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Does your Mom agree w/ your parenting choices?

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm back again, seeking advice on communicating differing parenting styles with my mom - who is a lovely person in general, and absolutely *adores* and dotes on my 14 mo DD. THAT SAID... the first time I was on here was b/c my mom made my postal by announcing she had had our DD baptized the night she was born, when she knows full-well that DH and I are atheist and want DD to be able to decide when/where/if any sort of sacraments she will be receiving on her own.

Since then, I have fielded numerous-beyond-count questions, "suggestions" and just plain rude comments and instructions from both of my folks regarding our decisions in the areas of (not shockingly) extended b-f, co-sleeping, wearing the baby, what we feed her, etc. I'm really at a loss as to how much of this is "normal" with grandparents of a different generation - and I know in general that we have some pretty different philosophies... I don't want to feel angry or annoyed with my mom as often as I have this past year, but these are really personal issues and I don't understand how she can NOT see how far over the line she is at times (especially when she can vividly describe moments from when I was a baby and she felt her MIL or others stepped on her mama-toes).

Her latest issues are with my asking her to take her shoes off in our house, and to please not swear around DD. We just moved into a tiny little house, and with DD all over the floor it just seemed easier to ask everyone this favor (no one has complained but her). And plucky and hilarious as my mom is, she does swear like a sailor, constantly. I understand you cannot ask everyone around you to censor themselves - but my mom is the person who sees our daughter the most besides us... is that not a fair request? DD is mimicking *everything* we say and do right now, and it's just a matter of time before some foul word is part of her rep. It is going to be so un-funny to me when she starts f-bombing all over the place!!

I had a very direct conversation with my mom when DD was around 5 mo, which was really hard for me as I am generally extremely non-confrontational. My mom was shocked that I was having any sort of "issues" with the two of us - she said I am just too sensitive, isn't it lucky that she and my dad care so much, and that she would try to watch her comments. I feel like she did for a moment and now we're back to as it was before.

For the "regular" comments, I generally use the 'it's working for us' reply, or just don't respond at all, and of course have long ago stopped discussing any sleep issues. In many ways this is sad to me, especially b/c after DD was first born my mom was my main support system during the day, but after all the running commentary I stopped having her around b/c it was harder to take all of that extra baggage rather than managing a newborn on my own. And I understand the concept of agreeing to disagree - but if that is going to be the case, do I still have to constantly field all of the comments from her point of view all the time?

Sorry, this turned out to be really long. I would really welcome anyone's input/similar experiences. Maybe I am too sensitive? Or maybe I need a new "coping" mechanism? (I know it is very un-Dahli Lama to go into the same situation expecting a different result that you cannot control and continually end up feeling disappointed!)

Thanks for reading.
post #2 of 37
I'm lucky in that my mom's parenting style was pretty close to my own (she was pretty crunchy for the 1970s) thus her advice has been all mainly in line with my own opinions.

But there have been a few things were we disagree, particularly on dealing with a kid who takes picky eating to the far extreme. It's not even that she didn't have a child who took picky eating to the far extreme (my just-younger sister was JUST like my son is) but that she's kind of mentally revised her history on that. She says that she never, ever put conditions on eating for her kids (like, you need to eat a certain amount to have dessert, you need to eat a certain amount to leave the table) while I have pretty distinct memories of my sister being required to sit at the table until she'd eaten a certain amount of food. And like my son, it was because my sister's eating habits were impacting her health to a degree.

And when my mom expounds about how she didn't do and disagrees with what we're doing, I kind of nod and smile, and continue to do what we're doing.
post #3 of 37
Nope. But then again, I have since made it known to her that she was a less-than-stellar parenting example so now she keeps her comments and suggestions to herself.
post #4 of 37
My mom has passed. It's the reason I now have have a child. I never would have considered it while she was alive.

I would have had CPS or the police at more door every day. She most likely would have tried to get custody.

Don't get me wrong, I loved her, but it would have been a living hell to have a child with her anywhere within a million mile radius.

So, no, My mom would not have agreed with my parenting choices to the point that never having children was a definite option for me most of my adult life.
post #5 of 37
Much of my mother's approach to parenting is aligned with mine. When it is not, or we do things differently in our house and I ask her to change, she complies. (She stopped mocking my son's crying as soon as I pointed it out to her. She is better at taking her shoes off and wearing slippers in our house than we are, even though they wear shoes at their house. When I pointed out that her calling DS "little monkey" might appear to have racial implications, she stopped (even though he WAS being a monkey).

The very few things that continue are her very subtle comments about extended nursing, starting at 13 mos. ("You're getting big for sucky." "Oh, come on now, let grandma put you to bed. You don't need that (nursing) anymore.") I ignore the comments, as she is here only 2-3 times a year. I think she is probably critical - or at least questioning - our decisions to not vax (yet), but she also admits that vaccines and the schedule are different now than they were in the 70s-80s, and she hasn't researched it at all. (Having her read Evidence of Harm pretty much opened her nurse's eyes in a big way.)

All-in-all, I have to say she's been really respectful of our parenting and any deviations from how I was raised. I think that it is partly because we are older parents, and because DH is from a different culture. She may brush off differences - co-sleeping is one I hadn't even thought of until typing this - as cultural influences of DH's family/culture.
post #6 of 37
Originally Posted by cschick View Post
I'm lucky in that my mom's parenting style was pretty close to my own (she was pretty crunchy for the 1970s) thus her advice has been all mainly in line with my own opinions.

And when my mom expounds about how she didn't do and disagrees with what we're doing, I kind of nod and smile, and continue to do what we're doing
This is what I typically do. I rarely engage if I don't agree.

The only times I've "said" something is when my dad is acting like an a$$. I have told her that he can act like that in HIS house, with HER, but I won't have him setting that example in front of our son, in our house. We don't treat people like he does.
post #7 of 37
Don't know--never asked her. I've gotten so used to letting any of her passive aggressive comments pass through me without registering or paying attention that I genuinely don't remember any specific complaints (and to be fair to her, her complaints are about how horrible I am, not my parenting). I don't really care what her opinions of my parenting are either. I make plenty of mistakes, but she is not and never has been a "safe" person to talk about them with--luckily I have good friends and mentors for that.

How direct are you with your mom? If you have the relationship to do so, you can always tell her point blank that when she phrases things this or that way you feel attacked, and that you'd like her to respect and listen to your house rules (and you will do likewise when you are at her place). If you do not, I highly, HIGHLY suggest that you start cultivating the nod-smile-letitgo strategy, otherwise you're going to be circling around and down the negativity/indignation vortex and someone who doesn't even live in your house and has NO control over your parenting choices isn't worth that much of your energy and happiness.
post #8 of 37
For the most part she does. And there are some she doesn't necessarily understand but has no problem with. And then the one that I know she has a problem with she has kept her mouth shut about.

She agrees with not letting babies CIO. I saw her grab a cloth diaper from my diaper bag and show a whole group of women how cloth diapers are so advanced these days (it was a bumgenius). I don't think she has any problem with how we're doing solids.

The thing she does have a problem with is co-sleeping. She actually is probably getting to where she has less problems with it, though. She's not in the "omfg you'll never get that kid out of your bed!" camp. She's in the "you'll smother her!" camp. So now that DD is getting bigger I imagine she's getting less worried.

I do wonder if extended breastfeeding will be weird to her. I don't think she'll be UPSET by it at all, but I do wonder if she'll start making comments asking when I'm going to wean her and such.

So, basically, she agrees on a lot and what she doesn't agree on she mostly doesn't mention. But sometimes she lets slip some annoying opinion.
post #9 of 37
My mother and I don't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. I love her very much, but she's a very "traditional" mother of another generation. I'm not extreme, but I do b-f past 1 year, cloth diaper, try homeopathic or natural before drugs, try to practice more attachment parenting, and get involved in my children's schooling to the extent to set them up for success. My mother has always had the attitude of "my way or the highway," and she takes it very personally that I choose a different path. Unfortunately, when approached, this leads to hurling insults at me and my choices and a very negative situation, so I avoid that confrontation whenever possible...BUT I do make my lifestyle and expectations clear in my actions and words. There are some things I have just stopped discussing with her, and it's hard because if she opened her mind to listening to me as a person (not as her child who won't do what she says), then she would really be a good resource and confidante.

Anyway, no, you don't sound like you're being too sensitive. It's hard to be a parent - especially a parent against the grain. I try to keep the perspective that parenting and possibly the insecurities that come with it never end, and even when kids become adults, parents may feel judged about their parenting choices based on the choices their kids make. I just hope that I can raise my dc's well enough to be able to make kind, loving, choices in the best interest of their children and families.

As for approach, I don't know. Like I said, there are just certain subjects that I have made a conscious effort to avoid with her. It sounds like the "It works for us" approach is probably the best a person can do. You can't change her opinion. The everyday stuff, I model the bx I expect or make casual reference to things I hear or read ("You know what I read?! Did you know that there is arsenic, lead, and/or mercury in food dye!? I'm really glad we try not to laden dc's diets with processed and artificial foods! Imagine how that can build up in kids who eat that all the time. I can't imagine what ds's attention and senstivities would be like then."). If it's really important to us (like swearing or shoes), I set the rule again (kindly and with empathy - "Mom, she's going to start repeating that one of these days," or "I know it's a pain, but we're really trying to keep our floors clean for dd. Please leave your shoes by the door,"). Then, I brace for the looks or snipes and just state that it's important to us and for dc.
post #10 of 37
While I definitely have some different philosophies on parenting, she is pretty laid back about things I do that she does not agree with.

Breastfeeding - She will proudly tell you that she breastfed all SEVEN of her children during a time when none of the people she knew were breastfeeding. And she did. But, she supplemented with formula, and only nursed for the first 6 months or so. I think she found it a little perplexing when I nursed DS past the first year mark, but she didn't ever say anything. I clearly remember being 7-8 months pregnant with ds#1 and shopping at babies r us with my mom. I was purchasing a pump-in-style. She told me it was a big waste of money because there was NO WAY that I was going to be able to work and pump. Eighteen months later, when I was STILL pumping and ds was still nursing, she actually apologized to me for not believing in me.

Cloth Diapers - Honestly, she thought it was the most bizarre thing I could possibly do. However, once I started using them, she fell in love with them and now tells all of her friends how great the new "modern" cloth diapers are and how great it was that I used them. She's almost to the point of bashing disposables at this point.

Co-sleeping - considering that I remember often sharing a bed with my parents until I was 8-9, she doesn't much have a problem with this. She voiced her disagreement when I didnt' even put up a crib for ds#2, but she really didn't say much about it.

Babywearing - again, not something she did and I know she thought I was extreme about it, but she was supportive. I do remember her telling me that I couldn't hold ds#1 ALL the time and that I should put him down or he would never learn to sleep on his own. She didn't push it though.

At this point, we do sometimes disagree on how I discipline the boys (they are 6 and 8 now). She's right though. I DO sometimes yell too much (I'm a loud person by nature) and I have very high expectations of my boys. So, it's nice sometimes that she can temper that. And, she will absolutely call me on it, which DH will not do.

So, yes, I feel very blessed that my mother has been so supportive of my parenting (and I should say, my DH's parenting too). I have learned a lot from her and if I do half the job that she did, I think my kids will be ok.
post #11 of 37
oops, I sort of made the above post "all about me" and I did want to address the concerns in the OP.

I personally don't think it's appropriate or productive for someone to consistently make comments or criticisms about someone else's parenting (of course, barring abuse or something extreme). I would be extremely hurt if a family member did that. I absolutely think you have the right to expect your mother to follow certain rules in your house. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask her to remove her shoes or to refrain from cursing around your child.

However, it sounds like you have asked her to do these things and she refuses. So, I guess you have to weigh the good against the bad. Are these things worth the price of having a strained and distant relationship with your mother? And...maybe they are.

Either way, good luck.
post #12 of 37
Apparently, behind my back, I'm a good mom, but to my face, everything I do is wrong.
post #13 of 37
My mom is pretty laid back, and there are only a few of our parenting decisions that she has disagreed with. She's always voiced her concerns in a gentle way, and backed off when I disagreed.

Coincidentally, our decision not to baptise our children did make my mom cry cry. I felt bad that my decision had caused her so much grief, but knew it was not something I could do in good concience just to make her feel better. I do joke occasionally, though, that she probably performed an 'emergency' baptism in secret at some point. My mom would never, ever tell me if she had, though. And honestly, if she did and it gives her peace of mind to think that her beloved grandchildren are eligible for heaven, I wouldn't be horribly angry. While the ceremony does not have meaning for me and it would be hypocritical for me to opt for it, for her, it means her grandchildren are eligible for heaven if something should happen to them, and gives her great peace of mind.
post #14 of 37
I wish I could help, but from the moment we told my parents that I was expecting (a looooong time ago), my Mom has been my biggest supporter. She may not have agreed with how I handled some things, but she has always said that I have been a great Mom to my kids. Guess I'm blessed.
post #15 of 37
your mom doesn't have to agree with you, but she should respect you. My mom and I have minor disagreements which we both are trying to handle more respectfully.
post #16 of 37
Well my mom and I don't have the best relationship so I had no qualms about telling her she had her chance with her own kids, I'm the parent here.
post #17 of 37
She needs to realize that this is your time to parent, not hers, even if she doesn't agree with everything.

My mom is supportive of what we choose to do, for the most part. She's appalled that we don't circ and she made a few comments when I described ds2 getting so excited after work to nurse that it was time for him to stop. This was when he was probalby 8-9 months old. But mostly she keeps to herself if she doesn't agree with something.

My dad is the only one who commented on cosleeping. He said we'd never get them out of our bed. But I also remember climbing into my parent's bed many times growing up.

Now, mil, she makes her opinions known.
post #18 of 37
I'm sure there are things my mother and MIL disagree with, but they would not tell us. They know that all of our parenting choices are well educated decisions and while they might not agree, they don't say anything. They are actually very good about telling us what great parents we are. It's nice to hear it because there are a lot of days where I feel I failed my children in some way.
post #19 of 37
Does your Mom agree w/ your parenting choices?

I don't actually know. Maybe because I am an older momma, maybe because I am in another country, maybe because of personality... it's a non-issue. I am a mom to my kids. If my mom disagrees or agrees, she keeps it to herself, backs off and lets me do my job, and I think she can see the results are good, and she is smart enough to know that if the results are good, whatever I am doing must be OK because it is working. In fact, I often find her making efforts to be respectful, for example saying she was thinking about getting XYZ toy, would that be OK? And she, and my dad, often say what how great the kids are, which is a lovely compliment.

Also my personality is really "I'm going to do whatever I think is best. You want to offer an opinion, ok, but I am still going to do what I want, and if you don't like it, sorry, but that is really your issue." So I guess she knows there is no reason to argue with me, because I am my kids mom and I am going to do what I am going to do. On rare occasion she says things that are really off, and I get shocked, but don't really reply, and then keep on doing whatever I am doing. My dad is much more off, says whacked things all the time, but I roll my eyes (to myself) or just say hmm, ok, and go about my business, so it doesn't really bother me. I think he is totally nuts sometimes, and I am sure he things the same about me.

If I bring up something, and I can see weird or negative comments coming, then I change to another discussion and make a mental note to not discuss it again. I don't need the headache. And there is some things I have never brought up, like circumcision or delayed vax. Not sure why or why not. Not sure if they would agree or disagree, but it doesn't really matter, so I guess that is why these conversations have never come up.

I have to add that in my case, this was not so gradual. I was looking for their approval. So their comments bothered me more. Then something drastic happened, and I asked for their approval and to agree with me, which they didn't. I wanted them to change their mind, and they didn't. I was mad and upset. Then one day a huge lightning bolt hit me - it dawned on me that it would be very NICE to have their agreement / approval, but that really had nothing to do with the issues at hand. That I was my kids mom and I needed to decide on my own (or with DH) and be responsible and grow up, and stop asking for approval and take control and have trust and confidence in myself. I did. And suddenly the comments did not bother me any more. And I had a great inner peace. And I guess over time they realized their comments were grandparent comments, not comments of authority. I could always listen, but I was still going to do whatever I felt was best. It was a much healthier place, for me, for them, for everyone. Not sure if this helps you or not, but just thought I would share.
post #20 of 37
OP, I think this is less about your mother's different opinions about child-rearing and more about the fraying relationship between you.

In talking to her about it - and you're going to have to be very direct again, though this is hard for you - I think you should frame it as, you feel her constant questioning and disregarding your wishes is damaging the relationship between the two of you. That you feel sad about this. That you wish you could feel confident talking to your mother about parenting, but that her constant criticism is wearing you down and changing a relationship you value. Make it less about what she says, specifically, and more about the overall effect on the mother-daughter bond.

Perhaps it would work better to write her a letter with these thoughts. And I don't think it could hurt to start by saying, "Remember when your MIL did xyz and you really felt it undermined your parenting? It's hard for me to say this, but lately I've been feeling the way you must have, back then..." etc.
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