To be annoyed with DM(21 Posts)
Dunno if I should post here, I don't mind it being moved.
My 6 month old DS is a extremely clingy and generally grumpy baby. He's hard work, I don't get much peace but he's otherwise delightful and worth the effort. His cousin who is the same age (but lives closer to my family so sees them more often) has his moments but he's an easier baby. My mum constantly compares the two and it is starting to grate on my nerves.
DM and family live around and hour away so during the week when DH is at work it's just DS and I. Occasionally we/they visit. Recently visited DM by train and bus and the snide comments regarding his clingyness were very hurtful. Playing side by side, it's easy to see and regret how my DS loses out on precious time with his extended family but why do they feel the need to be so negative (it's not just DM who makes comments)? AIBU in thinking that, yes, babies who are exposed to people more often might be less clingy, but some babies are just more clingy by nature? My son cries with his dad who he sees everyday! He'll go to people who look or sound like me (which is weird because I'm standing right there, but I can understand why), or sometimes people who stand and dance with him (poor folk )
We moved because we cannot afford the area where I grew up. We bought our house about an hour away and since being on maternity leave, I gave up my car. I do visit my cousin that lives around me once a week, as well as my MIL who looks after DS's very young cousins (who adore DS). I feel like I am trying to expose DS to family as much as I can during the week. But my DM finds every opportunity to make it known that my son would be less clingy if he were around people (them) more. She'll talk to him and say things like 'yes, you're crying because you don't see people' or 'you've finally come out'. Wtf am I to do with that information, no car and a bloody vital train link that's ceased operations until next spring. I do go out during the week for walks into town, and to the library. The children's center is a ridiculous walking distance away but my DH has said if I needed to go he'd provide taxi fare. I have a workshop Tuesday so that'll be my first time taking up his offer.
Should I bother telling DM to shut up? Also looking for advice. What can I do better for my son?
Do you tell your Mother that he goes out lots? Because from what you've said here, he goes out plenty! Some babies hardly see anyone but their Mother or siblings at this age and your son is obviously around loads of people and in different environments.
Say something. When she passively agressively talks to your son about you like that....answer back TO YOUR BABY like this
"Oh you've been out almost TOO much this week haven't you! You've been to the library, the shops, to Aunty Jo's and Grannies and to the children's centre!"
And if she continues on, you need to tell her to stop.
Having a baby changes your relationship with your own Mother because you have to sort of woman up a bit and not let them talk down to you like this.
Perhaps she's jealous of MIL or something?
What Violet said.
My 7 month DD was very clingy with me from about 5 months. Even crying when her Dad held her same as you.
She has chilled out a lot since then and is happy to spend time with a couple of select people to the point where I am happy to leave her for a couple of hours. Hope yours goes the same way.
Its just exhausting having a clingy baby and you don't need a guilt trip about it either. Sounds like you are doing everything you can to get your baby used to people, but he's just a baby and its completely normal to just want mum.
What can you do better for your son?
My only advice would be to accept him and his personality for who he is. Don't fight it and don't try to change it.
I'm not saying you're not accepting him btw, but your DM and others are obviously making you second guess yourself and I'm giving you permission to stop!
My DD is 21 months and has always been clingy right from birth. It's just her temperament and how she's built.
We got out pretty much every day of the week and go to lots of toddler groups/classes as well as play dates, the supermarket etc etc.
She's just shy and nervous and when I look back now I can see how her personality was apparent right from the start.
One of my friends DS is 2 weeks older than DD and my friend said right from a newborn he has been easy going and happy to go to anyone. We go to a toddler group together and he will go up to strangers and sit on their laps! While my DD is clinging to my shirt.
I have found the Dr Sears High needs baby website and The Highly Sensitive Child websites very useful.
Also, because we live in a world that sadly values extroversion over introversion you're going to have to start not giving a shot what people think or say - easier said than done I know because my DM is the same.
But I've had to say to her very firmly and to other people too who say negative things about DD in front of her - that she is who she is and I am not going to try to change her. She is fabulous just the way she is.
Having said that your baby may come out of his shell over time....whose to say?
My DD has the same issue over my GDs, speach. She blew up over the comments from her GMIL and that's put a stop to them.
My eldest was 'clingy', she was completely different from about the age of eight and it's her outgoing personality that has helped her career.
It always surprises me, when people, especially Women, whose children have grown up, still come out with these untrue, makes a Parent feel crap, statements.
Just challenge the comments directly, without using PA, or talking through the baby.
Also, point out that the babies that were clingy, were the ones that would have more chance of survival.
YANBU and your mother is so rude! My mother tried to pull that passive aggressive talking to the baby instead of me crap and she only did it once. I pointed out that the baby can't understand her and what she was saying was ridiculous anyway so in future she can address his mother about such matters. Rude!
Anyway, yes, I would say something. A 6 month old doesn't need anyone but their carers. Does she really think he's missing out on complicated mind games and witty exchanges over high tea? He wants cuddles and songs and to be talked to by the people that love him most. He won't care about anything else for at least a year!
Tell her that it's normal and healthy for a baby to be clingy. Maybe she should be more worried about why your cousin's baby doesn't have such a close bond? (I'm sure their bond is just fine, just pointing out what a silly double standard she has here.)
Little ones all go through phases. Sometimes my little one was so clingy he'd cry if his dad went near him, then a few months later he's telling me to go away because he only wants dad.
They're just working their way through a weird new world and wanting to cuddle the person that loves you most can only be a good thing. Don't lose confidence in yourself because your baby adores you! That's a sign you're doing well.
We had something similar with DD and MIL. Basically she kept saying, in earshot to DD, how she was going to struggle at school because she couldn't do xyz yet (Aug baby). MIL also commented a lot about DD not reading a word of phonics in reception and other negative comments about DD's reading (or lack there of!).
Both me & DH had to tell her to stop the negative comments. We were nice but very direct. It did work. Comments have stopped and now haven't been replaced, I think MIL knows I won't tolerate DD being put down. I don't mind helpful comments in private, I'm not precious about it, I just don't want a little child hearing lots of negative things about themselves before they've even started school (DD did fine and has caught up now she's finished year2).
Oh thank you all for your lovely responses!!!
I've don't believe I've ever been asked by my mum what we do during the week. I'm always trying to give a clue when she starts her usual comments. Honestly the frequent guilt trips are chipping away at my confidence, and making me second guess myself as someone has said. I'd never do/say this to a mother but DM and a particular cousin don't stop making these comments. And tutting when my DS starts acting up (usually if I try to leave the room). The term 'separation anxiety' falls on deaf ears, and I get told to let him cry, don't hold him as much etc etc. They expect me to do this then and there, all eyes on me, but I just can't have him crying (and clawing at his face) while I stand there just to prove I'm not enabling him. So I pick him up and this gets the comments flowing. My cousin 'trained' her sons to not get used to being held, which is good for her but my son is definitely of a different temperament!
I've chosen to accept my son as he is, he's a lovely inquisitive and very determined little boy . I do think he is high needs, but I've not read extensively about it. An aunt has told me I was just as miserable and clingy but when I bring this up with DM she seems to think that this isn't true. They actually had a heated two-way over it lol. My DM is so busy comparing the two babies and making comments, she actually misses the part where he plays very nicely with his cousin. They are starting to recognise that they are both babies and it's cute. I don't worry about him being shy with other children, he is very keen to crawl over to them and touch.
I think I will end up saying something. I'm not one to challenge snide comments or tuts but I feel hurt that she'd be this way. And yes, I feel his behavior is perfectly natural, perhaps i will try teaching her about double standards. Wouldn't hurt.
My MIL is so much more understanding it's easier for me to want to try methods to get DS interacting with her. Perhaps DM is jealous he sees her more often. I've always been mindful of this, so I downplay how often we visit. Time to be more truthful!
Happily, DS is now much better with his dad. I see real improvement to be positive about. He cries sometimes but it's nowhere near as much as before. It's progress!
purple your post details my concern for the future! If talking worked for you I've got to act now. I definitely see my mum talking negatively about him in front of him. I don't think she would mean to upset him but she does this kind of thing a lot. My DH would definitely take issue with it, and rightly so.
I think you all have given me courage to speak up, thanks . I know the kind of mother I want to be, I just didn't factor those closest to me being the ones ebbing away at my confidence.
I wouldn't talk through your baby, that sounds ridiculous to me.
When she starts with the negative stuff tell her to stop that you are fed up with her criticising your baby-& then leave, or tell her to.
You poor thing. Now my DC are late teens, I reflect back to their baby/toddler times. My Teenage/adult children are completely different. Both have developed onto lovely people with different personalities.
I remember being constantly undermined by MIL and DM. I used to smile sweetly and say, it's all different now than in the olden days. Also, I tried to just tell them that every child is different.
As your baby grows, the relationships will change. My DS was so clingy and cried with his DF. I had to go to hospital for a week and my DS and him bonded, so much so, that for the next few years it was Daddy all the time. Now my DS is an adult, we are extremely close again, but I have to share him with his DGF!
So, it sounds like you are a great Mum. Try to stand your ground a bit, by saying a firm message each time. Remember all of this when you yourself are a Grandma
"No he's crying because Granny's being very rude"
"He's crying because he's had a busy week then got dragged all the way over here so mummy could get an ear bashing"
Your mum is an idiot and needs telling.
He is 6 months and he doesn't know them. If they make no effort to visit and maintain contact then they are strangers to him and he will be clingy.
My dd is 3 in 10 days and clings to me like mad around a lot of her dads family because they make no effort to see her.
I would point to your mum next time that if she made an effort not to be a stranger then he might be more willing to go to her
Op, your last message is really heartwarming. You sound like a great mum. I'm glad you know that now.
Your dm is out of line. Even if you were doing everything wrong it's not her business to blabber on. But you're not You know your baby. I wonder does she feel a bit rejected by the baby thinking she's not a wonderful gm or baby would love her so much. Hit highdoh once with her saying that's enough you are so rude and lm sick of your criticism leave it off NOW. She will get a shock but hopefully enough shock to cop herself on. Or else get her onto mumsnet where she will soon learn that interfering mothers are the worst thing to be. Do these people ever remember being a young mum themselves? All babies are different. Yours is who he is and sounds just fine. Enjoy him.
YANBU and your mum can sod off. Sounds like there's nothing you can do right with her.
As regards advice: I think if your boy wants you (and there's no issue with you being too knackered by a velcro baby), he should get you! Some babies are just more clingy than others, and in different ways sometimes - I had twins and DT2 generally liked to be held by someone in the first 9 months, while DT1 was more content to lie in bouncy chair/on baby mat but would go nuts if anyone she didn't know came near her! They're all different. All you need to do is respond to your own baby's needs, and it sounds like you're doing that really well.
Also all that stuff about "you have to get them socialised, you have to expose them to other people" is such mince according to any child development stuff I've ever come across. As I understand it, they start to understand object permanence when they're about 6m old, and that starts a period that lasts until (IME) about 3-3.5. Some kids are clingier, some less clingy, but during that time, securely attached older babies and toddlers usually prefer their primary carers. And that's fine! (It was actually a little bit scary for me when my girls, aged nearly 4, suddenly became gregarious with new people - I realised that they would now easily walk off with someone persuasive, although it's a vanishingly small possibility that it would ever happen of course.)
I think you are doing great and your mum should butt out. I don't understand why your cousin is proud of 'training' her child to not want to be held. The best part of having a baby is all the cuddles you get.
Agreeing with ABSO and TooMuch. People are obsessed with 'socialisation' and its a total red herring IMO and agree child development people recognise this now. Children are constantly socialised through school soon enough. Your DS may want some others to play with when he's 3 or so, but I am sure that will be on the cards by then at some playgroup an hour or two a day. Really at 6 months they just want their closest family - thats all.
Also its true, some babies are more demanding or sensitive than others. There is such a thing as an "easy" baby. My son used to have an ear-splitting cry as soon as he woke up, my mum only reminded me the other day. It took ages for him to get to sleep, lots of breast milk, etc until he was nearly at school! So agree with all the supportive comments. And tell your mum its really not helpful for negative comparisons to be made. Hopefully the penny will drop.
your cousin 'training' her kids is nothing to be proud of. She has trained them to understand there is no point in communicating their needs (crying), as their needs will not be met. Keep strong and stick to your guns. Your life might seem more tricky just now with a clingy baby but the love and affection you give now will reap dividends when your baby is older.
Thank you all for your messages, I feel so much more confident.
Honestly I started to feel all sorts of emotions regarding my 'parenting'. Started believing I was doing wrong while trying to put my son's needs first. I feel much better after all of your kind words.
Socialisation wasn't even a thing for me until my family started making noises about how he doesn't do as much as my nephew, which must make him so clingy. As I've said above, I go out often. This is because I want my son to see the world outside, nothing more or less. My DM has actually said I should be leaving him with other people and 'doing my own thing'. That is not a priority for me right now. My maternity leave is for us. I have actually got brilliant friends who have come and visited multiple times (more than her actually). I do have a life that I look forward to sharing with DH and DS. But it's terrible how someone can get into your head and make you feel so crap. My own mother too. I will certainly be remembering this once I am a grandma!
Whereisthelight my husband has this view towards her. He really feels she hasn't really 'put herself out' for her grandchild. Funny thing is I try not to hold the same opinion because I don't wish to be judgemental. I don't believe she loves DS less because she doesn't visit. But that's all a whole different story. I think my DH has accepted that this is how she is. He doesn't know most of what I've said here regarding DS and DMs opinions. He'd go mental... so here I am trying to keep the peace. I love you mumsnet!
My focus now is my baby, and I shouldn't be made to feel ashamed of that. Thanks everyone
An aunt has told me I was just as miserable and clingy but when I bring this up with DM she seems to think that this isn't true. They actually had a heated two-way over it lol.
Well there's the main issue then: your DM doesn't believe in 'sensitive' personalities. She probably never acknowledged or saw it in you as a baby even though others could see it. She probably thinks "well I did this and you turned out fine"!
My DM would tell you the same. I see my childhood very differently though. That's mainly why I'm so determined not to repeat her mistakes. Although I'm not shy and am a pretty confident person, I'm also introverted in that I need quiet time to myself and I'm also 'highly sensitive' (if you look up that website you'll know what I mean by that).... But my DM used to call me 'awkward' and 'over sensitive' and basically used to deal with it by denying my feelings and caring on regardless. In the end I sort of have up trying to explain how she made me feel and sort of retreated to myself - so from her point of view everything seemed hunky dorey from the outside. I never complained so what was the problem?!
However, it was quite the head fuck growing up.
Now I'm not trying to encourage you to 'label' your young baby as highly sensitive. Tbh he's just being a baby - babies are supposed to form deep attachments to their primary care giver, it's a sign of a secure attachment if they cry when you leave - and OP that shows you you're doing right by your DS
As for your SIL the fact that her DC dont cry for her is actually a worrying sign. When I worked in HV it's signs like that we were looking out for in families as an indication of possible problems.
As a MASSIVE generalization the older generation were encouraged to foster 'insecure' attachment styles with their DC as that was what the majority of the 'expert' parenting advice suggested at that time. Talk about 'spoiling' your child with love and attention was common.
We now know of course that this is absolute bollocks and that the first 3 years are a crucial time period in child development for developing F secure attachments and creating positive neurological connections, especially in the frontal lobes which are associated with higher level processing (empathy, reasoning etc). It's why severely neglected children show damage to these areas in brain imaging studies.
OP you sound like you're doing a grand job. Don't let other people get inside your head. Follow your own instincts when it comes to parenting and you'll be set.
My own DM and MIL got inside my head for the first few months at a time when I was very vulnerable (traumatic delivery, birth injuries, baby had reflux, colic, cmpa and didn't sleep!).
When I look back on those first precious few months the things I regret the most are always the times I didn't listen to my instincts as a mother and tried to follow what I thought I 'should' be doing.
Tell your DM and Cousins to 'do one'. You'll be fine
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