Parenting styles colliding during family events... help!

Amanda - posted on 06/01/2011 ( 2 moms have responded )

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I am a BIG fan of teaching my daughter to stand up for herself in hopes that she'll be better at it when she's my age than I am. She has one cousin right now and my husband and I are polar opposites to his brother and sis-in-law in almost every way. It's becoming more and more obvious that our parenting styles are colliding badly as our girls get older. It's really frustrating and I dread whenever they come into town for weekend visits at my parents-in-laws' home. This last weekend was awful.
My daughter, at 2, is very sensitive and kind-hearted. Her cousin (almost 3), while mostly sweet, is also extremely unpredictable (much like her parents) and will be playing nicely and then start yelling at my daughter because she wants a toy my DD is playing with or the game isn't going the way SHE wants it to. That alone is maddening because my DD will back away in fear and confusion and may sometimes cry because she's so confused as to why she's being yelled at. What makes it worse is that before I can get the words out of my mouth, someone else (usually my MIL or sis-in-law) is mistaking her fear for "sharing." I feel like my daughter's bigheartedness is being taken advantage of.
She doesn't throw fits and won't get angry when a toy is taken from her without her consent. She shares so willingly and has little attachment to things (she's a people person!), which I love. It makes her the "easy" target when it comes to pacifying the "situation." Between the two girls, she is WAY more mature (and some of that could be my Mom-bias) and knows how to handle her emotions a lot better. I think this is what my in-law's are taking for granted.
I love my MIL (she's awesome and totally supportive of our parenting choices) and I know that she's trapped in the middle of a not so pretty mess. I do plan to talk with her about the reoccurring incidents over the weekend and I know that we'll be able to figure something out. I'm just wondering if you have any ideas on how to handle such a situation with love and grace!
How do I teach my daughter to stand up for herself without squashing my niece (she gets enough of that at home) at the same time? Is such a thing possible?

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Sally - posted on 09/24/2011

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I don't think it has to be one or the other. Your daughter can be taught(shown) how to stand up for herself w/out "squashing" the other child. My daughter was like yours, she will share/ walk away or run to me if confronted. She is at almost 5 starting to be more defensive. She too, has an aggressive friend, not related but almost related. When a toy is taken from our daughter, I always got down right at her level and asked her "Are you sure you were done with that?" "you can keep playing with it if you want." I also always allow her to have things that she never has to share. We would tell the friend "this is special, Savannah doesn't want to share it. You may look at it but it is hers." This helped my daughter have some control. She knew ahead of time that something was hers and noone could take it from her. I do not endorse forced sharing, I don't feel stepping in is squashing the other childs identity. As far as games go, I would simply say (and have said) "it seems like (childs name) isn't ready for this game, lets find something else for you to do. Or I would tell my child, "its ok for you to play a different way, everyone plays differently." Give your daughter power by making sure she knows her rights and that she won't be punished for an action. I would have a talk with you MIL about not praising your child for sharing. Forced or agressive sharing makes your child a victim and teaches bully techniques to the other child. Mine will now say to other kids, "I am not done with this yet" or "I will be done in a minute." Just my thoughts....

Tameka - posted on 09/15/2011

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I would personally be supervising their play times. I have this issue with my sister's eldest son towards my girls. My girls sound a bit like your daughter: always sharing, wanting to please others, not sure how to deal with difficult behaviour. I pretend that I am playing with the children and when something happens between the children I am there to put an immediate stop to it before someone gets hurt. My sister's son is verbally and physically abusive (that's how he was raised and all he knows...) so I get really nervous with him around my girls. He is only 18 months older than my eldest so there isn't a massive age gap to worry about. He wants to be a sweet boy but has never been shown how to deal with his frustration and anger in a positive way.

As for parenting styles. Well, I've already been labelled a 'crunchy mum' and I don't care. My girls are turning into far better people than most so I'm happy. I've tried mentioning things to relo's and it always ends up really nasty so I stay out of it. Fortunately hubby is in the Navy which has put some distance between which has significantly dropped the arguments. Feel like serving your country?? lol :D :D

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