How to Handle Family Members Parenting Your Child

The following is a guest post provided by, Melissa Lawrence, co-founder of  I think the subject of “relatives parenting” is one we can all relate to!  See her full bio at the bottom of the article.

How to Handle Family Members Parenting Your Child ~

Any parent with a large extended family knows this struggle…You’re at a huge family gathering and your child has been spoiled by your parents, your siblings, or extended cousins.

They’ve been feeding them chocolates and goodies that would be off-limits at home and are letting them get away with all sorts of mischievousness. After all, it’s not like they’re the parents!

Or is it the opposite with your family?

Maybe your relatives much more strict and disciplinary around your kids and you’re afraid your children will get confused by these mixed signals.

So how can you put your foot down and take control as their mom or dad, even when you’re not around to parent your kids?

Coming from a huge family myself, here are my tips on how to handle other family members parenting your child!

Tip #1:  Be Confident in Your Own Parenting

At the end of the day, you are the mother to your child.

You’ve been there since day one, taking care of all their needs, nursing their maladies, rocking them to sleep each night.

That is something your other family members can’t say about your children. And you can be sure your children will remember this as well.

If you know deep in your heart that you’ve done all you can to raise your child to be the best person they can be, you should have nothing to worry about during any family function.

Tip #2:  Use It As a Learning Opportunity

This goes for both your child and your family. Be clear and concise to your relatives before the family gathering (especially if it’s your child’s first) about some basic guidelines for the night.

Try to be straightforward, matter-of-fact, and rational as possible. For instance, you might ask them to not encourage snacking by offering them extra goodies after dinner has been served.

Or if they feel the need to discipline your child, make sure they know what’s acceptable and what’s off limits. Or, if you prefer, tell them to come directly to you if your child has gotten him or herself in trouble so you can handle the situation the way you would at home.

Also, it is very important for your relatives to be up to date on any specific concerns you have for your child, as far as their development or health is concerned. For instance, let them know of any allergies your child has or other unique concerns.

As for your child, go over rules of etiquette and table manners before the night to make sure the two of you are on the same page and remind them of the consequences if they get out of hand.

Tip #3:  Don’t Hover

Whatever you do, avoid turning into a paranoid helicopter mom!

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and if that village is your trusted extended family, lucky you!

Unless you really believe that your relatives will leave lasting psychological scars on your child, leaving them to watch your children for a bit will be more beneficial to them than not.

It’s a great way to expose them to other people who will have a huge impact on their lives as they grow up. It’s also a way for your children to learn how to act and react to different situations and styles of discipline.

Probably the worst thing you could do is constantly looking over their shoulder during these family events. This goes along with the first rule of being confident.

If your child sees that you are insecure about your own parenting, they might take this as an excuse to act out or break your household rules.

Well, there you go – my tips on how to handle other relatives parenting your kids. Stay confident in your parenting abilities and everything else will fall in place! Best of luck and enjoy your special time with your families!

MelissaMelissa Lawrence, co-founder of CloudMom, lives in New York City with her husband and 5 young children.  With a few parenting tricks up her sleeve, Melissa posts how-to videos and blogs for parents on a range of issues including baby, toddler, kids, fashion, travel, and well-being.  

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  1. Thank you so much for writing this article. My brother plans to have a kid in the next few years and I wanted to talk to him to make sure what methods he wants to use when parenting his child. It’s definitely an important discussion, especially since many people have different opinions. Some people are more laid back, while some are much more disciplined in their approach. I definitely agree that the parent has the last word, and children DO take heed of that.

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