Dear Savvy Auntie,

I'm somewhat concerned about my little nephew and how he is growing up into childhood.

He is going to be three-years-old in January, and although he's still young to develop a complete personality, I do have concerns. He is the only child to my older brother and sister-in-law. The issues are that when he misbehaves (not unusual when children want independence and learning about their environment) he is never really told "No" when he does something wrong.

Unfortunately, he doesn't eat well at home, which may be a reason for extreme bouts of energy and frustration when he can't get what he wants. This means he has no real breakfast because my brother as a teenager didn't do breakfast. He only eats when he and his family go out for meals, which is frequent, to fast food restaurants.

I would like to speak to his mother about it, however, she is from Iran and has problems with the English language, as well there are unknown issues she has with me and my family since before the baby was born that also makes things challenging.

These issues I believe came about because my brother met her on a dating site via Facebook, then he gave up three reasonable jobs over a period of time to go to India, where she was then living. Then he got her here with a lot of help from my parents, but she is mostly a stranger to us because her background is complete opposites to ours and she has nothing in common with my brother.

As for my brother, well he and I have drifted apart over the years because of his pursuing women and trying to be something he's not in wooing these women. The crux there is that he gets very sensitive when I try to talk him about his son. What shall I do? Do I need to worry when my nephew goes to school will be rebel against rules and discipline that he doesn't get home?


Dear Anonymous,

It is extremely difficult to witness your nephew being raised in ways that do not agree with your beliefs.

It is not that unusual for little children to not be told " no" at this age. I agree with you (as do most early development professionals) that limits and consequences are important. However, he is young and his behavior and increased language development as he develops may "teach" his parents how to support his growth while establishing rules. The most important influence will come when he is in a preschool program.

I understand that you want to be a positive participant. Researching early childhood programs and nursery schools in your brother's neighborhood may be a constructive start.

The eating issues are fairly common at this age. The fact that he only eats when they go out can be finessed by bringing home outside food . In regard to healthful eating - leave that up to the pediatrician who is the voice of authority without the threat of interference.

Try to observe and not be critical of your sister-in-law and even compliment her on certain behaviors.

Best of luck,
Natalie Garfield

Homepage Photo: PPetro
Published: October 25, 2017


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