Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

Bratty Behavior in Public Stresses Aunt

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My sister and I have always helped each other out ever since we were kids. Now that we’re both married and living near each other, she sometimes asks if I can watch her two kids, my seven-year-old niece and five-year-old nephew. Since my sister is now pregnant with number three, I think it’s important that I am available to support her.

The problem is, and an aunt maybe shouldn’t say this, but the two kids act like brats in public when they don’t get their way. My sister usually either ignores them or caves if it'll shut them up. I don’t think that’s the way to go, and when I try to hold firm and not give into their tantrums, I get dirty looks and nasty comments from other adults about how I can’t control “my kids.” It’s really to the point where I don’t want to take them out, but how does that help my sister?

I know eating out may not be an issue for a while yet, since our state is on carryout only (when you can find an open restaurant at all), but once things get back to normal, what do I do to get these kids to behave when we’re out? --- TRYING TO BE A GOOD AUNTIE

DEAR TRYING TO BE A GOOD AUNTIE: “Getting back to normal.” That sure sounds good to me!

Unfortunately, your sister has set the example of placating her children when they misbehave. They know they’ll get what they demand, and now they want to train you like they’ve trained their mother.

It isn’t your job to parent your niece and nephew, but you can be both the supportive sister and the good aunt if you set rules and expectations for how the kids are to behave when in your care. If they hit you with, “But our mom lets us,” your response is a firm, “I’m not your mom.”

Instilling a little good behavior in her children could be one of the best things you could do for your sister. Two kids are a hard job to begin with. Once it’s three against one, your sister won’t stand a chance.

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