Friday, January 18, 2013

"Bad" Kids & Unwanted Parenting Advice

Have you ever been the recipient of unwanted parenting advice? Of course you have. We all have. Usually, if it's from a stranger or acquaintance, you can just take it with a grain of salt and move on with your life, but what about when it's someone you know and are pretty close to?

Recently, we drove up north so that I could visit with a friend of mine from college while J & M went to visit with a family member. Apparently, M wasn't on her best behavior. There was some attitude and some hitting & kicking and she wound up in time out most of the 6 hours she was there... or so she tells me. Yes, hitting and kicking is wrong, but no one could tell me WHY she was doing these things. So I asked her.

Hey, what do you do while you were there?
 Nothing.... I sitted in timeout at the table.
That's it? 
No, sometimes I sitted on the couch.
Did you play?
I played Strawberry Shortcake toys, but some were lost.
Did anyone play with you?
 No... I played by myself.
Where was everyone else?
They were sitting at the table talking.
The whole time?
So you did nothing the whole time you were there?
I eated dinner....
Did they talk to you?
They told me to sit in time out.
And that's it?

I asked her these questions repeatedly for an hour last night and the story was always the same. In 6 hours, she sat in time out, she played with a toy that was missing pieces and she ate dinner. That's it.

The family member sent me a long email a few days later telling me how bad my child is and how I need to learn how to discipline her properly.  They went so far as to say I need to use forms of corporal punishment, aside from spanking, for behavior modification. 1) I HATE corporal punishment, especially for behavior modification. I am very strongly opposed to it. and 2) I'm sorry, but if I were 3 years old and I had nothing to do but sit down on a couch watching a tv show that I really don't want to watch for 6 hours, I'd probably be "bad", too. Yes, hitting and kicking is wrong, but so is ignoring a child that you beg to have come to your house more often.

This particular family member drives down to our house once a year for M's birthday and every other time, we drive up there. So it winds up being mainly holidays since it's difficult to travel 2 hours with a young child. The family member begs us to come up more often, but every time we're there, she primarily talks to J and that's it. And now when I leave them there without me, apparently my daughter is neglected. We leave M with my sister fairly frequently and she has never had a problem with her being "bad". She has never had to put her in time out or discipline her. She has never given me a bad report. 

To make matters worse, this family member is now telling other uninvolved people how bad my child is. So answer me this, why would I bring her up more often just to be ignored and then labeled as bad when she tries to get attention? It's not hard to grab a sheet of paper and a pen and play tic-tac-toe or a deck of cards for go fish. Needless to say, I won't be letting M go up there without me for a long time.

Has anyone else been in this situation before? How did you handle it?


christina said...

wow. i'm upset after reading this and she's not even my child. did you ask the family member why they didn't interact more with her? that's what i would do first. i mean, in truth, i probably wouldn't do that but the fact that she sent you a long email telling you how horrible your child was opens the door to you asking why on earth they didn't do anything with her. ugh. i'm really upset by this and don't blame you at ALL for not wanting to visit anytime soon.

Just the 3 of us said...

Next time that person asks you to take M up there, tell her no. You don't need to waste gas driving up there just for M to be ignored.
that's so awful!