Other people disciplining my children - FamilyEducation
Other people disciplining my children
09/22/2009 at 13:11 PM

I have an issue with my sister in law.  She seems to take it upon themselves to scold my kids even if I am there in the room.  She is consistently giving my husband and I parenting advice though she no childrent of her own.  I assume she feels this way since she is my husbands older sister but in my family, I am the older sister and I'm not used to this at all.  I have a real issue with her reprimanding my children, cutting my sons' bangs when she thinks it's too long (!) or they can't play with their toys until they've cleaned their plates.  <p>I'm not a confrontational person and I hate when there is static in the air with someone who is family but I really don't like someone going over my head.  I consider myself to be a great mom!  I've told my husband about this and he doesn't see the problem.  Am I being too sensitive or is she crossing the line?  What is a polite way to tell her to butt out?

Invite Sis in law for afternoon out, just us girls.  Have a good time with her, so the relationship is about more than just the kids.  Don't let your children spend time with her until your husband steps up and tells her, politely, to butt out.  I assume that he's had to do it before, they grew up together, no? 

If that means you don't go to his parents for Holiday dinners, oh well.  Santa can find us easier at our own house.  And we're a lot more grateful for our meals if we don't have somebody telling us to get our elbows off the table.


Since this is your sister-in-law, you're husband needs to broach this subject. Not that you can't have a say in anything but I would start with him and let him have the conversation with her first since that is his direct sibling. I would let her know that family is very important but that she needs to leave the parenting of the kids to you and your husband. Be polite but firm and clear that you two do not appreciate the advice or reprimands on the kids unless you ask for it. You also need to look at this another way too.....when you're kids are over there, are they behaving or are they crossing the line of what your sister-in-law can handle? People without kids cannot seem to handle as much as us that have them. She also can't truly understand what it feels like to have her own child disciplined by someone else because she has yet to experience that. You both have valid things here. Maybe your husband needs to impress upon her that Aunts are just like younger versions of the grandparents....and they should be just as fun and certainly crazy-silly. Maybe she'll get the picture of the role you'd like her to play in your kids lives. As for cutting bangs or any hair at all....that was overstepping the boundaries on her part. Haircuts are a very personal thing and can also be a tragedy to a child if it turns out bad. That has to stop immediately before someone gets a bad haircut and Auntie gets the blame for it. Try to keep the family peace and don't let this get ugly. I can tell you from experience that no one is ever better off without their family members. Especially your kids. Have hubby step up to the plate and put this issue to bed. Good luck and I hope you have an understanding sister-in-law.


I am a non-confrontational person too, and I hate it!  I think you need to address the situations as they happen... but politely.  If your sister-in-law takes matters into her own hands again, say if she won't let the kids go outside to play until they finish their whole meal, you can interject politely by saying "oh, don't worry about that - we have the rule that they at least have to eat 10 bites of each serving and then they can ask to be excused" or whatever you do in your own family.  Basically a "thanks, but we do it this way" kind of approach. This way she'll learn how you guys deal with them on an situational type basis. Eventually maybe she'll get the big picture! If you keep putting it off and have a laundry list of things for your husband to talk to her about, she will be defensive and consider you ungrateful for not appreciating her attempt to "help".  Not to mention, if you let it build up, you'll go nuts and that won't help anybody!  If you try this, first let your hubby know so he's not shocked when you do it. Good luck! I know your sister-in-laws behavior would drive me nuts - especially cutting your sons hair?  My sister-in-laws went as far as putting hair dye in my daughters hair at the age of 9!  I was a bit upset and let them know it! 


One thing I try to stress with my children is that different places have different rules. (Believe me, children figure this out very quickly; just ask any school teacher!) If your SIL is doing these things at -your- house, then it's totally inappropriate. (And cutting your child's hair is inappropriate anywhere, any time.) However, if you'all are at her house, then her house rules apply. She sounds really controlling and uninformed about some current parenting wisdom but perhaps some middle-ground rules might work, such as not leaving the table until everyone's done (versus leaving after they clear their plates). Good luck! As one of the other posters mentioned, it's really up to your husband, as it's his family, and it sounds like he's comfortable with the current situation.


As a teacher I see parents daily who more or less ignore their child's behavior.  If a child is visiting someone else's home or is in a public place around other people, it is the parent's responsibility to properly discipline their child.  The child should know what behavior is expected and the parent should be responsible for seeing that their child acts properly.  What may be expected by a host(s) should be taken into account. Different behavior may be expected by different people.  The parent must take the initiative for their child's behavior.  If they don't, then don't complain if someone else does it for you.


I am with bestclass all the way! She practically took the words right out of my mouth...My children grew up in a family where every one had kids the same age.  Often we "growed-ups," had nieces and nephews running around our homes, right along with our kids...House rules applied to EVERYONE.  If you didn't like Auntie's rules, you didn't have to go to Auntie's house...At Grandma's house, each parent was expected to dicipline their own kids, and I cannot tell you how many times my children, (I am the oldest Sib and oldest SIL) did not get to go running through the house with my nieces and nephews because it was clear that they were out of control.  I do not agree with the way either of my sibs raised or diciplined their children, but I maintained complete control over what my kids did. I was critiqued for not "letting my kids have fun," but my kids grew up to know their place in other people's homes and in public.  I have also asked friends and relatives to leave my home because their children were disrespectful and out of control.  It's what good parents do for their own children.  And...btw...If little Charlie needed his bangs cut, I found a way to point it out to my SIL without overstepping my bounds!  Your SIL crossed a line there! And your Hubby knows it.


It has been my experience that people treat you the way you allow them to.  The first time someone inappropriately disciplined my children, I would tell them that "This is the way we do it and you would appreciate it if they were to respect your authority on the matter.  "  Yes, there are different behaviors that are appropriate in different places but it is still up to the parent to determine how their children are taught to behave in the appropriate way. 

We had a policy that we never yelled at our children.  When a relative yelled at my child, I politely informed them that we do not yell at our children and I would appreciate it if she left the teaching  of my child up to me if they could not do so without yelling.  I did this the first time it happened.  We never had the problem again.

As for cutting my child's hair without my permission I would let anyone who did that know that I now had clearance to do anything to their hair no matter what what I decided.  It may make them think twice. 

I am now a grandmother and there have been times when I don't approve of how my grandchildren are or are not disciplined.  That is none of my business and if I don't like it I bite my tongue and would expect anyone else to do the same. 

It is a different matter if the grandchildren are in my house under my supervision.  Then  they are aware of what my rules are and they follow them. 

Children need and appreciate consistency and it is when that is not maintained that discipline and sanity go out the window.

Grandma J


If people don't like your house rules or the way you bring up your children, then they do have the option of not coming to your house. They should respect the way you bring up your children as long as you follow their house rules when you go to visit them. As for cutting your son's hair... that was certainly way out of line. I think you need to have another word with your husband and get his support. 


I wouldn't be polite about it I would tell her to stop yelling at YOUR kids their not hers so tell her not to worry about it.


A couple of people spoke of rules at other peoples homes. If you don’t like their rules don’t go, is the attitude. More important than their precious house rules are the rules you set for your children and how others interact with them. I went through this with my stepmother. She had “rules” that my children were to go by while at her home. My stepmother came in to my life at the age of 13, never had any children of her own, but has given the most advice. I knew that by confronting her I would open a can of worms, but I was not going to sit back and let her scold my children. My tactic was to step between her and whichever child she was yelling at and tell her “Thank you, but I will handle this”. This did not go over well, but when it comes to my children I am their father before anything else. I do make my children eat the vegetables I put on their plates, but I never make them clean their plate. I was always made to clean my plate and as an adult I noticed no matter how full I was I still cleaned my plate. When my children are done I excuse them from the table. The veggies will get eaten and after that, its up to them. I give smaller portions and they usually ask for seconds, but if not, that’s fine. Don’t allow someone to force your child to eat when they are done. This is another area that caused problems between my stepmother and myself. My son would say “Dad, I’m full” and before I get a word in she would say “Nope, you have to clean your plate”. I simply replied “if your full you can go play”. She then said “well I’m done too” and stormed off. I packed up the kids and we went home. After a while of allowing her to stew, I called and invited them to breakfast with the kids and I. There was tension, but she kept her comments to herself. It has been a few years since this all happened, but it changed our relationship. She now views me as a father rather than her stepson. When the kids ask her something she tells them “It’s okay with me, but you have to ask Dad first” (she‘s still learning). A family is a structure , much like a home. Every board must know their place which in turn makes the structure sound. When a wily 2x4 gets out of place, you sometimes have to use a hammer to put it back.