The early influences in the child’s life create a bond of dependency, trust and love between the parents and the child.
But in the months and years to come, even though parents will remain the primary shapers of the child’s behavior, their influences will be increasingly augmented by that of other people; among them are the child-care providers, relatives and the child’s own peers.
Aunts, uncles and grandparents also serve to help mould behavior of the child in some families. In cases where they see the child for brief periods of time but over many years, relatives are in the enviable position of forging a loving bond without any complications.
You need not worry about a grandparent or favorite aunt spoiling a young child with food treats, trips to the toy store and other special indulgences during occasional visits.
If you are regularly enforcing your own behavioral standards, such lapses will do no serious harm, and the pleasure and warm feeling they produce may help the youngster feel closer ties to grandpa or aunt when they are separated by distance again.
On the other hand, if you have extended family members who live nearby and care for your child on a regular basis, a clash between your behavior standards and theirs can create problems.
A mother or a sister-in-law may consider her child rearing policies preferable to yours. Because she has a special interest in your youngster’s well being, she may feel she is actually doing you a favor by following her own instincts when it comes to letting your child talk back or eat sweets.
Yet many parents are understandably reluctant to challenge a family member who is providing free baby-sitting service.
Should you find yourself facing this dilemma, first try to explain your disciplinary policies to the relatives and get her cooperation?
If you still cannot reach an understanding, you will have to take a hard look at the situation and decide whether the financial benefits are worth the price you are paying in terms of aggravation to yourself and confusion to your child.