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#1 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 02:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So MIL was here from France for three weeks. Very nice while in my house, and I worked really hard to make her feel welcome. But it was a bad asthma time for my 3 yr DS, he was clingy and high needs and having a very adult focused guest didn't make him any better. So she took my DH out for a car ride and gave him a three hour talking to about how we are comforting DS too much (by talking about what he's feeling when upset), not building his coping muscles, etc. Then called him out of control IN FRONT OF HIM, and thinks we baby him too much. So i was furious at Xmas, but swallowed it, as she would be leaving soon. So now she sends DH this email, couched very nicely but still all up in out business. She is trying to make up as we've been avoiding her calls.

She says something like: "I'm still worried about not letting him (DS) not develop his coping muscle to the outer world. I stand my ground on that one because I love the little guy and don't want him to be confused, angry, frustrated and feeling lost not knowing how to deal (self-soothe) with the outer world when you are not there. That's all. Let him be a frustrated once in awhile and not get his own way. He is strong and loved and will be able to handle it. He will then figure it out himself and that is a powerful, life long lesson in self control. I want (DS) to be able to cope with adversity and not get thrown off the rails when it happens when he gets older and more on his own."

It all sounds nice as she is trying to make up, but we want to set boundaries on her judging our parenting and our son. This is a pattern with her. She opposed us not crying it out, co-sleeping, and our choice of preschool and actively lobbies on her POV with DH when I'm not around. DH feels hurt, I question myself and get down on my son's abilities, and which are really very age appropriate.

What should we write back?
I want us to respond in not hurtful way that stop the pattern. Ideas?
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#2 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 02:15 AM
 
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Honestly, I'd tell her to mind her own business - you are mom, you will not discuss/debate.

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#3 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 02:19 AM
 
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Honestly, I'd tell her to mind her own business - you are mom, you will not discuss/debate.
I'd flat out ignore the email, and the next time she broaches these issues with you or your husband reply, "We're not interested in discussing or debating the choices we've made as parents. Could you please pass the bean dip?"

It's none of her business and she's made it clear that she can not be brought around to your POV. Discussing and defending will only drive you both crazy.

Leeann, mama to 3*magic*kids: DD 1/03 DD 9/04 DS 8/06
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#4 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 02:19 AM
 
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Dear MIL,

Thank you very much for your input. We know that it comes from a place of love and concern for our son. We have weighed and considered what you have suggested, and have compared that with what research and study we have done and together DH and I (or DW and I) have come up with the plan for how we will raise and continue to raise our son.

We love to have your loving input, and appreciate you respecting our choices for how we raise DS.

Love,

Us


Something like that perhaps?
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#5 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 02:30 AM
 
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Well, I don't know about the PP.... if you try and see things from your MIL perspective - look, she has NO control, she feels helpless and can't get her way.... the only thing she can do is TELL you, or DH what she thinks is right for her grandchild... isn't that okay? I do believe boundaries need to be set, but not at the cost of alienating this concerned grandma. Being a paternal grandma has got to be a hard job.

The reason I lean toward being compasionate and patient with this woman is that she isn't entirely wrong.... I think the things she said about your DS being okay with a little upset and him being 'babyed' doesn't serve him. Those statements in and of themselves are true, right? It is just that you feel terribly judged and questions yourself and then feel insecure in your parenting choices.... all hard places to find yourself, but again.... why is that bad? I find questioning my parenting style and listening and observing other peoples parenting styles help me either re-afirm my beliefs or help me see things with more depth.

Maybe instead of feeling attacked and judged you could approach things with some laughs, or let her know that you LOVE her being concerned but that these days things are done differently than when she was raising young ones. Reasure her that you value her opinion but you will be making certain choices that she doesn't agree with and that that should not thwart your relationship. Find a friendly place to be with the 'raising of the children' conversation and stand firm on your choices and beliefs.

I suppose if she and you are not close and she lives sooooo far away it may not be this easy. But you never know.
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#6 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 02:44 AM
 
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Dear MIL,

Thank you very much for your input. We know that it comes from a place of love and concern for our son. We have weighed and considered what you have suggested, and have compared that with what research and study we have done and together DH and I (or DW and I) have come up with the plan for how we will raise and continue to raise our son.

We love to have your loving input, and appreciate you respecting our choices for how we raise DS.

Love,

Us


Something like that perhaps?
I think that's great. Very diplomatic.

SAHM to F & P, : fraternal twins born 3/05, : I, born 12/07 & at 5 weeks in July 2009
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#7 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 02:56 AM
 
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I would ignore and be happy she lives in another country. Sure wish mine did.

Mama to 2 sweet gorgeous children, a 4-year-old DS and a 1-year-old DD.
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#8 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 03:09 AM
 
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My alterations to the suggested email above:

Dear MIL,

Thank you very much for your input. We know that it comes from a place of love and concern for our son but we say this as kindly as possible, we are very confident in how we are raising our son.

We appreciate you respecting our choices for how we raise DS.

Love,

Us
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#9 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 04:06 AM
 
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I like the bean dip recommendation. THAT is exactly what I would do. Love the idea! DH uses it now too with people that cause problems or have issues with how we parent.

It does sound like you and DH need to sit down and talk about all this, and back each other up a little more. Just try to make sure you are both on the same page and BOTH start using the Bean Dip!

I have a high needs son. He is my first. Let me just tell you that at 3 he was still very similar to what he was at 12mo. He was a TOUGH cookie-clingy, fussy, sleep issues, I couldn't pee alone. Now this lasted till 6 and seriously it was like a light switch flipped and he suddenly became this slightly high needs Young Man. Scary- but my point is that this will get better!!! You are doing a great job with a high needs kiddo WITH asthma! Double whammy! You are doing what you need to and that's great! Have hope, momma, it will and does get better!!!

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#10 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 06:47 AM
 
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I would either ignore the email all together or write back but not bring up ds. If this would cause problems then I would say a simple, "we appreciate your loving concern but we are happy with the choices we've made", would do.

Not all children will respond well to your mils ideas or thrive from her way of discipline/parenting. I think that she's forgotten what it is like to raise a 3 yo. Every child has their own personality, different challenges to overcome, different coping skills and so on. You can't take a set parenting ideal and make it work for every child. It won't work. You have to find little things that work well for each individual child. I don't mean a parent has to change their values but almost every parent I know has to find different things within their values that will work with each child. It seems like she is expecting you to be able to say no, end of story and your son should just be able to handle it. Man oh man do I wish it worked that way sometimes

I am sure that there might have been some valuable advice hidden in her 3 hour long talk with your dh but she needs to dispense it when it's been asked for. Honestly, a 3 hour talk with my dh about how we're raising our child wrong would've just sent the defensive door slamming shut for me personally.

My second dd is almost 2 and I can fully say that I was totally unprepared for the type of personality she came into the world with. My first dd is very emotional but socially aware and always was. Thankfully with her I never really had to deal with too many tantrums in public and she seemed to just have a sense of her surroundings. She could adapt her behavior (within reason) to the situation. I was very lucky when dd1 was 2-3-4. Don't get me wrong, there were the typical challenges that you would have with any toddler but overall she was a breeze compared to dd2.

Dd2 is a totally different story. She has an amazing temper, I mean like blow your top explosive temper. She is very sensitive to people in her environment and gets really overwhelmed if we have lots of people in our house. Honestly it's embarrassing to take her to the grocery store (any store really). I know that people think I never discipline her at all and probably think that I always must give her whatever she wants. That's not true but even I would make that assumption if I didn't know the situation. She literally cannot control her emotions right now. I don't think there would be anything that I could do that would make her handle her frustrations differently, not at this point anyway. Right now dh and I have decided that all we can do is be consistent in setting limits and following through with them.

I think your mil is crossing the line a bit. I could see her being this pushy if she was worried for your sons safety or if she was afraid that ds had an illness or something. But being this pushy just because SHE feels that he is being babied , yeah, really it's not her business. She sounds controlling and I think all you can do is just be firm but loving in setting boundaries. She'll get it eventually, hopefully.
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#11 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 11:54 AM
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tell her she had her turn to parent and now its your turn. And if she really cares so much than she can sit back and quietly hope she is wrong.
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#12 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 11:58 AM
 
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I would not address it. My mil has said some really stupid things to me and I processed the situation off other people an realized it wouldn't help our relationship if I confronted her. She isn't changing for anything.

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#13 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 12:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 1momct View Post
Dear MIL,

Thank you very much for your input. We know that it comes from a place of love and concern for our son. We have weighed and considered what you have suggested, and have compared that with what research and study we have done and together DH and I (or DW and I) have come up with the plan for how we will raise and continue to raise our son.

We love to have your loving input, and appreciate you respecting our choices for how we raise DS.

Love,

Us


Something like that perhaps?
This, or the proposed variation. I know lots of people are saying "just ignore", but given that she's done the three hour talk, talked some more, and e-mailed...she's not going to let it go until she hears something back from you nicely telling her to let it go. Maybe she won't even let it go then, but for the sake of your own sanity, you have to try.

DS 12/22/05 and DD 5/24/09
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#14 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 12:25 PM
 
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I wouldn't respond at all.

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#15 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 12:26 PM
 
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I like the e-mail 1momct suggested. I am all for keeping open communication with extended family and for them saying how they feel... in a respectful manner!
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#16 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 12:54 PM
 
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Well, I read the email and your post, and I kind of agree with you both!



But, having not been involved in person, and not really knowing how she acted, or the context, I have to say that you as the parents need to do what you think is right.

I am a firm believer in GD, but that doesn't mean no discipline. I also have a special needs child and I know how things can be...setting boundaries and enforcing them in a gentle way is a big challenge!

As much as I think GD is the way to go, I also think I need to help my child learn coping skills and self-soothing skills. Those are skills needed in life, and they are the reason that I believe strongly in attachment parenting...the whole idea being we attend to our kids when they are young in a very attached way so that they have the ability to go out and flourish in the world with their self-confidence, coping skills, and self-soothing skills.

Another thought that struck me is that your MIL is European. I have quite a few European friends and due to the culture and the language differences, they are more direct and often more assertive. This could be changing your MIL's tone of her message. Maybe she doens't mean exactly how she is saying things. Sometimes things are lost in translation so to speak. But, obviously you know her better, and would be a better judge of that.

Ultimately, I think you have to follow your heart, and your instincts.

By the way, I hate when my MIL communicates just with her son about parenting things, and not with both of us. We're both the parents!

Good luck!
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#17 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 06:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The reason I lean toward being compassionate and patient with this woman is that she isn't entirely wrong.... I think the things she said about your DS being okay with a little upset and him being 'babyed' doesn't serve him. Those statements in and of themselves are true, right? It is just that you feel terribly judged and questions yourself and then feel insecure in your parenting choices.... all hard places to find yourself, but again.... why is that bad? I find questioning my parenting style and listening and observing other peoples parenting styles help me either re-affirm my beliefs or help me see things with more depth.


I don't believe we are babying him, and we are OK with him being upset. What she calls babying is listening when he's upset, emotionally coaching him through it, and not just telling him, "too bad, get over it"

I don't feel like this is just an open conversation about parenting differences, partly because it is phrased as criticism, talking about how we are going to mess him up, or a strong judgement of what's wrong with him already (i.e. he's out of control, etc.), partly because it's sneaky, always behind my back, and partly because it is her long narrative of what she excepts to see in him because he nursed and didn't cry it out ---i.e. didn't "learn to self-soothe" as a baby.

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#18 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 06:29 PM
 
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I think it is important that you point out that it's not just "your style", but that you are matching how you respond to what your ds needs, based on where he's at and who he is. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, who my dd is has really fed into how I parent (if I hide and she is startled when she finds me, she laughs and thinks the thrill is hilarious, other kids would cry - that's just personality).

mama to two DD's, 7 and 3 (3 rounds of IVF and more FET's than I can remember)
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#19 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 06:33 PM
 
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I'm wondering why your dh allowed his mommy to bash him and his wife's parenting style for 3 hours! Am I the only one who sees anything wrong with this? After the first 5-10min, he should have politely, yet firmly told her that he appreciates her concern, he undestands where she is coming from BUT your parenting style/decisions are NOT up for debate and oh look, let's pull in and get some ice cream! what flavor would you like?

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#20 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 06:54 PM
 
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I'm wondering why your dh allowed his mommy to bash him and his wife's parenting style for 3 hours! Am I the only one who sees anything wrong with this?
Possibly because MIL lives in another country and they don't see her that often and maybe he just doesn't think on his feet well.

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I know lots of people are saying "just ignore", but given that she's done the three hour talk, talked some more, and e-mailed...she's not going to let it go until she hears something back from you nicely telling her to let it go.
I think I keep getting hung up on this - this is a grandmother who lives in another country, getting to spend a little time with her child and grandchild and instead of enjoying them and being a grandmother, she's full of advice and criticisim? I can't understand it. My MIL also lives in another country and we see her rarely. If she, a virtual stranger to me and my daughter, decided to spend her visit telling me how I was ruining my child and THEN decided to follow up with a long email full of the same - I don't know. You never see your family and this is how you treat them? As someone else said, be happy she doesn't live close.
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#21 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 06:58 PM
 
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I don't believe we are babying him, and we are OK with him being upset. What she calls babying is listening when he's upset, emotionally coaching him through it, and not just telling him, "too bad, get over it.
I've experienced this attitude, too, from people who are unfamilar with the tenets and reasons for gentle discipline and attachment parenting.

In particular, it has come from people who are often older, less sensitive, and not very reflective about their own parenting styles back in the say.

I'm not one to coddle, but "babying" a baby to me is just fine. They are, after all, a baby!

Even with toddlers and young children, they need sensitive and gentle attention to grow and learn and eventually self-sooth.

I know people who leave their child crying...I would never do that...to me it's ok to baby a baby. Just like some believe in crying it out...GD generally does not.
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#22 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 07:00 PM
 
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I'm wondering why your dh allowed his mommy to bash him and his wife's parenting style for 3 hours! Am I the only one who sees anything wrong with this?
Some DH's don't like to confront their parents, even when they disagree with their parents. Some don't have the backbone, and some simply don't want to make matters worse.

I've experienced that a few times. DH would rather just let things slide and he'll hope that they just go away on their own, rather than confront his mother about something.



I do think husbands should be on the same team, and stick up for their wives, but overcoming that fear of reproach from their mom might be too much for them. My DH would rather just ignore it and hope no one says anything to him.
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#23 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 08:42 PM
 
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"We love having your input"? Not! I wouldn't include that in any correspondence all it does is open the door to her thinking she has a say in your parenting decisions.
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#24 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 08:56 PM
 
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I have a french MIL, so I can sympathize. I get "they're leading you around by your nose" all the time from her. She loooves to tell me what she thinks we're doing wrong. It's always in a way that she's the only adult in the conversation...argh.

We moved to France and I only lasted about 6 months before I told my husband that we were moving back to the U.S. The fundamental disrespect for children in France is very difficult for me to deal with. I saw a preschooler get ridiculed for having a runny nose in my daughter's preschool class. Infuriating!!

I've told my MIL "I am the mother and it's my job to parent my child." That sent her to her room in tears and she and FIL didn't talk to me for days. Oh well, at least they got the point.

Maybe you could have dh respond that he doesn't like the French way of raising children and that you and he will do things your own way. I've had many battles with them over things like letting the children not finish their plates, letting them leave the table, giving my children too much, being overly concerned with their feelings (same as your issue), not feeding them well, not giving them enough meat, not bundling them up correctly, etc.

My husband handles his parents now for the most part. He talks about the things that we're doing with them and he's really enthusiastic about things we do like seeing a naturapath, homeschooling, using cloth diapers, breastfeeding, the ways we communicate with our children, etc. The best thing you can do is to get your husband excited about the way you're doing things. If you get that Alfie Kohn's video "Unconditional Parenting" he'll be able to see clearly exactly the problem with his mother's advice....then, he can have that conversation with her and have it be a pleasant thing that he's excited about.

Good luck.
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#25 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 10:52 PM
 
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I would not address it. My mil has said some really stupid things to me and I processed the situation off other people an realized it wouldn't help our relationship if I confronted her. She isn't changing for anything.
:

and 'scuse me, the kid is 3! I think it is so ridiculous I would never respond. Besides the kid is 3! I know I already said that but sheesh, when exactly are you supposed to receive comfort?
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#26 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 11:02 PM
 
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As much as I think GD is the way to go, I also think I need to help my child learn coping skills and self-soothing skills....
Not sure if you intended to imply GD doesn't help kids learn coping skills...?

I agree about helping them learn to cope, but the OP indicated they talk with him about how he is feeling. I think that is a huge part of learning to cope. Then when he is in situations away from home-clearly he is as she said he is in PS- he has to find ways to cope, that is the nature of growing independence. I think it is ridiculous to not comfort a child when one is right there! What message does that send?
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#27 of 38 Old 01-25-2009, 11:57 PM
 
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i also have a MIL who lives in europe. with our first, she got on this kick that we coddled her too much. but she was only 6 mos old, and my DH was just like, "mom, do you really want her to cry more?" and she said no... i don't think she'd really thought through what she was saying, just probably a gut/reflex response based on the way kids were parented in her day.

but, other things have come up since, and the tactic i've developed is to redirect the conversation (i swear, you can use preschooler discipline tactics on ANYONE. i wish i'd read the discipline books much sooner!!). so, if she says something about, say, sleep, i ask "was DH like this too?" with my MIL, it is a SURE FIRE WINNER. i swear, this is gold. it doesn't matter what she says from there. if your DH was different, she'll talk about him anyway. then, you'll learn more about your DH as a baby or child, which is always fun. and if he was similar, heck, you never know if you'll learn a new trick. ask her how she handled the behavior. even if you're thinking to yourself that you'd NEVER do what she's saying, she'll feel respected and validated. with her living so far away, it's not like she'll know you're ignoring her advice.

i've never tried this by email, but i think it would work. i'd write something like this: "yeah, 3 sure can be tough! was DH like DS as a kid?" and then tell her about something sweet or cute your DS did recently... help her focus on the positive parts of your DS's behavior. it's worked so far with MIL--we have a good relationship and i don't get all worked up when she starts giving advice.
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#28 of 38 Old 01-26-2009, 12:46 AM
 
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Originally Posted by majormajor View Post
i also have a MIL who lives in europe. with our first, she got on this kick that we coddled her too much. but she was only 6 mos old, and my DH was just like, "mom, do you really want her to cry more?" and she said no... i don't think she'd really thought through what she was saying, just probably a gut/reflex response based on the way kids were parented in her day.

but, other things have come up since, and the tactic i've developed is to redirect the conversation (i swear, you can use preschooler discipline tactics on ANYONE. i wish i'd read the discipline books much sooner!!). so, if she says something about, say, sleep, i ask "was DH like this too?" with my MIL, it is a SURE FIRE WINNER. i swear, this is gold. it doesn't matter what she says from there. if your DH was different, she'll talk about him anyway. then, you'll learn more about your DH as a baby or child, which is always fun. and if he was similar, heck, you never know if you'll learn a new trick. ask her how she handled the behavior. even if you're thinking to yourself that you'd NEVER do what she's saying, she'll feel respected and validated. with her living so far away, it's not like she'll know you're ignoring her advice.

i've never tried this by email, but i think it would work. i'd write something like this: "yeah, 3 sure can be tough! was DH like DS as a kid?" and then tell her about something sweet or cute your DS did recently... help her focus on the positive parts of your DS's behavior. it's worked so far with MIL--we have a good relationship and i don't get all worked up when she starts giving advice.
The bolded part made me chuckle.
I think this is a good idea.
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#29 of 38 Old 01-28-2009, 08:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Mamafreya View Post
The bolded part made me chuckle.
I think this is a good idea.
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...):
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#30 of 38 Old 01-28-2009, 12:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cosmos View Post
Not sure if you intended to imply GD doesn't help kids learn coping skills...?

I agree about helping them learn to cope, but the OP indicated they talk with him about how he is feeling. I think that is a huge part of learning to cope.
: 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?
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