How To Deal With Relatives Who Undermine Your Parenting

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We’ve all got relatives that thrive on giving us unsolicited advice. And although you may be able to deal with it when it is targeted towards your appearance and what you do, when someone undermines your ability to parent your child, all the claws come out. And for good reason. After all, no one knows your child like you do, and as their parent you get to decide what’s safe and appropriate for your little one. However, sometimes, relatives undermine certain rules placed by parents without even realizing it. Maybe they let them stay up past their bedtime or insist that you are making a scene when you tell them your child can’t have a lollipop. What do you do when every nerve in your body wants to scream at them? How do you deal with relatives undermining and sidelining your parenting without coming off as rude and ungrateful? If you are faced with this dilemma, this is the article for you! Read on to know exactly what you can do to manage this situation.

1. Communicate Your House Rules

Communicate Your House Rules

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There may be a chance that everyone is undermining your house rules because they are not clear and precise. People work best when they know where the boundaries lie regarding certain issues. And you can’t expect your in-laws or anyone else for that matter to follow your parenting guidelines when they don’t fully understand your goals and motives. So, take the time to plainly explain the rules to the people who spend most amount of time near your kids. This will prevent undermining down the road.

For example, if your children are not allowed to eat candy after 4 pm but their grandparents show up for dinner with a bag full of sweets, make sure they know about the rule so that they don’t offer your kids a piece after dinner. Instead they can hand the bag over to you and tell their grandkids that their parents will give them a piece tomorrow morning.

2. Collect Yourself Before Planning A Discussion

Collect Yourself Before Planning A Discussion

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You are not going to get through to anyone when you are fuming mad, all you’ll get into is a fight! Having an emotional reaction to relatives breaking your parenting boundaries won’t help the situation. So take the time to calm down and collect yourself first. Step out of the room and count to 10. Take deep breaths and clear your mind. When you feel like you can think logically, come up with a plan. Your best course of action would be to get your partner involved so that you can both discuss how you want to handle this. Maybe you could sit down with the relative privately and reiterate your parenting rules to them or request them to stop undermining you.

3. Present A United Front With Your Partner

Present A United Front With Your Partner

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This is extremely important. You and your partner should be on the same page when it comes to parenting rules and how you want to handle people who don’t get the memo, even if it’s your respective parents. If they detect that there is conflict between you and your partner, they might use that as an advantage. So, make sure you pose a united front so that people, in-laws included take you seriously. Let your spouse lead the conversation on their side of the family. Your in-laws are less likely to have a strong emotional response when the problem is posed by their own child. Keep in mind that confrontations often work best when the one closest to the party leads the conversation.

4. Decide What You Can Let Slide

Decide What You Can Let Slide

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Nobody’s perfect, not even you. So if someone does get something wrong by mistake or forgets one of your rules, it’s best just to let it slide. While you don’t want to come across as a pushover, you may be able to relax some of your rules if arguing over the matter complicates things. This is especially important when others are going to care for your child. If you are going to be away from the kids for an extended amount of time or if you leave your children in the care of someone else everyday due to work, you need to decide what rules you are willing to bend and which ones must remain firmly in place.

For example, if you drop off your kids at their grandparent’s house for the weekend and they make them some unhealthy treats, you’re going to have to loosen the no oily food rule in order to accommodate them. As a compromise they can promise not to give the kids too many sugary treats before bedtime. Problem solved.

All parents are fiercely protective of their kids and how they parent them. As frustrating as it can be to be overruled by a relative, there are ways in which you can stop this from happening without causing a rift. So, have you ever had to deal with this issue? Let us know in the comments section!

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Kezia John

Kezia holds a deep interest in writing about women adapting to motherhood and childcare. She writes on several topics that help women navigate the joys and responsibilities of being a new mom and celebrate every stage of their baby's development. When she is not writing for MomJunction, she sings in a classical Western choir and reads endlessly.