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Looking for grandparent boundary advice

Posted by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM
  • 18 Replies

Hello,

Looking for advice/suggestions on setting boundaries with grandparents, in particular a mother in law:)

My husband is an only child and we are expecting our first child in a matter of weeks.  As my pregnancy has drawn to a close, I feel my mother in law has gone a bit rogue.  My husband has struggled with boundary issues with her in the past (constant nagging and intrusiveness to the point he left the state for 11 years before returning) and made very good headway with her until recently when she learned we were pregnant. 

I'd like to set up some reasonable and healthy boundaries with her right away to avoid arguments or hurt feelings.  I understand the importance of grandparents in my son's life but I also want it to be clear I expect her to respect my role as the mother.  

Some of her more recent behaviors that have caused us stress are making statements that nobody is more excited then her to have this baby during family dinners, buying baby her own car seat and bed to keep at her house  for when he comes over all the time??, commenting that she can't wait to bring baby to see Santa for the first time and intends to take a cake baking class so she can bake my son his birthday cakes every year, and she can't wait to plan his 2nd year bday party (these comments were particularly hurtful as I was looking forward to doing them myself as mom). 

 Additionally she has alluded that she intends to see the baby every Saturday to bring to hang out with her and her other friends that are grandparents, which is why she has begun purchasing her own baby items.  She has not spoken to me directly about this desire or asked my permission, so to speak.  She just assumes that will be how it goes.   I'm not particularly close to my Mother in Law and at this point I am not comfortable dropping off my baby to her care, especially when he is still in my belly. 

Finally, recently my husband has given up an ongoing argument with her regarding something as silly as the stroller we put on my baby registry.  We decided it's easier to let her do what she wants then argue our point further. The stroller on my registry was specifically chosen as it matches our already  purchased car seat and is very reasonably priced.  We went into the store and tested out the stroller before putting it on our registry.  She for some reason is dead set oon not buying us that stroller and instead wanted to purchase a pram or a expensive stroller that costs $500 dollars and is incompatiable with my car seat, not to mention it doesn't fold up.  How on earth am I to carry that around in my car?  We have pointed this fact out to her numerous times and instead of hearing what we are saying goes onto to tell us the reason why SHE likes the stroller she found and how SHE intends to use it.  So, we are left confused as to whether this is a gift for us or for herself.  My husband and I finally  told her we would be happy with whatever she provided us to end the argument.  Since we doubt it will suit our needs, we will end up buying the one on my registry ourselves and I'm sure we'll end up "giving" her the stroller we can't use.  Makes me wonder if maybe this was intentional or if she is just that dense...

In any event, if these issues are happening already, what will happen once my son has arrived.

Anybody experience something similar and had success setting up boundaries and if so, what did you do?

by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Mrs.Andrews
by Mandy on Aug. 17, 2011 at 2:32 PM

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said it is easier to let her do what she wants than to argue. You can't control her or change her. Yes, her saying these things is very annoying. But they are all talk as you ultimately have control over your baby. You can speak up when you hear her say these things and correct her or just let it go. When the baby is born and isn't at her house all the time etc, She will get the point. I think the best way to set boundaries is to just not do anything you are uncomfortable with at the time. My MIL has been similar but we just never even left our daughter with her until she was 2. She seemed to get the point. If she starts coming over too much your husband will need to tell her that, while you enjoy her visits, you need to plan ahead and only have so much time to spend visiting. She may be hurt by all this but she will soon get the point. Good luck!

Momy2beAUG.2009
by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:25 PM

I would wait to settle these issues once baby is here. One at a time. If she is indeed like this it would be stressful but things can change once baby is here. And go ahead and let her take a baking class, you still do what ever you want for the birthday parties. Although after trying to do the first bday all by myself it was so nice to have my MIL's help, not her planning but more me saying hey I would really appreciate it if you did this.... I was really worried about my Inlaws once baby arrived, but I love the way they are now. Of course sometimes I get frustrated with them but thankfully its not often. I would just take it one day at a time.

LKRA
by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Go here: http://www.cafemom.com/group/32665

They can help you.

Mrs.Andrews
by Mandy on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Oh my goodness I love the description of that group!

Quoting LKRA:

Go here: http://www.cafemom.com/group/32665

They can help you.


DollFace-23
by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Tell her that if she doesn't back off that you will FULLY restrict her from having any contact with the baby... That will be the only way she will get the hint, it is YOUR child and all the time that you spend with him is very important... dont let his mother take that form you

Autumn19
by Ruby Member on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:37 PM

she sounds like my mom. i ended up nearly clompletly cutting her out of my sons life for the past 6 mons. It really irritates me that my mom would absolutly not doing anything with my son unless it was convinent for only her it didnt matter my plans. he wasnt allowed to stay the night at her house until after he was 3 because she said he cried to much and now that he is 4 she wants him all the time. but that doesnt fly with me anymore. because of choices she has continually made i flat out say not unless i am there. she doesnt follow my rules at all. you just need to be firm in what you want or just say no all together.

thundersky
by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:42 PM


Quoting Autumn19:

she sounds like my mom. i ended up nearly clompletly cutting her out of my sons life for the past 6 mons. It really irritates me that my mom would absolutly not doing anything with my son unless it was convinent for only her it didnt matter my plans. he wasnt allowed to stay the night at her house until after he was 3 because she said he cried to much and now that he is 4 she wants him all the time. but that doesnt fly with me anymore. because of choices she has continually made i flat out say not unless i am there. she doesnt follow my rules at all. you just need to be firm in what you want or just say no all together.

somtimes it is the grandparents that need more disaplin then the children go figure LOL.

mommapeanut
by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:44 PM

You need to make it clear that this is yours and dhs child. not hers. nor is it her play thing to entertain her. she'll need to find a hobby to do all of that.   
you'll be happy to include her as much as your family time allows, but there are things you will be doing alone as a new family unit.  you wont be committing to seeing her every saturday or anything like that.  you're a young couple and you need to be doing things with other families your age ect.  as for her making the plans for bdays/santa - make it clear that YOU guys will be the ones to be doing this, and may include her but may want to be doing it on your own. 

do not let her do what she wants, do not let her bully you into changing your registry, do not let her feel like her opinion is the only one that matters ---youll be setting yourself up for failure for A TON of things.   (if she buys you the stroller ask where she got it under the guise that a friend loves it and wants to get one similar...then, simply return it and get the one you wanted. when questioned simply state that "you refused to recognize our wishes and needs and so we had no choice than to be devious about handling the situation." 

feel free to explain to her that dh and you are adamently agreeing that she needs to respect the parent/grandparent boundary and that if she cannot than you have no choice but to limit the contact because in the end it is becoming too stressful to live your life as a family with her constant pressuring and insisting on how YOUR life should be run.  you need to be able to experience being parents and a family on your own as well.

my dh has an older sister...and he's still attached to his moms teet so to speak...and they STILL feel entitlement to try to run our lives (it has gotten bad in the past, and some issues still remain...unfortunately my dh doesnt realizes just how controlling they truely are....id love it if theyd leave us alone forever)

LKRA
by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:51 PM

:) They are hilarious. AND they are smart. They know their stuff. They've been a great resource for me with my issues with my mother.

Quoting Mrs.Andrews:

Oh my goodness I love the description of that group!

Quoting LKRA:

Go here: http://www.cafemom.com/group/32665

They can help you.



Pandapanda
by Amber on Aug. 17, 2011 at 3:58 PM

I have always had serious issues with my MIL, whom we no longer speak to. When my son was 3 weeks old, I walked out of the room to pee. I came back and she was feeding him RICE CEREAL. CEREAL. For a three week old baby. Not a pinch in the bottle even. A whole freaking bowl of it.

She's grandma so she knows best. I toon my son and didnt let her hold him the rest of the time we were there. She was always telling my husband and I what we better do, what we better not do, what we can and can not do.. until I put my foot down.

Don't let it get to that point. Be firm, law down the law, and do not budge. Don't let her manilpulate or warp you to what she wants. YOU are mom. She had her chance to be a mom, now she needs to take the respectful role of grandmother. Is she really delusional enough to think she'll have baby every weekend from the time baby is born? Hell no.

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