To be angry at my mother for treating my 14 month old like her own child?

(54 Posts)
AnnieDelores Thu 04-Oct-12 13:19:04

My mother comes to look after my 14 month old son two days a fortnight and travels 2 and a half hours to stay with us. She sometimes visits for weekends too with my stepdad.

She is FANTASIC with my son and has heaps of energy and love for him. He adores her too.

The problem began when she started feeding him cake and biscuits (she has an unhealthy diet) and giving him his dummy during the day and giving him proper glasses and bowls rather than his own plastic ones. I noticed he was getting a bit chubby (95th percentile) and asked her to cut back and offered alternative healthy treats for him. After seeing no improvement I asked her if she was still "spoiling" him and she took offence. She is also overly worried when he has a cold and picks him up all the time rather than encouraging him to play independently. She also doesn;t like my decision to send him to nursery two days a week because she thinks he will not get the love and attention he needs there. This is just silly as I have him all to myself on Fridays and together as a family at the weekends.

Its a long story so I'll keep to the main points. My mother was not a good parent after having me at only 19 years old. She hit me and abused me regularly. I have forgiven her for this because she has changed and is a wonderful generous grandmother and mother. But she does cross over boundaries and spoil my son so I find it difficult to manage his expectations.

Its almost as if my son is her "2nd chance" and she feels like he is hers. She was present at the birth because I asked her to be there.

She hasn't spoken to me for over a week now, despite my calls, because she is upset that I accused her of over feeding my son and thinks I am being generally snappy and difficult to get on with. I probably am, but I'm tired juggling a job and a child and trying to do my best even though I'm exhausted.

She now says she will only speak to me with my partner or her husband present which is typical dramiatic behaviour on her part.

AIBU to be fed up with this?

ClippedPhoenix Thu 04-Oct-12 13:28:18

I'm not sure how much she'd have to feed him for those 2 days every fortnight to make him put on loads of weight op?

Sounds like you have unresolved issues with your mum still op.

I know my mum indulged my son when she had it, I always saw it as what grannies do.

ClippedPhoenix Thu 04-Oct-12 13:28:34

"had it"! had him of course.

Pippa6774 Thu 04-Oct-12 13:28:52

She is fantastic with him( your own words) and none of the things you describe sound bad to me.In fact she sounds very devoted
The thing glaringly obvious to me is that you haven't forgiven your DM for your own childhood and you are projecting all this onto your son's relationship with her.

DesperatelySeekingPomBears Thu 04-Oct-12 13:34:09

Are you sure your son isn't due a growth spurt? Lots of kids look really plump. before suddenly shooting up and evening out so to speak.

Mrsjay Thu 04-Oct-12 13:36:53

get somebody else to look after him then if you are not approving of the relationship . and he is getting a bit chubby hmm he is a baby a bit of cake twice a month isn't making him put on weight ,

Fairylea Thu 04-Oct-12 13:38:34

None of that sounds wrong to me I'm afraid
... but I couldn't forgive my mother for abusing me as a child. Maybe that's the issue here. If so I really don't blame you.

TroublesomeEx Thu 04-Oct-12 13:39:24


I agree that it sounds like you have unresolved issues with your mum.

But I also agree that it sounds like she might be seeing him as her 2nd chance.

My MIL is a bit like that. She had DH at 16 and (for various reasons) she was a pretty lousy mother. I think sometimes she forgets that I knew DH when he was a youngish teenager (although we didn't get together until our mid twenties) because she paints a picture of his upbringing that I know just wasn't the case.

I think she regrets a lot of the things she did and choices she made and because she can't go back and correct them, she has massively rewritten the past.

Your mother might be in a position to 'make amends' for some of her choices now with your son.

Maybe you should let her and find some comfort in the fact she recognises she made mistakes. She might not have the power to change the past, but she can have a more positive influence on your future.

However, I suspect that what you are seeing in her behaviour now is the current day manifestation of whatever caused her to behave the way she did all those years ago - she sounds a bit self centred and immature.

As far as your baby goes, I find the old MN mantra "your baby, your rules" works well. If your mother wants to sulk - let her. I'd set clear expectations with her. And let her know it's not up for debate.

AnnieDelores Thu 04-Oct-12 14:21:43

Maybe I do have unresolved issues, and maybe events like this trigger them. I have been willing to let them go because it was a long time ago and I know she must be sorry......although she has never apologised......I've always taken her renewed generosity and love for my Son as her apology. It's difficult when she sulks and is dramatic. I'll arrange alternative childcare for next week and tell her we can talk when she is ready. I feel like I need a break from her too.

TroublesomeEx Thu 04-Oct-12 14:26:19

That sounds like a pretty good plan to me smile

ClippedPhoenix Thu 04-Oct-12 15:27:08

I second that good plan OP.

Like you, my mum wasn't up there with the best and as much as I forgave her I still have hurt sloshing around in there which comes to the fore every now and again, it's natural.

Teamumizumi Thu 04-Oct-12 16:09:36


1) Don't worry about the percentile. My DS was ENORMOUS until he was about 2. He was so fat at 12 months he just sat there like a lump. He is now 5 and pretty skinny (I hate it when he lies flat on his bed as his stomach disappears and you can play a tune on his ribs. Slightly joking, but...). Saw some pictures of DH when he was the same age and he was a baby porker too. DH is now slim (curse him). So don't panic about that

2) BUT you need to encourage healthy eating. YANBU

3) My own mother has always treated my DD as her own daughter and it is really annoying. She also took DD one afternoon AND CUT HER HAIR which I was very upset about.

Put your foot down on sweets and biscuits - tell her that it's more to do with his teeth than his weight, then it won't be too much of a criticism.

Bite your tongue about the over-mothering.

Good luck!

Teamumizumi Thu 04-Oct-12 16:10:51

It was her FIRST haircut too - and I didn't even want it cutting!

hellymelly Thu 04-Oct-12 16:23:50

My Mum was a tricky parent, I was smacked quite a bit, that kind of thing, (although fairly typical of my age group ). Your Mum may have hit you because she really didn't know any other way, 19 is very young and inexperienced generally and some young mothers find it hard. Anyway, my Mum is lovely to my two small daughters, and I find it has helped me forgive and have some empathy for, her behaviour when we were small. You can't change what happened in the past, but your mum is showing her love and care for you by lavishing love on your ds. She is also clearly showing that in different circumstances she would have been a different mother. Talk to her about your own childhood if you can, but I think you should enjoy her relationship with your ds. No child can have too much love.

LizLemon007 Thu 04-Oct-12 16:27:00

That must be hard for you, that your mum can be loving to your son when she was so hard on you. Have you had psychotherapy. I have had some and it's quite good at tweaking how you react to things. I have had some. I can't change MY mother but I have been able to change the way I react sometimes which has been great.

If your son is with you MOST of the time, don't worry about the odd biscuit.

OHforDUCKScake Thu 04-Oct-12 16:28:19

I think she sounds really nice tbh.

You're basically saying that she is guilty of being too nice. There are far worse things. Dont be too hard on her.

I think the alternative childcare is a good idea. I always think when it comes to free childcare you have 2 choices - let them do things the way they want or don't have them look after your child. I personally can't let certain things go so I choose the latter.

I'm pretty sure the odd cake here and there will not be contributing to your son's weight gain, but as a pp said you can always use the 'excuse' of worrying about his teeth instead.

It's perfectly possible for your mum to have a relationship with your son without being responsible for him. It sounds like something (for whatever reason) you feel very uncomfortable with and for that reason I would probably put him in nursery for those extra 2 days and arrange some meets with your mum on a social basis only

missymoomoomee Thu 04-Oct-12 16:31:49

In the nicest possible way are you possibly a bit jealous of the way she is treating your son now, and maybe wonder why she couldn't be so devoted to you as a child?

I do think its more about you and your Mum than her and your son.

It is a tough situation for you to be in but maybe stop using her for childcare and have her for visits instead.

sookiesookie Thu 04-Oct-12 16:34:57

Honestly, its very difficult to make a child chubby in 2 days over 14.
I think this is related to your relationship with your mum.
You plan sounds food.

LizLemon007 Thu 04-Oct-12 16:36:16

ps, my mother was pretty hard on me too growing up. harder on me than on my siblings and that hurt. she had epilepsy and was on medication and my dad was no support. we were all slapped as well. i wsa sent to bed at 5pm sometimes. I remember my dad coming home and letting us out of the bedroom she'd locked us into at about 5.30 on a summers evening. BUT..... now i have kids who fight and drive me insane I have forgiven her. Pretty much. I still feel she was a bit more forgiving to the brother younger than me, but now that i've more than one child i get that relationships with some children are easier than with others. it's not about love. it's about how easy it is.

Mrsjay Thu 04-Oct-12 16:50:36

fwiw my MIL used to beat her sons and was pretty harsh with them I think that is what she was expected to do ( still not right) and was an amazing grandparent, Annie I read my post to you and it sounded really grumpy didn't mean to be smile

Mrsjay Thu 04-Oct-12 16:53:47

My mum had me at 19 and was a fab mum I can't remember getting smacked or her being cruel she did have a 'look' though but she said she wasn't ready to be a Gp and wasn't that great when my dds were smaller,

TroublesomeEx Thu 04-Oct-12 18:48:08

She hasn't spoken to me for over a week now, despite my calls, because she is upset

Has everyone who is saying that she sounds really nice just overlooked this bit?

Whatever he motives for the feeding bit, this is childish and manipulative.

LizLemon007 Thu 04-Oct-12 18:49:53

Yes, you are right folkgirl. i missed that bit. that is immature. it's like saying 'don't challenge me at all'. my mum is the same funnily enough. i can never get a chance to reason with her. she says her bit and then puts her hand up as if you say 'don't upset me'

TroublesomeEx Thu 04-Oct-12 19:01:54

God that sounds frustrating, Liz!

I can't speak for other teenage parents, obviously, but DH's mother is in her 50s now yet she quite often behaves like a petulant teenager when she can't get her own way - e.g. getting 'stroppy' when told not to put make up on DD, or give DS a large glass of wine (aged 12) and being told "no" when she'd bought a bottle of cider for them to share when they watched a film...

DH just says that it was almost as though she had a baby, decided that made her a grown up and then just didn't mature beyond that point.

That isn't strictly true, of course, she has mellowed and she is able to moderate her behaviour more than she did when I first met her (when it seemed to be her sole intent to force alcohol on me and get me drunk hmm) or is at least less inclined to lock horns with us but you do sometimes get the feeling you're 'managing' a teenager rather than communicating with an adult.

I just wondered whether that might explain some of what Annie is talking about.

Pippa6774 Fri 05-Oct-12 03:56:39

smacking was very common back then even in schools .i can remember being spanked in reception for drawing on the desk!

Snog Fri 05-Oct-12 04:18:42

OP my mum is similar. She was a poor mother to me but is good gm to dd. She withdraws when she can't get her own way.

I recommend less contact and more on your terms, so buying more childcare I think will put you in a better place emotionally. For me, that my mum is so doting with my dd throws into relief that she never treats me particularly nicely and sometimes I feel she only values me as a route to her gc. This is a hard situation OP and I hope your dh is supportive of you.

"DH just says that it was almost as though she had a baby, decided that made her a grown up and then just didn't mature beyond that point."
That's pretty perceptive FolkGirl, I think he may have something there.

KnockedUpMell Fri 05-Oct-12 06:06:24

My mum's a little like this- she gives DS sips of diet coke to drink, and when I have a go at her, she says 'he asked for some'.... This is when he was10m!!! she now does it secretly so I don't find out. Because m mum lives abroad, when she comes, she stays for a month or two, and initially she was doing the childcare when she visited. But with the diet coke incident and a couple of others (tv constantly on as a babysitter for DS), I decided paid childcare was the answer. We have a nanny now, so my mum can still spend time with DS when she visits, but the nanny is responsible for his food intake and stimulating /playing with him / taking him to playgroups. Definitely go for paid childcare if you're having issues with her.

ChillyButterNut Fri 05-Oct-12 06:41:36

You are definatly not being unreasonable. He is YOUR chid and your mother should respect the choices you made for him.

ChillyButterNut Fri 05-Oct-12 06:43:10

Make not made

akaemmafrost Fri 05-Oct-12 06:54:49

I don't think you're projecting at all, she sounds like a royal PITA!

No offence but people who have these kind of mothers cannot understand what it is like to have to "manage" them.

My mum used to be a right old sulky chops (also similar childhood and background to you OP) and would stop talking to me for months if I didn't take her "advice" about dc eg weaning at 6 weeks. She missed the first year of both my dc respectively because she had fallen out with me about something petty.

The best thing is to ignore, ignore, ignore. Don't ring to ask if she's ok. Why wouldn't she be? After all a normal person wouldn't get the arse over the things she does, so pretend she's normal wink and don't feed into it.

When my Mum tries to intervene with me and dc I completely ignore and talk over her because I am NOT taking advice on child rearing with someone who did the stuff she did to me.

akaemmafrost Fri 05-Oct-12 06:58:20

don't have these kind of mothers.

altinkum Fri 05-Oct-12 07:03:55

As a lot of posters have said, you have unresolved issues, don't worry about a child's weight, unless they are loosing it rapidly or puttin on excessive amounts weekly, if he gets healthy food, 12 out of the 14 days, he is in effect getting a great once a week, I think your tanking out your past frustrations out on your mum, yes your tired, but your mother is giving two days per fortnight and a long journey to help you out, I would worry about a few biscuits tbh

Nahla321 Fri 05-Oct-12 07:32:07

I don't think unhealthy food once every two weeks has made your son overweight.

IKilledIgglePiggle Fri 05-Oct-12 08:14:26

I can't believe the stereotyping of young mothers on this thread, there would be absolute outrage if some suggested that having a mother aged 40 plus is a bad thing.

Crappy mothers come at all ages and backgrounds.

She has him 4 days out of 30 days in the month, and you blame her that he is putting on weight? What about the other 26 days?

I think you have some issues.....

What foods does he get in the nursery?

mummahubba Fri 05-Oct-12 09:05:06

Making other childcare arrangements for your child is an over-reaction I think. It sounds like child is bearing all the weight of the unresolved conflict between you and your mum. As a mother with no mother of any real use I think yours sounds like a lovely grandmother. Your ideas about over-feeding don't sound based on facts, as pointed out already two days a week don't make an over-weight child. You say you spend fridays and all weekend with child which doesn't sound a huge amount and if I were you I would be grateful that someone else is prepared to devote so much time and love to your child. When other people care for your child they do it their way, they can only be themselves. Have the conversations with her about you and her and leave your child out of it, there's no need to spread the muck down the generations. I think you sound a bit spoilt yourself to be honest and ungrateful, harsh but that's how it all comes across.

akaemmafrost Fri 05-Oct-12 09:08:51

I think the weight issue is a red herring actually. I think it's more that OP can't say to her mum please don't feed ds so much crap without her Mum having a big hissy fit so OP feels she has to justify why she's asking.

girlywhirly Fri 05-Oct-12 09:32:04

The most important issues (to me) that you raise are that your mum is critical of the nursery's care because she presumes hers is superior, she won't discuss and take on board your wishes for your childs care like a mature adult, she goes off in a huff leaving you to organise alternative childcare to cover for that, and she doesn't respect you as an adult, she still views you as a child still.

If you can, arrange childcare to cover all your work time and let the times when your mum sees her grandson be social ones. Let her carry on with the dramatics and so on, because ultimately she is only depriving herself of her time with her grandson by sulking.

I think that a relationship where you are not feeling obligated to your mum for childcare would be best given you past history.

Flisspaps Fri 05-Oct-12 09:36:52

I wouldn't leave my child with someone who had slapped me as a child and not apologised.

Being 19 is a bollocks excuse - both my DM and MIL were teenage mums and neither of them saw the need to slap their kids.

YouMayLogOut Fri 05-Oct-12 09:43:06

How about providing her with some healthier snacks such as rice cakes?

TroublesomeEx Fri 05-Oct-12 10:04:15

IgglePiggle I don't think there has been any stereotyping of anyone tbh. I'm not stereotyping, I'm sharing my personal experience of one individual. I've known her for 21 years and I know her very well. I think if you met her you'd see exactly what I mean.

I wouldn't presume she represented all 'teenage mothers' though.

nirvana1111 Fri 05-Oct-12 10:04:43

Being a young mum doesn't make you an abusive parent.
Being an abusive parent makes you an abusive parent.

AnnieDelores Fri 05-Oct-12 12:17:02

Mummahubba, I think you are being harsh to call me "spoilt". I'm anything but. I grew up in a working class family and have never been bought a thing other Christmas and birthday presents.

Thank you everyone else for your comments and suggestions. I've been very tearful and this has helped me have a good cry and think. You're right, the two days a fortnight isn't making him overweight but it has led him to want food for the sake of it and he can hear the rustle of a biscuit wrapper a mile away. I think he eats more than he needs generally and this isn't helped by cake and biscuits. When I say no, he has a tantrum because the response isn't consistent.

I sent a text to my mother last night saying as I hadnt heard from her i would organise alternative childcare. She replied saying she would "look after Sam as normal" but wants to leave at 5.30 pm at the latest. In other words, so she doesn't want to hang around for a social. She said she thinks we "need a break" from each other.

She is being immature and to be honest, Im not sure I want her to come if she is still stroppy, but I don't want to inflame the situation by telling her not to bother! I think there are other things bothering her at the moment as she lives away from her family in Ireland but she should talk to me about that rather than bottle up all her stress.

So should I tell her not to bother or let her come and see if she softens a bit?

AnnieDelores Fri 05-Oct-12 12:27:36

I also think she is sulking because she still hates the nursery I send him to and I haven't been to see the childminder my sister used. That's all mum knows and she sees what she wants to see when she picks him up from nursery on a Monday afternoon. She says he was "wandering around aimlessly". I say he was perfectly happy exploring the room! She also said that when she handed him to one of the staff so that she could get his coat of of he drawer that he "nearly took the roof off crying", inferring that he obviously hates the place. It's the constant inferences that he is miserable there and that I'm a bad mother for sending him there that has worn me down and worn her down because I'm not listening.

Well, it would seem she is using your child now as a way of trying to manipulate you.

I suggest you tell her you will arrange childcare that suit your working pattern more, and when she is able to have a more mature relationship with you, you and her can resume your relationship and she can see her grandchild socially.

TroublesomeEx Fri 05-Oct-12 12:31:57


If things aren't discussed and resolved (because you're still going to be upset about the feeding thing if it continues) then you're only going to dwell on it.

I think I'd be inclined to tell her that whilst you appreciate her looking after him and he really enjoys spending time with her, this situation has made her realise that you do have quite definite ideas about the way you want your son to be brought up and you think it's only fair on all of you (her included) if you get these straight in your head and then discuss it with her.

That way, you won't have to put up with things you're not happy with and she's never going to be wondering whether her actions will get her "into trouble" or not.

My husband has had many a few frank discussions with his MIL about our children. And to be fair to her, we just have very different ideas about what's acceptable. She tries to follow our 'rules' but is really following our rules rather than adopting our approach - so new rules are constantly being introduced (e.g. "no you can't give him wine" wasn't taken as a carte blanche "no alcohol" rule because the next time she came round she brought cider.) but that's because she doesn't 'get it'.

You might have a couple of weeks away from each other - which will give you both chance to calm down and repair bruised egos.

Do you think that might help?

TroublesomeEx Fri 05-Oct-12 12:33:27

Or you can go hardline like Quint suggests grin

MadBusLady Fri 05-Oct-12 12:38:50

God, she sounds like hard work, OP. You've got enough in your life to manage without having to manage her moods. Whether or not the weight gain is anything to do with your mum's visits, it is common sense to give a child clear, consistent boundaries on food, and it's immaturity on your mum's part to throw a strop about this as if it's somehow aimed at her. I don't know what to suggest, I'm afraid, but YANBU to be fed up.

AnnieDelores Fri 05-Oct-12 12:56:15

Paying for two extra days child care will be a stretch on the finances but I agree that it's more important to get it right. My father and DPs parents also have him for one day a month each and I never have issues with them, other than the odd unnoticed pooey nappy!

My mother has always been difficult to manage and blows hot and cold. Loving and generous then running away and sulking. She has a vile temper and flips easily. But the hard part about all this is that she totally adores Sam. She smells his clothes when he is asleep and talks about him constantly. It's like an obsession. He is not her first grandchild, but her first grandson. She had two daughters. My sister was a stay at home mum and therefore didn't have the same issues as me. She also as an obese child from too much cake and crisps.

I'm building up the strength to reply to her now as I know she is not going to like it. I'm also feeling slightly conscious that she may not have been over feeding him recently after I asked her not to the first time, but I have no way of knowing. Even so, she could have told me to shut up and not sulk about it.

AnnieDelores Fri 05-Oct-12 13:02:22

FolkGirl you are right. I don't think she will change. You have a very wise head on those shoulders.

MsOnatopp Fri 05-Oct-12 13:13:56

Your child wont have become over weight just from her four days a month. Look at the diet and portions you are giving him if it really is an issue. I am glad you see that. smile

She sounds like a good gran but a stroppy rotten person to deal with. I am sorry for the childhood abuse.

I hope you get this resolved.

TroublesomeEx Fri 05-Oct-12 13:19:59

Annie smile

I hope you get it sorted out with her.

It sounds like she genuinely cares and you want her in your son's life. But there need to be boundaries and clear expectations.

And you need to be the one driving them.

Good luck. x

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