Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Need honest opinions on MIL disagreement!

Posted by   + Show Post

Let me give some background information first off. Within the last two and a half years, my daughter has lost both of her poppas, my father to suicide in april 2010 and my father's father to cancer in november 2012. Those were her only grandfathers since my husband has never had anything to do with his paternal side. Anyways, my MIL recently married a man in July of 2012 that she hadn't even known a full year yet. To the current issue at hand, my MIL informs me tonight on the phone that we need to give her new husband a new name besides Mr. and then his name, to be called by her grandkids. Something like peepaw, pappi, you get the idea. Well, I informed her that what they call him is fine considering he is not their grandpa and has not earned the right to be called by a name representative of a grandfather. Yes, I was slightly harsh, and my reasoning is a little selfish since I had always envisioned my dad and grandfather in the picture. Anyways, she called me rude for having that opinion, then proceeded to try and guilt trip me into changing my opinion by saying her new husband doesn't feel like part of the family because the kids call him Mr. Name. I simply told her I'm sorry but our kids will not be referring to her husband as anything other than what he has been referred to for the last year. Frankly, I do not like the man, he is in his 60s and rather old school, so he tries to undermind my authority when around (big pet peeve, Im the parent, I'll parent my child, stay the heck out of it) he is a major know it all, and I don't trust him alone with my daughter therefore the two weeks he is in town, she doesn't spend the night there. Ever really... Am I justified in refusing to make my kids to call him by a different, more grandfatherly name? I will try to keep an open mind that some will not agree with my train of thought. 

by on Dec. 2, 2012 at 1:32 AM
Replies (91-96):
by on Dec. 5, 2012 at 10:13 AM

It does sound a LOT like you are jealous, maybe even spiteful, b/c the men you WANTED there are not.

1.  It doesn't matter how long she knew him before marriage.  I've noticed that for many older couples, it doesn't take long.  They know by that point what they want in life and a partner and when they find it, good.  Get it done.  If she is happy  and he is what she wants, it isn't your place to judge their relationship.
2.  It wouldn't be the end of the world to talk to the kids about giving him a nickname.  He IS family.  You can teach them at this point how to accept other people into their family at their own pace.  The precedent you are setting right now is (God forbid) if anything happens to DH, and you remarry down the road, that man is not part of the family and should be called Mr. ____.  Forever.  Because there WILL be things they don't like about him, and he wasn't around from the start.  BUT, the nickname doesn't have to be decided for them.  You could simply sit them down and explain that he is married to Grandma, and therefore part of the family, and that they don't HAVE to call him Mr.  See what they offer up instead.  Or, if they want to keep calling him Mr, that is THEIR choice to make.
3.  What does one have to do to "earn" the right to be a grandfather to your kids?  Is there a time limit?  Does he have to get the right gifts?  How does that work?  He's been with Grandma for a year, you said.  Are there any guidelines up here, or is he shooting in the dark to earn approval?
4.  Just because you don't agree with his style doesn't mean you can knock him out of the family.  The better approach is to talk to him and Grandma together.  Tell them in no uncertain terms that you are raising your children the way you and DH see fit, and if they can't respect that they won't see the kids as often.  Then hold to it.  If they step on your toes again, tell them to respect your parental authority.  And then don't go back if they don't.  How would you had felt if one of the blood Grandpas had stepped on your toes?  Would you have tried to work it out, or rescinded his Grandpa card?

Yes, you are justified in not FORCING your kids to call him a different name.  But you are NOT justified telling Grandma he hasn't "earned the right" and that you will NEVER let your kids accept him as part of the family.

Also, why exactly do you not trust him?  Not letting the girls sleep over is fine, you shouldn't do anything you are not OK with.  But has he given you reason to think he would hurt them?  What is the deal there?  Or are you just throwing that in to bolster your feelings of upset?

And in a final note:

Yes he works out of town a lot.  So you don't get to see him often.  But by your logic there, ANY Grandfather who lives long distance hasn't earned his title.  I mean, I saw my Grandpa for the first time when I was 7.  I shouldn't have had to call him Grandpa, b/c he didn't earn it with me yet, right?  I saw him again five years later.  Not all Grandparents get to live so close and have a constant relationship.  If he's there and trying, I think you should leave that decision up to your children.  This is the reality of life:  Relatives may die, and new ones may become part of the family.  THEY don't get to pick and choose another relative's spouse.  They can learn to be polite, accepting, and maybe even build a relationship where they didn't think possible.

by Anonymous 11 on Dec. 5, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Its up to the child whether or not they want to refer to a person by a certain name.

I called my grandmother Grammy then my younger brother called her Granny. I eventually adapted to Granny, but the other gradnchildren and great grandchildren call her Memaw. Even my children call her Memaw.

Whenever my grandfather remarried in 2007, he married a woman I had known my whole life and there is no way in hell I will ever refer to her by anything other than her first name, but after a while the younger children adapted to calling her Ninny.

by on Dec. 9, 2012 at 9:48 AM
I wholeheartedly agree with you, especially if you don't know him or trust him. Have you explained to your MIL that your grandpa and dad were really involved with your kids and had a loving relationship with them? They were actual family not family based on other people's choices. I know that last part sounds harsh but that is the reality of the situation, right? Anyway, he can be called peepaw or whatever when he actually has EARNED that respect and shown he really wants to be part of the family. If he is truly old school, he should remember people of authority EARN their respect from time served, not handed it to them:)
by Anonymous 1 on Dec. 9, 2012 at 10:04 AM
With your thinking you earn the right to be in families. So if your kids marry your dil or sil have to earn the right to be in your family. This is what I am reading into this. You are way toooooo closed off. Family is family.
by on Dec. 9, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Give it time, you mil needs to chill. She hasnt even known him very long. He can be a totally different man that what she thinks. I don't think its rude or selfish. He is still technically a stranger imo
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
by Anonymous 12 on Dec. 13, 2012 at 9:36 PM

When I remarried, I had a 3-4yo. My child called their stepfather but his name at first but eventually wanted to know what my child SHOULD call him, so I told my child that they should call their stepfather whatever they are comfortable with, within reason of course. If they want to call him Name, Dad Name, Dad or some other variation then that was fine but it had to be THEIR choice, something THEY were comfortable with.

No one was allowed to tell my kids what to call someone, it was always my kids' choice with whatever they were comfortable with. I see your situation as no different than if you had remarried.

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)