Grandma’s In Charge

9 Jun

Dear LetterBalm: We have two sons aged 8 and 11. They’re good kids, but they can be energetic and rambunctious, especially when the older boy eggs on the younger. My husband and I work, so a few times a month my mother takes care of them. She’s in good health, but she told me the boys don’t listen to her and run wild. What can we say to them to make them toe the line?

–Energetic Mom 

Ms. L.B. says this is a fairly straightforward state of affairs. First, have a private meeting with your mom and outline what goals you want to instill in your sons and her role in this. Call a family meeting in the presence of your mom, and make sure the kids aren’t distracted by e-devices and food. You and your husband need to let them know this is a serious matter, no jostling or fighting. When you have their attention and all is quiet, say this: 

Jake and Max, this meeting is about new rules when Grandma is taking care of you. You’ve been misbehaving, and this will stop now. Your father and I want you to know that Grandma is the boss when we aren’t around. You will obey everything she says, including not running around and stopping what you’re doing right away. Now, what did I say exactly? [Listen as they repeat what you said, and correct the boys if they get it wrong.] Now, Grandma, do you have two things you’d like to see Jake and Max do differently? [Your mom might say in no uncertain terms that she’d like the boys to pick up after themselves when they play and come right away when she calls them.] Your father and I want both of you to know that we’ll be getting a report from Grandma about how you behave. If you disobey and don’t listen, there will be consequences, including extra chores and loss of privileges such as no video games and no friends over to the house. Is there anything you don’t understand? We expect you both to be on your best behavior from now on.

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