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New Mom Asking for Advice from Grandmas

(47 Posts)
newmom2019 Mon 02-Sep-19 22:22:15

Hi all,

I truly hope it's okay that I'm posting on here. I understand this is a platform for grandparents and thought maybe it would be a good way to receive unbiased advice from experienced grandparents. If you have the time, I would very much appreciate your input.

A little background: I am going to be a first time mom this winter. Yay! My husband and both of our families are thrilled. My son will be the fourth grandchild on my husband's side, and the first on my side. My husband and I planned for this and are lucky enough that I will be able to be a stay at home mom. My career was in childcare and education...I've been training for this! smile We both have good families who we love and respect. My husband has a large family and most of them live in the same town as us while my family lives about an hour away. Our families even get along with each other...could we be any more blessed?!

Our issue: My husband and I are concerned with how to go about setting boundaries with his mom without hurting her feelings and insulting her sensibilities. I know, I know...another daughter in law using the word "boundaries." I promise I mean reasonable boundaries and not a strict list of ridiculous rules (ex. "You can only hold my baby with permission," or "You can't change my baby's diaper," *eye roll). Bumps and scrapes happen and a cookie gets eaten before dinner at Grandma's house...I can live with that. I believe based on my experience that the grandparent-grandchild relationship is very special and beneficial to all. I believe that a grandmother's love is the closest thing that can come to a mother's love, and I know my mother in law will love our child beyond limits. Our boundaries remain focused around safety and basic needs of the baby however our views on safety and basic needs differ from hers as a grandmother (she was not like this as a mother). Some incidents that have happened with her and her other grandchild (2 grandchildren live out of state) over the past couple of years have freaked both my husband and I out.

For the past four years, we have watched her disregard my sister in law's rules with her son as well as criticize all of her children's ways of parenting:
1. Bedtime is at 8pm but she puts him to bed around 11pm or midnight (she says she wants to play longer with him and bedtimes are "ridiculous.") When he was a toddler and would start to drift off into a nap she would start clapping in his face chanting, "Don't go to sleep! Don't go to sleep!" to keep him awake.
2. She stops by their house every now and then at 9pm to take Grandson with her. Without calling or checking in. When she was told, "No, he's already asleep," she went into his room to wake him up to ask him if he wanted to go home with her.
3. Since he was a toddler, he would spend days and nights with her and she would forget to give him water throughout the day. After we watched him chug a sippy cup of water I gave him she told me, "He never asks for water so I just forget!" She will also take him to McDonalds after her daughter told her she didn't want him eating McDonalds. She said she doesn't have time to cook, they have "too much to do together."
4. She and my father in law recently took our nephew hiking up an old volcano with a couple of other children and didn't pack everyone water or put sunscreen on them. My nephew had to be carried as he is too young to handle a hike like this, one of the older children suffered an actual heat stroke (I'm not exaggerating), and all of them were sunburned to the point where their faces peeled and they had "bubbles" on their ears. She didn't take ownership or apologize to the mothers of the children. Instead she laughed it off and said the one who suffered a heat stroke won't forget water and a hat again. She would have freaked out over this when she was a mother.
5. She spanks the oldest grandson. She brought this up to my husband and I and we told her that spanking will not be allowed between her and our child. We explained to her that we don't feel grandparents should spank their children and to leave the disciplining to us. She argued. I finally got her to stop arguing when I explained to her that as a teacher I had to work with children and manage their behavior without laying a finger on them - it can be done and the rule is non-negotiable.

She loves me a lot and we have fun conversations together. But, here are some recent issues I've had to tackle with her:
1. She lives 15 minutes away and I've had to tell her multiple times I do not need her to stay with us once the baby is born. She insists I'm going to need her help day and night. I told her, "I'm so grateful to know that if I ever feel like I'm in over my head, that I have a loving grandmother I can call. For now, the answer on day and night visitation is no." Yikes.
2. Whenever she brings up her aversion to vaccinations, certain foods, etc. I just tell her, "Your son and I are gonna wing it and deal with those things as they come up with our pediatrician." She doesn't trust doctors and laughs and says, "I'll have my friend who knows all about natural medicine talk to you." Double yikes.
3. She brought me a used, 8-year old car seat that she planned for my infant to use. I had to tell her it was expired and therefore deemed unsafe by the company's safety standards. I was met with a shocked face and, "Well all of my children used the same carseat over a 15 year span and it turned out fine." I understand and respect she raised 5 amazing humans, but I'm a rule follower when it comes to this kind of stuff and won't be doing things her way because "it turned out fine." I told her, "People who are smarter than me came up with this rule so I'll splurge on a new one but thank you so much for thinking of us. If you can snag any used children's books or clothes please do!"
4. She asked me, "You aren't going to be one of those mom's who doesn't let her children stay with their grandparents are you?" I told her that her son and I weren't making set decisions on when it's appropriate for our unborn son to stay at someone else's house yet and we'll just parent as we go. I shared that growing up I stayed with my grandparents every now and then but most of the visits weren't overnight and they weren't secondary caretakers but we did form an irreplaceable bond. She accepted that answer.

While she was a responsible parent, she's proven to be an irresponsible grandparent on a number of occasions with our nephews and other children. My husband and I aren't doormats and know how to say no but I'm worried about how often we will have to tell her no without her feeling like she has an overprotective daughter in law and a controlled son. This is not me controlling him...this is 100% him.

Simply put, my husband and I want her to be involved in our lives (I expect to see her at least once a week) but she shouldn't be babysitting our baby unsupervised or come over unannounced. She's absolutely going to put up a fit the more we say no and will want to know why. My husband says he is going to be the one to lay down ground rules and have these conversations. I'd like some advice or input to keep in mind when we do have to cross the bridge and have these conversations. Are we being unfair by not giving her the chance to follow our basic rules (offer breastmilk/water, put him down during naptimes/bedtime, no rubbing essential oils all over baby) before banning the idea of her babysitting through toddlerhood? What are some ways I can include her in my son's life without insulting her sensibilities while respecting mine and my husband's boundaries? Do I need to just accept that this won't be pretty at first and she'll have to get over it? How can I keep the daughter in law/mother in law relationship loving and respectful?

Thank you for reading this and any sensible input you have to offer me.

Farmor15 Mon 02-Sep-19 23:31:04

You’re anticipating a bit too far ahead - baby not due for a while yet! Only advice I’d give is to breastfeed if possible - direct feeding, not pumping. That way, you’re the only one that can feed your baby, at least for first months and you have a good reason to keep him close to you.

Hetty58 Tue 03-Sep-19 00:02:56

You are the mother and therefore you dictate the rules. TBH I'd welcome visits (not overnight) and help but I'd feel inclined to supervise until you feel confident (if you ever do) that she can be trusted alone with your precious baby.

You need to emphasise that you'll be doing things in your own way, agreed with your husband. You expect her to follow your rules and that's not negotiable. If you show her affection she should realise that it's best to comply.

I have four children and six grandchildren (so far) and I've learned to offer advice only when asked for it. There are lots of different ways to look after babies and we tend to revert to old habits unless we have clear instructions.

Sometimes, though, they don't react to Granny in the same way as they would with Mum. An example, nap time at home and they drop off easily in their cot, whereas here they would cry. So I might rock them to sleep in my arms or take them out in the pushchair instead. I try to follow their routines despite not using them when I was a mother.

I'd worry about essential oils and I'm most concerned by the anti-vaccination ideas as it can be so dangerous. I don't totally trust doctors myself but I'm a firm believer in vaccination. A brand new car seat would also be essential for my peace of mind. 'It turned out fine' is no comfort if there's ever a crash!

FunOma Tue 03-Sep-19 00:07:24

newmom said: "she shouldn't be babysitting our baby unsupervised or come over unannounced. "

Reading all the (valid) concerns about her, I would say, stick to your gut feeling on that and tell her you and your husband want to have lots of time to bond with your baby before you let him venture into the wider world of family and friends, but make sure that rule applies for your own mom for now too. That way your mother-in-law's feelings will not get hurt. Just be firm with her but kind, and do allow her time to see the child regularly.

I feel that paternal grandparents usually get less time with the grandchildren; it seems natural that a woman feels more at ease with her own mother, but as long as we do get to see the kids and can build a bond, it is OK.

MawB Tue 03-Sep-19 00:35:51

You haven’t had the baby yet but are already discussing boundaries? Good grief.
Might you possibly be overthinking things?
Babies don’t come with a rule book for parents or grandparents and most of us muddle along generally guided by love for our adult children and their new little one.
You can “keep the DIL/MIL relationship loving and respectful “by being just that, not drawing up a battle plan or guidelines or a handbook for an event some months off.

crazyH Tue 03-Sep-19 00:36:34

OPs concerns are valid....her child, her rules. I practically brought my daughter's two (they are now teenagers).......never ever have I smacked them. I have smacked my own children, but never the grandchildren.
I understand your safety concerns. For example, today, my 11 month old grandson (son's baby) fell off his table seat, right under my nose. I felt so bad. My d.i.l. had just gone to the next room. I dont know how it happened. But I feel so guilty.
I'm sure my d.i.l. doesn't blame me.
I think you and your m.i.l. will be ok. You have to make her understand. I always took a chocolate bar for the older boy, but d.i.l. told me that he is not allowed chocolates after 6. Fair enough, he is in bed by 7 - 7.30. A sugar rush at bedtime is not advisable. And I understand.
It's all about a happy medium.
You seem to be a fair d.i.l.
Good luck for the future and here's to good family relationship xx

newmom2019 Tue 03-Sep-19 01:10:27

Thank you all for the feedback. I especially appreciated the comment about making sure my mom doesn't get more privileges at first. Luckily, my mom has very different expectations for grandparenthood and doesn't expect to be a babysitter - nor am I looking for one. My family doesn't spend as much time together as my husband's does.

It does seem premature (not due for 3 months!) for me to be worrying about this stuff...but I am. Last night after hearing of another incident involving my mother in law my husband stated, "She won't be watching our child," before going to bed. I told him while our concerns were valid and will be addressed I thought that banning her outright may be a bit too harsh and that maybe we do need to think more into our approach. I guess his statement shook me a little and woke me up to the possibility of future conflicts I've never had to face before.

She will most definitely be invited over weekly and I'll make sure to send her random photos and videos of silly baby things. We have our in laws over for dinner often as they do us. I also wouldn't mind taking little one on outings with her.

Joyfulnanna Tue 03-Sep-19 05:53:10

Lots of red flags here. I think you should write her a letter to say exactly what you want for your baby. Think yourself lucky that your baby is not her first grandchild!! She does sound very unstable. You need the support of your DH as the gatekeeper when baby arrives!

agnurse Tue 03-Sep-19 06:22:43

She potentially put a child's LIFE at risk. Heat stroke is no laughing matter, especially for little ones. She's laid a hand on her GC for punishment.

That alone tells me she is not safe to leave alone with a child. EVER. If she throws a fit, I'd be telling her she will not see your LO until she apologizes and behaves herself. Every time she disregards a boundary, she gets one warning. If she continues, the visit is over. Period. She can abide by your rules, or not see her GC. Her choice.

BradfordLass72 Tue 03-Sep-19 06:33:14

Do I need to just accept that this won't be pretty at first and she'll have to get over it


I'm absolutely on your side and even though your baby isn't born yet, it's very sensible indeed to think and plan about things which worry you. No point in waiting until they happen and then wondering why you have no defence in place. smile

This lady has, unfortunately, proven she really cannot be trusted to respect the rules other Moms have laid down and your husband knows it may come to it that you don't allow her to look after your precious child until he's much older - and she has shown she respects all your rules.

I too was trained in childcare and came across dominant grandma's who thought they knew better - including one whose grandchild had Coeliac and to whom she fed chocolate biscuits! "Because they never did his Dad any harm - sheesh!

I'm glad to see you and DH are united in your determination to make sure YOUR rules are obeyed to keep baby safe.

Your husband can tell her she's on trial and she has to earn her Certificate grin by proving she's prepared to do everything you say - no ifs or buts. Everything.
Your baby, your house, your rules.

If she deliberately flouts them, then yes, I can see her making a very unpleasant situation for you all to deal with - but it will be her not you. Your priority is baby.

She will have to prove from the outset that she can do as she's told and respect your guidelines.

Fortunately, for the first years at least, you never need to leave your son alone with her.

Just as with a toddler, you have to insist on appropriate
and safe behaviours; keep to the rules you've set down, remind her, pick her up on it when/if she ignores them.

Even have some 'time-out' in the sense that if she does anything which puts your son in jeopardy or upsets him (I am appalled by the clapping in the face story!) then she forfeits the next week's visit.

I know this all sounds harsh but I have seen too many nervous Moms letting their own Mom or mil get away with bad/unsafe behaviours because they don't think it is kind or respectful to stop it. And it's hurt the children who rely on Mom and Dad to be their protectors.

I can hardly believe she's done all the unsafe and downright stupid things you say and no one has stopped her from continuing to traumatise children!!

Smacking, startling, burning, neglect and putting their lives at risk? How has she been allowed to get away with it so long?

So you are wise to make plans to stop it before it gets out of hand.


TwiceAsNice Tue 03-Sep-19 06:56:31

Sorry I think she is positively dangerous! If she was the parent she should have been prosecuted for neglect. She’s not just trying to do things her way she is flouting all safety rules to an appalling level and small children have suffered because of her and she thinks that’s ok?!

I wouldn’t let her have unsupervised contact under any circumstances and am glad your husband already seems so firm. Let him sort his mother out at the beginning and tell her exactly what the rules are and see how you go but this woman is a fruit loop so be very careful

Nansnet Tue 03-Sep-19 06:58:59

You say that you both have good families whom you love and respect, and that your in-laws already have three other grandchildren who, it seems, they spend a lot of time with. I do question why, if she is so awful with regards to safety issues, when taking care of her grandchildren, do the other parents allow it to continue? Or are they as irresponsible as she seems to be?

If you're going to be a stay-at-home mum, I see no reason why your MiL would need to take care of your baby when it arrives ... or at a later date, why the child would need to have sleepovers with the GPs, unless you need a babysitter on the odd occasion.

At the end of the day, it is your child, and you are the one who decides how things are going to be done, and what is/isn't acceptable to you and your husband. I wouldn't fret too much about it all at this early stage. Just take things one step at a time, and deal with each issue as it arises. As long as you deal with things tactfully, and have the same 'rules' for both sets of GPs, so as not to offend either, then no one has a right to complain, or to feel they are being singled out. If she doesn't like your way of doing things, that's tough, she'll just have to get used to it.

Really, don't worry yourself over this right now. Just work things out as you go along ... which is what most of us have to do ... parents, and grandparents alike!

MovingOn2018 Tue 03-Sep-19 07:05:40

She wouldn't be around my children period! She shouldn't be around anyone's child for that matter. A times you have to say your thoughts without caring how others may perceive it. Especially if it concerns your children.

Hetty58 Tue 03-Sep-19 07:54:14

I think that's way too harsh MovingOn. The husband would be upset if his mum were banned. I see no harm in supervised visits with rules.

The OP's husband seems sensible and aware of the problem. The OP herself trained and worked in childcare/education. They won't be letting her take over - but she's still a mother and grandmother, part of the family.

M0nica Tue 03-Sep-19 07:59:03

This lady has previous. The problems your sister-in-law has had show this clearly and her behaviour is intrusive and goes way over the limit. Smacking a child, carelessness with child safety, and pushing anti-vaccine views on you are all warning signs.

I think when your child is born, life with her, to begin with, with be very difficult - and here I am going to do some dividing and ruling. You say your parents are utterly reasonable and I assume that they know and understand the problems you have with you MiL. So why not sit down with them and draw up some rules that you can say that you wish both sets of grandparents to follow once your son is born.

It will make it a bit easier to insist on the rules when you can say they apply to both sets of grandparents and it is not fair to have one set of rules for one that are ignored by the other. Rules can then be added or abstracted from as your child develops.

I think you also need to have an ultimate sanction and be prepared to use it. The point when that is used would probably be when she turns up unannounced and unexpected on your doorstep, despite constant warnings, and you tell her kindly that she has arrived at an unsuitable time that is very inconvenient for you (you do not need to say more than that) and that she cannot come in and you firmly close the door in her face.

Pantglas1 Tue 03-Sep-19 09:03:23

M0nica is right - be firm, be fair, be kind, be consistent.

MovingOn2018 Tue 03-Sep-19 13:40:55

@Hety58 no one has time to supervise a grown adult whilst supervising their children. The only harsh thing I see is her obvious abuse toward he grandchildren. But let's blanket this abuse and sweep it all under the rug because but she's still a mother and grandmother, part of the family I'm surprised no one has called social services on her - which would have been the common recommendation by most on her had this been a parent doing this as opposed to a grandparent. She's abusive! But let's keep the excuses rolling.

MovingOn2018 Tue 03-Sep-19 13:44:14

Hety58 If this was your own daughter doing this to your grandchildren would you recommend supervised visits? And brush it off as her still being family? Or would you take additional steps to protect the abused grandchildren from the abusive parent?

M0nica Tue 03-Sep-19 14:18:15

Hety58, Go back and read the OP. Her BiL and wife have been having just the same problems and the Grandmother is ignoring everything that has been said to her.

Go to the paragraph starting For the past four years, we have watched her disregard my sister in law's rules with her son as well as criticize all of her children's ways of parenting: and read on.

Do you really think a woman who does what is listed in the continuation of the above paragraph will take any notice of
supervised visits with rules.........They won't be letting her take over. Read again what this woman has done when the rules have been clear - just ignored them amd done what she wants to do regardless of others.

quizqueen Tue 03-Sep-19 14:57:27

It's great that your husband is in total agreement with you so I would let him deal with any major disagreements with his mother and you step back from that, leaving you to deal with ongoing minor ones.

As she lives close by, I think once a week visits are a bit harsh, but I would suggest that none of them involve times near or after bedtime. Just say, 'Sorry it's not convenient at the moment, come tomorrow at 2pm', and close the door. Do not engage in a long drawn out conversation at the door. Also, during day time sleeps, put your child in a different room to the one you socialise in and don't open the door to let anyone have a peek except for you or your husband!

Like you said, the odd biscuit never hurt anyone unless there are serious allergies. In that case, a full list of 'Nos' needs to be given to her and if she chooses to ignore that then you have to tell her that you are sorry but she will not be able to have unsupervised access EVER because she can't be trusted.

If she crosses a boundary then tell her the consequences and why e.g. 'You took ... out in the sun without sun cream and he got badly burnt and, whether that has increased his cancer of skin cancer later on in life or not (find a medical article), it was totally irresponsible, so you will not be able to take... to the beach until you can prove you have changed your ways'.

Lastly, have a family meeting and tell the other family members to grow a backbone and ride on your coat tails and be firmer with her as her behaviour needs to change across the whole family as I can't see her adapting her behaviour to different family dynamics.

Day6 Tue 03-Sep-19 15:48:51

IF she really is this bad - and you paint a dreadful picture of a woman who does everything her way, disregards the parents, and is downright is CRUEL to her grandchildren - ie: waking them up in the evening to take them with her -

(WHY ON EARTH DID THE CHILD'S PARENTS LET HER DO THIS? Why did the child's parents not say "No, stay out of his bedroom!"very firmly and bar her way if she was hell-bent on going to take a sleeping child from his bed?

No one would side with this horrendous woman!

It doesn't add up. Sorry.

Then she keeps sleepy grandchildren awake until nearly midnight by slapping their faces because it suits her????

Is this a wind-up or a way of telling us Grandmothers have NO IDEA what they are doing?

Any parent with working brain cells WOULD tell her off and probably forbid her having the grandchildren until she was less abusive!!!!

I can only say your family make pretty lousy parents if they stand by and let this monster abuse their goodwill and their children.

I suspect we have a bit of game- playing going on with this thread.

sodapop Tue 03-Sep-19 16:35:50

Yes I was concerned by some of the content of the original post Day6 who would continue to allow this woman access to their children, grandmother or not.

Smileless2012 Tue 03-Sep-19 16:51:47

I agree Day6 and sodapop who would have anything to do with this woman themselves. Don't know why but it was the mention of the used 8 year old car seat that finally sealed it as a wind up for me.

Daisymae Tue 03-Sep-19 18:25:33

I agree with the last two posters, this has to be a joke. I am trying to imagine my ac reaction to somone slapping their children!

MawB Tue 03-Sep-19 19:00:32

I initially gave up half way through this lengthy diatribe but have now read through to the end and frankly, I reserve judgement.
Is it the plot for some misery memoir or a guide to all the hypothetical possible dangers a new mother faces?
Finally the 8 year old car seat saga- I was not aware they could “expire” and I know DD borrowed one from her older sister which was 5 years old -a Maxi- cosy isofit - no problems.
I strongly advise you emigrate.