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aibu over my cousin and wwyd?

(22 Posts)
Rosae Mon 15-Aug-16 21:35:58

So, I had my younger cousin come for the day the other day. She's been having a tough time lately so the visit was to cheer her up which is why I haven't properly tackled this yet, just been mulling it over.
One of the things she is upset about is that she feels her siblings have been mean to her. One has a 2-year old the other a baby under 1. And they call her harsh and strict. They do it in a jokey way but now that both of them are saying it she is not finding it funny.
I sympathized with her and said it's not fair but I can also see why they might be doing it by seeing her interact with my toddler. She is constantly telling my toddler off. She expects what I would consider above the age of her and when she doesn't get it she tells her off. For example my toddler is teething and therefore everything goes in her mouth but my cousin was constantly saying no and taking everything that went I her mouth off her. Including teether toys. By the end of the visit there were a line of toys along the windowsill she had removed and placed out of reach.
I believe that you shouldn't undermine a fellow adult by contradicting them in front of the child, unless abusive, so I didn't say anything directly but did try to say that she is teething and it's normal to chew and put things in their mouths and that it's ok to chew things that won't be dangerous. But she carried on.
This is just one example of many reasons my cousin was finding to tell her off. Plus also whenever I did feel the need and step in to stop a behaviour she would chip in as well and give her a second telling off. I think her siblings are probably trying to deal with this in a jokey manner, trying too point out that she is being too strict and should stop but not wanting to upset her by saying it directly. This is typical of her family.
I'm wondering if I could tackle it with her. It needs to be gentle but also quite direct as she doesn't read in to things said to her. But I'm worried that a) I've now left it too late and need to wait till I see her again and b) maybe it's nothing to do with that and they are just winding her up which is also typical of her siblings and that maybe I am being pfb over my child.


Squirmy65ghyg Mon 15-Aug-16 21:39:06

Wouldn't bother. Just be firmer when she's at yours - eg 'DC can play with that' and 'I've told her off so that's the end of it.'

Orchidflower1 Mon 15-Aug-16 21:44:08

Has your cousin got dc? I'm guessing not as you don't mention it so she may not know how to interact / expect from toddlers. Her behaviour isn't right I agree but I think if it's been a few days now it's a bit late to bring it up particularly if she's feeling sensitive. Maybe leave it until she comes again/ you see her and another issues arise

Niks2026 Mon 15-Aug-16 21:45:51

I had a similar issue with my husband's youngest sister. I found she would wind up the nieces/nephews so that she had a reason to tell them off. Funny how that stopped when she had her own child.

My advice would be to be a bit firmer next time she is around your little one. I have to say to my cousin sometimes to stop being a wind up its aggravating the children. She stops immediately to be fair but it's ridiculous how you should have to tell a 21 yr old to stop purposely annoying a 2 yr old.

Maybe approach the subject with the siblings to see if you're all experiencing the same issues? And all deal with it in the same way.

Witchend Mon 15-Aug-16 22:03:45

I think I would say to her that generally if the parents,are there then don't tell the children off. If the parents,have already said something then she shouldn't comment at all. This is in her interest (she can be the fun aunt who isn't telling them off) and the children's (who can feel everyone is getting at them)
Say a lot of parents don't like other people telling off their child and in almost all cases it isn't appropriate for someone else to step in. *

*I would say unless dangerous/parents,aren't doing anything and it's causing damage/upset, but I suspect she will just continue and think "but I had to, they weren't saying anything/it was dangerous.

HarryPottersMagicWand Mon 15-Aug-16 22:09:07

It would have been a very good time to point out that this exact behaviour is what her siblings are talking about.

She shouldn't be doing it and she needs telling. If the parent is present, there is no need for someone else to be telling them off, especially when it's not something that's even worthy of a telling off. My nan tends to do this and it really winds me up. I am there, it's my job but she will jump straight in and tell them off, often for something that isn't even necessary, it's just the behaviour isn't to her standards. Last week my DCs were playing with my DGD and my cousin and they (the 2 adults) were winding them up quite well and my nan was telling 2 young children off for being loud. I stepped in and said it's not their fault, they are being wound up. She got huffy but I know my DGD agrees with me and it's the parents job to do the parenting.

Your cousin sounds quite annoying tbh.

hownottofuckup Mon 15-Aug-16 22:13:39

I believe you shouldn't undermine another adult in front of the child

Why? If they're wrong (and taking teething toys away from a teething child is wrong) why would you let the child bear the brunt rather then tackle it yourself?
You should have said something at the time, not left your child to suck it up.

Rosae Tue 16-Aug-16 07:24:11

She doesn't have kids of her own but she has been around younger kids a fair bit, there are quite a few in the wider family and family friends but these are the first that she has 'aunt' status with.
I wouldn't say she is winding them up in order too tell them off, just that she feels the need to tell off normal behaviour for that age. She can also be quite controlling. In that she'll want to hold them and give them cuddles in the same way as when they were newborn, or she'll decide she wants them too play with a certain toy. If they come up to her with a book when she doesn't want to read she won't but then will decide later that now she does and try to make them then. I'm very firm with this and tell her to let her go and put her down etc.
I don't think approaching the siblings will work, for one thing they will tell her I've approached them as our family are awful at keeping secrets. But I can definitely tackle it when I next see her more directly.
Hownotto- if my child had seemed upset I would definitely have acted more strongly But she generally ignored what was being said, she's only just over a year and still lives in her own little world alot. I would always support an adult that I want my daughter to respect and behave well around as undermining them constantly would teach her that they don't need to be listened to.

UmbongoUnchained Tue 16-Aug-16 07:30:28

I would be asking her who the fuck she thinks she is?!

And I would be standing up for my toddler and showing my toddler I have their back, not "undermining" another adult.

How old is your cousin? She sounds young and if she isn't she sounds quite dim.

onemorecupofcoffeefortheroad Tue 16-Aug-16 07:37:32

Give the teething toys back to your child. Your cousin sounds like a bully.

DeathStare Tue 16-Aug-16 07:41:02

I think I'd just gently correct her, with an explanation, every time she does it.

So when she takes the teething toy off your toddler say Oh toddlers this age are teething so they need to put things in their mouth and then give the teething toy back.

If your toddler brings a book and she decides she doesn't want to read, and then changes her mind, just say At this age they change their minds about what they want quite easily, so I'm afraid you've missed your opportunity with that book. Look DD is playing with the building blocks now (or whatever it is she'd doing). Why don't you go and do that with her. She'd enjoy that

Is she quite young OP? She sounds quite young in your post and if she is it could just be inexperience and not understanding how children develop.

deepdarkwood Tue 16-Aug-16 07:41:51

I agree with others - if she's already sensitive about the issue, I wouldn't tackle it separately, but next time she is at yours, be a bit more direct. If she takes teething toys away, say "Don't be daft, that's there to be chewed - that's the point of it!" and give it back. I don't think if I'd make a general point, more tackle each behaviour as it happens. The only other thing I think you could do would be to clearly position her role next time she does a telling off "Honestly, please don't worry about telling her off - that's my job, and it's going to be too much for her if we both do it. Imagine getting told off at work twice every time something went wrong! Your job is to be lovely cousin x who spoils her and has fun with her - leave the bad guy stuff to me and just enjoy it!"

Only other thought - next time she comes if she mentions the sibling issue again, I'd have a 'mum friend' who's had the same issue as a parent, and explain as pp said that most parents hate it when someone else disciplines their child - as it feels like it reflects on their parenting. So that it's usually better to leave the parenting to the parents - even if you think they are getting it wrong!

tibbawyrots Tue 16-Aug-16 07:49:59

Sod the not undermining adults thought - she's undermining you, the parent!

I would give your child back whatever safe things she removed out of reach and tell her to stop trying to take over.

She needs telling before this habit gets out of control. It's not her child, she has no right to do this unless you're not there and she is babysitting.

Rosae Tue 16-Aug-16 07:52:52

Umbongo that is totally uncalled for. She is younger but not very young, mid 20s. But certainly not dim! She doesn't always pick up social cues very well which is why She's not picking up on the ' joke' etc and why it needs to be said more directly. I suspect she has a learning need there that hasn't been picked up. She is a lovely kind and caring person.
I have come on here for advice not personal attacks on someone who is much loved if going through a difficult time.

Roussette Tue 16-Aug-16 07:58:36

I'm inclined to agree with Umbongo. I'm sure she's a lovely person but she is totally misguided and you don't go around acting like you are the Mum and you know what to do with someone's baby, when you really don't know anything. She she be taking her cues from you. I would be a bit sharp TBH because I couldn't put up with this for hours.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 16-Aug-16 07:58:41

I dunno about undermining other adults, but I have always assumed it is rude to tell of someone else's child. Unless, I suppose, they're in immediate danger, in which case I would.

Just tell her you don't tell other people's children off.

FannyFifer Tue 16-Aug-16 08:09:51

Umbongo is only going by what you posted.
You need to be firm with cousin and tell her when things are not acceptable.

junebirthdaygirl Tue 16-Aug-16 08:15:07

A few things you said like her not picking up social cues, wanting to do exactly what she wants although child is so young, being over controlling etc all could point to her having ASD. I have friends who fell out with a really good friend who has ASD over his constant correcting of their well behaved children. They pulled him up on it as it was too much and he never spoke to them again. ASD can cause people to be very black and white about things so if the rule is no stuff in your mouth they wouldn't be able to get that this doesn't apply to teething rings. They also can be outspoken, saying out loud what some of us are thinking in our heads but know not to say. They can also hear noises louder so may shush a child we would think is only making regular noise. I would tell her each time in a direct way as hinting will not work. So say it's confusing for her to have two people correcting her so l will do it. I don't want you to do it.

Iloveowls2 Tue 16-Aug-16 08:24:52

I've had a similar experience before with a relative with no DC. I think it's an extension of the "if I had kids they wouldn't do that " thing. You just need to explain that she is causing confusion by her having different rules to you and she needs to stick to your rules so the child doesn't get confused. Btw my relative had just had their first so looking forward to how these rules and strictness work now lol

ProcrastinatorGeneral Tue 16-Aug-16 09:12:03

Kind or otherwise, Umbongo has a point. You don't allow somebody to walk all over your child just because they're an adult. Your first responsibility is to your child, not the feelings of somebody who needs to learn to get a grip.

Your cousin could do with some education about how children grow, or she's going to continue being laughed at by the other adults in your family, and your poor daughter will feel the brunt as you stand there and hand wrong because you refuse to intervene.

HarryPottersMagicWand Wed 17-Aug-16 15:20:44

Good luck to you then. You aren't going to tackle this as you feel it would be undermining to her, despite the fact she is undermining you as the parent and are using excuses about her difficult time. That has nothing to do with her complete lack of ability to step back around children. Ultimately it isn't her child so she has no authority unless she is babysitting, which she wasn't.

Rosae Wed 17-Aug-16 15:39:48

I am going to tackle it. My post is clearly stating I want to just unsure of the best way. I have already had a conversation with her about what is ok to do and what is a parent's job. I don't see her often enough for this to have a major effect on my child but it's important for when she sees others.

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