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How Wrong Was I? (MIL Drama)

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On the question of what MIL could have done better:  usually I diffuse such situations by cheerfully telling the child that I've made that mistake too before, whoops!  It doesn't say the parent is wrong, but it tells the child she has not lost the opinion of those she cares about.

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I think the issue needs to be addressed several steps back - you shouldn't need to cry unless you're a baby or a toddler. A school aged child should not be put in a situation where they're crying, esp in front of people outside the immediate family. 

 

A grieving adult might excuse themselves. A teen going through a tough break up might excuse themselves. 

 

But if wouldn't be normal for me to say things that would make a kid teary in front of others. 

 

I don't think this is necessarily true.  I sometimes cry for no reason (I usually go off by myself since I hate crying in front of anyone).   Especially in tweens/teens I think sometimes just feeling like crying, or crying over something very silly, is not that unusual.   I tell all my kids there's nothing wrong with crying, even if it's over something silly.  But, often it's better to go somewhere quiet, away from others so it doesn't get blown out of proportion or prolonged (or you get accused of manipulation - BTDT).

 

Anyway, sounds like it wasn't a big deal and should have just been dropped but MIL's interference brought more attention to it than just letting it go.

 

My MIL loves getting involved in correcting the kids, often right after we've said something.  Lucky for me, dh is very good at telling her (nicely) that he will address any concerns with his family when he's there.

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I'm sorry you all had a trying day. I would apologize to MIL. If she recently lost a child to suicide, the whole day had to be horrible emotionally without any inciting incident. I would not discount your family's loss and grief as being a factor.

 

I would probably email because I hate confrontational phone calls, but also as a way for her to have time to process a response. I would maybe add a lunch invitation if you two normally get along as a way to clear the air in person.

She lost a sister, not a child -- but still, it makes a difference in her ability to cope with things.

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I think the issue needs to be addressed several steps back - you shouldn't need to cry unless you're a baby or a toddler. A school aged child should not be put in a situation where they're crying, esp in front of people outside the immediate family.

 

A grieving adult might excuse themselves. A teen going through a tough break up might excuse themselves.

 

But if wouldn't be normal for me to say things that would make a kid teary in front of others.

 

Wait what?

 

I'm confused by this.

 

I cried easily as a kid (and was mocked relentlessly for it).

 

I have one child prone to the same thing.

 

Some kids/adults do just cry more readily. And that's normal too.

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Maybe *your* MIL would have pure motives in that exchange. Mine would absolutely have been trying to be "right" in the situation, even if it came at the cost of making her granddaughter 10x more upset. Which sounds about like what the OP's MIL did as well. A grandparent who wants to smooth over the situation will try to ask the kid (or someone else if the kid needs a minute) about some cool thing they recently did, or tell a joke...They don't start an argument with the parent - I have never seen that make a situation better. It certainly won't make DD less upset. 

 

To me, "starting an argument" would be "Oh, don't be so fussy — DD should be allowed to eat an entire bowlful of syrup if she wants!"  I would see that as definitely crossing boundaries — although I still would not react by snapping at my MIL on Mothers Day in front of the whole family. (And I have a psycho MIL who says inappropriate things all the time.) 

 

I wouldn't consider someone saying "Oh, it really wasn't that much, see?" as "trying to start an argument." To me that's just trying to diffuse things before they get worse. I would put it in the same category as taking a little too much chocolate syrup — something I might prefer hadn't happened but would not remotely be worth making a big deal about at a holiday dinner. IMO telling the MIL to stop interfering and put the plate down was really harsh, and probably not something she expected at all. 

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If a grandparent pored more syrup on when I had said it was too much, they'd be finding their time with our kids seriously limited.

 

I completely agree.  Personally, I don't think OP did anything wrong at all.  But even if I completely disagreed with her parenting method, I would probably never talk to her about it, and definitely not in front of the kid and other people.  The MIL stepped into it to begin with and was given the opportunity to resume her rightful place as "not the parent and therefore in need of shutting her trap".  If she pushed it that way, she would be in serious, long-term hot water with me.  I don't mess around when it comes to other adults undermining parental authority.

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I didn't exactly know that telling her she had taken more syrup than she should have would make her cry. We're hitting new development (11.5) and I'm finding her unpredictably weepy. In a few more weeks I'll probably be better. (A comment like that wouldn't have made her cry a month ago.)

 

I'm really feeling defensive. All I mean is that I wouldn't have said it either, if I had the slightest idea it would result in tears. It's also 'not normal' for me to make comments (on purpose) that make kids teary in front of others.

 

Awww...some kids are criers. It takes very little for some of my kids to just flat out bawl. I've taught them that their crying is awkward for other people, they'll outgrow that, but for now, if they feel weepy it's perfectly ok to leave and regroup. And sometimes, I have to remind them of that.

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On the question of what MIL could have done better:  usually I diffuse such situations by cheerfully telling the child that I've made that mistake too before, whoops!  It doesn't say the parent is wrong, but it tells the child she has not lost the opinion of those she cares about.

 

This is great.

 

I've used this with my super sensitive oldest. She's quite touchy about "being attacked" and I rtry to remind her that "We all do x sometimes" or "Many people forget. that _____"

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All I've read is the original post. Based on that, I conclude that your MIL stuck her nose where it didn't belong and then overreacted to being told as much.

 

You were not wrong at all.

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I'm amazed by all the of the people who said that they are made uncomfortable by witnessing a kid being corrected.  I can't help but wonder if some people are made of candy glass.  Kids misbehave, it's what they do.  If you go among children, you should expect to witness children being corrected.  Personally, I can't help but think that this idea that certain "gatherings" should be a space where no kid gets corrected comes from some desire for a "hallmark holiday" where everything, and everyone, is perfect. To expect children not to be corrected because they are at a gathering makes me kinda roll my eyes, like the moms at the park who tell their kids not to run or yell (gee, when I go to the park, I make a point of telling my kids to get all of their running and yelling out, because I don't want it in the house).  And while I don't go out of my way to embarrass my kids, I do make a point of telling them that if they don't want to be corrected in public, they shouldn't misbehave in public.

 

ETA: you weren't in the wrong, at all, full stop.  Your MIL was having a bad day, and so you can certainly extend her some grace about it, but you don't do that by taking the blame for it.  Under no circumstance would I apologize to her, especially given what you've said about how she always finds fault with you.  If you want to extend her some grace, just extend some kind of invitation or something that will let her know that everything's ok (if you feel it is) and you're moving on.  Maybe invite her for pizza and a movie, or a trip to the mall, or something.

Edited by TammyS
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I don't think kids should never be corrected in front of others or at family gatherings.

 

I do think correcting because I think my kid put too much chocolate syrup on her food is not something I would do. I also would probably inwardly cringe and roll my eyes at someone else doing it.

 

For me, it's about picking my battles and I don't see a need for correcting in front of family on a holiday just because of syrup.

Edited by Joker
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OK there's age-appropriate correction and then there's harping.  I have no problem with seeing the first in public, as long as it's not constant and not crass.  But then when the child is already crying and embarrassed, further discussing the problem is what I'd call harping.  And yes, that's uncomfortable to witness.  (As is punishment.)  I admit it.  Maybe I'm a wuss.

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I'm amazed by all the of the people who said that they are made uncomfortable by witnessing a kid being corrected.  I can't help but wonder if some people are made of candy glass.  Kids misbehave, it's what they do.  If you go among children, you should expect to witness children being corrected.  Personally, I can't help but think that this idea that certain "gatherings" should be a space where no kid gets corrected comes from some desire for a "hallmark holiday" where everything, and everyone, is perfect. To expect children not to be corrected because they are at a gathering makes me kinda roll my eyes, like the moms at the park who tell their kids not to run or yell (gee, when I go to the park, I make a point of telling my kids to get all of their running and yelling out, because I don't want it in the house).  And while I don't go out of my way to embarrass my kids, I do make a point of telling them that if they don't want to be corrected in public, they shouldn't misbehave in public.

 

ETA: you weren't in the wrong, at all, full stop.  Your MIL was having a bad day, and so you can certainly extend her some grace about it, but you don't do that by taking the blame for it.  Under no circumstance would I apologize to her, especially given what you've said about how she always finds fault with you.  If you want to extend her some grace, just extend some kind of invitation or something that will let her know that everything's ok (if you feel it is) and you're moving on.  Maybe invite her for pizza and a movie, or a trip to the mall, or something.

 

I think it's more the idea of a child being corrected for something (apparently) minor at a festive occasion with extended family. 

 

But then, when my husband and I were working on table manners with our kids, we decided not to use dinner time as teaching time unless they committed a terrible faux pas.   Breakfast, lunch, teatime were when we did that sort of correction/training.    It has nothing to do with "hallmark holidays" and everything to do with kids having some time to relax and not worry about perfect table manners.  (I'd include overdoing syrup on dessert in that, unless the child had been instructed beforehand that there was not a lot of syrup and to take only a tiny bit.) 

 

ETA: Doesn't mean I think less of parents who do correct on the spot regardless of who is present.  it can be uncomfortable, though, as a spectator.  Really depends on the situation, personalities, and the seriousness of the offense.

 

Edited by marbel
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I thought leaving the room when you need to cry was a normal social skill. Can you tell me what's a more typical response?

 

This is how we parent here. If you (or me, for that matter), need to release emotions for a few minutes before we can gather ourselves back up to rejoin dinner, we leave the table. If a child (or myself) is actively approaching hysterical, they don't go alone - we parent them in the other room until they are capable of returning to the table. This is a skill that we start with early, and continue to work on it whenever necessary.  I see absolutely nothing wrong with the way you chose to handle it.

 

Sorry you had an unhappy experience on mother's day, of all days.

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The dinner table thing is also a rule for me.  I started taking my kids to restaurants at least weekly when they were tots.  My friends would get irritated by the number of times I corrected / verbally guided them.  It used to create a fuss between us adults.  Finally I decided that I would do the training at home, when it was just me and my kids, and let most things go when we were in a group.  It also helped to notice that my kids were never the worst-behaved people in the restaurant - that was usually some grown person (sometimes a harping parent).  Things that bugged me got worked on in private, and reminders were given before the next restaurant meal.  And when I did/do feel a need to correct "right now," I do it in a voice nobody else can hear.  Because really, nobody wants to hear it.  They are there to enjoy their meal, not to observe my parenting.

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To me, "starting an argument" would be "Oh, don't be so fussy — DD should be allowed to eat an entire bowlful of syrup if she wants!"  I would see that as definitely crossing boundaries — although I still would not react by snapping at my MIL on Mothers Day in front of the whole family. (And I have a psycho MIL who says inappropriate things all the time.) 

 

I wouldn't consider someone saying "Oh, it really wasn't that much, see?" as "trying to start an argument." To me that's just trying to diffuse things before they get worse. I would put it in the same category as taking a little too much chocolate syrup — something I might prefer hadn't happened but would not remotely be worth making a big deal about at a holiday dinner. IMO telling the MIL to stop interfering and put the plate down was really harsh, and probably not something she expected at all. 

 

I guess we have very different opinions of what starting an argument is then! :) What you presented as an example is certainly the aggressive way to start an argument. What OP's MIL did is the passive aggressive way to start an argument. 

 

The bottom line is that the mom was trying to parent her children and the MIL directly contradicted her. Many people in this thread have mentioned how you diffuse things without undermining others' parenting. Many people have said they don't correct their children in public, which is a really valid thing, but if someone DOES correct their children, the answer is very rarely to contradict their parents. 

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Somehow, I  quoted these in the wrong order...

 

I thought leaving the room when you need to cry was a normal social skill. Can you tell me what's a more typical response?

 

 

"If you need to cry leave the table" isn't 'in trouble'? I think that is not typical -- it sounds so harsh from the outside. So I can see where the misunderstanding came from.

I am not judging your parenting , you know your kid and what works! But from the outside , I can see 'look it's not so bad everyone just get along!' being a not unpredictable smoothing over move.

Maybe this was discussed... We do this. You are free to cry in your room. For three of my six, this is imperative. They do not have the ability to calm down in front of others. In the case of two kids, it will become markedly worse if there is an "audience". They truly aren't in trouble, but they need the space and the quiet to calm down. The choice then is 30 minutes of crying in front of others (even if only the family) or 30 seconds in their room. The second is a far far better choice. If the crying persisted, I go in and help them with coping skills.

If you have other ways to help learn coping skills, I would love to learn them. But this method is what currently is best and most effective for our family.

 

Bolt, Hugs.

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I am in the minority here. I would tell my kids that they poured enough chocolate sauce. I do not let them go crazy even at gatherings because too much stuff like that affects their behavior for days afterwards. My kids all cry easily past the baby and toddler stage. Some kids are just more prone to that. I do not let that keep me from addressing things. It would bother me if someone undermined me trying to limit junky food and I was calm in the interaction with the child even if the child's reaction was not calm. I have seen other people correct their children in front of others. I handle situations similarly whether we are by ourselves or with others. I do not agree that she should undermine your parenting and then huff off and turn something that was not a big deal into a big deal.

Edited by MistyMountain
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I'm amazed by all the of the people who said that they are made uncomfortable by witnessing a kid being corrected.  I can't help but wonder if some people are made of candy glass.  Kids misbehave, it's what they do.  If you go among children, you should expect to witness children being corrected.  Personally, I can't help but think that this idea that certain "gatherings" should be a space where no kid gets corrected comes from some desire for a "hallmark holiday" where everything, and everyone, is perfect. To expect children not to be corrected because they are at a gathering makes me kinda roll my eyes, like the moms at the park who tell their kids not to run or yell (gee, when I go to the park, I make a point of telling my kids to get all of their running and yelling out, because I don't want it in the house).  And while I don't go out of my way to embarrass my kids, I do make a point of telling them that if they don't want to be corrected in public, they shouldn't misbehave in public.

 

With a child who was actually misbehaving at a holiday dinner — like having a tantrum or being rude — I would quietly take the child into another room and have a talk. I would certainly try to avoid escalating the situation.

 

But in no way would I categorize "taking a little too much syrup" as misbehavior, let alone something that warrants public chastisement or being sent to the child's room. 

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I put this in the Mother's Day thread, but I think I need to talk it through.

 

Today my MIL came for dinner (for Mother's Day, also present: her husband, my parents, my husband/her son, our 2 kids/her grandkids). During dessert she left in anger because I told her that I didn't need her to intervene with my daughter's mild upset. DD was was handing her upset quite well.

 

I was telling DD not to use too much chocolate syrup, but she did use a generous amount of syrup. I told her it was too much and she got teary. I said that if she thought I made a mistake (about the amount of syrup) she should tell me so, but if she needed to cry she should leave the table.

 

MIL kind heartedly wanted to "defend" DD. MIL thought DD was getting in trouble. (She wasn't; we don't really do 'trouble' we were just working on a skill. The mood was supportive and collaborative.) MIL said that there wasn't that much chocolate sauce, and when I continued to supportively focus on my DD. She picked up DD's plate and held it out to show me.

 

Now, I wasn't about to argue the fine shades of chocolate sauce serving size with my MIL, so I said instead that I didn't need her to interfere, and asked her (probably firmly?) to please put the plate back in front of DD.

 

She put the plate back, announced in a teary/abrupt/offended voice to her DH that they were leaving, and swiftly exited. My DH followed them and returned shortly. The table was kinda shocked. DD didn't look up the whole time, or for about 20 min afterwards.

 

I was probably abrupt, and 'interfere' was a poor word choice (I meant intervene)... But really. Drama, much?

 

I feel defensive, but I feel defensive because I feel crappy. I just can't do anything right with that woman, and nothing I do that's right (for years!) counts for the worth of a fart if I step on her toes once in a while. Not like she doesn't step on my toes too!!! I guess I'm also a little on the angry side of defensive.

 

How wrong was I? I'm just not socially adept enough to have done much differently. I've got the basics but I have trouble telling conflict apart from logic... Advice? Comfort? Anything?

 

You weren't super kind, but then she sounds overly sensitive.  Maybe you could just smooth that over and tell her what you told us here? 

 

And maybe she will tell you something happened that had upset her anyway, and she just felt chastised and as if she had to run.  

 

Honestly, it seems a bit harsh to be correcting like that on a holiday in front of visitors.  Perhaps you could have just said something like, "Don't eat too much chocolate sauce."  I don't see anything wrong with mentioning it, but it sounds like you made it a thing that made the MIL uncomfortable. 

 

 

Edited by TranquilMind

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I don't think it was appropriate for her to storm out like that, but I also don't feel you should've corrected your daughter at the dinner table in front of everyone. That seems like a silly thing to comment on. Seems your daughter was the one who most suffered, seeing you and MIL so upset about chocolate syrup. But then again, it's impossible for us to know the dynamic between the two of you or the tone in which you said it. That could make all the difference. 

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To me, "starting an argument" would be "Oh, don't be so fussy — DD should be allowed to eat an entire bowlful of syrup if she wants!"  I would see that as definitely crossing boundaries — although I still would not react by snapping at my MIL on Mothers Day in front of the whole family. (And I have a psycho MIL who says inappropriate things all the time.) 

 

I wouldn't consider someone saying "Oh, it really wasn't that much, see?" as "trying to start an argument." To me that's just trying to diffuse things before they get worse. I would put it in the same category as taking a little too much chocolate syrup — something I might prefer hadn't happened but would not remotely be worth making a big deal about at a holiday dinner. IMO telling the MIL to stop interfering and put the plate down was really harsh, and probably not something she expected at all. 

 

This.

 

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Ok, script me away from a bad apology...

 

My first thought:

 

"I'm sorry things went badly (?) on Mother's Day. I know you were just trying to help. (Even though I still wish you hadn't tried to step in,) I'm definitely sorry I didn't react more sensitively, or respect (?) your feelings as well as I should have."

Leave out the parenthetical. If you're going to apologize, apologize. It's not an apology if you're pointing out the other person's mistakes in the middle of it.

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I think I'm seeing a variety of interpretations on what it means that I 'corrected' my DD in a way that caused her to get teary. I don't think I was harsh, and we don't have harsh dynamics. Yet clearly my DD was unexpectedly upset. So, even people who were there aparently had a variety of interpretations.

 

I'm pretty sure what I literally said was, "Oh, sweetie, that was too much." -- in a tone of light exasperation. I may have sighed.

 

Just so everyone is running on an accurate scenario. It's not like I snapped at DD or behaved in a threatening or punitive way.

Edited by bolt.
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"I thought leaving the room when you need to cry was a normal social skill. Can you tell me what's a more typical response?"

 

My middle daughter started crying at the table in front of company this weekend. She was over tired from staying up all night studying for finals and she was scared about public speaking that she had to do the next day.

 

The meal stopped. My siblings got up to hug on her and let her cry. We told her that everyone gets scared about public presentations, that is why it is so important to get comfortable giving them when you are young.

 

If I had tried to send Dd away from the table, my family would have left too, but they probably would have taken Dd with them.

 

I tend to parent more like you do, but I know that my family would not be able to deal with my just saying, "Suck it up. You are going to be fine, I promise."

Edited by amy g.
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As far as the correcting - a lot of the time it is about social faux pas.  Most kids in the tween/teen stage are already hyper sensitive about that sort of thing.  Even with an adult, I would normally tell them something like that on the sly if I felt it was necessary ( Psst - you are putting eggnog on your salad there..)

 

And since they are older, it isn't like that sort of thing can't be effectively mentioned later on.

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As far as the correcting - a lot of the time it is about social faux pas.  Most kids in the tween/teen stage are already hyper sensitive about that sort of thing.  Even with an adult, I would normally tell them something like that on the sly if I felt it was necessary ( Psst - you are putting eggnog on your salad there..)

 

:laugh:

 

That reminds me of the scene in The Bell Jar where Plath is having lunch with the wealthy older woman who sponsored her scholarship. She had never seen a finger bowl before and mistook it for soup, which she consumed with a spoon, rose petals and all. The older woman never said a word.  :lol:

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As far as the correcting - a lot of the time it is about social faux pas.  Most kids in the tween/teen stage are already hyper sensitive about that sort of thing.  Even with an adult, I would normally tell them something like that on the sly if I felt it was necessary ( Psst - you are putting eggnog on your salad there..)

 

And since they are older, it isn't like that sort of thing can't be effectively mentioned later on.

 

This is exactly what I was thinking.  She might have felt like you were treating her like a baby in front of people.  Even if you were nice about it.  Adults don't get corrected in that way.  She could have been embarrassed.  I'd have no problem embarrassing my kid for something truly awful, but something like that I wouldn't say anything at that point in time.

 

My mother was famous for stuff like that.  She rarely yelled and actually rarely corrected, but she would say stuff that I found very embarrassing sometimes.  Stuff like telling me to say thank you (not giving me a chance to do so on my own and when I was way too old to be treated that way).  She couldn't turn the mom thing off sometimes.  Which now as a mom I totally get, but at the time no, I found it humiliating and it made me feel defensive.

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If I wasn't under stress (thus thinking logically as well as kindly), I wouldn't have said a word about the syrup because it was a done deal anyway.  She couldn't un-pour the syrup.  That is in the category of things I just never mention except shortly before the *next* opportunity to do it right.

 

That said, stress makes us all illogical at times.

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I've only read about half of the responses.  Were you wrong in correcting your daughter?  No.  That is what parents do.  Were you wrong in enforcing boundaries with your MIL?  Unless you were yelling or excessively harsh, no.  Even if you were, you were making your own mother's day dinner and you had to serve it to company and I wouldn't be surprised if you were a little irritable.  MIL should have given you a little grace rather than expect so much for herself. 

 

I would have said something like "Whoa! Easy on the syrup!"  I'm sure that one of my kids would have been going through a phase that would have resulted in tears over a small correction.  I probably wouldn't have made a big deal about the tears, but it is understood that leaving the table to compose would be appropriate unless they needed a hug to get past it.  I was a sensitive kid prone to tears easily.  I was punished for "being too sensitive."  I would love to have been given an out to compose myself rather than be berated for crying. 

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I don't think you did anything wrong.  I have been in similar situations with my mother in law.   Her interference makes it harder for everyone and blows everything out of proportion.  Your descriptions sounded just like it could have came from me. 

Also, I disagree with many of the posts about not correcting a child during a family gathering.  If your child learns that you never correct them in front of others, they can also learn that they can act however they want in that situation.  Consistency is important when teaching a new skill of any kind.  One of my daughters cries even when she is gently corrected, but I do not avoid correcting her if it is needed.

 

I'm sorry you were put in this situation by your mother in law.  I am also sorry for any fall out you may experience.

 

Blessings,

Suzanne

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Somehow me not correcting my kids in front of others hasn't lead to chaos. Maybe I just got lucky with my two but they're teens now and we've never had that happen. We've always handled any issues after.

 

I'm not opposed to others doing it differently but doing so over syrup seems a tad much.

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 If your child learns that you never correct them in front of others, they can also learn that they can act however they want in that situation.  Consistency is important when teaching a new skill of any kind. 

This is not my experience at all. 

Edited by hornblower
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Somehow me not correcting my kids in front of others hasn't lead to chaos. Maybe I just got lucky with my two but they're teens now and we've never had that happen. We've always handled any issues after.

 

I'm not opposed to others doing it differently but doing so over syrup seems a tad much.

 

I think this depends on so many factors.  Anything from what is normal in your own family to which family members we are talking about (your parents verses your in-laws) to what exactly you've deemed important enough to correct them on at any given time. 

 

Who knows, maybe it just comes down to MIL being a pip.  Wasn't really right of her to say anything at all either.

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I don't correct kids in front of others either at least past the preschool years.  I think it makes everyone uncomfortable.  There have been a few times where I felt something needed to be said immediately where I would say "Hey kiddo, let's go into the kitchen for a minute". 

 

At a special holiday family meal, I either would have just let her do it and deal with the ramifications or said nope, I'm in charge of syrup this time.  I wouldn't have made a point of it in a setting like this.  I could totally see why someone might try and lighten the mood.  It's uncomfortable hearing these interactions as an outsider. 

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I don't think you did anything wrong.  I have been in similar situations with my mother in law.   Her interference makes it harder for everyone and blows everything out of proportion.  Your descriptions sounded just like it could have came from me. 

Also, I disagree with many of the posts about not correcting a child during a family gathering.  If your child learns that you never correct them in front of others, they can also learn that they can act however they want in that situation.  Consistency is important when teaching a new skill of any kind.  One of my daughters cries even when she is gently corrected, but I do not avoid correcting her if it is needed.

 

I'm sorry you were put in this situation by your mother in law.  I am also sorry for any fall out you may experience.

 

Blessings,

Suzanne

 

No way.  The only time I can imagine this possibly happening is if you are with these other people every single day.  Then at that point they aren't guests.  They are live in family members and they get to see your dirt.

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Somehow me not correcting my kids in front of others hasn't lead to chaos. Maybe I just got lucky with my two but they're teens now and we've never had that happen. We've always handled any issues after.

 

<snip>

 

Same experience here.  Never a problem, even with one who is not as able as some to transfer behavior from one situation to another, and has also been on the immature side. 

 

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I don't correct kids in front of others either at least past the preschool years.  I think it makes everyone uncomfortable.  There have been a few times where I felt something needed to be said immediately where I would say "Hey kiddo, let's go into the kitchen for a minute". 

 

At a special holiday family meal, I either would have just let her do it and deal with the ramifications or said nope, I'm in charge of syrup this time.  I wouldn't have made a point of it in a setting like this.  I could totally see why someone might try and lighten the mood.  It's uncomfortable hearing these interactions as an outsider. 

 

I met someone who yelled at her kid constantly in front of anyone and everyone.  It made me feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable.  And 99% of the time it was very piddly stuff.  It wasn't a deal breaker for hanging out with her per se, but yeah it was often hard for me to take.  So then one day my kid said something that was not nice.  I didn't think it was terrible, but not nice.  I said to him that's not nice, you should not say that, just say thank you.  Later on I explained that to him in more detail.  This is completely different than how she would have handled it.  She was mad at me.  I think she felt as if I should have screamed at him until I humiliated him (as she did with her kid regularly).  That was the end of that.  That's just not how I roll.

 

But I do think people just have very different POVs with this stuff. 

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Also, I disagree with many of the posts about not correcting a child during a family gathering. If your child learns that you never correct them in front of others, they can also learn that they can act however they want in that situation. Consistency is important when teaching a new skill of any kind. One of my daughters cries even when she is gently corrected, but I do not avoid correcting her if it is needed.

 

Suzanne

Four kids later, this is not at all my experience.
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I met someone who yelled at her kid constantly in front of anyone and everyone.  It made me feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable.  And 99% of the time it was very piddly stuff.  It wasn't a deal breaker for hanging out with her per se, but yeah it was often hard for me to take.  So then one day my kid said something that was not nice.  I didn't think it was terrible, but not nice.  I said to him that's not nice, you should not say that, just say thank you.  Later on I explained that to him in more detail.  This is completely different than how she would have handled it.  She was mad at me.  I think she felt as if I should have screamed at him until I humiliated him (as she did with her kid regularly).  That was the end of that.  That's just not how I roll.

 

But I do think people just have very different POVs with this stuff. 

 

Yeah, I have someone like this in my life, and I'm pretty sure she thinks my kid are gonna be mass murderers because I choose my battles and tone down the public corrections.  There are times when I cringe over my kids' behavior, but I think it is better to model what you want your kids to do when they are old enough that it matters.  Like, not going off on people in public.  :P  My kids are not angels, but so far most people think they are pretty OK.

 

I've seen this person's KG-age kid interacting with other kids, and she does go off on them and tell them what to do and even threaten consequences.  (Now that is something I would correct.)  Her mother apparently thinks this is OK since the other kids' parents are opting not to holler.  :P

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Also, I disagree with many of the posts about not correcting a child during a family gathering.  If your child learns that you never correct them in front of others, they can also learn that they can act however they want in that situation.  Consistency is important when teaching a new skill of any kind. 

 

 I wouldn't consider "pouring exactly the right amount of syrup" to be an important skill that needs immediate correction and extensive practice. It was an "oops." Letting it go is not going to lead to a disobedient manipulative child, it's just going to make the dinner much more pleasant and enjoyable for everyone there.

 

ETA: I agree that consistency is important — I just think that consistency in treating children with grace and empathy is ultimately more effective in creating polite, well-behaved kids than constant corrections for really minor infractions (especially ones that embarrass them in public).

Edited by Corraleno
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Yeah, I have someone like this in my life, and I'm pretty sure she thinks my kid are gonna be mass murderers because I choose my battles and tone down the public corrections.  There are times when I cringe over my kids' behavior, but I think it is better to model what you want your kids to do when they are old enough that it matters.  Like, not going off on people in public.  :p  My kids are not angels, but so far most people think they are pretty OK.

 

I've seen this person's KG-age kid interacting with other kids, and she does go off on them and tell them what to do and even threaten consequences.  (Now that is something I would correct.)  Her mother apparently thinks this is OK since the other kids' parents are opting not to holler.  :p

 

She told me she was angry with him, but would be willing to give him another chance.  He's 10.  What he said was not terrible.  I said no thank you that's too much pressure. 

 

Good grief.  And actually what he did was my fault.  She didn't know that and after that attitude I didn't even want to explain it to her.  I could see if he told her to eff off.  It wasn't a big deal at all.

 

He is so sensitive too.  I didn't have the heart to tell him why he wasn't able to see his friend anymore.  I think she was far more wrong than he was.

 

 

 

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After thinking over what I would have done if this had been my family.....

 

I would probably talk with dd and ask how she would like an at-the-table correcting in the future, acknowledging that she is getting older and needs to be treated as such.  This is not to say that you'll stop parenting.....but that it will slowly be turning into a kind of partnership as she starts to take responsibility for policing herself.

 

Second, I would write my mother-in-law [or, in my case, my mom] a short note, apologizing for the high feelings and tension at the table.  In my family, a conversation, whether it's face-to-face or over the phone, is seen as an invitation to justify your own  [mil's] actions and point out all the things you are doing wrong as a parent *cough*.  I wouldn't give Mom or MIL that opportunity and by writing a note [not email - too easy to hit "reply"] and sending it in the mail, you can say what you want to say and be done with it [ideally].

 

Edited by OhanaBee
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Re crying - I don't know if this is 'normal' - what's normal ?! - but if a child starts crying in public in our family, an adult ( me, aunty, grandparent ) will normally either go to the child or call the child over to them and provide physical comfort - a hug, a lap to sit on, a back rub.

 

We are generally sensitive to which child prefers not to be noticed when upset, and will divert attention to give that child a chance to excuse herself to 'go to the bathroom'. 

 

We don't have a culture of expecting crying to take place in private. It can do, if that is a child's preference, but in our family it's totally normal to cry in front of others, and comfort is generally the response. 

 

 

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I am responding as a grandma of 7 and just returning from helping my dd after baby #5 for the past two weeks.  Even if I disagreed with how they were disciplining their dc, my grandchildren, I NEVER interfered.  I might talk to my dd in private, but never in front of the children.  The grandchildren visit us for two weeks every summer.  I try as best I can to stick to their rules and routine.  Yes, there are times when I indulge and spoil a little bit, but I follow the basic structure my dd and SIL have set.  It truly is best for my grandchildren.  I had a MIL who would question the way I did things in front of my dc, even in little things it was undermining.  I vowed never to be that grandma.

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I met someone who yelled at her kid constantly in front of anyone and everyone.  It made me feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable.  And 99% of the time it was very piddly stuff.  It wasn't a deal breaker for hanging out with her per se, but yeah it was often hard for me to take.  So then one day my kid said something that was not nice.  I didn't think it was terrible, but not nice.  I said to him that's not nice, you should not say that, just say thank you.  Later on I explained that to him in more detail.  This is completely different than how she would have handled it.  She was mad at me.  I think she felt as if I should have screamed at him until I humiliated him (as she did with her kid regularly).  That was the end of that.  That's just not how I roll.

 

But I do think people just have very different POVs with this stuff. 

 

I get what you're saying here, but I don't think this is what the OP did at all.  Maybe her daughter was embarrassed, but I certainly don't think OP did it on purpose (and certainly not to humiliate her).  Making a comment that a kid is taking too much syrup is a long way from yelling and humiliation.

 

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  Letting it go is not going to lead to a disobedient manipulative child, it's just going to make the dinner much more pleasant and enjoyable for everyone there.

 

 

 

Except for the mom who has to sit there and bite her tongue during the whole meal because she's afraid that what to her is a small, natural comment to make to a child will make the people around her uncomfortable. 

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I don't think you did anything wrong.  I have been in similar situations with my mother in law.   Her interference makes it harder for everyone and blows everything out of proportion.  Your descriptions sounded just like it could have came from me. 

Also, I disagree with many of the posts about not correcting a child during a family gathering.  If your child learns that you never correct them in front of others, they can also learn that they can act however they want in that situation.  Consistency is important when teaching a new skill of any kind.  One of my daughters cries even when she is gently corrected, but I do not avoid correcting her if it is needed.

 

I'm sorry you were put in this situation by your mother in law.  I am also sorry for any fall out you may experience.

 

Blessings,

Suzanne

 

If your kid is deliberately doing something wrong on a regular basis, sure they might take advantage.  If they accidentally do something without adequate forethought, no, they won't.

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I haven't read all of the other responses.

 

I hate those situations. It is so much better when drama happens, and you know you didn't play any part in it at all;-) That cringe feeling stinks. It feels like Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar where he tries to reel his words back with an invisible fishing pole :lol:

 

I think the word 'interfere' is where it went downhill. If I was sitting at a table and someone told me not to interfere in front of everyone, it would be hard to suck it up and stick it out, even if they were right. I would suck it up because I am pretty thick-skinned, but I can see it affecting other people differently.

 

That said, you are not a bad person. And, frankly, it sounds like maybe MiL doesn't always treat you that well. If that is the case, I can see how you would be feeling defensive. Especially after a crappy day:-( Even if she was feeling uncomfortable, it isn't like you were berating the child, lol.

 

As far as scripting, you could say, "oh, don't worry, Mom, dd and I will figure it out. It has been a crazy day!" Then, change the subject and start talking to someone else. A bit later, you could have dd 'help' you in the kitchen and handle it privately.

 

I would probably call her up and just tell her that it was an insane day, and I know I should have chosen my words better. I apologize for that. And I would probably add that it is nice that she cares for dd's feelings (if you really believe that was her motivation... Again, not sure about the type of mil you are dealing with:-)

 

In a perfect world, she will apologize too. But, if she doesn't, at least you can know you did the classy thing. And you can stop thinking about it.

 

You are a good mom to teach your kids how to handle themselves, and you are a good dil to make dinner for your family. It was a blip. They happen. You da mom;-)

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