Advice on how to deal with my mother in law & son....?

Devon - posted on 12/18/2012 ( 4 moms have responded )

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Whenever my son (who is 3 1/2) is around my mother in law I feel like I am no longer the parent. If he is doing something "bad" I do discipline him, but she is always right behind me doing the same...then I feel bad, b/c now he is being "yelled" at by 2 people. Also, when we are in public if someone has a question or stops to say hello she is the first to jump in and take over when it has to do with my son (my son was a preemie, born 10 weeks early and only weighing 1lb, 10oz and she feels the need to tell everyone this even if that's not what we are talking about??). I have talked with my husband about my feelings, but apparently this is also an issue that his brother and his kids were having. When something was said then, it became a huge issue. I feel bad for my son, cause its always something!

PS: It's not like I can avoid her since we live right next to each other....

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Kirstin - posted on 12/20/2012

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I really feel for you. I have to tell you that I was your MIL. When my older brother had his first son, I felt like he was my baby too. As he grew older, I was never bashful to discipline him. After all, I loved him as though he was my baby. One Easter my sister-in-law must have finally had it with me. She yelled at me and they left my parents home. I received an email about what an awful Aunt I was in her eyes. I was shocked, horrified, embarrassed, and most of all very very sad. I needed some guidance. I had no idea how I came across to her. After that, I quit disciplining. It was a relief for me as well. I thought I was helping. In a million years, I wouldn't have wanted to be thought of as an awful Aunt. I sure wish someone would have "lovingly" approached me. I would sit down with your MIL before is builds up and you blow. Tell her how wonderful she is to love your family so much. Tell her anything that you appreciate about her. Then, lovingly say that you feel that some interactions become confusing because too many people are disciplining your child. You love her insight and obviously she raised your spouse to be someone you love so you definitely know she does an amazing job. However, going forward you would prefer to discipline your son. Maybe give an example of a time she took over. Tell her how it made you or your child feel. Explain how having the authority in your hands opens the door for her to spoil and be the fun grandma! Coming from someone who was in the wrong (because she is in the wrong) but had very good intentions, that's how I wish it was handled. Good luck. I know it is hard but I think if you approach it in a positive way then you might be surprised that she doesn't realize what she is doing.

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Keri - posted on 12/20/2012

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Third parties are usually advised against in situations like this, but given that your brother in law has had issues like this, maybe brining in a friend or other neutral party who has a blunt opinion who's willing to say something like "don't interrupt" or "let her deal with it" to your MIL and be firm about it, maybe she'll back off a bit. It would probably help if this person is also a parent of a child close to your son's age. I'm surprised grandma isn't more leinient on your son - I don't ever recall being disciplined by my grandparents (or not like I was by my parents) when I was growing up. And both my parents and my mother-in-law think my son hung the moon, but when they need to, they will discipline him.

Devon - posted on 12/19/2012

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Thank you ladies :) Gigi, my issue with the preemie thing is just what you stated. That she feels the need to tell everyone how small he was...he is a perfectly healthy normal 3 year old now & I don't feel that he or anyone else needs to know about our traumatic start....

Thanks for the advice :)

Gigi - posted on 12/19/2012

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Well, i think you should talk to her about it or it won't change. the question is can you continue much more in this situation - if you can let it go. If you can't talk to her, or have your husband do it - the positive thing is that your brother in law already said something on that topic to her so maybe she listens now that she hears same thing twice.
If you are not comfortable with the way she is discipling your son, you will have to deal with it. Same if you are not comfortable with her telling everyone that he was a preemie, My daughter was born early and weighted 5 pounds and my MIL said that to everyone too, and it would not have bothered me unless the way she said it was - "she was too small etc etc" - and I didn't want my daughter to constantly hear that (who is perfectly normal child) so I had my husband deal with it. I see it this way - his family is his to deal with, and mine is mine to deal with.

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