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Grandma is undermining our parenting - Page 2

post #21 of 42

I think the most important thing is for you and your wife to be on the same page.  If she's used to her mom being overbearing and getting her own way, it is very possible that she is agreeing with you to get along as well, and is ambiguous or not sure of her own feelings on this one.  You guys need to come up with boundaries you agree on, and a plan you can both get behind - and then a way to implement it. 

post #22 of 42

G-ma is acting like a third parent.  The reason she thinks it's ok to act that way is because you have taught her that it is, in fact, ok to act that way.  It's time for a serious "come to Jesus" talk. 

post #23 of 42
Thread Starter 

Update: I told my MIL that she cannot administer any medication to our son. She was not at all pleased about this. She ruminated about it for a day and then announced angrily that it is a matter of trust - either we trust her or we do not. We both then reiterated that she is not to administer medication. She never conceded anything. But the message from us was not ambiguous. 

post #24 of 42

I'm having trouble writing a coherent response, OP. This topic hits all kinds of buttons for me.

 

As succinctly as possible...my grandmother was very similar to your MIL. My mom recognized that her mom was what would now be called "toxic" (I'm 43, and people didn't use the term during my childhood in the 70s), but didn't really understand how damaging it could be. My grandmother also had serious health issues, as did my grandfather, and my mom got sucked into being a "dutiful daughter" and primary caregiver to her parents. Grandma also tried to buy our love, and was also incredibly manipulative. She sometimes guilted us into eating junk food that we didn't even want. This was quite frequent for my older brother, because he had little interest in sweets. It was rare for me, because I have an over developed sweet tooth.

 

Ugh...I'm already losing the thread of what I was trying to say.

 

My grandmother died 23 years ago. My mom called me at my then-fiance's (he's now my ex-husband) to tell me. I got off the phone, and said, "thank God - the evil old bitch is dead". I wish I were kidding, but I'm not. That woman tried with everything in her power to force us to love her...and I ended up thankful that she'd died. In the two decades since then, I've come around to a different way of thinking about her, and I'm mostly just sad over such a pathetic, pitiful wasted life. One of my cousins still hates her with every fiber of her being. Grandma crocheted tablecloths for each of her grand-daughters - quite beautiful pieces of work, actually - and my cousin won't even take hers, as she wants nothing of our grandma in her home. Buying our love failed miserably. (I also remember grandma pulling one of her "well, if you don't want me around, maybe I should just kill myself" - after mom had managed to find 30 minutes to drop by and visit, in a very busy day. I was there, too, and responded with, "if you're going to do it, get on with it, and stop talking about it". I look back and cringe, because I can't believe those words even left my mouth, but that was how I felt. I was 15 or 16, and in the process of separating myself, emotionally, from her games. It was hard.)

 

Anyway - that's really about what this kind of behaviour will ultimately reap for your MIL. Now...for your son:

 

I'm morbidly obese, despite a very healthy attitude towards food in my family home. Why? Grandma. She went out of her way (although I'm sure she didn't see it that way) to make it impossible for me to have a normal, healthy relationship with food. I've had my ups and downs over the years, and was effectively over my issues for about a decade. But, they lurk. Since I lost my son (term stillbirth) four years ago, it's been pretty rough. I was trained to eat badly. I was trained to hide it. I was trained to see the foods I eat as a reflection of my feelings toward other people. I was trained to believe that food could just make my problems go away. I was trained to see food - particularly crap food - as a poker chip, in a game of emotional manipulation. (Did I mention that this same woman - who spent the first 10ish years of our lives guilting us into eating insane amounts* of junk food - then took it into her head to spend our teens using every opportunity that came her way to ensure that we knew we were fat? And, we weren't, at that point!) I've worked my way through most of the crap she left in my head. I've worked my way through the rage, and the hate. I don't drink or do drugs, anymore (can remember tossing off three consecutive shots of overproof rum, at the age of 17, immediately after having lunch with her at the mall). For me, the food issues have been the hardest part.

 

I don't think I have the right to discuss in any detail the issues my siblings and cousins had as a result of our grandma's upbringing. Suffice it to say, none of them miss her, either. Her death was a positive experience for our whole family. The aftermath of her games is still very evident in the life of one of my relatives. Another one chose a marriage to someone a lot like grandmother, and I honestly cringe at some of this person's views on children and parenting (eg. advocating hot sauce on the tongues of toddlers when they say "no"). The others have all been through a lot of emotional turmoil that's closely linked to grandma's manipulative crap, including some really skewed relationships. She damaged my sister's relationship with my mom. She damaged the relationships of my cousins with their mom and dad. My relationship with my mom remained pretty healthy, but only because the damage affected me differently than my other relatives.

 

There are no words for how much damage this woman could do to your son. The fact that even you are phrasing it as she "showers love on him" demonstrates just how messed up this is. You didn't post anything that indicates that your MIL shows love towards your son. She demonstrates possessiveness. She demonstrates a willingness to undermine his parents. She demonstrates a willingness to manipulate. She demonstrates a belief that love is something one buys with large quantities of consumer items. Those things aren't about love.

 

I'm sorry for the long ramble. This topic pushes every button I still have. And, if it helps you (or your wife, for that matter), my mom has said, many, many times, that if she could go back and redo our childhoods, the only change she would make is to cut off her mother. She believed that family is important, and that you can't "deprive" children of their grandparents and vice versa. At 68 years of age, that decision is her one real regret in life. She doesn't truly regret marrying her physically abusive first husband, because she did get out okay, and she has my brother. She doesn't regret marrying my alcoholic father (although she does regret staying as long as she did), because they did have a terrific first decade or so, and she has me and my sister.  My mom just isn't the sort of person to waste a lot of time and energy on regrets, even for big mistakes. This - keeping us in contact with her mother - is her only one. I really hope that's not your wife, 30 or 40 years down the road.

post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by thermo View Post

Update: I told my MIL that she cannot administer any medication to our son. She was not at all pleased about this. She ruminated about it for a day and then announced angrily that it is a matter of trust - either we trust her or we do not. We both then reiterated that she is not to administer medication. She never conceded anything. But the message from us was not ambiguous. 



"We don't trust you. You've proven that we can't."

 

Games. Giving your child medication without your consent, then trying to twist it into "this is about trust" is just games.

post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by thermo View Post

Update: I told my MIL that she cannot administer any medication to our son. She was not at all pleased about this. She ruminated about it for a day and then announced angrily that it is a matter of trust - either we trust her or we do not. We both then reiterated that she is not to administer medication. She never conceded anything. But the message from us was not ambiguous. 



"We don't trust you. You've proven that we can't."

 

Games. Giving your child medication without your consent, then trying to twist it into "this is about trust" is just games.


I agree. If you can't trust her, you must not allow your son to be unsupervised in her care. Ever. Hire a sitter. Find a friend to watch him. Not her, not ever.
post #27 of 42
I havent read the responses but I will share how I feel. How my child is raised is very very important to me. From the time he was conceived Ive spent hundreds of hours researching everything I could and compiling how i wanted to raise him. I made these choices with his best interest in mind for the present and future.

My mother before he was born talked about giving him candy etc.. Etc... i had decided early on I would not be allowing him to have candy or fast food. When my mom told me that was her plan I told her no. She told me she would do it anyway. I put my foot down hard and I made it clear to everyone in his life that I had important instructions that HAD to be followed and that anyone who went against my wishes would NOT ever be left alone with him or allowed to babysit. Also that should that happen anyone arguing and making fits or placing him in a negative situation would not get to see him at all end of discussion there would be no arguments. I comunicated this in a fairly harsh way and said I meant serious business. My mother changed her tune very fast and now a days shes asks me for a list of what id like him to eat , what he can watch on tv etc... Etc... Originally when i laid it all down yes her feelings were hurt and she did not like it but she got over it fast because when i say something i mean it and she knew that i wouldnt hesitate for a second to do what i said.

So it would be my suggestion to lay down some cement ground rules. Tell her that you mean business there are no second chances and violating your rules result in her not getting to watch him. I feel although she will be upset about this she will come to see it your way because lets face it children are gifts from god and its such a joy to watch them that even if you are forced to do something someone else way youll give in because you love the baby! I think it is hard for a grandparent to come to terms that their children are raised and that their children now have the reins and the choices become theirs. I think it also makes them take a hard look at the choices they made as parents and feel bad because they know you have chosen to do something better.

Dont underestimate the poor habits she is instilling in your baby. I dont know about you but my baby is my rason for breathing the most important person in my life and i will do anything to protect him and raise him the best i know how. Other amily like my mom comes second. Im sure your wife feels similarly... Remind her that by letting her mom do these things her mother is coming first and shes not doing whats best for your son. Im sure its not on purpose but maybe a little reminder will help her see the bigger oicture about hows shes being manipulated and how ultimaely your son is going to be the one whos hurt from the choices.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Edited by Love - 4/8/12 at 12:25pm
post #28 of 42

There is an outstanding book that will give you a great deal of insight, not only to the dynamics with your MIL, but also to your wife's inability to stand up to her.

 

Toxic In-Laws by Susan Forward.

 

She has another book, Toxic Parents, that is also worth the read. Both books give specific, helpful advice for how to proceed.

post #29 of 42
Thread Starter 

I thank you for all of your reflections and advice. It is very helpful. I will look up the book recommendations as well.

 

At this point it comes down to my wife's hesitation. I already had to decide that I was putting the relationship on the line when I told her she was not to give meds to our son. She tends to become very extreme - so I had to accept that it might mean she would take the low road and I would be putting my foot down in terms of how she would see our son. In the end, it was left with ambiguity. 

post #30 of 42

Is there a cultural issue at play here? By that I mean are you and your wife from different cultures? Is your MIL from another country? What was your wife's childhood like? What is your MIL trying to make up for in her life by buying your son off with toys and sweets and food while poisoning your relationship with your wife and undermining your parenting? Was she a victim of war? Was there abuse or neglect in another generation?

 

I absolutely agree that you and your wife need to have a serious discussion about boundaries. You two are the parents. You need to decide on what grandma may and may not do. If grandma violates that, she loses access to your son. She must know that you are unwavering and unified and that she may be a grandparent, but not a parent to your child. She must respect you and your wife and your parenting decisions or she should not have access to your son. Period.

 

This is very unhealthy for your son and poisonous to your marriage. Please, please put an end to it.

post #31 of 42
Thread Starter 

MIL is from another country... but my wife was born and raised in basically my culture. Not a victim of war AFAIK. My wife was the younger of 2 daughters and I think MIL and elder daughter were not very nice to my wife... but I'm guessing that had more to do with a degree of narcissism and not on any external factors. I think a big part of the problem is that my wife's sister had 2 children quite a few years before we had our son... and they did not successfully set boundaries. So my MIL had close to free reign with her other grandchildren. She has been conditioned to think that what she does is appropriate - regardless of what she does. 

 

Prior to our having a son, I had a pretty good relationship with MIL. It was only after I saw what she was doing to him as an infant and toddler that a major issue evolved... and is evolving. I have chosen not to be around when they are together so I don't have to see it... But at this point that is changing as well.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by expecting-joy View Post

Is there a cultural issue at play here? By that I mean are you and your wife from different cultures? Is your MIL from another country? What was your wife's childhood like? What is your MIL trying to make up for in her life by buying your son off with toys and sweets and food while poisoning your relationship with your wife and undermining your parenting? Was she a victim of war? Was there abuse or neglect in another generation?

 

I absolutely agree that you and your wife need to have a serious discussion about boundaries. You two are the parents. You need to decide on what grandma may and may not do. If grandma violates that, she loses access to your son. She must know that you are unwavering and unified and that she may be a grandparent, but not a parent to your child. She must respect you and your wife and your parenting decisions or she should not have access to your son. Period.

 

This is very unhealthy for your son and poisonous to your marriage. Please, please put an end to it.



 

post #32 of 42
OP, culture matters greatly. From the culture I come from, cutting out grandparents is unheard of, unacceptable and will definitely end my very healthy very strong marriage. I do not have deal with your issue, but I read all the responses here and shook my head sadly coz if you didnt grow up in a different culture you wont get it. Things like " boundaries". , " parents comes first" , " he is your son" are foreign concepts....very sadly.

Also, in my very humble opinion, even thouh your wife was raised here, things like cultural mindsets can be deep and not be shaken off in one generation.

I really hope you find a solution to this.
post #33 of 42

I want to echo the idea that for some people, many people, even people here in the USA, the idea of ending a relationship with a parent or family member is seen as the moral equivalent of mass murder or about as plausible a solution as sprouting wings and flying to Mars for lunch.

 

OP, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this.  Be confident in doing what is best for your wife and your son.

post #34 of 42

You know...I was just thinking about the "third parent" thing and the medication. DH and I are a team. We have equal authority over our children. Neither one of us would give our child medication without checking with the other. That's not even about a lack of trust. It's about safety. What if you (OP) or your wife had already given your son some anti-nausea medication, and then she gave him an extra dose. This kind of thing can cause overdoses. So, I don't even think this is a "third parent" thing, honestly - it goes beyond that. (Obviously, if dh or I were away overnight or something, the other one would make a command decision on things like medication. I'm just talking in the day to day. DH wouldn't come home from work and give our kid Tylenol without checking, yk?)

post #35 of 42

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsGregory View Post

I want to echo the idea that for some people, many people, even people here in the USA, the idea of ending a relationship with a parent or family member is seen as the moral equivalent of mass murder or about as plausible a solution as sprouting wings and flying to Mars for lunch.

 

 

 

 

I've cut out a couple of family members. One was a child molester. The other is mental ill, won't take medication, and sacred the crap out of my kids.

 

I think it is hard for most of us to cut out a family member. It is a BIG deal.  It tore me apart.

 

But putting our own hang ups above doing what is RIGHT BEST and SAFE for us kids is just poor parenting.

 

To believe that protecting your child from harm is morally wrong means that your child will grow up and know that their safety was lower on your list in life than..... not making waves? tradition? whatever you want to call it.

 

Ultimately, we will each get to explain to our children why we made certain choices that we did. The really big ones. The ones that they will take into adulthood. And this grandmother is crazy enough that I suspect eventually both parents are going to have to speak up for choice.

 

"I let grandma mess with your head because I thought keeping you safe was the equivalent of mass murder"

 

post #36 of 42

Linda on the move, I'm sorry for the decision you needed to make with regards to your own family.  Of course having to end contact with a family member is upsetting for most people.  If you re-read my post, I think you'll see that I am not encouraging the OP to do nothing;  the line from my post not included in your quote is directly to our OP, urging him to take care of his wife and child.  My message was simply to introduce to the conversation that, although I think we (of MDC) agree in general that grandmother should not be allowed unsupervised visits with the OP's child, cutting the grandmother out entirely may not be a solution for the OP, or for his partner.  What may seem like the obvious choice may not be for all people.  No where did I advocate that the OP allow grandmother to continue to "mess with [the child's] head".

 


 

post #37 of 42

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thermo View Post

Prior to our having a son, I had a pretty good relationship with MIL. It was only after I saw what she was doing to him as an infant and toddler that a major issue evolved... and is evolving. I have chosen not to be around when they are together so I don't have to see it... But at this point that is changing as well.

 

Regarding the bolded, what a strange response to seeing someone interact with your child in a way that you don't like! I hope your "that is changing" comment means that you'll now be supervising their time together, regardless of your discomfort? 

post #38 of 42

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsGregory View Post

 I think we (of MDC) agree in general that grandmother should not be allowed unsupervised visits with the OP's child, cutting the grandmother out entirely may not be a solution for the OP, or for his partner.  What may seem like the obvious choice may not be for all people.  No where did I advocate that the OP allow grandmother to continue to "mess with [the child's] head".

 

You compared cutting a dysfunctional family member out of one's life to mass murder.

 

Of course it's an option. It may not be an option they are willing to take, but it is an option. These are grown ups. They are free. They can do whatever they want. Whatever they do is a CHOICE.

 

They can choose to let  continue grandma wreaking havoc, or they can set boundaries, or they can cut the crazy lady out. It's all just choices.

 

This notion that they have no choice is absurd. Some people don't own their personal power, but its still there. They just aren't using it. It's like having a really nice car, but taking the bus all the time because you fear what will happen if you get in the driver seat.  We all can decide to get in the drivers seat of our life at any moment.

post #39 of 42

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

Of course it's an option. It may not be an option they are willing to take, but it is an option. These are grown ups. They are free. They can do whatever they want. Whatever they do is a CHOICE.

 

They can choose to let  continue grandma wreaking havoc, or they can set boundaries, or they can cut the crazy lady out. It's all just choices.

 

This notion that they have no choice is absurd. Some people don't own their personal power, but its still there. They just aren't using it. It's like having a really nice car, but taking the bus all the time because you fear what will happen if you get in the driver seat.  We all can decide to get in the drivers seat of our life at any moment.

 

I think that this is a fair statement.  I can understand that PPs who suggested it was "not an option" are trying to sympathize with the OP, especially as regards cultural expectations, etc.  But bottom line - if you would not let a stranger treat your child this way, or put them in danger, then you shouldn't let Grandma!

 

To do less may be more comfortable.  And I agree with Linda - if you do less, you should be prepared to explain why you prioritized the relationship with Grandma over the child's well-being and safety.  It is fine if the OP feels the need to do that - for cultural or other reasons - but it is a choice that they should own.  Another PP mentioned that to make a choice to cut out Grandma would end her marriage - so that is what she could say to her kid, "This would have literally ended our marriage, so that is why I put it above your well-being, because I felt that was worse in the long run, etc." or whatever her reasons were.  But there are always reasons, always choices, always priorities to rank or shift.  That is the messy business of being a parent.

 

And I am genuinely sorry the OP has to deal with this.  I am very sorry Grandma is putting them in this position - but the focus should be on Grandma taking responsibility for this whole mess - for her actions, for causing this entire problem.  The blame shouldn't rest on the shoulders of the OP for being a "bad person" for taking charge and putting limits on her, based on her bad behavior.  I think fear of confrontation, fear of messy relationships/emotional fallout, and fear of being guilt-tripped can easily cause very well-meaning parents to back off from making the courageous decisions that are best for their child.

 

 

 

post #40 of 42

I would also like to add that this is a sliding scale - it is possible to make all Grandma time supervised (which it sounds like is starting to be the case), it is possible to cut back on Grandma time in general, it is possible to talk to Grandma and make reasonable expectations known and set new ground rules (this seems to be necessary, because she is used to having free reign with the other grandbabes).  It is possible to limit visitation based on her behavior at each visit, and clear violations of the rules (probably a successful route, once she realizes you mean business, and there are certain things that will not be tolerated - or she will not see your son for x number of weeks, etc.).  And then there is cutting her out entirely.  These are all options.

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