Rebecca - posted on 02/17/2012 ( 17 moms have responded )
This is more of an "ask for" advice than a debate. However, I think it could be turned into an example for a broader question worthy of a debate.
My MIL is a bit troubled. She's gone through a rough divorce (she cheated on my FIL), seems to be going through a mid-life crisis type thing, struggles with depression (and I suspect manic episodes as well, although she seems ashamed to admit it) and has generally been a pretty absent grandmother/mother since my two and half year old was born (she divorced while I was pregnant).
We've been really tight money wise and I got tickets to go to a big show yesterday, a surprise present for Valentine's Day for my husband. I contacted her, far in advanced, to see if she could babysit, although I normally would never ask because she is really spotty when it comes to showing up. All seemed well until the day before when she said she was coming, but wanted to crash on the couch and leave at 4am to go train (she does marathons). This meant that when we came home from our Valentine's date, she would be there in our living room...so very romantic don't ya think?
Totally my fault for asking her I know...but that's not all.
She told us when we got home that despite my telling her to get my daughter in bed around 7pm, that she wanted to spend more time with her and kept her up until 9pm.
This might not seem like a big deal, but my daughter was a strung out mess today, over tired and had the biggest tantrum she's ever had to date...so not so wonderful.
So, even that...I guess totally part of parenting a toddler..but that's not all.
My MIL has told us in the past that my daughter is really great because she can tell her all her problems/secrets and she'll listen/never tell anyone. When my daughter was an infant, we thought that was kinda sad, but harmless. Unfortunately, she has continued the practice. I wasn't aware of this. I thought it would be obvious that, at my daughter's age, when she has started to get a handle on language, mimics most things people say and has started to be emotional about things we tell her...I thought this was something she would have stopped.
Today, my daughter asked where "Gramma" is and started crying. I told her it was okay to miss her grandma and she would see her some other time. She started freaking out and said, "But I gotta make Gramma happy." My heart just broke and I got pretty pissed off. This is some of the same language and bullshit that my husband grew up with...the whole "you are here to make Mommy happy" stuff. The same stuff that my husband still struggles to shake off.
Now I know I can't guard her from every bat shit thing any relative is going to throw her way, but what would you do? My husband is going to speak to her himself, but I always end up feeling more and more uncomfortable in her presence.
If your child had little contact with any relatives due to their lack of involvement or distance, should you allow them to have contact with relatives who are obviously troubled or just have very different ideas about what is appropriate in your family?
Should you limit time with close relatives who seem to have lost the script?