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I feel very concerned about how my youngest granddaughter is 'allowed' to behave as she does?

(45 Posts)
greenmossgiel Sun 10-Jun-12 14:36:59

My youngest granddaughter who is nearly 13, is an only child, though does have 2 adult half-brothers on her father's side. My daughter had her when she was 34, and went back to work more or less straight away, with granddaughter being left with my other daughter, then with a childminder (who was very good, I hasten to add). However, (I will call her E), E's behaviour towards her parents, her mother especially. She more or less directs how things should be in the house and very regularly has outbursts of what only can be described as tantrums. She's very bright (above average, perhaps) at school and has a good circle of friends. My daughter commented yesterday that E is the 'odd-one-out' because she's the only one in her group of friends whose parents are still together and married. E has always favoured her father over her mum, and leans all over him on the sofa whenever they visit, while my daughter sits by herself on another chair. My SIL tells her to stop leaning (and sulking!) but after a while she starts again. This is just a small thing - the main thing is that she actively dislikes her mother and wants to exclude her from anything that she (E) does with her father. She told her mum that she wishes her dad would divorce her so that she would have to go away. Much of the time if SIL is out, E and her mother don't talk. If this was a sudden thing, I would put it down to her hormones, but it makes their house an unhappy one, and I know my daughter is very sad about it, and doesn't know how to change it. sad

Ella46 Sun 10-Jun-12 15:02:20

Gosh green that's a very sad situation. Has anything happened in the past that you know about?

Mishap Sun 10-Jun-12 15:04:58

How sad - and how difficult for you. Does your D discuss it with you? Does she ask your advice?
If not, I think there is nothing to be done - you have to keep schtum and just support your D all you can.
Decisions about how they bring GD up and deal with this situation have to be theirs - heaven knows I am fully aware of how difficult it is to stand back unless invited to comment or advise - but that is what we have to do!!!
The basic need is for the parents to tackle the situation in the same way and provide the girl with the security of a united front - but how tempting it must be for Dad to be the apple of his daughter's eye.

greenmossgiel Sun 10-Jun-12 15:35:14

Both my daughter and SIL speak about E's behaviour as if it's an 'issue' with her, and something they haven't been able to remedy. I think it all began because my daughter went back to work before they had properly bonded. I know that my daughter had never felt very confident when E was tiny, and to be honest, I really think she was glad to hand over the reins to others when she went back to work. Whenever possible her MIL would be asked to have E and to a certain extent, I think that's been part of the problem. Lots of the time people have walked on eggshells around her. She was referred to a child psychologist when she was about 8 because of her angry outbursts, and 'time out' was advised when she 'kicked off' (literally). This 'time out' took the form of putting her in her room, and not allowing her out until she quietened. This sounds quite awful, and it didn't really work, because, short of holding the door shut, she would burst out of the room again, and continue her tirade!
When she was small, and my daughter was trying to take her along to the childminder, she wouldn't let my daughter put her own shoes on. (This tells me that she didn't want my daughter to go work/take her to the childminder).
Over the years, E has really ruled the roost in the house. She decides what should be watched on television (and obviously those programmes are all rubbishy American teenage ones), but her parents put up with it and don't argue with her about it. What bothers me, also, is that E doesn't like to see (or suspect) any closeness between her parents. She tries to come between them all the time, and doesn't like to think of them even talking when she's not there.
Whenever I've had E to stay (they only live about 10 minutes away), I haven't had any difficulties with her behaviour. She knows what I say 'goes', - and that's final. And when she has spoken to me in a rude manner, I've immediately 'snipped' her for it, saying, "I beg your pardon, E?" Perhaps that's why she doesn't stay that often! When my daughter does talk to me about it, which she does often, I'm very careful not to actually advise, but it's not easy when your daughter tells you that her own daughter dislikes her intensely.

petallus Sun 10-Jun-12 15:35:47

I think your son-in-law could be doing something to help the situation, maybe showing solidarity with your daughter and discouraging your granddaughter in her behaviour towards him.

Easier said than done of course.

whenim64 Sun 10-Jun-12 15:39:42

I'd like to know what dad is doing to curb this unwanted (on mum's part) behaviour. He should be setting boundaries with his daughter and supporting mum. It is divisive to condone what his daughter is doing, and there could be negative consequences further down the line, when he has to put his foot down about something and she could perceive this as being rejected by the dad she thought she had wrapped round her little finger.

Both mum and dad need to agree that they are a team, deal with daughter's behaviour, and manage her hostile behaviour towards mum. It sounds like 'an elephant in the room' at the moment, rather than being identified so it can be dealt with.

If it's recennt behaviour, she could well grow out of it, but setting boundaries with her will help that process.

whenim64 Sun 10-Jun-12 15:40:29

Sorry green my post crossed with yours.

whenim64 Sun 10-Jun-12 15:43:08

green if your daughter is asking you about the issue, you could make some helpful suggestions without being seen as interfering. Your approach when grandaughter is with you is right - her mum needs to pick her up about it, too.

AlisonMA Sun 10-Jun-12 15:45:36

It sounds to me as if she has had her own way so long it will be difficult to change. Unless her parents are prepared to stand up to her and show their authority nothing will change. I don't have daughters but understand they are often closer to their father than mother but this does sound rather extreme.

I think they should pick their battles and when they do should unite and make sure they succeed.

Perhaps when a special occassion is coming up Mum and daughter could go shopping together to buy a special outfit? Surely she would have to be nice if she wanted something?

Perhaps mum can treat her abuse as kindly as possible and see how 'killing with kindness' works? Presumably mum is showing how she feels about all this which might be giving daughter some satisfaction.

I'm no expert but these are my ideas.

nanaej Sun 10-Jun-12 15:57:25

Have you asked your granddaughter about it? She is old enough and seems bright enough to talk about her feelings & behaviour. I would get the OK from DD and SiL first though!

whenim64 Sun 10-Jun-12 16:02:43

I have twin daughters (all four of my children were teenagers at the same time!) and they were quite stroppy and argumentative when they got to this age. It's not an exageration to sat that all my door frames were loose from the slammed doors and hissy-fits we endured whenever they were challenged or brought back into line. All the usual things like 'everybody except us is's not fair' It's so easy to just let things go for the sake of peace, but they take bigger liberties the next time. They both say that they knew just how far they could go with me, and the gestures like door-slamming were signs of them pushing their luck to see if they'd get away with it. They didn't!

We all remember what those times were like and both say they hope their children don't try it on like that. (They will!)

Butternut Sun 10-Jun-12 17:10:00

green - As you say, E sounds as if she is well on the way to well and truly ruling the roost, and will continue to take advantage of her situation unless there is concerted effort by both her parents, as a solid team, to provide boundaries around her behaviour. They are the adults.

You mentioned that E's behaviour has been going this way for quite some time, so it may take some time for her to realise that her behaviour will no longer work, IF her mum and dad stand firm together.

I am sure you've heard the expression divide and rule. Kids are very good at that.

It must be very tough on your daughter, but what does her husband have to say? Is it possible to discuss your concerns with them both together?

At the moment, I'm afraid it sounds as if they are not doing their daughter any favours in allowing this to continue, so I do hope, for all their sakes, that they can start addressing this difficult situation.

petallus Sun 10-Jun-12 17:14:55

Another thought! From personal experience I know that sometimes when this sort of behaviour occurs in a child it is in response to subtle and often unidentified tensions/power struggles going on between the parents.

Mishap Sun 10-Jun-12 17:43:34

This is so longstanding - they have let it go on for a long time and E thinks she is the boss! I have friends with a D exactly like this - now adult and left home. They love her dearly, but dread her visits - how very sad.

The only way forward really is for the parents to present a united front - "No, there is something we would like to watch on TV" etc. - and back each other up.

But if this is not what is happening and one or other partner is not willing to do this, then there really is little you can do - how very frustrating for you.

vampirequeen Sun 10-Jun-12 19:21:35

Maybe this is so ingrained in all of them that it needs more than a united front by the parents. I think they should consider family counselling because it's taken all three of them to get to this situation and it will take all three to change things.

greenmossgiel Sun 10-Jun-12 20:00:02

I think my daughter has realised that she should have made a stand earlier on in E's childhood. I think she's always felt a bit overwhelmed by her 'rather strong' MIL, who was very happy to 'take over' when it came to childcare, for all of her grandchildren. I feel that too much has been made of E's behaviour ('how shocking, etc!), and that if more of the bad behaviour had been ignored then better behaviour could have been encouraged. It may now be rather late to change tack, and I'm concerned that it may affect her parents' own relationship. Her father definitely needs to 'man-up', and support her mother. I'd like to think I was able to talk through things with E, but then think perhaps any good would be undone by too much being made of the 'actual need' for the talk.
Everything that everyone has said has echoed my own thoughts and feelings about it all. confused

j04 Sun 10-Jun-12 20:22:32

I don't think I would associate E's current behaviour with the fact that she was looked after by others when she was a baby tbh.

Are you sure the whole situation is as bad as you are making it out to be? You say she has a good circle of friends and does well at school. Well, that's really good. Isn't it quite normal for some girls to be 'daddy's girl' rather than mummy's?

It sounds as though your daughter has some unecessary guilt here, and is perhaps letting her have her own way too much because of that. Both parents need to 'man up' a bit and be firmer with her. But how you could possibly make them do that is beyond me.

Could she have her own television in her room so that there is no need for arguments about who watches what?

This does sound a lot like normal teenage rebellion. And most children of that age do not like to see to much in the way of shows of affection between their parents.

I think you just need to sit it out.

glammanana Sun 10-Jun-12 20:34:18

Green I do think that SIL should take a hand in this and support your DD more with the behaviour problem,I do think it should be tackled asap as your DGD will soon be on the road to thinking what she will be doing in later life and she will get more and more used to getting her own way and as you know this does not happen in the big world outside our homelife.I would also tend to not talk directly with your DGD about this behaviour as it could bounce back on you it is the place of her parents to stop it now,they will no doubt have to put up with tantrums when they set guidelines for her behaviour but they will have to tough it out for their own sake and for the future development of their child.don't these kids just try your patience I witnessed a similar strop with DGS3 to-day when he told my DD his eldest brother was spoilt and her favourite,this is the boy who has been adored since his first breath due to a difficult birth and very near loss of DDs life and he has been cossetted and loved ever since.If he wasn't so tall I would have boxed his ears but I can't you green

Anagram Sun 10-Jun-12 20:45:48

I find it difficult to understand how they can let a 13 year old dictate their TV viewing! Surely they could present a united front on that issue, it isn't doing the child any good to think that she is entitled to overrule any other member of the family.

Anagram Sun 10-Jun-12 20:47:29

I do sympathise, though, green - your DD must feel wretched. SIL should definitely be more supportive.

j04 Sun 10-Jun-12 20:48:32

I don't see any harm in talking to the girl about her behaviour and how she is upsetting her parents. You are her grandmother! If grannies can't advise children, I don't know who can.

greenmossgiel Sun 10-Jun-12 20:57:52

jingl, I'd really like to think that I was 'making it out to be as bad' as this, because it is actually as bad as this! I do agree though, that there's nothing I could do that could help matters, because I think there's been too much involvement from others, (and that their opinions have been listened to by E)! As glamma and others have said, I think certain standards have to be set, and both parents need to be seen by E to be standing by these. She's not a wee monster - she's a lovely young girl, but she's not been able to learn that 'No' means 'No' even if she wants to have a tantrum over it. hmm

j04 Sun 10-Jun-12 21:07:22

I didn't phrase that very well did I? Sorry.

glammanana Sun 10-Jun-12 21:10:42

green of course she is not a wee monster just a little girl growing up probably to quickly and really testing the water,I do think she will have a shock if her dad came down strong on the behaviour and stopped her having so much control,she is more than old enough to understand the conciquences if she doesn't comply with her parents.I would only interviene if my DD or SIL asked me to do so and then tred very carefully,does she have a good circle of friends at school and at home,do her elder brothers have give in to her every request ? She will grow out of this green I'm sure lets just make sure the parents are singing from the same hymm sheet on the "no" means "no" side of things.go and have a wine you deserve it.

Butternut Sun 10-Jun-12 21:12:16

Exactly green. If E has discovered that her behaviour benefits her, and hasn't been taught otherwise, then she will continue to be queen bee. I'm so glad to hear you say E is a lovely young girl. It's so important to look beyond the behaviour of youngsters. smile