Bite Your Tongue. Hard. Please.

Dear Mr. Dad: My mother-in-law has an opinion on every conceivable parenting topic. The problem is that those opinions are usually unwelcome and unhelpful. Besides that, every time she’s at my house, she insists on telling me (and my wife when she’s there) how we should raise our children. What can I do before I snap?

A: I know this is going to hurt, but try to think about things from her perspective. Like every other human being, your mother-in-law has a wide variety of life experiences. But does she have any reason to feel that her advice is better than anyone else’s? If, for example, she is or was a child psychologist or a professional in another parenting-related field, she may feel that her training and experience make her advice especially unique and important.

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No more No!

Dear Mr. Dad: I feel like when I spend time with my 2-year old, I’m constantly telling him “no!” Is there some way I can enforce boundaries without being so negative?

A: It’s no wonder that one of the first words kids learn to say is, No. After all, it’s the word they hear the most—even more than mommy, daddy, or their own name. Since two-year olds are on a mission to destroy everything in their path, hearing No is important. But the problem with No is that it eventually becomes background noise and our kids tune us out. And when it comes to health and safety issues, that’s the last thing we want.

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