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DIL here, can I get some help understanding why there’s such an expectation of “alone time?”

(175 Posts)
tellmey Fri 22-Oct-21 01:43:48

I have an older daughter, but I am pregnant currently and this will be my fiancé’s first and his parents’ first grandchild.
His mom seems to have assumed that she will have baby over unsupervised/for overnights, and really acts like there’s no possible way she could have a bond/relationship with him if she doesn’t get to have “alone time” with him.

For one, I am not currently working and don’t need childcare. For two, we send my daughter to daycare for social development and will be sending them both to daycare a few times a week once he is old enough (probably around 1.5) and they will continue at their daycare when I return to work after I finish university.

For two, MIL is a binge drinking alcoholic who is completely wasted by a few hours after noon every single time she has a day off, and her and her husband (step FIL) both smoke inside their house heavily and their home always reeks of cigarette smoke.

She is a nurse, and surely knows that an alcoholic indoor chain smoker is not a good choice for someone to leave your child with, yet seems to assume that just being grandma erases the importance of those two facts.

I will absolutely not be leaving my children with her alone, nor will they be spending time at her house supervised or not (my daughter already doesn’t) because the smoke residue is very unhealthy for children and it makes me ill as well.

I’m just curious for some reasoning from grandparents about WHY there’s this thought that she simply HAS to have “alone time” with my kids lest she “may as well just be cut out completely” (her words to my fiancé.)

I do like my MIL as a person, but I will not be putting the safety and health of my kids at risk to spare her feelings and I don’t feel particularly comfortable leaving my baby with anyone at all until they’re quite a bit bigger.

Also, what’s up with the idea that coming to my house and holding my baby is “helping me?” There’s a thousand things you could do to help me, and holding my newborn baby is not even on the list frankly.

We are doing no visitors except grandparents for the first 3 weeks, and will only be allowing once a week visits at most for the foreseeable future after baby is born. Once we are comfortable with the routine we have built and are ready for it, she is welcome to come to our house and spend time with him as long as she follows recommendations for smokers (wash hands thoroughly, change into a clean non smoked in shirt before trying to hold him and no kisses, which is for illnesses and smoker’s mouth as well.)

We currently see his parents a few times a month, always at his grandpa’s house as I am uncomfortable in their home and uncomfortable having my daughter there with the smoke residue and the smell. The plan is to continue seeing them around the same amount, and in the same places- our house, or grandpa’s.

I think that she has the expectation that the amount they see the baby will be astronomically higher than the amount they see us currently, and I just can’t wrap my head around why someone would think that having a baby makes us less busy as opposed to more. I am of the belief that you should expect to see a couple the same amount or less than you did before when they have a baby, not more.

Hithere Fri 22-Oct-21 02:45:46

Where does your husband stand?

Addicts (including alcoholics) are not good influences, including children, despite dna links.
Why have a relationship with them if they are not sober?

Her expectations are not your problem.
Let her know what you and your dh are willing to offer and when she complains, she needs to be given consequences for her actions.

It is going to get ugly before it gets better.

Hithere Fri 22-Oct-21 02:46:50

Forgot! She may want a do over baby, recreate the experience of motherhood.

MissAdventure Fri 22-Oct-21 02:57:50

I can't speak on behalf of all grandparents or mother in laws, but I can say it's very rare in here to see people wanting 'alone time'.
I certainly only ever did it as part of babysitting; I much preferred it when the baby's mum was around.

Perhaps your mum in law wants the baby at hers in order that she can top up with alcohol?

freedomfromthepast Fri 22-Oct-21 03:17:37

I wish I had an answer. Lots of people reporting Grandma showers and grandparents putting in entire nurseries in their homes. It just seems so odd to me.

The most important thing is for you and your husband to discuss expectations that you both have and then stick to them. Hithere is correct, you are not responsible for managing her expectations. I also believe that she may get a bit difficult when she doesn't want get her way.

Your job is to keep your child safe from people who may be a danger. You already know this, but once you become parents, you will feel it in your soul. You got this.


Chardy Fri 22-Oct-21 07:09:21

Many congratulations.
To answer your question, I said to a friend a while back how great it was to have the opportunity to spend time with grandchildren 1-to-1. Having them visit with other adults around is completely different.
Obviously I agree that no-one would leave a child with an alcoholic. Can she get help for her addiction?
Does she even see it as an addiction?
Good luck

Froglady Fri 22-Oct-21 07:16:47

One problem that I can forsee when she comes to your house to see the baby is that even if she changes her clothes they will still smell of cigarettes as they're kept in the house where she lives. I found this out when I invited a friend to share a take away with me and although they're had a shower first and put clean clothes on they still stunk of cigarettes.

BlueBelle Fri 22-Oct-21 07:27:04

What a shame to have to practically draw up a contract of dos and donts before a grand parent visits a baby Very different these days I don’t recognise anything in your post with my bringing of babies into the world
If she’s truly as bad as you say I m surprised she can hold down a job as a nurse and I hope she’s not at a hospital near me
I WOULD NEVER. let a young baby stay over night with anyone, unless necessary certainly not for their entertainment
Presumably your husband has turned out ok what does he feel about it all you don’t mention his views or voice surely it’s up to him to have a quiet word with his mum and dad and explain why these things can’t be allowed to happen

vegansrock Fri 22-Oct-21 07:30:27

Your baby your rules. Agreed the smoking and drinking definitely a no no. I can’t imagine why anyone other than a parent wants to have alone time with a new born. One of the great things about being a grandparent is you can hand them back when they cry/ throw up/ need changing etc. I’m here for emergencies and for essential childcare to help the parents, not to play mummy - been there done that.

GagaJo Fri 22-Oct-21 08:10:54

While to a certain extent I agree, I also feel a bit sorry for her. She's excited about her grandchild and it sounds as if you don't want her involved and to have very limited contact.

Maggiemaybe Fri 22-Oct-21 08:15:19

I’m just curious for some reasoning from grandparents about WHY there’s this thought that she simply HAS to have “alone time” with my kids lest she “may as well just be cut out completely”

I’ve never heard of this, so can’t imagine.

Lots of people reporting Grandma showers and grandparents putting in entire nurseries in their homes.

Never heard of this either. Grandma showers? Good grief.

I think I must live in another world. We look after our grandchildren when we’re asked to, in order to help their parents. Having full responsibility for someone else’s newborn isn’t something I yearn for, nor would any of my friends.

And a binge-drinking alcoholic heavy smoker would only ever have had access to my babies under very strict and close supervision.

VioletSky Fri 22-Oct-21 08:23:43

I'm sorry I don't know exactly why some grandparents think they are entitled to the grandchildren but you stick to those boundaries and don't explain them more than once.

Lucca Fri 22-Oct-21 08:31:00

It’s obvious your MIL is unsuitable to be around a newborn because if her smoking and drinking, but I’m curious as to whether you would still have made such rigid rules about visits etc if she had been a clean living non smoker ?

wildswan16 Fri 22-Oct-21 08:33:17

This idea of "alone time" is something inside her head - don't even bother trying to make sense of it.

What happens after baby is born may be very different anyway. At the moment she is imagining it - she hasn't factored you and your partner's wishes into things at all.

The most important thing is that you and fiance are in agreement, that he knows his reaction to his mother is vitally important. Don't stress about it, smile sweetly at her and keep your cool!

Shelflife Fri 22-Oct-21 08:41:07

Grandma showers- no , no, no!!!!!. Your children , your rules . You sound like a strong woman and will stick to your guns. I have had three children and would never ever have left them with an alcoholic - as for a heavy smoker - no way. My Mum was a super Grandma and I try to follow her example. I provide child care one day a week to enable my daughter to work , nursery for rest of week. I love my grandchildren dearly but they are not my children. As for a baby staying overnight, why?? Absolutely no necessity for that unless you have a family emergency. A baby needs to be at home. Staying overnight at Grandmas is not something done to simply for Grandmas pleasure! I am very maternal , just love babies ! but the wishes of your MIL are bizarre. Demanding ' alone time' with your newborn allowing her to ' bond' with her GC smells of a very unhealthy relationship !!! In your position I would be very worried indeed. Good luck, I know you will protect your children.

Daisymae Fri 22-Oct-21 08:47:07

It does seem that some people go overboard with grandchildren. Almost as if they think that it's their own. I can only think that as a mother you do what you think is right.

rafichagran Fri 22-Oct-21 09:13:28

I agree your MIL should not have alone time with your baby, especially as she drinks heavily and smokes.
I do find your attitude just as bad though, very rigid and so full of rules. I think asking the Grandmother to change her clothes is insulting, I have never heard of anyone being so dictatorial.
I dont agree with all this Grandparents alone time with the baby, and as for Grandparents showers, it a no no from me. However why are you so dictatorial? I have to say you sound a bit controlling, and unlike any new Mother I have come across.

MissAdventure Fri 22-Oct-21 09:16:24

I hope the mother in law doesn't work anywhere near where I live.
I'm surprised her drinking hasn't been picked up on. shock

Smileless2012 Fri 22-Oct-21 09:24:18

As others have posted, I've not come across a GP insisting on having 'alone time' but I can understand why having a GC to themselves from time to time would be appealing.

I share BlueBelle's surprise that she's capable of holding down a job, especially as a nurse if she's as bad as you describe tellmey.

You and your H need to have a talk with her together and tell her what wont be happening and why. She may be disappointed, but as long as she knows she'll be seeing her first GC often enough to have a good relationship with him/her, she'll get used to the arrangement and enjoy being a GM.

Backedintoacorner Fri 22-Oct-21 09:30:16

Has your husband spoken to her about her drinking and smoking being a barrier to spending more time with baby? I think whilst difficult, that would be the kindest thing to do. At least then she knows and you aren’t pussyfooting around it for years.

CafeAuLait Fri 22-Oct-21 09:30:23

They don't need it, they want it (or some do). I think you are right to not visit their home or let them watch your kids. Alcoholism and smoke are no goes for me.

Cabbie21 Fri 22-Oct-21 09:36:30

Your MiL is being completely unreasonable. I hope your fiance supports you and stands up to his mother’s demands. I think your strict rules are perfectly understandable in the circumstances.

Nonogran Fri 22-Oct-21 09:36:39

Gosh it all sounds very disfunctional what with her drinking & smoking. She’s a nurse? Full blown nurse? I hope an alcoholic nurse never has to care for me!
You & your partner need to stand together & restrict access. That’s the only way forward.
A smoke smelling baby would be awful. How vile. You can hardly pass it off as “Grandma’s perfume!”
You are clearly articulate & educated. Stand your ground. Your kids, your rules.
Congratulations too & I hope your confinement goes smoothly.

lemsip Fri 22-Oct-21 09:47:06

..... stick to your usual plan is my advice. .......please yourselves as the parents. Don't ever do what you don't feel 'okay' about

Froglady Fri 22-Oct-21 09:50:32

You can be a functioning alcoholic - the op says that the drink problem is only when she has a day off, not that she is going into work drunk or anything like that. She is a binge alcoholic and so doesn't drink all the time. I used to be one of those and was only drinking when I wasn't working. Nobody at work knew I had a drink problem, none of my family did, as I kept it to myself. So just because she drinks on her days off does not mean she can't function at work - she obviously can as I presume someone would have complained, either staff or patients/family.
I'm not sticking up for her as regards her smoking, just her drinking. Binge alcohol drinking is fairly common I think and I don't want to see people vilified because of that.