Gransnet forums


Why is my daughter in law behaving like this?

(29 Posts)
claire45 Mon 29-Dec-14 23:12:34

We absolutely adore our 14 month old grandson but his mother is driving us mad. We are asked to babysit fairly frequently and jump at the chance. He behaves like an angel – we read to him, take him to the park, to see family, swimming and generally have a great time. He sleeps through the night and frankly is a pleasure to have. However, on returning our grandson to his parents our daughter in law then blames us for his resultant non sleeping because we have made him over tired, given him a cold by taking him swimming and the latest was that we had infected him with chicken pox (her self diagnosis, despite us not knowing anyone with chicken pox!) which turned out to be a small patch of eczema! She gave up work recently in order to look after him full time but it is clear she is not enjoying it even though she does have friends with young children who come round and visit and her parents fairly close by. We discovered last week that because our grandson is now walking she is shutting him in the sitting room with just the TV for company for hours on end because she is fed up with chasing after him. She says he is being aggressive towards her, being too demanding and biting her on the leg if she fails to pick him up. We have never experienced or witnessed this behaviour.

We have all attended several family functions over the past few months and my daughter in law will at every opportunity remove our grandson from the situation giving him a “time out” for his bad, unsociable behaviour (not an expression I am familiar with). Everyone is confused by this as he is as good as gold and we all tried to say so but she became defensive and unpleasant. My son explains it by saying his wife is embarrassed by bad behaviour, but our grandson is NOT misbehaving and is a happy little soul. If he so much as whinges his toys are packed away and he is not allowed to touch them for the rest of the day as a punishment.

From what I can see his only problem is that he is not sleeping very well but frankly I think he is bored stiff. He sits in front of the TV all day; she doesn’t play or read to him and if I suggest an outing or doing some activity with him such as I would at our house, my daughter in law says “he won’t like it” or “it will make him too tired and grumpy”.

My main fear is that she will make our grandson neurotic; making him fearful of doing anything and making him think he is a naughty boy all the time. Our daughter is law was very much like this when our son met her. She is a very fussy eater, won’t try any sort of activity and doesn’t socialise well. Our son is great with him but is obviously at work all day. Having said that, even he is told not to do this or that as his son “doesn’t like it”.

I have tried to broach the subject with our son but naturally he takes her side. I am so sad because the first two years of a child’s life should be so enjoyable for the parents and is the best time for learning and I feel he is missing out on so many levels. About 4 weeks ago our local zoo had an open day, a sort of “petting corner” for younger children had opened. We phoned to ask if we could take our grandson. Our daughter in law answered the phone and after making a few weak excuses as to why he couldn’t come, she passed the phone to our son whispering “don’t you dare contradict me, I’ve already told her he is in bed” which of course he wasn’t.

What can I do?

Stansgran Mon 29-Dec-14 23:39:55

Poor little soul. I'm off to bed but didn't want to read this and then not sympathise. Small children need all the love and attention they can get and the DIL sounds immature,mean spirited and very unsure of herself. There will be more Gnetters who can give better advice than I can probably in the morning. Sometimes I despair of the cruelty of some of the mums we hear about.

absent Tue 30-Dec-14 01:07:19

I think this sounds worrying and your daughter-in-law needs some help before what seem to be her own problems cause serious problems for her child. I don't know how you can find help – perhaps you can have a word with your son. This is not normal behaviour for the mother of a 14-month old child and I think it's very concerning.

NanKate Tue 30-Dec-14 06:57:42

What a difficult situation. I suspect your DinL has depression. I agree that your son is the one to approach.

You need to tell him IMO that your DinL's attitude will have an effect on his son's development. Could he suggest she meets up with other mums more ?

vampirequeen Tue 30-Dec-14 08:02:37

I think your DIL may well be ill. You say she was like this before he was born. Has his birth exacerbated her behaviour? Could it be that she already had some sort of undiagnosed mental health issue and has now developed post natal depression on top of it?

Although not the perfect solution could you suggest that it's time for your GS to go to nursery a couple of days a week? My two year old GS does that and really loves it. How long before your GS is three? He'll be entitled to 15 hours a week free nursery at that age.

hildajenniJ Tue 30-Dec-14 08:20:08

How can a 14 month old be naughty? They are a delight at that age, learning so fast and testing their boundaries. I think your DiL needs some parenting classes!
How was she brought up, you learn parenting from your own mother, at least I did.

hildajenniJ Tue 30-Dec-14 08:23:15

Does she take him to any toddler clubs. There, she would be able to compare his behaviour with that of the other children. It might make her realise that he is a perfectly normal little boy.

vampirequeen Tue 30-Dec-14 08:37:40

He maybe plays her up because he's so bored. He won't go to bed because he's not tired or he's learned that any attention, good or bad, is better than no attention at all.

granjura Tue 30-Dec-14 09:05:20

Perhaps she just feels so inadequate- as you are clearly so much better at looking after him- jealous too. But also feeling the blues and insecure.

Try to take a step back and be less 'hands on and so so perfect at it' when she is around. Not an easy situation, bonne chance.

J52 Tue 30-Dec-14 09:38:36

What a difficult situation for you. Good advice here from other GNs. I would only add, tread very carefully and be careful what you say to your son. The last thing you want to do is alienate either, or both of them.

Your DIL does sound very unsure of herself, but as outsiders GPs do not really know the situation. Just be there for them all and continue to offer days out, maybe to include your DIL. Best wishes. x

soontobe Tue 30-Dec-14 10:10:56

She sounds like a very anxious mother to me. Very fearful of all sorts of things.
Do you think she will have seen her doctor at all?

daffydil Tue 30-Dec-14 11:17:05

Very difficult and distressing situation for you. J52 has made a good suggestion that you might suggest an outing that would include your daughter in law as well as grandson

Mishap Tue 30-Dec-14 12:08:17

How very difficult for you.

The option of some care outside the home, or toddler groups etc would seem to be a good option for him, as he would get more stimulation; but he does also need his mother's love and warmth.

I do not know how you can resolve this situation without risking alienating them, and I can only send my commiserations.

rascal Tue 30-Dec-14 15:26:53

Hi claire45 very distressing for you. You could mention this problem to your GP and find out who the Health Visitor is for your Daughter In Law and your Grandson. If you're GP doesn't know he will know a way to find out. When you get their Health Visitors details you will be able to phone her to explain the problem your Daughter In Law is having with sharing her new Son etc. If she is a first time Mum she will be anxious and perhaps is finding everything stressful. After all having a baby will be a completely new life style for her and your Son. As you say he is away to work all day so she isn't getting the support from him all of the time. She may be suffering from post natal depression. So I feel the best solution is to get in touch with her Health Visitor. That way you will feel a trouble shared is a trouble halved. I do understand all about new parents and children. I could write a book! Let us know how you get on.

constance Tue 30-Dec-14 15:33:55

Oh how horrible for you. It's so hard to watch first time parents who treat their babies like grown ups. I sometimes wish everyone had to go on a course with Dr Tanya Byron and learn sensible parenting. It would have benefited me immensely.
What are the other grandparents like?
And can your son shift his work around and be at home one day a week or even one morning? My Other Half did that with our two. It might help her feel less overwhelmed.
It is hard to shift from working to parenting full time, but it sounds like she wants to be totally in control of everything, and children aren't like that.

loopylou Tue 30-Dec-14 17:04:53

With the plethora of ' How to raise your baby/toddler/child etc' books, I wonder if your DIL, claire45, has been trying to follow one of them?
I was really surprised at the number of supposedly helpful books available for new parents ( my DS & DDIL included), that only seem to serve to confuse when the little one doesn't follow the 'advice'. I had to very diplomatically point out that DGS can't read so the advice is sometimes pretty useless - and things certainly went better afterwards.
There is far too much pressure put on new parents today, I really don't remember it being like that 30+ years ago tchsad

Anya Tue 30-Dec-14 17:46:55

Do NOT tell your son or DiL that he behaves perfectly for you. Do not critisise or say anything which indermines their ability as parents.

Why? Because it won't be accepted and will only make things worse.

See all and say nothing. But always be up for babysitting.

NotTooOld Tue 30-Dec-14 18:04:49

Anya is right. Good advice.

Kiora Tue 30-Dec-14 18:34:17

'What can I do?' Take my advice DO NOTHING. Obviously make sure he has a fab time with you. But play it down when you take him home. There could be many reasons for her behaviour and we could all be guessing wrongly. My only advice would be to praise her parenting. He's well behaved when he's out then tell her" oh everyone says what a wonderful job your doing he's was so well behaved" I think your on very dangerous ground here. It's you who has the most to loose. See all, hear all and say nowt.

FlicketyB Wed 31-Dec-14 13:20:21

I agree, say nothing, praise and support her but keep a very close eye on events. She could be depressed or suffering from some other mental condition. Regardless of that she could also be putting your DGS's mental and physical welfare at risk and at some time you may feel you need to speak to social or health services about him.

The best idea would to help get him into a good nursery a few days a week where the staff should pick up any cause for concern.

glammanana Wed 31-Dec-14 14:08:56

After 5DGSs & 2DGDs I can say the very best thing is to say nothing,I learnt this with baby No 1 and I have never given my advice since just waited to be asked and things will turn out right in the end,your DIL is maybe just a wee bit anxious and lonely she could also be adult companionship so make a date with her for a day out with her maybe her mum will look after little one for her for a few hours.

Falconbird Fri 02-Jan-15 17:16:31

I was so looking forward to being a Gran or Nan as I'm known. It turned out to be so much trickier than I had ever imagined. It's even harder now that I'm a widow.

I think if you're the son's mother, as I am, it's harder. I certainly tolerated the things my mother did and was more disapproving of my MIL who was actually a much nicer person. smile

angiebaby Fri 02-Jan-15 18:28:24

hello claire,,,i am a private maternity nurse,,i teach new mums how to look after their new born babies as soon as they come out of hospital, i arrive on the day that they come home, i live in and work 24/7......the first week i let mums rest, doing everything for the baby,,,but if she wants to get involved staright away,,,i show her all i know to have a contented baby, new mums are scared and they havent got a clue...but they dont want to look stupid,,,some new mums couldnt even pick the little ones up ,,,too scared, ! most of the times it was mainly their mums they were close too,,,not the mother in laws. i saw it all the times, i used to say to my client well when you feel ok,,,invite your mum in law round so she can have a nice cuddle with the baby,,,,,,i was the one who would pick the baby up and say to mum now if we have mummmys permission,,,and im sure we have,,,lets go and meet grandma,,,and i would put baby in grandmas arms,,,much to her delight.......i wuld say to the new mum come and help me make a cup of tea for granny,,,,( method in my madness ),,,,,,,i would linger in the kitchen keeping the new mum busy,,,and say to her,,,look i know how your feeling,,,but you may need your inlaw one day ...but its her sons bay too,,,,the new mum is always protective doesnt want anyone to hold the baby,,,,but when her freinds or work mates visited the baby used to get handed round !!!!! when the tea was ready,,,we would take it in i would take the baby off of granny and say,,ok let granny have a nice cup of tea,,,and i would lay the baby back in the cot, i could often see the look on the mums face of releif, quite often i would get,,,i dont get on with my mother in law,,,,sometimes i would see the resentment with their own mother,,,,,,my advice like all the other girls here,,,,say nothing, my children never even gave me a look in when their kidswere born,,,,i worked in a maternity hospital for years, they dont want our advice they dont want us to have a lot to do with their children only when it suits them like you say babysitting, my own grandkids are angels,,,,i try to spoil them rotten,,,but all i get is do that dont do thi s,,,,,,,no they cant go their,,,,,i get the time i can let them get in the pool and when they have to get out even,,,,what i can give them to eat and what i cant,,,,,i am controlled, i hate it,,,,so say nothing enjoy your baby sitting when you can,,,,,,i see it all the time,,,,mums want to do their own thing,,,,,hopefully when they are all grown up maybe im saying maybe,,,,,,we can tell them how their mothers were.......i wouldnt say anything to your son,,,,,cos that will be wrong too,,,,there is a lot of us in the same boat,,,,,,,,i cant take my daughters kids out in case i go somewhere she dont aprove,,,,but im ok to babysit,,,,,,best of luck,,,take a deep breath,,,sending you a hug,xx

etheltbags1 Fri 02-Jan-15 18:55:05

I live near a school and hear mothers screaming at their children when they walk to the crossing, some kids are running towards the road and I think its because the mothers panic but when they grab them they shout and its almost abusive. Its the same at night when they are going home. Many mums are trying to be strict (or seen to be strict) with their kids that they go overboard and shriek. One mum I saw was kicking her boy all the way up the street, no one reported her and he is grown up now and this mum used to shove soap in her kids mouths if they swore, they adore their mum and return home regularly as grown ups. Many mums have not had much discipline in their lives and try to be strict in this way.
My DD is a bit strict with DGD but she is not cruel, just the opposite and I spoil her rotten (granmas job). It is easy to mistake abuse for discipline, many men my age say they were beaten by their dads and it never did them any harm. I was beaten and bullied too but it harmed me so as a grandparent we can only look on and be as loving as we can to the grandkids.

Falconbird Fri 02-Jan-15 19:07:51

I do think that things improve a lot once the kiddies are older. My son and his wife are far more relaxed around me now that the children are 4 and 7. My youngest son and his wife were relaxed with me from the beginning, so it does seem to vary. I do remember wanting my mum to be proud of me and her new grandchildren when they were born but I wasn't prepared to take her advice about anything - times don't really change.

Ethelbags - I'm in my late sixties and a baby boomer. My son says that we weren't the beat generation but the beaten generation - witty but sadly all too true.