Making Grandma Happy

Mrs. - 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 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 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?


**Jackie** - posted on 02/19/2012




Absolutely. Ok, I am about to sound like a crappy mom but I'm going to say this...(deep breath) I am a people-pleaser. I like everyone around me to be happy, I am genuinely upset when someone is mad at me, and I get sheer delight in making people comfortable and content. I am blaming this on my career. My whole life I have worked in customer a bank. So just imagine alllll day people are coming in blaming me for their inability to manage their finances and how this bank is awful and I'm stealing their money. It was my job to calm them down, find the problem and fix it...quickly. When people came in with an attitude, I wasn't letting them out of my chair until they were happy.

So then I became a mom...and people (meaning my close family members) kind of forgot the fact that she was a baby and focused more on themselves in that they wanted to spend more time with her, take her all over. Well, at first...I let them. It wasn't until she was about 4 months that her first overly tired tantrum hit and that was the last straw. I had had months of trying to tell people I knew what was best for her but they, of course, reminded me that they had children and I was new at this. blah blah blah .

Now, I don't care who I make mad...when it comes to my daughter, what I say goes because I know what she needs and wants. I am with her allllll day. When she walks over to something..I almost always know what she is going to do before she even does it.

I've come to learn that no matter how hard you try, you can't possibly please (and excuse my language) f*** it :)

Good luck moms!

Krista - posted on 02/17/2012




Yikes. I don't blame you for being upset. A toddler should not be a confidant for a grown woman.

There's no harm in them having contact, but...I would definitely limit the amount of time they spend alone together. She sounds like a very immature woman, with no real sense of what is appropriate. And you most certainly do not want your daughter feeling pressured into making her Gramma happy!

Time to start looking for another babysitter, I'm afraid. She can still have plenty of time with Gramma...but with you or your husband present. And you don't have to make a big announcement about it. Just don't get her to babysit anymore.

Stifler's - posted on 02/20/2012




I get those comments too MeMe the simple answer is that they don't have to deal with your kids tantrums and crankiness all the time if he misses a nap or wakes up at 5am. My parents think I'm insane for making Logan go to bed at 7 but the truth is that no matter how late he goes to bed he wakes up at 630-7am and he needs those hours of sleep.

[deleted account]

I'm thinking that you should never let this woman babysit and should only be around your child with supervision. She does sound batpoo crazy and while she may love everyone, she can't help what she says/needs.

Mrs. - posted on 02/18/2012




Thanks everyone. I was trying to get some perspective and make sure I wasn't getting it all twisted.

I spoke to my husband about it last night and he agreed that any contact from now on will be supervised. Basically, if either of us is there or a relative who we trust to understand the situation is there. She won't act like this is front of others, she's too concerned about how she might look.

I really feel sorry for her, she is obviously slipping and if she weren't trying to hang on to my daughter to keep her footing, I'd leave it at that. However, she is affecting my kid and that makes it difficult to help until I get my daughter out of the way.

Yeah, she is very immature. She was a "teen mom" and my husband was her first child. He grew up to be more like her parent or substitute husband. It is a really unhealthy pattern of expecting the child to be your leg up and not considering if the child might have other needs before her own. It is a pattern my husband and I really don't want to continue. It's not a family tradition that needs to be kept up.


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[deleted account]

I just want to pipe in here.... the emotional issues are the only part that I would have a problem w/ occurring... As long as it's not a daily or even weekly thing.... screwing w/ a child's eating or sleeping 'schedule' will not scar them for life and if the person they are w/ is a POSITIVE influence during that time... screwing w/ the schedule is fine.

Example.... my kids spent Saturday night w/ my dad (my son's first sleep over w/ anyone other than HIS father). My son only got 9ish hours of sleep when he usually gets around 11. Yes, he was a bit difficult last night, but he also slept almost 13 hours and the quality time he got w/ Grandpa is irreplaceable and totally worth screwing up one night for. I'm hoping it'll be a fairly regular thing now... maybe once every month or two.... since my son came home saying he wanted to live w/ Grandpa. ♥

Now... if the person is a negative influence.... the screwed up schedule is just the 'icing on the cake'.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/20/2012




Exactly Emma - you got it!

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/20/2012




I am firm with how I raise my children. I am uptight when it comes to their daily routines. I know it is important for them, it is how they know what to expect day in and day out. I rarely allow for a routine to get out of shape.

With my son I have had many comments from my in-laws (well not to MY face but through my husband) of why is it such a big deal? Why does he HAVE to have his nap at the same time everyday, why does he HAVE to eat at the same time everyday, why does he HAVE to be in bed at the same time everyday. I tell my husband because it is what works best for him. He expects these things to occur at these times, so he gets them. It is best for his development, he is 16 months, he needs these things. I could careless if an adult doesn't want it that way, my son needs it that way. He doesn't throw tantrums (he can be defiant but he is a typical toddler), he isn't tired or hungry to do so. He has slept 12 hours every night since 3.5 months old because it is a part of his routine. He asks to go to bed at 8pm because he is use to it and needs it....

I have a mother that imposes not so good things onto my daughter. She tells her things that she just should not be telling a 13 year old. She talks about me when I was a teen to her. She will even go as far as swear about me to her. I have had to put my foot down. My daughter is no longer allowed to sleep or go to her house (1.5 hours away). My mother can pick her up on a scheduled visit and take her out for lunch or the alike but that is as far as it can go. i do however, have to drill my daughter when she returns on whether there was any inappropriate conversing while they were together. If and when it occurs, the scheduled visits will sadly need to end too. I have to protect my children.

I think it is important as a mother to know what you are comfortable with and hold your ground with what you are not. These are your children and it is important that you do what is best for them and you, not anyone outside of your immediate family. No one else has to live with any aftermath there may be from your decisions but you. You are the best audience of your children. You know what is best for them, no one else does. I think it is very important to employ the rule that it is your way or no way. I am not saying that advice cannot be appreciated, especially when asked for by you; But when someone is hindering your belief of what is a positive influence for your child, it is important for you as the parent to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. Children are sponges, they can suck everything up so easily. ;)

Good Luck...

[deleted account]

I think that if there is a relative who doesn't follow your rules and boundaries in regards to your child it is ok it is ok to limit or stop contact with that relative.

Stifler's - posted on 02/19/2012




YES. I a;ways thought it was cruel that my BIL and SIL limited time with Damo's mum but now that I have kids I KNOW WHY. She does this exact type of stuff to the point where Im concerned for the 5 minutes I nip out to get milk.

Brittney - posted on 02/18/2012




Let me share my story, When my (fiance) at the time and I told his grandparents that I was pregnant, they were very supportive, they even asked if I could live with them. That was not okay with my parents, we would have to be married first, so we got married in June (2010). I was 6 months pregnant when I moved in with them. All was fine or so you would think. They are big at keeping moldy, spoiled, rotten, stale things. I ate a turkey sandwich and felt sick, when I looked at the expiration date, it had expired when I was 1...anyway, They had a bassinet (for dolls) that they set up in the bedroom next to theirs. We had told them that we were moving out as soon as the baby was born. They kept buying newborn clothes and always said 'looks a little big'. Our daughter was born and they were sad we weren't coming 'home'. A month after I had our daughter, Ruby, I took a CNA class at the local college, the class times were all day and they agreed to watch Ruby. We breastfed until she was 1 week old, then went to formula. They never listened to what I had to say! I told them not to warm up her bottle, once she was 2 months old, they warmed it up so much it would burn her mouth. I told them not to feed her solids because that's my time to do it, they would say okay, then say oh she just had some banana. They left her formula out for 8 hours and tried to get her to drink it. They used size 3 diapers so they didn't have to change her, they didn't listen to any of my instructions and to this day they do not. I do not let my daughter around them very often because if I say something, it goes in one ear and out the other. They constantly want to set up an all day thing where they can play with Ruby. I want her to be around kids her own age. when we set up a day and time, they're late and miss getting to see her. One time, she wanted to wake her up just so she could see her. I told her no, she's not waking her up. They seem to get annoyed at me, when I get annoyed at them.

The answer to your question, I think something should be done before it gets too far. That is something you probably don't want your daughter to think. (She has to make Gramma happy.) I would either say something and then minimize contact or just start minimizing contact, then when she asks why tell her the truth.

[deleted account]

My child would not be alone w/ that woman and if supervised contact became harmful... that would be cut off as well. Unless I legally have no choice (like w/ their father and what he does during visitations)... that would not be happening again.

You can't pick your relatives, but you DO pick your family and family is what I would have around my kids.... and family doesn't cause you harm. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but if the harmful behavior is consistent (as it is if your husband went through it as a child).... no contact.

I'm a bit harsh on this, but no one hurts my kids... and I grew up having minimal contact w/ a manipulative grandma and it still had a bit of an impact on me.

Tam - posted on 02/18/2012




I agree with all the others who have posted so far. There are many things that should tip you off not to leave a child alone with a person, and mental issues are a big one.

That being said, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable, it should be addressed. I usually let my husband deal with addressing issues on his family side, while I do so on my side, if that makes sense. Less chance of the in-law accusing you of manipulating the family that way.

Also, if you don't want her alone with the child, don't let her be. It's not quite the same situation with me, but when I lost my job my step-mother called up to tell me that she and my dad would be happy to take my oldest two up to Oklahoma (about 5 hours away) for a month or two when the twins were born, to help ease the financial and emotional burden. But I told her that during a crisis, especially with impending birth, that was the time where a family needed to be together. I also knew that much of the time my older ones come back after a week with their grandparents, we spend about three weeks 'retraining' them.

And that's without any mental anguish. Just behavior.

It sounds to me that the grandmother either needs to grow up (sorry for being harsh) or speak to a professional. To be totally blunt, her inability to confront her depression problems do not put an onus on you to let you do as she will with your kids. The most important person in this situation is the child, and presently, the child is the one being hurt. And there is no reason to allow that.

Tracey - posted on 02/18/2012




Grandmas role is to support you as a family, not to use emotional blackmail on a toddler. Could Grandma send emails to you all as a family which you can read (censored if need be) to your daughter and only see her with a parent present?

If this carries on your daughter will grow up feeling uncomfortable with Granny in the same way my daughter feels with some of her grandparents. When she realised nothing she did would please them she started going out of her way to do the thing that would get the biggest reaction or disapproval.

Karla - posted on 02/18/2012




I agree completely with Krista.

It may have been both the lack of sleep and the responsibility of keeping grandma happy that factored into your daughter's tantrum. What a heavy load for a two year old. geeze.

As Krista said, quietly find another babysitter, and make visits to grandma's and her visits to you a family gathering where you or your husband are there.

It's fine to let your kids visit and get to know the crazy relatives, just use caution and avoid one-on-one visits.

Elfrieda - posted on 02/17/2012




I would be more concerned about the inappropriate language to your toddler than the delayed bedtime. The first seems alarming, whereas I think most grandparents postpone bedtime, and many kids have a grumpy day the day after being babysat. My son certainly does.

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