Potential Child Discipline Tangles

I am the beneficiary of three delightful grandchildren. With ages ranging from six months to 3½ years, these are busy days. The two oldest children belong to my son and daughter-in-law; the baby is the first child of my daughter and her husband. Each grandchild has his/her own special and distinct personality and they keep Ma and Pa hopping on the days that we visit or babysit. The role of grand-parenting is a fun and exciting challenge.

I suppose the only potential issue that might arise between kids, parents, and grandparents is discipline. While our older son has a casual approach which works other than during exhausted and exhaustive meltdowns, our daughter plans to take a much stricter role with her daughter from the outset. With 250 miles dividing the families, disagreement on parenting techniques rarely arises other than in the “go-between” conversation that one sibling might have with me about the behaviors and reactions of the other. As Mom to both I try to nod, agree or disagree, while trying to keep the situation amicable. So far this has served me well, but two upcoming family vacations have me a bit on edge.

The first arrives this June when we plan to spend eight days at our rustic cabin. Built in the late ’30s, we have added conveniences like running water and a toilet, but there is not much privacy. The bedroom is used for storing suitcases and belongings, the open dining room and living room are the general gathering locales for breakfast and games, and we all sleep together on the sleeping porch. We have a lovely beach just down the hill which we share with my sister who has a cabin next door. There is room for all of us, but will it be enough if there is a disagreement on children’s moods and behaviors? I thought all went well last summer, however, we had two kids instead of three, a toddler and baby sister as opposed to two toddlers and a one-year old. A discussion in advance is in order but as a peacekeeper this will not be an easy role for me. Can’t everyone give-and-take and just get along?

I am thinking a designated quiet time in the morning is in order so parents can sleep as I grab the little ones and head out for a hike. Breakfast must be a sit-down-and-eat affair with no snacks to follow. Lunch on the beach must be simple and an afternoon rest or nap will be a requirement for all of us. Dinner, again, requires simplicity, and an established bedtime for kids is an unlikely but desirable wish. Perhaps a schedule for cooking, cleaning up, and other tasks will help. I must also add to the “big talk” list that we all discipline with our own style and we must be receptive and aware that one’s ideas do not necessarily match those of the other family members. If we have zero tolerance of screaming and fighting I think we will survive. Our cabin is wonderful and it would be terrible not to be able to share this time with those I love every summer until forever.

I have watched other families disintegrate over disagreements and I do not want to witness that with my own children. My sisters and I get along fairly well, knowing when to gather and when to take quiet, private time away and so I think my own kids should be able to figure this out as well. Input from readers will be valued. Please send me a note.