Backseat Parenting

4yo: “Riley, if you go pee on the potty, you can have a special treat.”

2yo: “ ’Pecial teat!”

Me: “Miles! You are not his parent; *I* am. He just brushed his teeth and no one’s getting any more treats tonight, got it?”

You might see him as an encouraging big-brother. But I see a preschooler on a power trip. I have to remind my 4yo DAILY that he is not the one who makes the rules and calls the shots – especially for his little brother.

Every time I turn my back Miles is promising Riley treats and snacks, “helping” him open presents, and trying to bribe him into trading his best toys. He’ll even threaten, “Riley, stop bothering me or you’re going to bed early!” Wishful thinking.

I’ve heard other moms complain that their kids try to parent their siblings, too. Even funnier is when the LITTLE ones do it to the BIG ones. A friend’s 2yo was sternly lecturing her older brother, “No cookies! Mama said no.” Just what he needs, another mom.

Of course, I have to admit having a Mommy’s Little Helper DOES occasionally pay off. Like when I was getting ready the other morning and I heard Big Bro say to Little Bro: “Don’t throw your toys on the floor, Riley. Gram and Grandpa are coming today and we want to keep the house clean.” Wonder where he heard THAT?

And if I’m being honest, an extra little parent is quite helpful when it comes to that most odious of parenting tasks – potty training. Bribery with treats notwithstanding, my 4yo is quite an effective bathroom coach to his little brother. Not only do they have the same anatomy, but it was not so long ago that the older one was learning the drill himself.

However, Miles is what you might call an experimental educator. Some of his questionable toilet-training “techniques” include tickling his little brother on the potty. You know, to make him laugh so hard he’ll …? You get the idea. I can’t say it’s actually worked yet, but I give my eldest son props for trying. Funny, though. He has no interest in being the parent when it comes time to change his little brother’s diaper. Believe me, I’ve tried.


The Mom Pledge said…

This is an issue I won't have to face, since I only have one child. LOL I do sometimes refer to my hubby as a backseat parent, however. Don't get me wrong; he's very involved. But as a stay at home mom, I am responsible for about 95% of our daughter's care. So when he breezes in and occasionally questions the way I have done something, I tend to bristle. Especially since he knows very little about her daily routine.

Malia said…

My 4yo does the same thing–she will declare, flat out, that SHE makes the rules. I do correct her. But, sometimes I like the 4yo parent thing: right now she's making breakfast for both herself and her sister, so I can't really complain too much. 🙂

Viv said…

We actually had a few mornings where I woke in a fugue state to overhear Dyl helping Zoe in the bathroom. It was amazing! Love it when they get off on their "big brother" position 'cos it can be a drag sometimes!

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said…

Haha! That's fantastic. My little guy often tries to decide what I should feed (or not feed) the baby. I love that Miles tickles him on the potty! Very creative, I have to say.

Angie Mizzell said…

I love how Dillon likes to tell ME what Blake needs. But sometimes, he's right and it drives me nuts!

Kelli @ writing the waves said…

"preschooler on a power trip" – love it. 🙂

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