How do I get my pushy mom-in-law to stop undermining me decisions for my 16 week old?

Chelsea - posted on 01/23/2010 ( 44 moms have responded )

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My boyfriends mom continually undermines me when I ask her to not give my 16 week old gerber cookies and formula. He was 4 weeks premature and I prefer to breastfeed. I pump and leave milk in the freezer but she still uses formula and feeds him tap water from a spoon. Ive tried hiding the formula and cookies but she just buys more. I don't work and my bf doesn't make enough for us to move out. How do I get her to stop?I have asked her nicely and I have even told her what my doc says. She just goes behind my back and does it anyway.

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Jasmine - posted on 01/23/2010

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stop leaving your baby alone, if she does not listen when you ask and tell there is nothing you can do but not leave baby with her

Kylie - posted on 01/25/2010

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The woman is not to be trusted..don't leave the baby alone with her..it's not safe.

Dana - posted on 01/25/2010

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Water is not good for babies that young unless you are in an extremely hot climate. I would tell my boyfriend to grow some bigger balls and tell her under no uncertain terms is she to EVER give him food that young. You are right being premature it is a whole different story. My son developed an intolerance to rice because we gave it to him when he was 5 months old, he was also premature. Good Luck! :)

Theresa - posted on 01/24/2010

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Don't leave him alone with her. You said you don't work so I don't see why you leave him with her when you know she's going to do things you don't like.

Nicole - posted on 01/23/2010

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explain to her your feelings. say that he gets sick and constipated from switching back and forth. and why would she give cookies to a baby that young

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Tina - posted on 03/01/2011

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I had this problem when it came to my mother in law. she saw it as being helpful. I final sat down with her and talked with her about how I felt. I told her I loved her help and I loved that there was a bond between my son and her. I had to remind her that I was the mom now and she raised her children the way she wanted to and now it was our turn to raise our children the way we wanted to. I stayed very calm because she is very emotional and feels that it all her fault and tries to please everyone. I would try and include her in things that did not bother me like going for walks or to the park. Even laying him down for naps. If you find something that can just be a grandma and baby thing she may start to listen a little more. At the same time look where she is coming from, and try and put your self in her shoes. If this is her first grand child she just may want to be the fun Grandma that gives baby everything they want to spoil then and send them back home. (After all thats what they raised us for was to get to have fun with the next generation and not have to work at it 24/7.) I know it is frustrating for both of you. You both want what is best for baby. Which is a good thing but you need to let her know that there are somethings that you dont like and I am sure there are things that you do that she does not like but if you two can find common ground it will be the best for all those involved and make for a happy living situation.

Good luck to you sorry so long

App+7mnejhu - posted on 03/01/2011

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I totally feel your pain. I have a husband that is a weak man and does not stand up for me at all. This was a major concern of mine before we decided to have a baby. I needed his support. This makes it VERY difficult with a MIL when you have no support and feel all alone. My husband and I have numerous arguments about my in-laws, but nothing has changed. I am afraid if my husband doesn't get a backbone it will fail our marriage. It makes a marriage weak not strong. My MIL under minds EVERY thing I do for my son. She compares all that I do to her other daughter-in-law. You have to put your foot down. I know it is hard but you have to be respected!!!

Tammy - posted on 01/28/2010

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Chelsea, you have done well. I too had a very similar issue. Seems as though it is very common. I was breastfeeding mine, too. I won't even go into that part. All of my story stemmed from there and as she grew older my husband and I wanted our child to eat healthy when she went to regular food. We gave her veggies and fruit for her snacks and at mealtimes. Grandma wanted to give her cookies, cake, and m&ms. I was putting subtle hints out there about eating healthy "...so she craves the "good for her foods" instead of the bad ones." I would say. As time went on, my daughter started requesting the bad for you foods and I grew to be very upset by this on a daily basis. I was being ignored, and I had no control over this when I wasn't around. I had a business to run & my husband was working and Grandma was our only alternative at the time. I was beside myself because I did not want to cause any friction in the family. After speaking things over with my husband, we finally came to a very painful decision for our family.
Eventually, we found a nursery school program to take her in. We also found a daycare in someone's house. It was the most difficult decision we had ever made, because we loved the security we had with Grandma and Grandpa watching her, but more importantly the security our daughter had being with the family she loved as she grew up.
Daycare asked me about her diet, and what I wanted her to eat and what not to eat and behaviors I do not tolerate, etc... and that was when I realized I had resumed all my power back as a mom again. Someone was actually going to listen to me and respect MY choices as a mom.
Do not get me wrong. I love my inlaws and they always mean well, but NOW when they see their granddaughter, they can actually BE the "spoiling" grandparents that they want to be. This is what I had always wanted for them. (I actually felt guilty having to use them for a babysitter, but its nice with your newborn, to be with family, rather than a stranger). I love that its now a treat for my daughter to go and visit her Grandparents now! She has a very special bond with them, now, and that makes me, and my husband very happy.
I wish you the best of luck with your raising of your child. Stick to what you know to be right and best for all concerned. Never cut the tie, because their experience is always needed at some point in time with raising your child(ren). :)

[deleted account]

i'm sorry to hear that. my mother-in-law did kinna the same thing. when my daughter was 2 months she came down for a week and it was the LONGEST week ever.. lol i was still a new mom and wanted to have that time for just me and my daughter but she kept making me feel like everything i was doing was wrong and making me feel like a bad parent. we butted heads alot while she was here and she left on bad terms. we finally talked and i told her how she was making me feel and i just had to pretty much tell her VERY CLEARLY that i was the mom NOT her. i told her she needed to respect my wants and wishes! my husband backed me up on that and i hope your boyfriend does too. just tell her she needs to respect your wishes and do as you ask. it's your baby after all and you are his mom..... be strong and good luck!!

Denise - posted on 01/28/2010

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I have been in your shoes with my mother and I am currently in this situation with my mother-in-law. to be honest the only way to gain control is to put your foot down and be firm. maybe sometimes even a little mean. sometimes you will have to stop her from doing something you dont like right in front of her. and it wont end either! this is a continuing thing. you will have to keep doing this for a long time because as soon as you let your guard down she will test the waters again. the good news is after awhile it gets real easy to do :) kinda like walking. it will come naturally. oh... and dont have your man do this for you it wont work. this HAS TO come from YOU. good luck!!!

Chelsea - posted on 01/28/2010

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The reason she watches him is my bf feels that his parents don't spend enough time with him because I go to school and my family watches him while I am there. They love to have him and mean well. She does think he is too skinny. She feels he needs formula and water because that was her experience raising her children. She didnt have the best experience breastfeeding. She does speak english but doesnt always understand it. It is a huge disrespect thing for him to tell her what is and isn't acceptable. I have asked him that if he feels the same as me to tell her that and if he feels the same as her to tell me that. I have just resorted to not allowing her to be alone with him. I do understand their culture and do everything within my power to respect their traditions. It has just come down to the safety of my child and I cant risk her putting my child in danger.

Chrissy - posted on 01/28/2010

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There are a few issues that you mentioned here as I see it.



1) Typical Grandparent issues whether it be your Mother or Mother-in-Law

2) Cultural Clash

3) Preemie



The first of the three is very normal and can be expected. My siblings and I all have the same issues with our parents and in-laws. That is their grandchild and experience does come with age. I try to involve them in every way acceptable ("Mom, is this normal?", "What is good for a diaper rash?", ect.) and share any new info with them that has changed over the years. Although frightening, some respond well to graphic pictures of what can happen. No one in their right mind wants to put their grandchild in danger.

Your second issue is a biggy. I too have a mother-in-law from Mexico. I lived in Mexico for two years and have a great respect for their people. Their culture is very different from ours. They still live as extended families like we used to here. There is great respect for the (older) Mother of the household. It is expected for her to teach and help the younger mothers. I am actually shocked about the whole breast milk issue. In Mexico it is practically considered unacceptable not to breastfeed. I am thinking it has to do more with the freezing of the milk. She just doesn't understand. You mentioned that you don't work. How is she ending up having to feed your baby frequently enough for you to have to use the frozen milk? Your BF would be showing a huge disrespect by questioning or even worse, telling her what she can and cannot do. Now you have blended two cultures and need to make this work as you and/or your child will be a part of this family forever. Please don't get me wrong here, I am so with you on this and would be furious myself. These are just ways of resolving the problem peacefully IMO.

The third issue is the obvious. He is already too young for these things and being a preemie aggravates that even more.

I love the ideas above about involving her in Dr. appts. My sister did this and it has worked wonders. I would first ask her why she thinks he needs the formula and biscuits. Again, being from Mexico, I'm willing to bet she's going to say he's too skinny and she's trying to "fatten" him up. :). Once she answers, whatever her answer is, I would invite her to his next appt., assuming she is English speaking. This is one cultural thing on your side. They tend to have a great respect for Drs. and their opinions. Perhaps your pediatrician could provide her with the info in Spanish if she is Spanish speaking.

Good luck to you. Don't expect perfection, but hope for results.

Lori - posted on 01/27/2010

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First of all honey, you say you want her to respect you, and you are trying to keep the peace? Well, honestly, sometimes, in order to gain the respect you want from her, you are going to have to be firm. You do not need peace at the expense of your sanity and your baby's health. When, you say "no" there is no explanation needed, "no" is "no". I went through the same thing with my inlaws, when I finally developed the backbone I needed, they understood that I was the mother and our kids would be raised according to our beliefs and if they wanted to be a part of that, they would have to respect it. I know it's not easy, but you are certainly right about the food allergy thing. This has been an ongoing issue for us (and I dealt with anaphylaxis of my brother growing up), so naturally I am concerned about my son, especially, when he reacts to certain foods with hives ans swelling. Nothing is given to that child unless it is approved my myself or my husband and they know that. He is now 2, but it was tough in the beginning, when I didn't yet have a voice. I said "I appreciate your beliefs and concerns, but I am looking out for the best interest of my child, and he is my child and decisions are to be made by his parents and you are not his parents. Also, where is your bf in all this? He should already have a backbone to defend you against them, not that he should have to. Just remember, this is your kid, this is your life, and I don't know the situation, but kudos to you for continuing to want to breastfeed, it is definately the most natural and safe thing for the baby. He will thank you later!

[deleted account]

Maybe you could print out some articles for her to read about infant nutrition and how beneficial breastmilk is for your baby. I think too much water at such a young age can cause anemia. She's probably doing it because she thinks it's ok and not harming the baby. You should try to convince her otherwise.

Kris - posted on 01/27/2010

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She should not be allowed time alone with your child if she can not respect your parenting decisions! We have the same issue with my m-i-l...she thinks its funny, but boy did she really respond when we told her that if she can not or will not respect our decisions then she was not going to see her granddaughter. Your boyfriend will need to talk with her, make sure you spell out to him exactly why you feel the way you do that way he is fully informed when he speaks with her. If can't/won't then you have a very hard conversation ahead of you. Good luck, but it is so much better to talk about it then try to ignore it, I know i tried to ignore my issues for months then I really lost it!! :)

Annette - posted on 01/26/2010

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well done chelsea. we all wish you the best. meanwhile, there are freezer bags you can buy to store your milk. theyre made for it and been out for years so you should have them there. at least that way your mil cant say the milk is bad! look into it. ask the plunket or whatever it is you have over there or the dr or the hospital. the bags are great. i used them when my kids were babes

Chelsea - posted on 01/26/2010

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My doc advised me to buy the nursery water. So I keep that in the pantry for emergencies. I told her about it and now she uses it instead. I have tried leaving the milk ready to go and she claims is spilled so she used formula. I was very frustrated. I have told my bf that if she refuses to follow my rules with Alex Im not going to leave him with her at all. He said it wasnt fair. I said its not fair to put our son at risk. You are all very right. I may not be able to be as assertive with her but I am making it a point that Alex wont be put at risk.

Cristy - posted on 01/25/2010

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I'd also leave some bottled water or cooled boiled water too in a bottle so if she has to give water she's got a safer option. The occasional water isn't going to hurt your baby if it's safe water.

Cristy - posted on 01/25/2010

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The other thing you can try Chealsey is making sure if you have to go out and leave bub with MIL. Make sure there is a bottle of expressed milk ready, either freshly expressed or thawed with nothing to do but warm up before you go and take the cookies and formula out with you when you leave then she's more likely to take the easy option of giving the pre made bottle rather then going out and getting formula or cookies.

Lindsey - posted on 01/25/2010

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I got inlaws that do the same things. Put your foot down and at least get her to use bottled water, it's apparently better. Let her know it's your kid and if she wants to raise one how she wants to go make one of her own ;)

Bethany - posted on 01/24/2010

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I'm guessing that this is her first grandchild...? No one has broken her in yet. My MIL told me that HER doctor told her to put both of her boys on their tummies to sleep, which we now know is a big no-no because it increases the risk of SIDS. Not too long ago, doctors told their patients that drinking "in moderation" was okay during pregnancy. We now know that ANY amount of alcohol can cause FAS. I would recommend inviting your MIL along for one check-up. Not only will she feel like she's involved and important, she'll also get a chance to hear from the Doc that breastmilk is the best possible food for her beloved grandchild. It'll be easier for her to hear from the Doc, and you can avoid a big angry mess. If she still insists on doing these things, avoid leaving your son alone with her...at least until you feel he's ready to eat gerber cookies...

Shelagh - posted on 01/24/2010

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You will have to draw yourself up to your full height, and tell her ASSERTIVELY. I think you and your bf should talk to her together. Make sure there are no distractions (no TV or radio on for example), so she can't pretend she hasn't heard or understood. You don't have to explain why the formula/cookies are a bad idea, although you can if you like. She must accept that she mustn't do this, JUST BECAUSE YOU'VE SAID SO. Hang on in there. As she sounds like she wants to help, try giving her things to do that are OK.

Joslyn - posted on 01/24/2010

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babys can get really sick or better yet die. there bodys are not made for food we eat that yound thats why they make formula... or breastmilk

Nina - posted on 01/24/2010

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I had my sister-in-law give my daughter chessecake at 3 1/3 months old. I told her off. A baby that young can not have food that we eat.

Annette - posted on 01/24/2010

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ok chelsea. dont get the bf to do the bad guy bit. it causes trouble for all of you! been there done that. you have to make her see reason or leave. its the only way. better in your own home? HA! make sure she knows the rules there too when it comes time

Courtney - posted on 01/24/2010

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Well even if you ask her nicely to stop you might need to be alittle bit harsh. I understand that you are living with her but what she is doing can become a health hazard. Your 16week old isn't really old enough to be eating the gerber cookies anyways. And she is going to stretch the stomach of the child. And another she shouldnt be giving the child tap water. I would really put your foot down and maybe have your boyfriend talk to his mother.

Annette - posted on 01/24/2010

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im sry. mine was the same... uncaring. she wouldnt stop someone from smoking around the kids on her territory. explain everything to her again and let her know that when she sneaks behind your back she is just cheating herself, putting her grandchild at risk of infection or health problems and is showing everyone just how little she cares about her grandchild. if being polite doesnt work, be blunt. and find a rental that needs something doing to it that doesnt worry you too much, also if the gardens need tlc, you will get it cheaper

Ashley - posted on 01/24/2010

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Unfortunatley ive been there too! but when it comes down to your child u dont have to be nice! i used to ask nicely to too stop doing certain things and nice didnt work. But i sat her down one day and said im the mom my way goes or else ( u would have to think of what would work for you!) and since that day she has never done anything without my permission. Good luck!

Melissa - posted on 01/24/2010

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Good luck with this one sweetie! I know how you feel, My MIL was very pushy and tried to do the same thing. I tried being nice at first but unfortunately she did not respond to that, so eventually I had to get nasty with her. This is a very tough situation..hope all works out :)

Claire - posted on 01/24/2010

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Well, she doesn't respect you! Take her to the next doctor appointment with you and let the doctor tell her. Aside from that, I encourage you to continue to try and be nice, but let yourself be firm and say, "Mom, I'm glad you are here to help, but please try not to worry over my decisions. I am following my doctor's recommendations, so if you have any concerns, why don't you come with me next time and ask him/her?"

Tough situation, good luck!

Jen - posted on 01/24/2010

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Ohhhh! I would be so angry!! That is YOUR baby not hers!! I would tell her to f-off! Politely of course!! You poor girl!! I feel so bad for you~When it comes to family-in-law~ Your husband should say something to her to make her back off. That way it makes you look more like the innocent one~That's what we do when his family does something I don't like..I make him talk to his family & I talk to mine!! Good Luck!

Meadow - posted on 01/24/2010

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Water can be dangerous for babies under six months. Call you Ped and ask about that. I might be wrong on the month, but food pushed too early can also cause digestive issues later on.
You might want to ask your Ped to get on board with you and ask if they would let your mother-in-law come into a visit with you. Have the Ped tell her, that these things are okay, just not right now.
You are trying to do the best for your baby, but some mother-in-laws won't give in. But if you let them know it a health concern, maybe that will work.

Chelsea - posted on 01/24/2010

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I have spoken with her many times. I have also spoken with my bf about my problems with her. The few times he did defend me side to them he got yelled at by both his parents. I have brought her info out of books, internet, and the pediatrician. I've pretty much done the same thing as Cristy Wright. Given Up. I love my bf and I love his family. So i do everything I can to keep the peace and only voice up when its something serious. I feel like she doesn't respect me as the mom. Plus she is from Mexico. The have very different traditions down there. I think that all of you are very right. I need to put my foot down. She shouldn't be alone with him if she is going to give
him things hes not ready for. The cookies were kind of a last straw. I'm very worried that hes going to develop allergies or digestive problems if she continues. Thank you everyone for your opinions. Ill let you all know how it goes.

Gena - posted on 01/23/2010

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Oh boy! I understand your dilema. My M I L went to the doctor to see if he could get her breast milk flowing again because I had to stop breast feeding. I almost lost my mind over that one.... Then at 3 months, she gave him a pork rib to suck on. I took him out of her arms, cleaned him up and told her son that we were leaving. He could stay, but he'd have to get a ride home. I wasn't returning with our son until his family realized who this baby's mother was and abided by my wishes.

I know your situation is a bit different, but you need to not leave the baby with her or even let her care for him if she wants to go against your wishes.

Cristy - posted on 01/23/2010

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Good luck with that, if you and your boyfriend have told you don't want your child having formula and buiscuits and she's still doing it chances are she'll continue. She probably feels entitled to do so since you and bub are living at her house. I hate to say it but if you can't move out and have to leave the baby with her when you're not around you probably won't win, she sounds like the type who'll do what she wants regardless. Although it's not ideal you just have to do your best for the baby and know that chances are what she's doing won't harm the baby eventhough there is no good reason for her to do what she's doing. I feel for you, I've given up with my mother in law. She means well eventhough she does stuff that shits me. At least I dont' live with her. Also, if that's the worst your mother in law does at least she loves your child and is there to support you. I'm not defending her just trying to get you to see some positive in her.

Katie - posted on 01/23/2010

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I would DEFINITELY put my foot down..it's your baby. Take advice thankfully but when it comes to actually being undermined especially infront of your child no matter how young, babies aren't stupid, that just crosses the line. I would tell her that I am thankful for her help but you know what is right for your baby. I personally have a short temper so she probably would have heard it by now from me lol. You don't want to cause a family feud BUT seriously, she's had her turn to raise babies, not very well if that's what she fed her kids, but take charge i say. And I also completely agree with Jasmine Bode

Jessica - posted on 01/23/2010

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just tell her yo don't want her feeding the baby anything but breast milk if you wanted formula you would have chose that your baby may not want breast milk if he eat s too much formula. And you are wasting time pumping just to throw it out,hide all formula.
No cookies he could choke, you can not give that until he has teeth on top and bottom.
if you have to look it up online and show her the dammage she is doing.

Mellissa - posted on 01/23/2010

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I would recommend telling her one more time. Or write you childs routine down including what foods you ONLY want your child to have. If this doesn't work then you have to get your partner to say something! Not saying anything could possibly establish bad habits for your baby and you don't want that! Good Luck

[deleted account]

Oh boy. Have you tried to get your boyfriend to talk to her & ask her to respect the way you want to raise you child (I'm sure you have already). Oh I'd be furious, but if she won't listen to reason your only choice is to not leave the baby with her. If you don't work then the only choice you have is to suck it up & be the babies only primary care giver.

Catherine - posted on 01/23/2010

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I had similar probs with my mother in law when she lived with us after her r/ship ended with her bf. Its hard because when you live with them you have to keep the peace in the household. It sounds to me though that you need to be firm, speak with your bf about it if he feels the same way as you, you both should sit down with her and explain how you feel and say its your child, your choice. Good luck hope you work it out soon

Kara - posted on 01/23/2010

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I had to go thru this with my grandma. Have you tried just sitting down with her and being like look i'm the mother. Tell her your reason for not wanting formula and cookies. Then what i told my grandma was that I apperiated her help, but if she could not respect my wishes as his mother then i could find someone else to watch him when i needed. And once she saw that I was serious she stopped. I hope things get better for you.

Nikki - posted on 01/23/2010

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I know how hard it can be, I have a very pushy M I L and I was real nice at first but enough is enough. I have had my husband be the bad guy but Ive finally stood my ground. You need to be firm. He is YOUR son and you will do what you feel is right and if she has a problem with it too bad. You should sit down with her and have your bf there for support and explain that to her and if she disagrees then no more alone time with baby b/c she is untrustworthy

Joslyn - posted on 01/23/2010

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OMG!!!! I understand exactly where you are coming from. Only its my mother who wants to be in control of my baby... One day I just told my mom if she thinks she can do a better job than me then she can try and raise my daughter herself. And I told her that she was pushing me away... but its different when its your boyfriends mother. Try asking him to speak with her about your opinion. A mother always knows whats best for her child. Sometimes getting mad and showing your true feelings about the situation is best! Good luck!! Thats a hard one to handle lol

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