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my judgement of mainstream parenting, codependency, and my SILs who are doing it

post #1 of 70
Thread Starter 

I need to find some peace about how my SILs are raising their babies. 

 

They are doing the opposite of everything I believe in.  Even DH who is more understanding and less passionate about infant care says that his sisters are too "lazy" to do what is best for their babies. 

 

Life is still all about them.  They are un-attatched and want to be apart from their kids.  ILs help them too much because they "need" it.  I believe SIL1 is codependent with them.  SIL2 could handle it on her own if she had too, but the dynamic of ILs offering alot and her taking advantage of it is still there.  I think that adds to the problem of life still being all about them and not their babies.  I feel sad for the SIL/DN relationship, angry at SILs for not doing what I think is right, and kind of misunderstood because our situations, emotions and beliefs are so different. 

 

I can give examples of attitudes and situations if you think it would help to give advice.  I've purposely left it out because it's not the point.  They aren't doing anything illegal.  In fact, their actions are actually the majority.  It doens't affect me beyond seeing and hearing about it. 

 

What I'm really looking for is how I can feel better about this.  Right now I can't respect SILs as mothers.  I don't want to be around them or their babies.  I don't like hearing MIL (who I actually really like and respect) talk about how hard SILs have it when, actually, it seems to me as if they got off incredibly easy. 

 

I grew up if a family that was critical and judgemental.  I don't want to pass this on to my kids.  I don't want to waste my time and energy stewing about something I can't solve.  So how do I change these thought patterns?

 

I think this is a little off-topic, but I'd also like some reassurance that being connected with my kids now doesn't mean they'll be codependent.  I know that's the opposite of what AP is supposed to accomplish.  I guess the biggest similarity that I see is that AP believes children will (sleep all night, potty train, learn to read.....) when they are ready.  It seems like ILs are still thinking SIL will (pay her own bills, take care of her baby...) when she's ready.

post #2 of 70

Just have a minute while my child is sleeping, but DH and I had an interesting related talk last night.

 

Our neighbors are the opposite of us in many, many aspects of parenting.  The mom thinks EBF is crazy, that I waited way too long for solids (6.5 months), that babywearing delayed our child's walking (12 months), co-sleeping is why our son doesn't STTN, that our toddler's missing out because we don't have a t.v., and that denying him refined sugar treats is "silly."  Those are the examples that come to mind right off.

 

That said, and in knowing she did the opposite of each of the above items, her two children are absolutely wonderful...kind, smart at whips, sweet, totally unpretentious, and a total joy to be around.

 

My point is this:  she judges how I raise my children.  I don't judge how she raises hers because it just doesn't matter.  My guess is that part of the reason you so object to your SIL's parenting (as I do to my SIL's, by the way) is because you might have some negative personal feelings towards her that are unrelated to her parenting. 

 

I have struggled mightily with my negativity towards my SIL and really worked on where it all comes from.  I commend you for trying to look deeper into where your feelings are coming from, how you can improve your state of mind about it all, and realizing this is a personal growth issue.

 

I can't change my SIL's parenting any more than she can change mine.  We both think we are doing what's right.

 

I will be interested to see what other moms think.  This is a big issue with me, too.

post #3 of 70
I don't have a lot of advice for you, but I can understand to an extent. My SIL has a very different parenting style and it can really bother me (haunt me) if I think about it very much. I've had to do a lot of work in the last year or so to learn to let it go.. There was a point this year when I had the realization that anything I said about parenting, even though she was straight out asking my opinion, was brushed off. She ended up being resentful that if she asked my opinion, I actually gave it instead of just supporting all of her own ideas. What a recipe for causing arguments and judgment!

Really, it was about accepting that there is nothing I can do about it. I had to tell myself "there is nothing I can do at this point to help them, let it go." And force myself into doing something or thinking about something else, so I wouldn't be worried about it. This is just what worked for me. I also stopped seeing her as much, and kept my distance. These things really did help me feel less judgmental and more neutral about the whole thing. Now when I hear or see things she does with the kids that I completely disagree with, I can brush it off with "she's just doing things differently than me, I can't do anything about it. Let it go." I hope that you find something that works for you, too.

As for codependency, I am not too worried about that. AP means being attached emotionally. Codependency (in a nutshell) is not learning emotional boundaries. Those are very different. I think AP incorporates the idea of respecting people's boundaries, and teaching children yours and also their own. If you have that and also teach good communication skills to the kids, I think they will be fine. smile.gif
post #4 of 70

I also grew up in a family that was critical and judgmental, and I've also struggled to break those patterns in my own life.  I find them really ugly attitudes, and yet I fall into them so easily. hide.gif

 

When parenting a baby, it was especially difficult. I think partly because I do believe that raising our children is the most important thing we will ever do. I think also because the hormones of breastfeeding just put our brain in a different place. So my first thought is to cut yourself a little slack, don't see yourself as a "judgmental person" because issues of how to care for an infant really push your buttons right now. As my kids have gotten older (and eventually weaned!) I have less strong feelings about these things.

 

Is there a way for you to spend less time around you SILs, or to steer conversations with your MIL to other topics? I know that can be tough this time of year, but it seems like if you could give less attention to the situation, you might feel better.

 

<<<I'd also like some reassurance that being connected with my kids now doesn't mean they'll be codependent.  I know that's the opposite of what AP is supposed to accomplish.  I guess the biggest similarity that I see is that AP believes children will (sleep all night, potty train, learn to read.....) when they are ready. >>>

 

I don't really see it this way -- I think that being responsive to our kids is the right thing to do, regardless of outcomes. I don't see APing as right because of what it produces. My kids are teens now, and there have been moments when it looked like my parenting had "worked" and times when it looked like my parenting had "failed."  Kids, all kids, go through some rough stuff while they are growing up. Being 12 ain't easy for anybody, no longer how long they BF and co-slept! orngbiggrin.gif

 

My kids needed scaffolding and encouragement to learn things, they needed direct instruction to learn to read. None of this stuff magically happened at our house "when they were ready," though I do think it was all a lot easier by waiting until they were ready to usher them into the next phase. There have been times my kids needed me to believe in them more than they needed me to do things for them. Sometimes, a child needs us to see their strengths, and to stand back while they find that strength. And one can still do that and be an AP, but its part of the kid phase, not the baby phase.

 

I think right now you are in danger of needing your kids to *prove* that your parenting style works, and that just too much pressure for a child. The more you are able to pivot to responding to your kids from your heart, letting go of outcomes, the greater you will be freed from these fears. I think it could also lessen the intense feelings about your inlaws, because it might help you let go of the need to be right, and rather know that you are simply following your heart, and that's it OK for other people to do things differently.

 

Peace

 

post #5 of 70

When our children are babies, these differences in parenting can feel like huge issues. I guarantee that in 10 years, you won't care about how long a baby was nursed, or how much they were held, because you will see that it makes no difference to the big picture.

post #6 of 70

I actually stay away from my cousins and their kids because of how different their parenting is.  They spank and are yellers.  My kids are not used to that and it actually upsets them.  I drove to visit family this past weekend and my girls refused to stay the night.  A lot had to do with my Aunt yelling about everything with her grandbabies.  My cousin got on her oldest about something and DD1 stepped in and pleaded for her to stop because she thought her cousins feelings were being hurt.  When in reality he was used to it.  After that both girls were standing by the door with their shoes on ready to go.  I seriously didn't know what to do, they were so uncomfortable that they didn't care about the 3 hour drive they were not staying! 

 

I don't tell my family how to raise their kids.  I raised my kids one way they raised theirs another.  My kids don't like to be around the yelling and in my opinion the disrespect and shaming.  And because of that, I stay away.  And when I'm asked, because I was called 3 times on our way home.  I tell them my kids are not comfortable.  I was told that I let my kids dictate what I do.  Maybe, or maybe I raised them to know treating kids like Shit is uncalled for.  And they did what I wanted to do, so maybe I raised them to have a stronger backbone than I do.  I can tell you that I wanted to leave too, I just didn't know how to go about it.

post #7 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by llwr View Post

 ILs help them too much because they "need" it.  I believe SIL1 is codependent with them.  SIL2 could handle it on her own if she had too, but the dynamic of ILs offering alot and her taking advantage of it is still there.  I think that adds to the problem of life still being all about them and not their babies.  I feel sad for the SIL/DN relationship, angry at SILs for not doing what I think is right, and kind of misunderstood because our situations, emotions and beliefs are so different. 

Honestly, I think that when the babies are young, parents should accept all the help they can get. Parenting is hard work, and there is no shame in utilizing the help of friends and family - it's better than making a resentful martyr of yourself.

 

Probably your SIL COULD handle it on her own, but there is no reason with loving family willing to help that she SHOULD do it all on her own.

post #8 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by caedenmomma View Post

 

My point is this:  she judges how I raise my children.  I don't judge how she raises hers because it just doesn't matter.  My guess is that part of the reason you so object to your SIL's parenting (as I do to my SIL's, by the way) is because you might have some negative personal feelings towards her that are unrelated to her parenting. 

 


I agree with the above.  Also, what would your feelings toward your SIL be if she was actually practicing AP but still getting help (or in your words, co-dependent)?  Erase the parenting part, are there still negative feelings?  

 

post #9 of 70


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post

Honestly, I think that when the babies are young, parents should accept all the help they can get. Parenting is hard work, and there is no shame in utilizing the help of friends and family - it's better than making a resentful martyr of yourself.
 

 

 

I don't know the OPer, but I can't help but wonder if the two are closely related. BFing, for example, is the APing ideal, and a new mom practing APing is going to do be doing most of the feedings herself. A non-AP mom can much more easily leave the baby for hours and hours with someone else because any one can give a bottle.

 

So while I agree that new parents can accept all the help they can get, APing limits how much help is possible. If you are BFing on demand, breaks and sleep are just a different deal than if you are bottle feeding on a schedule.

 

A new mom getting help and support so she can care for her baby and care for herself is one thing, a new mom being frequently relieved of parenting responsibilities so she can go on with her life as before feels different, and kinda icky. And when the mom has made parenting choices based on how easily she can escape from her baby rather than what is best for her baby, it's easy to be critical.

 

post #10 of 70

Very easy to be critical of that situation.  I have a hard time with my friends that don't bf.  I don't get it.  Is there so much more out there to do that you can't give the best to your baby?  Of course there are circumstances that limit ones ability but there are so many who like the freedom of not doing it and don't.  That's very bothersome to me. 

post #11 of 70

As long as they are not harming those kids, there really is nothing wrong with what they are doing. Every woman and family is different and different parenting styles then yours do not make bad parents.

post #12 of 70


correct... but it can still get under your skin!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauren31 View Post

As long as they are not harming those kids, there really is nothing wrong with what they are doing. Every woman and family is different and different parenting styles then yours do not make bad parents.



 

post #13 of 70


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


 

 

 

I don't know the OPer, but I can't help but wonder if the two are closely related. BFing, for example, is the APing ideal, and a new mom practing APing is going to do be doing most of the feedings herself. A non-AP mom can much more easily leave the baby for hours and hours with someone else because any one can give a bottle.

 

So while I agree that new parents can accept all the help they can get, APing limits how much help is possible. If you are BFing on demand, breaks and sleep are just a different deal than if you are bottle feeding on a schedule.

 

A new mom getting help and support so she can care for her baby and care for herself is one thing, a new mom being frequently relieved of parenting responsibilities so she can go on with her life as before feels different, and kinda icky. And when the mom has made parenting choices based on how easily she can escape from her baby rather than what is best for her baby, it's easy to be critical.

 



Icky?

 

First, I think you and the OP are making a lot of assumptions about why the MIL is helping.  None of us know it is because the SIL's want to pretend nothing has changed and get on with their lives as they were before kids.  Maybe they had more complications recovering from the births.  Maybe there's some PPD.  Maybe their babies are extra needy or colicky.  Maybe MIL just absolutely loves being with her grandchildren.  Who knows.

 

Personally I think the  more people around to love a child and support mom AND baby the better.  Isolating a new mom and having her try to do it all alone is a new thing, and doesn't always work out for the best.


Knowing when to ask for help and being brave enough to admit you can't do it all alone is a commendable act.  Lots of moms are afraid to do that and they, and their babies, suffer for it.

 

OP, why not reach out to your SIL's?  Sounds like you all have babies relatively the same age?  Getting together to share the joys (and frustrations!) of being new parents can be a very good thing.  Instead of withdrawing why not try to get to know them more and support each other?  Surely no one would call that icky.

post #14 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post

When our children are babies, these differences in parenting can feel like huge issues. I guarantee that in 10 years, you won't care about how long a baby was nursed, or how much they were held, because you will see that it makes no difference to the big picture.

 

 

 

Absolutely.   As you've acknowledged, what they are doing is not illegal or damaging to their babies, at least not beyond what harm you think will come to children whose parents don't conform perfectly to the AP lifestyle.  You say you come from a judgmental, critical family and you don't want to pass that on to your kids, but don't you see that's exactly what you will do if you continue to be so judgmental about your SIL's?  Who are you to say that they are lazy and un-attached from their children?  How much do you know about their relationships with their babies?  If you can't even stand to be around them because you disapprove so strongly of their parenting styles, then how much do you really know about what's going on in their lives and their households?  Maybe they are truly overwhelmed with motherhood and they NEED that help that your ILs are offering.  And if they do, then who are you to judge them for it?  It truly makes me sad that so many mothers are so quick to judge other moms who make different parenting choices, especially when they may not even fully understand that mother's situation.

 

I know my comments are harsh, but if you truly want to come to peace with your SILs then you need to stop judging them and trust that they are doing what they feel is best for themselves and their own babies.  Period.

post #15 of 70

They're not your kids.  Stop worrying about it.  You'd probably be pissed if you found out your SIL was judging you when you were doing what you thought was the best you could.

post #16 of 70

I'll be blunt, (which I think is what you're kinda asking for.) You really need to realize that the things you believe and the things you do aren't automatically the RIGHT things just because they're what YOU think or do. You know? Remind yourself that having that point of view is nothing less than TOTAL EGOISM. You may know what's best for your kids and for you, but there's no way that you know what's best for everyone else. Not everyone is like you.

 

Now, some parents feel that their children developing strong attachments to grandma/extended family/etc. is very, very important to each child's emotional and mental development. Many other entire CULTURES believe in this, strongly. Also, think about this: a crucial but often overlooked (on MDC anyhow) tenant of Attachment Parenting is that the parents should strive to balance the needs of the child with the needs of the parent. A statement which assumes that, yes, parents have needs, too. And if one of those needs is to have a little breathing space on their own? So be it. Some people are like that. I'm like that. My husband isn't. He could be attached at the hip to me and DD all day long in a one-room shack and be happy. I would go insane. We are different people....different temperaments....different needs. 

 

And if these moms are able to meet that need for themselves while ALSO giving their child some quality time with grandma or grandpa? Well that's awesome! Win-win, right?

 

post #17 of 70


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristyMarie View Post


Icky?


yes -- icky. I don't know the OP or her exact situation, but when I was BFing, I couldn't stand being around moms that spent little to no time with their babies and acted like their babies were a PITA. To me, it was icky. It still makes me kinda sad for what the mother and baby are missing, but I'm not as sensitive about it, partly because *I'm* in a different phase of life. Sometimes, it's not that more people are around to love the baby, it's that who is giving it a bottle and then leaving it cry keeps switching.

 

(it's not exactly about BFing, for me. I know that BFing doesn't always work out. It's about the attitude, the desire for connection vs the desire for separateness)

 

The OPer didn't go into detail, so I assume that the things that are pushing her buttons are pretty valid. I'm wondering if the responses would be different if she had gone into detail and everyone agreed that the parenting she is witnessing isn't even close to ideal.

 

I don't see the point in beating her up for being critical. She already knows that it isn't helpful to her, what she doesn't know is how to pivot from it.

 

I have family members that I cannot discuss parenting with -- ever. Because we have such completely different priorities and values that there isn't any common ground. There's no point in me having a conversation with some one who believes god commands us to spank, for example.

 

So, I just try to let it go. I remind myself of what I can change and what I can't. I remind myself that even though my parents screwed up everything, I still turned out OK, so some child I see having a less than ideal experience can still turn out how they want to. Everybody is on a path and learning lessons, even the other mommies. I think that most people really are doing the best they can with what they understand right now, but it isn't all equal. And sometimes when we see someone close to us failing to understand certain things that we do, it's hard to notice that difference and feel OK with it.

 

How babies and children are treated matters. When those of us who have nieces and nephews who are treated poorly see it, having peace about it can be quite difficult. And if you don't understand that, then you are fortunate. 

post #18 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauren31 View Post

As long as they are not harming those kids, there really is nothing wrong with what they are doing. Every woman and family is different and different parenting styles then yours do not make bad parents.


"Harm" is objective though.  Some parents believe that spanking, circumcision, CIO, etc. are not harmful, but that's obviously not the view of MDC.  Some parents believe that vaccinating is harmful and others believe not vaccinating is.  Even on the same forum.  It's not about bad parenting, but sometimes it is about choices that we feel are harmful.  I've seen moms on MDC say that they can't be friends with someone who circumcised their son.  I really don't believe that any mother is completely non-judgmental, no matter how much they think they are or want to be.

 

Judgment is just part of being human and having opinions.  

 

post #19 of 70

I see this from another angle- how wonderful is it that OP's nieces and nephews have such a close relationship with their grandparents!  That is truly a gift for those kids.  Having other loving adults in their life will benefit them in so many ways. If I was the OP I would be looking for ways to to encourage the same for her own kids.

 

My parents were both gone by the time my son was eight. I treasure every memory from that time! I wish I could have taken more advantage of mom when she was alive.  My son adored them but was too nervous about leaving him (all that AP guilt can really get you), If I could go back in time and do some things differently this is truly one of them. 

 

 

post #20 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bokonon View Post

 

Judgment is just part of being human and having opinions.  

 



The OP seems to have taken judgement to the extreme though. She doesn't even want to be around her SIL b/c of this.  To me it sounds like the OP is bitter b/c she's not "getting off easy" like her SIL is.  

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