Without getting into the circumstances, my wife's step sister and her husband are living with us while he's between orders with the US army. She's 28 and he's 42.
While they're living with us, it's very obvious that they don't know how to handle a baby. I'd be more than happy to share some wisdom, to offer suggestions, to just help, but I don't want to overstep the boundaries and make an already crowded and tense situation even worse.
How can I help these people how to be parents?
As a father of 5 (the 21 yo has his own place) I've been around that block a couple of times and my opinion is that they're doing it wrong. Of course I wouldn't tell them that in so many words, but it is what I think: if you're not truly trying to do it right, you’re doing it wrong.
Here are some examples:
There's no baby level stimulus. They will watch adult (not porn lol) streaming shows all day and holler at their kid for getting into my kids' things (I've told them it doesn't matter; the things won't be damaged). Not even so much as Dora or even Pixar or the odd baby centric website.
They have actual expectations on the baby's behavior... "you know better than that" with pulling the laptop off the couch and "screams and screams when he doesn't get his way". At 1 year old, no baby is capable of knowing better than anything other than what you teach them on a very basic level, nor is he capable of any level of manipulation. At all.
There's no attempt at routine nor any baby level interaction. At that age, my kids were amazingly easy to care for once major daily rituals were developed. Want him to go down for the night without a fuss? Start doing about a half hour bedtime ritual.
And therein lies the prompt for this post. Tonight, the baby lay there crying for prob 30 minutes in bed. It was a different cry... wasn't pain, but something was wrong. They said, "he's just crying because he didn't get what he wanted". Dude, he's 1, man... he doesn't desire something, he needs something.
I have attempted to talk about these things once or twice, but the response is of the "he's just" type. Dismissive. Yes, he's their kid and no I'm not the parent. I can accept that. However, being in the unique position of knowing that the approach I'm using for my 9 yr old was successful for my 19/21 yr old, I do have a little experience.
I can just see where all this is going to be in 4, 8, 15 years, and I'd like to help the boy by helping his parents. How?
[update edit june 20 2013]
I had to actually confer with the wife and it was only 5 weeks ago that this whole thing came to a head and I basically told them I'd had enough and it was time to go. The wife was 100% with me. It was the week of the Boston stuff, and the mother was irate that she couldn't talk about having a bad day. You know what? Sure, you can have a bad day. However, basic decorum says that you should just keep that to yourself while the news of extraordinary suffering is fresh on peoples minds. Bottom line is that I don't want to be around the person that I have to explain that to nor do I want them around my family. And with that, they were gone the next day.
Sad thing is that as good as I felt about not having to deal with them any more, my heart goes out to that child.