Dear Savvy Auntie,

I have a 2-year-old nephew whom I love every much, so I am very opinionated about how to raise him and can come off very overbearing. I know it's not my place to comment about how his parents (and my family) raise him but I can't help it. I don't agree with how they raise him.

For example, after taking him off the bottle, they are reintroducing the bottle again because they fear he's not getting enough milk. I suggested making fruit smoothie with milk but I was shot down by my family (not by his parents because they are not confrontational). Or, that they soothe him with TV when they wake him up because he didn't go to sleep on schedule, a schedule that is not enforced.

These are just a few of the many bad habits they are introducing to him. It might be insignificant, but I fear that history is repeating itself. I have a nephew who is 22-year- old and I think he is addicted to video games. He hardly comes out of his room to eat. And my brother (his uncle) is really hard on him, even though this same uncle played video games with him when he was 5-years-old until midnight. My 22-year-old nephew is paying the price of bad parenting and being blamed for his shortcomings. My family hasn't realized he is the way he is because of his upbringing.

I was a part of the problem. Where everyone gives him no boundaries, I did the opposite; I doubled-down to compensate for everyone else. I have hurt him, and our relationship is very tense. I don't want to repeat the same thing with my 2-year-old nephew. But it seems I am heading down the same path because everyone refuses to change their ways. But I know if I continue to comment on everything, I will do more harm than good. So how do I move pass this and love (instead fear) my nephew for whomever he will become?

Opinionated Auntie

Dear Opinionated Auntie,

The good news is that you are aware of being opinionated. The bad news is that you believe you can’t can.

Try to remember that loving your 2-year-old nephew calls for developing acceptance of parenting that are different than yours from his parents. He absorbs your feelings. Your deep love for him is much more valuable than you know. He will grow up more loving and accepting.

The details of their behaviors are much less significant. They will be less committed to their ways and rules as you soften and ease your judgements and criticisms; I guarantee this. Try to recognize they, as all parents, have anxieties and cling to their beliefs in the face of your disapproval.I know this is difficult; but, as you change, you will see they will also.

Good luck,
Natalie Garfield

Photo: auremar

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