Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: My husbands brother has four kids under 10. They are all sweet kids. But they talk back, dont listen, dont take no for an answer, and seek out trouble for attention. Conversations are interrupted, and we spend a good portion of the visit listening to their parents saying no over and over, repeating instructions, negotiating, yelling and making idle threats.
Weve also started seeing less of them because their family dynamics are unpleasant.
Should we say something to the parents (which will probably be taken badly because we dont have any kids ourselves)?
What would be your intention in saying something to explain your pulling away? To wake them up to their parental failings? To improve them? To register your disapproval?
Their household sounds more chaotic than necessary, but I wont bother trying to figure out how much chaos is unavoidable with four under 10, and how much of your opinion is affected by your not having kids of your own. I cant call these accurately without being there.
Fortunately, the conversation can stop at What do you hope to accomplish? I just dont see any benefit to your speaking up for them, for you or for family peace. Best just to hang on, at arms length if needed, till the kids/parents outgrow this phase.
Re: Family: We took the tack you suggested, but its been frustrating. Its almost impossible in these settings to have a conversation. Weve really curtailed our time at family events because of this, and his family now thinks were standoffish. Is there a middle way?
Sure minimize your daytime exposure by finding day trips, running errands, etc., and be at your most present after kiddie bedtime.
If you have a history of being involved and patient with the kids, youre also in good standing to ask for adult time. If these parents are touchy, though, its best just to ride it out.
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