I'd love advice from other Moms about how to deal with a very awkward mother-in-law issue...she told an unbelievable story to my kids and is now so furious that my husband asked her to think before she speaks that she says that she should not be part of our lives!
I adore my mother-in-law (MIL)! She loves my kids, she is active and a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, she seems to be so intent in being friends with my daughters (9 & 4) that she forgets their ages -- and frequently talks to them "as friends" and has conversations with them that are truly not age-appropriate - and wrong on just so many levels. READ ON...
Our latest incident: Saturday morning at breakfast, the MIL told our family that she shared the following story with our 9 year-old the night before when she was babysitting: "I told Daughter #1 about the recent robbery at the Burger King my town. I told her that this happened because poor people and rich people go to the same high school in our town and they are friends with one another. At night, they like to go out and sometimes they go to have a burger. The rich people have enough money to buy burgers but the poor people don't, so the poor kids sit outside and watch their rich friends eat their burgers. Sometimes, the poor people get really angry (and hungry) so then they rob the Burger King and people get hurt."
My husband and I were absolutely shocked - on SOOOO many levels (it is not like this happened in our town and my daughter heard about this on the news; our 9 year old does not watch the news...Grandma just wanted to share this story!). At the time, my husand gave MIL a dirty look (which she noticed and laughed off). The next day, he called her to talk with her about these type of comments (this is not the first time that he has had to make this call).
She (the MIL) was extremely insulted that we would consider telling her that what she is saying is inappropriate. She said that it must be a generational thing (that kids can speak to their parents in this way) and that she would have never considered talking to her parents in this way. She said that if we are concerned about the content, then we should simply speak to our daughters. Furthermore, she said that since this is not the first time we have brought this issue up, it would probably be better if she stayed out of our lives.
This has been so upsetting to both of us - on so many levels. That kind of talk is so inappropriate (let's see - violence, class-system, values, etc etc). Our daughter told us that grandma told her this story right before bed the night before at 11pm (when she was babysitting, she put our daughter to bed 2 hours late...).
What do we do now?? Anyway, the best "first step" that I can come up with is to research the internet to find examples from professionals who state that you don't talk to kids in this way (i.e. try to limit exposure to violence, etc.) and find a few articles about talking to grandparents about boundries. Second, I thought that my husband and I should write a letter to her, explaining that we wanted her to see our reasons for setting this boundary and have an opportunity to think about them (whether or not she agrees) before she answers -- and a face-to-face or phone conversation at this point just seems to breed defensiveness. We want to tell her that we love her and we very much want her to be a part of our daughters' lives, but for our daughters' sake, it is important that we are consistent about the messages that we communicate. I will not back down at all on my position...but I do want to work on repairing the relationship.
Any other thoughts....have we taken this too far?? THANK YOU!!
Last edited by 2colleges; 02-18-2008 at 08:17 PM. Reason: rewording a sentence
Oh do I feel for you. My MIL is very loving and adores us all, but she has appropriateness issues, too. I think they don't think before they talk, and then they feel defensive when we call them on it. My MIL truly lacks social skills and does not know how to talk to kids. She is clueless. (She actually discussed crucifixion with my two year old one Easter!!!! We were doing the egg hunt thing and she tells our toddler that bad men put nails in Jesus's hands and feet. My daughter was hysterical. Four years later she still freaks out when I get out the hammer to hang a picture. My MIL saw nothing wrong with it.)
No, you have NOT taken it too far! thank God your husband was the one to address it, as he's her son and she's probably more willing to hear it from him than from you. These are your children. You have to protect them and take care of them as you see fit. They don't need to hear about robberies at the local fast food joint! She took it very personally - she raised X number of children just fine, thank you, and who are you to tell her how to take care of her grandkids while she babysits? But what she's forgotten is that SHE surely wanted the right to take of HER kids as she saw fit, not as her mom and her MIL told her to. Have her son remind her of that.
I like the "expert" opinion thing, but really, just make it easy. I alway use the "My pediatrician says..." even when I have never discussed it with my pediatrician. Or use the "Her teacher says she was upset by....." It may sound like a cop out, but I think that if it comes from a so-called expert and not from her son and DIL, she may give the argument more thought. And then it's not YOU saying she is wrong, but the doctor.
My husband and I sat down and made a list of all the things that we wanted to say to his mom. Then we decided the best way to address them. I like the letter idea, because not only can't she hang up or walk away, she has an easy way to refer back to forbidden topics or whatever you want to address with her. We did the same thing. It has been effective.
But you may have to limit her contact with the kids to times you are home, too, not letting her babysit for awhile.
If you find a way to put a lid on her, let me know...I still dread her visits because I just never know what she'll say next.
I would like to say that I do not believe that youtook it too far. I would like to share a story with you that I am personally going through right now.
My first son was born and he was the first grandson in this area so as I am sure you can guess my family was excited. My grandmother, who raised me came to stay with me after my c-section. At first she offered help. Eventually it came to be demands which became worse when my husband lost his job and we had to move in with them. She became so overbearing she began to make me doubt my parenting skills. Everything I did was wrong, even when I used the pediatrician excuse she would tell me what does he know. Fast-forward 9 months down the road. My husband and I were living in our own place and she expected us to be there every day, which I did until my son became so confused on where home was that I stopped. She began to hound me about seeing my son. So I eventually allowed them to come pick him up and take him for the day. We started noticing a change in him. He would come home and treat me, and only me, like dirt. Alot like she was. He began to hit me, get right in my face and scream at me and just run around like he was crazy. Others began noticing the same. He only did it with me. As a last ditch effort I lessened his visits and it began to get better. On his last visit there I had told them that he could not have juice as it gave him diarhea and sent his potty seat with him as we were potty training him at the time. He was expected home by 5 because we had to be there. Five o clock came and went and he was not there. Then 6 came and no phone call. Finally I got worried and called them. He had had an "accident" and they were cleaning it up. When she finally showed up she told me that he had had 3 bowel movements that day, which since my son was born he has had issues with being able to have bowel movements and in the days that followed had severe diarhea. So bad that we had to put him back in diapers. I cannot tell you that I was racking my brain trying to figure out what to do. I did not want to hurt anyones feelings but enough was enough. What I ended up doing was the next time they called to get him I said they needed to visit him at our home. When asked why I cited all the reasons I cited to you. They were angry, I guess I expected them to be upset however they didn't speak to me or my son or husband for the following year. She has turned practically my whole family against me and I only speak to my sis and bro out of a large family. Having told you that story if you were to ask me today would I have done anything different I will tell you no that I would not. I wouldn't because I was doing what was right for my son. I will also tell you that in the past year my son has stopped treating me in that awful manner and is a totally different kid. I do not regret my decision, yes I have lost people from my life however they were obviously not what I thought they were.
In telling you my story I just would like you to know that there may be a backlash and there may be people who don't like your decision but you do what is right for your children and don't ever look back. You were made their parent for a reason. I hope things get easier for you.