We just got through an extremely frustrating annual trip with DH's family. Our DD who is 3.5 years old spent the entire trip avoiding and ignoring us and also being completely disrespectful. We started this trip out trying to be very relaxed about not keeping all the 'home rules' in effect, but drew the line at things such as going to bed after 11pm, not washing hands or brushing teeth, eating junk and candy all day long or watching age inappropriate movies with the older cousins.
We took her aside a few times to discuss the disrespectful behavior which included her deliberately ignoring us even if we were asking her a simple question about what she would like to eat or drink. When she asked MIL if she could have gummy bears, I overhead and said "let's wait for treats after we eat dinner" she turned to me and pointedly said, "I asked Grammy, not You!" and proceeded to ask my MIL again who laughed but said, "your Mom said No" rather than just help me out by saying let's wait for after dinner.
DD will even run away from us if we try to be with her and it has nothing to do with us trying to control her from doing something. It just feels like she wishes we would go away and no cramp her style until it's time to go to bed or first thing in the morning where she always wants us of course. This behavior only exists when MIL is around, DD will always try to get MIL to off to another room so they can do things away from everyone else. This was something my MIL started when DD was real young, MIL would always separate DD from the pack of grandkids so they could spend alone time which DH recently started to put the kibosh on. He feels family time is spent with family (not ignoring the rest of the grandkids too) and if his Mom wants alone with her she should plan it separately.
The other point of frustration is MIL, I feel she encourages this type of behavior because she doesn't help us enforce any boundaries at all and undermines us because she will go against our wishes behind our backs. Such as explaining to MIL that we're trying to teach DD not to share utensils or drinks with anyone and then DH caught MIL giving DD a sip of her Diet Coke. MIL also has a weird obsession of wanting to constantly share everything that she's eaten or drunk with DD which I personally find to be disgusting, but the thing is MIL also knows we don't drink soda and that we definitely don't give it to DD and yet she let her have Diet Coke??
I've talked to my SIL's about this and pretty much my thoughts on why MIL does these things are confirmed. She will purposefully offer and give things to DD that she knows we don't want or allow. It's her way of buying DD's affection and being that special person in her life. When DD was younger my MIL would be extremely upset if DD got hurt and would only allow me or DH to comfort her and no one else. My SIL's have told me that MIL always chooses one particular grandkid (there are 12 in the family) to intensely focus on (and she'll completely ignore the rest) and will do anything they want and give them anything they want even before they think or ask for it.
Talking to MIL is not going to work at all. It'll be more of a headache then it's worth and all it will do is create a lot of needless passive aggressive drama and no resolution. It's just easier for us to limit the time DD spends around her and we no longer allow her to babysit or spend any time alone with her without one of us supervising. The problem is with these huge family parties of 30+ people and the annual family getaway where you just can't shadow your kid 24/7. But how can we better handle the blatant disrespect that DD keeps acting out? Do we call her bluff and cut the trip short and say "it's time to leave?"
Any insight or suggestions would be helpful, I'm ready to just say "No more family trips with DH's family or we're going to stay at a hotel".
That is so hard when you feel at odds with your family.
Is this your first child? I just ask, because I used to feel this way with my first child and my parents. After having 3, not so much. I've realized that my parents just genuinely want to have a special relationship with their grandkids, so maybe they do do things that I wouldn't do at home. Time with Nana and Grandpa is outside of what we consider everyday time. It's special time where they are allowed to slip out of a more confining routine.
Why are you concerned that your dd wants to spend time with your mil, and not with you when you are visiting there? Your dd gets you to herself all the time, right? But she doesn't get her grandmother to herself does she, so wouldn't it make sense that she wants to be with her when she comes to visit?
Are there past issues between you and your mil or your dh and his mom that might be contributing to these issues?
Could you prioritize things about what is and what isn't acceptable at grandma's? Disrespect is an absolute no-no, and if she acts that way, she's removed from the situation. But, at grandma's sharing a utensil or a sip of something is acceptable, but not at other times.
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They can do what they want the rest of the time, as long as it doesnt interfere too much with our parenting style (for example, they may not feed DD meat, let her chew gum, or violate our safety rules) They do all sorts of stuff I'd never do: take her to church, let her eat candy, and paint her fingernails. I don't do that stuff. If I pick DD up and she has candy in her hand and it's bedtime- she stays at their house. It only had to happen once. I told them that they could let her eat candy whenever they wanted if she was sleeping at their house. When I arrived (expecting my child to be asleep) at 10:30 to DD with a blowpop in her hand I said, "It looks like you've got your hands full- Ill pick her up in the morning." That was the last time that happened.
FWIW, I brush the hell out of her teeth and don't let her have any sugar for days after she comes home. But I do other things that they'd never, ever let her do. I let her wear her swimsuit to the grocery store. I dont make her wear shoes in the car. I seldomly every make her wipe her face off or brush her hair. No matter what Grandma lets her get away with, you are still her mom and she's probably not going to like grandma better than you.
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
Thanks for the responses :) and sorry my response is going to be long again... guess there is a lot of back story.
This is our first child and yes there have been past issues between MIL and myself/DH but they were manageable but then when DD was born it slowly started to ramp up (not surprisingly). I got advice here and from friends to get a better perspective of things and basically tried to just let things go and not be that crazy first time parent who makes everyone within 15 feet of my kid wash their hands. :)
But it just seemed that everytime we saw MIL (which isn't often) or left DD with she would do bothersome things would just keep adding one on top of each other. Things that I considered to be safety and common sense issues where MIL just had different ideas about what was ok to do.
When DD was a baby and MIL would babysit it would be things such as letting her sit in a dirty diaper for a really long time, leaving her bottle out the entire time and then try to feed her sour smelling milk. My MIL is probably the only Grandmother whom I've ever known not to be concerned with making sure her grandkids eat a good and full meal. If MIL babysits my DD barely eats two bites of her meal and she's a real hearty eater and is always starving when we get home.
When DD was around 2 she let her play with a stick lighter near a fireplace, play with push pins, or stick things into her mouth such as earrings with small pieces or her cell phone (which is always encrusted with her foundation and blush). Everytime we would gently remind MIL that we don't let DD handle or do those things and her response was always, "It's ok, I've got my eye on her". One time she gave DD a permanent marker to play with (even though DD did not ask for it and there were plenty of kid friendly Crayola markers) and DD proceeded to mark herself up with it .
The last straw for me which pretty much nixed MIL ever babysitting at her house and only sometimes at our house came about around two Halloweens ago. A few weeks prior to Halloween MIL didn't keep a good eye on DD so she fell down a flight of stairs and got a pretty good bump on her head. I tried to pass it as accidents happen, not really her fault and kids are fast even though I warned her that DD is really fast, but her response was "It's ok, I've got my eye on her"
Then on Halloween MIL took DD to answer the door when it rang thinking it was trick or treaters to give out candy and they didn't come back for a long time. DH went to look for them thinking they went upstairs to the playroom. Instead he found MIL next door (where his cousin's family and Uncle lives) having a full on screaming argument with his cousin's wife. We were in the same house, the argument started at the front door and MIL should've dropped DD off with us in the back family room or called one of us to the front door, but she didn't want FIL to know there was a problem next door. So MIL instead decided to take my DD into what I consider to be a very dangerous house (Uncle next door is bipolar/alcoholic, cousin's wife is a drug user but MIL is complete denial about it even though we tried to tell her).
But knowing how MIL is just kind of "out there" we have safety parameters, such as DD is never to be left alone with MIL especially at her house and can only babysit at our house. We won't let her drive DD anywhere because she's a very unsafe driver. But at these family parties (which this one was at my SIL's) there are plenty of DH's brother's and SIL's around who all help keep an eye on things so we try to be relaxed. But I guess with all this past history I'm hypersensitive and it seems like DD is getting worse with the disrespect when MIL is around and I leave these family get togethers mentally drained, mad at DD for her behavior and more resentful of MIL than ever.
I'm trying hard to find that middle ground of what is acceptable behavior on DD's part and how I can better handle it while letting DD have a relationship with her Grandma which I think grandparents are a very important part of a child's life. Right now I just don't feel like I'm handling it so well and I just need some better ideas of what I can do to head things off. The disrespect from DD right now has become a kind of bad trigger for me.
Thanks for listening.
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
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