When Other People Parent Your Child

If there’s one thing any parent despises, it’s when someone else decides to parent your kids. It’s one thing when the woman in the store tells your daughter it isn’t polite to yell at her sister (it isn’t, but you’ve got this, so she shouldn’t say a word) but it’s an entirely different story when someone in your family, such as your parents or your in-laws start parenting your children two seconds before you can open your mouth to parent them. While you don’t want to offend the well-meaning family members guilty of overstepping their boundaries, you do want them to stop.

Try Saying Thanks

The first step in getting your well meaning family to back off when it comes to parenting your kids is to do it the polite – but obvious – way. For example, if your son hits your daughter and your mother-in-law jumps in and sends your son to time out before you can even open your mouth, thank her and tell her you’ve got it from here. Try, “Thanks Jane, I saw what happened and I was making my way over to handle it but since you were closer you got here first and I can handle these two from here.” It tells her that you appreciate her concern but that you’re the parent and you can handle it. Hopefully, she will get the hint and back off.

Be a Little Firmer

If your well meaning family member doesn’t get your not-so-subtle hints about parenting your child while you are right there, try to be a little firmer the next time. If you’ve already tried the above approach to no avail, try to be a little firmer the next time. For example, try saying, “I know you are just trying to stop the kids from fighting and prevent anyone from being hurt, but I guess you didn’t see me standing here. Thanks for jumping in, but I’ve got it from here.” That should get the point across.

Talk About it Outright

Sometimes, your family might not get it and you just need to tell them the honest truth. Tell your mom or your father-in-law or whomever it is that’s interfering in your own presence that you do appreciate the fact that they want your kids to behave and have their best interests at heart, you feel that they are interfering when you are standing right there. Tell them that you love that they discipline your kids when you aren’t around to catch them or when the kids are in their care, but if you are right there, you believe this is a job for you.


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