DEAR ABBY: Wife worries her mother may cause discipline confusion

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

DEAR ABBY: I have two children. One is 6, and the other is an infant. My 6-year-old is kind but mischievous at times. I am a firm believer that children need loving parents, but also parents who discipline when it’s needed.

My mother recently came to live with me and my husband. She helps out a lot, but she is causing some confusion in our home. She doesn’t discipline my 6-year-old when needed. In fact, she often acts like a child herself when she should be acting like an adult. This issue causes my 6-year-old to sometimes be disrespectful.

When my husband and I hear the smart-mouth talk, we address it, but there’s only so much we can do when my mother won’t take an adult role. I have had several conversations with her about it, but nothing changes. I don’t want her to leave, but I’m afraid her attitude toward parenting and discipline will cause some real problems in my home. Please help. — DISCIPLINED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR DISCIPLINED: Continue the conversation with your mother. Explain that although she may think you are too strict with your older child, you are that child’s mother, and this is the way you want the child raised. Then tell her that if enforcing the rules is too much for her, she may have to find other living arrangements. Talk to your child, as well. Make sure he/she understands that the rules come from his/her parents and no one else.

I am troubled by your statement that your mother sometimes acts like a child. I wish you had mentioned why she’s living with you. If you suspect there’s a possibility she might be experiencing the onset of dementia, INSIST that she be evaluated by a physician and a neurologist to ensure that she’s well.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www. or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.