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What to do about my Mom and her unsolicited "advice"?

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
I am seriously at my wits end with my Mother. She has been on me since my DD was born about all the things I do "wrong", and it's driving a real wedge between us that I do not think she sees.

I actually tried to have a talk with her a couple weeks ago that I would really appreciate it if she would stop criticizing my every parenting move and trust that she raised me right to make the best decisions about raising my family, but that I'm an adult and she needs to please butt out of my buisness.

It didn't go over well... she cried to my Dad and he called me and gave me a lecture about being disrespectful to my Mother and that no matter what they will always be my parents. I told them I fully respect that they will always be my parents, but they need to respect that I am a parent and an adult and they need to stop trying to dictate to me and treat me like a child.


But things are just getting worse... For starters, this past weekend we were at my grandmother's birthday party and I start nursing DD and my Mom throws a napkin at me from across the table screeching that I need to cover up. I am a very discreet nurser, not that it should matter anyway!! But, I do try to take into consideration that my boy cousins may be a little freaked if I just whipped it all out. lol But anyway, she ALWAYS does this. And so I snapped, right in front of my Aunt and Uncle "Do NOT tell me how to feed my child." And I removed the napkin and continued to nurse DD.

This is not the first time something like this has happened... if we are out anywhere she is constantly trying to throw things over us. It makes me SOOO MAD!

Then last night she goes, "so how are you going to wean your DD? You know it's just going to get harder and harder the longer you nurse, you should really start thinking about that!"

I said I don't have any plans of weaning her anytime soon and that DD will self wean when she is ready. My DD is ONLY 7 months OLD! Wean her soon... wth?! I have spouted about WHO recommending at least 2 years, and have even shown her the breastfeeding guide from the hospital to do at least 2 years... yet she still must make a comment EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN day about when I'm weaning my DD. No matter how many times I tell her I have no plans to do so and to please stop bringing it up.

Then she starts in on how DD will never ever learn to put herself to sleep because most times she nurses to sleep and what kind of good habit is that to teach her and how sorry I'm going to be when she is a toddler and can't go to sleep on her own. :

Then !!! The worst part! She started calling DD fat yesterday!! I told her to please not do that... in fact I may not have put in the please... But DD is not fat... yes she is finally developing a little baby belly! My DD has been small since birth and weight has always been a big worry I'm freakin thrilled to see DD filling out some now!!

Then she kept yelling at me to put pillows down and how I'm not an observant enough Mom and other hurtful things... DD is starting to rock on her knees, starting to figure out crawling and my Mom FLIPPED on me how wrong I was to not have a pillow in front of DD's face in case she loses balance and falls down... I'm not going to wrap my child in bubble wrap for crying out loud... and I don't know anyone who lines their floor with pillows when baby is first learning to crawl... she will be fine!!

I think I'm a good Mom... but my Mom's constant hounding on me is making it really difficult to fully beleive I'm doing the right thing...

HELP!
post #2 of 55
It sounds like you are doing a great job with your dd!

I've got an overly critcal relative too, except mine is my dh's grandmother, who we see frequently. My oldest is 10, my middle son is 5 and the youngest is 18 months. Fortunately, she has backed off considerably about the baby stuff. I guess she figures I know what I'm doing at this point or she just know's I'm not going to take her advice about solids, car seats, clothes, etc AT ALL. LOL

I did just have a problem with her criticizing our discipline with our 5 year old. We practice gentle discipline, but she thinks we are too hard on him. She is/was a permissive parent with any young kids in the family. And, my ds's behavior is much worse at her house because of it. She finds something to criticize everytime we are at her house, plus she directs it at the kids. For instance, she'll say to the baby "Isn't your mother going to get you a haircut?" or if one of the older two has a haircut "Oh! You're mother cut your hair!" Then, to me, "What'd you do that for?" LOL I really try to ignore, though sometimes it is hard to do that. I just get sick of it.

Anyway, your mom is flat out WRONG about the weaning. As someone who has nursed two children until age 2 and is still nursing a third, it does not get harder to wean the longer you go. It gets easier because the baby is eating more and more solid foods and you can gradually decrease nursing sessions over a long period of time. And pillows on the floor - LOL!
post #3 of 55
I do want to add that, with our grandmother, talking to her does not work. She is what she is and will not change. It sounds like your mother might be similar, since you already tried talking to no avail.

I ignore my husband's grandmother and, when I get really frustrated, I stop taking the kids there to visit for a bit. I think she sometimes gets it when I do that because she will back off for a bit.
post #4 of 55
It's hard for your parents to accept that their little girl is now a mother raising her own little girl, but if you don't put your foot down I don't think they'll ever really accept it.

Write your mother a letter so she has something tangible to look at as a reminder if she starts to overstep her bounds. Tell her politely how much you love and respect her and appreciate all that she's done for you and how challenging it must be to realize that you're now an adult and it's your turn to raise a baby. You understand that she has only the best intentions but her constant criticism is making you feel like she doesn't respect you and is making it unpleasant to spend time with her. You welcome polite questions about your parenting choices and would be happy to provide current medical info as needed (ie breastfeeding). You'd like her role as a grandma to be one of love and support for you and your daughter (ie, stop calling the baby fat!, and if the negativity and criticism continues you'll have to start cutting your visits short.

Then follow through. If you're out in public together announce that you're going to nurse the baby now and if your mom is offended she's welcome to sit around the corner and you'll come get her when you're done. If you're visiting her and she starts harassing you about anything, tell her politely that you've asked her to respect your feelings and your parenting. If she doesn't back down and apologize, go home.

Will she cry to your dad? Probably. But if she has that letter clearly and lovingly telling her how you feel, SHE'S the one with a problem if she doesn't care enough about her daughter to take her feelings into account and treat her with kindness and respect.
post #5 of 55
Thread Starter 
I just realized this somehow got posted twice... I have no idea how that happened. Can a mod merge these, please? Thanks!!
post #6 of 55
What if you said something like "Stop treating me like a child. I'm the Mommy now, and I'll make the decisions that I feel are best for my family. You had a chance to raise your children and you did a great job, but now it's my turn. I may make some mistakes, but you have to trust me enough to allow me the chance to make them."

Then I'd let them know you're "taking a break" from them, and don't contact them or return their contact for however long you feel is appropriate. 3 days, a week, whatever.
post #7 of 55
I want to offer a different perspective. I really like MamaStarbird's words. I think such a letter could be wonderfully done, and taken well. But that totally depends on the peronality of the person recieving the letter.

I wrote such a letter to my parents about my homebirth options, though not quite so sweet and more factual info, and it backfired. It just opened all my choices up for debate, and I did not change their views at all. They didn't respect me for it, they just argued more.

Much later I realized it was immature of me to think I could change them, or that it was even my job to change them. I can't change anyone, except myself. They have their beliefs, I have mine. So I let it go. I stopped trying to get them to see my view. And I got a great peace from that, a peace that permeated all my dealings with them. I still have that peace today.

Even better, because of this realization that I couldn't change them, my attitude to them changed. If they said or didsomething that I thought was nuts, oh well, I kept right about doing what I was doing, how I was doing it, and totally ignored them. I don't mean rudely ignore. Just, "oh, that's nice" to their crazy disrespectful comments, then kept right on with being the woman and mother I was. If they went to far, I said "Ok, that's disrespectful, I am leaving now or this conversation is ended" and I did it and meant it.

They got the message. It did not take long. Just as I figured out I was not going to change them, they quickly figured out they weren't going to change me, and they gave up. I'd say 90% of the stupid comments are gone, because everyone knows it isn't going to lead anywhere. And they have learned to respect me more, I think, because they had no other choice.

I will say it was a bit rough for a few months, because everyone in a family unit has a role they are glued into, and if anyone else gets out of line, everyone else tries to push them back into that role. Not because it is better, but because it is comfortable and expected. Everyone has to adjusst to their new role. But after a while they do. Good luck to you momma.
post #8 of 55
^^Yep. My XMIL is like that. As soon as I let it go and realized that I can't change her, things went smoother. I let her say whatever she wants with a smile on my face (to an extent). Then I go home and laugh about how crazy she is.
post #9 of 55
My husband told my mom that he wanted our family to develop its own distinct personality and for me to be a confident mother who found her own groove and wasn't constantly exposed to criticism or people trying to influence me to do things the way they thought it should be done, and if she couldn't respect that, he would protect his family by only allowing her to hang out with me when he was there. She wouldn't listen to me, but she did listen to him- I think it helped her realize that she is not "number one" in influencing my life anymore, he wants to be- and rightfully so! It REALLY helped.
post #10 of 55
Thread Starter 
My DH actually does want to have a sit down with my parents to discuss them letting up on "lecturing" us all the time... The do on everything, not just parenting, but finances and how often my DH does yardwork...

I'm afraid it would only make matters worse if he did this...
post #11 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
My DH actually does want to have a sit down with my parents to discuss them letting up on "lecturing" us all the time... The do on everything, not just parenting, but finances and how often my DH does yardwork...

I'm afraid it would only make matters worse if he did this...
Honestly, if it's this bad, I would develop a rote response to them every time they "lecture" you.

"I'm not looking for advice, this is how we're decided to handle this."
"I'm an adult now, this topic is not up for debate."
"I'm not willing to discuss this with you, I've made an informed decision."


Say it every time. Seriously. Every.time. Refuse to engage in the fight. Assert yourself. If they keep up, "We're going to leave (or, I have to ask you to leave), I'm not debating decisions we've made." and then leave (or leave hte room if they're in your home). It will probably get worse before it gets better, but really they have no right to be heckling you about every aspect of your adult lives.

You could preface it with a letter or discussion not *defending* your choices, but a discussion about that no matter how much you love them and respect them, you will no longer be defending your choices and that this kind of relationship needs to come to an end and a more adult relationship needs to begin - and that you won't allow them to treat you like a child anymore. Then, you just have to do it. It will be uncomfortable, but IMO far less uncomfortable and stressful for you long term than if you keep putting yourself in this environment.
post #12 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonR View Post
Much later I realized it was immature of me to think I could change them, or that it was even my job to change them. I can't change anyone, except myself. They have their beliefs, I have mine. So I let it go. I stopped trying to get them to see my view. And I got a great peace from that, a peace that permeated all my dealings with them. I still have that peace today.

Even better, because of this realization that I couldn't change them, my attitude to them changed. If they said or didsomething that I thought was nuts, oh well, I kept right about doing what I was doing, how I was doing it, and totally ignored them. I don't mean rudely ignore. Just, "oh, that's nice" to their crazy disrespectful comments, then kept right on with being the woman and mother I was. If they went to far, I said "Ok, that's disrespectful, I am leaving now or this conversation is ended" and I did it and meant it.
I think this is good advice. This is exactly how I'm approaching a similar situation with my mother. It's important for me to include my mother in my life and in DD's life, even if she is having a hard time being supportive of me as a parent right now. I just don't rise to the bait anymore. If she threw a napkin at me, I'd probably say "thanks," calmly fold it up, put it back on the table, turn to the person next to me, and resume conversation.

In my case, it also really helped me to reach a little more peace when I tried to think about WHY my mother was behaving this way. In my case, I think she sees my parenting decisions as a constant rebuke to her own. In some cases, they probably are. And you know, that is hurtful to her. I think she's also having trouble with transitioning from active parenting of children to being the mother of adults...and I think she envisioned herself as more directly involved and important in DD's life, maybe as a chance to redeem herself from past choices, maybe as a chance to prove that she IS good at parenting, I don't know. I can see that she's struggling with these things and I hope that she can find her way through them at some point, and be a positive part of my relationship with DD. Until then, though, I must learn to keep my doubt at bay and trust my own instincts.

It's hard when you don't have the support of the one person in your life who really ought to understand the challenges (and joys) of motherhood, but standing strong about your own parenting instincts is the right thing to do!
post #13 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by The4OfUs View Post
Honestly, if it's this bad, I would develop a rote response to them every time they "lecture" you.

"I'm not looking for advice, this is how we're decided to handle this."
"I'm an adult now, this topic is not up for debate."
"I'm not willing to discuss this with you, I've made an informed decision."
This. If they're this into controlling your life, my original suggestion may have been phrased too politely .

And to clarify, I suggested the idea of writing a letter not to try and convince them of anything or to defend yourself, but just so your mom doesn't have an excuse if later she tries to claim, "Oh, that discussion got so emotional, I didn't think you meant it/I was too upset to listen to everything/I forgot."
post #14 of 55
I'm not a good one for advice here, because I finally had to sever ALL ties with my mother. After two decades of her "advice" (most of which was blatantly wrong, some of which was wrong for ME), it got to the boiling point. I wrote "the letter" the PPs are talking about. It was wonderfully written, not acusatory, but simply stated the facts. And she went ballistic.

I realized I had to "decompress" for hours after every visit with her. I realized I felt my normally-low blood pressure raise, and was losing hair. All because of the stress of my 70 year old mother. There are a few other factors involved, but the majority was her preaching parenting at me. She would even tell strangers how "naive" her daughter is when it comes to raising kids. Um, mom, I've been doing this a realllllly long time!

We no longer speak, she is no longer allowed to see the children. She is dead to me, and I don't feel any loss, sadly. I guess 20 years is a long time to be aggravated with a situation.

That being said, unless you want it to come to this (and no, I don't recommend it), you must rectify the situation or get very thick skin. But I will warn you - thick skin is a great thing - but talk to me in 15 or 20 years and tell me if she hasn't worn thru it.

It's rough. You have my sympathies.
post #15 of 55
Hey Sweet Mama!

I'm sorry you are having this trouble..no fun...no fun and really, it spoils how awesome this time in your life is supposed to be. This is the point at which a mama is supposed to ease as best she can into an adult relationship with her child and it sounds like your mother is really struggling with the transition.

I think that it should be made clear to her that she is very quickly entering into "toxic behavior" territory and that you have far too much self respect to tolerate the inconvenience and poisonous effects of this type of relationship on your family life.

I think the rote response idea is key. I think you should jot down on your calander the exact day you decide to adopt that method of dealing with this and give it a period of time to sink in with her...if you see her daily, maybe give it two months, if you see her weekly...maybe a little more time than that, whatever feels good to you...and then, when that period of time has ended in your day planner, asses the situation. If she's getting better and you find your interactions are easier and easier all the time...continue on that road with the hopes that your behaving more like a confident adult will cause her to treat you more like a confident adult.

However, if it is NOT getting better....time to get a little more serious with her. Something like:

"look, mom, back in early August, I decided that something needed to change. I can't take the criticism anymore and am not interested in having a close relationship with someone who is constantly putting me down and bullying me. When you started being critical of my daughter, I knew it was time to put a stop to it. For the last three months, I have made a constant effort at redirecting and changing the subject, I have told you every single time you've disrespected me in conversation, that my parenting choices and my DDs wieght, etc are not up for discussion...and for three months, it hasn't even phased you. I'm beginning to see that there is nothing I'm going to be able to do, to help shift this behavior, this is obviously a change which needs to occur as a result of personal growth on your part and I sincerely hope that can happen soon.....because until such time that you can respect me as an adult and the mother of this child, I will have to insist that our visits be brief and for the sole purpose of allowing you ocassional access to your granddaughter. If you continue to struggle with showing me basic respect and/or continue to turn your criticisms toward my daughters body development, I'll have to cease all visits with you until you are an emotionally safe person for us to be around."

Don't back down on this, honey. I sensing an undercurrent of really manipulative behavior on your mothers part....crying to your father, your father getting on the phone with you and treating you like an 11 yar old?? I would have said "Oh, goodness, Pop, are you suffering some form of dementia? You must be, because I think you have me confused with my teenager self....I'm an adult now, remember? Anyway, gotta go, sorry mom is so upset, if she wants to talk with me about it, I'm around tomorrow! Bye!"

Seriously, you are a grown woman. You are someones WIFE and the MOTHER of a little girl....you don't need this in your life. It is toxic. You have enough you're trying to figure out with your husband right now (And to be quite honest, hearing this about your mother sheds a lot of light for me on some of the struggles you have had with your hubster) and you don't need to be navigating the added element of emotional sniping that your mother is bringing to your life...I get that it's hard for her to let go and see you parenting....but this is over the top.

Now she's doing it to your seven month old DD??? Ask yourself this question:

What is the likelihood that her critisizing your DD will stop...and what is the liklihood that it will grow and shift into something very similar to what you're deal with from your mom now??

I think the liklihood is that it will grow...that as your DD becomes bigger and more socially interactive, she too, will be sucked into this toxic way of relating and you really don't want that. Do it now, while your DD is a baby, so that you guys can put this toxic form of relating behind you and ride off into a supportive and loving future together....OR....so that you can decide NOW as opposed to LATER to cut your losses and get this toxic preson out of your life until she can shape up and start treating you like a grown woman.

GL...it's tough. I know.
post #16 of 55
I agree with those who said to just refuse to engage. The more you justify/defend/explain your parenting choices, the more she'll think they're up for debate, and she'll find little things to pick at with anything you say. But if you just completely refuse to engage ("Thanks, but we're fine." "Thanks, but we're happy with our decision." "Thanks, but that's private, could you please pass the bean dip?"), she'll have nothing to latch onto for an argument.

Also, it sounds like you spend a lot of time with her! Do you see her/talk to her daily? I'm not at all suggesting this as a way to punish her, but maybe it's time to build a more nuclear-family-oriented schedule and have grandparent visits on the weekends or something. One way to give someone the idea that they should be all involved in your business is to invite them over to your house every day, you know?
post #17 of 55
The weaning comment annoys me the most. At 7 months you're not weaning off the breast, you're weaning on to formula. Whats the point in that?
post #18 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post
I agree with those who said to just refuse to engage. The more you justify/defend/explain your parenting choices, the more she'll think they're up for debate, and she'll find little things to pick at with anything you say. But if you just completely refuse to engage ("Thanks, but we're fine." "Thanks, but we're happy with our decision." "Thanks, but that's private, could you please pass the bean dip?"), she'll have nothing to latch onto for an argument.

Also, it sounds like you spend a lot of time with her! Do you see her/talk to her daily? I'm not at all suggesting this as a way to punish her, but maybe it's time to build a more nuclear-family-oriented schedule and have grandparent visits on the weekends or something. One way to give someone the idea that they should be all involved in your business is to invite them over to your house every day, you know?

I don't exactly invite her over everyday... lol We rent their second house, so she has a key and she just shows up. Sometimes it's a big help to me and I'm able to eat dinner with both hands, or wash the pump parts and bottles to get ready for the next day...

But sometimes it's stifling... She actually had surgery last week and has been unable to visit, but I of course feel guilty if I don't visit often enough, and she calls whining that she misses the baby... I didn't go over there for two days this week and it was peaceful and DD and I were able to stick to our schedule.

I don't want to extract my Mom from my life... but I really really want to set up more healthy boundaries.

My DH just called me and apparantly he said something to my parents this morning when he dropped the baby off there. He told them I was really upset last night especially for how they attacked me and Mom said she could tell I was upset when I left...

He said they didn't say too much else... he still thinks it would be beneficial to all sit down this weekend and talk about it and how we both feel they are too intrusive in our lives, often.

I just know it's going to turn into an explosion of how I don't resepct them... But there has to be a line somewhere between respect and letting your "kids" live their own life, right? I'm almost 30 years old... my youngest sister is 23 and in grad school... They should have adapted to this whole empty nest syndrome, having adult children by now, right?
post #19 of 55
When you say she has a key and just shows up, do you mean she just walks into your house? Is that okay with you? Whether you rent from them or from someone else, they need to respect your home and boundaries. How does your DH feel about it?

You mentioned that sometimes her presence is helpful, and I'm sure it is, but sometimes in order to gain the autonomy we want, we have to give up some of the support we enjoyed, you know? Sometimes a period of not accepting any financial/babysitting/household help will show both you and her that you are fully capable of doing this on your own, but do enjoy her presence solidly in her grandmother role (which does not include providing input on parenting decisions).
post #20 of 55
: "help" isn't really helpful when there are these kinds of strings attached (mom being able to come into your home with a key whenever she wants, and feel she has input on your whole life including parenting).

I hope you're able to find some way to set up some stronger boundaries.
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