MIL A Candy Pusher

Updated on December 30, 2010
S.C. asks from Queen Creek, AZ
20 answers

Let me start by saying that my MIL and I generally get along very well. There were a few hick-ups when the kids were younger and we were all adjusting to our new roles (i.e. I make the rules for my kids, she had her turn, etc) but everything is smooth now and we see them at least twice a week, sometimes more. However, she's an extremely insecure person and anything I say to her that even remotely resembles criticism (no matter HOW kindly phrased) is enough to make her get defensive and freak out. Not to me directly, of course. She's slightly passive-aggressive and will complain to my FIL who will complain to my husband who will pass it on to me even though he was "told" not to. And that's just not worth all the drama, so I'm very selective about what battles I chose.

Because of her insecurity, MIL has always felt the need to over-compensate with the grandkids and has spoiled them in every imaginable way. Grandparents do that all the time, I know. It's healthy and normal, yadda yadda. I know. And believe me, I've all but bent over backwards to let her know I'm fine with it...even though I'm really not (battles, remember?) But something has been getting worse over time and it's starting to get under my skin. My kids are four and five now and whenever we visit my in-laws, they get showered with candy and marshmallows. That's slightly tolerable, but when the kids (quite naturally) fuss over having to leave, MIL freaks out and fills sandwich bags FULL of additional candy for them to consume in the car on the way home...which usually ends up on their clothes, on the floor, or stuck between their seats. Hubby hates the mess, but he hates upsetting his mom even more and doesn't want to tell her to stop and that's fine. It is. There are other issues that he's put his foot down on that are much more critical, like insisting his parents use an actual safe for their gun instead of shoving it between their mattress and box-spring and calling it safe. *eye roll*

But now MIL has turned the candy pushing up another notch and has starting sending it home with my husband in a little care-package (hubby carpools with FIL so he stops by their house every day). Now granted, this has only happened a few times, but I feel like enough is enough. I was RARELY given candy (or soda) as a child and, even though I can appreciate why my parents did that, I am trying hard not to take an "extreme" approach due to my upbringing. But it's getting harder.

The thing that drives me nuts is that my kids LOVE fruit and MIL knows this. She used to give them yogurt-covered raisins and apple slices and they would go just as crazy over those as any candy. But as her eating habits have deteriorated (and her weight has gotten unhealthy), so has the quality of the stuff she gives the kids. Now it's all candy, all the time. To further complicate things, my daughter (who will be four next month) has always had a terrible time with gagging/choking on things so we have to be extremely careful about what kind of slippery, round things go in her mouth...which is like 90% of candy. MIL knows this, but often forgets.

Anyway, all of this to say...what should I do? Am I being unreasonable here? Is there a way to handle this without starting WWIII? We've taken the to-go bags away from the kids after pulling away from MIL's house, but that just leads to tantrums and, really, just isn't fair to the kids. Is there a nice, roundabout way to suggest the kids start eating healthier snacks? Some allergy that I can refer to? Something I can tell her my doctor specifically advised (which isn't a stretch, since most Peds hate sugar)? I'm basically looking for a way to make this better without actually confronting the issue head on (drama, trust me). My SIL feels the same way I do, but she's scared of her mom getting "hurt" over it too! There would definitely be less drama since it's coming from her own flesh and blood instead of the "outsider", but still...her feelings would be hurt and she'd nurse that for a while.

Any advice would be appreciated.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I agree with a few others here. You can strategize and agonize and it still sounds as though she will cause drama. So just be polite and firm and say "no thank you."Tell kiddos ahead of time that we are not going to take candy home. Don't dwell on this situation and feed into the drama. Subject comes up, say yes it is too bad, and then change the subject. Best of luck to you!

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answers from Houston on

your smart for picking your battles wisely.have hubby lose the candy after he drops off fil and before he gets home the trash would be a perfect place for it in my opinion :) my grandma always gave me candytoo and she was a diabetic she should have known better but grandmas will be grandmas :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I would do two things.

Have your hubby tell his parents that w/ doctor's recommendations and parental decision, you are cutting the candy/sweet consumption back. Not that they can't have any but they don't need so much ALL the time. Tell her that if she must push the snacks, they need to be healthier snacks and your kids LOVE fruit and other healthier options. He can also tell her that they don't need a care package EVERY day. Remind her of your daughter's choking too.

When you visit, stand firm w/ the candy issue to show that you and hubby were serious. Allow a bit of candy and snacks but not too much. When it is time to leave and she wants to send things home, say "They can have a small bag to share but they can't have it until we get home or tomorrow (depending on what you want)". If they throw a fit, you leave without the goodies. PERIOD.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

take the candy put it away in a bowl or something your kids dont need to know it is there, when you want to let them have some pick a few pieces out of the bowl for them. If your house is anything like my house the candy will get old and eventually thrown away. I have a secret bowl of all the stuff that was given at christmas and the bags and bags my MIL sends home. every once in while I will let my kids pick a treat from the bowl but then it is hidden again.

Or you could ask your MIL to slow down for a little while- not just stop- that the kids have so much they cannot possibly eat it all right now and when the supply gets low you will let her know. Say it with love...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

My MIL does the same type of thing. Our kids are little, so it's difficult to explain anything to them. Here's what we do. We thank her for the goody bags home, let the kids have one piece and hide the rest. If they ask for another, we usually say they can have another after dinner. When she gives us more to take home (that the kids don't know about) we say thank you and stash it also. When they deserve a treat, we get a few pieces out.

I really don't want to throw candy away. My husband takes some to work and leaves it out for everyone. I teach college, so sometimes I bring in a bunch (like on review days when people tend to skip) and pass it around to my students. It gets rid of the candy and makes my students happy.

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answers from Alexandria on

What about the idea of a special treat that only grammy gives? Something you can come up with together, like the yogurt raisins. The only time that the kids ever get them is in the special treat bags grammy gives them.
When I was little and we would visit my grandparents my grandma always made us little goody bags for the road. Couple of differences. One was we lived 3 hours away so this was a couple of times a year not a week. But the one difference you could work with was the presentation. My grandma found special bags, or containers to put our treasures in.
How about grandma gets a few of those little velvet bags with rope ties. She puts the agreed upon Grammy-only treat in them for when they leave.
This way your MIL feels like she gets to do something special for the kids, the kids feel like they are getting something special, and you don't have to worry about the candy overload!

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answers from Saginaw on

We lose candy all the time in our house, huh, not sure what happens to it. ;) Yes, my children have an aunt like this. And while I love the fact she cares so much for my children, the candy is ridiculous. Our rule is they can take some home and even hold it in the car, but it can't be eaten in the car. If the bag is opened in the car, we take it away. (This way the fit is not in front of Aunt, if the need arises) By the time we get home, they've already forgotten about the candy most often, if not they get one piece then like I said.....the candy just gets lost. And honestly, they forget about it. We have candy on our top shelf of the pantry from Halloween still and would still have it from Easter if I didn't just pitch it at some point.

Oh and if I was your husband I wouldn't even bring the care packages home. If he feels guilty...I would just take one piece out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

While my MIL was deceased when I married we had a SIL who took her place and went 1000% overboard with food, candy, toys and knick knacks we/kids didn't need.......So it is not an issue, just go with it and let your hubby bring it home to make her happy. YOu are the parent and can control what they eat and have...My SIL is deceased now too and God do I miss her...even with all of those quirks. Life is very short and while it can be a big issue in the grand scheme of things she is just trying to be loving....even though it makes you go ugghhh....etc...Let the kids hold the goodie bags until you get home and be consistant with the rules of when they can have the treats...that way they'll know what to expect and when and when they know the routine you won't have the tantrum problem.

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answers from San Francisco on

Oh, you could be describing my MIL to a 'T' here! Insecurities, defensive, overcompensating, not entirely healthy herself, means well... I have spent many a sleepless night (and many hours on this site) agonizing over finding the balance between hurting her oversensitive feelings and maintaining the way I know is right to raise my own children. Mine introduced my daughter to ice-cream at 6 months! Not a taste, like a whole bowl! "OOOOhh, she loooved it!" she says, all impressed...(no s***, she loved it, but she looooved yogurt as a special treat too, you idiot!) You are right about picking your battles...but this sounds like one you want to pick. I think citing the dentist/pediatrition as a 'wake-up call' is a good idea, that way you can approach it from a team perspevtive with her. "OMG, the kids dentist was talking about sugar, and *we* need to take a step back from here on out, here are some alternetives, what do *you* think? Darn dentist, candy was fun while it lasted, but I suppose it was not healthy anyway." And when she tries pushing it again (and she will) you can say "I thought *we* talked about this and *we* agreed it was not good for their health?" I wouldn't even give her outright permission to give it to them....she will anyway, but hopefully much less!
It stinks that we have to even formulate this covert mission to get our MILs to do what they should be doing anyway, huh? Ahh, family...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

There is pretty simple resolution here - limit or lose the candy they get when you get home. Just have your husband trash the candy he gets while carpooling w/ his dad before the kids can get it. This is not a battle worth fighting w/ your MIL, but it is a teaching moment for your kids - we had to do the same thing. Read most of the MIL postings on mamapedia - if this is all you have to complain about, you are one of the lucky ones :)

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answers from Topeka on

I think Jane has the right idea...frame it in a positive way...."Let's keep candy as a special treat at Grandma's and not "dilute" it by having it any place else"
You might also play the "dentist " card...tell her that their pediatric dentist has told you to severely limit their intake of sweets because of the possibility of cavities.
You can also do some "brainwashing" of your own 3 year old grandson simply doesn't WANT anything with sugar in it because all of his life he has heard about the "evils" of daughter ( his Mama) may be just a teeny tiny bit over the top with her sugar limitations but I can tell you that I have learned to honor her "rules" just as I honor her position as my grandsons' Mother. The most important thing you need to do is come to an understanding with your husband about standing united with you when it comes to dealing with HIS Mother!!! Shame on him for not speaking up for the standards that your family has decided are important!!
You may need to just start speaking up in a kind way to your MIL...this isn't going to get any better as the years go by...she is being "hurt" because it works!!! Try to phrase your debate in as positive a way as possible....don't use the "you" word bring it all from YOUR point of view. "It is very important to ME or to OUR FAMILY that our children learn healthy eating habits. We love that you want to indulge your grandchildren...and they love you for always being there for them. But....could we ask that you start thinking about making different choices...instead of M&M's how about a shiny red apple, maybe you could whip up a great yogurt dip and let them use it with strawberries and blueberries...instead of the chocolate milk shake? ". I must admit that I had to learn to THINK differently when it came to indulging my grandson....I had to learn that a fresh batch of blueberries or blackberries can be every bit as exciting to him as the chocolate chip cookies would be!! It is a retraining continuum that your MIL needs to experience...and I can tell you that it isn't going to be easy...or an overnight process. You just need to be kind, be firm and be assured that you are making the right choices for your children!!!
Go for it!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

I would out right tell her that you don't want them having it. It's bad for their health, bad for their teeth.
Tell her it makes them grumpy when they come down off their sugar high and you don't want to deal with it.
Feelings hurt or not, they are your kids.

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answers from Boston on

In my opinion, candy isn't worth an all-or-none battle, but I would put my foot down about all the take-home candy. She's going to be hurt no matter what, but perhaps the least hurtful way is to frame it as candy is an extra-special thing that they get with grandma, (as opposed to framing it in the negative "we wish they didn't have so much candy when they're with you). In other words, the candy is great with grandma, because it's part of the experience, and candy is not as good in the car, at home, etc because then it's less special.

Again, as you know, she's probably still going to be hurt, but at least there's no "no" in it this way. Good luck!

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answers from Austin on

You are the parent, she is a pain..

Just let your kids know you will save the candy and sweets for later.. Than throw away most of it and every once in a while you can be a fun mom and give them a piece for a special occasion.. Your husband can do the same with the bag of junk his mother hands him..

Do tell them that the doctor and dentist are concerned about the sugar intake, so you all are having to cut way back on it..

Our daughter was allowed to have sweets pretty much any time she wanted.. but because they were always around, it was not something that excited her. She rather have popcorn, a bowl of cereal, some toast with fruit spread.. Take the special out of it and it is just not exciting..

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answers from Denver on

My first choice would be to explain to your KIDS that candy is not good for them and they need to eat it in moderation. In other words, stick with that and do not let them have any candy after they leave you MIL's home. I have three kids and they may throw a tantrum but it will soon cease once they realize you will not cave. Tthey are well old enough to understand and will only work you for a short time. Another thing to keep in mind is you only have the kids over there twice a week so candy twice a week is not great but not THAT bad either. I would just let it be and teach your kids to control themselves.

If this just won't work, then you have to just talk to her directly and not sugar coat it. The more you try to soften the blow the more she is going to work it, remember the passive aggressive way is her M.O. so she is very talented at this game. I totally get the drama thing as I have the same type of in-laws but you have to take control somehow. Too much candy can actually slow development and create behavioral disorders among a few side effects. Maybe if she understood the potential dangers of too much candy she might rethink it.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

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answers from Dallas on

This is a battle you have to choose to fight. Your kids health is at stake, both with the excess sugar issue and with the choking hazard. They are learning lifelong eating habits at this age, limiting candy is not a bad thing. Have hubby tell FIL thank you for the care packages, but no thank you because the kids can't have it. If FIL/MIL insist, hubby should explain to them that it will be going in the trash. When MIL give the kids candy baggies to take home hand them back and firmly but nicely say thank you but the kids don't need any more candy today. If she sneaks it to them or gets pushy just take them and throw them in the trash when you get home.

My MIL used to do this but has gotten better because we just tell the kids 'no' when she has said 'yes' against our wishes. Do they all get mad at us? Yep, but we're the parents and they'll have to deal with it. My Mom does this too, and wouldn't take no for an answer, even resorting to sneaking candy to them. We ended up having to limit contact with her over it, she just refused to respect our boundaries so we had to make them stronger.

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answers from Modesto on

Actually I think the best angle would be to explain it to your kids and get them on board with you. Show them some pictures of decayed teeth due to eating too much sugar. Tell them a story about how in the old days candy was scarce and to get candy as a gift was a most wonderful thing.... and Grandma is older and still feels like candy is a great gift because she doesnt realize how dangerous it really is.....blahdeeblah.
If you get them to understand that candy is bad, they will probably tell grandma "no thank you" when offered candy. Then make an itemized list of what candly like treats ARE acceptable to you and leave the list with her.... Do not be afraid to talk to her about the candy being bad for the kids teeth and overall health, but give her the tools to figure out what to replace the candy with... I think she buys candy because it's easy and she doesnt know what else to do. Just my thoughts.

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answers from Detroit on

You already know she's going to get her feelings hurt no matter what you say, so I would just lay down some rules, as you have before, that candy is fine while they are at Grandma's house, but it cannot come home with them. If she gets bent out of shape - whatever. If it's not the candy, it will be something else. You need to worry about keeping your kids healthy and safe (i.e. choking hazards) and your in-laws don't seem to grasp the concept (i.e. the gun issue), so you need to step in and take control. Let your husband say something if it makes it easier but I wouldn't be so worried about this woman's fragile ego and walking on eggshells around her. Your children's well-being is more important.

Like someone else suggested, just blame the dentist. Tell them (both grandparents and kids) that both the dentist and the doctor want them to both eat healthier food and less sugar because they are worried about diabetes and tooth decay and you are under strict orders to cut down their candy intake. That's why it's okay at their house but not okay to take home. Get the kids on board more and let them know ahead of time what the rules are, so hopefully they are less apt to pitch a fit later. Explain why it is important to not go crazy with the sugar and this is all coming from the dentist.

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answers from Washington DC on

well, if being tactful won't help avert the drama, steel yourself for the angst and be firm. forget the roundabout approaches and fabricated allergies. just tell her that your family only allows a certain amount of sugary snacks, and she is welcome to indulge them if she must in her own home (but you'd prefer more fruit and less candy) but that any candy she gives them to take home will be put in the freezer to give out at halloween (or donated, or thrown away, or something.)
then let her freak out.
it's important to be kind, but you also have to have boundaries.

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answers from Philadelphia on

This is a battle I WOULD fight. I would fight it head on. It's your kids health and attitude towards healthy eating vs your MIL's sensitive feelings. Fight this one - it's worth the battle. What your kids learn now about food will be with them for their entire life. Or if this would cause too much of a rift with your MIL, another alternative would be to declare a new rule: candy is only eaten at Grandma's house. Tell her your new rule and emphasize that whatever she sends home will be taken away from the children anyway, so don't bother. You said it's not fair to the kids to have the candy taken away (I assume because it was a gift to them from Grandma?) - I think it's not fair to let them keep eating it. THEY aren't going to choose to stop eating it, they're kids. It's up to you to physically take it away. But, really, the only way to stop this is to face it head on. Ask Grandma "Do you think this overload of candy is healthy? Is it benefitting your grandkids? If not, why don't you care enough about them to stop giving them unhealthy treats all the time? You used to give them apples and raisins, which they loved, why did that stop? I'm not asking you to do this for ME or even for your own son, but for your grandkids. THEY will NEVER say no if you offer them candy. Please start caring about their health a bit more." Pick this battle and fight it for your kids.

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