Free range parenting in someone else's house (update, my mom cut dd's hair) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 71 Old 11-02-2010, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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for those of you who have read any past threads of mine, you know that my mom and I have a fairly toxic/difficult reationship although it has improved a little over the last year or so.

SO and I have picked a date to get married and we are going to be living apart for the next 6 months or so until that time. This is not a decision we take lightly and we have very strong feelings about it, so please no "how could you put your child through this" type responses. I'm really looking for support here.

I am going to be staying with my parents and he will be staying with roommates/friends. The kids will be with both of us but primarily with me since I'm nursing dd and there is more room anyway at my parents' place. mY dad really wants to help and offered to let me stay rent free (for the first time since I was.....16????) so that SO and I can save up money for our future plans. We would love to buy a house and the market for it is good right now....this gives us a chance to work on that. So I am very indebted to him for that generosity.

Now....my mom was and is extremely overprotective. When ds visits her, she follows him everywhere, even to the bathroom. She has a lovely, very safe fenced backyard that can be seen from several windows in the house, but she won't let him play out there unless she is out there with him. The yard is l-shaped and she won't even let him go around the corner without her accompanying him. Ds is accustomed to going outside with his neighborhood friends here and having the run of the yard and the neighbor's yard while I keep an eye on him from inside.at our house, ds can open the fridge and get himself a drink or snack from the bottom shelf; at her house, she still wants him to wear a bib. You get the idea.

I know this is probably sounding like a complaint, but I'm committed to making this work for 6 months, but without losing my own parenting style completely. I'm willing to give in on things, especially in the area of cleaning, because we are a lot more relaxed here and my mom likes a scrupulously clean house. I can do that, given that it's her house and i'm living there for free. But I'm not willing to go back to babying ds in every aspect of life.

Has anyone been in this situation? Again, this is something that I HAVE to deal with, so please don't tell me not to move. I know there's goign to be some conflict. I would just like to minimize it and hear from others what is reasonable and what isn't. I should add that when she is in charge of my kids, babysittign or just spending time with them, I defer to her. If I'm not there and she wants to spend her whole day following ds around or cutting up his chicken nuggets that's her prerogative. She is Grandma and I understand taht she is going to have a different way of doing things. I just don't want her to try and make ME do it her way. Just like I'm not trying to make her do things my way. does that make sense?

Any grandparents on this board I would love to hear your perspective!!

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#2 of 71 Old 11-02-2010, 12:23 PM
 
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I want to offer you some advice but I don't think I have any that would be constructive. I think you are heading into a very difficult situation and I hope it turns out ok.

My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

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#3 of 71 Old 11-02-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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I think that keeping in mind that it's very temporary will help. I'd also work on non-violent communication with your mom.

When it starts driiving you bonker, have the kids spend some time with their dad or go out together as a family to a park or something. Don't let yourself feel trapped, because you really aren't. You are making a decision to delay gratification, which is a very mature thing to do. Keep an eye on the long term and don't get sucked into the details, which will pass VERY quickly.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#4 of 71 Old 11-02-2010, 01:17 PM
 
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I live with my parents right now and we have had to make sacrafices to make it work. It was very rocky at first but has evened out a lot now. I don't really have any specific advice, but I have found that being firm about what is important to me and compromising on other things (even parenting things) helps us to keep a positive atmosphere in the house. Talking about these things ahead of time might help, even if she is mad initially she will probably talk with her friends and get perspective that helps her ease up on some things. Or she will tell you that it is her house, she is letting you stay for free, and the conditions of that (which is good to know before moving in also).
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#5 of 71 Old 11-02-2010, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think that keeping in mind that it's very temporary will help. I'd also work on non-violent communication with your mom.

When it starts driiving you bonker, have the kids spend some time with their dad or go out together as a family to a park or something. Don't let yourself feel trapped, because you really aren't. You are making a decision to delay gratification, which is a very mature thing to do. Keep an eye on the long term and don't get sucked into the details, which will pass VERY quickly.
That is very encouraging, thank you. Having a concrete date is what will help me keep my sanity, I think. ds is very excited and wants to move today....I think he is expecting it to be one big party from now til April

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#6 of 71 Old 11-02-2010, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I live with my parents right now and we have had to make sacrafices to make it work. It was very rocky at first but has evened out a lot now. I don't really have any specific advice, but I have found that being firm about what is important to me and compromising on other things (even parenting things) helps us to keep a positive atmosphere in the house. Talking about these things ahead of time might help, even if she is mad initially she will probably talk with her friends and get perspective that helps her ease up on some things. Or she will tell you that it is her house, she is letting you stay for free, and the conditions of that (which is good to know before moving in also).
Would you be willing toshare specifics? I'm interested in hearing about what parenting things you've compromised on and how it worked for you. Like what things you are firm about and what you were able to let go, and if that affected your relationship with your kids. That is my main concern, that their respect for me will be undermined with two extra adults chiming in on everything I say.

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#7 of 71 Old 11-02-2010, 01:32 PM
 
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Right or wrong, when people have physical (as in housing) and financial control, they often tend to feel that they should have control over other areas as well. I guess just keep your eye on the prize (the end date and the fact that you'll be saving lots of money).

It's good that you're willing to let your mom interact with your DS as she sees fit and you just don't want her to try to influence the way you choose to parent. I guess just keep repeating, "Thanks mom, but this is how we've always done it and it works for us."

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#8 of 71 Old 11-02-2010, 01:49 PM
 
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...I think he is expecting it to be one big party from now til April
it may be that way for him.

He's going to GRANDMA'S house

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#9 of 71 Old 11-02-2010, 01:51 PM
 
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Its six months. Its not going to kill you or stunt your son etc. Maybe he will really enjoy hanging out with grandma. Maybe he will be willing to humor her. In that case she is the one wasting time following him around every where and babying him. I have a friend that baby's my dd and dd eats it up. I roll my eyes. whatever. Is your mom going to be around all the time? Will there be regular chunks of time where your children will be free to putz around the house without grandma watching their every move. Hey, maybe she will start to relax the more time she spends around them and realizes how capable they are. One can hope And their dad will want to see them a lot. So when you feel like you are going to blow a fuse, time to go spend some time with daddy.

That said, I think if grandmas hovering starts causing your son to freak out you will need to stand up for him. You will need to be calm and firm. I wouldn't use terms like AP or free range. Use words she will understand (even if it makes you cringe inside) "Mom, he is a good boy. He can play outside alone." or "Mom, he is a big boy, he does not need a bib."

And you end of the deal is to make sure you are not overlooking behaviors others may see as irritating, dangerous or unacceptable. Make sure your kids and you are respecting house rules, being tidy, respecting our house mates needs and desires. You may not feel he needs to be followed around because you don't mind what happens when he does but if grandma is heart broken or stressed out or angered over what happens when he is roaming free then indeed he does need more supervision while at her house.

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#10 of 71 Old 11-02-2010, 11:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yeah ds definitely eats up the attention.

I know they will want to see their dad but he works nights and sleeps days so he can only take them overnight 1 kid at a time, 2 nights a week, plus he and I are still going to be sharing the car, but from two separate residences....oh it makes my head hurt to think about it......

I think ds and I will have to also talk about the expectations at grandma's house, that he will still be expected to listen to me. My mom has had a bad habit in the past of "overruling" me to the point that I felt backed into a corner where my only choice to assert myself as the mother was resorting to spanking the child. Which I resisted, but then he got the message that that dynamic was ok.

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#11 of 71 Old 11-03-2010, 12:32 AM
 
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Would you be willing toshare specifics? I'm interested in hearing about what parenting things you've compromised on and how it worked for you. Like what things you are firm about and what you were able to let go, and if that affected your relationship with your kids. That is my main concern, that their respect for me will be undermined with two extra adults chiming in on everything I say.
I had to find less messy art to have dd do in the winter so she could explore art without my mom freaking about glitter and other things being harmful if ingested by kids and dogs, limit my dd in where she could have her toys (which is very hard for us because I think a house should show signs of kids being around and dd is used to spreading out), stay on top of any pile of crumbs until my step-dad went on vacation and my mom stopped blaming me for all the mess because the mess went on vacation also, go outside with my dd even in the backyard until she was in first grade, do things with the family more often than I would like to, be quick to intervene when my dd does something that my mom thinks is really not good for a child to do and deserves a punishment.

I have been able to parent the way I want to still and there are many sacrifices they have made to have us here too. It is just hard to hear a lot of judgment, to have to do a lot of education, and to have to explain yourself a lot. I am a single mom and used to making the choices with dd without any interference, and the second guessing is the worst. The little compromises have cut down a lot on the pressure so I have the strength to stand firm on the bigger things like parenting and not insisting that my dd eat an 8 oz piece of chicken breast (which is four servings even for an adult) in addition to a slice of bread, a huge pile of vegetables, and a 12-16 oz glass of milk at each meal and not being allowed to have anything else after the meal if she hasn't eaten all of that. Luckily I took a nutrition class in college, in addition to learning the food pyramid every year until high school,and am able to come back at her with what food serving sizes and daily recommended amounts are.
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#12 of 71 Old 11-03-2010, 12:56 AM
 
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Have you considered enlisting your Dad's help?
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#13 of 71 Old 11-03-2010, 01:12 AM
 
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How old are your children?

I would aim for keeping things that he will really notice, like getting his own snacks and drinks, the same. Talk to your mom about them, ask her to help you arrange a shelf that's for him, that kind of thing.

I would just plan to go outside with him, or that she will. When you do, just take something to do such that he has more freedom/feels less watched. It is a different neighborhood and your mom might actually have a good feel for the relative safety of it.

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#14 of 71 Old 11-03-2010, 01:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Have you considered enlisting your Dad's help?
unfortunately that is a waste of breath. He openly acknowledges that no matter what he says or does my mom is going to be who she is.

If it escalates he may occasionally intervene in the heat of the moment but he has pretty much gotten to the point that he just stays out of it.

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#15 of 71 Old 11-03-2010, 01:27 AM
 
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Well I think to a certain extent you're going to have to defer to your Mum's rules, as it is her house.

I would say that if she wants to follow him around, let her. I would tell her that he is quite capable of doing XYZ by himself and continue to parent in the way you do but let her follow him. I think your son will realise that's the way Grandma is and you are different.

I guess just practise saying "Thanks Mum, but I'M his Mother. You just concentrate on having fun with him and let me worry about the discipline."

It's complicated.
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#16 of 71 Old 11-04-2010, 03:28 AM
 
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Could you discuss ground rules w/ your mom prior to moving in? So that you're both on the same page?
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#17 of 71 Old 11-04-2010, 11:03 AM
 
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Its six months. Its not going to kill you or stunt your son etc. Maybe he will really enjoy hanging out with grandma. Maybe he will be willing to humor her. In that case she is the one wasting time following him around every where and babying him.

And you end of the deal is to make sure you are not overlooking behaviors others may see as irritating, dangerous or unacceptable. Make sure your kids and you are respecting house rules, being tidy, respecting our house mates needs and desires. You may not feel he needs to be followed around because you don't mind what happens when he does but if grandma is heart broken or stressed out or angered over what happens when he is roaming free then indeed he does need more supervision while at her house.
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Well I think to a certain extent you're going to have to defer to your Mum's rules, as it is her house.

I would say that if she wants to follow him around, let her. I would tell her that he is quite capable of doing XYZ by himself and continue to parent in the way you do but let her follow him. I think your son will realise that's the way Grandma is and you are different.

I guess just practise saying "Thanks Mum, but I'M his Mother. You just concentrate on having fun with him and let me worry about the discipline."
If I have read your post right, it sounds like G-ma is overprotective, not necessarily controlling. From your siggy, I see your DS is almost three years old, which (IMO) is old enough to understand that different people have different expectations. He will probably figure out fast enough that grandma expects him to wear a bib and sit at the table when she feeds him a snack, and that when he goes outside to play she will be right on top of him. It might temporarily put a cramp in his style, but he's young, and it's likely he will adapt to grandma's lifestyle and helicopter ways.

Since this living arrangement is only for six months, I would encourage you to not interfere with your mom's expectations of your son (unless, of course, something she does endangers his safety, which sounds pretty unlikely given how overprotective she is). Expecting a child to wear a bib while eating a snack might seem like micromanagement to you, but to your mom it might seem like a good way to avoid extra laundry. Likewise, her watching over him like a hawk while he plays in the backyard might seem to you as a restriction of his freedom to play and explore, but to her it may seem like the only way to make sure he's safe. As long as she respects your son as a person, I don't see that living with an overprotective grandma for half a year will imprint lasting damage on his spirit and curiousity. Like the PP quoted above said, let g-ma set the ground rules (shoes off in the house, supervised outside, or whatever your mom expects), while you handle the discipline. This situation doesn't sound hopeless, but it does sound like there might be a learning curve involved.

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#18 of 71 Old 11-04-2010, 11:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ok, so now my question is, I know this is probably going to make me sound awful, but....I have TWO kids, my mom only had me, so she doesn't "get" that there are times when you have to sacrifice one kid for the other, so to speak. i.e. let dd cry for a minute while I tend to ds, or vice versa. Expect ds to get his own snack so that I can nurse the baby.

SO said that I should tell my mom that beyond normal age appropriate supervision, the onus is on her to follow him around and micromanage, that I shouldn't be expected to do it, especially with two children. If she wants to do it, fine, but i'm not. I'm not sure I agree but at the same time I can't imagine what kind of stress it would cause me to try and keep both kids "supervised" at the level she expects all the time. I should add that she has never had to watch both kids alone for more than an hour or two unless one or both was sleeping. Is that fair to say to her since it's her house? Again I'm not talking about allowing my children to just go wild and tear her house apart. i don't allow that here, either. at my house ds has chores and everything (whereas over there he isn't expected to do much but be cute). I just can't fathom how I can get anything done if I have to keep ds in arm's reach every waking moment.

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#19 of 71 Old 11-04-2010, 11:33 PM
 
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I would save that for when you are there and she brings it up. I don't think starting out with that kind of point blank statement is going to go over well and it may be unnecessary. Chances are she will see how hard it is when she sees you with them both or she will at least notice you are nursing one child and she will step in to get him what he needs instead of telling you that you should. If at all possible I suggest having her watch both at a time when they are both awake a few times before even moving in. My mom used to say stuff when I reacted in any way that showed any hint of frustration or being upset with my child, but then she started watching her a lot more and she stopped harping on me being human and she admitted that it was hard and told me she didn't know how I did it without losing it more often.
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#20 of 71 Old 11-04-2010, 11:39 PM
 
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I totally agree with your partner on this. It is fine if she wants to follow him around and baby him and SHE is free to do that. But you are only one person and you can only do so much. So long as he is behaving I would let her do her thing while you do yours and not worry about the amount of work she is creating for herself.

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#21 of 71 Old 11-05-2010, 12:14 AM
 
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We have slightly different issues. My parents tend to discipline our kids even when we are there, which makes us batty. They also have different ideas about what is acceptable - they fret more, especially my dad. We were worried when my parents volunteered to be our childcare providers for a month this past summer. In a foreign country, no less.

It ended up working out much better than expected. When we were not around, it was up to them to figure things out. They didn't always make the choices we would have made - the kids ate an awful lot of ice cream - but the choices weren't terrible. I was especially worried about the frequent conflict b/t my father and DS. They ended up working this out and even finding a mutual sense of humor on some things.

So, take heart. You will probably need to make some compromises, but so will they. Your mom will really get a sense of the complications of two children.
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#22 of 71 Old 11-05-2010, 12:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We have slightly different issues. My parents tend to discipline our kids even when we are there, which makes us batty. They also have different ideas about what is acceptable - they fret more, especially my dad.
yeah that is the type of issue I had when I stayed with them before. I would give ds a fork, she would take it from him calling it dangerous and give him a spoon, I would tell her he is allowed to use a fork and would give it back to him, and she would continue to take it away. or else sulk the entire meal. even when i was RIGHT THERE.

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#23 of 71 Old 11-05-2010, 12:46 AM
 
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I think she is going to get desensitized to it after awhile. I mean if you are fine with letting him go out in the yard, and she feels like he needs to be supervised, she can go out and supervise him. But I think after awhile she'll realize that it's unnecessary. Now if she's like my mom, she won't go out and supervise him, she'll just nag and nag until you absolutely can't hear the own thoughts in your own head Amy, do you think that's a good idea? Oh, well I see we have different ideas how to raise a child, I would never have done that, when I had my babies, they were all swaddled and asleep in their cribs by 6 pm...are there any big dogs around here? Dogs can jump the fence and kill him so fast, you wouldn't know what hit you...did you hear about that child that was killed in his backyard from a falling roof tile? Amy, this *really* makes me nervous, you need to go get him. What? What was that? That was lightning, wasn't it? Oh, go out with him, for heaven's sake!!!
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#24 of 71 Old 11-05-2010, 01:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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\Amy, do you think that's a good idea? Oh, well I see we have different ideas how to raise a child, I would never have done that, when I had my babies, they were all swaddled and asleep in their cribs by 6 pm...are there any big dogs around here? Dogs can jump the fence and kill him so fast, you wouldn't know what hit you...did you hear about that child that was killed in his backyard from a falling roof tile? Amy, this *really* makes me nervous, you need to go get him. What? What was that? That was lightning, wasn't it? Oh, go out with him, for heaven's sake!!!
clearly we have the same mother. You've got her down to a tee

Very blessed mama to one bouncin' boy bouncy.gif (12/07) one angel3.gif who didn't get to stay (6/09), one potty learning, mess making divaenergy.gif(4/10), and one cheerful milk monster. aabfwoman.gif (12/11) Happy partner to the love of my lifedp_malesling.GIF.  

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#25 of 71 Old 11-05-2010, 01:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pregnant@40 View Post
Could you discuss ground rules w/ your mom prior to moving in? So that you're both on the same page?
I agree, some pre-move-in ground rules would help in the future if you have to refer back to the agreement.

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Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
I totally agree with your partner on this. It is fine if she wants to follow him around and baby him and SHE is free to do that. But you are only one person and you can only do so much. So long as he is behaving I would let her do her thing while you do yours and not worry about the amount of work she is creating for herself.


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Originally Posted by Viola View Post
I think she is going to get desensitized to it after awhile.
I agree. She hasn't lived with him, plus your other child, plus you, all at the same time, 24/7. Gramma work is fun when it's just a couple hours. It's exhausting to continue around the clock and she will change, if nothing else, she'll be more stressed out trying to do more than she has to.

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#26 of 71 Old 11-05-2010, 08:41 AM
 
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MY MIL is extremely overprotective like your mom. She cuts up his food off of plates that I give him, runs across the room in a panic if he trips, etc. At the same time, she lets him do whatever he wants as long as she's watching him like a hawk. It drives me nuts, but I try to choose my battles with it.

It seems to work out the best for us for DH and I to only ask her to not do things that result in behaviors we don't want repeated in our home. So, I bite my tongue about some things. If she wants to run around after him like a chicken with her head cut off all day, fine by me. For other behaviors DH will say, "Hey mom, we're trying to get DS to stop standing on the kitchen table while throwing his entire lunch to the dogs. Why don't you try to get him to stop doing that here too." That's not something he actually does at home, but it is something I don't want him to think is okay either. (Apparently this is okay as long as she has a white knuckled fist hold on his t-shirt.) This approach has worked so far and hasn't resulted in any hurt feelings or overstepping on either side.

I mean who knows how I'll act as a grandma.

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#27 of 71 Old 11-05-2010, 09:09 AM
 
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I agree with Viola - do you think she'll be able to keep it up for 6 months? I would imagine after a while that she'll realise that he's not a baby and that she needs to let him be a three year old. If she really as Viola described - loved it by the way, then do you not think she'll move onto something else?

I'm sure that the time will pass quickly, maybe you could introduce doing yoga together with her and the kids - it make a difference! Good luck - I don't envy your position!!

PS I just wanted to let you know about my dad who also keeps out of things where my mother is concerned although she lets the kids do what they want to the extreme - doesn't see the danger anyway - this summer she took my kids out to do the garden and gave our dd hedge shears to cut the hedge with and left the kids to their own devices - needless to say that shortly after dd cut ds's finger to the bone with the hedge shears, mother was saying it's nothing don't worry about it, my dad on the other hand just stepped in and called her name in a voice I have never heard him use and we left for the hospital - so he may come to his senses and take a hold of a situation and then things change from thereon - or at least that's what happened with us! Anyway i just wanted to let you know that there is hope that you dad could help you!

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#28 of 71 Old 11-09-2010, 01:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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ok so I just had to update with this gem: my mother cut dd's hair without asking while I was at work. When I got dd back, not only had she cut about an inch off dd's adorable, sideswept bangs (and crookedly/jaggedly too) but all the hair that had grown out past the nape of of her neck in the back, was gone too. I seriously wanted to cry...the haircut lookes horrible. dd's dad was FURIOUS and said that no matter what we will be rearranging work schedules so that dd isn't being watched by my mom much or at all (not just because of the hair cutting, but more because of her laissez faire attitude when we spoke up, as if WE were the crazy overreacting ones.). She also "accidentally on purpose" broke our stroller. So we are off to a bit of a rocky start.

However I am really proud of myself because I have not been engaging her one bit. When we were starting to head that direction, I got my guts up and said, "mom, we're two grown women, let's please skip the cattiness and just act like it." I know that it is driving her crazy because I haven't so far gotten into an argument or blown up, but....I think maybe I am maturing or going to counseling has worked or something because I really am not interested, at all, in eliciting any reactions from my mom, or in engaging her in any drama. This is a first for me.

I'm just doing me, and my family

Very blessed mama to one bouncin' boy bouncy.gif (12/07) one angel3.gif who didn't get to stay (6/09), one potty learning, mess making divaenergy.gif(4/10), and one cheerful milk monster. aabfwoman.gif (12/11) Happy partner to the love of my lifedp_malesling.GIF.  

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#29 of 71 Old 11-09-2010, 01:38 AM
 
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I think when you are at someone else's house, you give on some things. She does not want him helping himself to the fridge, fine, he does not need to do that. If putting a bib on him thrills her and doesn't upset him, then whatever. The haircut thing would really get to me, but I have big hang ups over that.

Is there any way you and SO can make things work to live together? Can he move in with you? Is there any place you all can afford to live together?

It sounds miserable. (((hugs))) But I am afraid that much of it, you need to just deal with because of the living situation. Now, if you were paying half the bills and asking for nothing free, like food or babysitting, it would be a little different. I hope the wedding is as soon as possible.

Do you mind sharing why you two are separated yet still plan to marry in the future?
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#30 of 71 Old 11-09-2010, 01:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post
I think when you are at someone else's house, you give on some things. She does not want him helping himself to the fridge, fine, he does not need to do that. If putting a bib on him thrills her and doesn't upset him, then whatever. The haircut thing would really get to me, but I have big hang ups over that.

Is there any way you and SO can make things work to live together? Can he move in with you? Is there any place you all can afford to live together?

It sounds miserable. (((hugs))) But I am afraid that much of it, you need to just deal with because of the living situation. Now, if you were paying half the bills and asking for nothing free, like food or babysitting, it would be a little different. I hope the wedding is as soon as possible.

Do you mind sharing why you two are separated yet still plan to marry in the future?
I'm not paying rent but I am doing the cooking and cleaning and providing the food. As of right now, she isn't doing any alone babysitting of dd at all, and very little for ds (only maybe to drive him to school or something). We are still reeling from the haircut thing (and also the fact that she gave dd food we told her not to give, and so on). I lved with them before when I was just getting on my feet when ds was a baby and I DID pay rent, utilities, etc and it was actually worse. Go figure.

We are getting married in april. We were living together but for religious/spiritual reasons we are trying to get our lives on track and felt it would be better if we stopped living together until we are married. There are legal loose ends that I have to tie up before we can get married and it is finances that prevent me from doing that right now. so that is the plan. we are still together and very much in love i'm looking into subsidized housing for me and the kids though, just until April. The goal here is to save money, get back on track with our religious principles, and earnng money while still beign available as parents. Tryng to find the right balance.

Very blessed mama to one bouncin' boy bouncy.gif (12/07) one angel3.gif who didn't get to stay (6/09), one potty learning, mess making divaenergy.gif(4/10), and one cheerful milk monster. aabfwoman.gif (12/11) Happy partner to the love of my lifedp_malesling.GIF.  

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