Smothered by grandma... - Mothering Forums

Thread Tools
#1 of 15 Old 07-20-2002, 11:46 PM - Thread Starter
mich's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 679
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
O.K. so grandma loves her grandbabies. Thats great. But when she NEEDS to see them several times a week, and the time she spends away from them she dose nothing but sits and wallows?

I'm starting to feal tremendous pressure that her only happiness in life is mothering my child! It's at the point where she takes DS for the whole day (he's 3) he naps at her house, she has a room for him, toys, toothbrushes and potties.

Ds was and still is high need and very attached. this situation slowly and painfully evolved over the last three years. Granny was oblivous to the pain. She insisted that she needed time alone with DS from when he was very young. She said it was so he would go to her if he got a boo-boo. When I'm not around she gets to be the mommy. I was to weak to speak up. If i tried to keep DS for the day that was hers, she would becom depressed, shut herself in her room, and cry to DH that I didnt want her to see HER baby! Excuse Me? Who's baby?

So, my question to all you wise mama's. I feal this is very unhealthy,DS is stressed and starting to studder, But I'm still having a hard time convincing DH we need to make changes. He dosent want to hurt his moms fealings.
Please tell me why this is bad for DS?

Michelle , 20+ years with a wonderful DH
Mama to two boys, 12 and 10

mich is offline  
Sponsored Links
#2 of 15 Old 07-21-2002, 01:12 AM
heartmama's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: In the bat cave with Irishmommy
Posts: 5,982
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
It's bad for ds because her emotional stability depends on him.

It's bad for ds because you are uncomfortable with it.

I would cut back to one scheduled day per week, and start screening your calls. In time, she will adjust, and if not, find a good therapist for her to talk to. Who knows, she might love having someone to talk to.

You might want to urge her into senior citizen groups in your area so she has others interests.

I don't think it matters if your husband agrees or not. It would be nice, but husbands can be totally clueless about these kinds of interpersonal family issues, and many men are simply incapable of dealing with their mothers rationally. Do what you have to do, be strong, and if your husband trusts you, he will thank you later when he see's the positive changes.


Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
heartmama is offline  
#3 of 15 Old 07-21-2002, 03:53 PM
beachmommy's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: California
Posts: 182
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I agree with Heartmama and am in a similar (thought less drastic) situation with my MIL. Do what's in the best interest of your child, trying to be tactful about it. It sounds chicken, but I have caller i.d. and definitely screen her calls. I've tried other approaches but my explanations have fallen on deaf ears, so this is what works. We are our children's advocates, and sometimes it's not easy but we have to do what's best for them. Your ds shouldn't have to suffer because a grown-up is emotionally needy. That's not fair. Can you just have too many things going on (that include ds) to have time to leave him with her too much? That's worked for me. I would treat this one carefully and not be too blunt or "too honest" about it, if you know what I mean. Good luck!
beachmommy is offline  
#4 of 15 Old 07-22-2002, 02:41 PM
EnviroBecca's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 5,445
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 63 Post(s)
I think you need to help her get help RIGHT AWAY. The obsessiveness and depression sound like signs of a serious problem. She should be able to enjoy spending time with her grandson even when you are there; the fact that she can't implies some kind of problem, for instance that she needs to be able to pretend SHE is the mother. It really sounds like she's unstable, and I'm particularly concerned that your son is stressed by his visits with her--maybe she's trying to tell him that she's his real mother, or something similarly upsetting?

I think you need to get her into some type of therapy, help her find some other activities, and limit UNSUPERVISED visits with your son to a few hours once a week. She could still see him a lot with you or his father around.

Try to talk with your son, with your husband present, about what is making him feel stressed. If he mentions Granny, see if you can get him to talk about WHAT about his visits with Granny is bothering him. If it's some little silly thing, probably you can straighten it out with her and everything will be fine. If it's something horrifying (like she's telling him, "Someday you and I will go far away and never see your fake mommy again!") then you'll know and your husband will know that you're up against a real problem, and you can work on it together.

Good luck! ((mich))

Mama to a boy EnviroKid
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
11 years old and a girl EnviroBaby
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
1 year old!
I write about parenting, environment, cooking, and more.
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
EnviroBecca is offline  
#5 of 15 Old 07-23-2002, 02:29 PM
ladybug3228's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 20
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
that grandma's emotional instability is contributing to ds' difficulties. His grandmother is using him as her crutch - her 'happiness' - to get through the day. If her life revolves around your son, literally, what is going to happen when Ds begins to develop a life of his own, wants to explore new things, go new places, and isn't available to spend the assigned days with his grandmother? It's time to nip this unhealthy situation before it becomes a bigger problem than it clearly already is.

What is going to happen when ds is 4? 5? 7? 10? He is definitely not going to want to spend all day, days at a time with his grandmother.

Ds should be cultivating his own interests, discovering what HE likes to do, making new friends, playing with kids his own age, and so forth. His role in life is not to fulfill his grandmother's need to have something to do each day. It is unfair and unhealthy, and unreasonable for her to expect him to spend assigned days with her - this affects the lifestyle and health of your family.

If Ds has begun to display behavioral issues such as stuttering that weren't present before, this means the problem has already begun to seriously affect him. Stop the scheduled visitation now - by no means do I mean he should never see his grandmother again, but all visits should have limits:

*No overnight stays
*No all-day stays
*No unsupervised visits (meaning you don't leave him alone with her)
*Limit the time you spend at her home to a few hours per visit
*No 'assigned' days to come over. Keep things flexible.

Of course, this isn't going to just come off without a hitch - if this has been going on for some time, of course there will be lots of fussing, kicking, bag-packing for guilt trips, yelling, tears - you get the picture. What is paramount is that you and Dh stay calm, assure grandma that Ds is NOT being removed from her life, but that as a growing, active child, assigned days to visit and all-day visits are no longer feasible.

What is at stake is the well-being of your son. He is being used by his grandmother as her purpose and direction in life, apparently, and this can be highly damaging and unfair to him- his job is not to provide his grandmother with companionship and a reason for getting up each day - his job is to be a kid, have fun, grow, explore, and do new things.

Let's look at it this way: You see her negative behavior when you're with her - and it disturbs you - but as an adult, you have the option to leave. He doesn't. He has to endure whatever negative behaviors she displays from moment to moment, and it's apparent her behavior is causing him significant stress and turmoil.

My suggestion:
Discuss this with your husband and let him know that you can plainly see the current situation is unhealthy for Ds, and that it is going to stop effective immediately.

Feel free to use any of the reasoning I outlined above, if it appeals to you.

Begin by stopping any overnight visits. Then, begin curtailing the all-day visits and don't leave him unsupervised with her. I don't mean to imply that she is deliberately harming him in some way, but if he didn't exhibit stuttering before and is doing so now, you have to consider the possibility that she may inadvertently be harming him in some way through behavior.

Next, don't give in to bringing him over on 'assigned' days. Allow her supervised visits when it is convenient for you. There is nothing she should be doing that you can't be there to view.

Don't leave her spinning, though. Have a plan in mind to encourage her to cultivate other interests so that Dh will be appeased that he isn't abandoning his mother. Did she ever express an interest in travel? Gardening? Is she a vocalist, a pianist, does she like cross-stitch? Help her get interested or re-interested in something new or something she may have once liked to do. Give her information on club memberships, like a cross-stitch club. Give her some gardening apparatus for her birthday if she's into that, give her information on gourmet cooking classes if she's into cooking.

The point is, while taking the appropriate steps to remove her unhealthy dependence upon your son, you can take some relatively easy steps to direct her focus elsewhere to more healthy interests.

This should be prime time in her life to cultivate new things - her kids are grown, and she should be able to enjoy visits from her grandchildren without wanting to be their mother. Perhaps she's experiencing somewhat of a 'life crisis', in that she's no longer a mother in the strictest traditional sense - by that I mean she's no longer actively raising children, i.e, feeding, housing, bathing ,clothing, nursing - you get the picture.

She's still a mother, of course, but her kids don't "need" her to tend to their physical needs anymore. Perhaps that is the most important aspect of mothering to her, and losing that - and seeing the chance to get it back through grandchildren - is causing problems for her.

Sorry this became so long - but your son's happiness and well-being is at stake. End her dependence upon your son now and steer her gently towards her developing other long-term interests. But your son comes first, and it will be a "one-day-at-a-time" situation, where you will need to decrease the dependence gradually while immediately removing your son from this situation.

I would also suggest - without implying that there is something 'wrong' with Ds - that you might have Ds visit a child therapist to determine the cause of his stuttering, and to help eliminate it. The stress may be too much for his young mind, and he's coping in this way. A good child therapist should be able to help him cope with this and overcome the stuttering.

Best of luck to you.
ladybug3228 is offline  
#6 of 15 Old 07-23-2002, 02:34 PM
Arduinna's Avatar
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Listening to William Control
Posts: 31,346
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 44 Post(s)
I agree with everything the previous posters said. No Unsupervised Visits! I truly think she needs to see a therapist if she gets that depressed over not seeing your ds.
Arduinna is offline  
#7 of 15 Old 07-24-2002, 02:24 AM
KellyV's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Like Beachmommy, I have a similar, although less severe, situation. And while I'm pretty laid back and trust my children to have common sense, my MIL panics over every possible thing she can imagine. She's even taught my 4yo how to staunch bleeding.

I've found that just "having a busy week" can be enough to put off Grandma for a few days. Make sure that she knows that the busy week involves your son, and that she can't use it as an excuse to watch him for you. We tend to get together with Grandma and Grandpa once every week or two -- all four of us meet with them, and we go out to eat or go to a museum or movie, or something. We still have them babysit our kids much more than I'm comfortable with, but I'm working on getting a good roster of sitters locally (things like going out as a couple once a month and playing service music at church once a month).

Best wishes!
KellyV is offline  
#8 of 15 Old 07-24-2002, 12:25 PM
Teresa's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 584
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
OK, me and my mantra again, "If this were not a relative, would you tolerate the behavior?"

I think she needs some help.
Are either you or your husband in contact with her physician? Perhaps someone can make a call and update her doctor with your concerns and get him or her to suggest that she get some counseling.

Gotta think some more about this one. . .
Teresa is offline  
#9 of 15 Old 07-24-2002, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
mich's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 679
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thank you all so much. We have started making some changes and so far so good. The big changes are still to come and I'm worried. I'm afraid guilt trip will be an understatment. I wouldnt be surprised if MIL's family calls me to critize.

Ladybug, you read my thoughts. What about 4, 5, and 6 years old? I want his happiness to be top priorty. He should'nt have to worry about keeping granny happy. Thats not his job!

So I'm off to find some activities she might like. Kind of like "distract and redirect"?

My mantra(sp?) to myself-"My child ,my decision!"
"Trust my instincs"
and last but not least "Her happiness is HER responsibility"

Michelle , 20+ years with a wonderful DH
Mama to two boys, 12 and 10

mich is offline  
#10 of 15 Old 07-26-2002, 01:57 PM
mamacita's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Hoboken, NJ
Posts: 38
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I've also got a "very involved" MIL, but not quite to the degree as yours. In addition to everyone else's good ideas:

If she's a worrier or tends to pry, only tell her the basics. No need to involve her in details that will freak her out, especially about your son. I don't even tell my MIL if a plumber comes over to fix a leaky toilet. Get used to saying "We're great," and leave it at that.

Maybe you can come up with family outings in which you all can participate so MIL can still visit with her grandson, but you are around to help manage any unusual situations. (I'm a little troubled to hear that she wants to be with ds alone. Isn't all time with ds created equal?)

Can you delegate grandma management to your DH? My MIL communicates only through my husband when proposing visits or offering advice, mainly because I've snapped at her a few times when she's gone too far bossing me around. This particular outcome to losing my cool is definately okay with me. Besides, she's his mother, not mine. He's got years of experience on me.

Finally, I can really relate to being bothered by a grandma who may see herself as the mom. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that my MIL has all that jazz (toothbrush, potty, etc.) at her house waiting for the day I allow my dd to spend the night (Don't hold your breath), but I just don't know about it. I know when she visits us to talk dd for walks and hang out at our place, she brings her own stocked diaper bag (rather than bringing along ours). And she sometimes forgets and refers to dd as "her little girl" which isn't exactly wrong but is a little creepy because of all the other stuff. Because dd is the first grandchild, I try to understand that maybe she's still learning how to be a grandma.
And, as I indicated, I have been known to, shall we say, emphatically draw a line between acceptable and unacceptable grandma/MIL behavior.

Good luck. Hope your MIL gets some help with her other issues, too.
mamacita is offline  
#11 of 15 Old 07-29-2002, 06:28 PM
laralou's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: little house in the suburbs
Posts: 4,803
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Your mil is my mom!!!! Not really, but they are exactly the same. I would say nip it in the bud. Stop it now. Set firm limits on her and stick to them. This doesn't mean shutting her out, but limiting her.

My ds is now 8 and my mom is so emotionally dependent on him that he worries about her. I have to tell her all the time not to say things like, "I am going to be so lonely when you are gone." or "Your mom gets to see you all the time, but I only get you a little bit." This kind of stuff make my ds the adult and her the child. I can't force her to go into therapy, but I can tell her how she makes him feel.

She also has her own clothes for him that I am not allowed to take home, a toothbrush, room, etc. And she is already looking for a crib for the twins even though I told her she won't get them without me until they aren't bfing anymore.

I don't know how old your child is, but if he is under 5, I would say no overnight visits. If he is over 5, only allow 1 night every 2-4 weeks. I would definitely have a talk with her if she says things like my mom does. Tell her if she tries to make him feel guilty for leaving her, she can't see him anymore unsupervised.

My guess is, as another child of a mom like this, your husband is manipulated by her guilt. He needs to understand how draining it is for a child to be the center of an adults' life. Tell him that you know he loves his mom and doesn't want her to be unhappy, but he doesn't want his child worrying about her. Your ds should believe that grandma is a healthy happy adult who will be fine when he leaves, and if she misses him, she will still be ok. Kwim?

I would like to recommend Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner. She has excellent techniques for dealing with people who try to emotionally manipulate others. Of course, it would be great if you could get some cheap therapy to help you deal with this. A therapist could walk you through the limit setting and help bolster you when she retaliates (which she will- it has to get worse before it will get better). The book deals with retaliation too. Your mil will try to make you and dh so miserable you will go back to the way it was. So be prepared and stick firm.

Now I have to go take my own advice...
laralou is offline  
#12 of 15 Old 07-29-2002, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
mich's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 679
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
laralou, thanks for your post. It's nice to hear someone having the same issues (sad, but true). I started talking with someone about two moths ago. Thats whats helped me to this point. It's been great to talk to someone completly impartial. But it's still hard to stick up for myself. No one ever showed me how.

I am determined that my children will know how, so I better start showing them how it's done.

mamacita, you are so right about your 'keep it basic' policy. Every now and then I think that we can talk about stuff, and maby improve our relationship. I try so hard and it always blows up in my face. It hurts to accept that we won't have a close relationship. Sometimes it feals so fake.

Michelle , 20+ years with a wonderful DH
Mama to two boys, 12 and 10

mich is offline  
#13 of 15 Old 07-30-2002, 05:38 PM
rosiesmama's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 103
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I'd like to offer a change of perspective that might help you feel better about setting boundaries with your MIL. What if the person you were talking about was your friend, instead of your, what if your friend had a whole set of items at her house for your son to play with, insisted on seeing him X number of times per week and overnight, acted weird and depressed if you didn't bring your child over to her? I'm guessing that you would think your friend was a weirdo and you would probably try to distance yourself and your child from her.

Now I do think that a good grandparent who you (the parent) have a good relationship with, can/should have a special, close relationship with a grandchild which could include unsupervised visits/overnights, or whatever works for everyone involved, most importantly of course being that the child is happy.

But if you don't have that kind of relationship with your MIL, then you really don't "owe" her time with your child anymore than you would "owe" it to a friend of yours. Don't let family guilt keep you from making the right decisions for your child.

It sounds like your MIL is using your child to fulfill her and give her meaning in life, and that is way too heavy a load for a child to bear. I would worry if my child was unsupervised with her that she might be saying inappropriate things to him that could be affecting him, like the other poster said. Good luck! I bet you will feel a lot better if you set some boundaries that work for you and your son.
rosiesmama is offline  
#14 of 15 Old 07-30-2002, 06:13 PM
momea's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: portland, oregon
Posts: 202
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hi Mich & everyone,
I feel for you! How awkward. It sounds like you've been uneasy with this for awhile, but are getting to the point where you are resolved to do something, just what? These family situations are so hard to handle, in my experience anyway. I tend to just avoid people I don't like, but I'm stuck with my family and I want my dd to have grandparents. Plus, there are no cut and dried solutions. And the problem really never has gone away for me. I deal with it afresh everytime we see them.
I have very challenging in-laws, very needy (my dd is "the only grandchild and great-grandchild"). I get tired and cranky everytime a visit is approaching. They do so many of the things you all have been writing about (having a room "ready" for overnights despite clear communication that this will be years away, all the gear, "my baby", etc) - and it is good to hear others think this is kind of weird too.
After my dd was born I had a horrible dream that she was lying on a table naked and my inlaws were all standing around her cutting off pieces of her flesh and eating it. Talk about symbolic. But it really alerted me to the fact that the problem is serious and can really hurt my child. They will literally "eat her up" emotionally.
I wish you strength and fortitude. I wish most of all your son didn't have to deal with this. Isn't it heartbreaking - you must be so sad sometimes. Angry, too. I know I often am.
momea is offline  
#15 of 15 Old 07-30-2002, 11:33 PM
lilyka's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Sioux Falls, SD
Posts: 17,896
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
I agree keep wisits flexable and short (3-4 hours max.) Give granny plenty of supervised time though. She seems to really need the connection.

She also really needs help. For her own good. there is something really bothering her and she need for loving family members to step in and get help for her.

Mymom refers to my children as her babies and I know she would be very needy with them if we lived closer. She never gets unsupervised visits. But she is my mom so it is easy to get dh to go with me on this. His mother is wonderful with the kids, my boundries, has no desire to babysit if all they are going to is cry and waves goodby with a smile.

I wish peace and good mental health to you MIL and peace to everyone in your family.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

lilyka is offline  

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

Online Users: 17,818

36 members and 17,782 guests
agentofchaos , arliemaria , awill , azure_tears , BarefootBrooke , Deborah , easydoesit , emmy526 , etsdtm99 , happy-mama , hillymum , jamesmorrow , Janeen0225 , JElaineB , Kelleybug , lab , laconcar5 , lisak1234 , mama24-7 , MaryJays , mearph , moominmamma , NaturallyKait , NCIS4Ever2001 , Owlyce , pitchfork , pokeyac , RollerCoasterMama , samaxtics , Sihaya , sniffmommy , sren , Vazquezpaulino , verticalscope
Most users ever online was 449,755, 06-25-2014 at 12:21 PM.