In last month’s P4P Coaching & Care Circle call, Sarah shared an experience
she’d had with a relative that involved inappropriate discussion in the presence of
Sarah’s 4-year-old. The relative felt insulted, so Sarah followed up with a
letter, which she has “genericized” to share as a resource with the P4P community.

I think it’s important to state that the discussion was not about a negative
behavior, but rather, the child’s choice of clothing in the moment. You can hear the whole story here — and I’ll bet you can relate:

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5 Tools for Transforming from Stressed Out to Sane & Centered | Marcy Axness PhD

Letter Template: Parenting Boundaries with Those We Love

Dear <mother, mother-in-law, nosy neighbor, or whomever>,

Hope you are well and had a good (week/week-end/evening/whatever is appropriate). I just wanted to clear the air regarding the incident on (where it happened/when), when you were speaking with (child’s name) and me.

I am sorry you feel criticized by me, when you make certain comments directly to (child’s name). I know you are her (relationship, eg. Grandma), but please understand that (spouse/partner) and I are raising (him/her) in a very specific way. When we respond to your comments to (child’s name) and you perceive it as criticism, it truly is not meant to be that. It is merely redirection from a topic we prefer not to discuss, with an understanding of how we use language around (him/her)

(Spouse/partner) and I are trying our best to be mindful of the words we use in front of (child’s name), and trust me–we are always redirecting one another in the process as well! And while either of us might feel criticized in those moments, we try and hold the bigger picture of our parenting vision. It’s not about finding perfection as parents, but we are always striving to become more aware in our parenting skills and the messages we are conveying to (child’s name). As you know, these messages stay with us for soooooo long.

With that said, referencing (the incident) and whether or not (child’s name) is doing (the situation!), has come up before in our conversations. (child’s name) is totally unaware that (the situation!) is anything other than what it is! (Child’s name) doesn’t associate a feeling, or anything to it. (Child’s name) is just BEING. 

I have expressed this to you before, that we don’t want (child’s name) to feel anything shameful, bad or odd about (the situation!). Please understand, I am not implying you were intentionally doing this at all. I know you weren’t. I’m just explaining our perspective on this.

(child’s name) is only a toddler and when it’s age appropriate (she/he) will know what to do, because we will guide (child’s name). We are just protecting (her/his) conscious and subconscious feelings about (the situation!) as she grows up. It’s nothing personal! 🙂

Also, the reason I wanted so adamantly to get off the Skype call is because of the way the conversation was veering once you did feel criticized.  It was not appropriate to be having that exchange with (child’s name) present with us on Skype. Sorry if I sounded abrupt, but this should be happening away from her witnessing, and just between you and me.  

I see this as a great way for us to more clear in our communication as we move forward. I know you want nothing but the best for (child’s name), and (she/he) loves you so much! 

I hope this helps you have a deeper understanding of our parenting perspective, and I know you always mean well.

Sending you much love,

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