Best Age for Overnight Stays with Long Distant Grandparents?

Updated on November 06, 2010
K.T. asks from Martinsville, IN
26 answers

Hello! When did you let your children stay overnight with their grandparents and how far?

My daughter is 19mos and my FIL and MIL want to take her 250miles away, that's 4hrs across two states...For 4 days. Then they want her to go see her great-grandma 3 more hours away. So in total that's 7 hours away. I think this is a little too long and too far away for her to be away from me and her father. I have no problem when they come down and take her for a night to their hotel. They keep asking us to let them take her. We keep telling them that we are not ready to let her go that far away from us but they seem to be pushing the matter. We've offered to take her up there but they seem to want her alone.. I don't get why they have to get her alone which somehow bothers me. Me and my MIL have never really gotten along much. I feel that she looks down on me and has never accepted me. She doesn't seem to think I can take care of my child, and doesn't respect my husband and mines parenting decisions. But like I said, even with these issues I try look over, I let her go stay with them in the hotel. I try not to let mine and my MIL problems get in the way of my daughters and her's relationship. My husband agrees with me that she it too little just yet to be going that far from her parents.. They are always trying to push and guilt trip us into it.
So?? Am I a crazy, over paranoid mother???

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Well, we ended up telling them a few days ago. Of course, they were upset. His Father said he was sorry that we aren't more lenient.. His mother has before(not on this occasion tho, said they were going to eventually stop trying). They were mad, but I guess they have "gotten over it", because they are now pretending nothing happened....

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answers from Gainesville on

I don't think you're over reacting at all. My daughter is almost 7, and the longest she's been away from her father and I is 2 days. There's no way I would've let anyone take her for that long at 19 months. Don't let them guilt, or push you into anything you're not comfortable with. I agree with Patricia, they're expecting too much.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

My daughter is almost 4 and I havent let her spend a night away from me yet, I dont see why she should have to, even though my MIL keeps offering. It's nice to know for if I need it, but I dont want to just use it for no reason. I definately wouldnt let anyone take her that far away except my husband.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Wait ,only 19 months and they want her for 4 days without her Momma? Pssh, no way!

Hopefully you can put them off til she's, say, 18 or so!

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Detroit on

I think your daughter is too young to go for so long. I think they need to be 3 or 4 before they can do 3 or 4 days. Right now, you MIL needs to be satisfied with the overnights. I think that is very generous of you considering she is not being cool with your parenting decisions. She does need to respect you as the parent.
That said, I'll say as a grandma, we do like to have them alone (within the limits set by the parents). I don't know why but it is so much fun to enjoy the little ones if the parents aren't there to judge us. Plus the children will seek us out for a hug or a cuddle or a comfort instead of their parents (if you guys aren't around) and it just feels so good to be needed when our kids were young.

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answers from Dallas on

No way. My son is 3.5 years old and my husband wouldn't be comfortable with him being with someone else for 4 days. You're not crazy; they are expecting too much. Your daughter is too young to have a "relationship" with her grandparents - they live too far away and see each other too little. The relationship will grow over time with exposure. Trust your gut and your husband can tell them sorry, but the trip is too long, too far and she's too young.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I think its best for the child to be able to talk and decide so like 4. You are being completely rational and should hold your ground. You are the mother and that is your child not hers. I think you should go ahead and plan the trip for you and your husband to take her to great grandmas with or with out MIL.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My controlling MIL wanted my 9 day old son (who is breastfeeding) to spend every weekend with her (as if she has custody over him)... I told my husband she's nuts! I never spent the night with my grandparents until I was 4 years old.
You're right - that is too long and too far away for a child to be away from home. It bothers me a lot that my MIL needs to be alone with our son, so I understand what you mean! She never accepted me either and doesn't think I can be a mother. She makes parenting decisions as well and isn't very loving like amother should be to my husband.
DON'T give in. You're the parent, and letting her make the decisions undermines you as a mother. Stand up for your right as a parent and tell them it's too far and too long for them to be taking your child away from you and you're not comfortable with it.
Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

No way are you a crazy, over paranoid mother! (although aren't we all just a little)

If you and your husband both don't feel comfortable with it, then it's a loud resounding no!

That would annoy me so much, I'm so annoyed for you that they keep pushing. Seriously, it's YOUR child so you get to say where she goes!

If my MIL asked that (which she never would) I would flat out say no. It's too far away for you to get to her if you need to.

What is it with Grandparents wanting 'alone time' with grandchildren. I see it heaps on here, I find that so strange. My husbands parents and my parents wouldn't need special alone time with my babies, although they get it sometimes without asking.

Bottom line, do what you feel is right because you are the mother! And I'm sure you have all mothers behind you on this :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Time away totally depends upon the type of Grandparents and your relationship with them, which by the sounds of it is NOT grand.

I would never allow any of my children to sleep away from my husband and I anywhere until they could speak in coherent sentences and were able to tell me exactly what they did, who was there, etc...which is probably closer to about 5 yrs. of age. There were little neighborhood sleepovers up the street so I could tuck them in, or with their cousins.

Am I compensating for terrible things that happened to me when I was young? Absolutely. And frankly I don't care...My kids are safe and had healthy safe situations ALL the time.

Just say Sorry Grandma's and FIL and MIL, but mommies and daddies aren't up to being that far away for that long yet. I know it must be disappointing, but I just can't imagine being that far away yet.

Also, from the sounds of it, sounds like they'd try poisoning her mind while they had a chance....

Even your husband says he's not, as hard as it is to say, you've got to be your child's voice and haven.....Just say no....not now...

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

my son is 9 almost 10 and this summer was the first time he'd been away for 4 days. Your inlaws are crazy, if they can't deal with seeing you then they can just suck it up and deal, your baby needs her bed and her routine and her parents.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

She's too young. Until she is old enough to explain the situation to, she needs to be close enough that she can be brought home if she cries for you. Think about her crying, "Mama, Mama" in the middle of the night. They can't explain it to her at this age. The only way this is OK is if Grandma is a regular caregiver while you are working. Then your daughter knows her well enough to be comforted. Don't let them guilt you into doing anything that you're not comfortable with. This is just the beginning, and your husband needs to stand up to them now. This is your family, not theirs.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

I wouldnt have been comfortable with that myself. My kids didnt do overnight with anyone until they were old enough to pee and poop on their own without having to have their bottom wiped, and they could talk. I wouldnt have let them go if they said they didnt want to. If your daughter is very close to Grandma and feels comfortable with her and you feel comfortable with Grandma taking her, well that is your decision to make.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tucson on

i dont think you are overreacting ..what if something happened? do they not understand that at 19 months most babies are going through seperation anxiety..and dont understand where mommy and daddy have gone for 4 days?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Sounds way too young to me. I think my kids were 5 or older before spending a night at Grandma and Grandpa's, 1.5 hours away.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Evansville on

Trust your gut. If your instincts tell you that there is something a little off or you just aren't comfortable with letting your child alone with his/her grandparents, don't do it!!!

My own parents took my two year old on vacation with them to visit my brother who was stationed across country for a week. I had no problem with them taking him because the relationship they had with him (and me) was strong. It became strong by spending time together, with me there as well just in case. My parents would take my son on walks alone around the block, and to the store, but ultimately they were never really alone with him for an extended period of time until he was two. My parents never demanded that my son be left alone, but they did ask if it was ok to take him places and respected my answer if I told them "no."

This is your husband's side of the family, and I agree with everyone that has said have him talk to his parents...but make sure that you are included in the conversation (ie. listening but present.) That way you can show your in-laws that your husband is on the same page as you as far as your daughter is concerned. Perhaps once your MIL knows that you are a united front, she'll back off on the demands and accept the time she gets to spend with her granddaughter, even if that means that you are there too.

Good luck and trust your instincts!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I don't think you are crazy or paranoid. It's not something I would do either. I would not want my kids that far away from me (and my oldest is 7!!!)

You mentioned offering this to them before and I would offer it again - tell them the three of you want to come visit them and see the g-grandma, though I hate to see you spend your vacation to do it ;-) Depending on where they live and what there is to do maybe you and DH could let DD spend the night with the grandparents and either stay in a hotel or go have a nice dinner/evening out. But I agree - I would not let her go that far away without me (or DH). I would definitely wait until around 5 when she can clearly express herself - tell someone what she needs or what's wrong, etc.

I'm not sure how you are gojng about declining the visit at this point - I would probably continue to be polite (even though it's probably wearing on your nerves!) especially since you mentioned you and MIL don't get along much as it is. When it comes up I would just continue to tell them that you don't feel she is ready to be away from you that long yet.

I thought Kathleen A.'s response provided good insight on the grandparent alone time.

Just know you are not the only one who feels this way!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I think she's too young, but it depends on the child.
Do you think your daughter will do well being away from you (Mom & Dad) for 4 days? I know my 19mos son has a problem if he's away from me for more than a few hours. He recently stayed at my mom's (grandma) house for the 1st time overnight with his 4yr old brother, and it was a little difficult, especially at bedtime, and he sees her at least once each week.

If you think she's too young, then stick by your guns! Don't let MIL bully you or make you feel like you're not parenting well when you are only acting on what you feel is genuinely best for your kids.
It sounds a bit selfish & controlling of your inlaws to make such demands/requests. You & your hubby should be able to decide what is best for your kid, and they should respect that.

You might want to say that you don't feel she'd be ready for such an adventure until she's ___ old (24 mos? 3 years?), and then you'd be willing to discuss the issue again when she reaches that age. Make it clear that you will revisit the idea at that point and no sooner. DO NOT make it about you, but about your daughter and how well SHE can handle it, and how she would feel.
If they continue to nag, then gently remind them that you'll be glad to discuss it when she's ___age, as you already said. Make sure your hubby is involved in or leads this conversation - united front again.

Good Luck!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I think it depends on the child, and you know your daughter better than anyone. My parents live close to us, and they watch my son overnight every so often. He does alright, but after 1 day of it he's more than ready to come home. My in-laws live 2 hours away and we're still not ready to let him stay overnight there without us, and he's almost 3 years old!

There's a lot of other factors to consider, especially the distance. You could always give it a try just to shut them up, but if your daughter has a melt down in the middle of the night, you can't exactly run over and pick her up. You'll probably feel more confident about her staying with them when she's older and you can better prepare her for what will happen.

It's good to encourage a relationship with the grandparents, even if you aren't close with them yourself. But remember that they are adults, and your daughter is still very young. They can handle hurt feelings and get over it, it's not worth putting your daughter through something just to prove a point.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

No way. Take her over there and stay as well. There's no reason they need to have her alone. She's not even 2 yet! There's nothing about building a relationship with them that she can't do if you're there, too. I think it's weird that they want to take her alone!
Have your husband tell them that you two are more than happy to bring her to visit as often as possible, and even take her on to great-g'ma's. But they need to stop asking to take her away because the two of you aren't comfortable with it and see no reason they need to have her alone for so long.
If he confronts his own parents and makes it a joint decision, a united front, maybe they will give up for a while.

Don't let anyone make you feel bad because they let their baby stay with a grandparent for however long. 1) There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be with your baby all the time. 2) You don't have to trust anyone just because they raised their own kids.
When my sons were 19 months old they were still nursing and I used it as an excuse to never let them be away for more than a few hours :)

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answers from Youngstown on

You are NOT crazy nor paranoid. No way. Why this need to have that little one alone?? She is your child K.. If you feel uncomfortable with the thought, think how you'll feel if you let them bully you into taking her? Too many things could happen, she could get sick or hurt and she would be 7 hours away. In an emergency 7 hours will seem like an eternity. I am a firm believer in going with your gut. They can push all they want but YOU are the mommy YOU have the final say. 19months is far too young anyway. I imagine it would be too much stress on her, she will miss her mommy and it would be too much stress on you too. They can push and guilt trip you all they want, in the end the decision is yours. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Terre Haute on

You have to do what is most comfortable for you. It sures seems like a long ride/ far from home. It sounds like you have tried to accomodate by offering to take her yourself. That should be good enough. She is your child and once your dear MIL understands you are the parent things will go much smoother. If you let her intimidate you now it will only get worse and she will teach your daughter to disrespect you as well.
Kuddos to you for tolerating her :) but don't let her push you to an uncomfortable level.
Imagine how little sleep you would get knowing your young child is that far away and I would bet she is not use to being away from you image her trauma.........with grandparents who do not understand her (or your feelings).........
You are not crazy nor good luck!

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answers from Anchorage on

When my boys were 2 and 3 I left them for 3 days with friends in the UK while I went to Paris. Am I a bad mother? I trusted my friend to take good care of them and she did. Do you trust the grandparents to take good care of the child? Did your husband turn out ok? If so, I would think that the child would be fine, but it is your child and you get to set the rules, so do what you feel comfortable with.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

My son was 2 and he stayed with my SIL while my husband and I went to Gatlinburg which is 5 hours away and for a weekend and as luck would have it, he had a seizure while we were gone. He was 2 also when he stayed with his grandparents that were 40 mins away and just overnight. 19 months seems a little young to be 4 hours away then another 3. I don't think your being crazy and paranoid. I think the decision should be left up to the parents not the grandparents. You will know when your ready to give up your daughter for four days long distance. When you and your husband feel its right, then when it happens.

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answers from Indianapolis on

I think you have trust issues with your MIL. I stayed with my Grandparents for 2 weeks when I was 5 months and they live 320 miles away crossing 3 state lines. Every summer after that i would spent 2 weeks with them so that my parents could travel. We live in the same state as my Mother so I don't have the travel issue with her. She may want alone time with her so that they can bond without you and her Dad getting in the way. Its good for kids to have a close relationship with their grandparents. However, if and your husband don't feel comfortable letting her go with the IL's than you shouldn't. Since they are your husbands parents let him tell them. Good luck with your decision.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think the issue here is more a control issue with your MIL.
If your hubby is one your team with this one have him telll her no.
When the child an talk and tell you what is going on and what Grandma says is OK but you do not, then let her go. There is nothing more annoying than a 6 yo telling an adult Mommy doesn't do it that way. Mommy says we do this or that.

My mom had my girls at 3 and 5. I sent my 2 yo son and 5 yo daughter to MN with my husband to his moms for two weeks, but we have a mutual respectful, loving relationship so I have no fears.



answers from Indianapolis on

You are NOT crazy....I would NEVER have let any of my children do this. It is time to make it clear that you will visit them as a family and that is it.
There is no reason that your child should be that far away from you at any time.....maybe when she is 18. You are her parents and have the say....NO!

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