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AIBU or is MIL re:potty training?

(122 Posts)
BionicEmu Fri 22-Mar-13 12:04:56

I don't normally post on AIBU because it scares the shit out of me , but this issue is really starting to get to me, so I could do with some honest opinions.

DS is 2.5 years old. He isn't potty trained. We tried a couple of months ago as he was showing an interest in the potty/toilet, but it quickly became apparent that he wasn't ready as he didn't seem to be able to tell when he wanted to go. We have since had DD, who is 8 weeks old, and DS is showing extreme jealousy, and even starting to revert backwards in some areas. So I do not think right now is the right time to try to potty train him either. I have a vague plan to wait until the weather's warmer, so we can spend lots of time in the garden (so saving my carpets from accidents!). I have no intention of persevering with the potty training until he can tell that he needs the toilet though.

MIL has been on at me from when DS was 9 months old about potty training him. Apparently with her son (my DH), she sat him on the potty after every meal until he went. Apparently he was fully trained by a year old (which is at odds to what DH remembers, as he remembers having a horrible accident at a family party when he was about 3, and he also remembers wetting the bed until he was quite old.)

So since DS was 9 months old MIL has been saying I need to sit him on the potty. I've tried explaining that what she did (sitting on the potty until he did something) is not really potty training, she basically just replaced a nappy with a potty. IMO potty training is the child being able to tell when they need to go before they go, then doing their business on the potty. I've also tried explaining that I think there's little point trying until he knows when he's about to go.

All of this is falling on deaf ears though, she always just says "there's only one reason a child isn't potty trained by a year old - idleness!" If I try and explain I just get "it's disgusting that he's not trained, how do you think he feels when all is little friends are trained and he's not? You can't get round this with fancy words and explanations, the only reason is idleness!" FWIW only 1 of his friends is potty trained hmm

I've also said it's not idleness. Idleness basically means lazy, and I'm not lazy, I've made a conscious decision not to train yet. But she just goes on and on about me being idle. She is driving me absolutely mad.

Was the way she trained DH common in the 1970s? Is it just that practice has changed? (Although MIL seems adamant that even if practice has changed, it's changed because every mother is idle. Argh!) DH was born in 1978. I've asked my mum, and she said she did the same as I'm doing, but I was born in 1985 and my sister in 1988.

So please, should I have put DS on the potty from 9 months old? Should I be trying to force him? Who is being unreasonable here?

Badvoc Fri 22-Mar-13 12:32:49

Oh, and btw my mother was the same!
Ds1 was potty trained at 2.10 and was dry during the day within 24 hours.
Ds2 was 3.3 was dry day and night within a week.

SteepApproach Fri 22-Mar-13 12:33:02

YANBU. Your MIL is wrong on the potty training but, even if she weren't, she is doubly wrong to keep hassling you about it when you've made your choice clear to her.

Waiting for warmer weather sounds like a good plan. My dd is 2.10 yrs and has just decided she doesn't want to wear nappies any more, which was, shall we say, less than ideal in the freezing temperatures this morning. grin

ElliesWellies Fri 22-Mar-13 12:35:43

YANBU. I would tell her to back off. Or better still, get your DH to tell his mother to back off. Don't put up with her being so rude. In fact (disclaimer: 38wks pg here and very irritable), if she does this regularly I would refuse to see her until she shut up about it.

You could always point out some of the truths, such as only knowing one child his age who is potty trained, or the fact that DH remembers wetting the bed for a long time.

terrierist Fri 22-Mar-13 12:35:46

Your MIL must be a similar age to me, my DD was out of nappies day and night by her first birthday - but as mentioned upthread a bucket of soaking nappies to deal with each day was a HUGE incentive. Also back then disposable nappies were quite new-fangled and pretty crap tbh, a world away from what we have now.

I don't think our 'old' way was wrong, but neither is the, much later, 'new' way.

Your MIL is NBU to have an opinion which is different to yours but she certainly IBU to keep harping on about it. Your choice for your DC is just that - your choice.

Notanexcitingname Fri 22-Mar-13 12:36:34

It's not often I'm moved to post. This situation is not about potty training but about your MIL being incredibly rude. I doubt she'd listen to logic, and be told she's wrong, but she might listen to being told she's very rude and it is no longer a topic for discussion.

FWIW, what she did was more the done thing in the 50s than the 70s. In the 70s it was more like 15 monthss plus. 80s 2ish, and now we do the "ready" thing.
My MIL successfully trained all 3 of her children out of nappies by 18 months, using your MILs method. But she never said a word about mine still in nappies at 2.5 years. Because she is a polite, lovely person who believes her DIL is doing what she thinks is best for her children.

apostropheuse Fri 22-Mar-13 12:38:04


It was common to do it your MIL's way in the sixties and seventies, but by the time my children were born in the eighties it was seen as being out of date - and basically it just didn't work. It was luck rather than the child actually being aware of what they were doing.

In the eighties we were told that children weren't physically ready to toilet train until they were two, which is when we were advised to start training. Mine were trained at just turned two, with one exception, who was two years and three months, but he had medical problems which delayed his walking etc.

It was quick and easy to do it at two to be honest. In fact everyone I know did it then, with the very odd exception. My niece actually decided to train herself when she was a year and then months, but that was quite unusual.

Anyway, tell your MIL that it's actually none of her business how you raise your child (unless of course you were doing something seriously dangerous/detrimental to your child's wellbeing!)

Owllady Fri 22-Mar-13 12:38:45

I think this is a generational thing because my MIL was exactly the same (she is in her mid 70s, dh is in his 40s)

Toilet training by 1
they never wet the bed
bottles and rusks

apostropheuse Fri 22-Mar-13 12:39:32

* a year and ten months

katiecubs Fri 22-Mar-13 12:40:14

Am in exactly the same situation as you OP - 2.5 yo DS who is not ready and showing extreme jealousy of newborn DS2 5weeks old!

We are also waiting a few months until he gets used to DS2 and the weather gets warmer. Luckily we don't have the MIL problem but agree most of DS1's friends aren't trained either and that's pretty normal!


Potterer Fri 22-Mar-13 12:40:53

Remember back in the 1970's they used terry towelling nappies so anything that saved you having to wash those they did. Hence using the potty as a nappy.

I have 2 boys, aged 10 and 7 and one trained much earlier than the other. Ds1 was in normal disposable nappies, trained at just before he was 3. But massively regressed when I had ds2 sad and I only trained him because it was clear he could tell me when he wanted to go.

Ds2 trained much earlier but I put this down to him being in reusable nappies which meant that he felt a bit damp when he had filled his nappy. Ds1 probably felt very dry in his disposables.

I think you need to have a look at these baby cages you hang out of your window used in the 1930's and think thank God times have changed grin

Owllady Fri 22-Mar-13 12:42:38

that is very true re. nappies and I know even my Mum in the 80s didn't have a washing machine, it was a twin tub in the garage and it was such a laborious task to wash anything

Loulybelle Fri 22-Mar-13 12:43:22

My daughter was about 3.8 when she was potty trained, i used to get her used to it, but didnt force the issue because she wasnt ready.

My nephew is 4.4, hes autistic and has only just starting to get the sensation of it.

Kids will do it when they are ready, not when they are forced

Owllady Fri 22-Mar-13 12:43:23

omg at that baby cage!

Sidge Fri 22-Mar-13 12:44:16

There's a big difference between toilet timing and toilet training.

No point pushing toileting until a child can tell you they need to go - and that's in my personal and professional opinion (nurse who is a mum of 3 and who used to run toileting and enuresis clinics).

XiCi Fri 22-Mar-13 12:49:20

Its definately a generational thing. From what I can gather the majority of children were potty trained by 18 mths in the 70s. My own mother was aghast I left it till my dd was 2 to start with her
Remember though that TT nappies felt very wet and uncomfortable for toddlers so this probably helped the process along (as well as the incentives for parents not having to wash them). Disposable nappies feel dry and comfortable for much longer so its harder to coax them out of them!

ilovecolinfirth Fri 22-Mar-13 12:54:24

Your MIL sounds like my grandmother. It sounds like you're doing a good job recognising when your son isn't ready. Good luck, for whenever he's ready.


Longdistance Fri 22-Mar-13 12:54:59

Back in the day, they used cloth nappies. So must have been a pain to wash etc. my mum used safety pins on mine. My mum also bottle fed, which apparently was a faff too. So all she did all day was feed, wash nappies.

So, I was trained at 18mo, which is when I could fully speak. So, the nappies went, and it was quite common practice. Although, I stopped having ff at 10 months confused

How things have changed.

You could just say ' you maybe an expert on dh, but when it comes to dc, I am the expert'.

FeistyLass Fri 22-Mar-13 12:56:26

Is your MIL from a different culture? When I was buying nappies for ds (about 2 years ago) the shop assistant told me her ds had been trained since before he was a year. Apparently that was the custom in her culture. She thought most mums who waited longer were lazy or/and misinformed.

Obviously your MIL is BVU to keep going on about it but if she is surrounded by people who trained earlier then that might explain her concern.

YANBU to train when you feel your ds is ready. Tell your MIL that you won't be swayed by her constant comments and get your dh to reinforce it. (or ask her to buy the Pete the Pirate book as her 'help' in the process smile )

I recall reading about this method of early potty training, and the author said that the children weren't potty trained, they were simply conditioned to 'go' when put on the potty - but they didn't have conscious control over their toiletting, so they were not potty trained.

You are doing absolutely the right thing, BionicEmu - you are being guided by your child, and you will potty train him when he is ready for it. Tbh, I think children don't potty train until they are ready, so starting too early for your child just means a longer training period, and more accidents and stress. Totally not worth it.

Tell your MIL to wind her neck in. Or let me tell her!! This is one of the times when we need the Mumsnet Posse - so a bunch of mumsnetters could turn up on your doorstep, and talk to your MIL for you - we'd have nothing to lose!

PastaBeeandCheese Fri 22-Mar-13 12:57:18

I agree it's a generational thing. My MIL very generously says she trained her children too early and she thinks it's much better that I'll wait with DD. My MIL has been impressed to see how quickly older children of this generation 'get it' and says it was a nightmare when she trained DH and DSil at a year with lots of tears from all parties.

My mother on the other hand is less supportive and merely says I have more money than sense if I'm happy to keep buying nappies! DD is 16 months!!

HeartsEggsDiamonds Fri 22-Mar-13 12:58:21

My mum was always on my case about training DD1 too - same thing, "I sat you on the potty with a book on your lap after every meal" yadda yadda.

However the differences between my mum and your MIL are legion:

1. She listened to me when I explained that things had changed;
2. It made sense to her that today's nappies are easier than the terry ones she used for me;
3. She respected my "right" as the mum to make the final call about things like potty training for my own children;
4. She never called me lazy or idle - I doubt she even thought it let alone said it!!

Good luck OP, your MIL sounds like a piece of work.

HeartsEggsDiamonds Fri 22-Mar-13 12:59:44

Oh I forgot to say YADNBU, but I think that was clear from my post!

pumpkinsweetie Fri 22-Mar-13 13:00:16

The problem here, is actually your mil. She is being quite simply rude.
Stick to your way & ignore!

QuietNinjaTardis Fri 22-Mar-13 13:02:01

Do you have my mil? Ds is just over 3 and still has no idea about potty training. My mil seems to think that if we just start potty training he'll just get it hmm she's starting to make me cross as there's only so many times I can say we will potty train him when he's ready mil. Have told dh next time she mentions it to stick up for our decision and tell her to butt out instead of leaving it all to me.

Another thing, BionicEmu - you are absolutely right that it is much, much easier to potty train in the summer.

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