Q: How can we parent effectively when so many of our friends and relatives have values that conflict with ours? This is especially tough when we’re all together for the holidays.
A: We would encourage you to begin by making sure that everyone in your household is absolutely clear about the values, priorities and spiritual perspectives that define you as a family. Take the time to provide your children with easily understandable reasons for the rules you live by, and equip them to graciously, but confidently, articulate these principles themselves when asked.
Once this is done, you’ll be better positioned to deal with these challenges when your children spend time in homes where the standards and convictions differ from your own. If you run into conflicts, humbly tell the friends or relatives concerned that while you love them and respect their feelings, it’s your responsibility to raise your children in the way you feel is right.
Naturally, you should try to understand the motivations behind their behaviour. If it’s obvious they’re contradicting you out of pure spite or simple lack of concern, don’t hesitate to limit future visits until things change. But if it seems clear that they really love your children — if, for instance, it’s a case of doting grandparents who dole out too many sweets in an attempt to gain a place in their grandchildren’s affections — then look for creative ways to defuse the situation by enlisting them as members of your “team.” Explain that you’re trying to raise your children according to a certain set of standards, and that you won’t be able to succeed without their cooperation and assistance. They’ll probably jump at the chance to help you out.
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