Wedding Woes

You should have just said that what he said wasn't nice and left it there.

Dear Prudence,

I have a large extended family and we do a lot over the holidays. Most of my cousins have kids, but I don’t. I like kids, I just don’t know if I want them. One of my cousins, “Katie,” has a very sweet little boy, “Ben.” He is, however, still a child so sometimes he says things that are a bit rude. This happened at our last family gathering a couple of months ago. Without getting into specifics, Ben said something that he probably heard from one of his parents and he took it out of context. I said it wasn’t very nice to say and he asked me why. I asked him if he would want someone to say that to him. He said no. I said it’s generally not nice to say things to others that you don’t want said to you. He apologized and his mom walked in right as he hugged me. She said I had no place parenting his child. I happened to go into the kitchen, which was not very close to Katie at the time, and Ben followed me in, so there was nobody else to say anything to him. I told her I thought it was better to tell him in the moment than go find her to mention it. She just kept saying that I shouldn’t be teaching her son a lesson just because she wasn’t around. The holidays are coming up and I’m about to see her at a lot of events. Was I in the wrong? Is that not something you should do to someone else’s kid?

—Not a Parent

Re: You should have just said that what he said wasn't nice and left it there.

  • I know a few people who have siblings who will not allow anyone else to correct their kids (even grandparents).   It's wild, IMO.  

    I can't really judge the conversation LW had with Ben because I can see it going a couple of different ways.  Either LW was all, "That wasn't nice.  You wouldn't want someone to say that to you, would you?" or LW could have had a 5 min discussion where she went way too deep with the kid.  It really doesn't matter because Katie wasn't a fan. 

    I don't think this has to do with whether or not LW is a parent.  LW knows now that Katie won't tolerate it and so LW should act accordingly.  

  • I think Katie is doing a dis-service to her son by thwarting others from correcting him, when he's doing something inappropriate.  That's one of the ways children learn and from different perspectives.

    I get that it's a fine line and shouldn't be done in front of one of his parents.  And a person shouldn't say anything that the parents might not agree with.  

    But the LW was gentle with Ben.  Gave him constructive criticism with examples.  Listened to his questions, ie spoke with him instead of "at" him.  And also didn't say anything remotely controversial.

    Ben sounds like a great kid!  He listened to what the LW said, asked questions for what he didn't understand, and took the advice to heart.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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