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How to stop being an over-protective mother

(16 Posts)
MariSH1981 Wed 16-Aug-17 23:54:19

I have been a little naughty and signed up on Gransnet, when I am a parent in need of help but want it from a grans perspective! Please forgive me in advance.
I am a mother to three young children 3, 5 and 5. We live 100 miles away from children's grandparents and only visit during school holidays. Children's time is split between their dad's home, our home and then grandparents. We stayed at grandparents for three weeks this summer. I don't mind their relationship except for a few things: excessive screen time 2hrs plus (t.v and video games) (even close to bed-time) - children are getting addicted and even refuse to go out with me sometimes hoping to play a game, there are new toys at every visit (spoils the toy treat I promise the children once they meet all their sticker charts), bed-time is 9pm+ everyday and ashamed to say, sometimes I feel insecure that my children put their grandmother on the same pedestal as me so for e.g. they take care of their grandmother more than they do for me (getting her drinks, massaging her feet etc.)/granny has told them they are her best-friend and they are to share all their secrets with her (I feel they should share these with me) and sometimes I feel granny does not want me around the kids but I am there to spend time with my kids and holiday there too. Granny's is a holiday house from where we take day-trips around the area. I love it when granny cooks with kids, feeds them, baths them, loves them, tells them stories etc. With my sister's children, my sister drops them at granny's with no rules and granny is allowed to do as she pleases. Sometimes, I feel because I am present in the home it is harder to watch. Please advise on how to overcome my issues - I know granny feels overwhelmed by my presence, I stay tight-lipped but grandparents behave as if they are walking on egg-shells. My mum gets very very sensitive if I am to voice my concerns and may even withdraw totally. How can I overcome my concerns without hurting her feelings?

paddyann Thu 17-Aug-17 00:07:11

rules are great ,but holiday time at Grannies shouldn't be about rules .They should be allowed to enjoy themselves in a different environement from home.I understand you think 2 hours of TV is too much but surely for a few weeks a year it can be allowed.As to Granny being their best friend ..well MY granny was a light in my life ,I learned loads from her she was a suffragette and her stories were amazing.Maybe it would be nice for your children to have wonderful memories of THEIR granny.You know us grans aren't going to always be there.Let the wee ones enjoy their time with her while they can .I know someone will come along and disagree with every word of that...but its how I feel

Maggiemaybe Thu 17-Aug-17 00:35:20

Is this your mother, OP? If so I would have thought you could have worked through some of these issues with her. If it's important to you that the children have more sleep and less screen time, then she should work with you on this. If there's a real deluge of toys and this contradicts your reward system, she needs to rein herself in a bit - but a new toy apiece on arrival surely isn't going to harm? As for the foot massages, all I can say is yuck! But it sounds as though you've all had a good summer, courtesy of your parents, and I think you should cut her some slack. Grandparents do usually enjoy treating their grandchildren, and will it really hurt if it's just for a few weeks? They are supposed to be on holiday after all - it'd be a poor do if all normal rules still applied.

BlueBelle Thu 17-Aug-17 05:48:45

Gosh if you trust these people ( are they your parents?) I d do as your sister does and drop the kids off for at least some of the holiday and have a holiday yourself There will always be tension when two women with some different ideas of house keeping or child rearing are in the same house for any length of time that's why both of you are as you say walking on eggshells if you stay for three weeks why not half it and have half with them and half of them being on their own with the grandparents
I m with Maggiemaybe the thought of young kids massaging an old gals trotters is yukky

Starlady Thu 17-Aug-17 06:02:45

IDK... a few weeks can be a long time in a child's life. If the rules were relaxed for just a week or so, then I would say maybe it's worth the difficulties of getting the kids back on track. But 3 weeks? As both a mum and a gm, I don't think so.

Do you always stay for that long, Mari? If so, then I think either you either need to air your concerns with the gps or take shorter vacations there. If you choose to voice your concerns, you may get flak over the fact that it's "their home." However, imo, you have the right to set rules for your children regarding tv time, bedtime, etc. - things that affect the kids' welfare only and don't interfere with the gps' home life. It's a little harder, I think, to try to control how many toys/new toys they have in their homes. So you may have to adjust how you reward their sticker chart accomplishments while you're visiting the gps (maybe a new book or extra time at the park instead of a toy?) If you don't think mum can't handle your setting boundaries, that's a sign, imo, that you should make the visits shorter instead.

If you do, they may question it and argue for more, but please stick to your guns. You can just say you're sorry but you're "only available" for a week, this time or whatever. They don't need details. Since they seemed uncomfortable around you, shorter visits may be better for them, too.

Starlady Thu 17-Aug-17 06:14:46

But what makes you think you were being "overprotective?" Did one of the gps say that? Imo, you just want to preserve your routines and maintain what you feel are sensible rules for your kids.

Some would say the gps were being "too permissive" or "indulgent." Everyone has their own pov. But it's up to you (and their dad) to raise these children - not the gps.

As for the kids taking care of their gm more than you, I wouldn't worry. That may just mean they see her as "old" or that being with "granny" is a special treat (as you want it to be, right?).

I don't think you should take the "secrets" issue too seriously either. No reason the kids can't tell secrets to both of you. As long as they feel comfortable sharing their secrets with you, also, I think you're ok.

suzied Thu 17-Aug-17 06:26:45

Sounds like you are a little bit jealous of granny here....I agree, don't go for 3 weeks if it's bothering you that much. its a long chunk of holiday. I'd be all for dropping them off and going somewhere on your own for a week.

yggdrasil Thu 17-Aug-17 09:01:31

I agree with most here, three weeks is too long. Cut it down. Then you can tell Granny truthfully that while they have a good time there, it takes too long to get them back in the normal routine when they go home

MariSH1981 Thu 17-Aug-17 20:39:52

Thank you so much for your feedback on this very sensitive matter. I now feel the solution to the problem is def to stay for a shorter period, and whilst I am there I should try and stay out of granny's way, so she can be herself with the kids. Best to stay oblivious to things. It really is a difficult position to be in.

Luckygirl Thu 17-Aug-17 21:25:41

I can see your difficulty. I care for my GC twice a week and when they are with me they have very different rituals from at home - but they do understand that this is what happens at Grandmas, and that is what happens at home. For instance neither need a bottle to feed any more, but a silly little ritual developed when the oldest was presented with a baby sibling in that she would ask to have milk in a bottle - we all understood why she had regressed and we went along with it - we still do, with both of them! - it is just a bit of silliness that they do at Grandma and Grandpas.

I do think that children can make a distinction between what happens in one place and what happens at home without it causing disruption to their happiness. They understand that the rules are different.

Having said that, we do of course try to stick to the important rules that hold good at home.
In fact in some ways I am much stricter than Mum - please and thank you are compulsory in my house!

I know that in some ways it seems unfair that the GPs get to dole out the treats while you are trying to keep order and give the boundaries; and I guess it must make you a bit jealous. But the two roles are very different.

You might find it easier to leave the children there for a few days, and to cut down on the time that you are all there together. If there are some rules about which you feel very strongly, then you could discuss this with your (?) Mum before the children go there. But I think it makes sense to be a bit flexible if you can. Children have to get used to the adults around them having different ideas.

I have to say though, that when my GCs mother arrives to collect them and they ask me if they can have something I always refer them to Mum for a decision, so that they clearly know that when Mum is there she takes precedence when it comes to rules.

Good luck with all this - it is a tricky line to tread.

nightowl Thu 17-Aug-17 21:36:41

I don't like the idea of the children being encouraged to tell her their secrets. I have a real issue with children being encouraged to have secrets with anyone, in fact it's not a word I would use with my own children or grandchildren. Surprises yes - secrets no. I would have to put my foot down about that at least.

paddyann Fri 18-Aug-17 08:56:49

nightowl sometimes even children need sommeone who is distanced from a situation to talk to about it.If its a GP then she can judge whether its important enough foor mum to be involved or if it can be fixed without her.When I was groowing up my dads mantra was "dont worry your mother "so any problems//issues we had we spoke to Dad or granny,mum was always a bit delicate and was protected from the harsher things all her life .If it was something that Dad couldn't help with or was out of granny's depth then mum was brought up to speed on makes sense to me that children have as many adults onside as possible

DIL123 Sun 20-Aug-17 21:44:53

Three weeks is a long time with no rules whatsoever especially when this situation is affecting their behaviour (not wanting to go out, addicted to games, expecting toys, invalidating your attempts at sticker charts, going to bed late) etc. It all has a cumulative effect. Boundaries are healthy and states what you're comfortable with and also what's in the best interests of your children from your perspective. So granny might think lots of screen time and new toys is showing attention and affection, but you can also find it counterproductive to what you're ultimately trying to achieve. Sounds like you're being very generous with yours and your children's time, but why are you afraid to speak up? If you can't communicate as adults then what's the point? You should be able to have a grown up conversation with her and tell her you're not comfortable with those things without her being offended or withdrawing about it. She also shouldn't feel overwhelmed by your presence - but I think a conversation about boundaries would get everyone on the same page and then there wouldn't be any awkwardness. You're allowed a different style of parenting than your sister has, that is okay.

MonarchButterflies Mon 21-Aug-17 07:47:41

Hi Mari. I wondered if the children's father has them 3 weeks of the school holidays, meaning that you have to share your 3 weeks of the summer holidays with your parents? And if so, if there was another way of doing things? Perhaps they could be with you 2 weeks and grandparents for 1? Perhaps they could see them at Easter or Christmas holidays, or your parents could visit you? Or some other way? It would be great if you could all have them 2 weeks each, but I can see why their father wouldn't agree to this. Also, I think the secrets thing is a wonderful idea. I would love to know that, if something were happening that affected my child at school or with friends, that there was somebody there they could confide in without worrying about upsetting mother or being in trouble.

bikergran Mon 21-Aug-17 07:58:58

Sounds like your children have a "brill" time at grannies smile I would let them enjoy.. smile

Anya Mon 21-Aug-17 08:25:45

Perhaps you need to rethink your holiday arrangements. Three weeks is a long time, but you did say 'this year' so it's not set in stone.

Think about what you would like to happen. Could you perhaps use the time to get away on your own for a bit, even if you just drop the children off and go back to your own house. Would you prefer that the children only stay for 1-2 weeks? You might want to take the children away yourself.

Re the regime at grandmothers house, I'd say you have options. Either accept it and let your children know it'll be back to the normal rules at home, or try to negotiate with your MiL (?).

Look at all your options for the future and make decisions based on past experience and a little more of what you want.