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Discussion Starter #1
I'm desperately trying to think of a tactful way to talk to my sister about her favoritism with one of her twins, which I really think she's not aware of. The kids are 18 months old, so right at that stage where they know what's going on and you have to work on disciplining them or they'll turn into holy terrors. They both have their whiny times, and this is where the discrepancy comes in. My sister will tell Evie to hush up or knock it off, and usually it works - Evie knows that Mommy simply doesn't tolerate it from her. But with Gavin, when he gets whiny he'll start screaming if Mommy doesn't pick him up and hold him, so that's exactly what she does. If she has to put him down to do something with Evie (diaper, meds, barf clean-up, etc) he will throw himself on the floor and scream, and as soon as she's done with Evie she rushes to pick him up and comfort him. If he bumps his head, even just a little bump that doesn't hurt him, he will start crying if she's there, and she will rush to pick him up and apologize for him bumping his head, and give him anything he points at, and she can't put him down for usually 20 minutes or he'll start screaming. I'm pretty sure Evie is starting to realize that Gavin is getting preferential treatment, and I'm dreading the day that she starts talking and asks "Mommy, why do you like Gavin more than me?" Oh, and Evie's had three heart surgeries, so you would think that if one kid would get preferential treatment it would be her....

Anyway, any suggestions on a tactful way I can say something to my sister? I don't have kids myself, so I don't really feel right criticizing her parenting. But I'm at her house nearly every day to help out, since Evie's last surgery was only two months ago and she's still recovering and needs more attention than normal. Because of that, I get a really good 'big-picture' view of their life, and I KNOW this is becoming a problem. (My parents and brother are noticing this as well, but none of them will say anything.) I really don't think my sister realizes how much she coddles Gavin, and she wants to be a really good parent, which is why I think someone needs to say something to her about this. But how???
 

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Hmmmm....there's a piece of me that wonders if your sister is unconsciously distancing herself from Evie because she's afraid that she'd going to lose her and is trying to limit the bond. Instead she over compensates with Gavin, basically clinging to him as much as he clings to her. I don't know, just a theory....

Sorry, I know that doesn't help you with how to approach her, but may give you a different perspective...
 

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Or another possible theory, which is that Gavin is being clingy and needing a lot of attention because he senses how much attention and worry Evie has gotten in the last several months, and maybe your sister feels guilty for not giving him as much attention?

That's a very tough question about when you should say something. I'd be tempted to say that unless you think the kid is being abused in some way, you shouldn't say anything. There aren't too many people in the world who would respond to criticism of their parenting with a, "Oh thanks for pointing that out." It's more likely to bring a, "X&@#&%$*( you, and don't come around here anymore," and then you've lost contact with the kids.
 

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I think, something to keep in mind...is when she tells Evie to "knock it off!", Evie stops. It appears Gavin cannot handle a "knock it off!", so she is trying to do what works with him...though I think she is being a bit smothering about it and should probably let him scream-it-out when there really wan't something to get upset over to begin with.
Who am I to say, though? I've never had kids or really been around any for extended periods of time. I try to keep a good, healthy distance from them.
You know: "take two aspirin and keep away from children" is MY motto. :p

If this *is* something that you and the rest of the family are noticing, can you speak to the husband? Would he be receptive? How about sort of keeping a chart about what child does what/when and how it was reacted to, disciplined with and handled by (for both parent and child). This could give a little bit of visual reference/proof if bringing this touchy subject up:
"Oh, I would never do that!"
"Well, I've written it down, and you did it here, here, here and again, here. Today."

Myself? I would be afraid, VERY afraid, to step in and tell someone I thought they were favoring one child over another. I would expect the parent to over-react and become angry and defensive about their actions, when what really needs to happen is they need to open their eyes to the disparity of what they are doing between their children, because YES, eventually the children WILL notice.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Heidi, I am SO with you on your motto!!! I'm NOT a kid person at all - I lost my job in December, and until I find something I've kind of been roped into this kid thing since my sister really needs the extra help right now. I do love these two very much, but I'm very tired of going over there every day.

I wish I could say something to my brother-in-law, but believe it or not my sister is already the tough one as far as parenting goes. HIS parents believed in letting the kids do whatever they wanted and always coddled them when they cried.

It's good to know that twins have their ups and downs - I've seen it with these two already, and I know it will continue. I think part of the reason I'm so frustrated right now is that Gavin doesn't behave like this with everyone, only with people he knows will coddle him. He knows quite well that I don't tolerate the whining and crying, and if he starts it with me I can usually stop it with a firm 'stop that' or 'knock it off' IF my sister isn't there. If she's there, I'll tell him to knock it off and he'll go running for comfort from her, which he always gets. This is particularly annoying when he's crying because I just took a toy away from him after he smacked his sister in the head.

Interesting thoughts about her possibly distancing herself from Evie - I know my sister gets really frustrated sometimes with the amount of work it is to care for Evie. However, if she takes Gavin out somewhere, when she comes back home her face and Evie's both light up at the sight of each other, so there's certainly no lack of love there. She HAS had a number of people tell her that it's good that Evie was the one with the congenital heart defect instead of Gavin, because girls are tougher and Gavin might not have made it through everything that Evie has gone through. Maybe that has caused a subtle shift in her perception of which kid needs more mothering.
 

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I love children or I wouldn't have had four and spent much of my adult life teaching them. I don't put up with whining or back talk. Period.

People encourage it when they give the child his own way, and they are harming the child. The public won't put up with it, so it's best that children know that from the beginning. However, if the child has a permissive parent, I discovered, the parents will think the world is wrong. They might recognize it eventuallly, but by the time they do, the behavior is often part of the child's personality. It's very sad for the child. :(

I have a "look" and a tone of voice that children listen to. But I mean it, and children can tell the difference.
 

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Its a shame that you can't video tape her interacting with the kids as you described. Seeing it would make a huge impact.

Any chance of a Mother's Day Out program for him? It might help.
Also, our school district has parenting classes. They do have one on dealing with two year olds, which could be a great resource for her.
 

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Jeanie said:
I love children or I wouldn't have had four and spent much of my adult life teaching them. I don't put up with whining or back talk. Period.

People encourage it when they give the child his own way, and they are harming the child. The public won't put up with it, so it's best that children know that from the beginning. However, if the child has a permissive parent, I discovered, the parents will think the world is wrong. They might recognize it eventuallly, but by the time they do, the behavior is often part of the child's personality. It's very sad for the child. :(

I have a "look" and a tone of voice that children listen to. But I mean it, and children can tell the difference.

Ahhh Jeanie, my dad used to have 'the look' when I was young, it spoke volumes, like: "If you don't stop that right away you will die a slow and painful death" It worked! 8O
 

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I spent the weekend with family recently, and bit my tongue so often when it came to my nieces, I had to have it surgically reattached when I got back to San Diego. 8O

She wouldn't have listened and it would have put a damper on the weekend. It's a no-win situation sometimes.
 

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I thought this bore repeating. What a wonderful idea. I'm sure it would go over like a lead balloon, but if she could SEE what she is doing, without anyone telling her about it...it could be a very eye-opening situation for her.
Mom of 4 said:
Its a shame that you can't video tape her interacting with the kids as you described. Seeing it would make a huge impact.
...or she could get really peeved and "kill the messenger" who took the video. 8O Stay safe. Retreat to the safety cage where her teeth/claws cannot reach you!
 

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I've been thinking about this a little and I really don't think you can approach this by telling her that she's doing something wrong. I think it needs to be more subtle. Maybe initiate a conversation about the differences in the kids personalities..."gee it's really strange that Evie backs off, but Gavin throws fits, why do you suppose he's that way?". Maybe if you can have an intellectual conversation about them, rather than an emotional one it will sink in better. Hopefully she'll come around to the idea that he's acting the way he does because she's enabling him.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hmm..... So I'm thinking, from all of your thoughts, that it's better for me to just keep my mouth shut. I may be tired of being "mom #2" every day, but causing a rift in the family is not the right way to bring that to an end. I had thought for a while that if I got the right opportunity I could say "Sharon, I wish you could put yourself in my shoes and watch yourself with the kids for a day", but now I think I'm going to do my best to keep a lid on my thoughts and lead by example instead. Sometimes she will sit back and just observe if Gavin misbehaves and I handle it, so I can hope that she'll see I'm not doing anything awful to him and realize he can handle discipline.
 
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