How to deal with those who undermine your parenting
I could make an educated guess that in more or less every parents life there is at least one person who has mastered the skill of undermining your decisions as a parent right? It so often happens to be someone we love and care about as well which makes it all the more difficult to navigate.
I know I can speak first handed about having drawn a line with my little one, ie no more lollies after the 100thpiece and her literally climbing the walls like a spider monkey to then only minutes sometimes even seconds later see or hear someone giving them said lolly. To make things more frustrating that person literally heard me say the words “NO MORE” and still gave them it. In some cases the individual is naïve to the fact that they do not know better because they didn’t hear the line being drawn, but my biggest pet hate here is that people don’t realise they should ASK the PARENT if it is okay first. Of course a 4 year old is going to say that they want a bloody cupcake, if you had 100 cupcakes that came with a unicorn they would say yes to that too. Does it mean that it is the right, or more importantly the better decision for that child and that family….? No, because a 4 year old is still learning those boundaries, a 4 year old is still learning the concepts of the world, including making healthy decisions about food.
We are the biggest advocates for cultivating critical thinking in children and developing their individual thinking, but we still believe that children need to learn boundaries in their life. This as parents, we often say the words NO. However, it doesn’t help us as parents that when we say “no”, someone else says “yes”. It purely undermines the concept as a parent, however it doesn’t mean it needs to be the end of the road for our final decisions!
Dealing with situations like this can be tricky and also create a hell of a lot of uncomfortable emotions for us parents, however with a bit of practice and repetition, it gets easier, trust me. When we are faced with the intentional or unintentional undermining here are some tricks to deal with it whilst teaching your kids boundaries’ in different ways.
- Let your kids figure out if they are allowed said cupcake or to climb that 10 foot fence you just said to get down from…..
I know, your like HUH? Let them figure it out? Sounds crazy but it works. We as parents and adults need to acknowledge that kids including babies, are smarter than we think. They are literal sponges and pick up things that we don’t realise. In this situation, I suggest that you ignore the other party and lower yourself (physically) down to your kids level by taking a knee or sitting. By doing so you are removing the sense of size and there for intimidation, once down there ask your little one “whether they are allowed to have/do/say etc what you just told them not to have/do/say?”. Kids really like to respond with “I don’t know” or they shrug their shoulders, this is where that patience we try to have as parents comes into powerful play. Patiently sit with the child in comfortable silence and prompt them again. Most often, after they realise they aren’t going anywhere until they answer they will answer with what they know (which is what you told them earlier). Once this has happened prompt them into explaining why they can not have it, and it truly helps to explain the real WHY. Its so often not just “because we said so” even though that’s what we blurt out the millionth time they challenge us, there us usually a logical explanation. Explain it to them, and then ask them what they should do now, sometimes we need to help them through this, called “scaffolding” in relation to their thought process and coming up with the right answer. Once this has all happened prompt them to actually do what they SHOULD be doing, so if they got handed a cupcake allow them to hand it back and say something like “Thank you for the cupcake, but I am not supposed to eat it because……” etc.
I will assure you, even though this conversation might be daunting and take forever a few times, with consistency it WILL pay off! Because you as a parent are teaching and reinforcing boundaries in multiple ways.
- Thank the person for their offer and politely explain why ( or don't)
So whilst you are having this awesome connection and communication with your little one, you probably have an adult (who undermined your decision) standing next to you. They often come in one of two categories, the first will apologise sincerely as they really didn’t know and the second will continue to interject and tell you “its okay, they can have/do/say……”. The first type of person is really easy to deal with, simply explain to them that in these situations as a parent you should be asked if it is okay. Hopefully the person will realise that this is what should be done out of respect for different family decisions, as we all parent differently!
The second type of person can be the kind of person that sends our anxiety through the roof and makes us want to hide in the corner or just unbelievably frustrated! (I’ve totally been here). I beg you and encourage you like your own personal cheerleader, stand true and strong with your decisions as a parent. Like they say, parents often know best! I truly believe in this. When interacting with this type of person, whilst you are having that important discussion with your little one, IGNORE THEM. I don’t mean this in a rude way, but honestly, the discussion with your baby is so much more important. Once the talk is done, just say thankyou but that won’t be happening or something along the lines. Remove yourself from the situation and your little one and carry on parenting as you see fit! Simple but it can totally be hard. But again, it will be worth it in the end because not only are you teaching your little one boundaries but you are also demonstrating your own boundaries to adults in your life which are just as important!
So 2 steps, yes you may feel like your getting no where in the beginning, but with consistency and upholding your lines you will eventually see results with both the kids and adults.
Boundaries are such a vital and important part of ay relationship. It is important for us to learn our own boundaries of what we accept and do not accept as parents, friends, family members and a spouse. By learning and enforcing those boundaries your little ones learn to do the same throughout their life. Monkey see, monkey do. It is more than the cupcake, it is about teaching your kids what to tolerate in life and what not to tolerate.