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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My MIL has been convinced for a year now (since dd was 9 months!) that she doesn't eat enough & is at risk of developmental disabilities due to poor nutrition. Here's this trip's installment:

DD did really well travelling at Christmas, although not so well while we were at the ILs--btwn their dog, SIL's dog, SIL's new baby, and general excitement & commotion her schedule was really off so we had lots of trouble w/ sleep & food, and more tantrums than usual. We were getting back to normal this week, and then dh got a follow-up email from his mom yesterday including the following points (and prefaced by "please understand that this is all coming from the heart"):
1) She needs more regularity of schedule
2) she needs more discipline
3) she needs to be more independent
4) she needs to understand that you eat what's put in front of you
5) she's too young to be deciding for herself what to eat
6) she's too old to be nursing

Never mind that she's often using full sentences (not even 2!), is beginning to show empathy, has had 2 colds & one episode of pink-eye in her life (i.e. no stomach bugs, no ear infections, etc.), is generally meeting or exceeding milestones, etc. etc. Rrg.

I would be somewhat less annoyed by all of this if I felt that she ever focuses on all the good things about Clara. But I feel like she spends so much time worrying--and much more so than she does about C's cousins--that she's missing all the fun of this age, which makes me very sad for her & for Clara.
And until dh pointed it out to her, there was no recognition on her part that things might have been just a bit off kilter b/c of strange/unfamiliar surroundings.

No advice really needed--since she approached dh w/ this, not me, there's not much I can do other than stand back & advise him. And he's doing pretty well w/ it, considering--he sent her a great response in return. Very measured, not reactive at all, quoted Dr. Spock (as a sop to her traditionalist tendencies), etc. And I think his response to her really helped her.

But
:

pretty much sums it up from my pov. Rrrg.
 

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Well, you are clearly doing something right! I am so impressed that a nearly two year old is showing empathy. I have met one other little girl that age who had empathy and was that verbal, and she's also a cosleeper, extended nurser.

My mom and MIL have a lot of opinions about what we could do differently. Too bad for them, they didn't get to feel as attached to us when we were this age and had to spend all their time bossing us around. Nyah nyah.
 

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How sad for your daughter that her grandma is so focused on what's "wrong" with her than she can't enjoy their time together. I really feel your frustration--I'd absolutely blow if my MIL wrote such an email (although she probably THINKS those things, she wouldn't dare SAY them).

Oh, and BTW, my co-sleeping, extended-nursing dd also shows an incredible amount of empathy, and always has.
 

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Why is it that relatives can't seem to see that their very presense upsets the usual routine? I get similar comments from my parents after each visit. I have finally said, "Well, yes, they need routine -- and they get it when you aren't there!" No advise, but I'm right there with you.
 

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Why is it that MILS don't seem to know that "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all"?

My MIL doesn't email us though... that would be concrete proof to DH of all the things she says, and she's not about to create an information trail. She makes snippety comments to me when he's out of the room/involved in another conversation. Since he hasn't had the benefit of hearing it with his own ears, he thinks I'm just being over sensitive & reading meanings into what shes saying. How do you misunderstand "You don't burp her well enough" or "You shouldn't put socks on her hands, she'll pull them off & choke on them" (DD has eczema) I am the most incompetent mother in the universe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by HomebirthHarriett
"You shouldn't put socks on her hands, she'll pull them off & choke on them"
?!? That's truly odd...

Well, dh basically pointed out that there was a LOT going on at their house, pointed out that dd is healthy, smart, energetic, has seldom been sick, and that WHO recommends nursing at least 2 yrs for women/children in all countries. He also told her that if she's seen anything indicating that nursing past a certain age is unhealthy he'd be happy to see it. (HAH). And he told her that at our house we *do* have family mealtime, and she sits w/ us for part--if not all--of dinner every night. And he suggested that a visit here might help (not something I'm looking forward to, but probably necessary) so that she can see C in her natural environment. He also told her that it'd be helpful if she'd tell him any concerns that she has w/ his sisters' kids, since what he hears about is 9 yo Kate's intellectual curiosity, 7 yo Lizzie's artistic bent, 2 mo Adrian's serenity, and Clara's problems.

She wrote back that his response was excellent, and that she'd try to put her fears/worries to rest. Then yesterday she responded further that she thinks her tendency is to share worries w/ parents & compliments w/ others, but she told him a number of the nice things she says about Clara to others (one of the things she says is that we love her very much, which I think is probably a code for "they're total pushovers." Oh well...). And she'll try to schedule a visit in the spring. (Eek.) Nothing about nursing thoughts, but I don't really care. Anyway, dh said last night that he thinks we "won that round."

The thing about food is tough--everything I've read indicates that making an issue of food is the worst thing you can do--the more the parents make an issue of it, the more likely it is to become a real problem later. So if Clara asks for a cookie at the beginning of a meal, we give it to her--and MIL's style is to say that you can have a cookie after dinner. I'd rather say "you can have 2 cookies (animal crackers) and then you need to eat something else. Would you like some yogurt?" And if Clara keeps asking for cookies, I just say we've had enough cookies today & it's time to eat something else. Of course, she did eat more cookies than usual at Christmas, just b/c I was more worried about getting *something* into her than about nutritional balance.

MIL does have some issues--she's been depressed for a long time. Add to that some dynamics of her relationship w/ dh--youngest child; only son; like her he's very introverted, which means that they don't exactly talk openly w/ eachother; I think she feels a lot of guilt about sending him to boarding school, which he hated, and so every time we make a non-traditional parenting decision she probably feels that it's a judgment of sort on her. If we move to Vt/NH (a possibility--I applied for a job at up there & will know this week whether I got it), it may help--we'll only be 3 hours away, so we'll be able to see them more often & for shorter visits, which I think will take a lot of pressure off things. Either that or the whole relationship will implode from proximity. But 3 hours is nice--close enough for a wkd visit, but not so close that we'd be expected to just run down there whenever summoned... And it'd be nice to be on the same coast as *one* set of parents, if only so that we don't have to spend all our vacation time travelling...
 

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I wouldn't give it a moment's thought. Hit the delete key and pretend you never read it. You have the right to parent as you choose providing you are meeting your child's needs. Which you are. I tell my mom amd MIL that they had "their turn", now its your turn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by annab
Speaking of empathy---I have loads for you!
:LOL

Honestly, I'd known her for 8 yrs b/f we had dd, and I NEVER thought she'd be like this.

Anyway, thanks to all of you--esp. for the compliments on DD!
She's incredibly spunky, but she also has a very sweet side. I think the empathy is just a natural part of her personality--although it's definitely nice to think it's due to something we've been doing!
 

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It *is* really odd. DH has this habit/tic where he rubs his feet together & the other day when he started doing that I said "Now I understand!! You must have picked that up from your feet being perpetually cold as an infant!!" :LOL
Alot of the things she comes up with are so out there it's hard to take her seriously.

You are absolutely right about food isuues. The more you make of it, the more likely there will be problems later on. Kids will usually make healthy choices if they're given the freedom to. In our house, we decide whats availible, and DS decides how much he'd like to eat. We don't usually have many treats in the house (I buy 1 treat item with each grocery order) Over the holidays, at other peoples houses where goodies were left within his reach, we only restricted foods that might cause leakage of one sort or another (like chocolate, rich foods) It's not worth the battle, when it becomes your focus for the whole visit! MIL was pretty upset about DS not eating supper at her house. She must have nagged him 20 times to eat something! The funny thing is, he probably would've come around if she just got off his back for 5 minutes.

Thats great that your husband is willing to step up & deal with her, and that she responded well to that. It sounds like there might be a sliver of hope for you!! The few times DH has said something to his mom about stuff her response is "I remember what kids are like" Her kids were the kind that would stay in her unfenced backyard, even if she wasn't right there. DS is the kind of kid that can climb over our 4ft chainlink fence in the blink of an eye... she doesn't acnowledge temperament... DS is just out of control...
 

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Wow, she sent her son to boarding school and now she's sending him emails to complain that he's being too soft and undisciplined with his toddler baby girl.

I wonder if she even hears how off that seems. Not that I think that boarding school is absolutely wrong for every child, you know. I just think that once you send a child to boarding school, you really can't expect them to respond well when you complain that they are too loving and too attached to their child. Hmm?

About the food thing: my mom keeps hinting that we should be feeding ds meat. She specifically mentioned hot dogs at one point! She also brags about my first cousins' children eating all kinds of meaty junk food. She also suggests all these ways to introduce more refined sugar.

In the meantime, my ds eats fruit and vegetables, whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice, beans, and spicy things. He is really good about asking for food when he's hungry and not eating when he's not. Unlike his mother, who was raised by a woman with really crazy attitudes about food and eating and can't resist sweets and goodies, doesn't know when she's full or hungry...if your doctor doesn't think your dd is suffering from malnutrition, if she is growing appropriately, then you can tell that to your MIL and she can put the cookies in her pipe and smoke 'em.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by captain optimism
if your doctor doesn't think your dd is suffering from malnutrition, if she is growing appropriately, then you can tell that to your MIL and she can put the cookies in her pipe and smoke 'em.
Well, last spring when she told him dd doesn't eat enough & he said we'd discuss it w/ the dr. at the 15 month check-up, her response was "Do you trust her dr? Maybe it's time for a 2nd opinion!"


re: boarding school--all 4 of the kids went to boarding school for high school--they were living in New Bedford, MA, which has extremely, umm, problematic schools. Not that there were't private day schools around, but that was their decision. But boarding school was in many respects the wrong choice for him--he's not esp. sports inclined & he's very shy, and he went to a very sports-oriented school. Academically, though, it was great. But he would much rather have stayed home. As a result he's intellectually curious, has an amazing education, and is still bitter about high school...
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Nate
Well, last spring when she told him dd doesn't eat enough & he said we'd discuss it w/ the dr. at the 15 month check-up, her response was "Do you trust her dr? Maybe it's time for a 2nd opinion!"

What's funny to me about this is that my MIL is just like that! She would also decide that the doctor was wrong if she had a bee in her bonnet. When she wants things her way, she just keeps plowing through logic and evidence, discounting reason and facts right and left. Oh well.
 

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It sounds like you are doing just fine, with DD, DH, and MIL to boot! Congrats!

My Clone-O-Matic is on order from the Acme Company. When it arrives I will begin the process of cloning my sainted MIL (Saint Fay of the Twins, as she will be known in legend and song). Once that happens I will send out as many copies as I get orders for. Speak now! Today while the three of us napped, she cleaned my kitchen and mopped my floors. Now she is feeding the girls their snack while reading them a book while I eat my snack over here and post to you folks.

Orders, anyone?


Seriously, keep being positive and neutral. Special kudos to your sensitive DH for leaving the doors of communication open with his difficult mom.
 

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Sorry you have MIL issues! I think your DH was Awfully nice in response. An email like that deserves, as someone else said, a delete, or something like "We appreciate your concern, but we will continue to raise OUR daughter as we see fit." I don't think she deserves any explanations for what you do. In fact, if I had gotten an email like that, I don't think we would even be visiting MIL as frequently for quite some time, and I'd tell her why!

But, thank goodness you are married to your DH, who handled it well!
 

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So many MIL's of that generation feel so threatend by parenting styles that differ from what THEY did. For one, it's not familliar to them, so they don't understand it, they were told much differently by their mothers and dr's, and if you're doing something different, does that mean that you think what they did was wrong? Most of them were taught that everything WE do as AP parents are detrimental to childrens development. SO really what she's going on is what she knows. With that in mind I'm sure she really is genuinely concerned and it really does "come from the heart".
I don't know how important to you ( or maybe to your DH) for her to have some sort of understanding, but maybe if it comes up again, you could recomend ( or send her) some books about AP. Make 'em something "mainstream" friendly like Dr. Sears or something (I find anything too alternative just makes things worse).
 

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Quote:
2) she needs more discipline
3) she needs to be more independent
4) she needs to understand that you eat what's put in front of you
5) she's too young to be deciding for herself what to eat
THese all contradict each other...maybe someone should tell her that


You DD sound like a fantastic kid, don't let MIL get to you and keep on doing what you're doing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by cmb123
So many MIL's of that generation feel so threatend by parenting styles that differ from what THEY did. For one, it's not familliar to them, so they don't understand it, they were told much differently by their mothers and dr's, and if you're doing something different, does that mean that you think what they did was wrong? Most of them were taught that everything WE do as AP parents are detrimental to childrens development. SO really what she's going on is what she knows. With that in mind I'm sure she really is genuinely concerned and it really does "come from the heart".
I don't know how important to you ( or maybe to your DH) for her to have some sort of understanding, but maybe if it comes up again, you could recomend ( or send her) some books about AP. Make 'em something "mainstream" friendly like Dr. Sears or something (I find anything too alternative just makes things worse).
I think this really hits the nail on the head. She's not a horrible person, she just needs to be refocused. :LOL

I've told DH that I'd be happy to fwd reading to her if he thinks it'd help. MAybe next we visit--or if she comes to visit us--I'll just conveniently leave Mothering and a Sears book out!
 
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