably best to let thee little things go. If grown ups are anxious, imagine how the kids can feel!

Putting yourself on the other end is good to.....Em's relatives could very well think HER parenting is 'off' and they would think that based on their own experiences with their own child. I think we all project that way somewhat.

[/quote]

Ummm... slight correction/clarification...
The *correction *was made for yelling/screeching... the "shyness" issue was at a totally different time and was not handled harshly whatsoever... it was responded to with a "I love you!" and a smile.


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