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« Q&A: having a baby--worth it or not? | Main | Q&A: 18-month-old tantrums »



My mom calls the verbalizing of assumptions 'calling the game in the moment'. It really works. Works on grownup-to-grownup interactions, too.

I'll vote with not forcing any child into physical demonstrations of affection. My dad's family were all big 'hug and kiss the grandparents' folks. My grandma kissed on the mouth. We used to call her Liver Lips, because the kisses were always cold, wet, and sloppy. And her hugs felt like being trapped. I had one cousin who I was told to hug who responded 'Oh, if she doesn't want to hug me, that's okay - she can just wave if she likes.' I *WORSHIPPED* her from that moment on. She respected me.

IMHO, you get a lot more love out of respect than you do by force. Granted, I understand the urge to hug them, squeeze them, pinch their cheeks, etc. But we're the grownups, it is our job to be in control of ourselves.


I've had those comments from my inlaws ever since my son was born, and it *really* bothers me (I'm a non-confrontationalist and I confronted them about how it bothers me!). I know they're kidding, but they say it all.the.damned.time. Every time they visit they say it constantly and joke about taking him away or taking him home. He's 2, so I'm not too worried about his reaction right now, but I don't want my kids to grow up thinking they can escape (Mommy, Daddy, home, etc) by running away to Grammy's house (cause she's always saying she'd like to steal him away, so...).

I'm still not sure how to address the situation.


I LOVE your approach to people speaking to your kids in a threatening manner. I haven't had to do that yet, but with a curious, smiley, "I love the world" little girl it's going to happen soon. NOW I know a use for my camera cell phone!

I also love your point about empowering kids to respect physical boundaries. My brother and sister in law are always telling my nephew to give me a kiss and hug, and he generally resists (he doesn't see me often enough to feel comfortable at the beginning of a visit). I always tell him he doesn't have to, but could he blow me a kiss/give me five/pound it (the fist-tapping thing) instead. I want to make sure he isn't made to feel like he's hurting my feelings, and make giving each other a greeting a silly game instead. I don't want to go all preachy on his parents but also want to reinforce with him he has every right to refuse to hug me or anybody. (I have the opposite problem with Maggie--she hugs random strangers).

I don't think there's anything wrong with talking to a kid, though, is there? I'll often see little kids in the grocery store or whatever and smile at them or compliment them. I think they deserve to be spoken to directly, not talked at through adults. Of course, I don't say anything negative or scary.

And Kelly, my parents do the same thing and it irritates me! I know it's just becasue they love her and want to be around her all the time, but DO NOT JOKE about stealing my child!

Lisa V

People used to do this to us all the time at my grandma's retirement home. "I'm just going to take that baby home!" I knew they were old and it would cause a rucus so I never said anything, but I would assure Mallory that I would never let anyone take her sister anywhere, and it was the ladies weird way of saying they were cute. She got so she even rolled her eyes. I never let her hug anyone. I would just say "She is shy." and keep moving.


When my mother was a kid, if a visitor said they'd like to take her home, she go and start packing her stuff. She must have been older than toddler age, though. Hearing her tell the story, it never ocurred to me before that it was probably a good disincentive for people to say that again.


I disagree about telling kids that no one will ever take them away. That's not a promise you can make good on. I remind my children frequently that they need to be aware of strangers and to yell and scream like banshees if someone even approaches them. With two of them (and #3 coming) it's hard to keep an eye on both of them at once in the park, for example, so they've been schooled in the art of stranger anxiety and the "puppy trap". They are not fearful due to this inculcation... they still happily go off and play, but they are aware that not everyone in life means them good will.

This, of course, does not address the semi-acquaintance quality of the nursing home staff, but I think telling your kids "no one will ever take you" could prove to be a fallacy.


It's never too early to reinforce your children's rights to have their physical boundaries respected.

We have this issue with my father's new girlfriend, who is Chinese (I don't know if that has any bearing on the issue). She will literally shove me out of the way to get to my sixteen-month-old daughter, who doesn't want to be held by her or my father. She needs time to get used to them and they both force themselves on her, but his girlfriend is definitely much worse. My dad will back off if I say she's not ready to be picked up yet, but his girlfriend ignores me. I don't want to get into a baby tug-of-war!

It's slightly complicated by the fact that she babysits for my husband and me one night a week so we can get out for some couple-time. I don't want to lose our free babysitter! The kids are always asleep when she arrives so she doesn't get much face-to-face time with either of them, but she's fixated on poor wee Amy.


I get this all the time from my mother, and it irritates me. At least my son is still too young to understand, but it annoys me to no end. I've seen her do it with other children in the past, and sometimes, if they do try to go with her, and she says, no, no, next time, the kid starts wailing. I've pointed this out to her - that she shouldn't say things she doesn't plan to deliver, but with my son, she would love to do take him away, anyway, so she keeps telling him. I really don't want to get in a fight about this, but I really don't want him getting scared about this when he is older. And it makes me wonder what she tells him on the few occassions she baby-sits.

And what is it about random strangers coming up to touch kids? I keep my son in a backpack carrier, and in supermarkets, walking down the street, I have random people pinching his cheeks, holding his foot or hand. Just because a baby smiles at you is not permission to touch him. I can use suggestions on how to stop that, as well.


I am so glad you addressed this issue.,My in laws live out of state, and consequentlywhen they see the kids they are really agressively affectionate with them. The kids also don't know them real well as as a result, and it takes them a bit of time to warm up. My son is very attached to me, and they would and still do literally take him out of my arms when they walk in the door. When he protests, loudly by crying or now saying mama!, they run to anoother room with him. I have always wanted to take him back, but they truly run away from me and tell me he has to "get used to it" and he has "too much mommy'. My MIL was so invasive at one point on his first birthday, that he was terrifoed of her, and so they would trick him by having my sil take him from me, then sneak around teh corner at their designated meeting place and hand him over to my mil,so that I could not rescue him without a full on confrontation and chase. Vety strange and stressful, I wish they would just get it. It infuriates me because I know it is my job to make him feel safe. I have tried everything I can think of- telling them he has separation anxiety and that it is a normal stage, giving him space to warm upand suggesting they watch him play for a bit, finally just telling dhto get him back. I refuse to shop withthem when they visit because I've losthim twice- my fil left us and went somewhere else, we had to track him down after a half hour. I wish they would just understand that he will come to love them naturally, even moreso if he feels safe. Instead I have been labeled as the bitchy dil who is overly possesive and needs to be outsmarted.


Wow, I was thinking about this this weekend--we were in a public space and this guy walked up to my 2 1/2 year old and said "hi beautiful"..."can I get a smile" and then tried to tickle her tummy and kept it up when she shied away. Seriously, for all the world like some construction site jackass harassing me. I told him to back off and respect her boundaries. Turns out he was mall staff trying to sell something. Creeeepy.

I only kind of agree that you should talk to kids without going through their parents--I think it's OK to say hi or wave, followed by an *immediate* acknowledgement of the parent, i.e. "cute kid, would she like to say hi to my dog" etc. Otherwise, I tend to assume that you're either threatening or clueless, in neither case do I want you talking to my kid.


Spell it out, politely. I think that people who don't have young children don't get what is confusing to young children, and (depending on the person), you can usually just explain it.

We have a big, huge, sturdy dog, and her dog walker pats her in a pretty aggressive hit-like pat (which she loves). He did it once when our 2 year old was around, and I explained that that's a bit confusing for a kid who is being taught that we never hit dogs or people. His response was something like "Duh, what was I thinking?"

So I think that in the "I want to take her home" situation I'd probably explain that we're trying to teach our daughter about safety and about the importance of not going home with strangers, and that joking words to the contrary are really confusing to a kid. I'd hope that any reasonable person would get it.


It's one thing if a stranger with whom I am having some sort of an interaction (i.e. the grocery store checker, a mom I'm chatting with on the playground) talks to my toddler, quite another if a random stranger starts in. But even in a grocery store checker situation my daughter generally doesn't respond to them -- her impulse is to turn to me for support. I *hate* it when the stranger persists in trying to get some response, despite my telling them that she's shy and doesn't like talking to people she doesn't know. Some people just won't take that for an answer, and consider it some sort of challenge to get her to smile or whatever.


Thank you all! Thinking about this objectivley has made me realize that I do have to do exactly what you've all said; gently but firmly let the person know that it's not appropriate. It's one thing if I don't stand up for myself, but I have to stand up for my kids, even if I end up coming across as rude or over-sensitive.


I often engage with kids around the place. I'm a fairly freaky looking person (piercings, funny-coloured hair with shaved bits, etc), and kids usually want to stare (toddlers sometimes stop crying when I walk past, they're so startled). I often wave or smile to them, and if their parent is looking in my direction, acknowledge them as well.
This is alongside being someone who helps parents get prams up & down stairs, stands up to let little kids or their parents sit down, and generally tries to make parents & kids feel welcome in public.
The line between being welcoming & friendly to children and being stranger-danger intrusive is tricky. Teaching kids that strangers mean them well is not the safest thing in the world, I know.
If a universal consensus of parents decided that I was endangering their children by smiling, waving or occasionally responding to funny-faces, I'd stop straight away, but it'd be a shame.
(People who in non-emergency situations touch kids without parental permission should be told off without hesitation, by the way).


Callie, if it were me in that situation I would have reported my son missing to the police and let my FIL explain to the authorities why he'd taken the boy without my knowledge or permission. Not so great for Thanksgiving dinner, but it would have made the point. Relative kidnapping is still kidnapping under the law.

What does your partner do? If this is his family doing this borderline psycho behavior, it needs to be him standing up to them to tell them that terrorizing his child is not acceptable and that if they expect to have any contact with you all they'll respect you and they'll respect your son.

Let's all guess how much your son will want to hang out with his grandparents when he's older.


Callie, for a similar issue (boundaries crossing), I simply had to tell my relatives that they would not be welcome if they continued. Period.

YOU have the control, YOU are the parent. If the MIL 'steals the child' then they are booted out the door. Go find a hotel to stay at, you are not welcome here if you cannot abide by MY rules, period. I'm the mommy, now, not you. I get to decide if my child has 'too much mommy'. Period.

Your MIL is teaching your child to allow strangers to assault him without complaint. You can ask her if this is the lesson she intends to teach, as it is the lesson she is giving. She may mean to only teach 'you must tolerate family even if you don't see them much' - but that's not how it translates to a child. I do hope you can put an immediate stop to that behavior (especially with holidays coming up). I learned to allow adults to tromp on my boundaries. I also ended up sexually abused by a few of those adults. Including an uncle who insisted on picking us up every time he visited (rarely). My mom never stood up to it. I knew to my bones that whatever trespass he perpetrated was 'allowed' as a result. I didn't tell my mom, in large part because I knew there was no point - she'd never asked him to stop before!

Okay, severe illustration of the point, but the point remains. Allowing others to tresspass on children's boundaries is a bad pattern to permit.


My child responds best to my attitude, not my words. If I flippantly dismiss a threat (a loud noise, a seemingly scary person who I can see is not scary), he senses the lack of importance I'm placing on it, and bounces back immediately, with relief. Of course I acknowledge his fears, but I don't delve into them.

Just today an older man was walking along side us and he lightly laughed and reached out to my son's rear end. "Losing your pants, Little Man!" he said, and sure enough, Max's pants were halfway down his diaper. But Max has a healthy suspicion of strangers, and as the man's body entered his space, he jumped forward and got over to the other side of my body. I laughed to make the guy feel okay -- he wasn't trying to be a heel, and I said, loud enough for him to hear, "Oh dear, did that scare you? Don't worry. He wasn't trying to hurt you! He just wanted to help you get your britches up!" The relief in Max's face was palpable, and he lit up. "Yeah, he was just helping my pants!" And the guy waved as he turned the corner, calling out, "Sorry to scare you, Buddy!"

What if I had launched into a snotty diatribe saying, "I'm sorry that mean man scared you, Max. He had no right to invade your personal space. People should know better." A) My son would have been confused, and probably sat in his car seat and thought about the scary incident for half an hour longer, and B) The guy would probably have yelled at me to lighten the hell up, already (out of embarrassment and defensiveness), and he'd have been right.

In the case of someone saying with a smile, "Oooh, I could just bundle you up and take you home!", how about not taking it literally -- NOT falling to the level of the confused 3-year-old, and dismissing it in a light-hearted way, explaining that it is just an expression and that it doesn't mean that the person actually plans to take the child home forever, but that they like them so much they wish they had could play and talk with them for a long time, or that they had a child just like her.

Kids want simple answers to their fears. And to be honest, making such a big deal of it would make most kids think there was something sinister to be afraid of, despite your reassurances. Finally, I think it's in the worst taste imaginable and also really childish to scold the person making the comment in a veiled dialogue with your child.

In case anyone gets into their head I don't think stranger fear is beneficial, I do. My son knows that if someone he doesn't know asks him to come anywhere near them when I'm not with him, he should turn and run away.

Moxie, is your advice to Callie serious? How about instead, she sits down with her son and prepares him, not by saying he'll have to put up with something bad when the grandparents visit and want to "take him away", or by stressing about it or taking on the attitude that she has to "rescue" him from his grandparents, but by ramping up the excitement that they're coming, by showing him photos a lot and making an effort to talk to him about how some people are really loud and huggy and while it is a little scary at first, they are family and safe to be with? She doesn't say, by the way, if after finding the FIL after half an hour, her child is upset or has indeed warmed up to them, albeit without Callie there to watch every move. I dislike my MIL intensely -- but I don't fear for my child when he's with her, not at all. I think she's too strident. But when she comes over, I first prepare him and then remove myself, so they can work out their own relationship. Yes, he turns to me and says in an unsure voice, "Mama?" But I smile big and say, "You're okay! Dad and I will be out back, you guys have fun playing with cars!" (or whatever), and after a few minutes of reticence, he starts talking and playing with her just fine. Even though he's only three, unless I am actually fearful for him, I can't control everything he experiences. Kids who have (normal levels of) separation anxiety can only get over it one way: to get separated a few times, with a safe person, and realize that "Hey, I'm okay without my Mom."


This is Callie again. Thank you for the comments on our situation with my in-laws. I feel that both sides are somewhat extreme- I can't honestly call the police because my overbearing fil has taken my son to another part of the mall, but yet I also cannot sit down with a toddler and reasonably explain that when adults who are related to us visit, they might be overwhelming and take him away from me before he is ready, but not to be scared or stressed out. For the record, our son will be two in a few weeks, and he is comfortable with me leaving him with people he knows. He is not comfortable with being taken from my arms when family he doesn't know shows up from out of state once every few months (which is forever to a toddler), bypasses any greeting to either us or him, reaches out and takes him from my arms and says "give me the boy." On top of not letting him warm up to the company again, they remove him from the room that either I or my husband is in. As he screams or cries (and the incidents I wrote about previously he was one year old or under), they do not bring him back into our sight, they merely say, he'll have to get over it. We agree, but feel that they need to respect his boundaries and feelings, and I know he will come to love them and enjoy their company if they do this. It's interesting that Julie noted that they needed to escape my watchful eye- I think that is how they too, look at the situation. From my perspective, I understand they might feel this way and I feel sorry for it, but it has happened because of the defesive position I feel I have been put in, to comfort my child and not turn away when he needs reassurance. To be truthful, I have let them walk all over me and have not done a good job helping my son when they visit. I am worried that they will think I am a possessive overprotective dil. When in my heart I do feel possessive and protective, especially when he cries out for comfort or reassurance. We look at their pictures weekly, and I (not my dh!) call them and let him hear their voices, I send them copies of nearly every single picture I ever take of the children. Still, somehow it is not enough to calm the urgency they feel when they see him enough to show respect to both his feelings and mine. I know Julie said she has no qualms about their being with the kids alone, and I really have mixed feelings about this after all that has transpired. I feel that they do not respect his boundaries, and so do I want him in their care? On the other hand I feel they did such a good job raising their son, my dh, that how could I ever doubt their competency- I certainly don't doubt their love for the kids. I do know they have a problem with respecting parents wishes across the board with all of their grandchildren- besides the usual issues of sweets and relatively harmless things (although I did see my fil give a two year old coffee), they have not for instance respected my sils's insistance that they not drive somewhere with the children while they are sitting unless it is an emergency- my mil is especially nervous and has had accidents, and my fil has health issues, several strokes and cannot feel his feet or see very well. Irregardless of this, they will talk to the kids when they get home to find out they have been out to eat or shopping. So, I guess things are a bit more complicated and when I examine my feelings about them and my children's relationship with them I have to admit if they can read my emotions they probably do feel as if they need to run out of the room with my children to feel they are not being monitored. There are other slightly scary situations I won't go into as well. So, needless to say I am confused about our relationship and how to proceed when they visit or we visit them- I choose my battles carefully and if I feel my children are uncomfortable- or I am uncomfortable, I am going to need to say something instead of living in fear of what they might think or say about me.


I just wanted a option what happened to my daughter after school and if there is anything wrong with it cause the police department didnt think there was anything wrong ihave a 9 yearold a 7yearold and 6yearold that walk home from school not far from home they know there way home well the two older ones were being mean to the little on and took off running home at that time they were just five house down when this women ask haley6 if she wanted a ride a said no then she told her to hop in so haley listen disobeying the rules the lady took up to her house to show her where she lived and that if she ever needed anything to let her know then brought her home when i saw haley coming from the car i started to get on to her and the car left i guess she seen that haley was in trouble she came back but instead of acted like a person she pulled up and started screaming at the other girls wher is your mom at the time i was inthe house with haley talking to her about what happened where did the go when i hear the girls screaming and running in the house scared because that lady was cussing caling me a B and everything else saying she saved her so i just took the kids in the house shut the door called the police they told me that there isnt anything that can be done about it cause she brought her home that haley shouldnt have got in the car what is a mother suppose to do PLEASE HELP ME


With my preschool class, I made a sccniee center. I took the plastic organizers you get at wall mart with three drawers and put stuff in them. In the first one was a cloth measuring tape from the sewing dept, a magnifying glass, and a magnet. In the second was colored plastic wrap to look through,rocks, and acorns etc. In the third I made a tub of play dough mix with flour, rolling pin, cookie cutters and plastic knife. The children learn a lot, for example what is magnetic, what is not. They had a lot of fun and the mess was minimum.


If you have a local teacher sluppy store or want to check out Holcombs or United Art Education stores they have all kinds of good resources.And no it is not too early to start.Start with water in 2 plastic cups, have the child put one in the refrigerator and one in the freezer. Wait about 2 hours and let them take out the cups talk about the differences. Leave the frozen one out and watch it melt.


There is rarely a slipme solution for those who are at a point of career transition, but do not yet know exactly what it is that they want to do. It sounds like you have guided your friend fairly well in spite of this complexity.Exploration is key, and volunteering at any capacity is good advice since it will allow her to network with individuals who are in occupations that she is not familiar with and they might be able to identify opportunities for her that she has not yet considered. She can learn much through informational interviewing as well.Assessments can often be used as shortcuts in the process, I strongly believe that what is more important than the assessment tool is having an appropriate person help interpret the results. I am assuming that your career development friend has the appropriate background and experience to refer your friend to her, but you might also see if there is somebody in your general area that specializes in career counseling.A good resource to start would be the National Career Development Association website which has a directory of career counselors and career development professionals:www.ncda.orgCareer development is essentially part of the quest for self-knowledge--and that is often a life-long quest. There have been many in your friend's position who have gone on to find exciting careers.

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After feeding, or anyiemttry a covered heating pad on low on your chest/ shoulderhave baby on tummy while you have the baby over your shoulderand rub and pat it's back.in a rocker glider near a wall outlet. )Micheal Card has some great music CD's that babies love.hope this helps


first have a good time...Alaska in July?? Hmmm??? :) Your mom is awesome and rmdines me A LOT of mine, when I finally got PG, well she did a LOT of what your mom is doing and was at EVERY SINGLE U/S I had with my OB and high risk drs..she was there when we found out they were boys and she was in the OR when I had my c-section...she is the best grandma EVER...(well your mom might be too) and I am just so glad (and weepy) that she was HERE to see her grandsons grow into little boys. I want her to live forever, because watching her look at them is the best feeling in the whole world. YEAH for great moms!!!! (LIke you!!)


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  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
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