Possible entanglements of child discipline
I am the beneficiary of three lovely grandchildren. With ages ranging from six months to three and a half years, these are busy days. The two oldest children belong to my son and my daughter-in-law; the baby is the first child of my daughter and her husband. Each grandchild has their own special and distinct personality and they keep Mom and Dad entertained on the days we visit or babysit. The role of grandparents is a fun and exciting challenge.
I guess the only potential problem that can come up between kids, parents, and grandparents is discipline. While our oldest son has a casual approach that works beyond exhausted and exhausted meltdowns, our daughter plans to take on a much stricter role with her daughter early on. With 250 miles dividing families, disagreement over parenting techniques rarely arises more than in the “go-between” conversation one sibling may have with me about the other’s behaviors and reactions. As a mom, I try to nod my head, agree or disagree, while trying to keep the situation friendly. So far this has served me well, but two upcoming family vacations have me a little nervous.
The first comes this June when we plan to spend eight days in our rustic cabin. Built in the late 30’s, we’ve added conveniences like running water and a toilet, but there’s not much privacy. The bedroom is used to store suitcases and belongings, the open dining room and living room are the general gathering places for breakfast and games, and we all slept together on the porch to sleep. We have a beautiful beach just at the end of the hill that we share with my sister, who has a cabin next to it. There is room for everyone, but will it be enough if there is a disagreement about the mood and behavior of the children? I thought it all worked out last summer, however we had two children instead of three, a little boy and a baby sister instead of two little boys and a one year old. A debate is necessary in advance, but as a peacekeeper, this will not be an easy role for me. Can’t everyone give and take and just get along?
I think a designated quiet time is necessary in the morning so that parents can sleep while I grab the little ones and go for a walk. Breakfast should be a sit-and-eat affair with no snacks next. Lunch on the beach should be simple and an afternoon of rest or nap will be a must for everyone. Dinner, again, requires simplicity, and a set bedtime for children is an unlikely but desirable wish. A schedule for cooking, cleaning, and other chores may help. I must also add to the list of “great talks” that we all discipline in our own style, and we must be receptive and aware that one’s ideas do not necessarily coincide with those of other family members. If we have zero tolerance for yelling and fighting, I think we will survive. Our cabin is wonderful and it would be terrible not to be able to share this time with my loved ones every summer forever.
If things are going pretty well, we’ve also booked a vacation to Hawaii in December. With the three-bedroom condo in mind, it seems like there can be a separation for naps and nights and a central space for meals, games, and family fun. With a beach through one door and a pool through the other, entertainment should never be a problem. Adults can play golf while Mom and Dad splash and play with the little ones. Later we can join together for some activities and split up for others. It seems to me that space will be a key factor in my dream world of a family vacation. Again, direct conversation is vital too.
I have seen other families disintegrate over disagreements and I don’t want to witness that with my own children. My sisters and I get along quite well, knowing when to get together and when to take some quiet, private time, so I think my own children should be able to figure this out as well. Readers’ contributions will be valued. Please send me a note.