Is it terrible that I want to limit ds' exposure to his grandparents? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-13-2003, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because I am finally feeling comfortable enough with the idea of leaving Q with a caregiver for short periods of time (i.e., church nursery, gym childcare, mother's morning out). The reason I ask about grandparents is that I have just realized that I more comfortable with the idea of leaving Q with a "stranger" than with either my mother or DH's parents!! The thought of Q spending ANY amount of time alone with either set of grandparents really makes me sick to my stomach.

My mother is an emotional basketcase. Her life is just a train wreck right now, and has been for about 2 years. I've been purposefully avoiding her for the past year, since she came to visit me in the hospital the day after Q was born and proceeded to spend the entire afternoon (and the rest of the week that she was visiting) crying and complaining about her personal and professional troubles. I believe that her behavior during that week was a major factor in my developing postpartum depression, which, thanks to intensive therapy focusing mainly on our f*cked up relationship, has subsided. Her situation and her behavior (evidenced by the emotional mini-meltdowns she has every month when we talk on the phone) has not improved since then.

Now, on to the ILs... which mainly focuses on my MIL, who since Day 1 of Quin's life has been openly hostile about every aspect of our parenting style. She is constantly saying to my DS that his father and I are mean-- for not starting solids at 6 weeks old, for "starving" him by giving him only breastmilk; now that he is eating solids we are mean for not giving him more, or not giving him sugar, ice cream, steak, whipped cream, cookies etc. She tells my DS that we are mean for giving him vegetables, all of which are "yucky" (her word), not letting him watch TV, for not turning his car seat around, for carrying him in the sling. She asks my DS if he is worried that his father and/or I will roll over him and smother him in bed.

Mind you, DS turns 1 this Sunday.

Additionally (you mean there's more???), DH's parents are openly racist and homophobic. They use derogatory language to refer to their housekeeper, who is African American and who has worked for them for over 30 years and took care of DH when he was little and taught him how to tie his shoes. They use derogatory language to refer to one of my and DH's closest friends (who is gay) and who also is DS' godfather. When we are with the ILs there is at least one (usually more) cringe-inducing episode having to do with race and/or sexuality.

I don't doubt that my mother and DH's parents love DS very much. In spite of their downfalls (nobody's perfect, right?) I do want them to be able to see their grandson and I want DS to get to know their talents and good qualities. HOWEVER, I don't want him to spend any extended amount of time with them, and as I said before, the thought of DS spending even 30 minutes ALONE with them makes me sick to my stomach with fear.

It makes me sad to write this. But, I don't want the good girl/people pleaser in me to be "guilted" into letting DS spend a lot of time with these people. Obviously, it is not very easy to set limits with close family members and I am struggling with how best to approach this.
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Old 08-13-2003, 03:17 PM
 
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I wouldn't let the grandparents on either side of your family watch him unsupervised. I would also make it clear to them (on dh's side) that racist and homophobic language can't be used in front of your ds. They may have grown up in a time when that was ok but it isn't and it is not too late for them to get a little education. Even if they don't agree/understand, you have quite the little bargaining chip there.
I had an issue with dh's dad - before we had kids, even before we were married. He was an otherwise very nice guy but was born in 1912 (had dh very late in life) and used derogatory terms for different races. I could not stand it. Told dh (before he was dh) and he asked his dad to knock it off. It was very hard for him to change after all those years. But after forgetting once at dinner - me pushing my plate back, and leaving the table in a very obviously upset manner, going outside crying - I mean this would be my future kids' grandfather - how do you explain to a kid that their grandparent is an idiot? From that day on, he never used any derogatory term again. I have no idea if he changed his opinion (which he claimed was not derogatory - just the language he grew up with) or thought I was an oversensitive nut or what - but he stopped using those words - at least in front of me. He died before our kids were born but did change for me and I respect that.
Sounds like they (your in-laws) have other issues too though. I am sorry you are dealing with this. I wouldn't leave my child with them unsupervised either. You can tell them why - why not be honest and tell them that when they say things like that, it doesn't make you want to bring ds around them. I mean, asking a child if he is afraid his parent will smother him????
Find a babysitter or child care facility you trust and go ahead and take a break - date night with dh is always a good idea.
Kirsten
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Old 08-13-2003, 03:26 PM
 
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I'm not much of a people pleaser, and I (very luckily!) have the world's sweetest MIL who will do anything if it means I'm comfortable enough to leave her with Eli; I just wanted to send you . I know how complicated families can be.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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Old 08-13-2003, 04:18 PM
 
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You are right, none of these people need to be alone with your child. Don't let them guilt you into it! They can see him while you are around, and he will still have them in his life. Sorry you are feeling unsure about the situation, but you really are doing the right thing in supervising visits with the grandparents.

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Old 08-13-2003, 05:45 PM
 
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If it was just that she wanted to feed the baby junk. Or just that she criticized your parenting in normal ways, asking "questions" or giving "advice" . . .

But the level of hostility about your parenting that she voices, not to you but to your DS, is a red flag.

So yes limit. Go over there with your child. Keep them updated on how their grandchild is doing via e-mail/phone. Don't get defensive when they ask why you let other people watch him but not them - either be honest ("I don't like what you say to ds about our parenting practices and I have no security that you'll follow even our most basic instructions" or "I worry about your sometimes strong emotions frightening DS; he is pretty sensitive, as are most kids") or deflect by changing the subject or by saying "when he is older."

Good luck!
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Old 08-13-2003, 05:51 PM
 
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No, its not awful to limit access. I think its important for children to know their grandparents if possible, but you aren't talking about cutting them out of his life, just controlling the circumstances so that you and he are taken care of. I think this is the essence of good parenting. Of course, I've made some fo the same decisions, so I'm not exactly unbiased.

I have made it very clear that my father is not allowed to spend time unsupervised with my son, although I do trust my mother as the "supervisor". Dad's answer to a child (no matter the age) crying is to "give him/her something to REALLY cry about" and providing a beating. So, no unsupervised access for him! Lately he has also started ridiculing my son for very age appropriate behaviour, so now we have to deal with that too.

My ILs I have better luck with, though I don't like the way they treat children -- not a lot of respect shown in their voices. Plus, my MIL smokes, so I limit exposure and don't use them as babysitters often, but I do on occassion.

IMHO, our job is to protect and nurture our children, our spouse and ourselves before all others. The rest of the world is secondary!
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Old 08-14-2003, 03:31 AM
 
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There is no law that says you have to leave your children alone with their grandparents.

IMO, it's enough that you visit regularly if that is what you'd like to do (I think some grandparents are so toxic they are best left out of the child's life completely).

Supervised visits should be enough and that way you can address any issues or comments with your child when they come up. You can also tell the grandparents that you don't want certain language used in front of your son and that if they can't keep their racist and homophobic views to themselves then you won't be visiting.

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Old 08-14-2003, 11:45 AM
 
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I have also sworn never to leave DD with her paternal grandmother. DH still carries emotional scars and heaps of resentment from the way his mother treated him while growing up. He said in no uncertain terms (before we had DD) that our children will never be allowed to spend time unsupervised with his mother.

So, to answer your origional question - you should not leave your DS with ANYONE you don't feel comfortable with regardless of their relationship to your son. Stand strong and don't allow yourself to be pressured or guilted into doing somthing that doesn't feel right.
Bonne Chance
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Old 08-14-2003, 12:01 PM
 
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I agree with the pp, there is no need to leave your ds alone with them, any of them. Dh and I have agreed that my mother and father can watch our children, but his cannot, based on how they parented him, as well as how they "parent" neices and nephews. It is hard b/c both sets of parents live in the same town, and his know that mine are allowed to "babysit", and are aware that they haven't had the pleasure. They figure that it is all me, that I just don't like them, etc. Dh has said that the next time it comes up, he will cite examples of things they have done recently to neices and nephews, which have made us decide that we do not want to leave our children in their care, namely hitting the kids, but also belittling, and just being out of control.

We visit often and we leave with the children when things we disagree with begin. We think that is more than enough.

Sorry to hear so many have to go through this.

:Patty :fireman Catholic, intactalactivist, co-sleeping, GDing, HSing, no-vax Mama to .........................:..........hale:
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