Getting the worst offenders in your family on board

School’s out!  Woo hoo!  The holidays approach…

With all that looked-forward-to family time, is there a twinge of anxiety about how a certain person will behave?  There are often particular family members who are chronic offenders, who expect affection, steamroll over boundaries, or judge your approach to raising your child.

– Maybe it’s the grandparents, who take your child to the mall and insist on a photo with Santa…even though your child doesn’t want to sit on a stranger’s lap. 

– It could be an uncle who requires an affectionate greeting or goodbye. 

– Perhaps it’s your child, who swoops in, grabbing, wrestling, or kissing the little kids.

You’ve probably asked that person to be more respectful, but they’re not converted yet.  They don’t really believe their behavior is a problem.  You’ve tried direct confrontation, and it didn’t work.  Or you haven’t said anything, because you already know from past interactions that this person doesn’t shift that easily.

Does that mean everyone just has to put up with them?  No. 

Try this:

Find a children’s book on exactly the issue that’s coming up.  There are many on the children’s book list.  If you order a few and read the ones you like to your child, that’s great.

Even better though, is to vet the books and ask the chronic offender to be the one to read it to the child.  

Check it out: The one who needs the lesson most is suddenly the one teaching it.

This is a bit of a jujitsu move, actively addressing the problem, but not exactly confronting.  Instead, you’re enlisting the other person’s help, asking them to enforce the higher standard which they themselves sometimes don’t meet.

They couldn’t do it on their own, but the book provides the script, and now they’re getting and delivering exactly the right message.

There are lots of issues you can handle this way:

  • Have your 8 year old read C is for Consent to your 3 year old, so both of them learn that affection is invited, not demanded.
  • Ask your teen to read Good Pictures Bad Pictures with your 11 year old.  Now both of them are learning about pornography.
  • Show the neighbor the Body Boundaries poster up in your child’s bedroom and ask them to inform you if anyone breaks the rules.
  • Have your mother in law read Tell Me about Sex, Grandma to your 6 year old, so that both learn that sex doesn’t have to be a taboo topic.

It is not too late to order a few books and get them under the Christmas tree, ready to be unwrapped and read with the whole family.

Give it a go and tell me how it turns out!

In support of you,

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