Ask Rene:
My Sister-In-Law Does Her Kids’ Homework!

Dear Rene:

I know the answer to his one is probably “Butt out,” but hear me out.

My sister-in-law and I get along fine. We do not raise our children the same way — I tend to pick my battles, whereas she has LOTS of battles – but her kids seem relatively happy so I just keep my mouth shut.

This recent one takes the cake, though. She posted on Facebook that she had just gotten done reading physics for two hours. Then she said something about all the younger children and their homework, and I realized this was for her COLLEGE SOPHOMORE.


I know kids need help with their homework and sometimes that means parents read up on subjects they’re not familiar with or have long ago forgotten. Sometime around high school, though, I started nudging my kids away from mom and dad, and toward their teachers or in-school tutors for help. I figured they’d be off at college soon enough and needed to learn other ways to seek out assistance.

Clearly my sister-in-law, whose oldest son lives at home and commutes to school, doesn’t share this sentiment. It’s not like she’s suffocating my nephew … yet. Is there any way to approach this? My kids are close to him and could find out if it even bothers him. But shouldn’t it?

Do I just MYOB? Or can I at least tease him about his mother doing his homework and hope he bristles enough to ask her to step off a bit? Why do I care?

Different Moms, Different Styles



Dear DMDS:

Well, you’re certainly on the money with what I was going to say (you must be a regular reader). On the surface the issue is about your sister-in law and her need to be overinvolved in her kids’ lives. But honestly the most striking part of your letter is this:




Okay here’s the situation (how I see it) and what you can do about it.



I have to say I love Facebook but for as much as I love it and other forms of social media, sometimes it’s a gigantic beat down. While I still believe it’s important to be a part of people lives, I don’t think it’s important to be part of every.little.detail of said life. So exercise a little self-discipline and take her off your close friends list; I took a ton of people off mine during political season and a few have yet to make their way back. Can I tell you something? I don’t miss their crazy rhetoric a bit.

Read more: Ask Rene: Sister-in-Law Survival Tactics



You know how I feel about over-involved parenting; it’s one of the things I absolutely abhor (it’s even a 10 from GEM). But this really is up to your sister-in-law to figure out, not you. Instead of letting this bug you try to be a little more understanding. Why is she doing this? Is it competitive parenting (UGH)  or does she have a genuine concern about her children’s education. If that is the case, then maybe (if SHE brings it up) you can help her to see that she’s really not doing her kids any favors since they’re not the ones actually learning the material. Whatever you decide to do, tread lightly.

Read more: Ask Rene: I Have The Sister-in-Law From HELL!



It’s ironic, isn’t it, that you’re writing me about your sister-in-law being over-involved in her kids’ lives, but if you think about it, that’s sort of what you’re doing. Surely you have enough to do in your own life, no? If not get a hobby, get a job (another one if you already have one) or get a dog, whatever you have to do to get out of her life. Look at it this way: how would you feel if your laid-back approach to parenting rankled her?  Shrug your shoulders and say, “To each his own.”

Read more: Single Mom Slice Of Life: Hey you! Time To Let Your Kid Grow!


The one thing that bothers me about this is the fact that your your niece and nephew might suffer some very real consequences as it relates to education; I can’t imagine that their not doing their own work isn’t going to show up somewhere soon.  Hopefully a counselor or teacher can get them on track or perhaps talk to their mother about why it’s important that they do it themselves.

Good luck !

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safety harness or safety net?