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Back to square one

(70 Posts)
Pnwmama1515 Mon 30-Sep-19 00:42:32

Hi, I'm a DIL that needs help with my MIL. To start, I love her and have known her for many many years. She has six grandkids and mine is the youngest. He is 16 months old and since he was about 3/4 months old, he has never liked being held or touched by anyone but me and his father. I know this bothers her because she wants to love and snuggle with him but he has full on meltdowns if someone gets too close or touches him.

He will, however, go up to people and give hugs and cuddle. But he has to be the one who goes to them, not the other way around. After many many visits, I think she finally understood. The last two visits, she gave him space and time and played with him and his toys. He ended up going to her and giving hugs and kisses. I was so so happy to see their relationship progress!

But then this last weekend we saw her at a birthday party. He was already overwhelmed due to noise, and it seemed like all the progress just went out the window. She would loudly clap in his face, push her face against his (and mine since I was holding him and she would come up behind us) and demand kisses. I had to take him into a bedroom to calm him down several times.

The final straw was when she grabbed my shoulders and physically moved me back and forth to "hide" behind me and play peek a boo with him as I was holding him and talking to a family member that I hadn't seen in years. (Thus, interrupting my conversation. I did try putting him down but he would scream and hold onto me.)

We ended up leaving after an hour because my son was so upset, we were unable to calm him down. He normally does so well at other parties and will play with other kids. He's just a very independent baby who likes his space.

My question is, why would she go backwards when we all know what works for him? How can I get her to understand that he's not like her other grandchildren and that by being in his space, she is stressing him (and myself) out? If she just gave him space and time, he would come to her. I truly adore her and I want them to have a wonderful relationship but she's gotta follow his lead.

Pnwmama1515 Mon 30-Sep-19 00:44:29

Also he has been alone with her before and did great. She gave him space and he went up to her and then he took her hand and they went and played in a different room together. He does love her. I just don't understand her behavior at this last party. We do see her at another party this weekend and I'm hoping it goes well.

rosecarmel Mon 30-Sep-19 00:49:42

You indicated that she caught on but was it because she followed your lead of because you discussed it with her or both?

rosecarmel Mon 30-Sep-19 00:51:30

"or" because ..

Pnwmama1515 Mon 30-Sep-19 00:53:13

Both. She had asked what my mom and FIL (divorced) do to get him to bond with them and I was honest. She seemed to really understand and I explained how I was the same way as a child and eventually outgrew it. We read some articles together and it seemed to click and was working.

One of my thoughts was she might have been drinking, but I didn't smell anything. She is a recovering alcoholic. (1 year sober, I'm very proud of her)

rosecarmel Mon 30-Sep-19 01:19:48

You are asking her to change her default behavior, to interact with your child differently than she does with the others perhaps- Change often takes time and can involve ongoing words of encouragement and reminders until the behavior changes- She has to "learn" to accept your child for who he is, and the sooner she does, the sooner your child will take to her more frequently and perhaps with ease-

She might have been drinking! Hope not- She too might also suffer from feeling socially uncomfortable- When your child doesn't like a particular setting, you know it- She may have gotten nervous in that social setting and behaved differently as a result-

KatyK Mon 30-Sep-19 09:43:46

Maybe she was trying to show other people at the party how close she was to her grandson?

Pnwmama1515 Mon 30-Sep-19 16:56:01

I could see her being anxious at a party. But after seeing him upset, why would she continue? That was the upsetting part, that I had to keep removing him from the party to calm him down and as soon as I went back out, she would do it again.

Pnwmama1515 Mon 30-Sep-19 16:58:10

To be honest, they aren't very close. I am a stay at home mom and she is retired and lives 10 minutes away. We even rent one of her houses from her. But she only sees him at events, family parties. I've reached out and asked for us to get together, so she can have one on one time but she always comes up with an excuse. She never calls and asks to see him or asks hows he's doing. Most interaction is comments and "likes" on facebook. I'd say she sees him maybe once every 2 months or so.

Tedber Mon 30-Sep-19 18:07:43

My first thought was party? Drinking? But seems not in this case. She does sound like she was in full party spirit though - loud and loving everyone.

Personally I would stop worrying so much. Explain to her again when she is next around that your son needs to work at his own pace.

I wouldn’t blame her for sons meltdown at party. Just let it go. Has your son got any other issues? Are you concerned about his reaction? All kids are different and he is young but he should soon stop having such anxiety with other people. Perhaps your worry is rubbing off in some way?

Not a huge problem I don’t think especially as she is rarely around anyway.

kircubbin2000 Mon 30-Sep-19 18:36:07

I had to speak to my new dil as she wanted to hug and kiss but mine only likes kisses from mum and dad.

Pnwmama1515 Mon 30-Sep-19 18:58:18

Oh I don't blame her for his meltdown, I am just confused to as why she would continue to get in his face, knowing that it upsets him and after seeing him so upset. I feel like I have explained it a thousand times and she seemed to understand. Maybe it was because her sister was at the party (a 13th birthday party for the sister's granddaughter)?

I feel like I have worked so hard to foster a relationship between them because she complains to everyone in the family about how he won't let her hold him (not to me though, or my husband). I feel like no matter what I do, I'm failing either my son or my MIL.

M0nica Mon 30-Sep-19 19:54:18

As I understand you you are saying your MiL really cannot be bothered to see her grandson under normal circumstances, even though she only lives 10 minutes away. Yet as soon as you are in a family gathering she is all over him

It strikes me that she doesn't actually have much interest in him at all and is only interested in impressing other family members with what a wonderful grandma she is and how much her grandson loves her.

Which is of course entirely untrue. Your little son probably doesn't recognise her from Adam and any small child, even a less sensitive one than yours is going to be terrified by some unknown woman carrying on in his immediate vicinity in the way you describe.

What can you do about it? Well, to begin with stop all this nonsense talk about 'failing'. You are not failing anyone. You are looking after your son and protecting him from things that worry him or distress him. That is what parents are meant to do.

As for your MiL, I would just steer clear of her as much as possible. you are not failing her. She is just acting like an idiot without insight or understanding. When you do see her, just do what is best for your son and avoid getting into any discussions with her about your decisions and the reasons for them. I suspect you could explain everything to her carefully for a month of Sundays and she would still do exactly what she does now, she really isn't interested in anything but what she wants.

This lady is your DH's mother. Let him deal with her. I would also think twice about taking your son to busy family parties, he clearly isn't happy with lots of people at the moment, perhaps you could see family members on an individual or couple base and you can protect him from what he cannot cope with.

Do not worry about your son, he will grow out of it. My DGS refused for the first 8 years of his life to stay overnight anywhere unless he had his mother with him. So no overnight stays with either set of grandparents, no sleep-overs. Nothing. Then just after his 9th birthday he announced that he wanted to go for a sleepover with his best friend. That was three months ago. Now he is making up for lost time, willing to stay with anyone and everyone with out a worry.

Give your sone space and he will be happy and jsut avoid your MiL as much as you can.

rosecarmel Mon 30-Sep-19 21:17:11

I agree wholeheartedly with M0nica, Pnwmama1515- I don't think your mother in-law is an idiot- But perhaps not equipped to understand the boundaries that your son has set, small as he might be-

Doodle Mon 30-Sep-19 21:25:44

I also think she may just have been trying to show other family members how she gets on with her grandson. To be honest I may have done much the same myself blush. My DGD used to scream blue murder when I went near her but I so wanted to give her a cuddle. The screaming soon passed and we have been cuddling for many many many years now I am pleased to say

Pnwmama1515 Tue 01-Oct-19 01:09:17

Thank you all for your advice. I'll have a chat with my husband and tell him he should take the lead at the party this Saturday. My son does great at family events on my side or with friends, but my side also doesn't expect cuddles from him. They wave and say hello and maybe will offer a high five after he has had time to settle. But we only see them maybe twice a year due to distance. I understand her wants and feelings, I thought that by helping her understand how he works they could form a closer bond. I'm hoping she remembers at the party this weekend and everything goes well. I'll keep you all updated!

Pnwmama1515 Tue 01-Oct-19 01:10:51

Also... she is like this with the other grandchildren. But they are older (school aged) and they kinda just grin and bear it.

FarNorth Tue 01-Oct-19 02:28:23

As your ds went to her and held her hand, on the previous occasion, she felt that all was sorted and she could go back to behaving how she liked.
Good advice already given, especially to get dh to fend her off.

Hithere Tue 01-Oct-19 03:59:28

Your mil was playing grandmother of the year in a public event - all for show

Your MIL "understands" your reasons for giving your son space - she just doesn't care.
You wrote it yourself -
"I feel like I have worked so hard to foster a relationship between them because she complains to everyone in the family about how *he won't let her hold him*"
She does not see your son as a person with needs and rights - he is a toy

You are failing your son. You also said the other grandkids are older and they grin and bear it.
This makes me think your MIL's smothering behaviour is not new.

In next birthday party, give your MIL a warning to stop harassing your son. Next time she does it, remove your son from her presence, even if you have to leave the party.
Put her on a timeout and stop any visits till she is able to apologize and see what she is doing wrong.
If she misses his birthday, Christmas, etc - her own fault. She is fulfilling her own prophecy.

Wake up your mamma bear and protect your son.

chris8888 Tue 01-Oct-19 09:55:46

I feel sorry for your mil it is hard to get it right.

jaylucy Tue 01-Oct-19 10:02:49

Family party? I think she was, as my mum used to put it, "showing off" a bit - look at me , isn't my youngest grandchild wonderful and doesn't he love me? Or she had a few too many sherries!
Sorry if it sounds a bit harsh but I have an aunt that whenever at a family event, completely changes personality - and is even worse if her husband says it's time to go home!
You really have to go back to square one with her and the most important thing is that you must stay calm. Take a deep breath and count to ten. Your stress will be communicating to your child and he will be getting stressed as well. But please be kind to your MiL. She mistakenly thought that because he had been okay with her, that would be the same for good.

Dillyduck Tue 01-Oct-19 10:07:26

Get your husband to sort out his mum!

Newatthis Tue 01-Oct-19 10:12:05

Not sure what she is trying to prove really. She seems to be over-trying yet doesn't fully understand what's going on - or seems to then 'forgets'. My concern would be if she is a 'recovering alcoholic' but still 'slips' then is she the kind of person you would want you child to be left alone with. Of course she wants a relationship with your child - she his grandma -but maybe avoid family gatherings which stresses your child out regardless of her. Maybe just stick to just you, your DH and your child visiting that way your son will gain confidence.

Gonegirl Tue 01-Oct-19 10:15:31

The little feller obviously finds parties overwhelming, so don't take him to them. Perhaps invite the birthday child to yours on a different day to have a quiet little celebration?

As for the mil, she was just over-excited. No doubt on normal visits she will go back to remembering what you told her before and act accordingly, If not, obviously she will need a little refresher talk.

Missiseff Tue 01-Oct-19 10:16:30

Ask her why she behaved like that. She's the only one who can answer you.
It does sound like she was putting on a show for others at the party though.