The biggest question I got after Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should, is what do you do when your family members don’t abide by your commitment to keeping your kids grounded and focused away from the lure of “stuff?” Great question. I think it gets at to an even deeper question. What do you do when your “village” goes rogue and unconsciously (and even scarier, consciously), ignores (or disregards) your parenting philosophy?
Who’s In Your Parenting Village?
Whether you’re a fan of Hillary Clinton, or not, her “it takes a village” child rearing philosophy is really spot on. Even though we are the primary influence in our child’s development, there are a whole lot of influences and influencers in our child’s world.
Family members, religious communities, schools, extracurricular activities, neighbors, and even television play a role in educating your child about who they are and how to be in the world around them. Like most things, some messages are good and some are bad. Our job as parents is to be the gate keeper, which is no easy feat for sure.
If we stick with the whole village analogy, think of yourself as the village leader. You set the rules of engagement and its your job to enforce the rules. If one of your villagers go rogue, you are the law.
It is never easy to be your child’s village leader and sometimes it can feel really lonely.
Some villagers are easier to manage than others. I find it relatively easy to assert our family rules and values with the more removed villagers.
Like schools. I have no problem telling La Grande’s teacher that she is not allowed to consume mass quantities of sugar. I am THAT parent that refuses to bring in cookies and sweets to class parties. I’m THAT pretentious parent that brings in veggies and hummus. Yep. You’re welcome.
On the other hand, there are those villagers that intimidate me a bit. Like my parents sometimes. It’s not that they’re flexing their muscles or anything and they totally respect me…but I have tendency to revert to my child-self
How To Get Your Extended Family Members To Back Up Your Parenting
Oy vey. Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Okay, fair enough, the bad news. Let’s get it out of the way.
The Bad News: No matter what you say or do, some of your family members won’t have your back.
When it comes to our whole anti-spoiled-rotten-kids initiative, some of our family members just didn’t get it. Despite our many conversations, ranging from the beating-around-the-bush to the direct-in-yo’-face approach, we had some villagers that weren’t going to back us up because they felt that it was their right to do…and I quote…”whatever I want.” I. Kid. You. Not.
We tried letting them know that we were concerned that the girls had too many toys or that we would rather they not send any more stuffed animals (we have a menagerie). We tried letting them know that we’d rather they spend more time with the girls rather than lavishing gifts on them. We also provided alternatives….could they minimize the toy haul in lieu of contributing directly to the girls’ college funds or extracurricular activities?
Not a chance in Hades. They weren’t hearing it.
So what did we do? Well, I can tell you what we didn’t do. We did not allow these family members to call the shots. Since they weren’t willing to work with us, we had to do what we had to do. We started pre-screening gifts.
Before the gifts hit the girls hands, we sorted through the gifts to see if they passed muster. A book? Good to go. A gaming system? Negative, Ghost Rider.
Anything that didn’t pass our test went to charity or was re-gifted. Our house. Our rules. Our kids. We didn’t make a big deal out of it and the girls were none the wiser.
The Good News: Most of your family members will respect you and will be honored to become one of your loyal villagers.
Despite the fact that we had some family members that abandoned ship, the majority of them were more than willing to get on board.
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