August 06, 2008,
L.C. asks from Cornelia, GA on August 04, 2008
Mother-in-law Keeps My Son
My mother-in-law keeps our 4 month old son while my husband and I work. We are very excited and happy that he does not have to go to daycare and is cared for by a family member. However, I have some issues with my mother-in-law keeping him. Somtimes I feel that I overreact, but I am not sure. I feel that she is almost trying to take over my role as my son's mother. She is all over him anytime we are around and will take him right out of my arms if I am holding him. She also tries to offer advice about him (ex. she thought we should feed him baby food starting at 2 months) and now that he is getting baby food, we are not feeding him enough, she thinks he needs to eat 3 times a day. She also wants to put him in front of the TV and let him watch several programs during the day. I do not agree with this, I think 30 mins a day is plenty of TV. While I know that she has my sons's best interest at heart, I am at my wits end! Am I overreacting? How should I handle the situation? My mother-in-law is one to get upset easily and I don't know how to approach this.
P.L. answers from Charleston on August 04, 2008
Been there, done that. You are not overreacting at all. It's wonderful that she is willing to watch your son for you and your husband so he doesn't have to go to daycare. However, she should respect you and her son enough to follow your rules and routines. As for her advice, ignore it. Just because she gives it, doesn't mean you have to take it. She can only take your baby out of your arms if you let her. Don't make excuses, just say, "I'm holding him now - when I'm ready to pass off, you'll be first in line."
In the past when my mother in law didn't follow our rules, I tried to talk to her myself to no avail. My mother in law took it the wrong way, even though I carefully thought out what to say so I didn't seem rude. My only saving grace was letting my husband talk to her in order to explain and WRITE DOWN our kids schedules, what they can and cannot do/or eat. This is the only way she would do things our way. My husband even had to sit her down and explain that things are different now than we she raised him and we are doing what our pediatrician has told us to do. (She gave our first born cottage cheese at 3 months because she thought she was hungry !?!?) He also told her that if she couldn't or wouldn't follow our rules, we would have to find someone else to take her place. We were prepared at the time for this to happen if she backed out.
My philosophy now is I'll handle my mother, let my husband handle his. This is the only way it has worked for me. Tell your husband how crazy she makes you by not following your instructions, and that it's his turn to tell her. Just be prepared that if she still doesn't follow your routine, you'll have to find someone else to watch him. YOU are his parent and YOU hold the trump card!
Good luck and be strong. Mother in laws are very intimidating once you have that first baby! I have lots of stories I could share! I'll be thinking of you.
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M.C. answers from Charleston on August 04, 2008
I've decided, both from personal experience and from friends' experieneces, that this is normal paternal grandmother behavior. Most mothers in law that I know or know of, including my own, seem to have a subconscious jealousy/insecurity of son's wife issue that only surfaces when a grandchild comes into the picture. However, just because husband's mothers are crazy lunatics, you do not have to (nor should you) let her call the shots. Your husband needs to back you on this! You need to, as nicely as possible, get her to understand that you get to dictate what happens to your child during the day. Better yet, if your husband can do the talking, she'll most likely listen better and comply more. To keep the peace though, you might want to give her a little autonomy in areas you don't care that much about so she can feel like she's "won" those areas. That might help tale the sting out of the issues she's "lost". As for the "granny-grabbing," as I call it, I'm still trying to figure out how to stop my own MIL from doing that infuriating number two years later, so I can't help you there. Good luck and stand your ground!! He's YOUR baby!
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A.L. answers from Savannah on August 06, 2008
Does your husband agree? If so, have him talk to her. After all, she is his mommy, and may be more willing to take things from him. You are his mommy and he is your responsiblity (and his primary caregiver, no matter what some people may think) and therefore you have the final say in all things. But remember that different does not have to mean wrong. I reacted strongly to a lot of things when my son was new. I was not overreacting, but maybe I didn't need to be so rigid in some areas. Make sure you listen to her ideas and give in on some of them. That will make her more likely to listen to you as well.
L.K. answers from Atlanta on August 04, 2008
I think you are in part overreacting and have become sensitive and easily bothered about this situation. You have delegated the bulk of the child rearing to your mother-in-law. She most likely spends more time with your son than you do. She has become his primary care giver. Can you blame her for feeling motherly towards him? She is not trying to "take over" your role as mother. You assigned her that role. If she is doing this for free, then you are not only bordering on overreacting but also on being ungrateful. I agree with you that two months is way too young for baby food and that TV is not good for small children. However, these are minor issues that can be handled in a spirit of gratitude and tolerance. Buy her a book like the American Academy of Pediatrics' Caring for your baby and young child, birth to five years. (Great book!) Inform her of your child's weight and advice from the doctor so she knows how he is doing on his growth chart and what is recommeded at each stage (also in the great book). You should make it clear to your mother-in-law in a kind way how you would like your child to be raised, but when it comes right down to it, she will probably do what "has always worked" for her. Grandmothers tend to be pretty set in their ways. If you want someone who will take and follow instructions more precisely, you will need to find an employee and not a relative. Alternatively, you could try something radically different (like moving in with a family member to save money or working different hours than your husband) and see if that will make is so that you can stay home and be the primary care giver. Then you can do it all your way. (Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I thought it would help you to see another angle). I wish you the best.
J.B. answers from Atlanta on August 05, 2008
I would definitely get her a new baby book -like the one from the American Association of Pediatricians (free from Publix if you sign up for their baby club) -that has updated info for babies in it. My mother showed me pamphlets from my pediatrician in 1970 that suggested, among other things, that at 2 weeks -yes that's TWO weeks -introducing juices including tomato and orange (can we say reflux city?) AND at two months starting soft food and cereal. A lot of things from mothers and mother-in-laws like that are due to what they were told when WE were babies. Nicely explain that over the years, nutritionists and doctors have found it's better to breast feed/formula feed only until 5 or 6 months. Use this approach with most of the changes you want her to make or the advice you have for her. In her mind she's a far more experienced mother than you are! AND you are getting "free" VERY trustworthy daycare! Be very happy she wants to hold and love him and keep him. Some grandparents don't! If you want to hold him when you're all together -just say that you want to hold him right then. He will greatly benefit in the long run from having a caring grandmother who he's really close to as well as his parents.
As far as the TV -again -ideas have changed drastically since we were babies and kids. I agree that I don't want my kid plugged into TV very much, but at 4 months several shows are probably not going to hurt. Are they talk shows/soaps or children's programming? That's a big difference too. I've never been big into my child watching tv, but when he was an infant -certainly at 4 months -he would be in his swing or exersaucer while WE watched tv, so he was exposed to it. Depending on her age, she may NEED for him to be in front of the tv to give her a break since she looks after him every day. My mother and mother-in-law are both in their early 60s, but I don't think either could handle watching my boy 5 days a week all day long.
Ultimately if you cannot feel comfortable with her watching him, you need to put him into daycare or hire a nanny. I would leave him with granny though right now -it sounds like she's doing fine. Just be very tactful and nice with any suggestions or advice you have for her -and you can always back up things like the eating with "His doctor says to....." -that usually trumps all. Also -make sure your husband is there with you when you discuss these things. In fact -he should be the one covering his mother or at the very least right there to second what you say and support you.
D.S. answers from Augusta on August 04, 2008
In my own experience with my parents, it does not get better it get worse. The more you try to look the other way the more they try to take over the role of parents insted of grandparents..
It is better to have a good talk (and probably a fight) now, than later because it will only get more complicated and painful.
Now that the baby is little he still does not know he can manipulate the situation or witness his family break apart over this. Your mother in law will be hurt but if she wants to be a part of your sons life she needs to follow your rules not the other way around, it sounds bad, but if you dont take a stand and work things out now, like I said, things can only get worse.
B.L. answers from Atlanta on August 05, 2008
I had to get used to my child being taken care of by a family member after she was in daycare for 2 years. It took some getting used to, but the fact of it is, people raise their kids differently and you cant always be in control. As long as our child is not being physically or mentally harmed, I think you need to let some of those things slide and pick and choose your fights. I mean, thats a great opportunity for you to save $ and have a family member care for your child. He is getting way more attention from a family member and loving environment etc, but people do things differently. Sometimes you have to accept that, but she just wants whats best for the baby, and you do too so just talk about the things you dont agree with and give your reasons. You are the mother and get the final say, but if you pick every little thing to find a prob with, the mother in law could take it personal and just undermine your wishes when you arent there. And do what she wants anyways. Its doesnt seem like she is trying to be too bossy or tell you how to raise the baby, I think you are being kinda sensitive. It doesnt sound like she's doing anything TOO bad, it sounds kinda like you are jealous of the attention she gives him. Maybe because you want to be with the baby, and cant? I have been there too, and also mothers are over defensive sometimes, especially when it comes to their babies and mother in laws. Just tell her how you would like things done, in a nice, gentle way and why so she knows your reasoning. You guys need to work together. Sorry if my advice is so blunt. Didnt mean to offend. Good luck.