June 24, 2009,
L.S. asks from Williamsburg, VA on June 22, 2009
Seeking Advice on How to Deal W/mother-in-law
My mother-in-law has an overbearing personality and comes across as though she knows best with respect to most everything (our little girl, planting flowers, cooking, places to go, etc.). I do my best to grin and bear it, but have been having a really hard time dealing with her since our daughter has been born. Prior to our baby's birth, she bought a crib, stroller, bouncer, clothes (she has more clothes than we do and we have a lot!), diapers, toys, swing, etc. for her house (she lives 30 minutes away). We didn't know the gender of our little girl until she was born, so we waited to have the baby shower. At my baby shower, I got a first curl box and she shouted out "I've already got her first curl". Then she told everyone she had already bought gifts for every holiday for our daughter up through age 5. At the shower, she acted more like our daughter was hers than ours by making comments like "this is the way you should hold her", "this is her favorite toy", and "she loves it when you do this" to the guests. When we take our baby girl to visit her, she immediately changes her clothes and puts a bow in her hair. Sometimes she changes her clothes several times a day, just for the sake of changing her clothes. The most recent issue that really seems to have put me over the edge was yesterday on father's day. For some reason, my mother-in-law bought a "Happy Father's Day Daddy" card from my daughter for my husband. It seems to me that this should be my role as his wife and not his mother's, but maybe I am looking at the situation the wrong way. Should this bother me? Any suggestions for how to deal with it? I'm getting upset at my husband for not dealing with it. Understandably, I know he doesn't want to be in the middle. Plus, he has dealt with his mom for many more years than I have, so he is just able to let it roll off his back. Thanks for your help!!!
2 moms found this helpful
D.A. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
First and foremost, hang in there. I know it's hard. I know it's akward, but let me tell you that my parents have not even acknowledged my son and he is almost 2. We live a few states a way, but when we have gone home to visit, they didn't even come to see him. Everyone goes through their own private hell.
Your MIL probably doesn't have much going on in her life and this is her purpose for living. I know it's annoying, but she obviously loves the child and that is a gift in itself. My MIL has some similarities and it had gotten to the point where we couldn't even walk in our house due to all the toys, books and clothes she sent.
I confided in my friend at work who's a grandma and she said something crazy happens to you when you have a grandchild. It's like an addiction and you can't stop. I'll never forget something she told me. She said, "You love your children, but your grandchildren are SPECIAL."
She advised I let grandma do her thing and give the gifts and do all the spoiling. She said one day I too will go crazy over my grandbaby and would appreciate a patient daughter in law.
I'm not saying to relinquish your parent card or to be a doormat, but it's not as uncommon as you think for a MIL to act this way. Certainly set boundaries and stand firm about being the Mommy, but don't let it get to you.
Your lil one only experiences their grandparents once and it's such a short time for them. Grandma and Grandpa don't live forever!!
2 moms found this helpful
L.D. answers from Richmond on June 23, 2009
First of all, your husband should be the one to handle this -- just as you should handle anything with your side of the family. Although, honestly, I think she's just excited about being a grandma. I'm not sure why it bothers you that she's changing her clothes, etc. It sounds like she's just enjoying her granddaughter. Plus, this gives you a little break. However, if it bothers you, just have your husband talk to her nicely and set some ground rules. A loving grandparent can be a wonderful help.
1 mom found this helpful
A.T. answers from Norfolk on June 23, 2009
I'm gonna be honest with you here. I think your mother-in-law is having the best of intentions here. My guess is that she and her son were VERY close. I think she just doesn't realize she is hurting your feelings. Don't worry about her changing her clothes or any of that. I would imagine this woman could probably be very trustworthy and a valuable source for much needed mommy time for you later down the road. So tread carefully. I really think she is just completely enamoured with your child. That is a good thing. The issue is that she has crossed the line by hurting your feelings and doing some things you feel is your job to do. I know what you mean. It seems like she is telling you everything you do is wrong and everything she does is right. My grandmother-in-law is the same way. Their hearts are in the right place. You just have to mention to her that it hurt your feelings when she bought the card for your husband b/c you felt like it was something you should do. There is nothing wrong with her giving him a card for father's day, but perhaps just honoring him as a father. Perhaps mention, that you could sign it together for him. She seems like her feelings could get hurt easily here, b/c she has invested so much in your daughter. The trick here is just minimize your time. When you feel like you're about to blow.....stay away a couple days. lol. Make sure your husband supports you when you do say something, and please be delicate. (if you go off the deep end....he cant support you.)
1 mom found this helpful
L.A. answers from Washington DC on June 22, 2009
I've dealt with this very same situation when I had my daughter who is now 2 1/2. First off, your baby will never confuse you for anyone else, not even Grandma, no matter how many toys she buys. Secondly, neither you nor she can take back the stuff she's done in the past no matter how wrong or upsetting it was.
Moving forward, you want to assert yourself with each thing she does that you find unacceptable, and do it in a way that says, "please understand, I'm her mom and this is my family". If that means not seeing them as often to give them a clearer message, then so be it.
She's obviously missing her time as a mom to a young child, and doesn't think twice about your feelings when she acts. Approach her with a little more compassion as if she doesn't really know what she's doing when she upsets you. This is your time to teach her.
It takes practice being calm and accepting to someone who upsets you, but it is possible and right now necessary because you want to keep peace in the family.
L.W. answers from Norfolk on June 24, 2009
Hi L., my mom in law used to piss me off when my kids were babies too, by saying how the baby looked like her,, or her husband, or my husband,, or her daughter (who I didn't get along with)..or her mother... her auntie... which would all have been fine but NEVER did she say that the baby looked like me. What did I do? I ignored it. It was her flaw but other than that she was and is a good mother in law to me. Your mother in law however, is going to have be told something since overbearing and intrusive is part of her personality. Does your mother in law have her OWN husband??? that could be part of the problem as well. Somethings can be ignored like-- the fathers day card-- yes she overstepped her boundaries, but its not that big a deal. You could have said something like-- oh honey, now you have 2 fathers day cards from our baby.. or not bother saying anything because its not a big deal. Her changing the baby's clothes... well that would piss off anyone as well.. but again, let her change the baby's clothes all day if she wants. Your daughter is either going to hate her grandmother because of her perfectionist ways... or will love going to grandma's because she has so much stuff over there. She is the grandma and you shouldnt tell her how to be one... and likewise, you are the MOTHER and when she tells YOU how to be a mother, without you asking her opinion.. you have to step out of the shy role.. respectfully and tell her that you dont want her telling you how to be a mom, just like you don't tell her how to be a grandma. I am 34 too, and used to be shy and still am sometimes so I know its hard girl but you can do it!! OH!! but about her cutting your daughter's hair!!! NO!!!!! that is not a grandmother's job. You must call her on that.. she must know that changing her outfits is one thing... but cutting your daughter's hair-- any permanent changes is another!!! she must get permission from you.. absolutely. okay and good luck!! trust me by the second kid you won't even care about half of the stuff she pulls-- as long as she keeps babysitting. oh and P.S. you can always change her outfits back to what you originally had on her if it really bothers you so much... she is just an overexcited grandmother... she'll calm down... however, when she clearly plays the mother role-- you gotta put her back in her place... and do try to keep it polite.
D.P. answers from Norfolk on June 23, 2009
Try not to let your emotions run the conversation, but you need to put your foot down. YOU are that child's mother and no one else is allowed (well, 'cept your hubby of course) to rule in that child's life. Period. Set ground rules, make a line that can't be crossed and STICK WITH IT. Because it sounds like the people in your MIL's life let her get away with everything she wants because they love her, and in reality that just doesn't work. Hmmm, in a way, it's kinda like raising children. They need structure and clear boundaries too!
E.M. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
Boy, you are in a tight situation and I feel for you. My mother started out that way when my daughter was born. I politely explained to Mom that she had her opportunity to raise her children and now this is mine. Since I know she is capable she will be my "go to" person for help and extra spoiling for my daughter but I want to be able to make my own decisions and mistakes. Let her know that children can not have too much love and it is up to the Grandparents to spoil and parents to make the decisions. Good luck!
S.H. answers from Richmond on June 24, 2009
I'm curious - does your husband have a sister? It sounds like your MIL is relishing (too much so) in having a little girl around. You are right to feel put out though - she's going too far!
C.D. answers from Norfolk on June 24, 2009
MILs are the hardest. My advice is to talk to your husband. If you let this continue and you are bothered it can put a strain on your marriage and make it harder down the road. She may not realize she is so over the top. If your husband could talk to her in the right setting and let her know how you both feel then maybe she will calm down. My husband and I fought so much the first year our son was born and it was always about his parents. His mother was over the top and obsessed with my son. She also bought stuff for her house and it really irritated me when she bought clothes for her house. It was later that I told my husband if he had gotten involved a long time ago things never would have gotten so strained. I think there are some things you will need to give a little on (but not the fathers day card, she should have addressed it from her) and just try to ignore but you are the mother and your husband should make that clear. Men are better and rolling things off there back especially with kids, once you are the Mom its hard not to act like a mama bear protecting her cub.
The most important thing is to talk with your husband don't let this come between you. My husband and I have talked through it and thankful we are years past Grandma being obsessed. He tells his mom if you want to be the mom go adopted a baby from the world food commercials, but we are the parents.
A.S. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
my fiancee's mother can be the same way but thankfully she tends to get her self in check but the one thing i did that calms her down when she goes over bored as a grandmother is i call her and say hey u want the baby for the weekend and now she takes my little baby or as a put it kidnaps him for the weekend so she can spoil him and grandmother him for a whole two days and when i get him back she is kind of grandmothered out lol plus while he is with her i get the chance to do some organizing and time to my self like a shower and i get to have mommy and daddy time yay
so if she lives near by why don't u suggest she take the baby on the weekends that way u don't have her hate to say it this way but up your butt all week
A.T. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
I think you are blessed to have grandparents (grandmother, in your case) that love and care for your child. And she lives within the nice distance too.
Enjoy these moments, be grateful, and seize every opportunity for your child to have with their grandparent--remember they won't be here forever unfortunately
I have a 1 yr old and about to have another, and neither side of grandparents are present. My parents live on the other side of the world, skyping and phone calls is how we get by. And my husband's parents are closer --- 15hrs. away, but that shouldn't stop them from visiting, we sure don't--
If you feel your mother-in-law is overstepping something set some boundaries, take it one day at a time. But please don't listen to other people when they encourage the drama. Don't be like that. Love, care, and respect will resolve this situation. No fights, husband in the midddle, arguments and jealousy will do you any good. Follow your own instincts. You sound like a decent and nice person, just keep making sure your daughter is raised in the same environment.
J.H. answers from Norfolk on June 22, 2009
Hi L.. My mother-in-law is also a bit overbearing, but it sounds like you have the market cornered! My husband is an only child and our son is the only Grandson, so his mother is CRAZY about her grand baby!
As hard as it may be, express your feelings to your husband and make it clear that you expect him to shield you and your baby from his mother's overbearing tendencies. He knows her better than anyone, so he won't be surprised. But most importantly, he knows you better than anyone and has to know that this behavior is upsetting you. You don't have to confront her, just task him with taking control of the situation. After all, if Mama isn't happy, nobody is happy....he'll get the point quick enough. The Father's Day card is his perfect opening to bring up this issue with her.
I sure hope this works out for you.....if all else fails, maybe you could relocate far enough away that her visits won't be so frequent. Good luck!
C.D. answers from Norfolk on June 23, 2009
You need to recognise that it is wonderful that she wants to be involved as the alternative is not pretty but at the same time you need to set some bounderies with this woman. That you will have to do on your own since it doesn't sound like hubby wants any sort of confrontation. The up side will be tons of free baby-sitting so you two can connect. Your baby isn't being harmed by clothes changing. Was she unable to stay home with her own child and is trying to make up for that with her grandchild? Or did she not have, yet longed for a little girl? You must build some communication with her and raise your self-esteem as a Mom so that you can enjoy the indulgent grandma without being walked all over. Good luck!
A.S. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
I know that some things she does really make you upset, but I think that she is happy to have the baby but I feel that you need not keep this inside, maybe you and your mother-in-law could come to either house have lunch and talk. She might not know that she is pushing your buttons. I pray that you both can work something out. Good luck
S.T. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
boy, you do have your hands full! on the one hand, being delighted with her granddaughter, changing her clothes and playing with her, even bossing guests around with her are aggravating but normal, and you should probably let it go as much as you can. it's nice that she's so besotted even if it's a bit much for you. however, that doesn't mean she should be allowed to take over. if she says 'the first curl is mine' you can smile and say 'i know you would love that, but i'm afraid that's mommy's privilege.' if she tries to boss YOU as far as how to hold your baby or what her favorite toy is, you can again be courteous but firm, something along the lines of 'i really appreciate your advice but i'm her mom and i really do know what's best.' you might want to role play with your husband or a friend to become comfortable with being more assertive if you are naturally shy.
i can understand your husband's reticence in getting in the middle, but i think you do have to insist that he at least support you as work toward establishing your role in the relationship with your mother-in-law.
M.G. answers from Washington DC on June 24, 2009
trust me nip this in the bud now!!!!!!!!!!!!!
try explaing to her how this is making you feel and do it nicely, if that dosent work then just tell her to back off or else.
she has over stepped the mark on the d day card. yes that was your place
and if she cant keep her comments to herself then dont let her come around.
and if hubby dosent like this then he should have of stood up for your feelings and he can just lump it. you married him not his mother.
and tell her this . how ever there are those women who dont get the hint no matter how hard you hit them with it.
so you might just have to spell it out for her.
tell her you had your turn with your hubby now it is "my turn with MY DAUGHTER"
C.O. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
Hello! Since you are shy - it might be hard for you to assert yourself with your MIL.
What does your husband say about all of this?
Is he upset by his mother purchasing a father's day card for him that was to be from his daughter? It's entirely possible she's VERY EXCITED to be a grandmother but since you aren't setting ground rules and you are shy - she is coming in and taking charge.
1. Talk with her - have her over for lunch and have a list of things you want to talk with her about. DO NOT make it confrontational with the "YOU make me feel" or "You cannot", try - I am bothered or I feel upset or however you want to word it.
2. Set ground rules - she can come by during these hours, she can change your daughter's clothes only if they are dirty - you are very busy and can't be spending every day washing laundry.
It might be hard for her - is your husband an only child? Did he have a rocky childhood that she's trying to make up for? There might be soooo many things you aren't aware of. Communication is key. Break out of your shell and take charge of your and your daughter's life. Tell your husband what you are going to do. Tell him about the ground rules you will be setting and how you EXPECT and DEMAND that he step in line with you.
I hope this helps you. I know you will be able to get through this - just stand up for yourself, I know it's hard when you are shy but you are letting her walk all over you and the key word is LETTING - you can make choices and decisions. YOU CAN DO THIS.
L.R. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
Your daughter's still an infant, and your MIL is treating her like a shiny new doll, not a person. Once your daughter is walking, talking, tearing into all grandma's stuff and refusing to do just what grandma wants, your MIL's attitude may change! But don't wait for that time. While as others say, your child will always know you're the mom, I've seen close grandparents spoil kids to the point it affected the child's behavior at home; kids can learn to play off the spoiler against the "tough cops" that the parents have to become. Your husband isn't "in the middle," he's a vital part of this equation. It's his role as the adult child to talk to his parent and be very firm about boundaries. If he hasn't ever stood up to her before, and it sounds like maybe he hasn't, his standing up to her now could shock her into backing off.
A.C. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
Sheesh! You have every right to feel perturbed by this woman. I can relate to having an overbearing MIL and the only thing that has worked to put her in her place is for my husband to tell her NO and take the child back when she starts doing things that are not for her to do. The one time my husband finally said "She is my daughter, she is not a toy!" sent my MIL over the edge but it sure drew a line she knew never to cross again. Your MIL clearly lacks tact as mine does and unfortunately, all you can do is make sure you come across the way you want to people and let others make their own assessment of her. I would also try to speak up in a polite but firm manner when/if she does something you are not happy with or else you will blow up someday (as another poster said.) One other thing, if she takes your child and changes her clothes, puts the hairbow in, etc. immediately un-do what she has done. She will get the point (hopefully ;)) Good luck!
K.K. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
I know you've gotten a lot of feedback and I haven't had time to read it all, but I just want to be one more vote for the "a baby cannot have too many people who adore and love her unconditionally" camp. Yes, your MIL is stepping on your toes. Yes, it would be wonderful if your husband could lovingly, gently rein her in a little (and you should talk to him about this). But if you can find it in yourself to realize how lucky your little girl is to have two adult women practically fighting over the chance to make sure she knows how very loved she is.... every time your MIL does something that seems a little much, just think, "yeah yeah, it's over the top, but it's a reflection of her love for my daughter and nothing else." it will help you to lighten up, which may help you feel better about it. And someone mentioned another terrific point: you will never worry that your daughter isn't being attended to enough when it comes time to leave her alone with Grandma!
I know it's hard, and I'm not minimizing your side of it, just hoping that another perspective can help you relax a little and let go of the tension she creates for you.
J.H. answers from Roanoke on June 23, 2009
Hi, I haven't read the other posts, but my MIL is exactly the opposite. She never calls on my kiddos birthdays (she lives far away but lived 10 min away when the first two were born until the oldest was 3.5) or gets them anything. I don't think she even knows when their b-days are, possibly not even how old they are...She actually never calls them at all. My husband talks to her when he calls. We see her about 2x a year and she acts like she missed and loves them so much when she is around...it doesn't feel to good the other way around, I can tell you that! My mom sounds more like your MIL. Not with gifts, but she always get Mother's Day cards for me, from the kids and sometimes the same for our b-days and father's day. I have three kids (the oldest just turned 6) so at this point I really appreciate that b/c I can't always take all three of them and she takes them one at a time to help them pick a special card. Because I have the alternative in a MIL, I really appreciate their other grandmother loving them and taking such interest in them. I think that having her perspective teaches them alot and they adore her. They know that I am Mommy and their relationship with her doesn't intimidate me at all. I stay at home with them and homeschool them and the one on one time she gives them and occasional break she gives me is very needed!
A.F. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
Ok. So, the first thing I have to say is: you need to put your foot down and establish a common level of respect. It is important for you Mother-in-law to respect you. Otherwise, you will never have YOUR daughter. While it is a great thing for her to be in your lives; to assist with your daughters' care, etc. It is important for there to be clearcut boundaries.
How do you establish respect with an overbearing mother-in-law? Well, Just be forthcoming about what you do and do NOT like. Let her know that it is unnecessary to changes your daughter a thousand times per day, that you dressed her the way you wanted for a reason, and that you would appreciate her non-interferance. Believe me, she will not respect you until You set boundaries. I'm sure she excited about having a new grand baby, but Your daughter is YOUR daughter and her grand baby. NOT HER DAUGHTER!
As for your husband and his stand-offish behavior; he is merely facilitating this behavior. He needs to gain a spine as well. He doesn't feel the need to stand up to his mother because you allow it. His mother is just that- HIS MOTHER. Trust me, I've already been through this whole scenario and my mother-in-law and I get along a whole lot better now (our child is now 4yrs/old) than we did when he was first born. It took a while, but after lots of anxiety and plenty of prayer I was able to see clearly what needed to occur. I simply went to her home, sat down and had tea. This opened the door for conversation. I must add that I went without my husband and without the baby. It made all the difference!
Good luck! And God Bless!!!!!
B.D. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
I didnt read all the others advise, However, yes...she does sound like a bit much the way u describe her. That saidtry to think of all the other folks out there who's children dont have grandparents (as they have passed away) or worse they have them but they are un interested & un involved.....
count your blessing~ ( gin & bare it I say) only cause u asked.... :0)
S.R. answers from Norfolk on June 23, 2009
You are not off base by any stretch. I have dealt with the MIL that changed my daughter's clothes for no reason and it sent me over the edge. I respectfully explained that as a working Mom I make very few choices about my daughter's day and that the clothes choice was mine in the morning and I expected her to be in the same clothes unless she soiled them. It sounds like a respectful talk to set some boundaries is in order. My husband is very supportive and I make sure he understands my feelings and opinions so he is able to address things with his Mom when he sees or hears certain situations (althought they always seem to happen when it's just me and my MIL). He never has to guess my opinion but I am careful to not put him in the middle. My MIL keeps my 20 month old 2-3 days a week and she is careful to respect me as a Mother. The talk helped a lot and we have a wonderful relationship. I thought the newborn new would wear off but not a chance! My MIL is head over heels and smitten with my daughter. I guess first grandchildren will always be special.
B.D. answers from Richmond on June 24, 2009
My mom is like that too as in overbearing sometimes, but they do get better in time cuz she is! You have to tell her though whether it be by saying little comments in and there or just telling her straight up! I think alot of grandmas do the whole changing clothes thing, my MIL will make coments to me about their bumps, like "oh where in the world did ya get that bump or sratch on ur knee". We have three kids by the way... ijust ingore it! Our kids are 5,4, and 15 months and really the older one really only one that goes sometimes(just because he is the only one thats want to) so when he comes back he has new outfit on and new toys. I could never buy one of my grandkids something even if they all did not come....i just dont understand, but thats a whole other issue i think...lol. So i would talk to her about it and maybe say u are being really overbearing and im the mother of this child not YOU! MIL can be helpful or not, to some thought i think they all the same....mil are different than mother for example...i think because she is close to her son and not you (only because she raised him and not you)all MIL feel maybe that the woman isnt doing the right things for their grandchild....i hope i explained that right! I would really just simply talk to her about how u feel....really...good luck....u will need it
S.M. answers from Washington DC on June 22, 2009
Wow, what a hard situation. Yes, it should bother you, and I think your husband must be understanding of this. However, I guess I think you need to pick your battles. For the most part, it sounds like she is toatally in love with your daughter, and the reality is, she cannot ever take your place. And that's the kicker, she is always going to be jealous of you, because it's NOT her baby. Even her son is not really hers anymore!
But as a mom of a 5 year old, and thus 5 years of MIL/Nana issues, I suggest you deal with some of these issues as they arise. Otherwise, you may find yourself blowing up suddenly in a few years which really isn't fair to everyone.
You don't mention if your husband is bothered by any of this. Regardless of whether he is or not, I don't feel like he is "in the middle" - he should be on your side. I think you need to sit down and calmly explain how you feel and how your MIL makes you feel. Tell him that you don't want to hinder the relationship she has with your daughter but that your feelings are hurt and you feel like he needs to intercede. Maybe, have him read some of these responses you get on Mamasource.
Clearly, if you felt closer to her, you should say something, but I do believe it is his job to stand up for you and your feelings and put your relationship with your daughter ahead of his mom's. You and he need to compromise on what is acceptable and not acceptable. Then there is no quesitons when situations arise, since you have already worked it out.
For example, buying stuff for her house for the baby seems kind and helpful. Even buying that card seems like a nice gesture to her son, looking at it from an objective point of view (alkthough I totally get how you felt). However, decisions about sleeping, eating, holding, types of stories and movies she sees, discipline, etc. Those are clearly child rearing decisions in your ball park. What I see is that you are going ot have a hard time when she babysits or you go to the playgronund or you hit the terrible twos. There are certain thinkgs that you and your husband need to agree about, that if a line is crossed, then something is said.
I think your husband needs to lay down the law with her - he needs to be kind and appreciative, while not being wishy-washy. And you hneed to come up with some stock answers. If she says something negative to you, like "Don't burp the baby that way, it's better this way" What do you say? You need to come up with a response that will work without being aggressive. Like "I don't mind if you are more comfortable burping her that way, but this works really well for me." Or if it's non-negotiable, "Oh, I know that works really well for some babies. Did it work well for <your husband>? But our baby really does better like this so please do it this way."
And maybe in some cases you can talk to her. I had a falling out with my MIL once - she laid into me inappropriately - and a friend convicnced me to say something to her. I basicaly told her how much she hurt my feelings and I didn't think her criticism was fair, and I would hope she thought better of me. I was shocked at how she backed down. I don't know if she agreeed with me - I'm sure she thought I was being too sensitive - but she laid off. And I felt a ton better. YOur MIL might feel the ssame way - she might think you are oversensitive, but she may still feel bad if she though she hurt your feelings.
Tell your husband where YOU are willing to compromise but make it clear where SHE needs to also. For instance, one thing tha thas always bothered me is that we try to be reasonable in the number of gifts we get my daughter for Christmas, Easter, birthday. We buy one big gift and a few small. My mom shows up wiht bags and bags and I feel like she outshines us. She also showws up with gifts all the time when she comes over and brings sweets and desserts. The compromise is this. I don't fuss over the holidays, but I have asked her to save presents for those times and give in-between gifts infrequently. I put my foot down on the sweets and said if she wants to take my daughter for ice cream once a month that's ok.
The issue is totally different with my MIL, she is overbearing in that she thinks our daughter has too much stuff and is too priviledged. SHE gives one small gift at Christmas and and writes us a check for her birthday. I appreciate her practicality, but she is also very distanct and hands off. She never even changed a diaper for my first child.
So, thanks for letting me vent :) I guess we all have our issues. Basically, your husband and you need to unite on this. Even if he doesn't agree with you or if he prefers not to deal with it, he needs to stand up for you within reason. Agree on some ground rules and pick your battles, but you nboth need to take soem responsibility for following through.
A.V. answers from Washington DC on June 22, 2009
I think that you need to talk to her, and that your husband (her son) needs to stand up for you as your child's mother and as his wife. The two of you should present a united front to the grandmother. The fact is, she only has the relationship you allow. If my MIL was like this, she would have limited access to my child.
Tell him that this needs to be addressed, for your whole family's sake. It is not healthy for her to be that overbearing with your child and it is interfering with you and his ability to raise your child the way you want.
It would very much bother me if my MIL acted that way and I would also be angry at my husband for not helping.
You can also say things at the time. "This is the baby's first curl box. That sort of thing belongs with the parents."
This could be a safety issue down the road. What if she "feels best" and your doctor says no?
Also, my friend's grandmother is like this and my friend (in her 30s) is still under the woman's thumb. This could have an impact on your child's future, too.
I know it's hard to speak up sometimes, esp. if you're confronting a controlling person, but think of it this way - this is your child, and your life and you don't need to just go along with it for her sake. So what if she doesn't like it? She's not the mother this time.
S.O. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
This is something that really does have to be conveyed from your husband to his mother, and I hope you can impress on your husband how important it is for him to set limits with his mother. Otherwise, this is going to continue forever! My mother in law used to ask me what size clothes my boys wore and then would say, that can't be right! and give the boys the clothes SHE thought should fit them. So this is a common problem. Her behavior does seem a little extreme, tho. As far as her changing the baby's clothes all the time, I wouldn't argue while the baby is at her house. All too soon the little girl will start squirming and objecting to this treatment, don't worry! But behavior at your house is yours to control. You can try just saying, thanks for the suggestion, and then do what you think is best. But do try and get your husband to ask his mother to BACK OFF! Good luck!
E.B. answers from Macon on June 23, 2009
I have a feeling that sooner than later your daughter will express annoyance with all the clothes changing. However, as for her comments, please know that those around you probably feel the same you do when they hear her speak about the baby. I know I'd think she was a little "off her rocker" if I heard her speak like that. ha! If you can just roll with it you may be better off rather than bringing up a touchy subject. After all, all the things you mentioned about her shows just how much she adores your daughter. It's a bit extreme, but as your daughter grows it may become less intrusive. Especially when the terrible twos come around!
R.A. answers from Norfolk on June 23, 2009
My prayers are with you! I've dealt with a similar type person for almost 33 years now. She actually told me that when she had our daughter she was "hers" and she would dress her as she wanted to. I told her that either she would dress her, discipline her, etc. as we would if we were there or she wouldn't get to have her. I also told her that she did for her own daughter as she wanted to, and it was MY turn. It worked for a very short while.
You have to have a talk with her. Try to keep your cool, but be very firm in what you want to say to her. You need to state the boundaries you feel she is crossing. She may not get it, but you will feel better having said it. I've had it out with mine several times, but when she really went over the top my husband finally saw things and spoke with her also. She took him out of her will, and neither of us spoke with her for over 4 months. Finally we made the first move. Then she called him up and apologized to him, but she never has to me, and the original problem was something she said/did to me! I've even spoken with my pastor about this (he knows her also). I just decided to be the bigger person, forgive her, and get over it. God knows what's going on. (I bite my tongue a lot!) She's not worth getting ulcers over.
Since that time she has been seriously ill and in the hospital, then a nursing home for rehab. Guess who got to pick up and do her laundry? She does thank me for things, but I've never gotten the apology. She lives alone at home now, and things are somewhat better. I hope things go better for you. If I hadn't truly loved my husband I believe I would have left him because of her years ago.
There is a positive in this. One thing all this has taught me is how to be a better mother-in-law myself. I have wonderful sons-in-law, and would never think of doing to them the things my mother-in-law has done to me.
A.B. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
You do have a problem, but I love what Amy C wrote: your husband will have to deal tactfully with his mother. This sounds like the first grandchild of the family. If you address the problem with your MIL it, it will become all out war, and you don't want a happy event to turn into something ugly. Let's look at the pros. Your daughter has a grandmother who absolutely adores her. You will have a family member who will have no problem offering to watch the baby to give you a break sometimes. She lives 30 minutes away. And, she probably did miss out on having a little girl and had to sacrifice raising her own children to work. Pick your battles in life. Is it really a big deal if she changes clothes often? MIL does sound a bit compulsive and obsessive, but it seems harmless. The shower incident was a bit over the top, and I would be put out, too. But, is that part of her personality, anyway? I would talk to my husband about it and try to come up with a healthy way to build some boundaries and for him to address this. You don't want her to become the grandmother who is always criticizing you and undermining your authority with your own daughter. I'd also probably have some limits to how often the baby was sent there, too. Just for my own peace of mind. You're going to have to play psychologist for a bit to find a happy medium. Try not to let loose all of your emotions, frustrations, and concerns on her--yet. Watch, build the relationship with MIL you want, and be patient. There's a saying that we teach people how to treat us. You might have to gently train her how you want her to interact in her new role as grandma. This will help pave the way for the future grandkids. Finally, remember that the last choice we make about love is our spouse. We inherit everyone else that comes along. Your MIL has a personality that was there before you were born. You might not be able to change her, but you can help her understand how you want to be treated. Learn to appreciate what she brings to the table. There are times in our lives, especially if we are shy, that we need an aggressive, outspoken family member as an ally. I'd talk more with my husband to understand MIL and how best to relate to her. At some point, you might be able to have a direct heart-to-heart with her, but now probably isn't the best time. Build a relationship with her (if possible) first, and then let time show you when to be frank with her.