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Inlaws making comparisons to manipulate behavior/eating

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello.  I'm not sure this topic belongs here but it was the closest I could get. 


My 2.5 year old daughter is still breastfeeding.  I have a 9 month old as well, breastfed too.  Firstly, my in laws are very critical of my decision to tandem-feed our daughters and have been telling me since DD1 was 6 months old that I need to wean her.  That as a background...  my 2.5 year old is kind of picky with her eating and is made worse when made to feel pressure.  We eat dinner every week at my in laws and every single dinner is a huge ordeal, her grandmother literally forcing her to eat and chastising her for not eating.  She is not mean, per say.  She more begs my daughter to eat and whines and makes a huge deal when she feels my daughter is not eating.  Grandmother has also started making comparisons with my daughters, "See baby is eating very well.  She loves vegetables..."  And then she goes on about how beautiful the baby is and how she's growing and is plump and blah blah blah.  .  My mother-in-law has also made many comments about how the baby crawled earlier, walked earlier and she whispers that the baby is prettier/smarter...  It makes me absolutely sick.  I don't think my oldest daughter has heard the comments about prettier/smarter....  I worry she can sense it though and I'm getting very concerned about the open campaign my mother in law has at the dinner table to manipulate my oldest daughter into doing what she wants her to do.  Tonight I  demanded that my husband say something to his mother when the comparison comments began.  It was a very uncomfortable confrontation with his mother saying, "They are your children!"  But still pretty much saying that she doesn't agree with what we are doing and she will do what she wants.    He has in the past asked his parents to not make comparisons because we are worried about increased aggression from the toddler to the baby.  Tonight my husband did speak up. But then it took me standing up too and it was very uncomfortable.  From what I understand, it is not appropriate for a daughter in law to confront the mother-in-law.  I just couldn't take another minute of it.  I have had to deal with her constand disapproval on every single issue (vaccines, when to start foods, not having my daughter in pre-school yet...)  Tonight, my mother in law said that competition is good and what am I going to do when they go to school.  I didn't want to tell her that I'm seriously thinking of not sending them to school but that's another story.   She's gonna flip out when she finds out I want to home school the girls. 


I'm just really concerned about the competition my in-laws seem to be trying to encourage between my daughters and the fact that they think it is healthy to do this.  I don't understand that way of thinking. I think competition between siblings is a difficult but natural fact of life and that we don't need to encourage more of it because we will have (already do have!) enough.


I'm wondering what others would do if faced with this kind of situation.  I do not leave my mother in law with both of my daughters alone.  My oldest daughter goes to her house alone for a couple hours a week.  I'm concerned about what grandmother is saying to my daughter when I'm not there.  I'm also concerned because my  mother in law may be taking care of both of my daughters if I return to work in the fall.  It makes me almost sick to think of it because I feel I have to be there to protect them from what I consider to be foolish old fashioned manipulation tactics.  I know my mother-in-law loves my daughters and I want her to have a relationship with them but this is becoming a serious issue and it is causing me problems with my husband and with the whole family of in laws.  My father in law and my sister in law take the grandmother's side on everything and are constantly going against me on every issue... I just can't take it anymore.  What would you do if you were in my situation?  I do want to keep a good relationship with my mother-in-law.  Cutting ties is not an option but the welfare and well-being of my daughters is at stake. I feel I must do something. 


Thanks in advance for your advice!

post #2 of 10

i'd still let dd visit but as far as spending oodles of time alone and her babysitting my kids while i worked. heck no. i dated a guy and his parents did this type of thing his whole life (favoritism/competition) between the brothers and they seriously were messed up from it. as for all the other issues, you/dh and MIL need to get some boundaries put in place.

post #3 of 10

Oh how lucky I am to not have to deal with this. My inlaws live too far away and are not very "active" in our family and my family either agrees with me on almost everything or respects my decisions when it comes to my child. I give you credit for your restraint, as I would not be able to tolerate one bit of your MIL's nonsense when it came to comparing the two children and pressing her own "ways" on you and the kids. My mother lives about 2 hours away, so once a month we make plans for my daughter (17 mos. old) to stay at her house for 3-4 days and I always make sure that we are on the same page with everything as to not upset what my daughter is used to 99% of the time when she is at home - and that includes everything from meals, bathing and sleeping to activities and discipline. But again, this only works because my Mother respects "my way" and does not feel the need to strong arm me with any of her own personal opinions or beliefs (not that they differ much from mine anyway. Just you mentioning that a grandmother would say that one child was sweeter or prettier than another makes me sick....and they aren't even my kids. Now, I know that people do this...usually behind the parent's backs though, so your MIL must have a real set of stones to say these things to you! It sounds to me like you have an "Alpha Mare" for a MIL - and most of us become alpha mares as well once we start our own families and have our own kids - and it has been my experience that there are only 2 ways it can go when you put two alpha mares in one room....1.) A battle to determine who is the supreme alpha mare or 2.) MUTUAL RESPECT between one another.


Now a "battle to the death" is not something that I would suggest between two women who are going to have to live with one another for years and years, so I suggest that you go for door # 2 and try first to see where your MIL is coming from. Talk to your DH as he is sure to have more insight into this since it is HIS mother. Then make a point to confront her....and by confront I do not mean in front of everyone at the dinner table or jacking her up against a wall haha....maybe when you drop your daughter off for her weekly visit and no one else is around you could sit down and put it all out on the table with this woman. It is so important that you do not get mad or upset - no crying, no yelling, no hysterical ranting or anything like that. Just calmly and FIRMLY explain to dear old MIL how you feel about the things she does and says....and take the time to explain to her why you choose to do the things you do with your kids, maybe by educating her a little, she will be able to accept and embrace your ways. It's a delicate thing because you will want to be strong and straightforward without getting over emotional or appearing weak or coming off as a witch - a good trick is to throw in some comic relief after stating a serious point. Get her to laugh and open up the communication....it's worth a shot!


Unless you make some big strides in your relationship with her and get her into "your groove" as it concerns the upbringing of your child....I would hold off on handing them over to her in a full time daycare environment....but you have some time to work on that. I always feel that it's better to have children cared for by close family instead of "strangers." So if returning to work is something that you are thinking about, it's worth a try to meet in the middle with Mrs. MIL and try to end the nonsense now while the kids are still young.

post #4 of 10

Why do some IL relationships have to be tricky lol?  I would first sit down with DH and see exactly where he stands and how he would like to approach the subject with his parents.  If you do go back to work I would definitely not send the girls there although i'm sure that will open up another touchy subject.  My kids are not that little anymore but my MIL has said some things to the kids about me that dh and I don't like so I will not leave her alone with them if I can help it.

post #5 of 10

"I'm sorry we can't come to dinner at your house, we need to keep DD1 away from negative attitudes about eating until she's out of this phase. Since you love her and want her to eat well, I know you'll have no problems not seeing us at mealtimes for a few months."


And then invite her to do something with you that can be on your terms. Like to a library story time.

post #6 of 10

I agree with a pp... She is very much an Alpha female. You and DH need to set ground rules now or this will only continue and get worse as the years pass. She needs to be reminded that she is the grandmother, these are your kids and if you need advice on how to raise them you'll ask her.


I would be worried as well with oldest dd being with her and mostly because your own motherly (red flag) intuition is kicking in.


I fortunately do not have this problem with my in-laws, but more so with my own family. It's very difficult because I know they mean well but they just don't have respect for DH and I.

post #7 of 10

Reminds me of the relationship between the mother and mother-in-law on Everybody Loves Raymond!

post #8 of 10

Before doing anything else, I would sit down with DH, and talk to him about it so that you are both on the same page about what you are going to do the next time MIL starts making comments comparing the girls.  Then make a plan, and follow through.  Just like with our kiddos, when we need to set and enforce boundaries it sometimes takes repeated attempts, but eventually things start to go the right way.

post #9 of 10
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

"I'm sorry we can't come to dinner at your house, we need to keep DD1 away from negative attitudes about eating until she's out of this phase. Since you love her and want her to eat well, I know you'll have no problems not seeing us at mealtimes for a few months."


And then invite her to do something with you that can be on your terms. Like to a library story time.

This. And also find another childcare option should you end up returning to work.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Many thanks to everyone who posted a reply.  You gave me wonderful things to consider and made me laugh.  I needed that.  Thanks so much from the bottom of my heart!

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