Wow I could have written this post. I am married to a man from India-- 16 years married now. We still deal with cultural parenting issues. I had to see that his way of love is different than mine. My in-laws are still in India and so I tolerate their actions that are based on love, knowing that they have only a small precious amount of time with their grandchildren. If you are having your in-laws babysitting, you may have to just accept those things in her when your child is in your care, as long as you can do what you want to do when you are in your own home.
* Edited to add that I just read more of the thread and see they are staying with you-- that is hard! But temporary.
When younger I also struggled with the spoon feeding thing. We also struggled to get my oldest out of our bed after cosleeping for awhile. I was pregnant with the second when I finally told him he needed to somehow transition her. I was having a hard pregnancy and needed her out of our bed-- she kicked very hard for one thing. He ended up sleeping on the floor next to her bed in her new room. (Which was fine with me-- had the whole bed to myself!!). I enjoyed the cosleeping but there was a point where it was not working for me and he used guilt to keep her in the bed longer.
And yes, the crying thing too. I remember when we were in India, dd was a year old. We stayed for 2.5 months. The bedroom was not childproofed fully and I was trying to get her to go to bed. When she started to get off the bed, I simply picked her up and laid her back down on the bed next to me and told her to go to sleep. We did this several times and she started to scream and cry in frustration. I felt okay with what I was doing-- it was way too late and she needed to settle down and sleep. Suddenly the door burst open and I had both in laws demanding that I give in to her, because it was not good for babies to cry at all--- would hurt their spirits. I told her I was setting limits and please do step out so I can parent her and get her to sleep. My oldest is very high strung and hard to settle, even at the age of 12. I had to set limits with her early on certain things, and as a result she is doing quite well. They always tell me know what a good mom I am to her. ;-)
The food issue-- very cultural. Food equals love in India. When dh speaks of his childhood, his eyes light up when he talks about the food. He had some of his best memories at the dinner table, and watching his mom cook in the kitchen. Hand-feeding babies in India is very cultural and loving and nurturing. It also was easy to do in a traditional household with grandma, mom, aunties all living close together. And, there was less mess to clean up and less food waste, as food is precious there with so much poverty. This was how it was explained to me by my in-laws.
I am trying to teach my kids to cook and find healthy snacks for themselves and make good choices. My 12 year old is being encouraged by me to pack her own lunch. Even when they ask to help cook he sends them off and insists on cooking for them. My 12 year old still gets her crusts cut off the sandwiches. But the worst is the guilt. They get full and push their plates away, or they simply don't care for something he cooked. He encourages them to finish their plates, and says "I worked so hard to make this for you. You don't like it? That makes me sad." I always have to counter this with "It's okay to listen to your body if you are full. Please try a little, if you don't like it make a peanut butter sandwich."
It has been a huge battle also to let them have natural consequences. If they forget their homework I will not drive the homework to school. He grew up in a traditional Indian household where mom did everything for them. Or the household help did. His mom even choose his college major for him. I asked him if he liked that, and he said he did not know what he wanted to do and trusted his mom's judgement. I see in him a lifelong lack of confidence and I wonder if a lot of that had to do with his upbringing. When 12 year old clogged the toilet yet again, I taught her how to use the toilet plunger and he was appalled and very much against me doing that. I could give 10,000 examples.
For him, love means doing everything for the kids. For me love means teaching them life skills and seeing them become more confident in themselves for it. At least there is love in our family.
Thankfully I am with them more than he is, and they enjoy cooking, cleaning, and doing things for themselves. But it's hard, and it's a constant battle that will probably not end until they tell him to lay off.
Edited by USAmma - 9/11/13 at 1:33pm