Note: Please bear in mind that whilst this topic does canvass opinions, it is not a fight club. You may disagree with other posters but we do ask you please to stick to our Talk Guidelines and to be civil. We don't allow personal attacks or troll-hunting. Do please report any. Thanks, MNHQ.

"my house my rules"?

(54 Posts)
mangohedgehog Tue 22-Jan-13 19:37:37

What do you do if someone tells off your DCs for something you don't have a problem with?

My problem is DM and Step D. They live abroad. I go out and stay with them with DD/DH more or less every year. I love my mum but it's always difficult. Basically I don't agree with the way she and StepD are with DD1 - she has always been a very shy, sensitive child and as a result they are always very strict with her.

They don't have enough patience with her and they disapprove of our parenting - basically they think DH and I have spoilt her rotten, and it is their duty as GPs to introduce some boundaries into her life. They tell her off for things that I don't have a problem with, and when I tell them this, their response is, 'well it's our house, our rules'.

StepD in particular can be awful with her - saying things like 'look me in the eye! look me in the eye!' and 'don't be so wet!' and as a result she is scared stiff of him. They both seem determined to see the negative in her and ignore the positive - fundamentally, because they're upset that they don't have a better relationship with her - although I think their approach is at fault, they think it's my/DH's/DD1's fault!

Last time I went out there with DD1 she was 5, and it was so bad I ended up shouting at them to leave her alone. Afterwards I promised myself we would never stay there again, so I wouldn't have to subject DD and myself to this 'our house our rules' nonsense.

Anyway, two years have passed since then and in the meantime we've been through various family traumas and my DM has been an absolute rock to me, travelling across Europe at short notice to be with me when I really needed her. So I felt as though we really should visit - also I have had DD2 who is now 6months old and it would be great to introduce her to all DM's friends.

However - I have booked us into a hotel two miles away. And my DM is livid.

She has sent me a number of texts telling me how selfish I am being and how all the locals will slag her off for not having us to stay in the house with them. And we shouldn't be bringing DD1 up without 'external influences'.

It probably hasn't helped that I told her the truth why I was booking the hotel - to avoid any further bad scenes after the 'my house my rules' comments last time! But I didn't feel I could fob her off with an excuse as I knew it would offend her anyway, and I couldn't justify offending her that much with some made-up reason such as there not being enough room at her house or something.

So - AIBU to want to control who tells my DD1 off and when?? I guess I probably am, but what if the alternative is subjecting her to what in my view can even resemble bullying at times?

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Tue 22-Jan-13 20:30:40

I do think "my house my rules" does have it's place. I agree with a few other posters that the reasonableness of your mum and your step dad's application does depend on what your DD had done. Although I don't like the sound of SD's tone anyway.

Booking a hotel is fine anyway, although I can understand why your mum is a bit disappointed.

mangohedgehog Tue 22-Jan-13 20:31:46

Yes let me give some examples. Let me also say up front that DD1 is a very quiet and well behaved girl and by no stretch of the imagination could be said to run riot in their house.

Mealtimes are obviously fraught - they might tell her off for not finishing her plate for example or for playing with her food (personally, as long as it all stays on the plate, I don't mind her fretting with her food a bit)

Step D will tell her off if she is too shy to come and take something out of his hand that he has offered

They tell her off for not responding to things they've said - she isn't doing it to be rude, she is just shy - admittedly sometimes it's because she is listening to the TV rather than them

They tell her off if they think she has cried for too long if she hurts herself

that kind of thing!

elizaregina Tue 22-Jan-13 20:37:44

all the people saying

" my house my rules" then issuing a list - i wonder if you only saw your GC once or twice a year for a week or two - would you rigoursly enforce your rules then - even if you risked being seen as mean compared to the relaxed parents?

all this no jumping on sofas etc - make it sound like a pack of feral children are coming...I have had lots of pre schoolers round up to age 6 and none of them have jumped on the sofa or gone mad or broken things!

im just wondering if i was a grandma and didnt see themat all reallly would i be so concerned about ramming my house rules down thier neck? confused

HecateWhoopass Tue 22-Jan-13 20:38:46

I'd be cancelling the hotel and staying at home, tbh. Can't you tell what the trip is going to be like?

And yes, my house my rules DOES have a place.

If someone lets their kids leap all over the furniture at home - they can sod right off if they think they're doing it at MY house!

For example.

But what you describe does not reasonably imo fall into that category. They are overstepping the mark. It isn't their place to decide that she must eat all her food if that's not what you want - for a start, that's REALLY stupid. It encourages overeating and can spark a lifetime of food issues!

And telling her off for being shy? Yeah, that'll bring a shy child out of their shell, bollocking them. hmm

Seriously. Cancel the hotel and stay at home or enjoy a visit full of criticisms of your parenting, bitching about your choice to stay at a hotel, manipulative crap about how it makes her feel that you don't toe the line and disciplining your child regardless how you feel.

I know which I'd pick.

CrapBag Tue 22-Jan-13 20:40:37

I think some of it sounds like the want her to be more accepting of them, the taking things from them for example and they are frustrated that she isn't as she doesn't see them much.

Telling her off for crying too long, bit ridiculous. How is that going to make her stop.

Playing with food, actually no I don't think children should play with food but I would also think it is your place as a parent to teach her that.

Not responding because she is watching tv, no that does make her appear rude. My DS does this and I call him on it. He is ignoring someone speaking to him and I make sure he listens. You should be doing the same.

I think you are making excuses for somethings. Their attitude with some things doesn't sound great and it sounds like they have no patience in dealing with a shy child but I also think that you don't call her on some things that probably need calling on.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Tue 22-Jan-13 20:43:24

Given your examples YANBU at all. It sounds like DD is actually a bit too shy for their liking which is a bit different from too boisterous or disruptive in term "my house, my rules". I'm guessing she's mostly shy with them because she doesn't see them very often. They are being mean in these circumstances and I think you're dead to stay in a hotel when you visit.

BlueberryHill Tue 22-Jan-13 20:43:30

Hecate is right, the "my house my rules" thing is a smokescreen so that they can 'show' you the right way to parent.

Their behaviour won't change simply because you meet elsewhere and don't stay in their house, they will find another excuse. In fact they already have, 'you aren't allowing external influences' i.e. them.

elizaregina Tue 22-Jan-13 20:43:54

i was shy as a child too and being pre occupied with something - anything was a way of not having direct attention on you, ie she is shy - doesnt wamr or like these older people who are strange and not nice to her therefore she is tring to escape this stiuation she is forced into - by watching tv.....perhaps? i used to pretend to be asleep.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Tue 22-Jan-13 20:44:56

"dead right" that should be not just "dead" that would be a very odd conclusion!

mangohedgehog Tue 22-Jan-13 20:47:35

yes eliza I think you've hit the nail on the head there.

I do tell her off for not responding but I don't give her a massive bollocking because I think she is doing it as an avoidance tactic to a certain extent

amicissimma England Tue 22-Jan-13 20:50:36

It's hard to say as we're not there. Perhaps your DD's behaviour would appear unreasonable to some of us, particularly a picture building up over a period. Or, then again, perhaps not.

I spent a lot of time with my grandmother as a child. She had some rules that, with hindsight, were quite bizarre. It didn't hurt me to learn to modify my behaviour to the reqirements of a different adult, in her house. It seems (and still seems) respectful. What did upset me was when my mum started to argue with my grandmother for making her demands on me.

FWIW, I remember my grandmother with great affection and have a lingering admiration for her insistence on what she considered 'standards'.

CaptainVonTrapp Tue 22-Jan-13 20:55:05

What everyone else said. There is a place for "My house my rules" things like running around with food, standing on furniture, smoking etc. They are using it to behave exactly as they choose. In the case of your SD a bully.

If they weren't your family I doubt you would EVER go back there. If another adult spoke to you like this you would never get in touch with them again.

I think you're absolutely doing the right thing not to stay with them. It wouldn't hurt to remind your DM that its because you want your daughter to have 'external influences' that you are bringing her again.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Tue 22-Jan-13 21:00:09

Well its up to you if you want to teach your child to finish her plate. I wouldn't personally because i don't think it is a healthy attitude to food. It means you'd be telling her to ignore her body when her body tells her she is full. Also playing with food isn't too bad a thing for young children. As a mum of fussy eaters I've been told by the experts to let them do that so they can explore it and got used to it.

Telling her off for crying or being shy is nasty! I was shy and it was painful! How on earth do they think that's going to help!

LemonBreeland Tue 22-Jan-13 21:35:27

It sounds as though your parents are bullying your DD, and I don't think she should have to go through that.

What was your DM like with her when she came to see you?

They sound like horrible bullies. You can't discipline shyness out of a child, they are intimidating her and will just make her worse. Stick to your guns stay in the hotel, if they want to spend time with you and her, they can do day outs with you.
I was painfully shy as a kid and adults who made demands like your mom and FIL do used to make me want to hide in a corner and not speak to anyone. I know it frustrated my mothers, I practically crawled up the back of her dress sometimes just to avoid people.
I still can't stand in your face people. <shudder>

Yfronts Tue 22-Jan-13 23:48:27

elizaregina - I treat all my visitors/children very nicely and don't ram anything down anyone's neck. Most children quickly get used to the differing expectations in different environments anyway but if I need to mention something something, it is always a reasonable request and done politely/warmly. An example of one of my rules is no bouncing my birthing ball near the computer - other places are fine.

Telling her off for not finishing her plate is something I don't agree with. I know forcing an empty plate can be linked with future over eating and therefore health issues. It's better they know to stop when full.

She can be too shy to come and take something and then told off - this is something they need to work on through getting to know your DD and having fun.

Ignoring them due to listening to the TV - well that is just plain rude of your DD. They would be better to stand in front of the TV to gain her attention maybe?

Yfronts Tue 22-Jan-13 23:51:08

At the same time rude ignoring wouldn't result in a massive telling off - but would still need a firm/fair response.

irlouise13 Wed 23-Jan-13 09:15:41

Sometimes my house my rules apply, but I would tell the parent that something is not allowed in my house and get them to make the child stop - not directly tell the child myself (unless the parent refused to in which case I would). But what they are doing is bullying - whether they think she should respond immediately or eat her food quicker has nothing to do with being in their house - if they would impose those rules on their children, thats their business, but they have no right to impose them on yours. And now it seems your mother is turning her bullying ways to you to get you to do what she wants.

As I see it, you have 2 choices - you can remain firm and just keep saying 'I'm going to the hotel, my family, my decision' or you can cancel and not go at all.

Twattybollocks Wed 23-Jan-13 09:26:32

I wouldn't put up with it either, it sounds like bullying and it certainly won't help a shy child lacking in confidence to blossom, in fact it will do exactly the opposite.
I do agree with my house my rules in certain circumstances though, when children who visit here are allowed to do stuff at home that I don't allow my own kids to do, then I would expect them to respect my rules, but if they do I explain calmly to everyone in the room including my own kids what the rules are and why I have them, ie, no jumping on the sofa because it will break, we respect other peoples things and the sofa is my thing etc etc.
I would speak to your dm and tell her frankly that while you respect her views, you think her approach to your dd upsets her and that you find x approach works better. Perhaps if they try talking gently to her she will trust them more and not be as shy. Re cleaning their plate, I don't agree with this, but what I do expect is for my kids to have a good attempt at trying to eat their food, playing, chattering etc outside of normal table conversation is frowned on, and I do remind them that it's ok to talk but they need to remember to eat too.

Backtobedlam Wed 23-Jan-13 09:30:23

YANBU, I think you're doing exactly the right thing. At least staying at the hotel you can just meet them in the day and be out doing nice things so a lot of these issues won't crop up. It also means your dd can have some space at the hotel to relax and just be herself, rather than the constant pressure of being around people she isn't comfortable with. I know how hard it is to stand up and say how you feel, but you've done the hard bit making a stand, just stick to your guns now. xx

YorkshireDeb Wed 23-Jan-13 09:35:47

"My house my rules" can work if someone is gently explaining how things are done differently than the child's home. E.g. "Grandma likes you to take your shoes off when you come throught the door." It's never going to work if she's randomly telling your child off for things that she has no idea are "wrong" because it's perfectly fine at home. Perhaps if these things are important to your DM she could have a go at explaining them to your DD. But I do think YANBU for not wanting to stay there. I couldn't let my child stay somewhere where they were spoken to like that. Your child's emoptional health & wellbeing has to be your priority - even if it will upset your DM's neighbours! x

bottleofbeer Wed 23-Jan-13 09:37:03

I was an extremely shy kid, cripplingly so and I can remember so many instances of people thinking (and acting on) some daft idea that to force me to do something was for the best and it would bring me out of my shell. It doesn't work like that, you're just putting the child into an horrific situation. No shy child is rude, they're just totally trapped in this world where they physically cannot make themself communicate - and believe me they'll want to. I always eventually relaxed and would be myself with people who put no pressure on me to perfom how they thought I should. Those who would try to force it would become bogey men to me who I wanted to avoid at all costs.

Invoking your mum and step dad's wrath is nothing compared to how these things will remain in your child's mind. All kids do that, experiences they perceive as bad (which to an adult might be absolutely nothing that they don't give further head room to) but to the child it becomes a huge deal.

Now I've got a young cousin who is so like I was that it annoys the hell out of me when I see people trying to force her to speak/do something/join in; I'm always there in her corner telling people to just leave her alone. She won't enjoy being on the sidelines but it'll be infinitely preferable to having some big adult bulldozing in and deciding what's best for her and "in her own interests".

I overcame mine (I will always be inherently shy) and the vast majority of people do but you're absolutely right not to sunject your daughter to it. It will not benefit her in the long run, because IMO things a more confident kid can brush off can manifest into a big deal in the mind of a shy child.

CheerfulYank Wed 23-Jan-13 09:43:03

Yanbu. I always like to have my own space anyway! Staying at people's houses for longer than a few days is not my thing at all.

piprabbit Wed 23-Jan-13 09:43:42

In this particular case I think "my child, my rules" trumps "my house, my rules" (not that I'm keen on either sentiment).

elizaregina Wed 23-Jan-13 09:54:54

we took DD ( forced thru emotional blackmail)who is not shy to her great grandmas abroad it was hellish. She just did not warm to her GGM at all and every time she came near her she tried to escape = kept going into a different room, she was about 4.5 ish, we tried and tried and tried to engage her in card games - and plaiyng the piano but she was simply too scared or shy round this lady.

There was no tv no computers....nothing to do - couldnt go out...it was an intense and boring couple of days and of course netiher could speak the same language.

There was nothing we could do.She kept coming after her for a kiss as well. It was so stressful and a huge relief to get home.

Unfortunalty op - some people lack empathy and have no idea what being shy is like, illustrated by some posters here........

! Backtobedlam said - give her some time at the hotel to relax and be herself...is spot on....

I myself wanted that instead of having to stay with his GGM, let alone a small child whom all the focus is on!

If you had more DC of the same age it wouldnt be as bad.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now