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And preventing my MiL from bonding with her DGS?

(119 Posts)
WillYouDoTheFandango Sat 13-Jul-13 11:18:15

MiL used to be a bit of a PITA but has been fine since DS was born. Her own mother has been really critical so I can only presume that she remembers how terrible it was when DP and his DB were younger and is keeping her opinions to herself.

Backstory: DP's DB has a DS (2.5y), he was a surprise baby and BiL, SiL and DN split their time between MiL and SiL's DM's house until they got one of their own. This meant that MiL was around DN for long periods of time from birth and spends 3-4 days per week with MiL even now.

Our DS is 6 months, MiL has had him to stay overnight once (under duress, I didn't want to leave him with anyone at that point) and for an hour while I went to the gym once. For balance my DM has had him 4 times (2 x o/n, 2 x gym session). MiL visits once a week for a couple of hours and we chat while she plays with DS. DP sees her every 1-2 weeks as she comes when he's at work. I trust her completely to look after DS.

Yesterday DP got a tearful phonecall from his DM at work. She hasn't been this week and hasn't called to say why. She feels that she hasn't bonded with DS as she doesn't get to be alone with him and so wants to start taking him one set full day a week. DP immediately told her this was a no go, I'm on maternity leave still and he knew I'd never agree to that. So she wants to start taking him for long walks while I do the cleaning or shopping or so I can go to the gym.

The second idea is sensible at least and it sounds like a good plan. I'm just about getting to the stage where I am ready to leave him for an hour or two and the jobs are piling up. So I wont cut my nose off to spite my face. But I do object to her going over my head rather than discussing it with me when she saw me. She has a history of crying to get her own way and this obviously works better on DP than on me.

AIBU to want her to have discussed this like a grown up rather than throwing a paddy and pulling rank? Also do others think it's necessary for a baby to spend 1-on-1 time with DGPs at such a young age in order to "bond"? I was a bit hmm at the suggestion that it will affect their future relationship if she doesn't get her own way.

2rebecca Mon 15-Jul-13 13:18:28

That sounds much more sensible. The idea of grandparents needing regular time alone with a baby "to bond" sounds bonkers, they haven't got the hang of the fact that they are not a parent this time round. My kids' grandparents lived several hours away so they saw the kids whenever it was convenient for all involved.
Now the kids are teenagers they go over and stay with the grandparents in the holidays, go away with them without a parent etc. It hasn't impaired the bonding at all. The grandparent/ aunt etc bond is completely different to the parent child bond.
The best way for grandparents to have a good life long relationship with their grandchildren is to get on well with their adult children and their spouses and offer help when needed, not try and push the surrogate parent angle.

Thymeout Mon 15-Jul-13 13:25:05

i agree with Curlew and Ragwort. i can also remember umpteen threads from new mothers complaining that it was more difficult for them to bond with their new babies because the house was so full of people or their DM or MIL were always there.

I do think time alone helps the bonding process. The granny feels responsible and the baby turns to them for comfort. It's a two-way process. We're only talking about a couple of hours here. Perhaps MIL was beginning to feel she wasn't trusted.

I'm glad OP has managed to come to a compromise with her mil. It really is worth making an effort over this. Grannies don't have rights, but babies do - to have a relationship with both sides of the family.

pianodoodle Mon 15-Jul-13 13:40:36

Let's not waste time worrying about the proportion of rude MILs to rude DILs or who gets the worst deal.

If someone is an unreasonable person in general they'll probably fill both roles at some stage smile

Yesterday's rude DIL is probably today's rude MIL - maybe even with new and improved rudeness from all the experience!

WillYouDoTheFandango Mon 15-Jul-13 13:50:40

Ragwort if when I return to work MiL is able to have DS (she works a lot) on a regular basis I would be happy with that. I work 9-5 a long commute away, when I go back to work I will have to adjust to spending much less time with DS. But during my maternity leave I am not willing to commit to 1 day every week where I have to hand him over. This is one time in his life that I can devote myself to him entirely and I don't think that's it's okay that I have to disregard my feelings so that MiL can have him alone.

I also don't think that she's thought through how she would be able to have him. She works 5am-1/2pm each day (sometimes she takes either Wednesday or Sunday off, sometimes working 7 days). She has DN mon, wed, fri afternoons and approx 1-2 saturday nights per month. If she takes Wednesday off she has DN all day, he is 2.5 and a handful. When she has him she has to get her mum to help as she can't cope alone. DN is very jealous of DS, having both together would be a disaster. Sunday is DP's only day off so that's a no go. So as far as I can see she could do tue or thurs afternoon.

Whoever said about time spent with versus MiLs, Taft doesn't apply here. My DM does not spend lots of time alone with him either. I know someone up thread suggested that MiL take DS 2-3 times per week. Surely in the interest of fairness I'd then have to so the same for my DM.

YoniWheretheSunDontShine Mon 15-Jul-13 14:14:12

where does all this bonding with GC come from?

what sorts of relationships do GP expect?

I saw mine a few times a year due to distance and tons of us.
I have fond memories, the handbag and sweets and the girdle.

I don't feel bereft or anything I didn't need them to parent me!

All this staying over night - alone time, bonding bonding bonding, it sounds like madness?!

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Mon 15-Jul-13 14:24:40

I adored my grandmother she lived 1500 MILES FROM ME shock

Thurlow Mon 15-Jul-13 14:26:44

Yoni, no, it's not essential. But I suspect a lot of GPs would like to be close to their GC. It's beyond me why so many people on MN think that GPs who would like to see their GC regularly are somehow thinking that they are the parents, or that they want to do it all over again. To me, that's bonkers too.

They don't have to see them regularly to be close, but if they do live nearby then it seems a shame for them not to see the GC regularly. The time alone aspect is presumably because they want to feel trusted too. My parents love having DC overnight for silly little reasons like the fact that DC is in an awesome mood first thing in the morning, they love those 7am cuddles they wouldn't get unless she stayed over. My DC has spent time alone with my parents since they were tiny, it means she has been happy from a baby to be alone with them and see them as 'carers', if that makes any sense, and in the long-term this is great for everyone. You say you didn't need your GPs to parent you, which is great, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with GPs being close to their GC to look after them regularly and for the GC to feel completely comfortable with them from a young age.

In the OP's case I fully agree with her that maternity leave is so short it isn't ideal to not have your DC one day a week, and I think she's reached a great compromise. But all this complaining that GPs who want to be involved are trying to steal your baby away from you... It's just odd.

WinkyWinkola Mon 15-Jul-13 14:37:01

Funny. My mil actually said to me if she could take my ds1 to be a mum again, she would. That's nice isn't it?

DontmindifIdo Mon 15-Jul-13 14:40:40

Thurlow - but in this case, the MIL sees her DGS weekly for a few hours as it is, it's just she doesn't think she can bond with the OP, her DIL being in the house at the same time. There's a lot of this amongst grandparents and i dont understand why the view is that you need to have alone time with a child to bond, if the parents are there then you can't. Yes, it's different if the parents are there too because they are the ones 'in charge', but it seems really odd that so many people feel they can't have a relationship with a child unless they get to be the one who makes decisions for a while, not just via spending time playing/reading stories/having fun with them.

As I said, many Dads who's DP's breast feed their DCS don't get much more than a couple of hours max 'alone time' with their DCs at this stage in the baby's life (I believe the OP said her DS was 6 months old).

Thurlow Mon 15-Jul-13 14:45:38

I'm not saying its necessary. I'm just saying I don't think there's generally anything deeply nefarious about wanting a bit of time on their own with their GC.

I know from my parents point of view, as they've never had alone time with my older-than-my-DC nephews, not even 5 minutes to the local park, that it makes them feel completely untrusted.

It would be really interesting to know how much interaction our parents generation had with their GPs. It might be a generational thing, that they grew up spending a lot of time alone with their GPs, and they have based their expectations on that?

umpti67 Mon 15-Jul-13 14:52:22

Mine definitely opens up more if she's with her GP and we're not there. I think one to one time is good, if the gp is someone you trust. Demanding a full day if it doesn't suit you is out of order. But I think that's a lovely compromise - I'd have bitten the hand off someone will to help for a few hours a week. I had no relationship with any of my gp. They lived a long way away but also none of them were capable of being nice to us caring for us.

babybythesea Mon 15-Jul-13 16:26:23

Isn't it the way she went about it that is the problem? Rather than what she wants?

She wants to have time with her DGC - fantastic. But why on earth didn't she mention it on one of her regular visits rather than making a big deal of it by phoning in tears? On most things, DH is the baby's parent every bit as much as the OP and has equal say, but in this case he doesn't. Because it's not his time he's offering out. If he was the main carer, off on paternity leave to spend time with his baby, then it would be his call. But you can't make unilateral decisions about your partners time. Mat leave goes so quickly anyway - the OP is not alone in not wanting to give up the little time she has to devote exclusively to her baby before returning to work.

She may well have been upset. In which case you wait until you calm down before making the call. Phoning in tears is an attempt at emotional blackmail, rather than trying to have an adult discussion about it. It's the difference between saying "I wondered if you'd like a bit of help - I am happy to have DGC for a bit if you want to do things" and "Stamp! Wail! Sob! I neeeeeeed to have the baby all by myself or it's just not fair."
I'd be delighted with the first, pissed off with the second, and yet they basically want the same thing.

babybythesea Mon 15-Jul-13 16:27:44

(Oh, and the fact she did eventually go with option 1 and talk about it rationally shows she does know how to ask nicely - like a toddler trying a tantrum first, didn't get what you wanted, now ask nicely like you really know you should have done to start with!)

Squitten Mon 15-Jul-13 16:34:30

YANBU to be irked at how she went about it but don't let it ruin the relationship.

She is naturally going to be more comfortable talking to her son than to you and it sounds like he handled it well so it's great that you're both on the same page. It also sounds like you have got her to negotiate down to something you are happy with so that's great for you all. She sounds like hard work for sure!

Keep a mind towards the future though OP. I have a 4yr old, a 2yr old and another on the way and I think I'd happily hand my kids over to ANYONE who asked for an hour's peace right now! smile

Thymeout Mon 15-Jul-13 17:54:57

The biggest change has been mothers going back to work while their dcs are still very young. So..mothers are more possessive about their babies while they are still at home. The time is so precious. i don't know why OP hadn't suggested MIL took the baby out on her own in the pram long ago. I used to push my ebf dgs round the park so my dil could have a nap even in the early weeks. We both knew she wouldn't be able to sleep if she could hear the baby crying and dgs settled better in the pram.

Grannies are often expected to pick up the slack in childcare and need to have a more active relationship before suddenly being given the child to look after. Or they know they will have less time with gcs because once they are in full-time nursery access will be limited.

In the past, it was all more relaxed.

But regarding the DM/MIL access problem. I know it's easier to rely on DM, but do think of the children. I know mine feel slightly 2nd class gc because my MIL - for practical reasons - spent more time with her dd's children than she did with mine.

I think often it's MIL trying to make sure she's being evenhanded with gcs rather than wanting to muscle in on DIL's territory.

babybythesea Mon 15-Jul-13 18:05:40

"So..mothers are more possessive about their babies while they are still at home. The time is so precious. i don't know why OP hadn't suggested MIL took the baby out on her own in the pram long ago. "

I think you answered your second sentence with your first! I never suggested anyone take my PFB out - not because I was overly PFB but because it never occurred to me. She slept really well snuggled against me and so that's what I did - took a nap with her curled up next to me on the bed. I wouldn't have wanted anyone to take her out so I could sleep because I treasured the chance to sleep next to her. With PSB, I'd love to do that more - I can, if someone takes PFB out for me and leaves me with the baby!

WillYouDoTheFandango Mon 15-Jul-13 18:27:15

I've not suggested it as I didn't want it. I love taking DS out in the pram. He naps well on me and I love having him there. I also haven't suggested my DM take him out as I've repeatedly said but posters seem to keep harping back to DiLs favouring their family over the ILs.

Thymeout Mon 15-Jul-13 18:51:20

But, Willyou, in your original post it's clear that DM has had ds twice as much as MIL. So quite reasonable to think this is an issue. Especially in terms of you MIL's relationship with her other gc's.

i was replying to a poster upthread who wondered if different expectations were generational.

Ime, there is a difference, tho' fortunately both my dd and my dil are v grateful for an occasional break. If you'd let your mil do a bit of solo pram pushing, perhaps you'd have avoided the current upset? I do feel for you wanting to make the most of your maternity leave, but, v gently, it needs to be pointed out that there could be consequences further down the line.

WillYouDoTheFandango Mon 15-Jul-13 18:59:49

MiL works 5am-1pm, she will not do evenings at ours as she goes to bed at 7pm. So she doesn't have him if I go for an evening gym class only a daytime 1 as I'd have to take him to hers and pick him up at 9:30pm way after his bedtime and hers.

Likewise if we wanted a babysitter for a meal out she will only do an overnight at hers, whereas my mum will pop round and sit with him here for a couple of hours. The overnights done so far are a red herring, they'd done 1 each until my birthday last weekend. The next 1 will be MiL's.

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