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Frustrations of Motherhood
Saved 1/21/10 to A Place to Vent

Can't Stand My Sister-In-Law's Parenting Style

This post was submitted by an anonymous member in our A Place to Vent group.

I can't stand my sister-in-law's parenting style. There. I said it. She's an amazing woman — smart, fun and a joy to be around — but her parenting skills are old school to say the least. She was raised in a very traditional family and hasn't updated her tactics. She spanks her kids (something my husband and I don't do), she lets her twin 6-year-old boys watch as much TV as they want, lets them eat whatever they want and defaults to the laziest route when it comes to instilling any discipline or rule for her kids. It's not that my husband and I are without struggle in the parenting department, but her "let let them do what they want so they are quiet" attitude makes it hard for me to let my children play with hers — or even consider leaving my children with her. I understand it is hard to parent twins and not everyone wants to raise their children the way I do, but there has to be a common ground. Anyone have any suggestions for broaching the subject with her without coming off as "holier than thou"?

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Aunt-Tee Aunt-Tee 5 years 42 weeks
Wow, this is a hard situation to be in. First, let me say how impressed I am with your attitude. You do not come across as trashing your sister in law, which would be so easy to do, given the situation! I am not a mother but I am Tee Tee (aunt) to five beautiful nieces and keep them quite frequently. In our family, we very much take the "it takes a village to raise a child" mindset and I don't hesitate to follow my sister and brother in law's rules. (Just as an example, we do spank when needed.) If I were in your shoes, I don't think I would be able to leave my children with somebody that would not be willing to abide by the rules that I enforce. (within reason) If your sister in law were to ask you why you don't ask her to baby sit for you, I would simply tell her the truth in as gentle a manner as possible. "Well, it really bothers me when Susie comes home from your house and immediately flips on the television and asks for a snack." Something along those lines. As for play dates, the only thing I can say is that you might have to stick around and keep a close eye on things. Just because her children are allowed to run wild doesn't mean that you are obligated to allow your children to follow suit. Yes, you might come off as the "mean mommy" but in the long run, that won't matter. All that will matter is that your children have been taught how to behave. I wish I had better advice for you. Good luck!