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Looking for the right words...

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
If this is the wrong forum, please move!!!

I am conflicted about a MIL situation.

My MIL loves DS, her first grandchild, dearly. And now that he's approaching two, she keeps pressuring for him to go to "Nonny Camp" at her house, 8 hours away. First of all, he's still BF and co-sleeps, so I'm not willing until he weans completely and sleeps on his own through the night. He's still a baby who needs his mama. And I would miss him!

But when she asked, I found myself SURPRISINGLY resistant. And I've given it a tremendous amount of thought to figure out why.

The only memories I hear from my MIL about my DH when he was a very young child are negative. When DS cries, or has a toddler moment, she says "OH! Now he looks just like his Daddy!", etc. Never a fond moment recalled. She's not the world's most affirming or affectionate mother, but what bothers me is that she ACTIVELY recalls the negative memories.

So, because of this I am PARANOID that all she'll remember from my son's childhood is negative memories. He's a wonderful, beautiful boy with a strong will and esteem. I love that about him.

So, here's my question.

In the spirit of disclosure, do I tell her why I'm resistant to him coming to stay with her as a very young child? Or do I just keep telling her, "when he sleeps through the night I think he's ready for time alone with you all".

I'm wont to go with the latter, but I don't know if she'll know I'm pushing off things for other reasons? I'm firmly standing by my decision that he won't stay alone with relatives unless he's truly weaned and STTN (I'm thinking 5 years old... haha), but what if I get to that point and I STILL don't think she'll remember anything but his strong will in a negative way?
post #2 of 24
Don't make promises you're not willing to keep.

Tell her that he's not ready yet, period. Don't tell her that he can do it when.

I really wouldn't get into the reasons why you're not comfortable with her. Really, nothing good can come of it. Have you discussed those reasons with your DH? What're his thoughts on the matter?
post #3 of 24
I wouldn't worry about what you will or won't do in the future. I would only concentrate on the present.

He is still nursing and still a baby and she is eight hours away. I wouldn't do it either. And I would simply reiterate that he is a baby still and not yet ready to be that far away from his Mom and Dad yet.
post #4 of 24
Just tell her your are not ready yet. Eight hours away? That's very far if he should fall and break his arm or something like that.
post #5 of 24
8 hrs away is really far. I don't think I would let my ds1 go that far away and he's 7.

Anyway, if you are feeling apprehensive then it is okay to honor that feeling. Instead of putting a definate time period on when you will allow him to sleep over I would instead say, "When he is older and ready to be away from home for that long we will talk about a visit to gmas".

When your los are 2 they are still babies. When ds1 was that age I couldn't imagine him EVER not sleeping right next to me, let alone spending the night 8 hrs away. As he's gotten older and more independent our relationship has grown from mom and baby to mom and preschooler to now mom and independent boy. I am following his cues and my protectiveness over him, while still fierce, allows him to have more independence.

As for the MIL situation, some people deal differently w/children. I also think that gparents can have way more fun and be more laid back w/their gchildren than w/their own kids. So it might help to examine if the issue you described is the only reason you feel apprehensive about letting your lo stay w/her or if there are others. If you feel like she would handle your ds in a way that you would be uncomfortable with, then that is enough of a reason to hold off on the overnight visits for a while.

I have noticed that as my ds1 has grown up he needs less direction from the gparents (as opposed to a toddler) and that he and my parents can just have fun. The gparents have also seen how we do things and follow our cues, so I feel comfortable that he is in good hands when he is spending the night w/gma and gpa (which only started when he was 6 1/2 BTW).

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
I think maybe it's something I need to get over... And perhaps I will by the time he's reached "readiness".

christeen - I think you're right about not making promises. "I don't think he's ready yet" is a totally value-free answer. Because he's not. And we'll go with that
post #7 of 24
Yes, I agree to stick with an answer that doesn't give any timelines or signs of readiness. Something like, "You know, I don't know when he and I will both be ready for a trip like that. Right now we're not ready -- if that ever changes I'll let you know."

How is she planning for him to get to her house? Would she fly/drive out and get him? Eight hours is very far for either you or her to have to travel for pick-up/drop-off!

My mom lives 8 hours away from us, and one way that she gets to have sleepovers with the kids without all the crazy travel logistics is that DH and I sometimes plan a night away when we all go visit her for a week, or plan a night away when she's visiting us for a week. It sounds like you might not be comfortable with your MIL babysitting at all, but if you are that could be an option that would work for everyone.
post #8 of 24
8 hours away is very far away. My grandparents were 3 hours away and I never visited alone without my parents. Some of our cousins visited us once they were teens though.

You could just say "he's too little" and "It's just too far away for my comfort". The second one could work until he's almost grown.
post #9 of 24
I came back to this to say that when my kids go to summer camp.. which they have since age 10... even that summer camp is not 8 hours drive away!
post #10 of 24
I'm with PPs... Don't make promises you may not want to keep, and 8 hours is FAR. I wasn't even allowed to go that far for college!!
post #11 of 24
When you do think he's ready for an overnight, I'd make it a family adventure with you and dh getting a hotel room near granny's house. Make it a proper "camp Grandma" experience and have some fun yourselves!
post #12 of 24
I'm with the - when you're ready group, and 8 hours away is very far! Just as an added thought since you've previously said "when he sleeps through the night" - my son is 21- he didn't sleep through the night, not even once- until he was 9- and then, it was one night!! He honestly hasn't slept through the night since.. so if it was my MIL - that excuse would still hold true today.
post #13 of 24
one thing i want to remind you is that no matter what your MIL 'says' she is different as a gma than she was as a mom. so i dont think you should worry about those negative sayings.

i do agree that 8 hours is a long time away.

however you need to come to a happy medium. i as a gma would be really upset if i have to wait till dgc is 5 years old till i get some alone time with them.

you will be surprised what children can put up with - when they are with people they love.

and i would definitely encourage a 'alone time' with gma.

for right now could you have them take him out for a walk. i recall my inlaws (both passed now). they really struggled if they didnt see dd at least once a week. however they lived 15 mins away but were too old to be left with dd. i didnt approve everything they did with dd. however i didnt say a word because they had a fabulous relationship and i didnt want to come between that. dd adored her gparents and didnt see anythign 'wrong' in what they said. in fact she listened to them better than she listened to me.

i also have friends who have left their kids with their parents overnight. because it wasnt just their parents but their child who wanted that too. of course they werent 8 hours away. the logistics of 8 hours is just a bit much. 8 hours driving back and forth.

i would say allow overnight when your son is ready for it. HOWEVER the key is when YOUR SON is ready for it. not when YOU are or your MIL is. the personality of each child is sooo different. at 3 my cosleeping, actively nursing dd was happy to go spend the night with daddy. we had to try a few times before she was able to stay. however with her cousins whom she adores she had no problem spending the night with them. are they saying they would come down, pick him up and then drop him off the next day? the first time i would do it myself and stay at a hotel to see how your son does whenever that is.

the grandparent grandchild relationship is sooo important for our children. i would do everything to encourage it as long as it was within reason.

it had a great impact on my dd. my next door neighbour whom dd had known since birth moved when dd was 2 and we never saw her again, but to date 5 years later my dd still remembers her. and what does she remember. all the spoiling gma did with her. that i allowed. like watered down pepsi at 18 months old.

the reason why i write this is because to make sure you dont come across differently is to not be feeling the tension. the moment you feel it your body says so, so even if you use the right words your MIL will feel something is up. so if you act from a place like not right now but someday ... no matter what you say the words will be right.
post #14 of 24
I can not imagine an age when I would be comfortable with my child staying somewhere 8 hours away without me. My children are 7,5,3,&1. There is no way and I mean NO WAY, I would do that. Not now and probably not ever.

To me, the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild does not have to include overnights at all especially when the gparents live hours away. Maybe the next time they visit you or you visit them, they could take ds for some ice cream or something to have "alone time".

Sorry but the whole idea just seems crazy to me. (Can you tell how strongly I feel about it?)
post #15 of 24
DS is only getting some overnight time w/ grandma because I'm having the girls in August. AND she only lives 3 miles away. Also, just because she gets a few overnights while I'm in the hospital does NOT mean she'll get them after we're home. Our hospital is 45 minutes away and if DH stays the whole time then we don't have to pay to park. If he comes home each night then we'll have to pay each days parking (reduced rate but still more than we can afford)

My rules are this... if I can't get to him in 15 minutes or less if he freaks in the middle of the night then no, there are no overnights (my family is all an hour to an hour and a half away) If I'm not ready there are no overnights, if he's not ready (my decision) there are no overnights! I can still remember my little brother freaking out around 6 years old because we were at my grandparents overnight and them waiting over an hour to decide he wasn't going to stop and finally call my parents. I had been sleeping over since I was very young and it didn't phase me... it bothered him a lot! I will not let anyone else decide how much screaming my children will do before calling me! I also don't really see a reason for overnights just because... My IL's are more than welcome to have all the DS time they want, during daylight hours! Even when we go out (RARE! LOL) we pick him up before coming home. Once it was 2am, DS can be moved while sleeping tho. If the girls can't then they won't be put into that position.
post #16 of 24
You don't have to tell her anything other than "NO" - giving reasons just makes people think they can reason with you, argue with you, or change your mind. This is your child and if you're not comfortable with someone taking him eight hours away (even if the reason is "I just don't want to") that's FINE and justified.
post #17 of 24
Originally Posted by pauletoy View Post
My children are 7,5,3,&1. There is no way and I mean NO WAY, I would do that. Not now and probably not ever.
wow!!! REALLY?!!!! not even your 7 year old. if i did that to my 7 year old she would be SOOOOOOOO UPSET!!!!!

she is looking forward to the weekend/possibly a week at her cousins house this summer. without me. 12 hours drive away. mind you she is still nursing (though rarely) AND cosleeping.


i am curious. the reason why i ask is because i am a single mom. so would 8 hours away with the other parent be ok?
post #18 of 24
For eight hours away (or 12!), I'd say the child needs to be old enough to agree, to want it, and to know that there's no backing out once she's there. And that's going to vary from kid to kid.

Dd1 hasn't had a solo "sleep-over" yet, with friends or family. She thinks it's a cool idea, but is pretty clear that she imagines all of us (or sometimes just me) with her.

I have a strong memory from childhood of a sort of impromptu overnight at my grandmother's...except that I didn't follow through. When my mom came to get us (she'd dropped us off for the day), my sister stayed and I went home. I was probably 6; we lived about 15 miles apart. Later--by the time I was a pre-teen--staying overnight was something we did sort of regularly, singly or together, but because we wanted the experience.

Definite advantages to living close to extended family. We don't have that now.
post #19 of 24
Originally Posted by meemee View Post
wow!!! REALLY?!!!! not even your 7 year old. if i did that to my 7 year old she would be SOOOOOOOO UPSET!!!!!

she is looking forward to the weekend/possibly a week at her cousins house this summer. without me. 12 hours drive away. mind you she is still nursing (though rarely) AND cosleeping.


i am curious. the reason why i ask is because i am a single mom. so would 8 hours away with the other parent be ok?

Well, if it was to stay with the child's father, then of course they would go. But staying with their father is completely different than a grandparent. As far as visiting a grandparent, I wouldn't be comfortable with an extended stay hours away until they were much much older, if ever. None of my children have ever spent the night with their grandparents who live less than 30 minutes away. I just do not think overnights with grandparents are necessary, especially at a young age. To be honest, I don't think it would ever occur to any of our children to ask to spend the night with the grandparents. My 7 yo has been to 2 sleep overs, she was very emotional when I picked her up both times so she is obviously not ready for anything more. None of the other children have ever stayed away from home.

We are a 2 parent household but I might feel differently if I was a single mother.
post #20 of 24
Due to extenuating circumstances, my DD spent her first overnight with my in-laws (they're the good grandparents in our family) at just over 2. She was still waking up every 2 hours at home and nursing all night long. But we'd had a traumatic pregnancy loss and my DD was still waking up at least every 2 hours so we desperately needed a break of some sort.

Well... She woke up once at 4am and went right back to sleep. She had a blast.

I thought it was going to be a disaster. But I needed to take a chance. So we tried it.

Would I have let her go 8 hours away? No! Not at that age. But, she's done a sleep over once a month or so since then. She's always STTN at their house (even though she still wakes a couple times a night at 3.5yo at home). She's never had a problem.

A month ago we let her go on a 3 day 2 night road trip with them, and that went really well. They're asking about maybe a week long trip next summer when she's 4.5yo.

What would bother me about your MIL's "plan" is that there's no build up. That would be really hard for a little kid. I wouldn't go for that.

But, I don't think it's necessary to wait until the kid is fully weaned and STTN. By 2+ they are smart enough to know that if mom's not around they can't nurse and have other coping strategies. BUT, it's really important to have them know the person really well.
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