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Ryan LCSW, Mental Health
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 872
Experience:  Individual and Family Therapist
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I have a question about something that is happening in my

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I have a question about something that is happening in my family that is very upsetting. My parents babysit quite frequently for my brother and his wife. A month ago, my parents took their oldest child for a special week at Grandma and Grandpa's. She is seven years old. They had a great week. doing lots of special things. At one point during the visit, she (let's call her June), was misbehaving and my dad (Grandpa) tried to discipline her and told her she was not behaving well (he used a loud voice). My mom (Grandma) tried to soften things by telling June that she should stop being "naughty" as this was making Grandpa upset. They continued on and had a good rest of the visit.
While driving June back to her home, June mentioned that she felt kinda sad because people were always telling her she is annoying and she wishes that they lived in their old house and she doesn't like her new home. I mention this because my parents noticed that she seemed sad. She is a very intelligent little girl, who tends to worry and think about everything a lot more than your average seven year old.
Anyhow, after this visit my parents noticed that June did not want to get on the phone anymore and talk to them. My mom asked my brother what was going on with June. Finally, he recently told my parents that June was upset about something that happened during her visit. My mom thought it must be that Grandpa raised his voice at her. Instead it turns out June is very upset because my Mom used the word "naughty" in talking to June. Instead of my brother diffusing the situation by telling June how much my parents love her and what wonderful grandparents they are, he came back and told my parents that this was VERBAL ABUSE! And that they have to make it better because June does not want to see them again as she doesn't feel good about herself. I find this ridiculous and unbelievable! A side note of importance is that my sister in law does not like my parents very much, especially my mom. They have told Jade she has to sit down and have a meeting with my parents and talk about what happened. She, of course, does not want to come visit them.
I find this entire situation crazy and was hoping for some advice to give my parents on how to handle this situation. I am a parent of three children and I have disciplined them much more than just the word "naughty".
Thank you very much for any information.
Dazed and confused
Thanks for your question. My name is ***** ***** I'd like to help you out.

Despite the fact that your father raised his voice and the word 'naughty' was used, it does not seem like this would be considered verbal abuse. Even though this was very upsetting to June and may have made her avoidant of her grandparents, it is still important for her to be corrected for inappropriate behavior, and sometimes that does come at the expense of the child's feelings. Sometimes it is not possible to set boundaries without upsetting a child, however that does not mean that it is not appropriate to set those boundaries. As long as they are not ridiculing her or being unreasonably harsh on her, what you have described certainly doesn't sound like it would be considered abuse.

It does sound like it would be productive for June to talk with her grandparents in order to clear up any confusion, despite the fact that she may be reluctant to do that. This would be an appropriate time for your parents to reaffirm their love for her, and reestablish their relationship together. While her grandparents may want to be more sensitive to her nature in the future, it does not seem like they should have to apologize for correcting her behavior. Based on what you've said, it sounds like your parents did not mean any harm. However, they may still want to make it clear to June that they are not still angry, and that she can feel safe and comfortable spending time with them if they are given the opportunity to talk with June.

As far as them dealing with your brother, if he has alternative suggestions for how to handle situations where his daughter misbehaves, perhaps there is some type of compromise that can be reached between their two styles of discipline. Your parents may want to apologize for upsetting your brother, but it would not seem necessary to apologize for abuse when this seems more like a difference of philosophies or opinions, rather than a malicious action towards their granddaughter.

I hope that I've been able to answer your question and I certainly wish you the best. If there's anything else I can do to help just let me know.

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