Dear Amy: My wife and I frequently baby-sit a pair of children who are delightful, well mannered and fun – until their parents arrive to pick them up. They suddenly switch into brat mode.
These parents (who are friends) often want to sit and visit before leaving.
We don't mind the extra time spent with them; however, they let their children run roughshod with our belongings, picking up small items, putting them in their mouths, and sometimes throwing them.
We kindly enforce appropriate boundaries and the children mind us.
The parents will tell the kids to stop, or put things down, but don't actually enforce their “threats.”
How do we tell the parents that we enjoy their company but not the disrespect they are showing for our belongings?
Dear Baby Sitters: Offer to help these parents make the transition from baby-sitting to home.
Review how the kids are doing and what they are doing during the day. This is an opportunity to go over their behavior.
Tell them that the kids are doing very well and seem to understand and respect the basic rules of the house. Then tell them that you'd like them to help you by enforcing the house rules when they come for pickup.
These parents also must realize that at the end of the day, it's time for their children to go home. Hanging out and chatting is OK once in a while, but such an open-ended visiting time is hard on young children, who tend to go a little haywire when presented with distracted and lingering parents at the end of a long day.