L.M. asks from Oceanside, CA on May 20, 2011
Don't Want MIL to Babysit Causing Problems with Husband
My husband and I are 12 years apart. This is our first child and there is tension growing between us over letting his elderly, alcoholic mother watch the baby. Although she is a wonderful, kind person - I just don't trust her. I don't trust her when she says she's quit drinking. I don't trust that she will respect my wishes when it comes to certain issues. She is single. She raised my husband as a single mom. And while I respect everyone's choice to parent as they wish - I just don't agree with hers. I don't want her influencing our son. I hope/wish/want her to have a great relationship with him but I don't think it has to be based on how much she babysits him or how much time she spends alone with him.
I know people say how lucky you even have a MIL who wants to babysit, but it's all relative. I'm not going to do it because in the end this is our son, not hers. What I need advice on is how to talk to my husband about it. He doesn't agree and is just angry that I even feel this way in the first place. How can I approach him and get him to understand?
** I say she was a single parent only to point out the bond my husband has with her who is also an only child. That's all. Just trying to give perspective. I don't judge her at all for being a single mom. Quite the opposite. It takes so much to raise a child and I'm impressed she did it on her own. I don't think I could.
** Alcoholism runs in their family. Four deaths from the disease to date. Which is (alcoholism) prevalent in my husband as well. Hence, the issue of influencing our child who will more than likely be predisposed to it now anyway. It's real. Not just "oh, I don't think Grandma should drink a glass of wine every night."
** Ever since he was born, we've spent almost every Sunday with her. So she gets to spend time with the baby... just not alone.
** She is in her 70's.
So What Happened?™
We ended up going and seeing a counselor together to talk about the issue because he just couldn't get past what I was saying. For him, it became other issues besides the safety of our child. It was nice to be able to have a non-biased voice of reason help my husband understand my feelings. Although he may not agree with them, he realizes they are valid and respects my wishes now.
As far as how to handle the MIL... I work part time and am able to take the baby to work with me. We have no need for a babysitter. I have offered/asked for her to come over any time she wants to see the baby, come over while I cook and clean and have said that she can watch him along with my husband's aunt and uncle (so she is not alone with him). But she will not take me up on these offers. The only thing I can do is control the environment in which she sees him - knowing it's safe, alcohol free and no need for her to be any kind of primary caregiver at any time.
I hope anyone that may have a similar problem may find this helpful in some way!
J.S. answers from Boston on May 20, 2011
I think you are totally justified in how you feel and am shocked at how many responders here are trying to make you feel bad for your stance. Obviously, if you said in your post that you didn't like her style and therefore didn't want her around the baby I could see how people would write the responses. But you've stated that she's a ALCOHOLIC for God's sake. It's not trvial, nor is it easy to overcome as the addict. ANd I imagine you reference the age difference between you & your hubby to illustrate that she's older. Now older is of course relative, some people think 60s is elderly, some think 70s and some don't think your elderly til your in your 80s. My MIL is in her late 70s and honestly it's too much for her to watch my little one for more than a few hrs, if that anymore. My Mom is in her 60s and watched her all week while I am working.
Sure your husband turned out fine, but that could have been pure luck. And why in the world does everyone believe a grandmother is entitled to alone time with the grandchild? Seriously? A grandchild is not a commodity - it's a precious human life that must be nurtured and cared for to the best of the parents' ability.
In this litigious society we live in, I wouldn't be surprised if a mother who knowingly subjected her child to unsupervised care by an alcoholic would be considered an unfit Mom and charged with a crime if anything happened.
However, your question is how to convince your husband of this. Unfortunately, no matter how "right" you are on this, I doubt you will ever be able to get him to see it the way you do, and trying too hard will cause a rift between you. If it was me, I'd probably go a little passive aggressive here and just make sure to never find time to leave your child with her, but be sure she can have lots of supervised visits.
Sorry i don't have much specific tactical advice, but I do feel very supportive of your position.
11 moms found this helpful
T.M. answers from Tampa on May 20, 2011
Please stand your ground...your child's safety is much more important than anyone's feelings. Please allow her to see your child with you and your husband there. There is no law that says you have to allow her to watch your child.
7 moms found this helpful
S.H. answers from Honolulu on May 20, 2011
Well I agree with you.
Your Husband comes from an Alchoholic home/upbringing.
THUS... he does not know, "normal" behavior or mothering.
So, his perceptions on it, will not be, common sense.
I would not want her to babysit, either.
But sure, she can spend time with baby... but supervised. Not alone.
There is a difference.
AND you are the Parent. Not your MIL.
YOU determine, the path of your baby's influences and upbringing.
Your Husband, has conflicted emotions about it... because again, he was raised in an Alcoholic home and thus, his perceptions of it, is not... ideal.
He has to recognize, that his Mom IS an Alcoholic... and thus, not safe... to be around baby, by herself.
There is just plain common sense, safety aspects of it. And she is Elderly. Thus her motor-skills and reaction time and ideas of safety, will probably be compromised.
And you have your gut instinct. Too.
7 moms found this helpful
L.M. answers from Norfolk on May 20, 2011
Wow! I know this is Mamapedia, but aren't any mothers willing to admit that sometimes a decent adult becomes so in spite of their upbringing? My husband has often credited the aunts, grandmothers, friends' mothers who provided his positive female influences that tempered that of his own mother. I think we can all agree that the ability to have sex does not automatically make someone a good mother, the fact that your child survived into adulthood and found someone to make a baby with does not ensure that you would be a good grandmother. And why is there an automatic assumption that a grandparent must be a babysitter in order to have a good relationship with their grandchild? I really, and truly don't get it!
That's my emotional response. Onto the logistics.... you must be very careful how you talk to your husband about this to avoid him feeling personally attacked, as others have mentioned. Is there anyone in his family you do trust with your child? Focus on the differences and try to keep the conversation logic-driven and civil. For instance, "If your sister wants to watch our baby, I know she'll respect our parenting methods and be physically able to deal with caring for a baby." Many people tend to discount how physically taxing it is to care for a baby. I recently ran into a situation where my daughters were meeting an elderly aunt for the first time and she said, "I didn't think about the arthritis in my hands and how difficult it would make holding the babies." No one would want to hear that if they had been planning on leaving the baby with that person.
One compromise you could offer would be to hire someone to "help" your mil with the physically taxing bits. You get peace of mind and perhaps a night out with your husband and mil gets some time to play grandma.
Best wishes to you.
7 moms found this helpful
D.B. answers from Charlotte on May 20, 2011
L., your husband has a blind spot on this, and there's possibly nothing you can do to open his eyes unless your child gets hurt. And you are being very wise to not allow it, regardless of his unwillingness to listen to you.
Provide her with lots of time together with you in attendance. Only leave the baby with a trusted sitter, whether your husband likes it or not. Stand firm and don't get into arguments with him. Show him when you are with your MIL that you love and respect her as your MIL and want her to enjoy being with the baby. But don't leave her alone with the baby, period.
7 moms found this helpful
L.A. answers from Austin on May 20, 2011
When you criticize or refuse his mother, it feels like .. you are telling him there is something wrong with him, for trusting and loving his mother.
She will always be his mother and he will always love her and stick up for her.
I think you need to give her a chance. Let her watch your son at your home for a few hours one night so you all can go out.
And it may be that she will not do every thing you ask or she may do things a little different.. This will be ok. Your child will be fine.
The way you talk with him about it is by saying.. "Here are my concerns."
Then let him tell you how he feels he can speak with his mother about this.
But you will have a really hard time totally disallowing her from watching your child. That is just not going to happen.
If you 2 cannot get this settled, you need to go to marriage counseling and get an outside person to help the 2 of you learn to handle this. Marriage is for a lifetime and your child will also also love his grandmother. Your feelings will seep into their relationships. It will not end up well if you take sides.
6 moms found this helpful
S.B. answers from Redding on May 20, 2011
First of all, what do you consider elderly? 70, 80?
Second of all, what do you consider an alcoholic?
I know people who believe that anyone who EVER touches an alcoholic beverage, even a glass of wine on a holiday, is an alcoholic.
Please don't take any offense, but whether she drank or not, I don't think you'd trust her. Would you trust her more if she was married? No.
You've already decided she won't respect your wishes. You've already decided you don't want her influencing your son.
You want her to have a great relationship with your son but not based on her babysitting or spending time alone with him.
You ask the question. You alone need to find the answer in a way that your husband can understand.
That might be more difficult than it sounds.
She can't be that bad if she raised a son on her own who turned out to be a wonderful husband. If she drinks when she's not around your baby, frankly, that's not your business.
She's a grown woman. She's raised a son and she may have more wisdom to share with you than you realize.
My grandpa drank beer and on occasion cussed like a sailor. He loved me more than anything and I had a nervous breakdown when he passed away at 85. He and I had such a close bond. He put calomine lotion on me when I got poison oak, he put his Old Spice on me when I got mosquito bites. He came to live with us when my grandma passed away from cancer and he walked me to school every morning and was there to walk me home. We read the newspaper together every morning and watched the news on TV at night. He taught me a love for history and current events.
I can't imagine my parents not wanting me around him alone because of his "style". Heck, before he came to live with us, my parents put me and my sister on the Greyhound and we'd spend entire summers with him.
Yes, he liked a beer in the heat of the summer time and cussed like a sailor when he thought we weren't listening.
He was a wonderful man and I'd give anything to go back in time when we'd spend lazy summer days at the creek or picking figs from the tree in his back yard.
I personally think Granparents are so important for children.
I don't know how you can get your husband to understand that basically his mother isn't good enough to be around your kid. When you think about it, it's a pretty hurtful thing to say. If she's living in a cardboard box on the streets, that might be one thing.
I don't know if you pay attention to sports at all, but there are so many men that were raisied by single women. Good, bad or ugly, they revere their mothers. They understand the struggle.
If you are looking for understanding, you might have to be willing to see it from both sides.
You're being a protective mother and there's nothing wrong with that. It's instinctual. But, what are you really protecting your baby from? What harm can really come to him from being around someone different from you?
I think if you open your mind a little, you'll see it's not so bad.
6 moms found this helpful
S.S. answers from Chicago on May 20, 2011
Apparently you fell in love with husband, raised by the 'alcoholic' mother in law and she seems to have raised a man you love very much. If she wants to watch your child it might be quite possible that she is not the alcoholic you thought she was. Is she in programs or AA or do you just see her sipping a few? Many a woman has raised wonderful and brilliant children while enjoying a wine at night. Not ever having the privelege to have my mother babysit, who actually raised six children and drank a number of beers if I recall correctly, I am somewhat jealous that you have this opportunity and do not want her to participate. And sorry, but does 12 years apart have to do with this?
6 moms found this helpful