My mother fed my vegetarian toddler hamburger : ( - Mothering Forums
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Life with a Toddler > My mother fed my vegetarian toddler hamburger : (
GreenGranolaMama's Avatar GreenGranolaMama 12:53 AM 07-05-2010
She did this while I was using the bathroom at a barbecue we were at today and then come to find out, last time he was at her house, she fed him Kraft Mac and Cheese and Crystal light (when I am VERY clear about what he is to eat and not eat AND I ALWAYS send food with him!!!!). This is the first time that I know of that she has disregarded me in terms of foods for him. Today she said "I fed him part of my hamburger and he LOVED IT so there."

I'm so upset and angry- my Mother is pretty toxic for other reasons (I completely cut off communication while in college) but it had appeared that she had come around and was ok enough again for me to maintain a relationship with. We also ended up moving closer to where she is living. She is back on a downward slope again, and our close proximity is making it harder to distance myself like I did in school.


I'm completely and totally grossed out by her behavior- Should I tell her that unless she follows our dietary guidelines, he is no longer to visit with her? I really wanted to scream at her during the party, but I didn't want to make a scene

suddenlyamama's Avatar suddenlyamama 12:59 AM 07-05-2010
oh man, that stinks. It is really hard to deal with family and dietary issues. Try and remember that what happens at home is what counts the most. Obviously she has crossed a boundary that you have clearly set, but from experience, when people (who are exactly like this in my life) act in such a way, I find it easier to show feelings of hurt and dissapointment rather than anger. She knows you will be angry, but does she know how much it means to you, and it never hurts to remind.
I am sorry you are dealing with this. Best of luck.
Baby_Cakes's Avatar Baby_Cakes 01:11 AM 07-05-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenGranolaMama View Post
I'm completely and totally grossed out by her behavior- Should I tell her that unless she follows our dietary guidelines, he is no longer to visit with her? I really wanted to scream at her during the party, but I didn't want to make a scene
I would.

This is betrayal. You trust her to follow your rules, and if your family doesn't eat meat and she feeds your child meat, that is against the rules. No more unsupervised visits unless she agrees to follow your rules.

If my MIL or mother did this we wouldn't visit for awhile, and no way would DD be left alone w/her!

Being veg for ethical reasons is much bigger than she realizes. Some people really don't understand vegetarianism and think that it's no big deal to have a "little bit" of meat here or there. That's not how it is!!

UGHHGH! I'm livid for you!
baglady's Avatar baglady 01:12 AM 07-05-2010
If your mom is toxic, then I think it's more than a dietary issue. If you weren't a vegetarian, she'd find another way to assert herself. I don't know all of the details of your relationship, but from your description it sounds like she's trying to make you angry. So as pp mentioned, I wouldn't approach it from anger. I'd try something like, "I'm really hurt that you won't respect my wishes for my child." I'd do visits in your home only if that's possible. That way there's nothing there your child can't eat.

It would make me furious by the way. It's so hard to know how to react to passive aggression.
texmati's Avatar texmati 01:24 AM 07-05-2010
I would be livid.

If it were me, I wold tell her that since she can't follow your dietery guidlines, she won't be having any more unsupervised visits.

Why give her anymore chances?
lifeguard's Avatar lifeguard 02:01 AM 07-05-2010
I guess for me it would be more about why you have the dietary rules you do. There are many things I prefer ds does not eat but quite frankly there is nothing he is allergic too & very little that I really feel is very wrong for him to have so I tend to let it slide with grandparents 'cause they take such pleasure in feeding him (don't understand this at all but it is definitely the case).

Those things I feel strongly about I definitely make sure they are clear on it & fully expect them to follow along & would confront them if they didn't.
aramat's Avatar aramat 02:08 AM 07-05-2010
Since it does sound like more than a simple dietary issue, I'd definitely look for ways to reassert healthy boundaries with this woman. I'm sorry; I have issues with my own mother, and it's just no fun at all--sometimes feeling like the only adult in the relationship... As mentioned by a previous poster, if it wasn't this, it sounds like it would be something else. Did she really say "so there" at the end? Ugh!
Mrs.Music's Avatar Mrs.Music 02:14 AM 07-05-2010
I would be livid. My mom is the SAME way. Of course your kid liked it... He's a kid. He doesn't know better. She is an adult and should behave like one. And have the respect for you to treat you like she would anyone else. I'd lay down the rules with her. Make it very clear (in a calm way) how very hurt and angry you are that she would go against your beliefs with YOUR child (not hers) especially after you made it so easy for her to follow your wishes. Tell her that you wish to maintain a close relationship but your child is obviously your first priority and if she is going to undermine you and your values, your first duty is to protect him and you'll have to cut off contact. And then follow through.

I bet this is hard.
liliaceae's Avatar liliaceae 02:14 AM 07-05-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenGranolaMama View Post
Should I tell her that unless she follows our dietary guidelines, he is no longer to visit with her?
Yes. Actually I wouldn't leave him alone with her at all, since she obviously doesn't care about your wishes regarding your own child.
GreenGranolaMama's Avatar GreenGranolaMama 02:32 AM 07-05-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by aramat View Post
Since it does sound like more than a simple dietary issue, I'd definitely look for ways to reassert healthy boundaries with this woman. I'm sorry; I have issues with my own mother, and it's just no fun at all--sometimes feeling like the only adult in the relationship... As mentioned by a previous poster, if it wasn't this, it sounds like it would be something else. Did she really say "so there" at the end? Ugh!
Yeah, Mama I feel for you, I've totally been the 'adult' in our relationship since I was like 11 years old (sigh) and I'm now 24 so this UAV is getting pretty old for me.
Mom2M's Avatar Mom2M 02:50 AM 07-05-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby_Cakes View Post
I would.

This is betrayal. You trust her to follow your rules, and if your family doesn't eat meat and she feeds your child meat, that is against the rules. No more unsupervised visits unless she agrees to follow your rules.

If my MIL or mother did this we wouldn't visit for awhile, and no way would DD be left alone w/her!

Being veg for ethical reasons is much bigger than she realizes. Some people really don't understand vegetarianism and think that it's no big deal to have a "little bit" of meat here or there. That's not how it is!!

UGHHGH! I'm livid for you!
totally agree!! I would be furious and there would be no visiting alone.
hakeber's Avatar hakeber 03:08 AM 07-05-2010
She's obviously feeling some need to assert her authority as the expert parent here.

She needs to respect your wishes as the mother. If she can't she should not have unsupervised time with your boy, no.

I would write a letter to her first to get your ideas out, maybe check out CNVC.org for guidelines of expressing yourself in ways that do not judge her actions or her as a person, but merely state the facts (not at ALL an easy thing to do when someone is interfering with your kids!), and make your feelings and NEEDS super clear to her and state precisely what the consequences of her actions are/will be should your needs not be met.

Once you have it clear, call her up and discuss it, or even go to talk face to face, whatever is easier for YOU.

That sort of passive agressive BS would not fly with me. Well done for keeping your cool in the moment and not escalating.
lucysmom's Avatar lucysmom 03:20 AM 07-05-2010
I would also make clear that the issue is less about the diet violation (when your child is older, he may choose to eat meat, and if he doesn't, he can enforce his own code of ethics around it -- until then, it doesn't do him any particular damage), than about the need for your mom to respect your core principles of child rearing. It may not have hurt him, but it hurts your ability to guide his upbringing, which is really important. If she would do this, how are you to know that she won't let him watch inappropriate TV content or that she won't let him swim unsupervised before he is ready? Etc.

The goal would be to take the focus off the hamburger, because she is probably objectively correct that he liked it & it didn't hurt him. It hurt your ability to parent him. And that will show up over time in lots of other areas besides diet. I would hope maybe she could hear that, and get that it isn't about whether the hamburger hurt him.
hakeber's Avatar hakeber 03:33 AM 07-05-2010
Just as an aside, I'd be really surprised if the hamburger doesn't give him a tummyache as well, if he's never had meat before. My MIL gave my 6 mo ds chicken soup while I was at a work function when she was visiting (she took the meat out.) and he had diarrhea the whole next day. He too "loved it".

I'm not an ethical vegetarian, but I was going to wait until he was MUCH older to introduce meat to his diet, when he could see what mommy was eating versus what daddy ate and decide what he liked rather than have it spooned down his throat nonchalantly.

These things may seem harmless now, but can have lasting effects, especially the processed foods mentioned...ICK!
Ann-Marita's Avatar Ann-Marita 03:58 AM 07-05-2010
I wouldn't say anything. She not only disregarded your wishes on something that is important to you, her "so there" shows that there was an element of hurtfulness or spite to her actions.

I would simply not allow unsupervised visits, no warning needed.

Wait, wait. She did this WHILE YOU WERE USING THE BATHROOM?! You mean, even with you THERE, she waited until you couldn't intervene and then knowingly undermined you as a parent?!

I would be livid.

And I would never allow my child alone with her again, not even for a moment. Not until the child is much older. And if you can't even go to the bathroom while there, then visits will have to be very short.

I still don't think you have to say anything. Actions speak louder than words. Her actions spoke loud and clear, now it's your turn.
ericswifey27's Avatar ericswifey27 06:24 AM 07-05-2010
That really is beyond belief. Outrageous, really. I am not even vegetarian and find that appaling. Like another poster said, this is about not only diet and your ethics, but about your role as parent. Definitely keep your son away from her... if she can do that while you are in the bathroom and boast about it, what is she keeping from you?

Ugh. I could so see my mother doing something similar
Theia's Avatar Theia 06:36 AM 07-05-2010
Ugh... I know the feeling. I am sorry you are experiencing this. My 2yo was given meat by my parents this past weekend. My only consolation was that it was chewed up before being obviously spit back out followed by, "I don't want to eat that." It still hasn't went through my parents brains. But for us, they are our only family and family trumps diet at this point because while my parents still push boundaries, it's not unmanageable. I do get satisfaction from watching meat products being totally refused or refused after some chewing only to be spit back out. At that point there isn't much that my parents can take action against since my 2yo (and it is done without any prompting by myself) is clearly refusing the "yummies" that are on the dinner plate and given so much more attention than the cucumber.
bobandjess99's Avatar bobandjess99 06:51 AM 07-05-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann-Marita View Post

Wait, wait. She did this WHILE YOU WERE USING THE BATHROOM?! You mean, even with you THERE, she waited until you couldn't intervene and then knowingly undermined you as a parent?!

I would be livid.

And I would never allow my child alone with her again, not even for a moment. Not until the child is much older. And if you can't even go to the bathroom while there, then visits will have to be very short.

I still don't think you have to say anything. Actions speak louder than words. Her actions spoke loud and clear, now it's your turn.
No contact at ALL, you or him, minimum 3 months, period. Consider re-establishing contact after that time, if appropriate sincere regret is expressed on her part.
Peacemamalove's Avatar Peacemamalove 10:23 AM 07-05-2010
I just wanted to offer you so my MIL is the same way . She loved to give the kids crap she knows I won't let them have behind my back.

So we stopped going over for a while and told her we would visit again once she respected how we parent our children.
gbailey's Avatar gbailey 10:57 AM 07-05-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenGranolaMama View Post
She did this while I was using the bathroom at a barbecue we were at today and then come to find out, last time he was at her house, she fed him Kraft Mac and Cheese and Crystal light (when I am VERY clear about what he is to eat and not eat AND I ALWAYS send food with him!!!!). This is the first time that I know of that she has disregarded me in terms of foods for him. Today she said "I fed him part of my hamburger and he LOVED IT so there."

I'm so upset and angry- my Mother is pretty toxic for other reasons (I completely cut off communication while in college) but it had appeared that she had come around and was ok enough again for me to maintain a relationship with. We also ended up moving closer to where she is living. She is back on a downward slope again, and our close proximity is making it harder to distance myself like I did in school.


I'm completely and totally grossed out by her behavior- Should I tell her that unless she follows our dietary guidelines, he is no longer to visit with her? I really wanted to scream at her during the party, but I didn't want to make a scene
OP,sorry about the situation but yes, he should no longer be able to visit if she can't follow and respect your parenting choices. How you feed your child is your choice not hers.

My mother says that people ignore parental food choices because in addition to being rude they feel like not giving your children certain things means you are judging their parenting skills My brother is allergic to shrimp and when we were kids our grandmother gave him shrimp anyway. She thought my mother didn't want him to have it because she just didn't want him to have it. She didn't believe he was truly allergic! Long story short, my brother had to be rushed to the emergency room. Things worked themselves out and after that my grandmother respected my mothers choices because my mother wouldn't let us go over there anymore. That didn't stop other relatives from trying to give us pork bacon and other products with lard just to spite my mothers choices.

If given the choice of respecting your choices and not spending time with her grandson...it shouldn't be a hard choice for her to make.
blessedmama59's Avatar blessedmama59 11:31 AM 07-05-2010
I would be very upset also. You have every right to be. YOU are the mother and what you say goes, and it makes it even worse that she does it behind your back. Like a previous poster commented, a lot of ppl do not understand vegetarianism and the reasons behind it. What she did was disrespectful of your lifestyle choices, and I would def explain that to her. If she is 'toxic' as you said, I'm sure she would do other things in spite. I know that own mother and MIL have issues with what I will or will not allow my daughter to eat. For some reason, anytime we attend a family dinner they want to shove sugar and sweets down her throat (I had to deal w this yesterday) and when I say no they act like I'm a terrible mother or something. Both families believe that lots of sugar/processed crap is just part of being a child and I'm depriving my child of that. I stay respectful though, even if my head feels like it's going to explode lol Anyway, I would simply let her know that you will no longer be leaving him with her until she can respect your rules. Maybe educate her vegetarianism. Tell her about all of the heavy metals, antibiotics, and synthetic hormones that infest all of America's meat. Let her watch some of those horrific PETA slaughterhouse videos (Meet Your Meat, I think?). Maybe a little explanation and 'proof' that it's not such a radical thing will help her to understand more.
Turquesa's Avatar Turquesa 11:50 AM 07-05-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenGranolaMama View Post

I'm completely and totally grossed out by her behavior- Should I tell her that unless she follows our dietary guidelines, he is no longer to visit with her?
Yes. I would explain that you trusted her to care for him with respect to your wishes, and she violated that trust. End of story. As a fellow veg, I'm sooooo sorry.
em123's Avatar em123 02:13 PM 07-05-2010
For some reason, it's the "so there" at the end of her statement that really ticked me off. It's like saying I'm right, you're wrong, and I'm going to show you just how wrong you are.

I am also a vegetarian, as is my son. If my mother did this she would not be left alone with my son. She has to respect your choices as a parent, she can't pick and choose which rules you set that she has to follow. What does that teach your son?
mamazee's Avatar mamazee 07:11 PM 07-05-2010
The fact that she waited until you were in the bathroom and then gave him something she knew you would not want him to have is the kicker to me. She knew you'd say no, she knew you'd intervene, so she waited until she had a very small amount of time. I have a toxic parent and from that standpoint, I'd cut off contact for a while so she knows what the stakes are.
verde's Avatar verde 07:59 PM 07-05-2010
Yep -- this little episode was a reminder of why you cut off communication with her while you were in college.

In addition to what everyone else has said, think about this: your mother PLANNED this. She waited until you were out of sight and then leapt into action. Then she symbolically stuck her tongue out at you with the "so there!" remark. This was a powerplay on her part plain and simple.

So there you have it: an explanation of how she views you and the relationship she has with you. You have no reason to think that she will not do the same type of things with your toddler if given the chance. I doubt very seriously that any type of talking/explaining/reasoning will have any effect with her because it's not about reason, it's about how she views her relationship with you.

If given a chance, she will act this way again. Don't be surprised -- you know it will happen. So don't give her the chance.
LCBMAX's Avatar LCBMAX 11:37 PM 07-05-2010
My nearly toxic mil tried to get up to the same tricks. So we tried to have a sit-down grownups only family talk about our expectations for how she takes care of our son. She flat out said she didn't want to hear about it, she knows what she's doing and we should stop being "helicopter parents" (not that that has anything to do with avoiding sugar!)

Ok. So - she's being clear that she doesn't want to be educated by us about care for our son. Fine. It really is. She's a grownup and she has a right to say she doesn't want to hear anything more.

And... I'm a mother, and I also have a right to make sure my son's environment is as close as possible to ideal. At school he's gonna learn plenty of undesirable stuff, I get that. With family? Nope. My expectations are higher.

So without further discussion with her, dh and I got on the same page that our son is not to be left alone with her. One of us is always in the near background they are together. She wishes we would "drop him off" at her house, and we say "Oh that'll be nice. But not today, we're busy." It simply won't happen. If she ever pushes harder, I'll invite her again to actually talk with us. If she doesn't want to, then I'll no more leave my son unsupervised with her than I would with a stranger.

This was all very hard for me to come to. I'm from a family that talks everything out, ad nauseum, and we think we've failed if everyone doesn't agree by the end of the talk. So that's the other end of the crazy spectrum. But in this case, I have finally learned that if someone doesn't want to talk, you can't make them. You just have to deal in the way that's best for you.

In your case, you've got the history and you know all her likely behaviors. So you can choose if you want to engage in the battle to convince her to respect your maternal authority, or if you want to let the battle go and just keep your child supervised in her presence. Or the more drastic separation options.

You've got the right, and processed food and sugars are a totally acceptable place to draw the line. For me it has worked to draw the line invisibly, and skip the predictable battles and my own certain frustration.
blizzard_babe's Avatar blizzard_babe 11:54 PM 07-05-2010
I agree with the PPs who stated that the issue here is WAY beyond dietary. That's just the needle she chose to drive in because... well... who knows?
GuildJenn's Avatar GuildJenn 12:02 AM 07-06-2010
I'm not vegetarian and when it comes to questionable junk foods (Zoodles come to mind) I have historically been laid back about the odd bowl at grandma's.

Having said that, this was a crazy bad boundary violation and I'm kind of in the camp that she should be cut off for a few months while you "cool down" and after that it's super limited visits. This is just NOT a decision extended family gets to make over the parents' clearly stated wishes and values. And there are not shades of gray about it really: She knew she was doing wrong and she did it anyway.

I'm so sorry.
RiverSky's Avatar RiverSky 12:11 AM 07-06-2010
I'm definitely in the "cut off ties with her" camp, at least for 3 months, as a PP suggested. After that, contact would be very limited and fully supervised.

It's shocking to me that some grandparents think they have any sort of say about how their grandchildren are raised AT ALL. Obviously, they must be asking to be kicked out of the family, right?!?
eclipse's Avatar eclipse 12:27 AM 07-06-2010
Honestly, you already cut her off once. There was obviously a reason for that. She's been given a second chance and clearly didn't value it enough to treat you with respect. I'd cut her off again, possibly permanantly. This is a bigger issue than the hamburger.
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