Unwanted Grandparent Comments - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-18-2002, 01:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I just have to get this off my chest. I have a nine month old dd, almost exclusively breastfed, and she is a very healthy, very chubby little girl. Probably weighs around 23 lbs or so. Her Dr isn't concerned about her weight, and everything I've read says that you can't overfeed a bf baby, and that you don't need to worry about a baby's weight in the first year. So we were over at my parent's house today, and when my mom saw dd, the first thing she said was "Hi, Slim." She is always making comments about dd's weight and how "fat" she is. She introduces dd to other people as her granddaughter "Slim" and has always been somewhat sarcastic about the way that she looks. Now my mom is on the heavier side, and has always harped on me about my weight to the point that I have had serious problems with eating disorders (she doesn't know this) and other weight obsessions my whole life. I'm trying so hard to raise dd in a way that she will be surrounded with positive influences and protect her from the sarcasm and cutting remarks that were so prevalent in the home I grew up in. So how do I deal with this? Am I making too big of a deal of a little thing? I've told her that the Dr is pleased with her health, and that there's no such thing as an overweight bf baby, but the remarks are still there. My mom thinks it's all a joke, but from personal experience, I know that "jokes" like that, especially about something as personal as weight or looks really hurt. I want dd to have a relationship with my parents, but not at the expense of her emotions. Thanks for letting me vent!

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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Old 07-18-2002, 02:06 AM
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I knew a girl who was going through this same type of situation. She was always called chunky while growing up, and as an adult I believe has serious eating issues. She is rail thin. I mean really thin. When she had her son she swore he would not have to hear those comments, it really affected her self image, even though she wasn't really even chunky as a kid. Anyway, she made it VERY clear that the use of those "weight words" would not be tolerated. Her family has made comments about it behind her back, but I have never heard them say a word to her face about her wishes. They don't call her son chunky or anything.

So I guess the best idea is to tell your mom in NO uncertain terms that she is to stop referring to your dd as 'slim'. If she can't do this then leave. I would give her a few slip-ups (we're all only human), but if she isn't making an effort put her foot down. Oh and call her on it. If she slips up correct her immediately. That should do the trtick.


*This coming from a woman who would rather strangle her MIL thatn say anything to her :
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Old 07-18-2002, 02:24 AM
 
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I agree with Diaperdiva but i also think you should tell her how her words have affected your life. Unless she is just a totally rude person ( i am thinking of me & my mom in this type of situation, please take no offense) she'll now know how she hurt you and maybe make her try harder to not hurt her grand baby.
Good luck....
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Old 07-18-2002, 12:26 PM
 
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I disagree that your mother thinks it is all a joke.
I think she has weight issues and were she my mother I would, as lovingly as possible, discuss this with her and ask her to refrain from any weight-related comments. Do it privately, though, and not after she has made some sarcastic remark, but when you all are 'in synch" and both feeling positive about each other.

I had to do this with a relative who constantly commented that my daughter was 'beautiful, gorgeous, etc.' which really went overboard. I asked her to focus instead on her qualities rather than her looks and explained my concerns and she was very receptive and supportive. Now she knows to say "You're so gentle!" or "You're so healthy and strong!" instead of focusing only on her appearance.

Gotta say, though, that I love those really chubby breastfed babies. My friend's daughter was a super-chubby, curly-haired red-head. She had the sweetest little rolls on her thighs. Now, of course, she's a slim, high-speed toddler. . .

How quickly they grow!
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Old 07-18-2002, 01:42 PM
 
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I would tell her in no uncertain terms that she may not make weight comments or jokes to DD. She may or may not think it's funny, but her comments obviously did a number on you.

That said, I would not say anything about what her words have done to you. That would just strain your relationship more than it may already be strained, and serve no purpose IMO other than "putting her in her place." You're an adult, deal with it as an adult.

But it's not a problem to say that "my DD is healthy, feeding just as she should, and insulting remarks and nicknames are not allowed." And take a hard stand on it, too. Hopefully she'll get the point.

- Amy
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Old 07-18-2002, 02:47 PM
 
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I had this exact same situation with my SIL who was calling my daughter "fatty". Now, my daughter was only a baby at the time but I put a stop to it IMMEDIATELY. SIL was quite offended and said, "I wouldn't say it if it were true, I'm not trying to hurt her feelings and she doesn't understand what I'm saying anyway" to which I replied "I don't care whether you think it's true or not and I don't care whether she understands or not - it's good practice for you now to stop calling her a deragatory name that she will understand later. "

Needles to say, she still thinks I'm kinda b*tchy but there are too many young girls with eating disorders and they have gotten the idea that they are "fat" from someone! I will not permit that with my sweet girl.

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Old 07-18-2002, 04:04 PM
 
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Yup, BTDT. I don't allow people to call DD "fat" nicknames (now that she's a toddler she has less fat on her anyways, she was a chubby baby). They do it to my cat too who is overweight. It pisses me off and I tell them so, even if one doesn't think they understand it doesn't make it right to call someone names. I have personal issues and I am sure this plays in but I don't think there is anything wrong with saying name calling won't be tolerated.

I love chubby little babies. When someone would say something about DD's roundnesss I 'd say "That's just how babies are supposed to be !" and feel very pleased in her perfection this way.
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Old 07-18-2002, 05:11 PM
 
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OOOH this is one of my sore points! I do NOT tolerate any remarks about weight, size, chubbiness, etc - not even meant in a good way. I had to really discuss this with my mom who was not really that offended just taken aback because she hadn't really thought about her remarks. I still remember my grandmother telling me I was chubby, had a pot belly, etc - and it still hurts when I think about it. Kids should be allowed the bliss of just being enjoyed and to have their insides count more than their outsides. My parents knew that my grandmother hurt my feelings but rarely stood up to her. So that is my personal issue - I know that my dd's feelings are more fragile than my parents' and I will hurt them if I have to. (wow that sounds militant, I, of course, try in a nice way first, I'm a big wimp - but this is important to me.) But seriously - it isn't something I would take lightly. Good luck!
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Old 07-18-2002, 06:48 PM
 
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Oh yes. . . don't tell her about the effect her comments had on you.
That will just serve to:
A. Provide her with more 'ammunition'
B. Enable her to say that it's "your" issue and you're over-reacting.

(if she were truly gentle and well-intentioned she wouldn't have made such comments to begin with to either you or your daughter)
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Old 07-18-2002, 07:46 PM
 
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Well now, I don't know. If her mother has weight issues and her attitude caused Staycmom to have weight issues, and this woman is now a grandmother with a lot of influence in the life of this baby, I think, if done under the right circumstances, that sharing with her how these comments affected your life would be *the* way to take the air out of her obsession with telling other people about their weight. I would not do it to make her feel guilty, but to make her more aware of her behavior. Obviously this is a sickness with her, and if no one has ever told her how it has harmed them, why in the world should she stop?

The one time I told my mom how traumatized I had been by some of the things she did when I was a child, it was tremendously helpful for us both. Once you can talk about something, it is that much easier later to do "damage control" if and when abusive behaviours re appear in the family. The first time you talk about something is always the most difficult.

I just think if this woman believes what she says is helpful, it will continue the moment your back is turned. After all, she is "helping" isn't she? I doubt she would agree to stop if you just arbitrarily told her too.

Just my 2c...

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Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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Old 07-18-2002, 08:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions.

My mom does have a weight problem, and she also has a problem being emotionally honest , or even emotionally involved. She has always dealt with things by using sarcasm and "jokes" and although it's always bugged me when directed towards me or my dh, it makes me furious when directed towards dd. We're trying so hard to raise her in a positive enviroment, and I will not have all the work that I've done towrds that end undone by a few careless remarks. I don't think that my mom and I are in a place right now where I can be open and honest about how the things that she has said has affected me int he past- I am too afraid of old wounds and hurst being opened and would rather just leave things the way they are for now. I have just come to realize in these past couple of years how the way i was reaised has hurt me emotionally, and it has taken me a long time to get too this point in the first place! But, I will in no way allow her comments to hurt my dd or make her feel self concious or sensitive about her weight the way she did with me. I mean, realistically, she is a beautiful, healthy baby, with lots of cute rolls on her legs , and cheeks that everyone loves to pinch! Thanks for giving me the courage to stand up! (And if anyone else hsa suggestions, let me know...)

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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Old 07-19-2002, 12:28 AM
 
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Staceymom-- are you sure we are not long lost sisters separated at birth? Sounds like your mom and my mom are one and the same. Very frustrating, no? Everyone in my family has eating and weight issues -- my mom is heavy, one sister is a gym freak and totally self-conscious about her (fine) weight, the other has had numerous issues and eating disorders, and then there is me (minor eating disorders, totally invested in "healthy eating", exercise, etc. to the point of near obsession). I am trying so hard to communicate to my kids that health is what is important, not weight, and that good eating habits and exercise are important; what you look like is not. My mom makes comments about my weight, my sisters' weight (to me, behind their backs and says -- but I could never say that to them!) and my mothering in general. She even says things to my kids like "grandma likes lots of butter on her toast, but your Mommy would never let you have that, would she!") Everything is a joke and you cannot "call" her on anything, because she throws it back on you tht you have no sense of humor. SHe has not yet started on my kids physical forms but I am every vigilant! Good luck with Mom!

PS -- Do you think it is a problem to squeeze dd3's legs and squeal "Oh look at these chubby legs! I love them" It makes her laugh (she is 7 mo) and she was 4 lbs when she was born so I am beside myself with BFing joy that she has rolls.
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Old 07-19-2002, 06:19 PM
 
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Don't want to drift the thread, but my wonderful but human Dad often gave me the "Can't you tell when I'm joking?" line when he'd hurt my feelings. It's kind of a double insult: not only was I the butt of his teasing, but I'm too sensitive and have no sense of humor. Yes, I knew it was a joke and yes, it offended me.
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Old 07-20-2002, 02:47 PM
 
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Plus Staceymom, my ds was a _total_ chub when he was pre-9 mo.s and once he started crawling/walking he's totally slimmed down. I had pressure from MIL to start feeding him solids even after I explained my fam. history of food allergies. Ironically it was after I started feeding ds solids that he started losing weight and now i'm in the category of worrying that he has enough fat on him. It's just funny how things change.

If something is really bugging me I usually chose to talk to that person and let them know how I feel (ie I felt really hurt when you did this) so that they're aware of it. However I do understand what it's like to be in a relationship with a mother who refuses to discuss certain things and only takes them critically. I've resolved that some things I'll never be able to talk out with my Mom but then again I'm not a great example since I decided that she can be emotionally abusive and I didn't want ds to be exposed to that or at the very least to see how his mother is torn down by his grandmother's comments so we rarely talk sad I know. But at this point in my life I actually feel very peaceful about it. We communicate through email at times and that's all I feel ready to handle. Good luck!
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