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Parents, Grandparents and psychologists, I need your advice

 
BrendaReeves
Posts: 845
Message
on 09/04/2012

 I visited my children and grandchildren in CA last week. My oldest son is married with two children a girl, age 5 and a boy age 3. They are very well behaved children which makes sense, since my son has a PHd. in psychology and he's the superintendent of a school district.

Here's the problem: My daughter and SNL have three children, two boys, ages 8 and 6 and one girl age 3. These kids are wild! I mean animals! If The Nanny was still on TV, this family would be a great candidate to appear on it. They are rude to their parents. They are rude to me. They hit their parents. They throw things. My daughter yells at them constantly.

We went out to breakfast at Mimi's one morning and I could have sworn I was in a zoo. Screaming, throwing food, you name it. I was sitting there thinking, "If this was me and my ex and our children behaved like that, their father would bust some butts. Of course, it never would have occurred to them to act like that in the first place.

Something that I noticed at the restaurant while watching this scene. It looked like the kids were purposely behaving this way for the parents benefit. Maybe it's my imagination but the expressions on their faces seemed to say, "Look at what I'm doing, and you can't stop me, or I dare you to do something about it."

I must add that they are perfect children at school and in public when their parents aren't around. Well, they left them with my SNL's sister and husband for two hours and when they got back, they learned that the boys had gotten into a fight and given each other black eyes.

The parents don't believe in spanking. I don't either, but my ex had a different philosophy on that.

Here's my question: Should I keep my mouth shut. I did during the whole visit. I know I wouldn't have wanted my mother telling me how to raise my kids, and I know my daughter won't appreciate that either. But I'm so concerned about this. Those boys are going to be beating up their parents when they become teenagers. The behavior is so bad that Mom and Dad can't leave them to go to dinner or a movie.

I've been brainstorming about ways I could approach my daughter about this without POing her off.


Brenda Reeves
Ragtimelil
Posts: 825
Message
on 09/04/2012

I'm not a parent, but I've worked in public schools with kids. If the kids are doing it to impress their parents, I'd almost think they WANT some discipline. It's almost like the discipline shows the parents care enough to make the effort.

I grew up with a spanking when I needed one and don't totally disapprove, but in today's world you almost risk being arrested if you do. There are other ways to discipline that work. (Look at the Super Nanny). I had some friends who had to take parenting classes to be able to take in a foster child. The change in their own kids was astounding.

But how to tell the parent is another issue. I'd think you owe it to them to say something I can't imagine that they aren't aware of the problem. Maybe they just don't know how to cope?  If it was me, I'd just say it and take the risk.

Maybe someone else can offer some ideas? It's a tough one.


Lana or LIl aka Ragtimelil RagtimeLil's Store on Weebly
BrendaReeves
Posts: 845
Message
on 09/04/2012

I would say they are asking for discipline too. My daughter sends them to their rooms, but it's not working. She also interferes when my SIL trys to discipline. It's not that they disagree on methods, she just has to be in control of everything. They need Super Nanny and Dr. Phil.


Brenda Reeves
bobsimpson
Posts: 17
Message
on 09/04/2012

The children are misbehaving for the same reason that all of us here are writers. We want someone to listen and pay attention to us.

You risk alienating your daughter if you confront her with your concerns. Next Mothers Day, birthday or other occasion, send her the book: The New Strong-willed Child through Adolescence by James C. Dobson. 2007. 

(Any day is a great occasion to send a book)

Do it now. Action defeats worry.

Sheri_Oz
Posts: 439
Message
on 09/04/2012

Supernanny has its place and Dr Phil - well, I don't know. I do know that as a family therapist I had problems with families who came to me for help expected me to do some magic in a hour or two because of what they saw on television.

I agree with those who suggest that the kids need their parents to set limits for their behaviour.


I would definitely suggest they get some help because letting it go too long will only mean much more trouble later on (or not, some kids do manage to pull themselves together on their own - but this may be a form of neglect). 

Perhaps take your daughter out for lunch or coffee and, among other things, ask her what she thinks the role of a mother of grown children is. Discuss this with her. At some point, whether in that discussion or in some later discussion, maybe find a way to say something like:  As a mother I feel it is my job to tell you what I think and trust you to make the decisions that are right for you. I am going to tell you something now because I don't want you to get angry at me ten years from now and say then: "why didn't you warn me?" so I am going to tell you what I think because I love you and care about you. And I will not raise the topic again; we will talk about it only if you raise it.  --- Then suggest she and her husband get help with parenting.

It may be taking a risk of alienating her - only you know if your relationship can take this kind of discussion and a lot depends on how you present it.

As someone who is about to become a grandparent, I can begin to understand. I hope I agree with my daughter's son-in-law's parenting style.


BrendaReeves
Posts: 845
Message
on 09/04/2012

Thank you everyone and thank you Sheri. They are not neglected. My daughter has every minute of their lives scheduled at home. They don't have any down time. The parents don't sit down to family meals with them. The kids don't eat well, because they're up and running around all the time and my daughter yells at them to sit down and eat.

Sheri, we live in different states so I can't take her out to lunch. For many years, my daughter was very hostile toward me, but she wouldn't talk to me about it. If I asked her a question or tried to carry on a conversation. I got yes or no answers. I even suggested we go to counseling together, but she wouldn't do it. I finally emailed her and said that I was sorry that I wasn't the kind of mother she would have liked to have, and that I know I made mistakes and wouldn't deny any of them. I told her how much I loved her. It had a miraculous effect. She didn't write back, but she had a metamorphosis. From then on, She was very cheerful when I called or saw her. 

Therefore, I'm going to try the old email solution again. I have to choose my words very carefully.

I never thought that having grandchildren would give me so much to worry about.

 

 


Brenda Reeves
wrapitup4me
Posts: 46
Message
on 09/04/2012

Sounds like the email solution is a good one - time to consider how to write it, to put it into a drawer for awhile to reread later to see if the message is really the one you want to send.

It is amazing how admitting to our mistakes and not trying to defend ourselves is the best way to go.

I wish you all the best.

 

Ragtimelil
Posts: 825
Message
on 09/04/2012

Remember that you can only do what you can do. Her reaction is out of your hands. Wishing you the best on this.


Lana or LIl aka Ragtimelil RagtimeLil's Store on Weebly
BrendaReeves
Posts: 845
Message
on 09/04/2012

Thank you wrap it and lil. I think we all want to hear our parents say that they made mistakes and they're sorry. My philosophy is say it whether you perceive it differently or not. That way you can get on with enjoying your relationship with your child. Many parents just can't do that.


Brenda Reeves
dustytoes
Posts: 1140
Message
on 09/05/2012

Brenda you've received some excellent advice here.  And I have to agree that I would say something.

Your daughter must realize that she needs to make some changes - who could constantly live with kids that behave that way?  And it will only get worse.  It does sound like they are craving discipline.  Without boundaries and consequences, they will probably end up acting up at school too, and who knows what else!

I hope the e-mail is well received by your daughter.  I know what it's like to want to speak up, but having the fear that you will lose your child because of it.  You have to do what feels right to you.

I don't think I could have sat through that at a restaurant!  Yikes!


BrendaReeves
Posts: 845
Message
on 09/05/2012

Thank you Pam. I am going to write a carefully worded letter to her. I wish I lived closer to her so I could babysit while she and her husband went out on a date. She also needs to make some time for herself.

I must say I was expecting everyone to tell me to mind my own business. That restaurant scene was unbelievable.

When I was visiting last November, the two boys got into a spat. I bent over and put my arm around the youngest one to say something to him, and he hit me. I hit him back out of reflex and pinned him up against the wall. I read him the riot act. You should have seen the look on his face. He was not expecting someone to do that. He went screaming and crying upstairs to my daughter. I was expecting her to come down and jump all over me, but she didn't. He came down a few minutes later and was my best friend.

I definitely think these kids are asking for some real discipline.

 


Brenda Reeves
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