Blake’s Advice Column
My mother recently came to live with me and my husband. She helps out a lot, but she is causing some confusion in our home. She doesn’t discipline my 6-year-old when needed. In fact, she often acts like a child herself when she should be acting like an adult. This issue causes my 6-year-old to sometimes be disrespectful.
When my husband and I hear the smart-mouth talk, we address it, but there’s only so much we can do when my mother won’t take an adult role. I have had several conversations with her about it, but nothing changes. I don’t want her to leave, but I’m afraid her attitude toward parenting and discipline will cause some real problems in my home. Please help.
From Raleigh, North Carolina
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It is unfortunate that your mother won’t take an active role in disciplining your son. The only thing I can suggest for you to do, is to start ruthlessly disciplining your mother as if she is six years old. Here are some ideas. If she ever talks back or uses profanity, rather than wash her mouth out with soap, yank out her dentures and soak them in dishwashing liquid. Or, do not let her watch any tv other than the Disney Channel or the Cartoon Network, and take away her cell phone so she cannot have access to the internet where she could see other grown-up stuff. Tell her if she needs to contact someone, she can use a landline or a handwritten letter sent through the Post Service. If you feel you need to use corporal punishment on your mother, tell her that you strongly believe in the Proverb that says “spare the rod and spoil the child”, so you’re going out to buy a baseball bat. My last suggestion is this. If she complains that you are being unreasonable, and demands that she be treated according to her age, then I think you should honor that request. So the first chance you get, leave her at the door step of an “orphanage” where there are other “children” her age. And keep in mind, that kids in orphanages and residences in nursing homes, are pretty much treated the same… including the bed wetters. I hope this helps.