January 23, 2009,
A.B. asks from Wentzville, MO on January 09, 2009
My Son Loves His Grandma More than Me.
My mom is over the top obsessed with her grandson. I am very lucky to have a mom that always wants to be around my son.
However, she WON'T LISTEN TO ME!!!!!
I don't like for my son to have soda, she gives it to him all the time. He is on a schedule. His bedtime is 8 p.m. & last time he stayed the night at grandma's he was up until 1 in the morning! She let's him have enough sweets to put him in a sugar coma! My son is a VERY good boy so I must be doing SOMETHING right, right?! And whenever I try to talk to my mom about this stuff she gets real defensive & treats me like I am being rediculous! She sees him several times a week so I don't see why she thinks it's okay to throw all his rules out the window.
The other day we were at the mall & my mom went off to look at something. My son threw a fit & wanted his grandma. I was just kidding but I said, "What? Don't you love Mommy anymore?" And his response was, "NO! I love Maw Maw better!" I had to go to the bathroon & compose myself because I started crying in the middle of the book store. And he just keeps saying it! It wouldn't bother me so badly but I saw it coming! I'm always the bad guy when we are with my mom because she wants to let him have EVERYTHING he wants. My son just got like 40 new toys for christmas & she wants to immediately go out & buy him 6 more! And she does this everytime she sees him! My house is overrun with toys! Help! What should I do? When I tried to talk to my mother about it, she yelled at me & made a big scene in the middle of the cafe'! I'm so upset & I need some advice.
So What Happened?™
I can't thank you all enough for all your advice & support. I am sad (yet a little relived) to see I am not the only one that is going through this.
I had my husband read all of your wonderful posts & we have agreed. My son is spending the night with her tomorrow. So tonight I am going to sit down and agonize over writing her a letter telling her how much I love & appreciate her but I need things to change. I've tried talking to her but my mom is also a compulsive interrupter & she gets defensive & cries at the drop of a hat. So I think a letter is the best way to start & then a talk.
Thank you all so much. I really do feel better. Thanks for all your reassuring words. There for a while I started to think that I must be a bad mom & a bad daughter.
Now, thanksto you, my husband, my family & my friends, I have a new confidence in myself & my parenting. Thanks again.
S.H. answers from St. Louis on January 10, 2009
I did not read any responses past Amy H.'s.
Her response was sooo dead-on perfect that I applaud her.
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A.H. answers from St. Joseph on January 10, 2009
As the parent, you will always be the bad guy when it comes to correcting behavior. But you will also be the one who is always there for him, the one who loves him unconditionally, and the one who gives him what he *needs,* even if it's not always what he *wants.* You're the one who nurses him when he's sick, the one who sets the limits that he needs, the one who hugs him even when he thinks he's too old for that... and he will (years from now) be grateful that he has such a good Mom.
At three, he doesn't yet know what "love" really is; he just knows that he can upset you by using that word against you. The only way for that to stop is for you to stop letting it affect you (at least in front of him). Understand that he doesn't mean it--he's just mad or frustrated. When he says he loves Maw Maw more than you, or that he doesn't love you, just calmly tell him, "That's okay. I still love you." And leave it at that. If he sees that it doesn't have any effect, he'll stop saying it. He'll eventually understand, but right now, it's not about who he really loves more, it's just about wanting to have his way.
Grandparents are supposed to "spoil" their grandkids, but I agree that it sounds like your mom has taken it past the limits of reason and turned it into a power struggle! Regardless of your feelings on the matter, she should know what is BAD for him and avoid taking it too far (a later bedtime at Grandma's is okay, but letting a 3-year-old stay up until 1 AM is really not doing him any favors!), and she should want what is GOOD for him. Love isn't about giving someone everything they want; it's about wanting what is best for them!
If she wants to set aside a playroom in her house for him and fill it to the brim with toys, that's fine--let her keep the toys she buys at her house! What we do with gifts here is this: anytime someone buys our kids a new toy as a gift, we donate one of their older toys to charity. We let the grandparents know this, with the gentle explanation that we have a small house, and can only have so many toys--too many, and it becomes a safety issue and a fire hazard (can't escape the house quickly if we're tripping over toys).
A treat or two when he goes over to Grandma's house is one thing; it's entirely another when she is ignoring your parental authority while you are *right there* with her! If that continues, stop going out with her. Getting free stuff from Grandma is NOT worth your sanity and definitely not worth the power struggle.
If your husband is supportive, the two of you could sit down and have a talk with her (even if hubby is just "silent support," that may be enough) WITHOUT your son present, about setting some reasonable limits. Involve her; don't just set limits and expect her to follow them. Be willing to compromise and let her spoil him a little bit, but let her know that this power struggle is affecting your son's well-being, and you both need to work it out for HIS sake.
I also agree with the other posters; after all of that, if your mom cannot respect that YOU are his mother, then the time your son spends with her needs to be limited to however often you and your husband think is best. In order to get through and make her understand that you are serious and cannot be bullied, you will have to stay calm and be firm, even if/when she yells at you. You are an adult; she needs to see you as one. Practice what to say and how you think she'll respond beforehand if you need to (yes, I'm serious; it helps!).
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L.P. answers from Joplin on January 10, 2009
1. We had a similar problem with presents with my in-laws, though they didn't live so close and thus the grandparent spoiling wasn't so constant. Our solution was to put a cap on the number of presents/relative. Anything over that amount would be returned by us, unopened. We explained to them why too much was becoming a problem, how the children were behaving as a result, and what we wanted the children to learn. We tried to put the discussion in the context of enlisting the grandparents' help in shaping and guiding these beautiful children so they'd learn the right lessons and grow into wonderful adults. And then we packed away 3/4 of the toys they had, and we'd periodically rotate toys so they didn't have access to everything at once.
2. You're a parent now, and sometimes you have to be the bad guy. Comes with the territory. Get used to it. You have to learn to not take it personally when your child strikes out with words when he's not getting what he wants. That's normal, and he'll learn better in time with your help. And in the meantime, you have to not make it about who loves who most, even in his eyes. You love your child. You're doing what's best for your child. Your mother loves your child and wants to make that adorable face all smiles when she's around. When your son strikes out this way, you can say you love MawMaw, too. MawMaw's fun, and that's MawMaw's job. But you're the mommy, and mommies have to do what's best so their children grow up properly. Note: The kid does not have to understand this now. He just has to accept that you're the mom, and you're not budging. You're the final authority, and that's that. Understanding will come later. Right now, the law is the law, period.
3. You need to work things out with your mother. Find a way to explain your concerns without blaming her. Hold your ground.
4. Kids learn quickly to handle different sets of rules. We can do this at home. We can do this at Grandma's. Sometimes they'll goof at one place or the other, but overall they pick it up pretty quickly. My answer when one of the kids said 'but Grandma lets me . . .' was 'you're not at Grandma's house now. The rule here is . . . ' No criticism of Grandma, just statement of fact. Accept it, kid, don't argue, and get on with it.
About me -- 3 grown kids in their 20s, and we're all still on good terms with the in-laws
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L.S. answers from Wichita on January 10, 2009
I'm a grandma of 8 and I absolutely cringed when I read what your mom is doing. It sounds like she has taken over your child and ran over you like a sherman tank.
Your mother has no boundaries and feels entitled to do whatever she wants to her grandson and to you. If you can get a copy of Townsend and Black's Boundaries, please do and it will help you immmensely.
You and your husband will have to present a united front to your mom. If it means cutting back on the time she has with your son then so be it. Any grandma who would be so disrespectful to the parents of her grandchildren needs to be dealt with. I know its hard but hon for your mom to yell at you at a cafe to get her own way is pretty bad. She is out of control, and may very well be trying to take your place in your son's life.
Any feelings you have about this are valid and you have to protect your son from his grandma's crazymaking.
Hope all goes well with you.
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M.B. answers from St. Louis on January 09, 2009
Aww he doesnt love your mom more than you! I go through the same thing with my parents. They are terrible! Maybe not AS bad as yours! Maw Maw just seems more appealing when he knows hes going to get exactly what he wants from her and no disipline. My child doesnt like me when my parents are around either, Im old news. I got over it. But we moved kinda farther than my mom would have liked so we only see them on weekends or every other. But I think 3xs a week I would be pulling my hair out. Maybe move? Haha! No really your son loves you and knows when it comes to what he needs, he needs his mommy! But I think your mom should respect your wishes more and not make a scene about your parenting in public or anywhere for that matter. This is a tough one. Some things that have helped me with the toys, if they insist on buying them toys every 5 minutes, the toys stay there. Maybe if your mom trips over them all day she will realize hes got enough toys! I dont know what to say about the junk food and naps. Last weekend my daughter spent the night over there, stayed up until midnight, had chips and dip for lunch, no nap, when I went to pick her up she was an exhausted mess. Having meltdowns and everything, AND they asked me why I wasnt doing anything about it???? I laughed and said you did this, have fun with it, and left and made them drive her home the next day. I wasnt dealing with that mess! Hopefully that did something! But I promise he loves you, probably even better than your mom! ;)
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R.M. answers from Topeka on January 10, 2009
A., I wish that I knew the dynamics of the relationship between yourself and your Mother. This sounds like such a power struggle to me...and I don't have any really good advice for you. I think it is all somehow rooted in the relationship between yourself and your Mother. Respect has to be a two way street, so maybe you and your Mom need to sit down and have a really CALM NON-ACCUSATORY talk about how this is effecting not only your son but also the relationiship between the two of you.
I semi- understand what your Mother is going through, as far as the toys and things like that. I have a 13 month old grandson that is the joy of my life. I am CONSTANTLY seeing things that just BEG to be purchased and taken to Kieran!! BUT...his parents told all of the family this year before Christmas that they want to "simplify" things and explained their reasoning. At first, I will admit, I was a bit upset. My initial response was "Hmmmmph they are NOT going to tell me how to celebrate Christmas" but then I calmed down and gave it more thought and saw the wisdom of their request. They are also doing things differently than I did with my children at that age but I go along with their wishes because Kieran is THEIR baby not mine, and I dont want to meddle.
You need to sit down with your Mother and talk from your viewpoint...explain WHY you dont want him staying up late, WHY you dont want him eating a lot of sugar and WHY you need to get a handle on the toys and such. But please, keep reminding your Mother that you love her...and your son loves her and that you are just trying to improve your relationship. It may take more than one "talk"...and you will have to be lovingly firm...maybe ask her how she would have reacted if YOUR grandmother had refused to go along with her parenting decisions????
I am sorry that I have rambled so...and haven't really given you any advice...as a Grandma I would probably be better at talking to your Mom...lol.
Good luck honey..it is a sticky situation and one that needs a solution.
God Bless You
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V.M. answers from St. Louis on January 10, 2009
Wow! I can't imagine going through something like this. I have always had the opposite problem, as our grandparents are not close enough to smother. However, I want to say first, that your son does NOT LOVE your mom more than you. Period. He LOVES that she will give him anything, any time, and in the middle of the mall, he is perceptive enough to know there is nothing you can do about it. What he said was out of a desire to be where it would be more advantageous to him, not because he does not love you. Next time you hear this, just say "Well, that's too bad, because I love you more." Then stop. Conversation done.
OK, The major problem is that if Mom keeps this up at YOUR home and you don't get it under control, you had may as well be at the mall. Either Mom follows your rules and is compliant, or she goes home. This is your child, your home, Done. Of the things you mentioned, all of them seem to be very reasonable and normal requests. You aren't being overbearing, and if she has any issues, talk to your pediatrician ahead of time and warn them of the situation, and have THEM talk to her about sugar, irregular bed times, etc. However the bottom line is that no matter what anyone else has to say about him, your word is last and that is that. If Tuesday's are blue body paint day, then so it is.
It can be terribly hard to stand up to your parents, especially when kids are involved and you know that their intentions are not vicious. However, your boy could start being defiant in other ways if this continues, especially if he knows his line about loving grandma more bothers you. You HAVE to stand up, let her know that her double standards are not going to be tolerated any longer, you can find a new evening babysitter when you need one and she can not have him, and the time at her house without you can be limited if she chooses to not allow you to parent your way and follow your lead. I doubt she wants any of those things to happen.
Good lock, shug! Parenting is hard, and this is just one of those unexpected issues that you don't see coming. Just know she thinks she is being loving or she wouldn't be doing it. Maybe she doesn't realize how far it has gotten. If you can't communicate without fighting, maybe talk to your Dad? Write a letter? However you can get it across.
Good luck! Love your boy and have a great New Year!
2 moms found this helpful
L.B. answers from St. Louis on January 10, 2009
Get with some groups like MOPS and spend less time with granny. That's what I did.
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T.H. answers from Topeka on January 10, 2009
You are lucky to have such a caring mom. I remember my Grandma was so much fun to be around. We had a close relationship throughout my child to adulthood. I would just have a talk with your mom. Tell her you LOVE that she loves your little boy so much & appreciate the (free) babysitting, but explain to her that when he gets home it is really hard to keep him on a schedule. I think it is kind of neat that she gives him a sweet treat now & then. Since Mom won't this will be something that he will look forward to now & again. Ask her to please limit the sweets to one a visit & while she may not follow the 8:00 bedtime that you have, could she please have him in bed by 9:00. Its hard to "discipline" our parents but do know that you mom is over the moon about your son & they do say that being a Grandparent is better than being a parent b/c you can spoil them & then send them home!
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