My daughters are fortunate enough to have many loving adults in their lives. They spend a good deal of time in the company of other adults, sometimes my husband and I are present and sometimes we are not. Recently, I had a very interesting conversation with my husband about how/when are appropriate times for other adults to discipline our children. Our conclusions were interesting, so I share them with you, along with some of our outstanding questions, in the hopes of gaining some advice and expanding our perspective.
If our children are on a playdate, at a sleepover, or participating in an activity that neither of us are present for, we fully expect the adult in charge to discipline our children in an appropriate manner.
However…if parents are present, what are the guidelines for others to discipline your child in front of you?
The first thought that enters my mind is, am I not doing a thorough enough job of parenting my child if someone else has to issue reminders, correct them, or discipline them in front of me? I think it all depends. Sometimes I do become more relaxed if I’m in a group of family members or at an event with several other adults. However, with three children, my husband and I are constantly out-numbered, so in some circumstances we might be focusing our attention on our two youngest children, which leaves our oldest more free to test the limits, or vice-versa.
Generally, one of my parenting principles is that my children can learn from others. For the most part, I have no issue with other adults correcting my children in front of me, especially if it’s deserved. However, what happens if your threshold differs from other adults in the room? Our family is a family of talkers; we engage, we chat, we laugh, we are gregarious, and to some, we might be considered loud. My threshold of being loud will differ from yours. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people “shush” or quiet my children when they are simply talking or playing. My children are animated, creative, and enthusiastic. We aren’t a reserved and passive bunch, so don’t expect our conversations to be. However, when my four-year old is yelling to the point that her face is turning red, bring on the “shushes” and the “quiet downs!”
Correction overload. Being consistent with rules and expectations is important for children. However, I have witnessed some adults operate in correction overload mode. Case in point: teaching a two-year old to say please and thank you is an extremely important concept, reminding them two hundred times a day is overload. It’s ok for my two-year old to ask for some simple demands without constantly being reminded to say please and thank you. There are only so many times a day you can hear the phrase “say please,” “say thank you,” “what word are you missing?” before everyone becomes resentful of manners!
My children are still young, so the discipline issues that do arise are fairly benign. I imagine that as children get older, become teenagers and young adults, it’s an even more difficult issue. How do you feel as a parent when family members or other adults either discipline your teenager or offer them advice that you don’t agree with? How and when do you draw the line?
Being respectful and courteous is an important aspect of life, but the path to getting there will look different for each child. Ultimately, what is most important is finding a balanced path that works for your family.
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