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  1. #1
    kijip is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    Default My son really does NOT like his uncle

    T said something very rude to his uncle today. Later when I was talking to him about it, he put forth several reasons why, mainly boiling down to T seeing uncle yell at his two year old cousin. He sees this as mean. FWIW, while I really agree with T that uncle is way too harsh with his 2 year old daughter I have never said anything about it to T or as far as I know when T is in earshot. Honestly, I have chatted about it with both my brother (uncle's partner) and my husband. My brother blowing off a little steam to me and w/my husband, just us ruminating on how it seems to stress out my brother and how tightly wound he can be in general. T formed his opinion from his own observations.

    There are a few truths here:

    -T can't be rude to his uncle.

    -My brother's family's parenting style is their business (the children are not being abused or neglected, just held to unrealistic expectations and my BIL tends towards yelling when his expectations are not met).

    -I need T to not be rude to his uncle but also I need to not have T think that I am condoning my BILs behavior.

    I have tried the "they do things one way, we do things another way". Honestly, we yell in our house too sometimes but for my BIL it's the first tool in his box and he is yelling at a 2 year old about doing things that are totally reasonable for a 2 year old to be doing. T is 6 and sees it plain as day and even articulated why he thinks the yelling my uncle does is different than yelling here "Cousinname is only 2", "Unclename gets mad really fast" and "It's not fair to only yell". Still I am cautious of telling T that I agree with him because I don't want him to feel like that means I am condoning T's rude behavior. OTH, I feel like I need to respect his discomfort with my BIL. WWYD in this situation? ETA: complicating the issue is that T is really tunnel vision here and only seeing this in his uncle and not anything positive anymore.
    Last edited by kijip; 08-30-2009 at 01:48 AM.
    Katie, mama to a pair of boys.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    East Coast


    What about some of your own words:

    "I understand why you feel the way you do, but your cousin is not being abused or neglected and you need to speak and behave politely with your uncle."

    And maybe a follow up to his uncle with a note of apology, including a mention of some things T genuinely likes about him. And then I'd drop it.

    I would remind him before the next time they are together how he is supposed to act and what he can do if he is frustrated by uncle's behavior. That might take some brainstorming.... should T leave the room, come to you, offer to play with the cousin, say something positive about the cousin... "I know she gets into things, but she is such a good explorer!" Or maybe signal his discomfort to you in some way and you can verbally stick up for cousin/diffuse situation, since you'll be smoother with words than T can be.
    Advice and commentary on living overseas

    DD1 15, DD2 12, and DS 9

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006


    Do you think you could explain to him the idea that if you want to influence/change someone else's behavior you need to do it "with honey", or at least in a non-confrontational way? (I ask b/c T is so bright, I wouldn't necessarily think all 6 year olds would be ready for this.) So, maybe you could validate his concerns but explain that #1 it is unacceptable to be rude to his uncle/elders... and #2 you understand why he was upset and #3 yelling at someone/being rude to them is very unlikely to effect the change you want?
    DD '06
    DD '14

  4. #4
    JTsMom is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Atlanta, GA


    That is tricky. Did T have a pretty good relationship with him before all of this started? I'm wondering if it could be very gently approached (either with your brother, or w/BIL directly) that T is sensitive to yelling in general, and NOT make it about parenting, and is there any way it could be toned down a bit when he's around b/c the relationship is really important to you and to T. I don't know BIL of course, so I'm not sure if he'd be receptive to something like that or not.

    Otherwise, I think I'd go with the suggestion above about trying to give T some ways to handle it, along with a talk about how some people yell, and don't realize there is a better way to get a point accross, but that uncle really loves cousin, and is a great parent in other ways, we all have flaws, blah blah blah.
    Mom to Jason 05/05
    and Zachary 05/10

  5. #5
    KpbS's Avatar
    KpbS is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    Maybe you could just say you know, "I don't like it when he yells either" and use the opportunity to talk about how some people don't have very good coping skills. Talk about self control and anger. I would just try to identify and isolate the behavior from the person in hopes that T will become less sensitive to it and perhaps the uncle will adjust his expectations concerning the 2 yo.

    Not sure how often you interact w/ the extended family but it may be a good time to have a little space. I agree w/ a PP about speaking to either the uncle or your brother about how the yelling is bothering T (I imagine that soon it will be upsetting to F as well--as many babies are very sensitive to harsh tones and shouting.)

  6. #6
    Gena's Avatar
    Gena is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Ohio, USA.


    I think it's okay to explain that T doesn't have to like Uncle X, but Uncle X is still family and needs to be treated with respect. We don't always like the things our family members do, but we still have to be polite and kind to them; that's just part of being in a family.

    Sometimes people yell for different reasons and sometimes they yell for reasons that we do not. That doesn't make them bad people, it means that they communicate differently. Some ways of communicating are better than others, but sometimes people don't know a better way.

    I understand how you feel. We have similiar sorts of issues with DH's family.

    DS, age 11 and always amazing

    “Autistics are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg." - Paul Collins, Not Even Wrong

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Pacific Northwest


    First I would be proud that DS doesn't like BIL for a fair reason (I don't think I would like him either if he's such a screamer). I would remind him to be polite, answer questions when asked etc but I wouldn't try and force a relationship. I think you should say to BIL that DS doesn't like it when he yells at DN and maybe tone it down when he's around DS. I think its important to let DS know his feelings are important and not try and tell him not to feel such and such because they are honest and appropriate.
    DS 5/26/05
    DS 5/12/07 our angel
    DD 4/8/08

    Moralizing and morals are two entirely different things and are always found in entirely different people. Don Herold

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008


    I think Sarah hit the nail on the head. I would take it a step further and venture that it IS verbal abuse. I grew up with a screaming mom, and DH has an unfortunate habit of screaming over little things. I've been forcing him to confront that habit, because I am determined that my kids won't grow up in the kind of environment that I grew up in. It is especially unfair to your nieces to get yelled at over something that is beyond their control.

    Your son's reaction kind of reminds of the time, years ago, when I watched a horse kick a person because that person had been abusive to another horse...

    Mom to:
    DD#1 3/07
    DD#2 10/08

    and "Bonus Mom" to:
    DSS #2

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    New York, USA.


    I have no good advice. I just wanted to say that I am so impressed with your son's emotional reaction (not necessarily his behavior to BIL). Sounds like you have the makings of a fine young man there.
    DD1 - 1996
    DD2 - 1999
    DD3 - 2005

    Surfaces are for working, not for storing. - Peter Walsh

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    I have only to add this - that I don't believe we should deny what our conscience tells us. If T's conscience was telling him that his cousin getting yelled at was wrong and he acted to try and make things better, then as pp's have said you have a fine young man.

    Now, you just have to instruct T on the proper ways of following one's conscience. Maybe say "It is okay for you to have those feelings, but are there any other ways you can think of that you could have handled the situation better?"

    Then brainstorm things he could have done differently if he thought his cousin was being mistreated.

    It is an admirable trait to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, especially to have it engrained so young at age 6. Good job mama. You should be proud.
    DD 10/6/08
    DS 9/10/13

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