03/01/2010 17:14 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Ask Joanne - Is Dad Too Tough On A Child?

What's your question about family life? Our experienced life coach is here to help. You can send your question in via this confidential form.

Chris writes:

Recently, my eldest daughter came to visit, along with her partner and their two children aged seven and two. I noticed on more than one occasion that her partner seemed very short with the eldest child. She did play up somewhat at the table but I felt it did not warrant his outburst in ordering her to leave and stand by the front door. I left the table to prepare dessert and she ran to me. I did say that she is able to sit at the table and eat everything on her plate as I cooked her favourite food. Her partner came into the kitchen and called her, and the next thing she is screaming that he punched her in the face, he said that it was not meant, but it did happen. As her degree of upset increased I went out and was then told that they can manage and was nudged out of the way.

It seems that my granddaughter and her father get on quite well to a point, I really do not know what to do, could you offer any advice?

Here's life coach Joanne's advice:
Dear Chris

I'm sure many of us will have had family meals like the one you describe over the recent holiday season. And they aren't always easy. Some children have a tendency to play up when there's a wider audience, and as a parent it's hard to know how to respond. Do you let challenging behaviour slide more because you don't want to cause a scene? Or do you get tougher because you know other adults are watching and judging?

Try not to judge too much about their relationship from this one snapshot. Children tend to be tired and over-excited at this time of year, and are often not on their best behaviour. Adults are pretty stressed out too, so it's hardly a recipe for family harmony.

Pay attention to how their relationship is the rest of the time, and be there for your daughter if she needs someone to talk to. Keep any concerns you may have to yourself for now. If your daughter starts to express concerns, that's the time to let her know your own thoughts. If life is stressful for them, think about what you could do to help. Could you babysit for them one evening? Or maybe have one or both of the children round to yours to give their parents a break?

Seven-year-old girls can be challenging, so do what you can to build your own relationship with your granddaughter, and to support her parents. The closer you are to the family, the easier it will be so see if there is a genuine problem and how you might be able to help.

Best wishes


Send your question in to life coach Joanne Mallon at this link and say if you'd like your name changed.

Find more practical parenting advice here in the Ask Joanne section.