10 yo undermining my parenting with sibling(29 Posts)
I have 3 DDs, age 10, 5 and almost 2. Their father and I separated 2 years ago and he subsequently disappeared from our lives after having been pretty detached from us all for some time.
Recently, my eldest keeps undermining my parenting. I think she thinks I'm too hard on her sisters but actually, she is causing an awful lot of upset.
Some examples are:
I was playing a chasing game where I was a bad guy and DD(5) bit me hard enough to draw blood. I told her off, said I wasn't playing the game anymore and that she could no longer ride her scooter home as she had been desperate to do. A minute later I turn around and DD(10) is hugging and consoling her, and telling her she can ride her scooter home!
DD(5) asked to use the iPad and I said no, with a valid explanation. She ignored me and climbed up to get it anyway. I asked her to return it and she refused. I pointed out that she couldn't use it anyway as she doesn't know the password and that I wouldn't be letting her use it at any point that day if she refused to listen. She refused to listen so I removed it and told her she couldn't use it until tomorrow at the earliest. 5 mins later, DD(10) is hugging and consoling her and putting her kindle on for her.
We were in a public toilet and I was washing my hands. DD(5) was trying to open the door but it was too heavy. I asked her to wait while I wash my hands but she continued to try to open the door. I pointed out that if someone tries to open it from the other side, it will hit her. She rudely shouted that it wouldn't, I said that it would and asked her to please come away from the door until I was ready. She refused and someone did indeed crash the door straight into her head. I consoled her but I did point out that if she had listened, it wouldn't have happened. DD(10) was carrying her around and fussing her for ages, saying the lady was mean for bumping her head
DD(2) is obsessed with pens. I tell her that she can only have them if she's sitting at the table with some paper. DD(10) keeps passing them to her whenever she shows an interest, resulting in the sofa having been drawn on.
The inconsistency is really confusing for the younger ones. If I tell DD(10) that it's my job to parent and to not challenge my decisions, she huffs off and says she was just trying to help. I point out that if DD(2) draws on her stuff, or if DD(5) breaks her kindle because she tries to use it without permission then she'll be upset so to leave me to sort them out but she keeps on doing the same sort of things.
Tonight DD(5) had found my phone and was asking DD(10) for the password and DD(10) was pretending she didn't know. She knows full well what it is and that DD(5) shouldn't have my phone but seems terrified of saying no to them. AIBU to make her stop undermining me, or am I indeed being ungrateful for her help?
Your dd sounds like she loves her siblings very much. Please be grateful she isn't winding them up and being a mean big sister. She is trying very hard. At 10 they are growing up and trying to find their place. Please just try to find another way to communicate with her. I can understand it is frustrating for you. But she isn't deliberately winding you up.
I think this calls for a 'grown up' big girl chat.
Is there someone who can mind your youngest two while you and your eldest have an evening together? Or even just an hour.
If she feels she's being treated like a grown up then she's likely to respond better.
Just explain that it's confusing for theM because they are young and if she's unsure when they ask her something then to tell her sisters to ask mum.
Your 10 year old can't bear to see her little sisters upset which is wonderful but it must be frustrating for you when she consoles and gives the kindle etc if you've said no.
Maybe try talking to her and explain that she is an amazing caring big sister, but her sisters are little and at times they break the rules and have to deal with the consequences.
That's the thing, user, a lot of the time she does wind particularly DD(5) up and makes her cry (racing her to the toilet, hiding her teddies, drawing on her pictures) but if I make either of them cry by telling them off, she defends them!
She isn’t undermining you. She’s a child just sticking up for her siblings. Mine do that to each other all the time! Sounds like normal sibling stuff to me.
Treat them all as your dcs. The eldest isn’t an adult, just parent her for disobeying. Don’t give her your phone password etc. If she breaks the rules eg about pens etc then she’s in trouble just like the others!
She's obviously a lovely concerned sister but I wonder if this is related to
your break up with their father? It's almost like she's setting herself up as the "other parent" which is sweet but a very big responsibility for a child her age. Maybe you need a chat about her enjoying her own childhood rather than her feeling like this?
I think I’m stricter than people here as I would punish your 10 year old for this. If she passes over a kindle or a pen, then they’re both banned from using them. I think you need to have a word with her that this is not helpful. If it’s repeated then she gets punished too.
My eldest is 12 he tries to parent his brother who is 8 a lot. I have now resorted to telling him that he is allowed to say yes in a couple of situations or to tell him off if he can see him putting himself in danger when i am not in site but if i am in the room it is my job and he cannot authorise anything other than basics lime getting out toys etc unless i have told him otherwise. If he does try to then go against what i have said he knows they are both in trouble. For instance youngest broke his tablet. I told him he can have a go on mine over weekend when i say but eldest let him use his. Now i have confiscated his until the weekend as he went against me. Set her some guidlines of whats helping and what is not. Like no colouring stuff incase goes on walls but if their hurt and not told off give them a cuddle.
So there could be a few things going on, and you will be able to judge which it is.
She's more upset about the break-up and her absent dad than it might first appear, and that's translating into over-protectiveness of her siblings on the one hand, and wanting to 'act up' into the free grown-up parent role on the other.
She's craving attention. She sees that you are busy with the smaller ones and that they get your attention. She wants attention too. She can get that validation by being the 'good cop' for them.
You're totally unfair and a big meanie and she has to step in
Do you get any one-on-one time with her? I think 10 is an age where they need you so much emotionally, but of course you are a single parent to small, small people and so opportunities are limited. Any way you can engineer some time just for her? And then do as a PP says and make sure you parent consistently anyway and make sure the rules apply as equally to her as the others so the responsibility of being 'the grown-up one' is gone?
sounds really tough and I bet you are doing a brilliant job.
Seems like the eldest is trying to be grown up/responsible and help you.
Rather than telling her off, could you have a nice chat with her and tell her that the best way she can help is to keep on being your biggest Little Girl for a bit longer and let you deal with the Being the Boss Job?
I agree with pp in that you need to be clear with your 10 year old that the rules apply to her too.
No one can get the kindle down without your permission.
No one can use pens away from the table.
She needs consequences if she breaks the rules once she understands them. Though I'd definitely praise her for being caring and trying to soften the blow for her siblings.
I have NO idea why that posted so many times - sorry!
I’d also not tolerate this, as much for the 10 yr olds sake as anyone’s. She needs boundaries and making herself an equal to mum and even undermining you means she’s actually taking on far too big an emotional responsibility in the house.
I’d come down pretty sharpish on that and let her get on with just being a kid. She’ll probably feel relieved to give up the parenting role.
I think she loves her siblings and is sticking up for them against their parent's. I think that's normal and healthy. Not to say you shouldn't have penalties for helping her siblings break the rules!
I think you framing it as her "undermining your parenting" is a bit unfair. You are asking her to remain aware of a parenting approach you are taking in order not to contradict it, that is quite an adult thing to be asked to do. You would ask a partner not to undermine your parenting, not another child in the house.
I agree with stompy, it seems like your projecting that responsibility on to her, and seeing her in an adult role, she isn’t trying to parent, she’s being a protective big sister.
Tell her off when she does it, sure, but don’t make it a bigger deal than it is.
I'd echo above PPs, they've said what I thought. It will be related to your ex leaving. Some counselling might help, see the gingerbread website. She needs to know you understand what she's doing, and that you will look into having a specific one to one time with her so she's not on competition with the small ones for your attention, and that she must learn to say no to her siblings and so on. There will be better ways of putting that. I'm a bit shit at this. But gingerbread will have resources to help.
You should not be grateful for her "help". A 10yo shouldn't be "helping" to raise her younger siblings!
Sit her down and tell her that when you discipline your children it is not her place to step in and if she continues to do so she will have consequences as well.
Tell her she is the child and you are the parent and what you say goes.
My niece used to undermine her parents when it came to her little sister she had a very strict talking to.
Why does she feel like you need help?
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