Polk Moms

Connecting moms in Polk County, Fla.

My wife's brother is always smacking our two daughters on the rear end. He thinks it's funny. I don't. My wife says he's just joking around and being a funny uncle. I disagree. I don't want to start trouble in our family or scare our girls, but shouldn't I bring this up to him now before they become teenagers?

If he has been doing this little ritual since they were young, it probably is harmless. Also, if he is your wife's brother, she knows him better than you. I actually do this to my own four nieces and my two nephews. I have to admit, they are all under six. I also put them in a gentle bear hug and tickle them. I pride myself on being a silly uncle and the kids seem to get a kick out of it. However, if their parents asked me to stop, I certainly would. - H.P. in St. Paul, MN

FROM JODIE:

I'm not sure what age your daughters are at the moment but it would seem if your wife is not concerned about it, maybe you are reading more into the situation than is there. For example, if your daughters seem to enjoy hanging out with him and are laughing, then it is probably is his way of trying to be funny and to connect with the girls. Perhaps in the back of his mind he knows they are growing up and will soon be too “cool” for him. But, if they are currently right around the corner to becoming teenagers and you see something going on that your wife and daughters are not picking up on, tell your wife to pay more attention next time it happens. Or, if the girls are avoiding their uncle and maybe even commenting about it, ask your wife to make a point to listen more carefully to their comments. Either way, she could mention it to him. This approach might be best if all he is doing is what he has always done and they think it's still funny. If she talks to him about it, most likely it would not raise red flags or cause him to become defensive towards you or her. In fact, tell her not to bring up that you are the one who is uncomfortable with the gesture, at least not in the beginning, and see how it goes. The last thing you need is to create bad feelings between and among relatives over something that might could have been handled differently. Remember, not all of the time, but most of the time, when something or someone annoys a kid, they'll usually try to stay clear of whatever or whomever, especially if they're older. So, continue to keep a watchful eye on the reactions from your daughters.

CAN YOU HELP?

Is there a way to teach our toddler to be more gentle with his two-month-old sister other than getting upset with him? It could be that I am overprotective of her, but sometimes, I think he's trying to hurt her on purpose.

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