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to wish mil would stp ranting about ds learning to swim and to think a 4 year old doesn't *need* to

(169 Posts)
lecce Mon 29-Aug-11 22:09:16

Sorry this is long, it probably seem something and nothing but it is getting to me!

Mil is quite a controlling woman - she loves being a gp but can be quite opinionated. Fortunately, we share similar opinions on most aspects of child-rearing, though she has made comments here and there, which I have tended to smile and ignore.

The main 'problem' (though it hasn't really caused and huge problem as such, yet) is that when she spends time with the dc she likes to be in charge and dominate them. I am f/t wohp and dh a sahd so we have mainly got around this by her seeing them while I am at work - thereby giving dh a little break and not annoying me!

When ds1 was about 6 months old and I went back to work she said she wanted to take him to swimming lessons. Now I can't swim blush and dh was new to being a sahd then and unsure about whether he could/wanted to take ds to the parent/ child sessions, so we agreed. I will admit I felt a little put out about it because I felt that she wanted to have a 'project' with ds - it wasn't enough for her to visit him, she had to be the one to teach him to swim. I told myself I was being silly/ a bitch and the swimming lessons went ahead, with much fanfare from mil.

Ds was always a little lacking in confidence physically and I became aware that mil was having problems getting him to join in with some of the activities the class were doing - splashing/etc. She was never horrible about it but she did make several comments comparing him to other children and this annoyed me. I raised it with dh and he felt I was just jealous of his mother taking ds swimming, there may well have been some truth in this so I let it drop.

Another annoyance was that I am a teacher and she continued with the lessons during the school holidays. This was ok in itself (though I will admit a couple of times I deliberatlely accidentally arranged other stuff on those days so it had to be cancelled) but she lives a 90 minute drive away, suffers from insomnia and the lesson was at 9.45am. She would arrive right at the last minute, in a complete flap and bark orders at me about the stuff he needed. It was a pain and I began to think if it was so hard for her why didn't she just drop it? We never asked her to take him. It became clear dh felt the same as I did as when I mentioned her lateness/stressed manner he agreed and said he was worried it was too much for her.

Fortunately, I then went on mat leave with ds2 and it all fizzled out a little and then ds turned 3 and too old for the accompanied classes anyway. We considered starting him on the next classes but money was pretty tight when I was on mat leave and it was not our priorty. Since then (this was over a year ago) mil is always on at us to start him on the classes saying we 'really must get it sorted' and asking whether we have 'managed to sort it out yet' and sighing heavily when the answer is 'no'. The thing is, we have looked into it but I really don't see any hurry. I have done some research and it seems to suggest that most children aren't physically ready to swim before 7 and he will get lessons through school before then, right? He and his brother do 2 other classes - both of which they asked to do and love and to do a third seems an expense we could forgo - or AWBU?

The thing is, now she has said that she is going to start taking ds1 to swimminng lesosns again - why???? Why can't it be our decision? I feel she has decided that we are so irresponsible we were never going to get around to it and it has all been left to her yet does he really need to swim now? I say no. I am also annoyed that she doesn't offer to take ds2 to the same classes she took ds1 to. Imo, that would be the more logical step and would mean she had treated them both equally but instead she has this obsession with ds1 swimming but couldn't care less about ds2! (Btw, I don't expect her to take ds2, just feel it would make more sense than what she is proposing.) Also, I am not sure how she would deal with any reluctance on ds's part (I am sure there would be some because he would be nervous) and just feel that she may handle it in a way dh and I would not be happy with - I'm not talking about endangering him, obviously, but he does lack confidence a little physiacally (though has improved a lot) and I don't know how gentle she'd be and how much comparing him to others in the class there would be. Most of all, I really don't like being told that this is happening.

AIBU to tell her no?

squeakytoy Mon 29-Aug-11 22:14:42

Yep, you are being unreasonable. You are finding petty reasons to stop your son learning a valuable life saving skill.

Also, as a parent, I think you should maybe look into learning to swim yourself in case your kids ever got into difficulties.

Pamplemoussse Mon 29-Aug-11 22:15:20

in our school they have one lesson a week once they go to juniors, but for only half of each term, hardly enough to teach a child to swim really (in effect 18 lessons per sch year from yr 3 to yr 6)

TheEarlOfDoncaster1963 Mon 29-Aug-11 22:15:24

I would tell him that DS1 isn't keen, and you don't want to force him into it, so why doesn't she take DS2 to do the accompanied classes instead? Also tell her about what you've read about children being more ready at 6-7yrs old.

(is she paying, btw? - because if she isn't you can just say you can't afford it at the moment.)

MadamDeathstare Mon 29-Aug-11 22:16:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SiamoFottuti Mon 29-Aug-11 22:17:40

thats a really long post for such a small issue. Let her take him, or take him yourself. Or don't.
Can't see the issue really.

CrosswordAddict Mon 29-Aug-11 22:20:36

OP This is a sad state of affairs. Feel sorry for your ds1 and ds2 being caught in the crossfire. It can't be easy for you either. Sorry your MIL is so dominating. I feel you need to take the initiative from her and just take over the swimming lessons yourself. End of problem. Yes, I know lessons are inconvenient and a bit of a pain but being a good swimmer does give kids confidence when they are in primary school and for later life. I didn't learn to swim until I was 35 blush and believe you me it was a real struggle for me to learn then.

Birdsgottafly Mon 29-Aug-11 22:20:39

Sometimes children that lack confidence need to be pushed a little. But comparing him to other children will not help him.

Tbh your DH should be encouranging him and both of you should have strategies and plans in place to build his confidence, which being a teacher you should be deciding how you are going to tackle this.

It is up to you and your DH what is to be done, it doesn't matter what your MIL wants. She may be using your DS as a reason to get up of a morning, but this should only be allowed if it isn't upsetting him in any way.

I don't understand why you are doubting yourself, given that you are a teacher, except of course unless your Mil is good at manipulating people to doubt themselves, or bullying them.

Meglet Mon 29-Aug-11 22:22:24

Your MIL might be being a control freak but you need to learn to swim and so does your DS.

ZillionChocolate Mon 29-Aug-11 22:23:21

I think YABU perhaps because you can't swim and because it's MIL. I would suggest she takes DS2 though.

pigletmania Mon 29-Aug-11 22:23:38

YANBU about your MIL and the swimming fiasco, it sounds quite stressful on you, your ds which is not what swimming should be about.

YABVU to think that children do not need to learn to swim until 7. It is a valuable life lesson that you should learn too. Why don't you take up swimming lessons yourself, and go swimming with your dcs regularly as a family so they get confident with the water, then later on when you are able to afford, swimming lessons.

lecce Mon 29-Aug-11 22:23:39

Squeaky but from what I have read, and I am ready to be corrected, children are not really capable of learning to swim to a life-saving level until about 7. I have no intention of my children being non-swimmers like me but you are right, I should learn, if only to set a good example.

I don't know if she intends to pay, but if we said we couldn't afford it she would offer or make it a birthday present - thanks for the idea though.

Siamo I know, I did say that. i suppose I have deep-seated mil issues grin and this is one of many. She has mentioned it so many times over the last 18 months or so it makes me so tense. There would certainly be isssues if we refused and I doubt dh would feel at all happy with it also.

bubblesincoffee Mon 29-Aug-11 22:23:40

YABU. Neither of your children are too young to learn to swim, and it is a very important life skill. Learning to swim is something that schools have to teach on a very small budget, probably with regular teachers that have just done a little course so they are unlikely to learn prperly at school until they are about to start secondary. Way too late.

You should be very very grateful she is doing this, especially is it sounds like you don't take your children swimming.

Swimming isn't something like doing judo that is just a fun, nice addition to childhood, it's really important!

And in the holidays, why didn'y you have his kit ready before she turned up? It's not exactly hard to put together a swimming kit confused

squeakytoy Mon 29-Aug-11 22:25:39

Lecce. I learnt to swim at 3. Most kids are able to swim by 5 if they have lessons or family members who teach them.

They dont need to be able to save a life, they need to be able to save their own by being confident in water, and have a healthy fear of water too.

bubblesincoffee Mon 29-Aug-11 22:26:31

7 year olds can swim way before 7. If you don't even bother to start until then, you have to begin with all confidence buiding that should be in the bag by the time they are three.

Bluebell99 Mon 29-Aug-11 22:27:09

My children started swimming lessons at about 4 yrs old, and are now fantastic swimmers at 9 and 12. It is a life skill, and I feel much happier when we are on holiday, that they are safe around water. They did have lessons at school but most of the children had learnt at lessons at the pool, think only a couple in the class couldn't swim.

lecce Mon 29-Aug-11 22:27:30

I didn't have his kit because she had one that she had bought and guarded jealously - it had to live in her house. However, due to her lateness she would forget certain elements of it and bark at me to get them.

I appreciate the comments about not relying on primary provision - I hadn't thought of that.

pigletmania Mon 29-Aug-11 22:27:53

Even if you just take them swimming yourselves so that they get used to the water and confident in it, mabey lessons later on if you feel that your ds1 is not ready for taught lessons at the moment.

festi Mon 29-Aug-11 22:28:20

YABU he should learn to swim as should you, as for the other stuff I think you need to just chill out a bit and stop looking for things to get annoyed at.

thecaptaincrocfamily Mon 29-Aug-11 22:28:32

I think you are being stubborn fwiw. If she is offering and paying then be grateful! It is a fact that if you don't keep up with children swimming at this young age they tend to lose confidence in the water. Children can swim as young as 4 and sometimes younger. Having structured lessons also help their attention skills which as a teacher I am surprised you haven't realised hmm, it helps with the group social aspect of learning as well as learning the fundamental swimming. The sooner they learn to swim the better for their own safety!

foreverondiet Mon 29-Aug-11 22:28:34

My DD could swim at 3.5 (fast learner) and my DS1 (slow learner) could swim at 4.5. Both had lessons from 3rd birthday (parents not in pool). According to teacher most children can swim by 4.5-5. However swimming lessons work much better if you take then for practice an extra time each week as well.

I think if she is taking him and paying for it then YABU, however if you are expected to pay then YANBU - provided you explain that you can't cope with the stress of the lateness.

In my DC's school the swimming lessons are fairly minimal, not enough to actually learn to swimm, most parents do out of school lessons if they want their children to swim properly - so unless you are planning to take him yourself, you may be denying him the chance to learn a life saving skill.

lecce Mon 29-Aug-11 22:29:42

They dont need to be able to save a life, Yes, sorry, I knew you meant their own life, not someone else's. I understood that this was not possible below the age of 7 as they would not have the presence of mind, strength, coordination etc. As I said, I may well be wrong about this, though.

GreenEyesandNiceHam Mon 29-Aug-11 22:30:07

I think you're getting annoyed by your MIL being pushy, and everything else that goes with it. But- she does have a valid point.

Perhaps as a compromise, you could tell her that you don't think your son is ready for lessons just yet, but you'd appreciate it if she could take him to the pool to get him used to being in the water?

curlyredhair Mon 29-Aug-11 22:31:10

YANBU, it's up to you when your kids learn to swim and you alone. It sounds very stressful and your child is obviously not enjoying it. Tell her to back off and you'll try again when he's older. I took my dd to lessons for two years and it was a complete waste of time (some kids just don't enjoy it). I waited until this year (she's 7) and she's had three weeks intensive swim school and is so confident and happy swimming, it's fantastic. Some children just don't like it earlier. Better to wait until they're older. Yes, it's a life skill, but it's unlikely at 3 you child will be in a situation when he needs to swim and you're not around.

pigletmania Mon 29-Aug-11 22:31:20

Because of dev delay my dd 4.5 cannot have formal lessons at the moment as her attention span is not good at all, but later on we will. She goes swimming every week with my friend and can swim a little without floation aids.

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