Mother in Law Doesn't Seem to Listen

Updated on April 17, 2008
K.H. asks from Clovis, CA
5 answers

I am blessed to have a mother in law who loves my girls and wants to be a part of their lives. She enjoys baby sitting and my girls love her. She would baby sit once in a while and totally spoil the girls. She retired in Nov 2007. I started school in Dec. 2007. My husband is a firefighter and gone alot, so his mom offered to help. She babysits 2 to 5 times a month. We talked with her about finding a balance between being a spoiling grandma and respecting how we want our girls raised(rules/bedtimes/etc). She doesn't discipline the girls, she lets them do want they want, eat what they want, go to bed when they want, etc. She babysits 1 day and it takes me 4 days to get the girls back into a routine. A recent problem is she lets my 4 y/o go into the bathroom when she goes and goes into the bath room when my 4 y/o is going. We have been teaching my 4 y/o that they are boundries, she tries to go into the bathroom with guests when we have company, and she is going to start pre school and has to be able to go to the potty by herself. I explained this to my mother in law. She takes it personally. She will try and then stops. Her excuses are "but I'm grandma" and "sorry I forgot". Another recent problem is she puts my 22 month old to bed with a sippy cup of juice or milk. I have asked her not to do this. After the 5th time, my husband got angry with his mom, she stopped with the sippy cup, but is putting her to bed with other things. She let her take a necklace to bed, then an open snack trap full of kix cereal. We told her no toys or snack traps. Last time she baby sat I found a ziplock bag full of miniwheats cereal in her crib. I talked to her about it and she said she had given it to her before bed and doesn't know how it got in her crib. I told her nothing but her blanket and stuffed kitty can go in the crib with her. I feel like this should be common sense and shoudn't have to spell it out. I don't know how to talk to her about this any more. I don't feel like she respects us. It feels like she does things blatantly or maybe she is really forgetful. If I talk to my husband about her disregard he gets angry, calls her, and yells at her. I want to keep an open line of communication with my mother in law and want her to be able to baby sit. Sometimes I worry about my girls safety and am finding it more and more difficult to let her baby sit. Has any one had similar problems? Does any one have any suggestions to help me communicate with my mother in law?

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone who responded. My husband and I talked and we have written down all of our concerns. My mother in law has agreed to a sit down with us to talk about our concerns. We feel that everyone being willing to sit down and talk about things is a great start. Hopefully we will be able to resolve this, without having to take away babysitting priveleges.

More Answers



answers from San Francisco on

Hi K.,

On one hand you have to remember the time era your mother-in-law is coming from and how she does not see the danger is some of the things she is allowing. Which then leads me to the other hand which is complete disregard to what rules you and your husband have set in your own home. No matter who she is, she is still caring for YOUR children in YOUR home!

Being a grandmother is a privilege and one that can be rightfully taken away. I am all for a little grandma spoiling here and there, but when I say no to something that it is not allowed, that goes for grandma too!!

You and your husband need to sit down with her, without the kids present and discuss with her your concerns. She needs to understand that you are not asking her to, or not to, do these things because you like rules or because you just don’t want them done, but because there are serious health and safety consequences. Putting a baby to bed with a plastic baggie is so scary to me…I would have flipped out on her!! And the fact that she didn’t know how it got there would concern me even more! Spell out to her what the rules are and why you have them in place. Even go so far as to ask her how she would feel if the baby suffocated on the plastic baggie that she felt so important to allow into her bed. Then give her some examples of things that could be allowed…like a snack of gram crackers and milk before brushing teeth and going to bed. Maybe she can be “grandma” and give them the crackers while on the couch…just ask her to then get out the dust buster when they are done. Spoil with an extra bedtime story, or if you normally don’t do juice or sweets, then when grandma comes put out a treat for the kids that grandma gives them after supper. You can even make that a regular thing that they will look forward to, like the sippy cup in the crib, but replace it with a Hershey kiss after dinner.

I hope that makes sense! There is nothing worse than having someone care for your kids who feel they have the right to free passage and no rules. She really needs to know though that these are your kids and no matter what the rules are they are the rules!!!

Good to hear too that your husband is on your side!! Good luck with this!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

You have tried enough times, you are sounding like a broken record after the 3rd time. Obviously she doesn't understand what the rules are.. and how YOU are the parents. Sometimes they have to be shown that you mean business. I had to do that with my own mother.
STAND YOUR GROUND AND CHANGE THE SCHEDULE. If that means, you have to find another sitter to watch the children and set rules with someone else- do it. You will keep your sanity and feel good that your kids are protected while you are away from them. With g-ma, this can be dangerous .. you don't want to come home one day and find yourself full of regret because you didn't put a stop to it.
Once g-ma knows that your kids are first and you are not going to allow EVEN family to hurt them or put them in danger- she will not only love you more, she will respect you and treasure you. You can do this- God bless and good luck :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You answered you own question at the end of your paragraph. YOU WORRY ABOUT THEIR SAFETY. Listen to your instincts- that's why we have them. Grama must be supervised when she is with your kids. Get another sitter.
My mother in law did the same type of stuff-we finally decided that our childrens safety was at stake and she didn't get the kids alone.
Be strong
Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I have had similar issues with having to lay down the law with my mother. My daughter is her only grandchild, and she lives for spoiling her; in fact, I think she truly believes the world should revolve around my daughter! I have had to tell her several times to be more responsible with my girl. I would definitely sit down with your in law and discuss your concerns, and be firm and straight forward. You shouldn't feel guilty about expressing the way you want your children to be raised. If she takes it personally, let her know that this is a very personal issue, and you also take it personally when she disregards your wishes, which in turn endanger the safety of your children. I think having a sit down with all the adults like another lady suggested would be great, and probably sit a little lighter then an angry phone call. Another thing I do when my mom is watching my daughter is do a run down of the rules with my daughter, in front of my mom, so she can confirm my wishes with my daughter. Even though she's young, I think this helps teach her that there are some rules that always apply, regardless of whose in charge! Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I have a mother in law somewhat like this, although she never did the cereal in bed thing...yikes. I gave up trying to talk to her about it. She demonstrated that she won't listen or change and as a result she doesn't get to babysit much. My kids are old enough now it isn't as much as an issue as it was. The kids still see her...we go over to their house and she comes over, but she's a guest visiting for a short period of time, not a sitter. I would hire someone else if you can swing it. I know this is tough, but there are only so many times you can talk to someone and it sounds like you have done this already.

1 mom found this helpful
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