I am writing this as an aunt to 4 nephews and nieces that I love unconditionally and as a social worker – and would love the advice of parents out there.
My brother and sister-in-law are parents to 2 little boys aged 2 and 4. We are a very close family, and we see each other often. My parents and my brothers family live in the same condo complex, so my Mom and Dad end up seeing the children even more often.
Yesterday we had a birthday celebration for my other sister’s daughter – and it was absolute chaos.
My brothers two little boys were screaming the entire time (like, top of their lungs, screeching), not listening, and being incredibly disrespectful to the adults in the room. At one point, I took their 4 year old son aside to explain that there were hot dishes and knives/cutlery on one of the tables, so he had to be careful – and he yelled “stop telling me off!” in my face and then screamed at me. His mother, my-sister-in-law, laughed and said “he’s just expressing that he doesn’t like anyone someone other than his mother telling him what to do”.
A few minutes later, he ran over to where my Dad was sitting, and kicked over the bottle of beer that was sitting beside his chair on the floor – and told my Dad “Grandpa, that was a bad place to put your beer if we’re playing” – and my brother, his Dad, just shrugged his shoulders and said “well, he’s right”.
It sounds ridiculous, but all of the adults in the family, including my parents, are afraid to say something because parenting skills are such a touchy subject. Its come to the point that other family (great grand-parents, adult cousins) avoid coming to family gatherings because the behavior of the children is so out of control.
I’m also worried about my mother – she isn’t well, and she tries so hard to make beautiful meals and get-togethers, but their behavior always ends up ruining the day – and yesterday she ended up stressed out and she was having chest pains…
How do we, as a family, talk about this with them? My brother and sister-in-law love their kids to death, but I think they equate boundaries and punishment with not loving their children. They are also big time grudge-holders, but at this point, we would rather say something and deal with the consequence of potentially not seeing them for a few months!
Would a good route be an intervention so that they know its affecting everyone? Should my mother write them a letter so it doesn’t turn into a heated argument? Should she simply say “if you are in my home or at one of the family events, these are the rules?
Any advice would be appreciated – this is causing a lot of stress. And its unfair to their kids – who are loving and sweet, but wild without boundaries!