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Should grandparents drink alcohol while babysitting

(63 Posts)
BenandJerrys Tue 31-May-11 17:49:39

Hello Grandparents and MIL's, I'm jumping on here instead of mumsnet to ask a question and get an answer from the GP/MIL point of view. I hope you don't mind. Recently, DH and I went to an engagement party when LO was 3 months. We were only going for about 2 hours to show face and then home again. MIL kindly volunteered to babysit at our house (we live 5 doors away), which we appreciated, so lo could stay in his own cot. We gave MIL her dinner and left. MIL had just finished work and was off for the next few days. As it was we came home after 1.5 hours, the situation is what happened next. I had not noticed but DH noticed an open bottle of wine. (We didn't have any alcohol in house and they didn't bring it with them.) When DH mentioned it, MIL said she only had one glass and complained how LO wouldn't settle. So FIL had gone to their house to pick a bottle of wine up. My view is even though it was only one glass, if I was paying a babysitter, I would not expect her to drink, and, as we were only away a couple of hours, surely she could have waited until we got back. I have not mentioned anything to MIL about the situation but she has asked when she is going to get him in the evening again. How can I explain that I would prefer her not to drink while she is taking care of LO without making an issue out of it. Thanks in advance

absentgrana Tue 31-May-11 18:21:51

If it worries you that much BenandJerrys, say so. For goodness sake, don't let this be one of those things that fester with no one saying a word until it's totally out of hand and family ties are shattered. You could certainly upset your mother-in-law – she might well unfairly feel accused of heavy drinking, irresponsibility, all sorts of stuff – but a reasonable and calm chat about your concerns and her picture could resolve a slightly tricky situation. Give it some thought before you speak to her. Does she, for example, habitually drink a lot so that she would not be trustworthy with a small child after a couple of hours and a couple or more glasses? If not, perhaps you are being unreasonable. Do you feel so protective about your little one – understandably, I know – that you reckon any substitute is not up to snuff. You do seem rather heavily disapproving of one glass of wine – would you have worried that one cup of coffee would have turned her hyper? I am also slightly disturbed by the phrase in your posting "If I was paying a babysitter … You're not and that certainly doesn't mean second best, but the phrase suggests that you are looking at your mother-in law in a way that doesn't say family, friend, important person in my life, my husband's life, my child's life – someone I know and trust. You do need to sort this out – but do think carefully before you speak.

Heather Tue 31-May-11 18:23:35

ah but were you PAYING the babysitter????

oh, don't worry I could argue that black is blue if I so had the mind.

No, I wouldn't be happy about this situation. If you don't have alcohol in the house then you aren't, presumably, drinkers and I can see that you COULD have cause for concern her 1.falling asleep 2.dropping baby 3. breathing her foul fumes over baby. I have never had alcohol in the house other than to be consumed with a celebration meal and wouldn't appreciate anyone else bringing theirs in. Particularly if they had been 'in charge' of my children.

How to deal with this ... I think there is no point 'hinting' and leaving her not sure what really is going on. You have to deal with it head on, so to speak, if you feel strongly enough about it.

Poppygran Tue 31-May-11 18:25:17

This is a very difficult one. Personally I think if your MIL is having a glass of wine then that's fine. I have brought children up safely while having a glass of wine in the evenings and have grandchildren aged 17, 15 and 7 who I have babysat since they were the age that your little one is now and they too are absolutely blooming despite me having a drink whilst looking after them.

I don't think for one minute your MIL would abuse your trust or put the baby at risk in any way but as to how you approach it with her needs some careful talking about with your husband.

BenandJerrys Tue 31-May-11 18:48:23

Thanks for your comments ladies. I do trust MIL with LO and want him to enjoy a good relationship with her. I think the issue is more my problem and my views on alcohol. My own mum was an alcoholic in denial which is why I am quite sensitive on the subject. I guess I was just surprised that FIL felt the need to go get a bottle, perhaps if I had seen it before we went out, I wouldn't have felt so uptight about it. I will handle carefully. Many Thanks.

glassortwo Tue 31-May-11 18:55:35

I do think you need to bring the subject up with MIL, do not let it fester, that how things get out of hand!

I can understand your concern leaving your 3 month old baby, is it you 1st born and was it the first time you left baby?

Does your MIL have a drink problem that you are aware of ( you mentioned you had given her her meal, lots of people enjoy a glass of wine with a meal) she had just finished work and if it was one glass with her meal I feel you are being unreasonable!

glassortwo Tue 31-May-11 18:58:46

ben sorry x posted, you should have mentioned that very important piece of information regarding you Mum, it is understabable that you are sensitive regarding alcohol . But you should still have a talk with MIL and explain your concerns.

BenandJerrys Tue 31-May-11 19:01:22

glassortwo - yes it is my first born but only the 2nd time I had left him. She had him alone for a couple of hours during the day the week before at her request, (we usually visit as a family). I'm sure she doesn't have a drink problem and she had none with her meal (we don't have any in the house). FIL went and got the wine after we had left.

BenandJerrys Tue 31-May-11 19:10:02

xpost again glass or two, apologies. My inlaws don't know about my mums drinking and I'm reluctant to mention it to them as she has been sober since she had a stroke 10 years ago. I'm still sensitive after all this time. It was kept very hush hush in my family and even now the drinking is not mentioned. A part of me feels it would be unfair to let them know that for something that was probably a one off situation.

glassortwo Tue 31-May-11 19:11:31

ben its only natural that you will be concerned leaving your new baby, but she must be deperate to take a small part in his life, it is a special time getting to know your grandchildren, dont be too quick in cutting her off, give her the opportunity her explain herself! Is she aware of the problems with your mum!

glassortwo Tue 31-May-11 19:14:09

x post again sorry - I can understand that, but bring the subject up with MIL and explain you were concerned.

HildaW Tue 31-May-11 19:24:29

Heres hoping I dont sound too smug but I never have anything vaguely alchoholic when in sole charge of a baby...whether it was my own or anyone elses. I've always seen it as a very simple precautionary thing....when you have sole care of just might need to drive or make a judgement call of some sort and therefore be totally in control. I enjoy a glass or two like anyone...even three sh! but never on duty, its just never dawned on me to do otherwise.

glassortwo Tue 31-May-11 19:28:37

I agree hilda but MIL needs the chance to explain, and to get things out in the open as things can fester!

HildaW Tue 31-May-11 20:08:07

Oh yes Glass.....I agree...I've not been the best in the past at getting stuff out into the open...moral coward methinks...but this does need talking about, and soon.

grannyactivist Tue 31-May-11 20:20:52

hello ben I think your concern is understandable in the circumstances, but as your MIL has no idea of the underlying reason for your concern - and you don't yet feel ready to discuss it - perhaps you could say something along the following lines:
That you appreciate her babysitting and quite understand why she might want to relax with a glass of wine in the evening, but would she mind not doing so if FIL is also drinking, so that in case of emergency one of them is always able to respond to an emergency situation and able to drive.

tjspompa Tue 31-May-11 21:03:18

In my experience, once we have finally managed to get the little pickle to bed and finally asleep, alcohol is mandatory !!!

crimson Tue 31-May-11 23:21:36

BenandJerrys; don't think this is anything to do with your mum....if someone looked after my child and drank alcohol I would have been horrified, and I wouldn't dream of drinking alcohol if I'm looking after my grandchildren. On the subject of 'paying' a babysitter, would anyone say to the babysitter, the tea and coffee is in the kitchen..and just help yourself to a glass of wine if you want one? So why should it be acceptable for a babysitting grandmother to have a drink whilst looking after a small baby? What a rotten situation to find yourself in.

JessM Wed 01-Jun-11 09:00:17

If you house rule is that at least one adult is alcohol free at all times then you need to communicate this to your MIL along with the ones about babies sleeping on their back etc. This is a very reasonable and sensible rule. There would be a problem if it was OK for you guys to drink but not for grandparents! If you share the information about you childhood with her you will probably become a little closer and it will be easier for her to understand "where you are coming from".
Good luck with the conversation

grandmaagain Wed 01-Jun-11 10:11:24

my husband and I enjoy a glass of wine most nights, however when GD comes to stay neither of us drinks alchohol, it was not a conscious decision just an unspoken agreement so that we are both always capable of driving if there is an emergency.i can understand how you are reluctant to discuss your mums past problem with MIL however under the circumstances perhaps you should, when she knows about your understandable sensitivities she will probably be very sympathetic

Heather Wed 01-Jun-11 10:44:08

I don't think you have to divulge any sensitive information about 1 person to another at all EVER.
There are so many threads on this forum where everyone has looked back and shuddered at the memory of their mother or mother-in-law saying something along the lines of 'I did it that way' and everyone has agreed that they try not to do it with their own daughters and daughters-in-law. IN PREVIOUS THREADS the concencus has been that it is the parents right to determine what does / does not happen with the children and how they are raised and 'we' accept it without comment. YET now there are very hypocritical opinions on this topic that because you do it it's acceptable.
What's it to be ladies and gents? Time to choose, you can't have it both ways.

As the parent Ben and Jerrys you have every right to just say 'NO'

Heather (Mother and Grandma)

BenandJerrys Wed 01-Jun-11 11:25:57

Thanks ladies, your advice has been very helpful.
grannyactivist - you have a lovely way with words. I mentioned it to DH and he said he would prefer to speak with his mum himself about it. He says he can mention it in conversation without the need to reveal my mum's past just yet. Perhaps in time we will have that conversation,
Many Thanks for all your help. I'll let you know the outcome.

Jangran Thu 02-Jun-11 13:30:36

Does one glass of wine really make you so blotto that you couldn't cope with making a decision? If so I, my husband, my daughters and their husbands should never be in charge of a child!

It is one thing agreeing with parental rulings regarding a child's upbringing and behaviour, and quite another agreeing with them regarding your behaviour. Your mother-in-law was doing you a favour, for heaven's sake!

Parents are still parents when they are grandparents, and as such have the right not to be dictated to by their offspring as to whether or not they can exercise their judgement about a glass of wine (or even two).

I don't think that grandparents should be so grateful that they are allowed to have contact with their grandchildren that they should accept that sort of treatment.

Try for tolerance of difference both ways, although I accept that it will be harder if you have had such a negative experience of alcohol.

Grossi Thu 02-Jun-11 17:34:49

Well said Jangran wine

crimson Thu 02-Jun-11 22:50:33

It's nothing to do with having a 'totally negative experience of alcohol'. I think it's wrong to drink and drive and it's wrong to drink when looking after someone's child...if that makes me intolerant then I'm intolerant. Just because someone 'does you a favour' it doesn't mean they do so by adhering to their own standards and not your own. Perhaps one of the problems arising from grandparents involvement with their grandchildren stems from them not having respect for the wishes of their sons or daughters and thinking they are 'older and wiser' and know better. The views of the childs parents are paramount imo. Having said that, I've mentioned this to several people who totally disagree with me! I never drank when mine were small as my main aim in life was staying awake [had the none sleeping variety of babies].

Heather Fri 03-Jun-11 11:04:23

if a person, anyone, needed a glass of wine because settling a baby was too hard I would consider that they may have a drink problem - or be heading that way - themselves. How on earth are they going to cope with teething? a 2 year old? a 4 year old who asks all the questions under the sun? a 7 year old who knows EVERY trick in the book to delay bed-time?
No they would fall, for me, in the category of NEVER to be left alone with my child EVER