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"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?

mangohedgehog Tue 22-Jan-13 19:38:14

gosh sorry this turned out terribly long didn't it! thanks for reading if you have got this far

WarmFuzzyFun Tue 22-Jan-13 19:41:12

I think you have done the right thing for you and your DD.

Stay calm and don't shift on this.

HeathRobinson Tue 22-Jan-13 19:41:40

YANBU. At all.
I'm quite shocked.

catgirl1976 Tue 22-Jan-13 19:43:40

What sort of things do they tell her off for that you would let go?

MerylStrop Tue 22-Jan-13 19:43:59

My house my rules (a sentiment which I hate, actually because it applies such contempt to one's visitors) applies to you know ^stuff in the house^: whether you leave the bog seat up or down and when you can get down from the table and when you can have the TV on. NOT to how you parent your child.

I think you are wise to stay elsewhere but that you need to talk to your mum about her disciplining of your child. Not at a high tension moment. In fact, don't link where you are staying, she can draw her own conclusion. And your SD sounds like a bully.

thinkfast Tue 22-Jan-13 19:44:37

Yanbu. If your dm wanted you to all stay at hers again she shouldn't have behaved that way on your last visit

Florin Tue 22-Jan-13 19:45:15

Good on you for booking the hotel. I do agree with the my house my rules thing to a certain extent for example my friend said her toddler could eat curry on my new sofa and I said in our house all meals are eaten at the table. If its rules to protect her property like that then fair enough however anything like looking them in the eye is not up to them to discipline her on. There are lots of young children who are shy who find it hard to look people in the eye who they are maybe unsure of as they don't see them regularly. It really isn't up to them to decide what is right or wrong she is your child. I would be furious if somebody tried to discipline my child for stuff like that.

NewYearNewBoo Tue 22-Jan-13 19:45:51

You have done exactly the right thing for your dd! You could always just tell dm and dsd, my daughter, my holiday, my rules!

izzyizin Tue 22-Jan-13 19:47:36

Ask the hotel for recommedations and pre-book the services of a baby sitter through a reputable agency so that your 'very shy and sensitive' dd does not have to come within a mile of any of her toxic wider family members.


Pandemoniaa Tue 22-Jan-13 19:49:53

I detest the expression "my house, my rules" because it is rarely used in a reasonable context. Instead, it is nearly always a control mechanism.

It is fair to say that children need to learn that there may be different expectations in different houses but that's not the same thing as the sort of bombastic interference you describe.

As an example, my former ILS had very definite views about mealtimes and how meals were eaten whereas me and my then dh were much more laid back. It didn't hurt ds1 and 2 to accept that there was no snacking between meals or that bread and butter came before cake when staying at their grandparents house. It would not have been acceptable for their grandparents to be loud and constant in their criticism of our style of parenting, however. Nor did I expect them to constantly criticise the children themselves. In fairness, they didn't do either of these things, despite my MIL being a rather difficult woman in many ways.

Your dm sounds as if she's very happy to criticise but unwilling to accept she can ever be in the wrong. That's a very difficult thing to deal with especially if she excuses if with a "my house, my rules" routine. So I can understand why you've chosen to stay in a hotel. But I fear that whatever you choose will be wrong. So you really do need to do what you think is best for you and your dds.

missedith01 Tue 22-Jan-13 19:50:41

YANBU - if your daughter is frightened of your SD then I think you are quite right to stay elsewhere. I agree with the post above really, in some respects it's essential to teach children that when they stay in other houses they can't run riot like they can at home ;-) but that doesn't apply to interpersonal relationships, it applies to not breaking ornaments and which towel you use to dry the dog. Hope things improve.

ENormaSnob Tue 22-Jan-13 19:50:41

You are doing the right thing by your dd.

And I wouldn't be staying with anyone that trotted out the line my house my rules. Especially when those rules involve bullying a child.

coldcupoftea Tue 22-Jan-13 19:51:27

I agree that 'my house my rules' does apply in some cases, such as taking shoes off at the door, not eating on the sofa etc- I let my kids eat snacks in front of the telly for example, while at MIL's house every morsel that passes your lips has to be eaten at the table (or they will have the hoover out for imaginary crumbs!)

Other than that, they should absolutely follow your lead, so YANBU and have done the right thing. Good for you.

GregBishopsBottomBitch Tue 22-Jan-13 19:52:26

One of my friends actually does just this, nags and tells my DD off, to the point i dont have her round that much and my DD basically ignores her anyway now.

deleted203 Tue 22-Jan-13 19:53:05

YANBU. I can sympathise to a certain extent with the 'my house, my rules' view, because it is probably one I take myself, eg I would certainly tell off any child who came here and proceeded to jump on the furniture, throw things around, etc. (I'm not suggesting your DD does this). However, I don't shout 'look me in the eye' to a nervous child and I wouldn't dream of abusing them the way your DsDad appears to. I think you have done the best thing in the circumstances and the only thing to do is to keep repeating to your DM that you fully understand that they have the right to insist on things being 'their' way in their house, but that because it was so stressful last time you would prefer to stay in a hotel with DD and simply see them away from the house. IMO your mother has the right to set rules in her house - but equally you have the right to decide that you will find alternative accommodation as your child finds the 'rule keeping' too stressful. She certainly does NOT have the right to impose her rules of behaviour on DD away from her home. You could suggest to your DM that if she isn't happy with the arrangements you have made for your family then perhaps she would prefer it if you didn't visit at all? As for what she tells her friends - I think it is perfectly acceptable for her to simply say 'My daughter had the option of staying her, but decided the hotel would probably be better as she has a small child and a baby'. She doesn't need to go into any further explanation.

EchoBitch Tue 22-Jan-13 19:57:08

Well done,you've done the right thing,i don't mind other people telling my DC off if they've done something but within limits.

All that 'look me in the eyes' stuff' and 'don't be so wet' is just mean.

You're DD only has you to stick up for her and you're far from her home,good for you.

SpicyPear Tue 22-Jan-13 20:00:06

YANBU. Well done for standing up for your daughter and protecting her from this horrid behaviour. It seems like she is only concerned about how you not staying looks to others.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Tue 22-Jan-13 20:09:11

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'.

Well firstly i doubt the locals will give a shit, but who cares what they think, and its not your problem anyway! You're not going to put your daughter through they horrible way they treat her just so the neighbours are happy! What crazy reasoning!

It sounds to me like they want some control of your daughter, with their external influences comment. Its given me the willies actually. It sounds like they don't like her and want space to quash the personality traits they don't like! sad

I think you have most definitely done the right thing. Even if the way they treat your daughter wasn't an issue it is still your choice what accommodation you choose no one else's.

Im guessing your mum was controlling with you as a child? Did the sd raise you?

Yfronts Tue 22-Jan-13 20:10:11

I need more information to decide if you are being unreasonable or not.

What exactly are they telling your child off for. Please can we have several examples.

I have lots of rules in my house - shoes to be left at the door, all eating to be done at the table (with the odd exception), no bouncing on the sofa, using please/thankyou etc. There are also lots of things they CAN do - make tents using blankets/sofa, make creative mess etc.

I actually think that your DD has to abide by what ever rules they have in their house but at the same time the grandparents should strive to reinforce their boundaries in a positive warm and encouraging manner.

Your parents would do best to try and have some fun with your DD and get to know her. It might be worth mentioning that she was frightened of them last visit

CrapBag Tue 22-Jan-13 20:14:26

The my house my rules thing does apply in some cases. I can't say for sure here as you haven't given examples. I don't like the fact that your SD called her wet. I hate this mentality towards children and there are some in my family like it.

My nan is very much of the opinion that if the parent doesn't tell of the child in her house then she will do it even though my grandad says he thinks it is the job of the parent. I agree with him.

If they are that bad then YANBU to book a hotel but I would like some examples. Do you let her run around with food, smearing mucky hands around when they want her to sit down and eat? Things like that then they have a point. I have certain rules in my house that I expect other children to follow. Clearly some of my rules are in the minority as they always look gobsmacked at being asked to sit down when eating.

ElectricMonk Tue 22-Jan-13 20:17:57

YANBU - your DD can't stand up for herself, she needs you to protect her in this way.

As others have said, "my house, my rules" is acceptable as a justification for taking reasonable precautions to protect one's belongings and maintain the normal routines of the home to whatever extent is practical when guests are visiting. The furthest I go to curtail others' behaviour in my home is to insist that they don't swear in front of my parrot in case she picks up bad habits, mostly because it would be too distressing for her to be moved away from her "home" in the living room and put away all on her own.

And of course, you should only say "my house, my rules" and mean it if you're also prepared to abide with good grace by the maxim "if you don't like it, you can leave." Your DM and SF want to be able control you completely when you're visiting them, and that's just not acceptable or well-intentioned.

AnyoneforTurps Tue 22-Jan-13 20:23:37

YANBU. It's one thing for GPs to have different house rules, e.g. no bouncing on the sofa, and quite another for them to bully your DD in this way. I think staying in a hotel is a very sensible compromise and you were also right to be honest about why.

DontmindifIdo Tue 22-Jan-13 20:27:16

well, at least you won't feel the need to visit again next summer... "my house my rules" is fine for say moral issues, such as if you are comfortable for unmarried people sharing a bed, or for damaging items issues but as an excuse for basically bullying a child? Nope, tough. You told them at the time at the last visit that you weren't happy with the way they were treating your DD, so you've accepted they are holding the "my house my rules" line, which means if their "rules" require guests to be treated badly, you won't be a guest.

Yes, in a lot of small communities, the fact that she offered to have you to stay but you chose to stay at the hotel will be turned to "Mrs X's daughter came all the way from England with two small children, one just a baby and she wouldn't invite them to stay, they had to stop at the hotel, what a bad host!" However, if she wants people to want to stay with her, she needs to make it a nice experience. You are under no duty to turn up and have your DDs treated like shit, what did she think would happen after coming out with "my house my rules" with a grown daughter who didn't need to stay in that house ever again???

elizaregina Tue 22-Jan-13 20:28:15

as an aside i wonder if being or thinking they are being in a position of power again,,,, ie the parents -now GP with years of experience - makes them feel important again - like they have something to offer but when you dont like that - they have massive issues going on - sparks off feelings of being really old - not wanted/needed etc? i dont know - some people go mad when they have GC! stick to your guns - boundaries - your parenting, protecting your children.

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