How would you handle this situation? (Parenting issue with in-laws)

Definitely not my intention, and thanks. I tend to get over the anger thing somewhat quickly, and then I overthink them (as evidenced by this thread ;)).

We may have an impending move coming up, as I’m attempting to get another position within my company in my hometown, so I certainly don’t want to be on bad terms with FIL. I think part of the reason I was so surprised by it tonight was because as much as he can be a dick to my husband (although less over the past couple of years than he used to be), he is very, very patient and loving towards my very active (and I’ll admit, sometimes tiring and a teeny bit annoying) toddler. I figured if we needed this kind of a conversation, it would be with MY parents, not my husband’s.

OhKaaay… so why were you seething? He wasn’t hurt. So why the steadfast opposition to this non-hurtful, effective, and widely used method of discipline? Whatever it was that you were doing obviously wasn’t working. You told the kid to stay out of the dishwasher and he kept at it. Maybe you should have picked him up and removed him from the room (or would that be considered physical punishment?) And what exactly should grandpa have done to keep kid out of the dishwasher? Remember, dishwashers contain sharp knives and forks, something toddlers should not be grabbing. Maybe his quick thinking saved you a trip to the ER.

I agree with a previous poster who said that it is a valuable lesson for kids to learn that other people have different rules in their houses. Grandpa is doing you guys a big favor by serving as babysitter for you once a week, and you’re going to “seethe” over this minuscule incident?

My twin cousins are also about 20 months, and if they disobey verbal warnings/reprimands, a hand slap from their parents proves to be a very effective method to stop the undesired behavior. It doesn’t hurt them. It works when they don’t listen to verbal commands. So why is this so bad? Is this really worth creating a family rift over? (And IMO it is more likely than not that it will cause a rift if you bring it up)…

It strikes me as a reflexive reaction to a possibly dangerous situation. It was meant to startle; not punish. I’d let it go this time. If he does it again, it might be cause for concern. Not to devalue your decision as a parent to choose not to spank, but if you thought they understood your wishes, they probably did. I’m just not sure this falls under the “spanking” heading. Not for this particular situation, anyway.

That’s strange, seemed pretty effective for me and my brothers, and all the other children my mom looked after over the years.

It’s hardly a big deal, one little slap on the back of the hand. Whether you agree with it or not, it’s hardly shocking. They both probably forgot about it five minutes later.

Although I don’t know your FIL I doubt it’s got anything to do with respect. Most parents do slap children as punishment (I’m not talking about beatings, just a quick slap). He was most likely just doing it automatically without thinking.

I think your supposed to have a rational adult conversation with him, making sure you don’t damage his self esteem. There can’t possibly be any bad consequences to his actions, he might be scarred for life. :rolleyes:

I agree and I think this is a good reason it should just be let go. I understand the protectiveness around a child but having experienced the family dynamics of frequent contact with inlaws I learned to accept that I couldn’t control every aspect of my kids time with them. There’s a lot of years ahead of relationship. You can’t control all aspects of your sons interaction with his Grandpa especially if they spend time together without you around. If you trust that he loves your son then accept that you as Mom and he as Grampa may have different approaches from time to time.

An off hand little slap is not harmful to the child nor is it disrespectful of your decision. It’s just a minor slip up that occurs between humans. Let it go. If it happens again then mention it.

and eleanorigby I don’t agree with this

I remember how frustrating it was when I’d ask my mother in law not to give the kids sugary snacks and then she would anyway. I felt disrespected and as if my choices about bringing up my kids was being undermined. Eventually I realized what I said above. I let it go and everybody’s relationship got better.

My house, my kids, my rules, is fine, but my kids, your grandkids, your house, still my rules, can create tension that doesn’t help anyone.

Oh, for God’s sake. FTR, my son is pretty well-behaved, but he is a TODDLER and has his moments. And yes, he does have consequences to his actions - I’d consider myself a crappy parent if we didn’t teach him right from wrong. However, FOR US, that does not involve using a physicial punishment such as spanking or hand slapping. It is NOT a judgment on other parents who choose to use them, it’s simply a difference in parenting techniques.

Thanks for the rationality. More than likely, I will let it go. The more I thought about it last night, the more I realized it was probably just a one time thing and my FIL just reacted out of frustration - I know what it’s like to react out of anger, and this was nothing like that. If it happens again, yes, I will say something, but I don’t think it’ll happen again.

I think it was just a reactive thing, in the moment, for the grampa. I doubt he feels it falls into the ‘physical punishment’ realm, though we see it as so. Your child was not hurt, and he was not being disrespectful of your parenting choices, he just reacted.

I would, next time I took my son there, have a quick conversation with him, very respectful. Tell him how much you appreciate the help and support they lend you. How much you admire him for respecting your parenting choices when it comes to discipline etc. How happy you are that you all have a good relationship and that you don’t want to upset that.

Then tell him you’re aware he very likely did not give it a second thought but you’d rather he did not slap your son’s hand for misbehaviour, in future. Point out you’re not angry or upset and realize he just reacted, but in future you’d prefer a different tactic.

As long as you’re respectful and keep it short and sweet, I expect he’ll give you no disagreement.
(Though he may not actually agree with your view.)

I’m trying really hard to divorce the topic of “spanking” from the topic of “my in-laws did [this this with my kid] that I don’t allow and they agreed not to do.” That’s because, honestly, I do think you’re overreacting to a hand slap, but then again, I’m not completely opposed to physical discipline. (Only mostly.)

But, as far as practical advice for how to handle it now goes:

First, if it were I, I’d stop using the word “spanking”. You’re likely to get tripped up there, because to most people, an in-the-moment slap on the hand is not “spanking”. Spanking involves hand or tool on butt, and often (but not always) separated in time from the infraction. If you have a talk with Grandpa referring to the hand slap as “spanking”, or violating your rule against “spanking”, then Grandpa’s likely to get caught up in a cognitive dissonance loop. “Spanking? WTF is she talking about? I never spanked the kid!” And he won’t hear a single other thing you say while he’s busy processing this new definition of spanking.

I also agree with Chimera. Focus on the “kids learn by example” idea, and the fact that your kid is learning about “no hitting” right now. That’s the actual harm caused here - the kid is getting mixed signals about whether or not hitting is okay, and that makes things confusing when you’re not yet 2. He’s not really harmed physically or psychologically, and yes, it’s a good thing to learn that there are different rules, consequences and ways of doing things, so it could be argued that giving your FIL space to develop his own relationship with his grandson is a good thing. But I agree that, right now while you’re working specifically on “no hitting”, smacking the hand is clouding the discipline issue, not helping it.

Yeah, that’s fine, but as EB mentioned in the OP:

It has been a long time since I had toddlers, but it seems to me that if you are going to rely on friends and family for childcare, you may need to reconcile yourself to the fact that those friends and family may have slightly different ideas about child rearing and discipline than you do. And you have to decide in a case-by-case manner whether overall you trust an individual’s judgment, and appreciate their assistance, sufficiently to outweigh the fact that you do not have complete control over every aspect of your child’s care during the time you leave your kid with them.

In the widest scheme of things, can you reconcile an occasional hand slap, in a situation arguably calling for discipline, and in which a verbal warning had already proven ineffective, against all of the benefits you derive from your current relationship?

If it were me, and I was keeping somebody’s kid and knew they didn’t spank, I’m not sure that I’d necessarily equate the time-honored “I told you not to touch that you little shit” hand slap to a spanking. In other words, I might really be mystified if you got upset about it because I might really not know I wasn’t supposed to do that. I might not even in my brain put it in the “corporal punishment” category without thinking about it - anybody who’s ever done that knows that it doesn’t really hurt the kid, it just stops him and surprises the hell out of him - this isn’t to argue “spank versus no-spank” with you, just to give you the viewpoint that your FIL might have really made an innocent mistake.

IMHO, the “see if it happens again” idea is appropriate.

And that’s a big part of it. It’s also hard to reinforce ‘no hitting’ when he’s in daycare and toddlers tend to hit - it’s just their nature. It’s an ongoing battle, obviously, with a not-quite 2 year old.

And I’m not debating the merits of spanking or not spanking/physical punishment. The biggest reason we choose not to is NOT for any kind of philosophical thing - it’s because I know that I have a short fuse, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want to risk letting myself get out of control. I’ve seen it happen with family members, and it’s like how we all have a propensity to gain weight easily - it’s the same thing to me, so I want to avoid it. There have been times when I’ve put him in his crib and walked away because I’ve felt that anger and felt like I wanted to spank him, and I do NOT want to take the risk of losing control.

And Dinsdale, you’re absolutely right - we are very grateful for the time that they spend with their grandson - he loves going over there, and they love having him around. Yesterday was a much longer day of having him (we were there for a majority of it, though), and I think it was just a little too long for my FIL.

It’s a lot clearer of an issue today now that I’ve slept on it, and I’m certainly not going to turn it into WWIII. I do trust my in-law’s very much with the care of my son, and I’m just going to chalk this up to an isolated incident.

Slight Hijack;
Because this really has nothing to do with Elza B’s situation, but rather with this discussion.

There’s a bit of an argument over whose rules are paramount. Largely, I’d say it is the Parents. But you cannot simply declare that their rules must be followed to the letter under someone elses roof. This is disrespectful of the owners of that roof.

My parents had a rule regarding other people’s kids when I was growing up:

If you won’t discipline your kids in our house, We Will.

For my own part, I had some former close friends who refused to discipline their children or their animals in any way, shape or form. Then they’d drag their kids over to other people’s houses, even when they were specifically NOT invited, and let them run wild. Attempts to get them to control their children met with “Pffft!” sounds and rolled eyes. Using the word “discipline” led to shouting matches in which they would accuse me of telling them to beat their children. When I would attempt to explain that; Discipline means creating form, structure and rules, and then enforcing those rules; they would shout me down, screaming over the top of me that they were not going to beat their children! (Whereas I just figured they were too stupid to see any alternative between No Control and Beatings.)

Obviously, this caused a great deal of bad blood between them and all of their friends, because they were being disrespectful of their friends and their friends property by inflicting undisciplined little monsters on their houses and refusing to exercise or tolerate any control over those children.

And the screaming and false accusations on their end are the #1 reason why they are now former friends.

Nowadays, I babysit my 7 year old niece and 11 year old nephew on occasion. Fortunately, I’ve never had any problems with them at all. They’re well behaved, because their parents are great and they were nannied by my mother. But when they come to MY HOUSE, then the rules laid down by my sister must be tempered by the rules of my house. I have every right to have stricter rules in my house about what they are allowed to do or not do, and my sister has jack shit to say about it, excepting that I care about her and would take her feelings into consideration if she brought me any (theoretical) concerns. Also being their caretaker in that moment, I feel comfortable in relaxing some rules (under my roof) that their parents are more strict about, as long as no harm is done in the process.

I agree you can have whatever rules you like in your house. However if one of the kids breaks a rule, the disciplining of the child should be according to the parents wishes IMO. If this ever became a problem with my parents (I really don’t think it will), then my solution would be to tell them they were welcome to visit their granddaughter at MY house where according to such a credo, my rules stand.

I would agree excepting as per the story of my friends who refused to discipline their children. No way I’m accepting that crap in my house anymore.

Generally, I agree with this, however, I think such discipline must nearly always stop short of physical contact - exceptions perhaps being restraint to prevent some greater harm - or where the parents have expressly permitted physical contact (i.e. “if he misbehaves, feel free to whack him with a stick”).

In the OP’s situation, I’d be inclined to dismiss it as a one-off incident. If it happens again, I think it would be appropriate to bring it up as a complaint. If it happens after that, then I guess you have to choose between escalating the complaint (but maybe not achieving any cessation of the problem), or keeping your kids out of the situation where it can happen.

To be frank in your OP you sound like the parent from hell. You are bending over so far your back is about to break to avoid describing your child’s behavior as that of an annoying, disobedient brat, which is how most other people would perceive his behavior in that context.

Typically, a complete lack of corporal punishment can work nicely if the child is fairly passive and not prone to willful behavior, if the child likes to test dominance, is impulsive and wants things their own way this parenting philosophy can create monsters, who will endure endless talks and restrictions, then go out and be just as obnoxious as before.

If I had a grandchild who was prone to disobedient behavior in my kitchen who kept going after dishwasher items despite being warned repeatedly not to touch, and I smacked his hand to keep him off the utensils, then had to endure a lecture from his parent on how unacceptable that was, those people would not ever be back in my house. If you want very special rules for your child it is entirely your right to maintain those* in your own house*.

Slapping a disobedient child’s hand for persistently going after potentially dangerous or sharp items in a dishwasher is well within the bounds of acceptable correction. If you are going to set these rules up you need to be in control of your child at all times. If you are not then expecting other people to toe your “don’t touch him” line in all circumstances is going to fraught with difficulty, especially as he grows older, larger, stronger and more willful.

IMO, if he knew you considered a hand-slap as a no-no, then he was wrong. And “just frustrated” or “forgot himself” are not excuses I’d tolerate from my child’s grandparents. If you can swat the hand, you can as easily grab the hand and say “No!” forcefully. Or turn the kid towards you and look him in the eye.

I’m in the opposite situation. Basically, my daughter is with her grandparents twice a week after preschool. Not because we asked, but because they offered. And yes, their house, but our daughter. And I don’t like their utter lack of discipline with her. But I don’t want my wife to feel stuck in the middle, either, so with something like this, I’d talk to the guy myself.

I’m not sure I would go quite so far as astro, but I must admit there were several portions of the OP made me more sympathetic towards gramps than mom:

Like I said, I’m a lot closer to having grandkids than toddlers. But considering your own words, if I were your FIL, I can imagine many worse things than having you say you wouldn’t be bringing B over for several hours every Saturday. Fine! I’ll be in my hammock or on the golf course! :cool:

ISTM that I hear a lot of parents excuse their kids’ behaviors because of their stage in life. “They’re a toddler/in the terrible twos/teething/whatever.” Before too long you encounter many of the same parents excusing antisocial behavior because, “What can you expect of teens/They’re establishing boundaries/testing limits/etc.” There’s a convenient excuse for just about every age.

In my limited experience, for every stage in a person’s life, you encounter people who are well behaved and exercise self control in a wide range of situations, and others who IMO probably could use more than an occasional slap on the wrist.

Every parent is certainly free to raise their kids however they wish. And many around here have accused me of being overly strict. But I would consider doing something different - not necessarily corporal punishment - if my nearly 2-year old thought it was HILARIOUS when he was being disciplined. I’d give him something to laugh about! :smiley:

Thanks :rolleyes: . I probably do over-explain, which contributes to this.

I can assure you, I’m far from the ‘parent from hell’ . And my kiddo is far from a brat - he’s an active toddler who’s pretty damn lovable, and has plenty of boundaries set for him, mainly because we refuse to raise a ‘brat’. I’ll take the words of the people who see him every day or on a fairly constant basis who describe him as a happy, sweet, obedient kid who occasionally has his moments.

BTW, in case you can’t read the rest of the thread, I have not said a WORD to his grandfather and am not planning to do so. I posted the thread to see if other people thought I was overreacting, and since several people made very good points, I’ve come to that conclusion myself and am going to drop it. I don’t give a flying shit if you believe in corporal punishment or not, and think that my kid would benefit from it. That’s not what the OP or subsequent posts were about.

You know, I understand where you’re coming from. If I were to look at it objectively, I’d probably wonder, too. But in being absolutely honest - he IS teething, which in turn, can affect his sleep, which in turn, can affect his behavior. We ended up putting him to bed early last night since he’d been so nuts that afternoon, and went down without a fuss, he slept all night long, woke up later than usual this morning, and was in a GREAT mood when he got up and we had a fantastic morning until we left for daycare. That’s the kid I’m used to, and that’s the kid I think my FIL is used to having over. I honestly think yesterday was just an hour too long - for both the kid and my FIL. After discussing it, both here and with my mom, I’m sympathetic to my FIL, too - :smiley: . He’s actually exceeded my wildest dreams as a grandfather, and this is just something I need to let go.

I can see where I come across a little bit as an overbearing parent, but I really am too wordy and I do overexplain a LOT. And I’m sure a few posters on here remember some of my nervous nelly new mom posts when he was an infant. Unfortunately, that’s MY issue, not my kid’s (and it extends beyond parenting - I’m just a natural worrier, which leads me to a tendency to overexplain).

And believe me - we’re working on discipline techniques. I come from a family who does, unfortunately, find everything hilarious, and it seems that he’s inherited that trait. We know that he does NOT like time-outs, so those are actually fairly effective if he’s doing something he shouldn’t be. As he gets older, we’ll find other things that work, too. Let’s put it this way - if we DON’T set limits for him, it’ll get to the point where he runs us so ragged that we will become too tired to get out of bed in the morning ;).