How to deal with meddling granny?

Catey - posted on 01/01/2013 ( 4 moms have responded )

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My husband and I fell on hard times recently, and lost our home about a month after my son was born. My father and his wife were nice enough to take us in. I used to get along with her, (well enough to ask her to be in the delivery room with me,) but over the last year, things have been getting bad. We butt heads over, you guessed it, my son.

I grew up without a mother, so I'm learning as I go, however, I never really needed any help with my son. When we first moved in, I tried to set some ground rules that basically were my husband and I were the final say on anything concerning our son. That lasted all of about two weeks, if even that long. She started by making fun of the fact that I read the "What to Expect" series to get some ideas on where my son should be developmentally, which has turned into the old, "We didn't have books when we were growing up" nonsense.

From there, she kept trying to push pacifiers on my son despite the fact he didn't want them, and I didn't see a point in getting him addicted to them. She then got him addicted to his bottle instead, propping it up as he went to sleep and letting him drink until he passed out, bottle in mouth, laying on his side. I had to get into a screaming fight with her to make her quit. Once he was at the point he should have been getting tummy time and learning to roll/crawl/sit, I had to actually hide my son from her in our bedroom because she wouldn't put him down for two seconds. He learned to crawl within a week. He slightly fusses and she comes running to pick him up. (That's now devolved to the point that he'll be fine until he sees her, then start whining so she'll pick him up. You can't tell me he doesn't know exactly what he's doing in that regard. He won't even go play by himself if she's in the room, just whine at her until she picks him up.)

She's gotten angry at me and my husband for telling her not to do something with our son, accusing us of abusing him, dragging my dead mother into the fight saying things like because I wasn't coddled as a child I'm not coddling my kid. She doesn't respect my husband and I as parents, our rights, or her boundaries. It almost seems sometimes that she thinks she's more of my son's mother than I am.

For example, when we're out at a store, if I get a compliment about my son, she'll literally step in between my son and them and start saying thank you and gushing about how cute my son is before I can even blink. When relatives we haven't seen in awhile come over, she'll snatch my son up and start bragging to the relative about what my son has learned lately instead of letting me or my husband do that. She even tries telling me when to feed him, when not to, what he'll wear, what to feed him, when he should go to bed, or even, rarely, if he should be allowed to go somewhere with me or his father.

I've set a few concrete rules, like he doesn't sleep in the bed with her. (Her bed is four feet off the ground, no protection should he roll, he moves a lot in his sleep, and I don't know if she moves in her sleep. It's a dangerous combination.) So I left my son with her for what we all thought was going to be for several hours to go to an appointment, and ended up getting back really early. Guess who I found in her bed, her nearly asleep and him wide awake? I haven't trusted her since then to watch him, which is making her mad at me, and making me take my son out in the freezing cold to run errands with me. I just can't trust her anymore.

I've tried talking to her about her behavior and how it's making me feel multiple times. She usually just ends up saying I'm the only one who feels that way because I want to feel that way, or it devolves into a screaming match where she is usually the one hurling insults left and right. To make matters worse, I do still care about her, and I do feel bad limiting her time with my son by keeping him in our room, and I feel horrible that my son has to spend so much time in a 10 x 12 room, but I can't get her to follow my rules. She won't stop picking him up every time he whines about anything and let him just play. (The best she'll do is keep him trapped on the couch with her.) She won't respect my husband and I, and she won't stop trying to take over.

She won't even let my husband and I start conditioning our son right now. He's a few weeks from being one, not too early to learn cause and effect. We only say no and remove, say our son's hand from something he shouldn't touch, or remove him from an area he shouldn't be. She says that's being abusive, kids shouldn't get disciplined in any way until they're three, and what's the point anyways since he doesn't understand English?

I don't know how big a factor it plays in our relationship either, but for the record, I'm from a small family that let everyone do their own thing. She's Hispanic where everyone was in each other's business constantly, and boys are spoiled beyond all reason.

Can anyone give me any advice on how to deal with the situation until my husband and I get back on our feet and on our own? I already know once we're on our own, I'll need to take a break from her to kind of re-establish the boundaries and learn to re-like each other, but what do I do until then that doesn't result in my son being stuck in a small room all friggin' day?

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Amber - posted on 01/02/2013

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I would treat him the same way I would your stepmom, stand up for yourself. If my father walked in and tried to take my son against my will it would be a fist fight. My son my rules!!! It sounds like you need to focus on getting out. If this seems hopeless, then sit down with your husband and figure out a plan to get out. Figure out what is holding you back from leaving, I assume its money. Sell anything you cant live without, get a second job, use coupons to save money etc. If you really want out you can develop a great plan and stick to it. Then you will have a light at the end of your tunnel

Amber - posted on 01/01/2013

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I have went through this similar issue, the only thing you can do is to stand your ground. It is your son, you and your husband have a say on how he is raised. One night after you out your son to sleep ask your family to all meet in the living room or kitchen. Set ground rules for this meeting, i.e. no one talks when some one is talking, no yelling, etc. Be stern but not rude, explain that the way you raise your son is your decision and you will no longer tolerate he stepping in. Thank her for any advice she provides you ( hard to do i know) but it is only advice and you do not have to follow it. Explain that if she wants a relationship with her grandchild she will respect your wishes or when you move you will CUT HER OFF.
After this discussion, every time she goes against you don't say a word, pick your son up and walk out of the room. Ignore her and stay away the rest of that day. She needs to be taught that her actions have consequences. You arguing with her is getting you no where, because she is getting to say how she feels. After a while of you "temporarily cutting her off" she should get the picture that you are dead serious about this and she will not win!!!
Stand your ground, never ever back down....remember arguing only gives her the chance to bring you to her level and also speak her mind

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Catey - posted on 01/02/2013

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My dad believes in the old adage, "God first, spouse second, children third." He just sits there and either says nothing during our fights, or worse, will try saying they're only trying to help, like that should make me feel obligated to let them, or grateful for help I don't want, need, nor asked for. Not to be too rude about it, but my father has always been pretty useless in the father department.

He does his own little things that push me as well. Such as, if my son cries for about two minutes, he used to come bursting into the room and tried to take my son to grandma. He didn't want to try calming my son down himself; he just wanted to take my son to grandma because she apparently is super-granny. Now, after multiple fights about him not butting in, he'll just sit in the living room complaining to my husband about how I need to pick my son up when he cries. He just automatically assumes if my son is crying then I must have stuck him in his crib to scream or something. And he doesn't accept the answer that sometimes babies need to cry for a minute or two before they can calm down enough to be comforted at all.

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