Behaviour of friend's toddler at my house

(131 Posts)
lilyleelee Mon 11-Mar-13 10:51:29

This weekend an old friend and her husband came to stay at my house with her 2-month old baby (an angel) and 2 and a half-year old girl (not so much of an angel).
I don't have children, so I'm not sure when children start understanding 'rules' and 'right and wrong'.
From the moment they arrived, the toddler was touching everything -- taking fridge magnets off the fridge, dropping and breaking them; picking up my mobile phone and pushing all the buttons; picking up a doorstop and pulling buttons off of it. I didn't say anything, because I was waiting for my friends to do that, but they never said a word. My husband did take an item off the toddler on the last morning, telling her she couldn't have it, which resulted in tears and whingeing.
I didn't really speak up (though I wanted to) because I felt it would be rude/unkind to tell off their daughter. I also kind of feel it should be the parents' job, not mine, to supervise her behaviour. I didn't want to cause bad feeling between me and my old and dear friend, but equally I now feel annoyed and would be reluctant to have them in my house again.
I realise that toddlers are into everything, but what about when those things aren't theirs, and they damage them?

GiraffesEatPineapples Wed 13-Mar-13 00:09:05

Possibly they thought you would be uncomfortable with them discipining their child constantly during the visit, esp as you didnt say anything. Sometimes the parent's attempts at discipline are harder to watch than the childs innocent explorations! maybe they made comments when you were out of the room but the child ignored/ forgot because of their age. A parent whose eldest child is 2 and youngest is a newborn are at one of the most difficult stages i think. Having said all that i would have been saying no to my child!

Goldenbear Tue 12-Mar-13 19:07:02

Well sometimes lack of sleep- sleep deprivation is a very good excuse for being slack as a parent. IMO having a newborn is quite a valid reason behind being a less than ideal parent to the other child.

Lottapianos Tue 12-Mar-13 18:52:34

I can see that lack of sleep may be a factor, but I don't think that it's an excuse for not managing their toddler's behaviour. I think OP has a right to feel narked at how her friends responded. I don't know if OP likes children - not everyone does - and she is friends with the adults, not necessarily the children. She may not feel comfortable spending time 1 on 1 with the 2 year old. I accept that the parents have their hands more than full but then what were they thinking of asking to come and stay with a 2 year old and a 2 month old? confused

I would feel very peed off in OP's position and I absolutely love little children and have worked with 100s so would be more than happy to pitch in with entertaining the toddler, but would still be annoyed at the parents not saying anything to her if she was touching/breaking my things.

Goldenbear Tue 12-Mar-13 18:24:26

Well if you're being pedantic - how they chose to look after their toddler on this weekend, the methods they used or lack of them- their parenting style are being criticised, you have just said yourself that they sound 'rubbish' at handling their toddler.

Lotta Why do you think being shattered with 2 very young children has no bearing on their behaviour at the OP's house. You're quick to dismiss what is probably the major factor contributing to their approach?

Lottapianos Tue 12-Mar-13 17:22:09

I haven't seen anyone criticising their parenting technique, just how rubbish they were at managing their toddler in a friend's house during one particular visit.

Goldenbear Tue 12-Mar-13 14:47:50

Lotta, why is it shocking that parents of very young children especially a newborn and a toddler are shattered? Are you speaking from experience? It is not about an expectation of free childcare, it's about being a friend and being considerate. Rather than criticising their parenting technique, which is very easy to do when you only see a snapshot of the situation for a weekend, the OP could think, 'this looks hardwork, I wonder if I could occupy the toddler for a bit rather than judging the inadequacies.'

lottieandmia Tue 12-Mar-13 14:38:01

As others have said, all 2 year olds do what you describe. It's understandable you don't want all your stuff broken, but what you should do is put everything breakable up out of the way before she comes.

nailak Tue 12-Mar-13 14:34:26

yes and she should have told her friends how important they were, instead of expecting her to be a mindreader!

Lottapianos Tue 12-Mar-13 14:09:59

And it's for OP to decide how important her fridge magnets are because... you know.... It's her house!

Lottapianos Tue 12-Mar-13 14:07:49

I'm shocked at all the boo hooing about the poor parents who must be shattered and can't possibly be expected to have eyes in the back of their heads etc. It sounds to me like OP was very welcoming but I don't think she was prepared to be used as free childcare nor should she have been

ISeeRedPeople Tue 12-Mar-13 13:10:33

I'd be lost without my fridge magnets - they keep stuff on the fridge.
But I let DD play with them as much as she wants - it's science, innit!

LoopDeLoops Tue 12-Mar-13 13:00:30

Seriously though, it's fridge magnets. Is the world really a worse place without a few fridge magnets? What is their function?

Goldenbear Tue 12-Mar-13 08:54:56

No I don't think that. Toddlers are not being purposefully reckless. I think it is necessary to draw a distinction between their behaviour and the way older children behave otherwise people have unreasonable expectations. When I didn't have children I wasn't able to understand that distinction. I used to commute on the train and if there was a toddler causing mayhem on the train I would have thought, 'why can't the parent just tell the child to sit still and look at a book?'. I was familiar with toddlers as I had a niece toddler at the the time and I still thought this. In fact when we visited my brother and SIL, if we stayed over at the weekend, my brother would lead my niece in to our room to entertain so they could get have a lie in. At the time I thought that was a bit off considering both my boyfriend and I had been working all week. Little did I know how much they deserved a lie in when they were sleep deprived and we were getting our 8 hours a night! If I could take myself back to those child free days now when I visited my brother I wouldn't hesitate to offer to be more helpful with my then toddler niece.

Pulling magnets off fridges is what toddlers do, it is not the end of the world. If you see this happening and you're the only adult present just guide the toddler towards an activity you find acceptable in your house. I don't see why the parents, who probably won't be at their most alert with a baby in tow should be expected to have eyes in the back of their heads. Equally, your tolerance for behaviour changes otherwise with some toddlers you would be constantly saying, 'no'. In a different setting some see this as lax.

aurynne Tue 12-Mar-13 01:27:35

Goldenbear, so are you suggesting the OP should grin and bear it while her possessions are being broken and damaged?

Goldenbear Tue 12-Mar-13 00:50:41

Or, looking at another way aurynne, the OP could show greater empathy towards the friend and friend's husband's predicament. The friend has a newborn and a toddler, they are probably shattered, adjusting to their new family set up. It is no so much a belief that common courtesy shouldn't be practiced, more that such formalities require a lot of energy- maybe they just kind find the reserves at the moment and were hoping that they could relax a bit around a good friend and not have to keep up the pretence.

No one should expect a couple without children to child proof their home but a little consideration for a friend just makes life easier for all involved in these situations.

Floggingmolly Tue 12-Mar-13 00:13:33

Did you mean to be so rude, Kytti?
hmm yourself.

Kytti Tue 12-Mar-13 00:08:23

Er... I can see why you were not pleased, but it's very normal behaviour. I would let mine toddle about but would draw the line at damaging things. In fact, I avoided a few friend's houses because of this very problem!

Why are you on Mumsnet if you don't have children? hmm

Although AIBU can be addictive.

The parents sound a bit bonkers to me though. Who in their right mind invites themselves to stay at a childless couple's house with a newborn and a toddler. Unless you had reason to think the couple were very laid back surely it's not something you do

aurynne Mon 11-Mar-13 23:42:37

"Just a fridge magnet" may be a much-loved memory of a honeymoon trip for a person, with or without children. "Clueless" is every one of us who has no experience of something, and it is not a justification for despising someone. A person, with or without children, has no obligation to "child-proof" his or her house because some guests are coming: it is the guests' duty to make sure none of them (child or adult) damages or breaks anything in the host's house.

I thought these were pretty obvious courtesy rules, but it seems that having children gives some people the right to dictate what others have to do in order to "prepare" their house for the arrival of their precious offspring.

Goldenbear Mon 11-Mar-13 23:01:18

Maybe their bloody shattered and thought their friend would tolerate a more casual approach than she was prepared to tolerate- a simple misunderstanding rather than a serious parenting failure on their part. Perhaps they were too tired to care and took liberties in that sense.

Bullethole Mon 11-Mar-13 22:56:00

YABU but you dont have kids so its understandable. That sort of stuff pissed me off before I had kids too!

In fact. It still secretly pisses me off when its someone elses kids.

<bad mood>

nailak Mon 11-Mar-13 22:55:18

well maybe the parents arent used to dogs!!!

Floggingmolly Mon 11-Mar-13 22:38:24

Oh, don't bloody start, Goldenbear hmm. Child's behaviour was perfectly normal, parents were a bit lax in allowing it to go unchecked when necessary.

Goldenbear Mon 11-Mar-13 22:34:05

'said behaviour' when you put it like that it sounds like the 2 year old is heading for Borstal!

MrsOakenshield Mon 11-Mar-13 22:31:53

the way this should have panned out is, firstly, as you don't have kids, they should have prepped you, if you like - suggested you move anything precious / breakable etc out of reach. Second - they should have brought plenty of toys to distract. Thirdly, mum (your friend) could have looked after non-mobile, mainly feeding and sleeping 2-month-old, whilst drinking tea and catching up with her friend (you), dad should have been on supervision duty with toddler with your DH mucking in. But, that didn't happen, so, in all, YANBU.

The thing that astonishes me more than anything is that they were so slack that they allowed their toddler to get on the wrong side of a gate with dog(s?) that are not used to children. Keep that up and they'll be more than tears all round.

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