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AIBU for not wanting nana to be called mama?

(107 Posts)
Hawa93 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:10:10


I would love advice from you lovely grandmothers and especially mother in laws!
But I want to add, I AM Persian and this is not norm in how I grew up or how my cousins and friends did.
My maternal grandmother was Naneh Joon && my Paternal was Bibi Joon.


So for some while now my mil has been calling herself mama to my dd. Her daughters children all call her mama, apparently the eldest picked it up from mil children while mil was providing childcare daily and nobody stopped it, mil encouraged it so their mum is “mummy” and grandma is “mama”

I wasn’t actually aware of this until few months ago, as sil lives in another country but visits once every two months for a few days, and her youngest children only started talking 6 months ago. But she has been “mama” to sil eldest for around 9 years now and obviously the two youngest (3,2) have copied their elder brother.

So when she was calling herself mama I was taken back! I did confront her straight away and she just smiled and said “okay, well I’m sure dd will choose whatever name she feels fit to call me” so I thought , phew that wasn’t too bad.
However the next visit every other word coming out her mouth was mama, my husband told me to stay quiet but now my dd has just turned one, he did tell his mum to quit it. She didn’t take it kindly, we went through all the names she should be expected to called, but she just sat there crying that she’s “mama”

Dh stayed firm in his words and now she doesn’t call herself mama anymore however yesterday sil was here for her bi monthly visit and mil as soon as dh left the room was like “KIDS LETS TEACH the baby EVERYONES NAMES” and she had the kids chanting mama a million times to her, I thought hmm this must be so my dd hears them and learns who “she is”

My sister in law pulled me to the side quietly and said she thinks I’m being unreasonable for not going along with her children and that I’m being difficult ?

But I just don’t like it, I’ll be honest, I think it’s because when we visit she try’s to be play mummy. And combined with “oh my daughter” it’s too much, and when sil went for an errand, I heard her refer to herself to sil children not just as mama! But mummy and mum aswell”. Sil dd said to her “no you’re mama, mummy’s gone shops” and she goes “ohhh my dear daughter, it means the same thing!”
So she is trying to blur the lines? And I worry because she may FaceTime them everyday but she sees us like twice a week!

Am I being unreasonable for not going along with sil children? Or am I in my own right? And what tips can I do to make sure dd (dear daughter) doesn’t copy her uncles?
I can’t believe this is even an issue!
And it’s not cultural because I’m from the culture! But maybe it’s a new thing happening?

absent Sun 16-Jun-19 06:08:22

I have read only part of this thread so forgive me if I am going off at a tangent. It seems to me that it doesn't matter if your mother-in law is called mama or grandma or nonna or Harry – that isn't the issue. So far as I understand, she is doing everything she can to usurp your role as mother – and that is profoundly wrong.

My first mother-in-law never really forgave me for marrying her son – she hung up the telephone in two minutes when future absent husband called to tell her that we had just become engaged. Much later, after a distressing display of abuse about how I was a bad wife and a bad mother when we were staying with my then husband's family one weekend, I decided never to visit them again.

However, I never prevented absentdaughter and her grandparents from getting together. When she stayed with them at half term or during the summer holidays, she would return full of stuff about how her grandmother loved her more than I did, how I was incorrect about the usage of certain words and – worst of all – how "we" should keep secrets from mummy. Three or four days of totally confused child and bad behaviour happened every time.

I profoundly believe that mum is the most important person in a baby's life and in a young child's life, given that she is usually the primary carer, and dad is a very close second.

Grandparents can be hugely special and valuable – I like to think I matter big time to my six grandchildren and it does seem that way. However, I am a couple of steps back from their family life, which is good and healthy for all of them – and me.

JustStoppingBy Mon 24-Jun-19 20:50:43

I don't think it's very nice to be dismissive of Hawa's concerns. Plenty of people would mind, and for valid reasons.

To Hawa93,
My son calls my MIL and mother "mama" because he cannot say "grandma". But to him he thinks he's saying "grandma" as it sounds ever so slightly different than "mama". It doesn't bother me in the least. But it would certainly bother me if MIL and mother started referring to themselves as mama. My MIL, who spends the most time with him, seems to go out of her way to repeat "grandma" back to him in the hopes it will help his pronunciation. I think any reasonable person would understand their child's limitations but also be sensitive to the child's actual mother and try to reinforce the differentiation. That seems like the most straightforward thing to do.

And in my country (United States) it is not at all normal for a child to call their grandmother "mama" unless that grandmother is the one actually raising them (or like above, they simply can't say "grandma").

In the end, you're not being unreasonable at all. She's not their mama, so it makes no sense for them to call her mama. Her reinforcing it is weird to me. What's so wrong with being called "mama"?

Lizsan Tue 25-Jun-19 11:00:22

Many years ago I cared for a toddler niece a fair bit of the time - she decided to call me Ma, Mum was mummy, we were all happy. When first grandchild came along and I was asked what I wanted to be called - there were so many claims on DIL's side of family I just said, the child will decide when she is old enough - at that time my mother was still alive and Oma, I did not want to be Oma and little one started calling me Ma as she couldn't say other versions - the name has stuck through all 3 grandchildren in my sons family and we are all happy with it. Daughters little one who almost literally was MY baby for her first 9 months started off by calling me MaMa (was also meant to be Ma as her other grandma is Oma and I'm not competing) and her mother Mummy - I could hear the difference but daughter didn't and has gradually changed it to Nanny - as I am now on the other side of the world I really don't care what she calls me as long as she does know who I am, someone who cares for her very much and would do practically anything to make her life easier - and Mummy has to put up with a daughter who is always looking for Nanny.

knickas63 Tue 25-Jun-19 12:37:19

I have to admit - I think MIL behaviour is cause for alarm. The name is just a symptom of a more worrying problem.

I hope I am not being rude - but is it a cultural thing? Does you MIL come from a culture where the matriarch is all powerful and expects to get her own way? I am glad your DH is on board with your concerns. Her behaviour is unacceptable. Also - my MIL used to get right up in my kids faces and demand their attention, no matter waht they were doing. Thye hated it. At 87 she still does the same with her GGC. Thinks they are rude if they get upset. Some people just don't get it.

Lemony Thu 27-Jun-19 11:03:46

Hello! You are absolutely in the right and don’t let anyone make you feel differently.

You are the child’s mother - of course you don’t want anyone else to be called Mama; whatever the reason.

I suspect you are not being supported by those closest to you that has made you feel like you are wrong or “crazy” to be bothered by this.

You grew this child from nothing, gave birth to it, you are entitled to be the only one it called Mama, Mum, Mummy or any variation.

Obviously there will be mothers whom it doesn’t bother but I suspect that is about the relationship to the person who is being called Mama.

Your mother in law sound over bearing and like she is doing this to hurt you; I reference where you say she got everyone chanting Mama.

Can anyone on this forum relying seriously tell me that is not wilful disregard, rudeness and a clear power play?

You’ve done nothing wrong xxx

Lemony Thu 27-Jun-19 11:11:39

Don’t be ridiculous of course it matters. She is the child’s Mum and no-one else should be called Mama or any variation (unless they are happy with it).

Your replies are very condescending and trite.

From the post you can clearly see that the mother in law is disrespectful by pretending to understand then getting everyone to chat Mama.

Be fair.