How we set boundaries with our parents and in-laws is a frequent stressor for many families, especially around the holidays. Whether family lives close by or far away, everyone brings expectations into what that relationship should look like. We navigate this on an ongoing basis as well.
The first question deals with that very issue. How do we talk to our parents about it in an honoring way? How can we be united as husband and wife in making decisions and setting our own traditions?
In this episode, we also discuss questions related to:
- helping kids set their own boundaries and manage their feelings
- teaching kids to play independently
- how we can avoid showing favoritism when one child is more compliant than another
- resources to manage explosive or strong-willed kids
Question 1: Hi! I’ve recently listened to your grandparent episode – THANK YOU. My husband and I are new parents, and his parents live close by. My (divorced) parents both live out of state. Anytime they come visit they usually stay with us (and they come separately so it’s kind of double visits). I know my husband doesn’t love when they stay with us but he grins and bares it for the most part since he knows it means a lot to me.
However, this Christmas my mom had announced (not asked) that she will be visiting and staying with us for over a week. It’s really important to my husband that she does not stay with us on Christmas Eve since we have (and are still) developed our own family traditions. I know that the “guidelines” we set in this first year of our child’s life will live forever, and I’m so nervous to have this conversation with my mom. I want to honor my husband’s wishes and present a united front to my mom and also be respectful to her when I ask that she stays elsewhere for two nights. Help?? How do I handle it? She is emotionally very dependent on me since I am an only child and I don’t want to hurt her feelings but I need to put my own small family unit first.
Question 2: Thank you so much for your book and podcast. The book has given me a framework with which to help navigate this parenting world that I am very new to and I am so appreciative!
My question is about teaching kids about their own boundaries. It is so important that they are taught to be kind and think of others first, but how do you balance that with the fact that each person is responsible for their own actions and feelings. For example, I watched a 4 year old emotionally manipulate her friend into giving her what she wanted by pouting and her friend said after she just wanted her “to be happy”. Being kind, sharing, and self sacrifice are so important but so is developing the ability to say no. How do you find the balance?
Question 3: In episode #42, you referenced a question that my husband and I both responded with “get out of my head!!” but didn’t answer it. The question was something like, “How do you parent/discipline a strong willed boy and a compliant boy without showing favoritism?” We need this one! The strong willed, older boy is in a cycle of feeling defeated while his younger brother just doesn’t deal with defiance as a frequent heart issue. We are on the cycle with him – and its incredibly hard on the entire family.
Also – another aspect of the same scenario – since our firstborn is also incredibly strong willed, explosive, and hyper – we wonder these things: was it our doing, especially since we had no idea what we were doing and parented so much out of our own issues and dysfunctions? Regardless, how can we help heal the past of parenting in frustration and anger while trying to figure out parenting in those first 4/5 years?
Question 4: Hi! I am currently reading Safe House. I am a stay-at-home mom and have a 13-month-old. He is pretty clingy when we are at home. If he is playing outside, he definitely wants to explore or when we go places he is pretty brave and isn’t afraid to be left at the nursery at church, with sitters, or with grandparents. He doesn’t experience separation from me all that often. But at home, which is probably 90% of the time, he is at my feet a lot wanting to be held – and he has free range of the majority of the house. He can freak out like he is legitimately scared when I go up the stairs or into another room even if he can still see me.
It just makes me worry that I’m not fostering independence by being home with him all the time. I tend to give up getting anything done when he’s awake and just play with him and we read and dance and wrestle and play with his toys and play outside instead; and I can’t even think about trying to make dinner until my husband can entertain him after he gets home, but even then he will oftentimes migrate to my feet and beg to be held. I sometimes wonder if I should ignore him and let him learn to play on his own but then I worry he doesn’t feel safe. Am I overthinking it and all one year olds are clingy? Or is there something I can do to help his independence?