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Reducing contact with Grandmother

(132 Posts)
veexox Tue 14-Jan-14 00:37:58

Hi I'm a young 20 year old mother to a 6 month old darling girl we have been living with partners parents since I was 8 months pregnant. Since baby was born MIL has been total nightmare snatching baby off me, feeding, changing, constant bombardment she won't leave us to just bond as a family of 3 she's always telling me what to do and putting me down. Since she was born MIL revolves her life around my child today for instance I previously told MIL could she look after LO for an hour alone as I needed to go to university to pick some work up I thought I was doing her a favour as I could easily have taken her with me . Little did I know MIL swapped her shifts when I told MIL I didn't need to go she hit the roof wouldn't speak to me so I had to go for an hours walk so she could spend time with my daughter I don't really let her babysit alone as I love spending time with my daughter... She's a lonely lady in an unhappy marriage and lives her life through her 3 sons since baby's been born she seems to think it's another chance to be a mum again. She's barged in on the birth, called me fat the list goes on and on. I've told my partner we either move out or I'm going without him he's tried talking to MIL but she doesn't listen we have told her we are moving out in a few weeks and MIL has hit the roof stating she will be going for custody and visitation 5 times a week. She's called me an unfit mother etc she just seems completely obsessed with my daughter! I'm thinking of cutting contact for a while until she stops being so clingy I don't want to cut her out of my daughters life I just want her to respect me as her mother and primary carer. How can I stop her doing this? It's really stressing me out I just want her to be Grandma !

Elegran Tue 14-Jan-14 08:04:40

I'd say both of you could look at life through the eyes of the other, and since you are the one who has asked, I will begin with your side.

You don't let her babysit alone because you want to spend your time with your daughter, so that means you never go out with baby's father alone and enjoy yourself as a 20-year-old should. Are you on your way to living your life through your daughter, as MiL is through her sons?

Let her have her granddaughter to herself for say one evening a week and get out there and have fun. You will be more relaxed about being a parent and she will not be so lonely. Can you imagine what your life would be like if you did not have either the man you love (she sounds out of love with hers) or the children you devoted your life to? And then your son gave you a beautiful granddaughter whose mother resented you loving her?

She took the trouble to change her shift because she thouight it would help you, and give her time with baby, who she wants to have a little bond with too, don't fall out with her over that.

If you give understanding, you will get understanding. Talk to the woman and tell her how much you love your child - add "as you love your sons - as mothers do" but that you see that she loves her too, and that you can help one another - you can get out sometimes and still be young, and she can enjoy having a child to look after again.

And if you can get somewhere to yourselves, do so - but still keep in touch with his mother, and trust your treasure to her on a regular basis - you will be glad of her when never going out anywhere starts to drive you round the bend and you and he are in danger of drifting apart because of it.

Gally Tue 14-Jan-14 08:23:54

Wise words Elegran

Soutra Tue 14-Jan-14 08:59:44

Good sense,elegran I am sensing there is a lot of tension and over reaction which is not unconnected with sharing a home with in-laws especially in the early months of parenthood. I hope you get a place of your own very soon but be grateful that you have a willing babysitter and extra pair of hands to call on. Childcare is expensive so don't go throwing the baby granny out with the bathwater!

JessM Tue 14-Jan-14 09:15:23

Do think there is anything that could be done to improve communication between you and her? Is it worth a try - to say how you honestly feel - that you appreciate she cares so much but need a bit more space if you are to continue living under her roof? Best tip is to use the words "I feel" and "I would like... " and not accuse her of anything. Leave the baby with your OH and take her out for coffee so that you will be on neutral ground?
It is worth considering *elegran's" words for the benefit of you OH who must be finding it difficult to be stuck between the two of you.
It may work - worth a try - depends on whether she can modify her own behaviour, however much understanding you give her, you can't guarantee she can change. The only thing you can change the way you are communicating and thinking.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 14-Jan-14 09:33:08

For goodness sake get somewhere of your own as soon as you can. That situation is never going to work! Once you are away from her fulltime you can spend some time trying to be more tolerant.

She is, of course, totally in love with her granddaughter. She most likely loves her in the same way that you do. That has nothing to do with her unhappy marriage. It is just nature.

It would be cruel, and very unwise, to cut off contact. You can sort out sensible visiting once you are away from her fulltime.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 14-Jan-14 09:34:58

The title you have used for this thread sounds very controlling. I find that worrying.

dorsetpennt Tue 14-Jan-14 09:45:54

How is the title of this thread controlling ? Elegran's remarks are very helpful indeed - try and meet on neutral ground and discuss it properly. She has gone a bit overboard, but she obviously loves her grandchild very much. Something all us grannies can appreciate. I'd hate to lose contact with my two so don't cut her off. Between you come up with a plan for contact but point out that you are the mother, not her, and she must abide by your rules and feelings. Good luck.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 14-Jan-14 09:51:39

I don't think I could explain it in such a way that you would understand it dorsetpent. smile

JessM Tue 14-Jan-14 10:05:24

jingle I don't think it does. Have a heart. Young mum living in IL's - this is a tricky situation even if there is a really solid, open relationship between all parties and there is a degree of sensitivity on the part of the MIL about not taking over and undermining the new mum. hmm Please tread gently jingle with new members that are obviously quite upset, or they would not have posted here.

annodomini Tue 14-Jan-14 10:08:20

veevox, are you still in touch with your own parents? Is it significant that you don't mention another set of grandparents?

veexox Tue 14-Jan-14 10:19:54

I'm thrilled to bits she loves her granddaughter the problem is she now seems to think she is my daughters mother/primary carer as well she tries to co-parent with us. My partner works all week and even on the weekends she makes sure she's not working so she can spend time with me partner and our daughter for the whole day. Me and partner have tried to tell her we like to spend time alone sometimes but she doesn't listens his mother gets up at 5 am to make his breakfast and cook his lunch for the day at work which seems a little excessive to me at the weekends she's constantly asking partner what he wants to eat and making food for my daughter (I'd like to do this but she gets really moody if I cook anything). She only works 2 days a week and then even in the week it gets worse as she's off work so tries to co-parent with me never goes out and gets upset when I say I'm meeting friends without her . Asking me will baby be ok and should I leave her with her because she's worried some of the other babys will give my daughter a cold. I've told her she doesn't need to be so OTT as I've looked after my baby for 6 months and she's fine and I don't want to co-parent but she just ignores me and carries on with her behaviour. I just feel so suffocated! I don't want to cut contact completely that is so unfair because she does love her but it's a bit too much to me I want her to be a Grandma not a co-parent. I just want her to come visit a few times a week instead of 24/7 her being there now she's threatening me for custody I don't know what to do. It's like she thinks my daughter is hers...

Elegran Tue 14-Jan-14 10:21:36

I can see what you mean, Jingle The basic problem here is that the poster is living under someone else's roof, with the mother of her other half. She feels as though she is still a dependent teenager, not the mother of her own little family. The other side of the equation is that when she doesn't want to share her daughter, she probably appears to her MiL like a child who wants to keep her best toy all to herself. And MiL has had plenty of experience in childcare, and is longing to do a bit more of it.

This is not a toy. She is a little person, who will grow into a big person. As she gets older she will need al the family she can get. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. By knowing her grandmother, she will understand her father better - I know I could understand both my parents' outlooks on life because I knew all four grandparents (and four greatgrandparents and a lot of aunts and uncles) very well.

Letting MiL into the circle will not make her love her mother less. Love is not limited, it expands to cover all.

If a separate home is possible, go for it. It will be hard work - I bet MiL does most of keeping things right in the house. You can then be queen of your own castle, and invite your Queen Mother to visit, ask her to babysit while you go out with your other half, and even keep baby overnight in her own home occasionally. But if you have to share a home, try to be gracious about fixing how it should be, and don't become alienated from baby's grandparents. You are the primary carer of your baby, but she owes half her genes to that side of the family. Of course there is a bond there too. Don't break it.

merlotgran Tue 14-Jan-14 10:24:13

I agree with everything Elegran has said but my DD was in a very similar situation in Northern Ireland and I know how much she suffered with a battleaxe of a MIL living in the granny annexe on the side of the house. I therefore can't help seeing this situation from the young mother's point of view.

Jingl is right. They need a place of their own where they can function as a family. Living with parents is tricky enough even if you all get on like a house on fire. If you don't it's a nightmare and everyone will have a miserable time.

Elegran Tue 14-Jan-14 10:24:14

She won't get custody unless you are incompetent as a parent, and you don't sound like that to me.

You say you are a student. Where is baby while you are at lectures? I don't imagine she will be sitting in her buggy beside you.

veexox Tue 14-Jan-14 10:24:15

My dad and his partner live 200 miles away but they are involved in my daughters life and come to visit regularly. My mum walked out on me when I was 13 she abused me physically and emotionally I haven't seen her for 4 years and she doesn't have contact with me or my daughter this is why I want have such a close bond with my daughter and do things my own way. Of course I want MIL to have contact it's so important to be close with Grandparents as I was with my own Grandmother before she died but this is not normal Grandparenting this is trying to take over. I think visits twice a week is reasonable?

Elegran Tue 14-Jan-14 10:26:38

Have you tried to get somewhere to live by yourselves?

KatyK Tue 14-Jan-14 10:29:10

We lived with my MIL for a few months when my daughter was born. I was only 20, very unworldly, my MIL didn't like me one bit. She didn't try to take over my baby but she considered that I should do more to help her (MIL). She had type 1 Diabetes and a fair few problems. I did my best but it was never good enough. She was a very intimidating lady and had 2 equally intimidating sisters who used to appear every day and MIL would tell them that I had bought the wrong bread, put the wrong fillings on her sandwiches, left her on her own while I went to the shop (!), the list went on. I would then be questioned by the sisters about why I wasn't doing more for MIL. All this whilst trying to cope with a new baby. Fortunately the we were only there for a couple of months. I know it's not easy these days, but try to get your own place. I do sympathise.

veexox Tue 14-Jan-14 10:30:22

We aren't dependent teenagers my partner works in London and is 27 when I fell pregnant partner expressed he would really like to buy his own home and stop renting so he asked me to move in with his family. It was ok for a while but she seems to think this is her chance to be a mother to a young baby again. Baby goes to the University creche when I attend lectures because I can never be sure what shifts MIL will be working and she never takes her out of the house when she babysits. She's scared of her getting cold etc..

Mishap Tue 14-Jan-14 10:43:33

This is a tricky situation and at a time when you are all a bit vulnerable. You are needing to find your own way of doing things and someone is there "telling you what to do." And you are still heaving with hormones and flooded with the instinctive "protect my child" tigerish qualities that we all have towards our children as a matter of nature.

It sounds as though MIL does not have a lot of satisfaction in her life, and she is suddenly presented with a situation where she feels she has a role and can make a contribution.

So, the situation is set up for conflict.

Where does your OH stand on all this? Would he sit down with you and sort some ground rules that you could then discuss with MIL, or is he desperate to keep out of it , as indeed a lot of men would be? It is quite important that the two of you find common ground over this, so that you can tackle it in the right way together.

We had one of our DDs and OH and baby living with us for 5 months and we did indeed need to be very careful about how we played things. We were very careful to make sure that she felt that her decisions about how the baby was cared for had priority, but that our decisions about what is acceptable in our home had their proper place too.

I have to say, it was a delicate game to play, and I am not at all surprised that your MIL, in the context of her rather unsatisfying life, is finding it tricky.

But - she should not indeed be telling you that you are an unfit mother - this is of course out of order and must be very hard for you whilst you are finding your feet as a new Mum. We are all vulnerable to criticism at this time.

I know it is hard to find the energy when you are beset with sleepless nights, but one idea might be to try and develop a life for you and the baby outside of the home: mother and baby groups, visits to friends, visits to the swimming pool or library for their baby sessions etc.

Please do pursue all channels for finding your own accommodation (housing dept, CAB, housing associations, private rentals, MP) and do not be worried about MIL's custody threats.

It might help if you could try and treat MIL as a sad and lonely middle-aged lady who is frightened about losing this lovely new person who has come into her life.

Being a grandparent is not always easy, and, whilst it does sound form your account (and we have only heard one side) as though she is getting a lot of things wrong, at least she does care about her, and there are few enough people in our lives who love us unconditionally, so the aim should be to keep her in your lives, but on your terms when it comes to child care.

grannyactivist Tue 14-Jan-14 10:45:07

I'm glad to read that you and your partner will be moving to your own place in a few weeks. I do think it's OTT for your mother in law to say that she will be asking for custody and visiting 'rights'. I think you need to bite your tongue whilst you're still living with her, but be prepared for a discussion about roles once you've moved. Please don't cut contact with her, or even threaten to as it will push her into a corner and I suspect she'll come out fighting.

Elegran Tue 14-Jan-14 10:55:49

KatyK "It is not easy these days" It never was easy.

When I was a baby my father was in the regular army (1939-ish) He only got an allowance for a dependent, and a married quarter, after he was 25. He reached that great age when I was a year old. Until then they lived in "rooms" in other people's houses wherever he was stationed (paid for out of his £2.50 a week pay, as were all other expenses for me and my mother.) He ate all the meals he could at work, to save spending on himself, and cycled in each morning.

These were not relatives, so there was no MiL to contend with, but the stresses of sharing a house were there - kitchen only to be used within certain hours and no stores kept there, no noise allowed at all! crying baby had to be taken out and wheeled around the streets until she quietened, father accused of "stamping around in his boots" upstairs when he had taken them off as usual at the front door and crept around in socks, nappies only hung on the line at designated times, every scratch on furniture must have been caused by me, even in rooms we never were allowed into.

And no raised voices! If things got stressful, my father would put his boots back on and go out and work in the garden.

It takes tact and tolerance on all sides!

harrigran Tue 14-Jan-14 10:56:15

MIL has no grounds to claim custody of your child, you appear to be doing everything right for your child. I think your best way forward is a home of your own whilst keeping contact for the baby.

Nonu Tue 14-Jan-14 10:59:21

Is there a FIL in all this ?
Could you try having a word with him ?

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 14-Jan-14 11:06:36

I think the mil was most likely panicking when she said she would apply for visiting rights. Anyone would if they were threatened with not seeing a much loved grandchild.