Rows about disciplining children are hard to overcome with people having such differing views, one woman asks agony aunt Coleen Nolan what she can do
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I’ve had a huge falling-out with my sister-in-law over how she disciplines her children.
They came to see us for the first time since lockdown for a barbecue in the garden and brought their two children, a girl and a boy aged four and six.
They’re both quite wild kids, but sweet, too. The boy, who’s six, was being naughty – pouring drinks into a paddling pool, shouting and hitting his sister.
My sister-in-law cracked and smacked him hard a few times, which meant he started screaming even more loudly. It was chaos.
Afterwards, I asked her if she was sure smacking was the best way to deal with it, as it’s just teaching him that violence is a solution.
Well, she went off the deep end and had a go at me for being smug and accusing her of battering her child when all she did was discipline him with a smacked bottom.
Then my brother and husband got involved, trying to calm things down, and she went mad at them, too.
She was very upset and stormed out soon afterwards with my brother and their kids trailing behind.
I’ve tried to contact her but she won’t reply to my messages.
Was I wrong to say something or is she too sensitive?
The two women aren’t currently speaking (file image)
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
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She was at your house and probably stressed and embarrassed that her son was being so naughty – I imagine she asked him to stop 25 times and then snapped.
I feel her pain. Full disclosure here – I smacked my boys on occasion when they were kids and, yes, I felt horrible about it afterwards.
I’m sure your sister-in-law felt horrible, too, and then you made her feel even worse about herself by judging her for what she’d done.
As a parent, if someone even slightly criticises how you raise your child, it can send you over the edge – especially if you’re finding it tough, which I’m sure a lot of parents have been during the lockdown period.
People are always ready to judge a parent on a child’s bad behaviour and how they deal with it, but never judge them when their child is being great.
If you want to patch things up, then try again, even if you think you’re right – and you are: smacking is not the answer and I’d never advocate it.
But send an email saying you’re sorry you upset her and sorry that you came across as critical and judgmental.
If you back down a bit, hopefully she’ll open up to you more and it’ll be something you can discuss calmly.
I think sharing your views in that moment when she was already very stressed is why she reacted the way she did.
It wasn’t the time to get into it.