July 22, 2008,
N.H. asks from Pittsburgh, PA on July 21, 2008
Oldest Daughter Won't Speak to Me
We had an argunment back in March and she's refused to take or return my calls and finally told me last week that she doesn't want me in her life and that I'm not welcome to call her any more.
The argument was when she contradicted me in from of her 3 yr old daughter. I told the child not to play the piano because her little sister was sleeping and my daughter yelled from the kitchen "It's ok honey you can play the piano whenever you want". So I went in to the kitchen and told my daughter to tell me in private if she disagrees with me and that I would respect her wishes, but not to contradict me when I'm trying to discipline my granddaughter. I worte her an e-mail after that telling her that I think it's a mistake to interfeare with Sofia's relationships with her family including her father (I noticed my daughter does a lot of "negotiating" between them too). This is what she said was really hurtful, and she demands an apology!
What do you all think about this?
So What Happened?™
We just had a visit with my daughter and her family. It went really well! She even asked us to stay another day, but we decided to leave while things were still so good. She has a nanny so she didn't really need my help. It was the longest nice months ever, waiting for my daughter to "come around"... a time of much introspection on my part. I kept knitting for my granddaughters and praying that things would work out. She finally invited me to come when her third baby was born on Dec. 3rd, another little girl. I am now a proud grandma of three! and delighted to be able to be in their lives again.
L.N. answers from Pittsburgh on July 22, 2008
With all due respect, I think the daughter is acting like a spoiled brat with a power crazy ego. Good Lord, the GRANDMOTHER was simply dealing with the situation. I am from a close knit italian family. My mother, sister, etc. ,,, we all take care of each other and all our kids when we are together for the day or what have you. Yes, the MOTHER is the first dicipinarian, fine, but what happened to respecting your elders, respecting your parents. The way the daughter handled that situation was like a 5 year old girl saying, nah nah , I can do it my way. LIke a brat. I tell my children, when your grandmother tells you something, you listen and respect, and If I have a problem with it, I talk to my mother in private, like an adult, so my children will respect her still and not look at her like, haha, mommy said I can!!!
No wonder kids these days do what they want with no care, respect seems to have gone out the window.
1 mom found this helpful
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on July 21, 2008
This is a tough situation. I understand your intentions about the piano playing scenario, but after all this is HER daughter and she should be the primary person to correct the child, right? If she woke up the baby, then it's your daughter that should have to deal with that.
I think you need to talk to her asap. Go ahead and apologize for hurting her--not that big of a deal if it gets this situation to end. It will also get the communication going again.
I know it's a sticky situation when a grandmother wants to correct the grandchildren. My mom is pretty good about it--she does correct him (she watches him/stays with us two days per week) and I back her up, but I know there's a lot of times whe I am home when she bites her tongue--and I really respect that.
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J.I. answers from Pittsburgh on July 22, 2008
My initial reaction was "whoa, who is mom here?" Also, I'm not sure whose house you were in -- everyone seems to assume that it was your daughter's. However, I think in your house, if you don't want her to play the piano at a certain time, you do have the right to set the rules. In my house, we follow my rules. Someone else's house, it's their rules.
From a mom's perspective, as a grandparent, the best thing that you can do is to step back. Give advice when asked. Like it or not, you are in the back seat. I am sure that it is very difficult to hold your tongue sometimes. You have raised 8 children, (WOW!) you have lots of experience, and you have done so successfully. However, wisdom on how to do things does change over time, and how you might have handled something might simply not be the way that your daughter wants to do things. (SIDS and back sleeping would be the big one, for example.) For instance, in this circumstance, maybe your daughter wants the baby to be able to sleep through lots of noise so that the house does not need to be quiet, or so that she does not have to try to her daughter be quiet, while baby is napping.
From what you have described, there is some poor communication styles going on, looks like for everyone involved. As the grandparent, by demanding not to be "contradicted" on how your daughter is with her children, you have, quite frankly, made yourself very unwelcome.
That being said, and assuming that there isn't more to the story, I don't think your daughter handled this well. I would never cut my children off from their grandparents because of a disagreement such as this, because my kids need their grandparents, but I can understand some of the resentfulness. I think I would want to know if there was more, too, just in case there has been something building up from your daughter's perspective.
I have supportive in-laws who I can count on and do not criticize me constantly, or demand certain things from me or my kids. My husband's parents do not interfere. I do, on occassion, ask for their advice. I am relaxed with my kids around them. If I'm talking to them about something going on with one of the kids, my mother in law will tell me a story about something similar that she experienced with her kids, and how she handled it. She doesn't say, do this. She provides me with the information in a very mild way, and obviously leaves it up to me to decide what I want to do with it.
My parents, on the other hand, although I love them dearly, drive me crazy. They have an opinion about everything. (That is their personalities.) When to potty train, how to do it, why what I am doing is wrong, how I am stupid for doing research on the internet or using books and talking to my doctor and other parents and blah blah blah. My mom says, why don't you ask me? They cancel babysitting engagements with me, they are not available in emergencies.
There is a huge difference in being told how to do something and offering information. And it's not even that I think that my mom doens't know things. I do think she knows things. But guess who sees the kids more? Guess who I go to when I do have questions? I've also noticed that my aunt behaves like my in-laws with her son and grandchild -- can I do something to help? Would you like me to do something? And backs off if the answer is "no." I was wishing for more of that. : )
Now, where to go from here? I don't know. I would suggest not using email to communicate for anything other than mundane things again, it is so difficult to know for sure that what you want to say comes across the way you intended to the other person, and it is so easy to be more negative in the message then you intended or would have done in person. Do apologize. Tell her you only say things because you care, tell her that she has beautiful kids and that you think she is doing a wonderful job. (When was the last time that you told her that? When someone tells me something like that, it always give me pause -- I just don't hear it, ever, and of course, it takes years and years and years to really be able to tell if you did a good job.) Tell her that you have a wealth of experience, and that you just wanted to help, but will only do so in the future if she asks. If she can't accept an apology, then shame on her.
And for all you daughters out there that have my parents -- here is what you do. You do as I have suggested to N. H. You hold your tongue, as difficult as that may be. You nod. You say, thank you for sharing that with me. You ask a question here and there. You tell them at a later time that something that they suggested worked, or didn't work. And you continue to do what you want to do. : ) Or, actually try something that was suggested, since they might actually know something. And if asked why you aren't doing something they suggested, say you tried it, or you considered it along with many other things, and now you are trying this. Hurt feelings and arguments spared. All grandparents are seeking is to feel involved with you and your kids and to be respected for what they did in raising you. They love you. They love your kids. And I would, if you can't get a grandparent to back off, say very firmly that you understand that they have a lot of information to share, but at this point, you are doing "X", and when you want to know something different, you will absolutely ask. And then, if that does't help...maybe visits decrease a bit with the interfering grandma.
This is such a classic dilemna -- grandmas, do you remember feeling this way about your mother or mother in law?
L.T. answers from Pittsburgh on July 21, 2008
When we become moms we feel empowered. We get to make decisions and schedules. We decide what is right and wrong. When out parents let us know that they disagree with our parenting skills/decisions (in public or in private) it doesn't feel good. I probably would have not appreciated my mother telling me not to "contradict" her when disciplining MY child. However, I also wouldn't have reacted dramatically. I would have realized she was doing what she thought was reasonable. If I did allow my child to play the piano while the other was sleeping, I would have said something like, "It's okay, Mom. The baby's room is far enough away and she is a heavy sleeper so I allow Sofia to play during naptime." While it is contradicting, it also provides an explanation regarding my decision. Unfortunately, following the piano indicident with more criticism wasn't the best thing to do. Though I am sure you didn't mean it to be hurtful, in your daughter's mind you added insult to injury.
I would suggest apologizing to your daughter. Tell her that you have a different parenting style than she does and that you were trying to be helpful and didn't mean to hurt her. This is a fixable situation so put this incident behind you and get your relationship back on track. Looking forward, consider taking a different approach when you interact with your daughter and grandchildren. Talk to your daughter to work out a plan that is good for both of you. When she is around maybe consult her before disciplining her children. If she isn't around you play by "grandma's rules". Good luck!