The Battle of the In-laws

By Sylvia Arotin

…or any other family members actually. The minute you seem to have things under control, a grandparent, your in-laws or even your own partner decides to throw a spanner in the works…and you just think….why? Seriously? You’ve just un-done, in one second mind you, all the hard work I’ve put in to get to this point!

So quite a few parents have raised the question of how to deal with in-laws, their own parents or even their partners intervening and given the child what they wanted. This could be to save face (it never looks good to the family if your child is the only one screaming), it could be to have some peace (just give them what they want so they are quiet) or it could be just because – in this case we definitely know it’s the soft grandparents!

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So how do you navigate these situations especially at a family function or even try to get family members on side into the way you would like things done? Reality check – If I’m being honest? It is going to be a very long, hard and tough battle if you think you can change anyone’s behaviour or the way they are with your children… However there is hope!

Here are a few helpful things to navigate the family ties:

  • Lower your expectations: Seems unfair but unfortunately grandparents especially will always be the ones to spoil your children and no matter how much you may be able to talk to them about certain things it may not change much. You can also only really have control over your environment such as your home and apply certain ‘rules’ to your house.
  • Talk to your partner: Open and honest communication with your other half is REALLY important. Let them know how you feel (without attacking character) about the situation for eg: “It was disappointing to see Jack getting desert when he didn’t eat his dinner and I tried so hard before you walked in”. Ask for assistance, “It would be so helpful if you…” or share a positive outcome, “Jack finished his dinner tonight after I was consistent and did bla bla…it was amazing!”. So you are almost telling them indirectly what worked and how they may be able to manage the situation.
  • Model, Model, Model! The best thing you can do is use these opportunities to model the style of parenting and communication in front of your family and even with other people’s children. Once they see the responses from your children and the impact it can make on their behaviour they will more likely come on board without you even having to try.

I know it’s a tough subject to navigate, and we all love our families, but just remember to stay true to yourself. Model the behaviours you’d like them to use and be consistent. In the end, your children will be your ultimate advocates!

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