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#31 of 38 Old 01-28-2009, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post
I think it's a good idea, too... Except that when my MIL decided to share, she said, "Your DH was such a good baby. His sister (two years older) was so demanding and whiny, but he was just perfect. I could just put him in his crib to play quietly by himself while I tried to deal with his sister."

Ummmm, so you ignored him most of his babyhood? GREAT ADVICE! But it did give me some insight into the family dynamic (which is still to ignore him, b/c he doesn't raise a fuss...):
In that case, I'd ask how she dealt with your SIL when she was little!

To the OP, I do suggest responding to the email because I just don't think she'll let it go otherwise. Something along the lines of:

Dear MIL,

We appreciate your concerns about DS, but our parenting decisions are not up for discussion. Thank you for respecting our autonomy as adults and as parents.

Love, us.

If she was coming for a visit soon, I'd add in things about "putting up a united front" and not openly criticising your parenting in front of the child, along with general "you get to be the grandma and spoil your grandchild, let us handle the parenting and the discipline our own way." But I wouldn't even get into that here or now- try to say as little as possible other than a polite "Butt out" for now. When the time for another visit approaches, then it will be time to set some ground rules for her behavior while visiting.

Ruth, single mommy to 3 quasi-adults
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#32 of 38 Old 01-28-2009, 07:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by paquerette View Post
: Talking through their feelings IS helping them learn how to cope. Saying "tough luck, suck it up" etc would be failing at that. OP, if you do want to get into discussing reasons etc with MIL maybe you could try explaining that?

This would work with a rational person who was truly wanted to talk about the merits of the issue. I tried this when DS was a baby and she pushed cry it out on the same rationale. I think she more wants us to know she did it right, and by daring to be different I am wrong. For similar reasons, she reinforces her argument by talking about how mainstream friends of DH are doing it "right".

I like RUTHLA's letter:


"Dear MIL,

We appreciate your concerns about DS, but our parenting decisions are not up for discussion. Thank you for respecting our autonomy as adults and as parents.

Love, us"

Thanks to everyone. We put together a longer version of the above, drawing on some of the more sensitive lines put above, and letting her know why, but basically a polite butt-out, as the dynamic (of behind my back critique), repeated at every visit just feels stressful and unhealthy.

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#33 of 38 Old 01-28-2009, 07:38 PM
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I would just ignore her. She lives in FRANCE. How often does she really come?

I handled most conversations that started down this sort of road with my own mother by interrupting gently and saying (very nicely) something along the lines of "This is what's working for us. It's not better or worse than what you did. We're just doing what's best for our family in our situation. Thanks for listening and respecting our choices."

If necessary, I would get tougher, saying outright, "I understand you want to help, but you had your chance to be the parent! I'm the mom now, so I get to decide. This just isn't up for discussion. Thanks for understanding."

It worked. I had to say it a few times, and every once in awhile I still pull it out of my back pocket, but I'm just nice, polite, firm, consistent, and don't get upset. And it works.

Part of the key is to FLATTER her regarding how she parented and comment that your different choices are NOT a reflection of her own parenting. For example, when my mom started to insist that something she did was right, even though I thought it was horrible, I would say, "You guys did a great job and that worked really well with me. Choosing to do something different with our kids isn't saying anything about how you did as parents because you were great parents. It just says that <our dd> is different or is reacting differently than I did." Who cares if it isn't true - it's diplomatic and it helps make them stop arguing or insisting.

Good luck! This is a boundary that can definitely be set.
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#34 of 38 Old 01-28-2009, 09:18 PM
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I think Ruthla's letter was great.

I am just always surprised how people get all up in arms about how they think a 3 year old will be as an adult, I mean, really? She wants a 3 year old to not be talked through things? Geesh- he has plenty of time to develop "coping skills" and right now, you are walking him through that, as well you should- he is 3!!!

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#35 of 38 Old 01-29-2009, 06:42 AM
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Ok so your kid is 3 - and your not supposed to mother him - this is SO typically french - oh help! What is it about french MILs (I can say that I live in France!!) I'm actually surprised that she was as polite as your email suggests, I'm pleased you told her politely to butt out - but goodness, if it ever comes up again your dh needs to nip it in the bud - difficult I know when you don't see her much but if she ever tries again it needs to be stopped immediately - and it will come up again - even when you send nice polite emails asking her not to! Good luck and you're doing a great job with your ds!!!

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#36 of 38 Old 01-29-2009, 09:21 AM
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I haven't read all of the other replies yet, I will in a bit... but I think boundaries are more about you and your reactions and your decisions than they are about controlling another person. So, you can choose how you raise your son, how you FEEL about the way you raise your son, and how you react to what other people say to you - but you cannot control what other people say or do to you.

She's most likely coming from a place of love and concern AND - as another poster put it, SHE feels out of control. She is worried and really that is her problem and you don't need to make it yours. I'd say just have some compassion for her "issues" do not make them YOUR issues, and trust and honour yourself and what you believe is right

Arguing, questioning with the intent to make another see the error in past ways, trying to convince, trying to make another feel guilt etc etc is pointless and only serves to bring everyone down ESPECIALLY yourself because of the intention to bring guilt to the other person and to be "right" at their expense. If dialogue is possible then give it a try......but in a lot of cases it's not.
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#37 of 38 Old 01-29-2009, 02:29 PM
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I like the response or the variation on the first page. You can't change her mind, but at least you can say that you heard her and know she loves your family, but that you know your child best and you are confident in your parenting and this topic is now closed. If she seems open to it, perhaps you can expand on the reasoning behind what you are doing. Which to me seems to be teaching him the coping skills he needs in a safe environment, not coddling him as she seems to think. He will have to do it himself eventually, but he is still learning how right now. However, I wouldn't go into it as justification for your parenting though, only if she is genuinely interested.

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#38 of 38 Old 01-29-2009, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ewe+lamb View Post
Ok so your kid is 3 - and your not supposed to mother him - this is SO typically french - oh help!
To me it seems that these sort of attitudes have to do with the generation. I am in Europe but my American mil tried to advocate leaving the baby to cry, etc.

The strange this here is that your mil was willing to basically spoil the visit. To me that screms "I want control." Sounds like she has not let go of wanting to be the most important woman in her son's life or something.

When my mil visited for a week last fall, she made sure to compliment us on what great parents we are. Frankly, she probably disagreed on a lot of things (based on how she raised her kids and what she used to try to tell me when dd was a baby). However, she is bright enough to know that it makes more sense for her to try to enjoy her time with dd, and that getting us annoyed would not achieve anything.

THAT, being common sense, is what the mil here is missing. She is willing to put her pride above all else.

Mama to a little lady and always praying for more.
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