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What to do!

So we visited my sister and BIL and family this past weekend - they live about 4 hours away. They have 3 kids - 5, 3, and infant. There are major discipline problems with the older 2. The kids run wild and have constant violent physical fights with each other (and the older one often gets into physical fights with other kids). "Discipline" in their house involves screaming at them (and zero consequences for ignoring the parent), time outs/threats of time outs (followed through on ~50% of the time, so the kids don't take it seriously), bribes (clean up toys and you get a cookie, at 6:45 AM), no follow through (you have to eat your veggies before you get these chips, then letting kid have the chips), and controlling the kids with TV (the TV is ALWAYS on, 100% of the time). I honestly think the parents are overwhelmed, and my sister does make an effort, but I see zero effort on the part of my BIL.
Anyway, I try to be a loving, positive influence in the kids' lives, as best as I can as their aunt and living far away. But this weekend was too much. My nephew (5) was being annoying, getting in his parents' way as they prepared for his sister's birthday party. They yelled at him to stop. When he didn't, my BIL smacked him hard (not hard enough to injure him, but still pretty hard) on the forehead with the heel of his hand. I was shocked and horrified, even more so as my 2 year old daughter was right there. I removed her from the situation, but didn't know what to do from there. I told my husband about the situation later (he wasn't there), and my concerns not only for my nephews and niece, but now about the impact on our own child. I don't want to tell other people how to parent - I'm sure there are those out there who would question things I do as a parent. But this action was totally inappropriate. When I brought up my concerns for our daughter, witnessing this type of behavior, my husband said we would explain it to her. I told him I should not have to explain why some daddies hit their children and everyone else with their silence says this is ok (no one actually witnessed this but me, sister's back was turned, but I did tell my mom later, so word will spread). THIS IS NOT OK!
I guess I'm just looking for some validation of my perception of this situation, before I talk to my sister and figure out action to take to at least protect my daughter (considering no longer staying with them when we go to visit, etc).  I want to continue to be in my sister's life and the lives of my nephews and niece.  I want to continue to be a loving positive influence.  The kids need it!
Thanks for listening!

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 6:04 AM on Jun. 14, 2011 in General Parenting

Answers (5)
  • Why do you need to protect your DD? Do not leave her with BIL alone. Do not stay at their house again if you do not like their way of discipline. Do not talk to your sister about this issue. She already knows how her DH is. The talk will not go well.

    Answer by louise2 at 6:24 AM on Jun. 14, 2011

  • Avoid going there and if you sista ask you the reason talk to her ;)

    Answer by caramelH at 6:27 AM on Jun. 14, 2011

  • i don't see that its any of your business how they discipline (or not) their own children in their home.
    you apparently are one of those who think she's got it 'right', and everyone else different has it wrong. chances are your 2yo will not even remember this incident, nor bring it up, without prompting from you.
    MYOB..if you actually saw real, honest abuse..then i'd suggest you talk to your sister. but i see nothing of abuse from what you wrote.

    Answer by dullscissors at 7:09 AM on Jun. 14, 2011

  • You need to sit down with your sister and share your feelings. Maybe she and her husband need to be taught how to discipline properly and follow through. I must say, however, that I feel that different forms of discipline work with different children. Spanking may work when all else fails. However, a smack in the face is quite different. Hitting a child in the face is never acceptable. A spanking in the bum should suffice if that's what it takes. As far as your own chidren, they should be taught that everyone is different, every household is different and has its own rules. This does not mean that someone else's way is wrong or that yours is the only way, but that you have to respect what goes on in someone else's house or, as you've said, stay somewhere else and keep them away from inappropriate behavior.

    Answer by rosiemendo at 7:33 AM on Jun. 14, 2011

  • I don't think I have it all right.I'm sure my sister and BIL have plenty of conversations about me and my husband's parenting and lifestyle. I wrote what I did as background, to indicate that I obviously strongly disagree with their discipline style, but do NOT WANT TO BUTT IN AND HAVEN'T BECAUSE IT IS NOT MY BUSINESS.My point was that I feel that I have minded my own business when it was just a matter of disagreement in parenting, but I feel it is the time to say something because I think striking a child in the head is abusive and inappropriate and uncalled for regardless of your discipline style.
    As of now we will not be staying there again and will not allow them to stay at our house (so I will have to say something to my sister about this incident, not about parenting in general).I feel that if my BIL is willing to strike his own child in the head as discipline, how will he react to my daughter misbehaving?

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 1:49 PM on Jun. 14, 2011

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