53 answers

A Delicate Situation

I am 33 weeks pregnant, and when my husband and I first told my family that we were pregnant (about 10 weeks), we asked my mom if she would be willing to come and stay with our daughter when I go into labor (my parents only live about an hour away). We stressed that we want our daughter to be a part of welcoming her baby brother into the world after he arrives. My mother agreed and as usual seemed quite excited about getting to spend one on one time with her only granddaughter. A few months ago my parents informed my husband and I that they wouldn't be staying at our house with our daughter, instead they want to take her back to their house for a few weeks until we settle in with the new baby. They have a little dog that they didn't want to have to send to a kennel and since their dog is a nightmare (she snips at our daughter, she has bitten both me and my husband, and she has accidents in the house) the dog is not welcome in our home. They also implied that they would not be there for the birth of the new baby but would see him a few weeks later when they bring our daughter back. My husband and I both said that we do not want our daughter to feel left out so if they cannot stay here we will just try to get someone else to watch her at our house. So we asked a close family friend who agreed.
Well, this past weekend my parents came down and my dad again said something about taking our daughter back to their house when the baby is born. I told him that we had discussed this and that it is VERY important to my husband and I that our daughter is able to go to the hospital and see her new brother and to feel a part of this whole process. My dad reiterated that he thinks that is "dumb" and I told him that is how we feel, she is our daughter, we are not changing our minds, and we do not want her to feel left out. He stated that they wouldn't be able to come down and stay because they have things to take care of (their little dog) and I told him it's not a big deal we already have someone lined up to stay with her while we are at the hospital. He got upset that I wasn't letting "family" help, and I told him I don't care who helps, but from the beginning we've had a specific wish in terms of our daughter being part of welcoming her baby brother into the world, so since the family that we asked decided not to do it we had to find someone else. I told him I wasn't trying to leave anyone out or hurt anyone's feelings, but that my husband and I just needed to get lined up who would take care of our daughter.

He then asked if after we get home from the hospital if they could come and pick up our daughter and keep her for a week or so. I told him I didn't mind that as long as they agreed to keep their dog outside (by outside I mean in their garage which has an air conditioned bathroom which is usually where she stays when we make visits up there, so she will have ample room and nice cool air). Our daughter has never spent the night with them before unless I have been there because even though we have told them since she was born that she is not allowed to be around their dog, they will still try to bring the dog in and while my husband and I have our preference on the dog not being around our daughter, it is their house so I do not argue with them about it since I am always there to make sure when the dog starts snapping and growling that she either goes outside or my daughter is taken away from the dog. Well my dad started getting upset when I was discussing this and said that he doesn't understand why they can't keep her. I reiterated that they CAN keep her, but I just need a commitment from them that the dog will not be in the house while my daughter is there. He kept saying over and over "i don't understand why we can't keep her and help y'all out" and I kept saying you can keep her but I just need that commitment from you. I don't want my daughter getting bit or snapped at by their dog, and their attitude about the dog has always been that our daughter needs to learn how to act around dogs. Our daughter is 3, and we have a lab that ADORES her and she can pet her and love on her, but with my parents dog, literally if you pet her back or her head she will snap at you, she has done it to me. She is a HORRIBLE dog!!! So while my father kept getting frustrated that I wasn't letting them help I kept saying "you can help, but you just need to make this commitment to me, and I understand that it's your house and you enjoy your dog, but I cannot be worrying about my little girl getting bitten by your dog, so it's up to you whether she comes up there or not". My parents ended up leaving upset, and I honestly don't know what to do. I tried to call and talk to my mother about it after they had left, and then again in the afternoon, but she doesn't want to talk to me. I told them before they left our house yesterday that I wasn't trying to hurt their feelings and that I love them and appreciate all they do for us and our little girl.
I just feel so hurt and helpless. I'm not willing to compromise the safety of my daughter for their feelings. I love my parents and we have always had a super close relationship, but I don't know how to rectify this or make them see things from my point of view. Yes help is nice, help is great! But it's not going to be helpful when I know their dog is going to be inside and possibly snapping at my daughter. My mother has even said before that maybe their dog will teach our daughter a lesson not to mess with her. I just think that is ridiculous thinking. My sister has also gotten involved now and is mad at me that 1.we have a non-family member watching our daughter (my sister has a newborn and already said she couldn't do it) and 2. that I am making my parents choose between their granddaughter and their dog. (is that really even a choice???)

If anyone has any insight or suggestions on how to rectify this PLEASE let me know. I am just wanting to enjoy the upcoming birth of my son and do not want people upset at me!

God bless!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks so much for all the great advice ladies. For those two responders who suggested that I need to apologize to my parents for my behavior and/or my parents raised me and I turned out fine, first I don't think a mom should EVER apologize for wanting to put her child's interest and safety first, that just seems insane to me, and yes, I did turn out fine, funny thing is we didn't have animals growing up because my parents were afraid we would get bit or hurt. But to all the rest of you, your advice, and comments have been a breath of fresh air. I absolutely do not want my daughter to feel left out OR get hurt and possibly scarred for life from a dog bite. We had suggested finding a nice place to board their dog and my husband did offer to pay for it but my father said he will never have the dog somewhere other than their house which is absolutely their choice and right. So I am going to wait a few days, try to call again, and just reiterate to my parents that I love them and am SOOO thankful for their offer to help, but what is best for us will be for our daughter to stay with us when the baby gets home and they are MORE than welcome to come down as often as they like and take her to play or spend time with us. Thanks again mommas!! :-) God Bless!

Featured Answers

I think you have very selfish parents. They need to get over it, it's not about them so I would tell them to pound sand.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers

Oh, B.! You don't need this right now, and your family should know better. As the mom of a young child who is about to give birth, your emotional health should be paramount. It's unfair of them to put you in this position.

I speak from very sad experience on this one. My in-laws had a (ahem) "difficult" dog. They assured us over and over that the dog would NEVER bite my toddler, even though he nipped and snapped at everyone and bit me once. But to keep the peace, against my instincts, I allowed them to interact. Then came the phone call. The dog had bitten my daughter's foot, but it was "just a scratch." When I picked her up, it was obvious that the "scratch" was far more than that. After a trip to urgent care complete with stitches and antibiotics (because dog bites are prone to infection), we said "NEVER AGAIN. The dog cannot be around our daughter." My in-laws used the same ridiculous arguments with us. She needs to learn to deal with dogs, etc. Because they honestly saw it as a choice between their dog and our child, we didn't allow her to go to their house for three months. In the end, they gave in and agreed to kept them separate. (Which we later found out they didn't always do when we weren't there because they didn't agree with us!) Luckily their dog died, but it's taken my daughter two years to get over her fear of dogs. She has a nasty scar to remind her of their dog, though, and my in-laws still insist we're overprotective.

At the doctor's urging, I did a lot of research about kids and dogs. There are some people who say the two should never be together. I'm not that extreme, but I sure wish I'd listened to my instincts. Dog bites are particularly bad because it's not just a puncture. The teeth go in and tear back on the muscle and skin. I still feel guilty, and I'm just glad it wasn't her face.

I'm sorry this is so long, but I'm hoping you can learn from my mistakes. This isn't your issue. It's your parents'. There are all sorts of options for them if they want to find them. (A neighbor can let the dog out while they're at your house. Perhaps a childless/petless neighbor of yours can keep their dog in their yard while they're there.) But I doubt your parents will see those as options because they believe they're right. Please don't let your daughter go there without your supervision. If your parents feel they are right, then they won't agree to your boundaries (perhaps even if they say they will) and it will be your little one who pays the price.

But as I'm writing this overly long-winded response, I'm realizing that they're missing the whole point. You're completely correct that your daughter should not be taken away at this important time. Since spending the night with grandma and grandpa is not a regular special treat, she could very well see it as a punishment. Why is she being sent away when the new baby gets to stay home? At best, it could be very confusing. It's clear that you're excellent parents who want to do the best by your children. Having a friend come to see that your daughter is cared for is wonderful. And some friends can be closer than family. At the very least, a friend can be a lot less stressful!

Keep your boundaries firm and don't get into this ridiculous fray. Either call and tell them they need to listen or write an e-mail or send a note. Lay out your position. Tell them you are thrilled if they can support you in your decisions on your terms, but that if they can't, they'll have to figure out how they want to be involved around your plans. Let them fuss and fume and call your sister, but don't let them pull you into a discussion. Remind them as many times as it takes that they know where you and your husband stand. The world as you know it may not come to an end. When we finally drew strong boundaries with my in-laws, they actually backed down. (We were shocked!) Did they like it? No! Did they make sure we knew they were upset? Oh yeah. But our lives have been so much less stressful since we learned to stand our ground.

This is not something for YOU to rectify. That implies that you've done something wrong. You haven't. You've made the best choices for your own family. You cannot control how other people act or feel. Don't let them manipulate you into thinking you can make them happy by going against your excellent parenting instincts. It's not about them, anyway.

Okay, I'm finally done. Guess this one hit close to home! :-) I wish you all the best!

13 moms found this helpful

I don't know if there's anything to be done to "rectify" the situation, but I just wanted to say that I think that you handled it perfectly. You were beyond considerate to your parents, responsible about caring for your daughter without being insane about it, and clear about why you were making the choices that you are. I don't think that you have done anything that requires "fixing" at all. In my opinion, the ball is in their court (I just wouldn't bring it up again with your sister, there's no point in her getting in the middle of it) and that's that. Hopefully they come around before the baby is born, but if they don't, hopefully you can find some way to just focus on your immediate family and have a wonderful experience bringing your new little one home. Good luck.

10 moms found this helpful

You're right. They're wrong.

I love dogs. I have 3, and I am active in animal rescue. I believe most aggressive dogs can be trained and rehabilitated, and that your parents' dog could probably be trained to be good around your daughter. Having said this much, none of that matters. Your parents are not only unwilling to put in the time and effort, they don't even think they have a problem. I cannot BELIEVE how irresponsible it is to suggest that the dog will teach the CHILD a lesson! THIS IS ASKING FOR TROUBLE with a capital T! This is NOT asking your parents to choose between their granddaughter and their dog. I have read unreasonable posts on here before about women who want their parents to get rid of their dogs for one reason another for their own convenience. This is not what you are doing. You are asking that they put their granddaughter above their dog - for a week. Boarding a dog for a week is not a huge deal, but if your parents can't handle that, keeping the dog in the garage seems like a very reasonable compromise. Don't back down. Your daughter's safety is the most important aspect.

I think it's really sad that your parents have chosen to take a hard line on this, because it would have been wonderful for you and your daughter to have grandma living with you for a couple of weeks. I would LOVE it if my mother could come for that long when my baby is born (she works, so she can't come for that long). However, this isn't your problem. Don't worry about rectifying this - it isn't your problem. I think the best you can do is to refuse to hold a grudge and be welcoming if they contact you again with a more reasonable suggestion. Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your son.

10 moms found this helpful

You should be able to enjoy this time without worrying about any of this. All of the people involved here should be making an effort to make sure that this is wonderful for you instead of being so damn selfish. It's not every day that you give birth, so it IS a special thing. Since your family is unwilling to quit their bickering, suck it up and do what they need to do to help in the way that YOU need, then just forget about them for now. You REALLY don't need the stress right now and they should know better than to piss off a pregnant woman! lol!

What your dad was telling you when he "wasn't listening" to what you are saying is that their dog IS more important to them than helping you and having your daughter, so I wouldn't trust them to keep it away from her if she did go.

What I would do: Call them and leave a message. Tell them that you don't need this stress right now and that you're going to forget about all of this and just enjoy these last few weeks of your pregnancy. Tell them not to worry since you have everything under control and that you'll call and tell them when the baby is born if they want to come and visit your WHOLE family at that time. Then hang up and in your head ball this whole issue up and throw it in the trash. Don't think about it again. If they're not talking to you right now that's perfect since it won't keep coming up. If they do call and start issues just say "I'm hanging up now" and hang up. Block out the stressors, focus on yourself and your own precious little family. The rest of them are adults and they can take care of themselves.

PS: I find your parents' kind of behavior so weird. When my children were born, my mom's first words were "What do you want me to do? What do you need? You just let me know how I can help and I'll get it done!" When she visited (from 3000 miles away) she didn't suck up all the time with the new baby, instead she took over the house for me so my husband, son and I could bond with baby. To me, that's appropriate for grandmothers. (Don't get me wrong, she was holding baby as much as anyone else, but she never got possessive of him and made sure that she let me know she was proud of what a great mom I was!)

9 moms found this helpful

I agree with all of the other posters about your deciding to keep your daughter safe and choosing a safe and appropriate option for her.

Also, since there will be enough disruptioin in your dd's life right now, I think keeping her in her own home with her own routines would be the best thing for her, rather than go to an unfamiliar home with a mean dog.

Sorry you are going through this, good luck with the upcoming birth!

7 moms found this helpful

You did the right thing by putting your family first. They just have to deal with it. I wanted to add one thing that bothered me about your post. If your folks don't "get it" then I would not allow your daughter over their house unless you and your husband are there. It sounds to me like your parents are oblivious to the fact that this dog may harm your daughter. I wouldn't trust my child alone at their house with this dog.


7 moms found this helpful

You have handled this great so far.
Maybe your daughter could learn to be around the dog without messing with her, but now is not the time for that.
Don't worry about your sister being mad. It's not her decision.

I agree you should want your daughter close by. And, if it wasn't for the dog, I think it would be great for her to go stay with your parents for a while. I stayed with my grandparents for a while after my sister was born. My mom had complications and my grandparents let me sleep in their bed and feed their cows and they took me fishing....it was all good.

Anyway, I don't think you should worry about this too much even though I know you love your parents and don't want them to be upset.
Maybe they and their dog can stay at your sister's house and just the two of them come over to see you in the hospital and at your house after the baby is born.
Maybe they can get a pet friendly hotel and bring the dog and leave it at your sister's house or in a carrier in the car when they come in the house to visit you. They can roll the windows down, make sure it has food and water. They can put it on a leash and take it for a walk down the street and put it back in the car. I have friends who come to my house and they bring their dogs but I don't allow them in my house. Absolutely no way. My kids aren't even little anymore. The dogs don't bite, but they jump on people, jump all over the furniture, run all over the place, get excited and pee all over the floor. And that's just what they do at home. So no way.
There are options if your parents are willing to compromise, and if they're not, then what can you say?
You would love nothing more than to trust your daughter at their house, but if you can't be sure about the dog, you don't need to worry about that on top of everything else. That's not really helping.

I don't even know that it's a matter of your parents choosing their dog over your daughter. I'll bet you they don't see it that way. They love the dog and they don't see it as being a problem so they probably don't understand why you are making a fuss.

You just have to do what you feel is right and hopefully your parents will understand and be willing to compromise. If they're not, they might be mad, but at least you won't be worried about your daughter. Minimizing your stress should be the whole point of all this.

I hope you get it worked out and just enjoy the blessings of your new baby.

7 moms found this helpful

My in-laws also have a dog (a beagle) but she is older and has gotten grouchy with our boys when they tried to play with her. It was not her fault when a toddler landed on her and she snarled. They have an entryway with their laundry area and just keep a pressure gate up so she can sleep on her bed undisturbed and is safe from the kids when we visit. Your request is not unreasonable. You are not asking them to get rid of their dog. I am honestly amazed you sound so calm being pregnant and at odds with your family. We had a lot of family drama (my parents, too) around our first child's birth and I finally just stopped talking to them for a while.

Is there any reason one parent could not have stayed at home with the dog while the other stayed in your home to take care of your daughter? Although at this point it sounds like that might not be a comfortable idea anyway. A dog that is unfriendly to children should not be around children. It sounds as though your daughter knows how to behave around a dog gently, but some dogs simply do not like children and will not be nice to them. It is too hard for children to be told they can be around a dog but not interact with it.

Do not listen to your sister right now. She is a new mom so probably easily upset (hormones-->nasty!!) and it is easy for her to be upset with you. She probably is hearing junk from your parents and doesn't like being in the middle when she wants to just relax with her new baby. Just like you would expect anyone watching your child to follow your directions (food allergies, sleep position for a baby, supervision requirements, etc.) your request is specific and easy to understand and they are making a clear decision that they are not willing to watch her on your terms. I hope venting on here helped you a bit. Try to relax for the next few weeks since you did find a friend to watch your daugher.

6 moms found this helpful

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