We Are Both Right

You Discipline Your Child, I’ll Discipline Mine

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There are some things I just won’t do as a mom. Disciplining other people’s kids is one of them. (Making meatloaf is the other.)

It’s not a completely selfish decision. Of course, I rather not expend the energy setting some other kid straight when I have two of my own to look after — who despite being lovely and adoring most of the time, keep my disciplining skills finely-tuned enough. I will also admit that I find it uncomfortable to speak up and set boundaries for someone else’s child. Especially if the parent might pop back into the room in the middle of it.

But my main reason for skipping substitute duty on discipline is that I think I’m doing the child more of a favor than I am protecting my own interests. Here’s what you can expect if your child is acting up when you are not around:

{1} The passive approach will have to do. That’s my default setting, not knowing how intensely you would usually discipline your child. I will suggest that throwing game pieces is not a good idea and maybe it’s time to move onto a new activity, but I won’t make the offender stay behind to clean up. Seeing this side of me, my kids always wish they weren’t related to me.

{2} I won’t yell. Again, if that’s not your style, I don’t want to upset your child, or confuse or embarass him. After all, I’m not the usual adult he “reports” to.

{3} My child will bear the brunt of your child’s actions. Especially if it’s a group offense. Like: “Boys, L. is not allowed to shoot milk out of straws with his nose, so let’s not do that right now.” Or if your child is setting the example of not so great behavior, I might say: “I’m going to put S.’s very favorite doll away now because she gets really upset whenever any of us draw on her with markers.”

{4} I will invoke your name. As in: “You might want to check with your mom/dad before you drink your fifth soda.”

{5} But not to worry, if your child has rigged a pulley system from my backyard up to the roof and plans to practice rappelling, I will put a stop to it before they get more than a foot of the ground. That I promise. Danger is in a different category than discipline. And I’m sure you wouldn’t mind if I even yelled a little in that case.

But other than that, we’re all happy go lucky here, so don’t expect to drop your child off and pick-up a reformed one when you return in two hours. The Nanny I’m not.

I always tell Amanda she’s free to discipline my children if I’m out of the room, and vice versa. But at least she keeps her word.

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