Last holiday, my adult children visited with spouses and children - 20 in our home for a week.
On our family’s Facebook page, my son posted a list of expectations.
Example: Change your diaper-aged children on a change pad; all children eat and drink at the table; parents wash children's hands and mouths when finished.
Appreciating his assertive direction, I said nothing about it. I thought there’d be cooperation.
Three of the families set children’s bedtimes, use change pads for diaper-changing, have children eat/drink at the table, etc.
With one daughter and her husband, I feared problems. But turned out even worse - egg-sized feces smears on the carpet in her bedroom and mine where only her children were bathed.
Her toddler-age children are up until the parents go to bed - 10 or 11pm.
Food and open cups of juice were given to them to walk around with, even after my kind request that they eat and drink at the table.
There are also two adolescent boys who help a lot with the little ones.
This daughter has always been a good girl, and her husband is a good man. But their blatant ignoring of guidelines and rules while visiting has me furious.
I’m praying they won't want to come this summer.
Saying nothing was wrong. Among four adult children with spouses, one (with your silent approval) set “rules” for the others and their children.
Despite that they were valid expectations, they clearly pointed to this one daughter, her husband, and their child-rearing style.
Personally, I’d dislike their visiting manners as much as you did, but that Facebook post was a set-up for disaster.
The couple have a right to raise their kids as they wish.
But not while disrespecting other people’s homes and comfort.
Since you expected a reaction, it was up to you to talk to her privately and discuss your limits.
I’m not saying that this child-rearing lifestyle divide between the siblings, and also you, isn’t a sensitive and difficult area to navigate.
But one sibling pitting himself publicly against another was not the way to handle this.
Try to have a kind and gentle chat with your daughter about future visits to your house. Accidents happen, but when they do, she must clean them up.
Buy diaper-change pads ahead and have them available.
State firmly that eating is done at the table, period. They can do what they want at their place.
Reader’s Commentary “I was a high school guidance counsellor.
“My wife and I brought five boys, ages 11-to-15 into our “blended” family.
“They’re now ages 29-to-33. All are successful, kind, striving young men who call each other brothers.
“My wife suffered a very public divorce in a small town. My late wife had endured five years of cancer treatment and died in 1998.
“Two years later, we met.
“I said that if we’re to mix our families I needed to take my years of counselling experience and learn to not be a “jerk” step-dad, nor her a “witch” step-mother.
“I also told my boys that their reaction to their mother’s death will be a CHOICE of being bitter or BETTER because of what their mother went through.
“The same was indicated to my bride’s boys as they’d experienced a tough public time.
“The boys decided to become better because of what happened to them.
“They graduated from high school with averages of 95, 95, 90, 90,and 90.
Today these brothers are good young men, all successful in their chosen fields.”
FEEDBACK Regarding people who snoop into their partners’ personal email accounts:
Reader – “You’ve failed to comment on the morality of this flagrant breach of trust.
“You’re great at advising people based on what they’ve learned from privacy invasion, but neglect how they got the information.
“You’re therefore condoning this immoral behaviour and enabling people who feel snooping is okay.”
Ellie – Over the years, I’ve addressed the whole topic of whether a partner should snoop to satisfy their suspicion.
I’ve said No; if you have serious distrust, confront your partner.
However, as the Internet became constantly at hand, people stopped asking that question.
They snoop, they sometimes find, and then they wanted answers about what to do next.
A morality speech from me would then be wasted. Such people will snoop again.
Yes, it’s wrong. So is cheating.
Doubts need to be aired, not turned into an obsession.
Tip of the day:
Child-rearing beliefs don’t excuse willfully disrespecting other people’s homes.