Long story short and don't know how else to say this: my MIL loves my 16 month old daughter to death, takes good care of her about 2x/wk, is a great caregiver, a former RN who raised 4 kids and has a no-nonsense attitude about bodies, etc...but I REALLY HATE how she butts in to wash my daughter's vagina area!
Several times as I've been changing my DD's diaper at her house and she's hovering around to help, she makes it a point to either tell me to separate her labia and wipe inside or reach over and do it herself. This annoys the hell out of me. My DD is always clean, has never had a real diaper rash, no infections down there or anything - I don't understand MIL's obsession. (I'm exaggerating, it's not really an obsession - but it's definitely a "thing.")
At the beach recently she was helping me rinse my baby off in the cabana shower after playing in the sand and the water. She expressed concern about sand getting up in there and irritating DD. I rinsed her and gently wiped around the area, she'd be playing in sand again and she takes a sit-down bath every night, so it would definitely get cleaner that way anyway. But then she reached in and used her hands/fingers to clean inside DD's labia, more roughly than I would have.
I know there are no bad intentions at work here, MIL just has a certain way of doing things and feels very attached to and protective of my daughter. It really bothers me that she doesn't just defer to me before jumping in to do these things (which is sort of her MO in general albeit less so lately) and the beach incident especially just really, really rubbed me the wrong way (so to speak!).
I'm also a lot more private. In my family no one ever gave us baths except for my mom. So grandmas touching privates or otherwise doing mom tasks is alien to me.
Not sure how/if to bring this up with her. She's a great person but gets defensive - it's like she's so used to being The Mom that she can't understand how or why the grandma role is different.
Am I overreacting?
I tend to overreact a lot in general. It doesn't matter. What matters are the consequences/outcome. Being bothered by this is not really the issue; if it bothers you it bothers you. If I put myself in her shoes, and my DIL brought this up, I would feel extremely upset because of the nature of the issue. How can you possibly address this issue without being confrontational?
Or, are you willing to create a lot of added distance in order to convey how you feel?
I would say, the best possible thing to do is explain DD is extra sensitive down there and likely inherited it from you, and that you will feel much less worried if she would avoid cleaning the areas mentioned.
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In any case, I would absolutely at the very least physically block her from "helping" while you change your DD's diaper. A simple, "I've got it," said more firmly as needed should do the trick.
Cleaning so vigorously could actually do the opposite of what she is thinking she is accomplishing by going in there.
But that's not the point. You are uncomfortable, she needs to back off.
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"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
She probably has some retro ideas about female genital cleanliness. Do you think she'd be open to reading a handout or a website about current cleaning standards? I do agree with the posters who said not to let her "help out" when you are around, but when she is watching your daughter, I'd hate to think she is cleaning more vigorously and perhaps causing problems. If you can bring her ideas up to date that may be all it takes.
It's hard when you are dealing with a nurse who probably feels like she has more background in knowing what to do than you do.
But this is just a big 'NO' to me. No no no. I seriously can't even imagine being in this situation. And I totally understand what you are saying about her intentions and that's all well and good, but she needs to keep her fingers out of your daughters privates.
Even if she doesnt have bad intentions, her putting her fingers in your daughters labia is inappropriate. With a girl who I am not her mother I can accomplish the same using wipes, or rinse if necesary. Your daughter is just starting to be old enough where she can learn that no one but her mom touches her in that manner.
I teach preschool, I sometimes have to change dipes. I use a wipe or two but to go digging around in another person's labia is wrong. I assume most of the children I care for get a bath at the end of the day, so I don't get too vigorous with the cleaning.
I mean I have a girl and I don't remember ever having to get to vigorous with cleaning. Maybe with an explosive poop I had to use a warm wet wash cloth to clean her better, but nothing vigorous or intense.
And I never had to dig around or spread anything to deeply at all.
Thank you all and sorry for the delayed response! It's reassuring to know I'm not overreacting. I do want to point out that at the beach the day I mentioned there really was a lot of sand in there, so she wasn't just putting her fingers in as part of a usual cleaning routine. I'm not sure what to do about it when I'm not around. As a previous poster mentioned, I think it's partially a lack of information. I've tried to tactfully share updated information about nutrition and other things with mixed results...I'll have to figure out how to share about this one. My daughter adores my MIL and she's been so helpful and supportive to us in a thousand ways. I have to deal with this in a way that won't hurt her feelings.
Can you be really frank with her? That might be the best, though slightly awkward, approach. "Don't worry too much about wiping her genitals. DD has never had any infections or anything and in general I think you are sometimes too forceful with her labia. Would you mind if I cleaned her from now on?"
As an RN, I can just say that we're obsessed with keeping genitals clean (along with staying active to prevent constipation and lung health..among other hang ups). That might be what her deal is, or maybe not. Either way, it's weird of her. Awkward.
Your not over reacting..I would tell her that she is being too rough and she only needs to clean the outside of a childs genitals..Years ago when my child was in diapers she started locking her legs and screaming when she pooped and they put her on the changing table..she was in the 2 year old room..I remember the year before another girl doing this in the same room and her mom being as baffled I was about it..Come to find out one of the caregivers was being pretty rough and digging with wipes in their area to clean and that is why..The reason I know is I walked in on her doing it..I told her to stop..she was being way to rough and there was no reason to go inside...She said but I got to get the poop out..I said that is what the tub is for...I just about died when I saw her seperate her area with one hand and just charge with the other...smh....
^^^^Eeeek... I will run a wipe gently between her labia but there is no digging involved, and I get it all out! How has this person not figured that out?
This makes total sense because she is always a little paranoid about constipation. Like if my daughter hasn't pooped in the 5 hours she's with her she'll make it a point to tell me. And she used to be hypervigilant about fevers and taking temps.
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