Family, those we are related to and those we acquire through marriage, have a place in our lives. Sometimes their presence enriches us and sometimes it doesn’t. But if we stick together, we build a rich shared history.
I was talking with a friend who has a father-in-law who is…managing. What makes this trait unbearable is its impact on her two lovely children. It seems, let’s call him George, has forgotten that he is the grandfather not the father.
George needs a little lesson in boundaries.
Why? At meal times, George likes to tell his grandchildren how to sit, what to eat, how much to eat, when they may be excused and any other rule he can think of at the moment. During play, George likes to direct behaviors from an easy chair by pointing and bossing.
My friend has had it and is ready to confront George. While she definitely has a right to stop this ridiculous behavior, George is not going to change unless he has a full fledged intervention.
The intervention of choice for this situation is “I got this.” Here is how “I got this” works. It really is simply genius.
George (at the dining room table): “You need to sit down.”
My friend to George: “I got this.” Then to the kids: “Kids, at our home it is okay to kneel on your chair to reach for your cup.”
George (at the dining room table): “You need to say excuse me.”
My friend: “I got this.” Then to the kids: “It is nice to say excuse me when you burp.”
George (in easy chair directing 4 year old how to read): “Point to each word on the page!”
My friend: “I got this.” Then to her son “You are doing such a wonderful job reading the story. Keep going.”
Now George is a crusty old sort of guy who will need many, many examples of “I got this” plus more. No, I am not talking about a slap aside the head. At times, my friend will have to add additional words to the “I got this” campaign such as:
- “I got this. You get to be the grandparent and I get to be the parent. How nice.” or
- “I got this. You just enjoy the children, I will take care of the discipline.” or
- “I got this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts but there was no need. I saw what they did and I will talk to the kids when I am alone with them later.”
When we focus on changing our own behavior, we may foster change in someone else’s. And maybe not. Either way, my friend’s voice will be heard instead of sitting helplessly while her children are being bossed by a man who has forgotten that he is in his golden years and should be enjoying his days not directing everyone else’s.