My sister has two kids, 5 and 7. I have no kids, by choice. I love my nephews, but worry about them; they don't listen to their Mom, and are increasingly disrespectful and out of control the older they get. When I was with them and my sister recently, I watched as she told them repeatedly to do things (clean up their toys, stop throwing things, etc.) and then watched as they openly defied her, over and over again. I don't say anything when this happens; while I'm their aunt, I don't want to disrespect my sister. Meanwhile, my sister was nearly at the end of her rope.
That day, when I was alone with my nephews, I told them off as I never have before, pointing out that their behavior was completely unacceptable, that they need to think of others and not just themselves, etc. The 5 and 7 year olds actually smirked in my face! When I asked them if they behave like this at school or with their sports coaches, they said no. When I asked why, they said because, in those two contexts, "there's more of a penalty." They themselves know what the problem is at home - not enough discipline!
I am not a parent, and I know how annoying and wrong it is for a non-parent to tell a parent how to raise their kids. It seems to me that the problem is that when their Mom asks them to do something and they defy her, there is absolutely no consequence. She tells them something, they ignore her, and she just asks them again. A simple solution would be: she tells them do something, they don't do it, and then there is a swift and strong consequence (taking away a toy of special value, etc.). As simple as this is, it seems my sister just doesn't see the problem or the solution; I think she's just too immersed in the situation.
Do I dare discuss this with my sister? I do not want to be one of those non-parents piping up and offering their unwanted advice. I do not want my sister to resent me. On the other hand, I fear for my nephews, and, as their aunt and god-mother, I believe I do have some special role in their lives.
It's sad to see my sister not enjoy her kids. I also must confess that I often don't enjoy spending time with my nephews because of their disrespect and behavior that is generally out of control.
Parents, please advise! Am I a bad aunt? At present, I feel that I am part of the problem - I see a problem, and I stand by and do nothing to help resolve it. But neither do I want to overstep my bounds. Your insight would be much appreciated.
You are not a bad Aunt to me. Everyone, including parents, have a limit and you reached yours based on disrespectful behavior.
To me, you are absolutely 100% correct. Lack of consequences is a result of their actions. It's really that simple. In our house we never ask more than twice without delivering a consequence and most times it's not even once. We state upfront our expectations for behavior and state what the consequence will be.
The most important thing about any discipline model is following through. I don't care which model is used. It's important to deliver reasonable and actionable consequences. You can't say "you'll never play with that again" if you don't mean it. Kids will call your bluff easily.
Sounds like your sister has no spine.