How can I tell relatives not to parent or discipline my 3 year old?

How can I deal with family members trying to step in and parent my child? We have a few relatives that have children in close age with my 3 year old daughter, and when we have get togethers, it seems like all bets are off and sometimes the aunts and uncles try and step in and discipline or parent my child. Some are more strict in the way they parent, and my daughter and myself are not used to that. How can I tell them to back off and let them really listen to my wishes?

Submitted by brittanydiaz11

Ah, the extended-family discipline dilemma -- does it help to know you're not alone? Most of us struggle with this issue. It's about family customs and communication patterns. In some families, it's OK to voice your preferences and set limits. In others, it's not so easy. First of all, know that it's OK for your child to get used to the fact that different adults have different approaches to discipline. Your child can understand this, and as long as it's not abusive, an aunt or uncle setting limits won't psychologically damage your child.

But this is more about YOU setting limits in your family of origin. Perhaps you're taking the opportunity to set limits you never did as a child yourself, or simply setting the rules for your own child. If you decide to speak up, be rational, matter-of-fact, and straightforward. "Auntie, our daughter is used to getting down from her chair after she's done eating. We don't force her to wait for everyone to finish. That's our rule." You may have to repeat yourself several times (and not lose your temper). If the limit-pushing continues, it is your choice about attending future gatherings.

Answered by Parents Team
Community Answers (5)

You can't. If you obsess about whether relatives at a family gathering are "respecting your wishes" concerning parenting all the time, then that means you either 1) hover your child to make sure there is no need for someone to step in, or 2) hover your family to make sure they are respecting your wishes. If that's the case, then why go to these family functions at all? Kids need to learn that different environments have different expectations for their behavior.
Submitted by Traveler

Re: relatives & 3 yr old discipline, the parent need to be more attentive of the 3 yr old when she out with relatives, and work on the childs behaviour or situation when you get home. teach the child at home how to behave when out with others and no one else will see the need to interfere.
Submitted by mickeypace

Kids in general are very impressionable and imitate adult behavior without the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. You as a parent without doubt know what is best for your child and it needs to be made clear to those trying to discipline your child. I would diffuse the situation the by diverting my child away playfully. When my baby is not around I would gently explain to the person concerned that my kid gets disturbed when this happens and let me deal with her please.
Submitted by margaritadrake

I disagree to a certain extent, for two main reason. First, I believe and witnessed in several countries where I lived, that in spite our busy lives, it still takes a village to raise a child, as long as made of trusted family and friends (and then school). Second, it's important to understand that the rules we apply at home may not work at somebody else's house or in public. It's priceless "social education" for a kid to understand that different environments require different behaviors.
Submitted by smenazza