Gransnet forums


MIL takes over

(64 Posts)
afar Tue 10-Jan-12 12:11:35

I am starting to get really annoyed with my MIL and I trying very hard to ignore it an not make an issue out of it. My LB is 3 and I think quite well mannered, considering that he is only 3. When we go there for dinner he will sit next to me on one side and MIL will sit on my other side. While he is eating she will lean over me and tell my 3yr old to use his napkin or wipe his face and will also correct him when he talks before I even get a chance. It's like I'm not there. I like to think that it's my place to teach and decide when he needs to be corrected but apparently that makes me possesive? I didn't ask for help in mothering my child. And it just seems to be getting worse....

supernana Tue 10-Jan-12 15:56:43

baggy The very thought of you being 'put out' makes me shiver in my

bagitha Tue 10-Jan-12 15:59:33

<wikkid laff>

johanna Tue 10-Jan-12 20:40:33

Hello ,* afar * ,
Your Mum in law is in the wrong. She should be there to ENJOY, not EDUCATE.
YOU are the PARENT, and it is up to you.

No need to have a quiet word, she obviously has not " clicked " with her grandchild, else she would not feel the need to correct..................

Sorry, but that is how it feels.

bagitha Tue 10-Jan-12 21:02:49

Take him to the zoo instead. Or something. Move away from the annoyance.

Greatnan Wed 11-Jan-12 04:17:14

I don't agree with 'Grandma's house, grandma's rules' - I think 'My child, my rules' is more important.
Your MIL is very rude and I would take bagitha's line - just tell her you don't like your son being corrected by other people.
I had to 'nag' my grandchidren (they were in their teens or twenties) because I was 'in loco parentis' whilst their mother was ill and I needed them to help a little in the house - something they had never been used to doing. Their mother said I was bullying them - I didn't think being told to hang up their own towels or put their dirty washing in the basket was likely to traumatise them and I really did need a little help. However, it soured our relationship which has never been the same.
Had I just been visiting, I would have bitten my tongue and said nothing.

afar Wed 11-Jan-12 06:24:23

Ok, so my hubby and I had a chat about this. When this happens again, I will ask MIL in a very polite way not to correct my LB, while letting her know that I appreciate her help but it is not required. I don't want to hurt her because she really isn't a bad person. Hubby will back me up at the same time and reiterate if needed. We are going there for lunch this weekend so will see how that pans out......

supernana Wed 11-Jan-12 12:38:07

afar Excellent! You, my dear, are on the right track. Stick to the plan. We await your report with bated breath. smile

Carol Wed 11-Jan-12 12:55:59

I do impose some reasonable rules in my house that my grandchildren are expected to respect. I have said before I have a mantra they all know - 'we don't behave like that in my house.' This means they are not allowed, for example, to chuck my ornaments across the floor, throw food, or slap each other. It's a liberal sort of household, but there are boundaries and fortunately my children do correct them before I need to. If they aren't around, though, I will have words with the children, mother-in-law or not.

Taking children to task about table manners, leaving food, sitting up straight etc. is not something I would feel the need to participate in. They have all their meals with their parents at home, so they can learn those social skills there.

I take the point about this MIL, though - she should sit back and allow the parents to correct the child at the table, IF it is needed.

Anne58 Wed 11-Jan-12 18:49:52

Not sure I'm actually qualified to comment, as a while ago I heard myself in an unguarded moment asking my ds "Why do you think dgs1 is behaving like such a little at the moment?" blush Perhaps I will never qualify for the "Doting Grandmother of the Year" award.

gracesmum Thu 12-Jan-12 13:40:59

Our DDs used to love visiting Granny and Grandpa and when we went down to collect them at the end of a stay I used to be so impressed by their lovely manners , always "Please and Thank you", "May I get down please Granny/Grandpa" " May I have the butter please Granny/Grandpa" "Can I help you Granny" etc They had not been subject to stringent discipline, but exposed to the nice and gentle politeness and old-fashioned manners of my in-laws. I had usually worn off by the end of the journey home, but I did enjoy it while it lasted!

Littlemum1 Wed 18-Jan-12 20:35:44

Golden Gran puts it perfectly.
We have have similar but worse issues with my MIL since our DS was born.
We had to set very clear boundaries when her behaviour became upsetting. In the long run it has paid off. It did cause a huge row, but we stuck to our guns and she is much better now.
Good luck x

Greatnan Fri 20-Jan-12 09:35:52

I was in the odd position of having to tell my own daughter to stop interfering in her daughter's handling of my great-grand-daughter! My GD was only 20 when the baby was born but she is an excellent mum and I could see she was getting tense when her own mum was around.

grannyactivist Fri 20-Jan-12 10:25:38

Our home has always absorbed other people's children very well using the mantra mentioned by Carol; 'We do/don't do (name behaviour) in this house.' My own children understand that this has worked successfully and have always been happy for me to use this same strategy with the grandchildren. Because of my youngest daughter being a widow, we sort of share the discipline of my grandson in the same way as parents would. I'm the strict one and mummy's the fun one and sometimes my daughter will ask me to tell her son off or 'make him' (huh?) do something that he's refused to do for her.
My two sons both work with children and regard me as something of an 'expert', often asking for (and taking) my advice. I'm pretty sure that when they have children they'll be happy to go along with 'mum's house, mum's rules' because they've seen how well it works. (Both their girlfriends are absolutely lovely and I think will be wonderful mothers when the time comes.)

bagitha Fri 20-Jan-12 11:04:03

I like your approach, ga. Have you been asked "Why?" much?

Nuttynanna Fri 20-Jan-12 22:45:14

Definitely let your husband deal with it. MIL will forgive her son for butting in (even though she might resent it at first ) But, she will not take it from you in her own house - no way in the world. Delegate, delegate, delegate. There are some battles you won't win on your own.

grannyactivist Sat 21-Jan-12 01:22:26

Baggy I don't actually get asked 'why' very much, although I do on occasion. I'm always open to being questioned on the basis that if I can't come up with a reasonable answer I should perhaps re-consider what I'm doing. (My own mother's response to being questioned was to answer, 'because I said so'. As a child I decided that I would explain things to my own children if they made a reasonable request.) When other children have been in my home they have mostly conformed to the often unspoken 'rules' of the house, the basis of which is 'respect people and property', but it is a two way street and I think a major problem often occurs when children and young people are not given respect or listened to. It's been my experience that youngsters respond well to firm, but consistent boundaries and can often be very astute judges of motives.

Carol Sat 21-Jan-12 08:30:25

ga I agree with you - consistency and fairness all round is usually enough.

Mishap Sat 21-Jan-12 15:16:05

I think this thread gets to the nub of how difficult it is to be a MIL or a grandparent. There are times when biting my tongue has been an almost superhuman effort! When I have been unable to do so and something has slipped out, I have asked my D afterwards if that was OK - e.g. I often tell my GS to say please and thank you, and my D is fine with that - but I only do it when he is asking me for something or receiving something from me - definitely not when it is D or SIL. If he misbehaves when my D or SIL are there I leave it to them to discipline him; and if he asks me for something that I am not sure they would want him to have, I tell him he must ask Mummy or Daddy - giving them the control.

This sounds great, but is not always easy to do! With my other 3 GC (whom I see much less often) it is very difficult - the oldest boy is really pretty naughty and (for my money) gets away with far too much. The sad thing is that it makes visits a trial rather than a pleasure. His behaviour is sometimes so appalling that you would have to be a saint (I do not qualify!) not to say something. On one occasion he completely ignored what my D was saying to him 4 times - he was charging about and causing havoc among the younger children. I am afraid I got up, took him gently by the shoulders and firmly reprimanded him for not doing as he was told. He was quite upset, and afterwards I apologised to my D and SIL - they were fine with it, and said I had done the right thing. I have only done this twice - the other occasion was when he was taunting the younger children with a toy and I took it away from him and told him he could not have it back until he was prepared to share it. Again Mum and Dad backed me up. I must also admit that when (at age 9!) he sits and smashes his spoon against the rest of the cutlery so no-one can hear themselves think, I do gently put my hand on his and tell him that we do not do that in this house - the parents let him get away with it when he ignores them telling him not to do it - but he stops it for me.

In fact he behaves fine when he is here without his parents - I do a good line in stern looks when needed!!

So....a minefield really. In the absence of your MIL communicating with you on the subject (as I try to do with mine) then you can only change the situation by broaching the subject yourself. Tell them that you appreciate that they say these things out of concern for your children, but that you would appreciate it if they consulted you and OH about it first. Good luck!!!!

afar Mon 23-Jan-12 10:00:21

So, just to update all. We went over to MIL and the first time she told my LB to use his serviette while he was sitting between me and DH, I asked her to pls not correct him while we are there. We have no problem with her doing it when she babysits, but we will do all correcting etc if we are there with him. I really could not have been more polite. Anyway, we were told that we, especially me, are jealous and we are stopping her from being a grandmother and that it's not fair that she is being punished for my insecurities. We have not heard from her since then and my DH is not interested in playing this game anymore. I give up.

bagitha Mon 23-Jan-12 10:18:31

I was thinking about you and your problem the other day and wondering how you were all getting on. I think it's a good idea to take a step back now since your MIL does not seem able to compromise. By step back, I mean don't eat meals with her since she apparently will not stop interfering. There's no reason why you shouldn't enjoy other visits. There's more to being a gran than interfering at meal times when you've been asked not to. All the best. Keep your pecker up. xx

Carol Mon 23-Jan-12 10:26:19

Crikey! To be sat there at 3 years old with mum and dad and with serviette at hand sounds a bit formal. We're lucky if my 3 year old grandsons refrain from wiping their mouths with their sleeves! Napkins are provided when it is a birthday, special meal or Christmas, but for family teatime my daughter always has a baby wipe handy and will offer it if needed. Leaving serviettes on the table with 3 year old twins only results in diversions to make paper airplanes! You really do have nothing to worry about with your little boy learning table manners in due course.

supernana Mon 23-Jan-12 12:34:35

afar If I were in your shoes, I would do as bagitha suggests. As shared mealtimes have become a bone of contention, then it's probably sensible not to continue. How about inviting MIL to accompany you to the park or zoo, where you can enjoy less formal picnics?

JessM Mon 23-Jan-12 15:45:46

Serviettes? For 3 year olds? This poor woman is living in a time warp isn't she.
Also she has obviously got a problem that she needs to work out. I think you have done your bit here and a bit of a pause in proceedings is a good idea.

absentgrana Mon 23-Jan-12 15:59:31

I am sufficiently old-fashioned not just to use napkins, but linen or cotton ones. When my two-year-old and three-year-old grandchildren were staying, I didn't put napkins at their places at the table, much to the indignation of my granddaughter. It's not that they had them at home, she just wanted to be the same as everyone else. After the first meal, I put napkins out for them every time and even dug out the elephant and fish napkin rings my sister and I had as children. The kids thought they were great and did use them – but nobody nagged them to do so.

bagitha Mon 23-Jan-12 16:07:09

We also use cotton napkins and always have. DD (eleven) doesn't put hers on her lap though; she just Leaves it on the table and wipes her fingers when necessary. She is beginning to grow out of wiping her mouth on her sleeve! GS (2) wants a napkin too when he's here. He has it on his lap but doesn't use it and will sometimes ask his mama to wipe his hands in the middle of a meal. She thinks he's a fuss-pot and hopes he'll grow out of it! They'll get there – somewhere civilised – in the end.