I was reading an article that a friend sent to me about a mother who felt so guilty for disciplining her daughter’s friend when she was over for a play date. She was tormenting herself for losing her patience, and giving this child a time-out for being rude and disruptive.
As I kept reading, I kept thinking to myself… “So what’s the problem? What’s the big deal here? Am I missing something?” I could not relate whatsoever to this mother who was being so hard on herself for parenting a child who was in her care, even for a short time.
When it comes to child rearing, there are two basic points of view:
#1- It takes a village to raise our children. Let’s face it, in today’s society, it is extremely difficult to raise children completely on your own. Not impossible, but more difficult. Besides, it feels good to help others who need it, and feels just as good to be helped when we feel we are at our breaking point.
#2 – The second perspective, clearly my least favourite of the two, is the theory that it is no one’s business how we choose to raise a child. While I understand that everyone is entitled to their own standards, value systems, ethics and points of view, when a child’s behaviour begins to affect other people, especially people we care about, it most certainly does become other people’s business.
Most people are able to recognize both the pros and cons to each perspective, and find a happy medium in terms of how they treat, discipline and nurture other people’s children for whom they are in charge.
Keeping both these theories in mind, and in an attempt to find some common ground between them, when faced with the need to parent someone else’s child, I try to remind myself of the following:
Things to Keep in Mind when Discipling other People’s Children:
#1 – No matter what our perspective, we as parents have the right to make the rules in our own home. If our child’s friend tells us that certain behaviours are permitted in their home, we are allowed to tell them that that is their parents’ choice, but in our home we do things differently. We need to remain consistent in our choices, explain the rules clearly, and not feel the need to justify the rules to them. In other words, essentially treat them in the same manner as we would our own children.
#2 – Little children on their own, without proper guidance, may sincerely not be able to find alternatives to their off-putting behaviour. It is our jobs as parents to not only discourage what is not allowed, but also to provide alternative, more appropriate behaviours that are more acceptable in our home.
#3 – Speak to the parents of the little houseguest and inform them how the play date went. We must be honest with the parents, as we would expect in return, as we can be sure that the child will say something to them once they are alone. And we would most certainly want these parents to have our perspective. We are more likely to be supported by their parents if we are transparent from the get-go.
#4 – Pick and choose our battles….And be able to let things just roll off….We might be more open to the children eating with their mouths open, but less tolerant of rude noises at the table or their lack of manners. Even in these instances, in order to avoid any unnecessary embarrassment, we can keep reminders to be polite directed toward everyone sitting at the table and not necessarily to one child in particular.
As far as my husband and I are concerned, when we have our children’s friends in our home, they are, essentially on loan to us temporarily. This means it is our job to keep them safe, ensure they are happy, help them if they are sick or hurt, and similarly discipline them if they are acting out.
Others are entrusting them to us, and we should treat them as we would our own.
After all, is that not what we would want if the shoe was on the other foot?
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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