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Grandparents Tease, Mock, and Harass their Grandchild (long)


JNW
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I would appreciate some feedback regarding this email I have not yet sent to my parents. My daughter is almost 6 and I have finally grown enough of a spine to articulate what I am feeling. But I may be crossing the line.

 

ETA: Thank you all for your input. I deleted the "email" for privacy.

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Personally, I would talk with them and keep it simple.

 

"It is never OK to mock any person when he or she cries, to tease a person, or to harass a person."

 

repeat

 

repeat

 

repeat

 

More information only prolongs an unnecessary conversation. Sorry you have to deal with this.

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:grouphug: It looks like you have put a lot of thought and a good bit of your heart into this. And I congratulate you for supporting your daughter in this.

But.... it's way too long. I would shorten it to "Hey, stop teasing my kid. You made her cry." Or better yet, tell them in person to knock it off.

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Maybe too wordy - I've found that people really quit reading long before the end of an email. I simply took a deep breath one day and told my dad that I will not tolerate ANYONE speaking to my kids that way. Last time they were around him, I spoke up every single time he was out of line. I told my kids in front of him that what he said was not okay. That was 2 years ago and I haven't let them around him since. I would never let anyone else tease, bully or try to humiliate my kids so it isn't okay for my dad to do it.

 

:grouphug: It is hard, but if you feel they are out of line, then they are probably WAY out of line. Your kids come first and need your protection.

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This is so very well said but I don't think you should say it unless you have an established pattern of success in lecturing your parents. Which I'm guessing you do not, if they have a history of mocking and demeaning you and are now doing it to your child.

 

Print your letter out to keep handy in case they actually ask you sincerely, "What exactly do you have against a little teasing?" But what you need is a boundary line, a line in the sand, and a sense of what you can control and what you can't.

 

This is a boundary line: "Mom, you know how I feel about teasing. Stop teasing Susie." And if Mom ignores you and keeps doing it, you say, "Mom, we've got to be going now. Susie, tell Grandma goodbye." And repeat this, every single time it happens, no matter how awkward or scary. You are the one with the power to make sure Susie is treated respectfully by the adults in her life. You can't make them behave but you can remove her from their presence.

 

The best case scenario is that Mom and Dad feel a little angry, a little embarrassed, and think you are a nut, but keep those opinions to themselves as they apologize to you and sincerely commit to changing their ways. Bonus points for apologizing to Susie when they get it wrong, but grace would be needed on your part as they work on it.

 

Worst case is that they won't have anything to do with your family if they can't "be themselves, because they refuse to walk on eggshells around family." You have to count the cost and decide what is most important to you, where you can compromise, and where you can't.

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Your letter is articulate and beautifully written, but I don't think it will have the effect you want it to have. It's too long and has way too many words. I think your parents will roll their eyes at you.

 

I suggest keeping it simpler. Give them specific examples and tell them to stop. "Do not speak to my children in this way, ever." Be clear and be direct. This is not something to be diplomatic about.

 

When the negative behavior occurs, remove your child from the situation. Do not be afraid to END a visit over this behavior. The short-term escalation will be unpleasant, but in the long term it is much, much better for your child to not be bullied by her own grandparents while her parents look on.

 

When you end a visit, don't make a big hissy-fit scene. Just quietly gather your things and leave. If you say anything, keep it short and make it something you have rehearsed ahead of time. Something like, "I told you that is not an acceptable way to treat children, so we will have to leave." Then do so, no matter how much they beg, cajole, or tantrum. Do NOT give in to any drama--just quietly leave.

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This is so very well said but I don't think you should say it unless you have an established pattern of success in lecturing your parents. Which I'm guessing you do not, if they have a history of mocking and demeaning you and are now doing it to your child.

 

Print your letter out to keep handy in case they actually ask you sincerely, "What exactly do you have against a little teasing?" But what you need is a boundary line, a line in the sand, and a sense of what you can control and what you can't.

 

This is a boundary line: "Mom, you know how I feel about teasing. Stop teasing Susie." And if Mom ignores you and keeps doing it, you say, "Mom, we've got to be going now. Susie, tell Grandma goodbye." And repeat this, every single time it happens, no matter how awkward or scary. You are the one with the power to make sure Susie is treated respectfully by the adults in her life. You can't make them behave but you can remove her from their presence.

 

The best case scenario is that Mom and Dad feel a little angry, a little embarrassed, and think you are a nut, but keep those opinions to themselves as they apologize to you and sincerely commit to changing their ways. Bonus points for apologizing to Susie when they get it wrong, but grace would be needed on your part as they work on it.

 

Worst case is that they won't have anything to do with your family if they can't "be themselves, because they refuse to walk on eggshells around family." You have to count the cost and decide what is most important to you, where you can compromise, and where you can't.

 

 

Well said indeed. :iagree:

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I would teach my child "just ignore them, they have an odd sense of humor." But that's just me. If I really couldn't stand it, I'd tell the grandparents of some really bad effect such as persistent horrible nightmares or saying negative things about herself. I'd also keep the visits short until either they stop it or your child grows a thicker skin. But I would not send that email. It seems very likely to damage the relationship with your parents.

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The only thing I would take out is: "From what I can tell, it seems that you regard children as less than adults. That is not the way I see things. I would encourage you to take a look at the way you view children." It assigns motives to them and will cause them to get defensive. The rest of the letter seems very straight forward and assertive but respectful.

 

I too prefer to conduct any confrontation in written form. If I try to talk to someone I usually wind up getting over emotional and very angry. Using a letter keeps your thoughts organized and the tone respectful.

 

I think this is a good letter and that you are doing well by your daughter in sticking up for her.

 

(((((hugs))))))

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I agree that the letter is way too long. I would try to speak to them directly and firmly when they start the teasing, harassing behavior. Tell them to stop. Don't ask. If they will not stop, be prepared to pack up and leave.

 

 

This.

 

First :grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug: to you and your dc.

 

But second, I'm pretty darn sure that not only will they not read the whole thing but they will also not recognize their own behavior, and even if they have an inkling that they might have done some of those things, they.will.not.stop. With many people, you have to be absolutely direct and in their faces (you can still be polite when you're in someone's face), and you have to be prepared to walk (or tell them to).

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I think you are trying to teach a pig to sing. I don't think your parents will change by telling them their behavior is mean - and you might want to be more assertive by telling them to "knock it off if you ever want to see your grandchild again!" If you are at their house and they start up - tell them their behavior is inappropriate and you will not tolerate it anymore. then gather up your family and leave. (NO second chances). if they are at your house - tell them their behavior has crossed the line it's time for them to go. it's up to you how much contact you have with them - but if every time they cross the line they hit a rock, they'll be more likely to learn.

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Thank you all!!! Truly!

 

What I'm realizing is that this is about more than my daughter... it's about me. I'm finally seeing their behavior for what it is and coming to terms with it. I guess I feel like they need to see their behavior for what it is too. However, I will not be the one to enlighten them.

 

This all came up because they were just visiting over the week-end. We live a good distance away. We discussed my daughter staying with them for a week over the summer. My daughter told me she doesn't want to. If my mom brings it up I will tell her plainly, "She doesn't want to because she doesn't like it when you don't treat her nicely."

 

 

:grouphug: to you and your dd. I think it would be awesome if you could draw the line in the sand about their behavior in front of your daughter using some of the methods these other ladies have mentioned. What a powerful example for her to see mom taking a stand to protect her!

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Read the book Boundaries. http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-When-Take-Control-Your/dp/0310585902/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368629723&sr=8-1&keywords=boundaries+by+cloud+and+townsend

 

Then do as others have suggested- if they tease or harass- pack up and go. Period. If they are visiting you, then I would find a way to get dd away from them. Send her outside to play, to another area of the house, or take her out for ice cream. Then tell your parents if it happens again, they will have to leave. I would not allow your dd to spend a week w/ them.

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I agree with Harriet and Tibbie. If you discuss this with them, keep it short and be direct. It doesn't sound like they're the kind of people who are going to change their behavior because someone tells them how damaging it is. :grouphug:

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I would teach my child "just ignore them, they have an odd sense of humor." But that's just me.

that was my mother's strategy. but then, her mother treated her the same way too so my mother was trained to be a doormat.

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that was my mother's strategy. but then, her mother treated her the same way too so my mother was trained to be a doormat.

I can assure you that I'm far from being a doormat, LOL. I just know how to compartmentalize the comments of @$$holes. Which is essential to sound mental health IMO.

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I can assure you that I'm far from being a doormat, LOL. I just know how to compartmentalize the comments of @$$holes. Which is essential to sound mental health IMO.

it's very different when it is your GRANDMOTHER who is the witch vs some stranger or non-family member and you as a young child are told to just suck it up and ignore her while the mother continues to expose you to it because she's too afraid to confront her own mother. it needs to not be tolerated.

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At our house... just overly tired and getting upset over little things around bedtime. Minor stuff like that. I'm not justifying her crying, at all. Maybe she gets more emotional because she feels uneasy around her grandparents. Not sure.

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it's very different when it is your GRANDMOTHER who is the witch vs some stranger or non-family member and you as a young child are told to just suck it up and ignore her while the mother continues to expose you to it because she's too afraid to confront her own mother. it needs to not be tolerated.

 

I don't tell her to suck it up and ignore them, but I do say something like, "We don't tease in our family. She doesn't understand. It's not funny to her." Or I direct my attention toward my daughter and away from their behavior, and I ask her about how she's feeling and assure her that I understand.

 

I will admit that I have been "too afraid to confront my own mother," partly because of the way I was raised... very hush hush, don't rock the boat, don't discuss your feelings, dish it out insults and take them. But I have grown since then. And I guess that is what this whole thing is about. :)

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I may be dense but here goes... I was very direct in telling them not to tease her with my daughter present during the last visit a few months ago, and with my mom on the phone previous to that. They didn't tease per se during this visit, but they imitated her crying and laughed at her when she cried two or three times. I guess that counts as teasing? Maybe they are trying to control her behavior? Anyway, do I pack up and go if they imitate her crying, or laugh at her, or tease, or harass? Anything counts at this point since I already told both of them not to? Is that fair? Thanks!

 

First, it sounds like the fact that they did not tease in the same way during this visit is a good sign. They heard what you told them during the previous visit and on the phone, and they modified their behavior.

 

If they do something new or different that is inappropriate, but it may not have been clear that it is against your wishes, I would suggest that you tell them directly - "Please do not mock her when she is crying." Then if they repeat the behavior, either leave with your daughter or remove her from their presence and/or ask them to leave (as prior posters suggested).

 

I would view it as you needing to teach them what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable to you.

 

Also, I thought your original letter was lovely - not to send to your parents, but as clear articulation for yourself why this is important to take a stand on this issue on behalf of your daughter. If your parents ever ask how you think their behavior is harming your daughter, having that well thought out will allow you to respond articulately.

 

ETA: And I would also look for ways to give positive reinforcement for behaviors that you do like - e.g., "Dad, granddaughter really loves it when you . . ."

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What kind of teasing? Many families have a culture of gentle teasing that is not intended to hurt or belittle but is part of a relaxed family culture. Sometimes children and parents can be hypersensitive to that. I have no idea if you or your daughter are. But I would find a "no teasing" rule odd in our family. Teasing would include gentle tickles and "I'm going to get you's"! But obviously if a child were distressed, that would not be ok.

 

I have seen parents "mock cry" in order to show a child what they sound like when they are acting inappropriately. I think it backfires on them and doesn't solve the problem, but I could see that as a reason why it might be done.

 

What was your own childhood like? Did you feel disrespected? You have a lot of rules written down there.

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I completely understand the desire to have this sort of confrontation in writing where you can more carefully choose your words. I suspect you already know that it won't change your parents as other posters have mentioned. However, I think it's a good first step, especially if you follow it up with firm boundaries in person.

 

Here's how I would word it:

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

 

I have asked you not to tease my daughter. I appreciate that there has been some improvement. However, it is never OK to mock any person when he or she cries, to tease a person, or to harass a person, whether or not you think she is justified in her crying at any given time, and whether or not you think teasing and harassing are not a big deal.

 

There would be no need to toughen kids up if people treated them the way they should be treated. We are teaching her to be assertive and to tell a person, "It's not OK for you to do X,Y,Z. Please stop." I also encourage her to stay away from people who do not treat her with respect. This is quite confusing for her when it involves grandparents.

 

You may be "just having fun," but I can assure you that our child is not having fun. My husband and I are certainly not having fun watching you tease, mock, and harass her.

 

Children internalize the sentiments behind words. They learn that they aren’t worth very much, and that if the adults around them think that of them, who are they to refuse the judgment?

 

Teasing, mocking, and harassing damage relationships because children learn that they cannot trust certain people. They may be afraid to spend time alone with them. They will be unwilling to share very much of who they really are with people they feel they cannot trust.

 

I am asking you again to refrain from teasing my daughter. While we appreciate your desire to know and spend time with your grandchild(ren), and agree that this can be an important part of a child's life, the health and well being of our child takes precendence. Please know that if this continues...

 

The last part is where you'll set boundaries. What are the consequences if they continue and how will you respond? And then, follow through. Oh, and the visit for a week in the summer should be a no go. If your mother asks about it, say no and point out that you have asked them to stop and they have not. Tell them that you would be willing to reconsider when they show a continued pattern of refraining from x, y, and z. Be specific and put the responsibility for your daughter not going on your shoulders. That way if they're mad, they'll be mad at you.

 

As for future visits, yes, you do pack up and go when they start. I would consider them already amply warned. Failure to do so will send mixed messages. Be consistent. If they still don't respond then I'd consider stopping visits for a time.

 

Another thing to consider is how you structure your visits. For instance, my ILs behave better of we keep them moving the. whole. time. Sitting around and visiting at someone's house only asks for trouble. Is there some way you can change how you visit with them so that you can minimize their behavior? End visits for the day earlier so that you avoid bedtime meltdowns? Obviously, this diesn't work if the visit includes staying at someone's house. Is a hotel a possibility so that you have more control over the visit?

 

Life is tough enough out there in the world - family is supposed to be your soft, safe place to land. Whether or not your parents will be able to be that place (and be able to be in your daughters life) will ultimately be up to them.

 

I'm sorry to hear that you're going through this. It's certainly not a nice spot to be in. I hope things get better.

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I think it's a waste of time. (eta: tho I'm sure it was a good exercise in some therapeutic venting for you! :) )

 

If they were mocking and teasing your dd in your presence, then that is when you should have addressed the problem. Not later in a written lecture where you defend your opinion while mocking and criticizing them.

 

If they did it when you weren't around, then you must deal with it ASAP then.

 

It also seems you have had this talk with them before and they didn't respect it. So now it's time to either figure out a way to deal with them or to figure they don't need as much time with your child. No letter needed to do either.

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it's very different when it is your GRANDMOTHER who is the witch vs some stranger or non-family member and you as a young child are told to just suck it up and ignore her while the mother continues to expose you to it because she's too afraid to confront her own mother. it needs to not be tolerated.

 

I agree that children shouldn't be endlessly exposed to this, which is why I said visits should be kept short until the grandparents learn. But a few incidents in the great scheme of things should not have that much impact on a child, if the parents handle them well.

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Honestly, I'd probably become a broken record.

 

Parents mock or tease granddaughter.

 

Immediately you say, "Do not do that to her. It really upsets her and me."

 

Repeat ad nauseum.

 

It would be even better if you could get your daughter to say it. Sometimes things have more impact coming from a child than a grownup.

 

At some point, if their behavior doesn't change, you might have to severely limit their contact with her and I would definitely NOT let her stay with them for a week.

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The fact that my daughter has gotten very nervous and upset when she's been left alone with my parents is concerning to me. She's not like that with her other grandparents, or really anyone else that I can think of. She has always gone to church nurseries, classes, etc with no problem. I don't think we are hyper sensitive. I think my parents are clueless.

 

I would not let your parents have your kid alone for extended time periods then. As for the crying, it sounds like she's getting tired and sensitive, which might be handled as simply as putting her to bed sooner when the grandparents are over. That would have the side effect of reducing the grandparents' time with her, which seems like a good thing for now.

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Thank you all!!! Truly!

 

What I'm realizing is that this is about more than my daughter... it's about me. I'm finally seeing their behavior for what it is and coming to terms with it. I guess I feel like they need to see their behavior for what it is too. However, I will not be the one to enlighten them.

 

This all came up because they were just visiting over the week-end. We live a good distance away. We discussed my daughter staying with them for a week over the summer. My daughter told me she doesn't want to. If my mom brings it up I will tell her plainly, "She doesn't want to because she doesn't like it when you don't treat her nicely."

 

Honestly what you need to say is, "No, she will not be staying with you because I will not have her treated badly by family."

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My upbringing was harsh, less than nurturing, and confusing, especially because I was raised in a "Christian" home. But that is mine to sort out.

 

A little fun "teasing" is normal in our family, within reason and if it doesn't persist to the point of annoyance. Like tickling someone when it's not longer fun for the person being tickled. I hate to be tickled and it feels like torture to me.

 

The fact that my daughter has gotten very nervous and upset when she's been left alone with my parents is concerning to me. She's not like that with her other grandparents, or really anyone else that I can think of. She has always gone to church nurseries, classes, etc with no problem. I don't think we are hyper sensitive. I think my parents are clueless.

 

In this case there would be no unsupervised visits, at all. You need to be the one to gather up your dd and leave immediately at the first ugly remark.

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I may be dense but here goes... I was very direct in telling them not to tease her with my daughter present during the last visit a few months ago, and with my mom on the phone previous to that. They didn't tease per se during this visit, but they imitated her crying and laughed at her when she cried two or three times. I guess that counts as teasing?

 

:cursing: :cursing: :cursing:

 

 

Maybe they are trying to control her behavior? Anyway, do I pack up and go if they imitate her crying, or laugh at her, or tease, or harass? Anything counts at this point since I already told both of them not to? Is that fair? Thanks!

 

In general, I'm not opposed to loving, reasonable grandparents correcting grandchildren, yes, even if the parents are there. All of the adults in the family should be working together to help children learn what is appropriate and what is not, right? HOWEVER, "controlling her behavior," imitating a child's crying, laughing at her, teasing (and YOU know when the "teasing" is inappropriate, because some teasing can be fun, you know), and harassment (and you know when it's harassment) ARE NOT OK. At this point, anything counts because you have told both of them to knock it off already.

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You've gotten good advice.

Keep it simple, and focused on the feelings of you and the child.

"Jane is feeling overwhelmed. Imitating her crying makes it worse. Please stop."

"Jane is upset. She doesn't like it when people do X."

"It looks like Jane has had enough. She needs some quiet time. I'm going to take her into her room and read her some stories. Please amuse yourselves out here while I do so. Perhaps you'd like to take a walk around the neighborhood."

 

Keep it simple. Identify her feelings for them. Describe their behavior without criticizing them - rather than "you are being mean", say "teasing Jane makes her upset". Be specific. "Poking Jane makes her angry. I don't want her to feel angry towards you guys."

 

 

This all came up because they were just visiting over the week-end. We live a good distance away. We discussed my daughter staying with them for a week over the summer. My daughter told me she doesn't want to. If my mom brings it up I will tell her plainly, "She doesn't want to because she doesn't like it when you don't treat her nicely."

 

 

I would simply say "I don't think Jane is ready for that". And repeat as needed. No need to get into it with them.

 

I may be dense but here goes... I was very direct in telling them not to tease her with my daughter present during the last visit a few months ago, and with my mom on the phone previous to that. They didn't tease per se during this visit, but they imitated her crying and laughed at her when she cried two or three times. I guess that counts as teasing? Maybe they are trying to control her behavior? Anyway, do I pack up and go if they imitate her crying, or laugh at her, or tease, or harass? Anything counts at this point since I already told both of them not to? Is that fair? Thanks!

 

 

If they've been doing this forever, you may need to get specific about what behaviors "count" for you. You can do this by focusing on how they make your daughter feel. You are essentially teaching them to watch her reactions, and back off accordingly.

 

"Jane doesn't like to be poked. See how she is upset? Please don't poke her."

 

Or I direct my attention toward my daughter and away from their behavior, and I ask her about how she's feeling and assure her that I understand.

 

 

This is good. Focus on the hurt person, help them to feel better. Also, you're modeling the behavior you expect from them - to pay attention to how she is feeling/reacting when they interact with her.

 

Some people simply aren't good at recognizing others' feelings. That might be the case here, or they might just never have approached relationships that way.

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I think when you give a reason, it gives something for people to argue with. Fr example, "don't tease because it's damaging" leaves them open to say "oh, it's not that bad, she needs to toughen up". If you say, "do not tease or mock my daughter or you will not be around her", they don't have anything to argue with. My advice would be to say it, very confidently, to them and then as soon as they do it, you leave. Rinse, repeat. If they want to spend time with you and her, they will shape up.

 

I'm sorry you have to do this at all.

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I don't tell her to suck it up and ignore them, but I do say something like, "We don't tease in our family. She doesn't understand. It's not funny to her." Or I direct my attention toward my daughter and away from their behavior, and I ask her about how she's feeling and assure her that I understand.

 

I will admit that I have been "too afraid to confront my own mother," partly because of the way I was raised... very hush hush, don't rock the boat, don't discuss your feelings, dish it out insults and take them. But I have grown since then. And I guess that is what this whole thing is about. :)

I'm sorry for the misunderstanding - but my comment was not directed at you. It's clear from your first post you are not going to just stand by, nor are you going to write it off. (otherwise you wouldn't be here asking if your planned e-mail sounded good.) Stand tall, you are going to be a good mamma bear.

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I'm sorry for the misunderstanding - but my comment was not directed at you. It's clear from your first post you are not going to just stand by, nor are you going to write it off. (otherwise you wouldn't be here asking if your planned e-mail sounded good.) Stand tall, you are going to be a good mamma bear.

 

That is A-OK. Thank you!

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You've got this. It's not gonna be fun but you will be great. Looking back, I can say that training grandparents is worth it, if that's possible, because it's such a blessing to have them in your life and your child's life. Be patient; try to give them a chance to adjust to your new boundaries (and your new backbone) before writing them off entirely. I hope it goes well for your whole family. You are definitely in the right to do something about this!

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I agree that children shouldn't be endlessly exposed to this, which is why I said visits should be kept short until the grandparents learn. But a few incidents in the great scheme of things should not have that much impact on a child, if the parents handle them well.

it very much depends upon how those visits are handled. "oh, he's just teasing, ignore him" is very dismissive of the child's feelings and does send the message they need to suck it up and deal with their feelings on their own. it's telling the child *they* are the problem and need to not be so sensitive and allowing the adult to continue to be a snot. encouraging the child to say "don't tease me, I don't like it" is entirely different. (I prefer this in a command tone as opposed to a supplicant tone using 'please'. there really shouldn't be a choice for the jerk.)

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Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to read and respond. You have all helped me tremendously!

 

In conclusion, my plan of action is to:

 

Not bring it up anymore, to anyone! This is the sort of thing that can eat us up if we let it.

 

 

I will not send the email. It has definitely helped me to sort out my thoughts. Thousands of dollars in therapy because of my upbringing, and still learning and growing. Just glad I finally faced the dysfunctionality and "family of origin" stuff.

 

I will not initiate a future visit; I will let my parents do that.

 

When we have another visit, I will keep my daughter in close contact and I will be prepared with a response to my parents' inappropriate behavior. I will repeat the same thing over and over and perhaps see if I can get my daughter to do so as well.

 

If my mom asks about my daughter coming to stay with them this summer, I will honestly and kindly tell her that my daughter doesn't want to, and the reason.

 

Thanks again!

 

:thumbup: :cheers2:

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My upbringing was harsh, less than nurturing, and confusing, especially because I was raised in a "Christian" home. But that is mine to sort out.

A little fun "teasing" is normal in our family, within reason and if it doesn't persist to the point of annoyance. Like tickling someone when it's not longer fun for the person being tickled. I hate to be tickled and it feels like torture to me.

 

The fact that my daughter has gotten very nervous and upset when she's been left alone with my parents is concerning to me. She's not like that with her other grandparents, or really anyone else that I can think of. She has always gone to church nurseries, classes, etc with no problem. I don't think we are hyper sensitive. I think my parents are clueless.

my grandmother was that way. she used religion as a weapon to try to control us. that I'm religious is in total defiance of her influence. I honestly think she had a personality disorder, and as I read through various sites about daughters of mother's with narcissistic personality disorder - well, it fit and explained SO MUCH. the only way to handle such are with hard and fast boundaries so when they are out of line they crash into a granite canyon wall.
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I am not a fan of the tough it out method. I have a relative who I cannot tolerate even looking at to this day because he thought teasing children was funny. I think the idea that we can force our children to accept situations which are unreasonable and wouldn't be acceptable to adult without it having long term impact on them is short-sighted and intended to create "model" children. But then again, I'm not a fan of conformity either. ;-)

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If my mom asks about my daughter coming to stay with them this summer, I will honestly and kindly tell her that my daughter doesn't want to, and the reason.

 

Thanks again!

 

 

This is good in theory. Be prepared for argument about your dd 's wants. You may have to come right out and say that you will not allow the visit. That will take being the bad guy off your daughter and put it on you.

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I haven't read all the follow up posts, but I'd just like to suggest that you probably need to be very specific in describing the banned behaviors.

 

Instead of saying, "Do not tease."

 

Say things like, "Do not imitate my child's laugh, cry, or speaking." "Do not take away things that my child has without her permission." "Do not laugh at my child's pain, crying, or discomfort."

 

etc, etc.

 

People who behave this way think it is funny. Obviously, most people participate in some lighthearted and gentle teasing. Some people just can't understand appropriate boundaries, and those people can't participate in teasing because their teasing creates pain instead of comradeship.

 

*IF* you want to keep the relationship, you'll need to very specifically identify the inappropriate behaviors, as I doubt they can comprehend what you *mean* by "tease" or "harass." They likely believe their actions are kind and fun. Ugh!

 

I'd suggest never leaving the child unattended with these family members. IMMEDIATELY respond when they do anything unkind or out of line. For instance, if they imitate her cry, say aloud to her, in their hearing, "Oh, honey, I'm sorry Grandma and Grandpa are being so ridiculous. They don't realize how mean they are to imitate your cry when you are sad. Let's go play somewhere else!" Then, scoop her up, and LEAVE, while giving Grandpa and Grandma a shocked glare over her shoulder as you walk away, cheerfully chatting with your kid. If there is nothing fun left to do where you are (no other fun activities to distract her with, just boring mean grandparents), then get in the car and go somewhere nicer.

 

I'd limit the quantity of time you spend together until you are sure this is a dead issue. No more than a couple hours once a week.

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ps. It isn't fair to a 6 year old to blame her for not going to her grandparents house. That is an easy out for you, but not fair. It is YOUR JOB to protect her, so tell your parents HONESTLY that you won't be sending her there because the unkind behavior they show to her makes you very uncomfortable. Put on your big girl panties and take responsibility for protecting your child. Blaming her is the LAST thing you should do.

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Every situation is different - you have to do what seems/feels right for your particular parents and child. When in doubt err on the side of your child by simply leaving.

 

We have a particular family member who we have frequent problems with and it can be so touchy to navigate. Unfortunately we can't /don't spend much time with this person because of it. We don't do unsupervised visits and we keep visits short. I like the idea someone gave about including activities with your visits to minimize temptation to tease/harass. Or if you can think of what would minimize temptation (think back on your childhood) choose that type of visit.

 

I think you are on the right track with your game plan.

 

Also, don't neglect your own need for healing. If you need space from your parents for yourself, take it, and don't feel guilty.

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For instance, if they imitate her cry, say aloud to her, in their hearing, "Oh, honey, I'm sorry Grandma and Grandpa are being so ridiculous. They don't realize how mean they are to imitate your cry when you are sad. Let's go play somewhere else!" Then, scoop her up, and LEAVE, while giving Grandpa and Grandma a shocked glare over her shoulder as you walk away, cheerfully chatting with your kid.

 

 

 

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with this approach. This is passive aggressive toward the grandparents and a poor example for the child, because the grandparents are still in the position of being too powerful to address about their behavior.

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