Sasha Answers: My sister-in-law is a bad parent
Dear Sasha, I'm a mom to an 11 month old and my husband and I have a wonderful marriage. Our only problem is his sister and her parenting. She has two girls ages 2 and 5 and they are allowed to do anything they want with no rules, limitations or discipline. For example the older child recently cut her sister's hair and when asked about it she lied and said it wasn't her. She was told by her nanny and her mom that it was unsafe and not to do it ever again. A week passes and the sister's hair is cut again. She lies again saying it wasn't her. Instead of disciplining her for it the mom tells her she did a really good job of cutting her hair!! My sister-in-law also lets
her daughters eat whatever they want or mostly don't want to. They take two bites of dinner and then ask for dessert and are given it every time! Both girls are very underweight and tiny for their age. All of this was fine until I had my son but now I see how all of this will affect him and it's driving me crazy. If I say no to my son about something then I'm looked at like an evil mother. I've never told her how I feel because how do you tell someone you think their parenting sucks? Instead we have just kept our distance from them but I can see how this is putting a strain on my husband. I'm fearful my son is going to be bratty like they are because I'll be the only person who says no to him. Should I talk to her about this or just continue to limit our time with her family? K
I’ve made many attempts to write a nice opening line to you, but I’m sorry, I can’t seem to find a nice way to tell you that I think you are SO WRONG. I’ve pissed you off, haven’t I? Wait, wait, before you curse my ass, at least hear what I have to say…
Look, K, I don’t know a lot about parenting, but what I do know is that kids can sometimes be mini-assholes. They’re going to misbehave, they’re going to be cheeky, and they’re going to get up to no good. That’s what they do.
Now, if you told me that these kids were lighting sh-t on fire and beating the crap out of each other then of course, I’d totally have your back. But from your examples, I have to say they don’t sound particularly unruly or particularly unspoiled. I mean, do you know how many times my sister took scissors to my hair growing up? Also, what kids don’t want to go straight from dinner to dessert? I’m 33 and I still want to do that. Does that mean my mom was a bad parent or I'm a reckless human? F-ck no. As for your weight concern, there are certainly plenty of children the same age that vary in weight and size and many are as healthy as healthy can be.
Can I be honest here? K, I think you’re being pretty uptight and judge-y. As much as you don’t want to own up to that, I’m sorry to break it to you, it’s time you do. I’m really trying to open your eyes here because I would hate for this situation with your sister-in-law to get ugly. If there is one golden rule that everyone should abide by it’s to never EVER tell a parent how to parent. (That is unless they are being abusive, which is not the case here.)
I get that as a wonderful and loving parent you want to protect your son, but if you continue to separate him from his cousins that will be wayyyyy more damaging than allowing him to watch a two year old throw back a few Oreo cookies.
So let’s circle back to the end of your letter where you offered up two options: confront your sister-in-law or limit family time. Again, I hate to be such a dick, but both options are the sh-ts. Here’s an idea, stop driving a wedge between your families and realize your vision of parenting isn’t the only right way. I hope we can still be friends. Keep me posted! Xx