How to Address Not Wanting Family Members to Watch Your Kids

Question today from Jordan in one of our communities, and he said, “How do you talk with family members about how you might not necessarily want them to watch your kids because of some reason, like parenting style that you don’t agree with? Or should you just let them watch them and expose them to different ways of parenting?”

Super good question, and really practical where the rubber meets the road. I think a lot of people, everyone, at some level deals with this. Jeremy has a really cool paradigm that’s really helpful. I know for me and Alyssa, we haven’t wrestled with that or have a ton of experience. Both sides of our family watch our kids. They love the kids and are great and super respectful to us.

And I’ll talk from that side because both of our sides, I think, do this well, this is one thing you do want to kind of, I don’t know if you’d say apply pressure, but it is important, I think, to be okay with the messiness of letting it be a teaching moment, to trying to let the parents understand that, “Hey, we are kind of the authority over our kids in the way of we try to have them eat this or do this or whatever.” And then having them respect that.

I do think it’s totally appropriate to ask the generation above you to respect the general values you’ve put on your family and your kids, and them try to mimic that as best as possible, if that makes sense. But if you’re a Type A personality, then maybe that’s the opposite and you need to let some stuff slide. So, for us, and the way we’ve wrestled with this, and this isn’t even just parents, but this is just anyone who watches our kids, our thing is we’ll tell them, “Hey, they like to eat this and do this and do that.”

But we also don’t want it to be the micromanaging family when we’re gone. So, in general, with stuff that doesn’t really matter, like I don’t think food matters for one night unless it’s obviously a dietary restriction. So, we just say we don’t care. We feed them like this back home, but we don’t care. If you want to feed them that.

So, there’s some things I do think you have to let slide, and I purposely even tell people that, because I think it’s a little bit of an olive branch, of just like, “We don’t care. We trust you. Just feed them whatever you want.”

And right now, movies. Kid movies are kid movies, but obviously when we’re older, we’ll probably set some boundaries with that. So, it’s all case by case and it’s all that stuff. But I do think there’s some stuff you should let slide, right? And I do think there’s things that it’s okay to ask them to respect and honor. So it’s really a wisdom issue and a sensitivity issue and a little tit for tat. But yeah, I like your paradigm, Jeremy. How would you guys talk about this?

Yeah. So you guys understand that when you’re trying to be more intentional to build a family team, sometimes people get a lot more worried about exposing their kids to other parenting styles like Jordan’s describing here. And one of the things I want to help you guys or really encourage you guys to consider is we’re talking about building multigenerational family teams, and God’s the one who’s decided to make family multigenerational.

And that means that sometimes you do need to expose your kids to family members who are different and have different ideas about family and parenting than you do. I think that’s actually really healthy a lot of the time. Where I would draw the distinction is that you have to distinguish between when there is a parenting difference or an actual danger. Is what you’re struggling with a different style of parenting, like Jordan’s describing here, or are you worried about a dangerous thing that your kids might get exposed to?

For example, we’re always very careful about our kids spending a lot of time in homes where there are older children, five, 10, 15 years older than them, without our supervision. Why? Because obviously things can happen. If there’s a parenting style there that’s fairly lax, there’s not a lot of supervision. This is where a lot of weird things start to happen to kids. We’re very careful to make sure that our kids are not exposed to things that we don’t want them to endure, like things that could really be traumatic for them.

So, we’re very careful about things that feel dangerous, but I would say we’re fairly lax about things that feel just like differences. So, I want my kids to see their cousins, and their grandparents have different ideas about things, and I want to debrief that with my kids. And so I think that can be really healthy, the differences, but also just distinguish the dangers. And if there something dangerous, really dangerous, then I would say I’m much more cautious about putting my kids in a situation where they might be exposed to something that they could actually create trauma for them. So, I would make that distinction really clear, but this is a great question, Jordan.

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