Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

Reasonable expectations for a grandparent taking grandchild/ren?

(103 Posts)
Wildflower222 Thu 13-May-21 22:33:38

This will be sort of long, so bear with me:
I don't have this issue with my own parents, as they are happy to just visit with all of us, collectively, whenever we can, and are happy to babysit when my husband and I need a date night every now and then. They don't pressure us for more.

However, my husband's mother (who we visit together every week or every other week, depending) also wants to take our daughter alone on a regular basis, in addition to this. She asks us almost every week.

Our daughter is two now, but whenever she was still a baby (from 4 mo. onward) we let my MIL take her whenever she asked. Typically it ended up being 2x a week. I did have concerns about this as my daughter would cry every time and it made me feel uneasy, but, I never said anything. My MIL would say she just spent too much time with me (I'm a SAHM). In addition, my MIL smokes and my daughter always returns from her smelling of cigarettes. She always made a point of saying she was careful around her and didn't smoke around her though, so I really had no idea how to bring it up without offending her.

Now I am feeling like maybe I've been overlooking issues that I shouldn't have, but don't want to be unreasonable at the same time. I think it has started to feel like too much pressure all of the time and has put a lot of stress on our family and our marriage. But my MIL cries and claims we are keeping the grandbaby away from her if we tell her no. This makes us feel very guilty for telling her no, but it also makes me less inclined to let her take my daughter alone much at all anymore, as it all feels very manipulative and controlling. She used to take pleasure if my daughter wouldn't want to go to me after she brought her back home.

I think I feel very resentful of all of this, and my husband is usually inclined to still want to always give into her demands. It's been very confusing to me and difficult to separate emotions from what is right. So some outside perspectives would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

CafeAuLait Thu 13-May-21 22:42:30

It doesn't sound like there will be an easy way to do this. Second and third hand smoke is so harmful to a baby or child. My father would go outside to smoke when my children were babies. When he put out his arms to take them when he came back he was told no. He smelled of smoke and my baby wasn't going to be subject to that. If he didn't like it, he could not smoke when visiting but he chose the smokes.

You need to stop worrying about MIL's feelings and think about your baby first. Your first responsibility is to make sure your baby is protected. Your baby can't protect herself so needs you to stand up for her.

Also, you don't owe your MIL time with your baby. Your baby only needs and wants you (and her father). She might want it but she doesn't need it. What is best for your baby?

Your MIL has had her parenting time. It's now your time. You make the rules, you decide when your child can spend time with the grandparents. You can say no and if MIL is offended, she can deal with those feelings.

Why is MIL calling all the shots in your life? You are putting her wants above your own wants and your babies wants/needs? She has too much power in your life and is clearly in charge.

muffinthemoo Thu 13-May-21 22:50:55

She smokes around the baby? No, no dice, sorry. Second hand smoke is one of the major factors correlating with SIDS/cot death. Exposure to smoke is also strongly correlated with childhood asthma and glue ear.
It doesn’t matter if she was the most angelic grandma in every other respect: smoking around the baby actively, provably endangers the baby in a number of ways. That is a legitimate dealbreaker.

keepingquiet Thu 13-May-21 23:26:05

Yes, smoking around a child is a big no no. Either MIL gives up, or she doesn't have the child.
You say you're frightened of offending her? You need to stick up for your own child! Your child can't refuse to say no to inhaling second hand smoke with all the health issues that ensues- not forgetting the harm it will be doing to MIL herself.
Your MIL does not have an inalienable right to see your child so often- don't think because she helped out you owe her something. You don't.
I think you should have a serious discussion with your husband about how you both feel and he should have a word with his mum about her smoking around the child. Leave it to him.

Hithere Thu 13-May-21 23:35:41

You are severely underreacting

Reasonable expectations is what makes you and your dh comfortable (ignoring the guilt) - there is no standard rule to follow

You should also look at who is benefiting from the action- your child? Your mil?

If you are a sahm and you dont need babysitting, why let her take your child this often and it makes you uneasy? I would stop that immediately

The most important point - she smokes and also does that around your child - huge deal breaker for health reasons.
She should ideally visit when she can be supervised to make sure she doesnt sneak a smoke, she hasn't smoked before visiting you, has taken a shower and is wearing clothes that she hasn't smoked in... you get the drill.
You have the right to turn her away if you sniff it.

Shelflife Thu 13-May-21 23:40:19

Smoking around children - no ! Your little one needs you and I feel it is very unjust of your MIL to suggest your daughter spends too much time with you, goodness me she is only 2 years old ! So you are a SAHM ,- how luck you are. I was the same when my 3 children were tiny. I was lucky we could manage without me working and I loved it. My mum used to say " I will not be a MIL who expects weekly contact " She thought that was too much pressure on us. She was a most amazing Grandma . I have five grandchildren and I endeavour to follow her example. This results in an easy relationship with parents and I see my grandchildren often - but never take anything for granted.
Please follow your instincts, I recognize how difficult it is but if you feel uneasy leaving your daughter alone with her you must say no. Her smoking is a valid and sound reason , I can imagine how you feel when your little ones returns smelling of cigarettes!!!! Remember who is in charge. Good luck.

B9exchange Thu 13-May-21 23:57:00

Have you posted about this before, it seems very familiar? I agree with others, smoking and babies do not go together. I don't get these demands from grandparents to have young children in their own. The only time this is needed is if childcare is a necessity, not because a grandparent wants it.

You are your child's protector, step up to your role. Tell your husband that you will be presenting a unified approach. No visits to smoke filled home, they can only see your baby when you are present, in your own home. Yes, they will be upset, but surely your baby's wellbeing is more important?

welbeck Fri 14-May-21 01:29:10

is this for real ?
you hand your baby over to MIL even though the child cries, and MIL smokes.
and now you're worried about offending MIL.
not worried about child's health and well-being then ?

Wildflower222 Fri 14-May-21 03:02:43

Thank you for all of the helpful insights and comments! It's validating that my gut instincts weren't crazy or off-base. I honestly feel a little angry with myself for being so nieve in the beginning, and only just now feeling like I need to take a more assertive stance. Like I've woken up from a fog or something and really don't know why it took so long...
My MIL is a very assertive and confident person who is very difficult to say no to. She takes everything very personally and I think that this shook my confidence as a new mother. I have doubted my instincts and never felt the confidence to act on them. But I have also never had a situation before, as this, where I have needed to. It's all been totally uncharted territory for me, so again thank you all for the input!

- and just to clarify, if I ever was present and she smoked I definitely made sure my daughter was not around her. And she said she never smoked around her when I wasn't taking her word on that I'm assuming the smell came off of her clothes or her house and she likely was unaware? But I can't be sure as she comes accross as someone who doesn't really respect our wishes and I often worried about that in other areas too.
I wish I had spoken up sooner about it, she is an intimidating woman and I have always been more soft spoken. It's also difficult when my husband takes up for her and it causes arguments between us.
I think I start to question if my concerns really are unreasonable.
I am hopeful the two of us can get on the same page and start making decisions for our family going forward.

Wildflower222 Fri 14-May-21 03:05:25

No, this is actually my first post on here smile But I'm unsurprised if there are similar ones out there.

Oopsadaisy1 Fri 14-May-21 03:24:58

It’s Friday, tell your husband that you have made a decision that your DD will Not go to his mothers and stay over from this weekend.

Don’t ask him, tell him outright.

Then HE can go and tell his mother, it’s his parent and he can do it, don’t forget that you are doing this for your daughter, not to keep your MIL happy that she has a second chance at parenting.
Get your big girl pants on, your daughter needs you to stick up for her rights and at the moment that is to be with you and to be safe and healthy. When your DD is old enough to decide for herself whether or not she wants to stay with her Grandma she can.

BlueBelle Fri 14-May-21 05:12:02

I do not understand why you felt the need to allow your little baby girl to stay over twice a week at your mother in laws whilst not needing it (as in work or a night out) are you a people pleaser
It’s a habit now once started will not be so easy to stop without causing upset and bad feeling (like giving a child a sweet then taking it away) she will make a huge fuss and that may cause trouble with your husband
I only ever had babies to stay if the parents were going out and then it was more usually me going to them
Even if your mother in law doesn’t smoke around your baby the cigarette particles will be in everything, her clothes, the bed clothes, the carpets, curtains this is second hand smoke and dangerous to those little lungs
Your mother in law is asking way way too much and you are both complying with her wants Stop now
If you want to, show your husband this thread I m sure you will have more answers in the morning , all saying the same thing,

Stop the visits now she can come to you or you can take them all to the park in the fresh air but be prepared she will cry and beg and try to get your husband on side, it WILL be a difficult time

This will not be an easy ride so much harder to stop a habit once started

Loislovesstewie Fri 14-May-21 05:20:11

I agree with all the comments, your baby is too precious to have to suffer the effects of second hand smoke. The time has come tom say a big 'no'.

CafeAuLait Fri 14-May-21 06:15:24

Even without the smoke, your not wanting to be separated from your child like this is enough.

Your DH needs to get on board too. He is putting his mother before this child and his wife and that is wrong priority.

Izabella Fri 14-May-21 08:48:02

Kim19 Fri 14-May-21 08:59:08

Wowee! Sounds as if your daughter is not particularly happy and you are clearly not very happy. Follow your maternal instincts and keep the child safe. You will live with the flack from elsewhere in the knowledge that you're doing the very best you can for your child. Difficult but manageable. Good luck.

H1954 Fri 14-May-21 08:59:21

If your DD is so important to your MIL why not encourage MIL to stop smoking? This would benefit her health and might mean that she will be around so much longer for the GC that she clearly dotes on.
For now though, in your shoes I would certainly NOT let any child of mine be anywhere near a smoke for any long thought of time. I did hear once, some years ago, that the toxins from a cigarette remain in the smokers exhaled breath for around 90 minutes. Thinking about how many ciggies a smoker has their breath would be so aweful; that smell alone has got to loaded with all manner of nasties.
If she were my MIL she could cry all she liked, she wouldn't be within a considerable distance of my children until she quit the smoking.

JaneJudge Fri 14-May-21 09:09:29

she sounds very domineering sad I agree with whoever said start today, say no and tell don't ask

Fog is normal after you have a baby smile

DillytheGardener Fri 14-May-21 09:20:26

Yes nip it in the bud now. From my own experience the longer you allow her do what she wants the more domineering she will become. Take it from me, my MIL is in her 90’s and it’s too late for me to put the brakes on her interference.
Perhaps can you say your doctor has advised your daughter not be around second hand smoke, clothing included? Also say you have tried having her (your daughter) on overnights and you have realised it is just too early, for her and you. Then don’t try to justify or placate. It’s you’re decision and you both need to stick and stand by it.
Your husband will give into the squeakiest wheel, I think you now need to be the squeakiest wheel. Put your foot down. My MIL was always the squeakiest wheel, and my DH would do anything to give in to her to make it stop. I’ve now realised if I’d been more firm and put up a fuss myself I wouldn’t have had to deal with years of nonsense.

Shelflife Fri 14-May-21 09:28:21

You are clearly a lady with a trusting heart and like me avoids confrontation. A dominant MIL is very difficult to deal with! However I feel sure that your maternal instincts will provide you with the strength you need. A sound idea has been posted - start the day with no! Talk to your husband , he too probably finds it hard to stand up to his mother - easier to give in . If you tackle this together as a team you will succeed. Please show your husband all these posts and I hope he realizes that together you can and will say no. Your precious daughter needs you both to protect her. I wish you and your DH lots of strength - just be determined and adamant . This is your child not hers.

eazybee Fri 14-May-21 10:01:44

You have decided, for whatever reason, you don't want your daughter staying overnight at her grandmother's house. You are the child's mother therefore you tell her. as politely as possible, but firmly, that you have decided to discontinue this from now on, and stick to it. Would be helpful to get your husband's agreement, but if not, go ahead anyway. The time may come when your child wants to stay with her grandmother, but that is a different issue.
B9exchange is correct, there have been several posts on this theme in recent years; domineering mother in law, weak husband, demands for time with grandchild.

annodomini Fri 14-May-21 10:10:48

So "she spends too much time" with you! But you are her mother. You have chosen to he a SAHM so what did you expect to do with your time? My advice is to try to make contact with other young mums and toddlers. Now that things are (hopefully) going back to normal, see if there is a mums and toddlers club where your little girl can mix with other children and you can normalise your life by making new friends. Fare from spending too much time with her mum, this child is spending far too much time with grandma.

annodomini Fri 14-May-21 10:11:44

PS There will also be story times at your local library - if there is still one in your community.

Wildflower222 Fri 14-May-21 14:02:55

These posts have really helped me to see things more clearly and given me more confidence to act on my gut, thank you!
Sometimes when you're too close to a situation, all of the emotions can muddle things.

I think some of you are spot on in your observations that it won't be easy. We have already pulled back just slightly from what our original "arrangment" with her was and it feels like a nightmare. I think my husband is cracking under her pressure and I am insecure in our ability to take a stance. I will show this to him though and hopefully it will give him the confidence and awareness he needs also!

I'm also hopeful we can do this all in love, and I really don't want estrangment or hard feelings. I hope that my MIL will be able to recognize we are just trying to act in the best interest of our family. I believe she struggles with insecurities and fears of letting go.

Wildflower222 Fri 14-May-21 14:06:30

Yes you're right, it has gotten worse. I think I believed in the beginning that she just needed time to adjust to changes and that things would get better. Now I wish I had acted sooner because it feels a bit like we are trapped and she has no intention of letting go.