Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

Back to square one

(71 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.

optimist Tue 01-Oct-19 10:17:03

My grandaughter (who is now nine) has never liked cuddles with anyone except her mum & partner. I have always respected this and, whilst I find it disappointing, I have always felt that she is entitled to say no. I am appalled that your baby's grandma is so unaware. Babys needs come first. Always. You may have to explain this to her.

Gonegirl Tue 01-Oct-19 10:17:39

I think the post Hithere Tue 01-Oct-19 03:59:28 is one of the worst posts I have even seen on Gransnet.

annierich Tue 01-Oct-19 10:38:58

I agree with this - maybe she was just trying to show everyone how close she is to your son. Sadly her 'showing off' backfired on her.

fizzers Tue 01-Oct-19 10:50:27

Agree with you Gonegirl a shocking, nasty post

Jaycee5 Tue 01-Oct-19 10:54:28

Some people have very weird ideas of personal space and boundaries.
We have all come across people who lean on you in a queue or rest their hand on yours if you are holding a handrail. It is just odd and if you say 'can you stop leaning on me' they look as if you have just slapped them.
I think it is the only way though. If someone uses you as a prop for your game, you have to either put up with it or turn around and say 'would you mind not doing that' in a firm voice. It doesn't matter if people think you are being a party pooper. People who ignore the boundaries that they should have learnt in childhood, need to be spoken to as a child.
It is telling that she does not want to see him on his own but she may, frankly, have been through the new grandchild phase enough times already and not be particularly maternal.
If you don't want to confront her at the time she does it, then you have to either ignore it or not attend events she is going to be at which seems unfortunate as you do otherwise like her and her grandchild does have a right to get to know her.

4allweknow Tue 01-Oct-19 11:06:36

Seems she may have been trying to impress others at the party to show how much she basically lives your DS. Perhaps a word before the next event highlighting how you had to leave early to calm DS and that you don't want to be having to do that again.

pearl79 Tue 01-Oct-19 11:12:22

completely disagree with gonegirl and fizzers. mum's job to protect son from anyone invading his space, bestowing unwanted physical contact, however intended. we grans may have grown up with no 'rights', but the world is, rightly, a little more understanding now. how else may little one learn to trust people, if they won't respect his needs?

Hetty58 Tue 01-Oct-19 11:16:05

pnwmama, you need to be assertive and just tell MIL what you want her to do and how to interact. Then remind her when necessary. She won't be offended if you put it nicely and you're warm towards her. I have six grandchildren and I really can't keep up with which phases each of them is going through!

NannyC1 Tue 01-Oct-19 11:21:26

*Gonegirl why

Vik65 Tue 01-Oct-19 12:05:45

Hithere i agree if you dont stand up to mil now you will have problems for avery long time.
Gonegirl tou are very wrong

Jillybird Tue 01-Oct-19 12:16:24

I'm quite a sociable person but I don't like big noisy crowds. Neither does my 11 yr old grandson. He has autism and Down syndrome, but I don't. Your MIL must learn to stand back and wait. The more pushy you are with people like me, my grandson and your little son, the less likely they are to come to you of their own accord...
Just one more thought - if she is a recovering alcoholic it may suggest she also has other mental health problems which don't just go away with the absence of alcohol. Definitely do as others have recommended and ask her son to be the go-between. You have done wonders so far.

georgia101 Tue 01-Oct-19 12:16:32

My thoughts are exactly like KatyK. Maybe she felt she had to show how good a grandma she was, and completely blew it. I sincerely hope this is all it was and she will revert to her original way of acting with your son, for all your sakes.

Hithere Tue 01-Oct-19 12:36:59

I would also detangle myself financially from her.
What is the reason why you are renting from her?
If she gets mad at you, for not getting what she wants it or whatever reason, she can use her landlady status against you and your nuclear family.

Chaitriona Tue 01-Oct-19 12:43:52

You sound a great Mum. Really aware of your little boy and his needs. Many people are sensitive to too much sensory or social stimulus and it can be overwhelming, distressing and painful for them. As he enjoys social and physical contact in an environment that is not too busy and at his own pace, it is likely that that this is a stage for him as for many children but the world is full of people wired in different neurological ways and there is nothing wrong with that. You have also been very caring and thoughtful towards your MiL and her needs to have a fulfilling relationship with him. Paradoxically she may also find the same sort of environments stressful and may drink or overact to cope. However your first responsibility is to your little boy. You are doing well. You can continue to explain to her. You can’t necessarily change her though. You are right to be assertive and firm with her at parties if she continues to act out. However strict penalties and threats might lead to huge family disruptions which could be very painful for everyone, especially your husband. It doesn’t sound as if you have any intention of going down that road though. Of course you are frustrated and angry with her. That is natural. But perhaps venting here helps. I hope it will work out. it has every chance to do so with someone as thoughtful and sensible as you. Good luck.

jefm Tue 01-Oct-19 12:54:14

So many of these posts are really harsh re MIL - have we forgotten there are 2 sides to the story here. the mum seems really upset true- but is she over reacting? The MIL is probably at a loss given she has other grandchildren who haven't reacted this way. It doesn't say how old granny is but yes its difficult to change- its also hard when you know your DIL is watching you all the time. Sorry i have less sympathy for mum- if she really loves MIL ( as she says) then she will take time with her, not hide behind her husband to tell his mother off! Strange that it took a few posts about MIL after the first one that some other complaints about her came out! Sounds like MIL and DIL issues yet again !!

Fairydoll2030 Tue 01-Oct-19 12:57:12

You may find your little boy will grow out of it in time. My grandson was very sensitive as a young baby and would scream when my son brought him to our house. He would also cry when my son and DIL took him to friends house and he didn’t like being touched.
Eventually when he was about 3, he would allow us to give him a quick kiss and he eventually would offer a high five at the end of a visit but wouldn’t hug. Even now at five, he can be ‘funny’ with us depending on his mood. He sees a lot of the other grandparents and he is very tactile with my dil’s mother, but then in company, she has always picked him up and carried him round with her thereby excluding anyone else interacting with him. I find it hurtful at times but I don’t say anything. We have had problems with our DIL from the word go but see little of her these days and it suits us.
You do realise that your little boy might be picking up on negative vibes from you and that could contribute to his reaction to your MIL. Perhaps stay the minimum time at the next party you attend? Good luck

Gonegirl Tue 01-Oct-19 13:03:08

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

Really? You know that do you? You can be certain she wasn't just an overexcited adoring granny?

give your MIL a warning to stop harassing your son

Again, really?!!

Put her on a timeout and stop any visits till she is able to apologize and see what she is doing wrong.

Milk of human kindness there.

If she misses his birthday, Christmas, etc - her own fault.

Bring on the estrangement - why not?

Wake up your mamma bear and protect your son.

Where did you even get that ridiculous phrase?

Gonegirl Tue 01-Oct-19 13:03:54

That in reply to NannyC1 Tue 01-Oct-19 11:21:26

*Gonegirl why

Gonegirl Tue 01-Oct-19 13:07:24

This is another thread of over-aged ex Mumsnetters howling for the blood of every non-line-towing mum and mother-in-law.

Gonegirl Tue 01-Oct-19 13:09:16

The OP is genuinely asking for advice. I mean, it is likely to turn into a post of.... etc etc

NfkDumpling Tue 01-Oct-19 13:11:14

At the next party get in quick with his interaction with MiL before she gets at the Prosecco and the party gets into full swing. Keep it brief -and then avoid her. Perhaps your DH or a friend could position themselves between her and your son?

Until he gets older and more confident, enjoy the fact that your MiL doesn’t feel the need to see him very often. She sounds like quite a loud, in-your-face fun sort of person?

Hithere Tue 01-Oct-19 13:28:59


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

Really? You know that do you? You can be certain she wasn't just an overexcited adoring granny?"
An overexicited granny is an adult who is technically able to regulate her own emotions.
The child cannot yet. He is not supposed to. He is a child.
Adoring grannies are sensitive to other people's needs. This granny isn't

"give your MIL a warning to stop harassing your son

Again, really?!!"
Yes, talking to her has no worked as mil is doing what she has been told what NOT to do.
What would you suggest then?

"Put her on a timeout and stop any visits till she is able to apologize and see what she is doing wrong.

Milk of human kindness there."
Yes, children come first. I am being kind to the child

"If she misses his birthday, Christmas, etc - her own fault.

Bring on the estrangement - why not?"
It is not estrangement, it is protecting an innocent child and giving mil consequences for her overstepping the boundaries. I do not advocate to sacrifice the child's happiness for mil's.
His birthday? He will remember MIL annoying him.
Xmas? MIL on his face again.
Easter? He cannot pick up the eggs because MIL's overbearing behaviour pushed him to a tantrum.
Way to go grandma! (Sarcasm)

"Wake up your mamma bear and protect your son.

Where did you even get that ridiculous phrase?"

From a person with different priorities than yours, my kids are first, I am their protector.

Gonegirl Tue 01-Oct-19 13:48:45

Message deleted by Gransnet. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Gonegirl Tue 01-Oct-19 13:50:11

Your post was rather poorly set out, so I haven't replied to the individual comments. Purely because I didn't see them. And because I cba.

Hithere Tue 01-Oct-19 13:53:19


We can agree to disagree.
There is no need for veiled personal attacks.
What you think of me is not important to the OP.