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Affect Of Conflicts With Husband & In-laws On Kids

by Alka

Hi Annie,

I am feeling good and more relaxed after reading all your replies for other Questions.

My query is somewhat similar to the Query How To Cope With Negative In-Laws

Actually my Mom-in-law was never a good lady for me and my 3.5 year old daughter. She has no love or sympathy for me since after my marriage, as in Indian families some Mothers feel their son is being grabbed by their daughter in law. Till that point it was OK, but then after my daughter's birth she behaved very very badly, even with my new born, because of which I raised my voice and then the situation got worse.

My little daughter has seen many fights at home. Her father is educated but is not aware of and even he doesn't want to be aware of the needs of kids and the way of positive parenting.

I usually read many things and keep myself informed, but my hubby is very rude, harsh and always shouts and keep on degrading his own child. He says things like, "you don't look good, you are a bad girl" etc. I am very well aware that all these things put a negative impact on children but I feel helpless as he never wants to listen to me and never changes his behaviour.

I've observed many negative things in my daughter like:
1) She is very negative and always says bad to everything for no reason, and she always says no to everything.
2) If anytime I ask her to do something, she always replies in negative way.
3) She is very aggressive, less concentration, always shouts about things, never goes outside for playing and she never wants to share anything.

Such major negativity have come in her, I am very worried about my daughter and her behaviour. I always try to be very positive, loving, and caring with her and she is also very concerned and caring and attached to me. But how can I keep my daughter away from those all negative things that impact her life?

I feel so bad sometimes - how will she be able to concentrate in her studies and life's important things, if she'll be confronting this negative influence all the time? And above all my husband is not mature, so that is the main reason of my worries.

Ma'am, Please suggest some solutions to make at least my daughter's life better.


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Don't Underestimate Your Influence - Part One
by: Annie Desantis

Dear Alka,

It is very hard in families when values clash, particularly if you are living in a more traditional family. You are learning new and better ways to raise a family but you don't have the support of your husband, and clearly not your

It is sad to see a child subjected to put-downs and negative, personal comments about herself, and no wonder you are worried.

But don't underestimate your influence and power. The more you use positive reinforcement and teach her better ways to communicate, the more it will be absorbed by her. You can't change your husband or your in-laws. You can however have a huge influence if you introduce ideas in a positive way.

Look For The Positives

It is tempting to try to interfere or argue with a husband when he is being unpleasant or negative with your child, but that will simply get his back up and he will be more resistant to your ideas. It is much better to try to talk to him at a time away from your daughter and the rest of the family, and calmly tell him a little of what you have learned, without putting him down.

If he feels you think he is a terrible father, then he will not be able to be open to learning new ways of parenting.

If you practice exactly the same ideas with him as you are wanting with your daughter, then he is likely to start responding more positively. Praise him when he does things well, tell him how much you appreciate what he does, point out how much fun your daughter has with him if there are times he plays with her. Make a big effort to look for all the good in him, far more than paying attention to your concerns about his attitude.

Just the same as your daughter is learning how to be in the world, your husband can also learn if he feels loved and supported. The more you confront or put him down, particularly if it is in front of your daughter, then the more he will feel he has to dig his heels in and be more aggressive.

Yes he will be having an influence on your daughter, but a lot of the issues you raised about her, are also simply normal 3 year old behavior. A three year old says NO a LOT! A three year old is often not very co-operative or reacts
unpleasantly when she is being told to do something she doesn't want to do. A three year old is just learning how to share and play cooperatively with others. It is just a process as she grows up, she sounds like a pretty normal three year old to me!

We all want to please ourselves and part of growing up is learning to adjust and compromise and find better ways to get our needs met. You can't expect your daughter to always be happy and cooperative.

Part Two Follows . . .

Don't Underestimate Your Influence - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

Find Ways To Have Fun
& Increase Your Positive Influence

However, when she is grumpy and aggressive she is also acting out much of what she sees in the family. If she is living among aggression she will be learning that. So your job is to model better ways of interacting around her, so he learns by your example.

She also needs lots and lots of positive attention, and the more you can do puzzles, play games, let her help you, and give her lots of positive input and praise, then it will balance out a lot of the other influences.

We can't protect and shelter our children. They have to gain some reliance, the world is not always an easy place. Her journey with your family may not be the smoothest and conflict free, but just trust that she will be sorting out
in her own mind and learning far more than just the negative influence.

Help her to focus on getting herself to a happy place. And the best way you can do that is show her yourself. If the situation is getting stressful, then take yourself off for a walk, or take her into the kitchen to make a fruit salad.

Find ways and games that you can do together that are fun. She will learn so much more when she is happy and getting lots of positive attention. And you are far better to spend your energy on creating that, instead of trying to change her father.

It is sad when parents can't discuss and decide on parenting methods, but children learn that both parents are not always the same. Even parents who agree, still have different tolerance levels, different tones of voice, and different ways of interacting. Children learn that at Grandma's house you have to take your shoes off, or you can't run through the house. At school you have to stay in your chair, or do things at a certain time. It is all part of growing up, and she will understand perfectly well, that her father has a different approach to you.

Part Three Follows . . .

Don't Underestimate Your Influence - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

Don't worry so much, just enjoy her and spend as much fun time with her as you can. If she is acting up then that is your cue to tell you she needs some positive interaction, so if you are wanting her to do something, make it a game, a race, a tickly time, sing some silly songs. Kids are much more cooperative when they are having fun, and if you are enjoying yourself too, then you are increasing the amount of positive energy in the household. The more you worry, you are actually adding to all the negative stuff, increasing the negative energy in your home. If you keep turning your attention back to having fun, feeling good, looking for all the positives around you, no matter how small, then you will have a huge impact on everyone's state of mind.

Kids are amazing in that they soon show us when there is disharmony. So she is your teacher too! When she is grumpy and cross, then it is a reminder to you to turn your attention to creating some good energy. Lead by example, far more than telling her (or your husband).

Take Care Of YOU

Also try to find some support for yourself outside the family. You need to get some good energy coming your way too, so find a friend who appreciates you, find activities that help you to feel good and full of energy. That way you will be much stronger and not get so affected by any others around you that are not being kind. It is the best thing for your daughter if she sees you
finding ways to be happy, no matter what is happening around you. Happiness is an internal state, not dependent on how our partners or family are behaving.

It can be a challenge sometimes when we feel our husbands are not on the same wavelength, but you can only change how you feel and behave, you can't change him. But you may be surprised if you are not responding to him in the same way, he may well soften in spite of himself!

It sounds like you are doing a fabulous job parenting your little girl, just let go the worries and enjoy her more, and trust that she will be fine.

all the best
Annie D :)

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