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Should I talk to my mother again about forcing my son to kill insects or does that look petty and overbearing?

(93 Posts)
Unicant Wed 03-Mar-21 13:19:49

I havent had the easiest of relationships with my mother but she is quite ill now and I dont see her often because she lives abroad. I try not to rock the boat. We usually see each other twice a year, Christmas and summer holiday. I am their only child and my two children their only grandchildren.
My son is nearly 6 and I've always brought him up to be kind to animals and plants. We are vegetarian and my parents aren't.. which is fine.. and when they look after the grandchildren I dont mind what they cook etc
I also do not mind if my mother kills insects herself. She is allergic to insect bites and gets swollen lumps from them.
However last summer when we saw them I came across her teasing my son trying to get him to swat a fly... I just said 'oh dont wind him up like that' good naturedly and she stopped and I thought that was it.

But recently we were discussing maybe going over there in August if we are allowed to this year.... and my son looked worried.
After a time he started asking me why grandma kills insects, and I told him she's allergic to their bites etc
But it transpired she had been forcing him to kill insects on quite a few occasions and he has anxiously been thinking about it all this time. He seemed quite upset. He was saying I dont want to kill insects its wrong. I got the impression she was kind of bullying him into it. He said she made him squash a ladybird on the garden table...

Now I know this seems like a really petty issue but its just the fact that he's had this in his mind all year and it seems to be something worrying him.. im not sure how to handle it without looking disrespectful to my mother and causing an argument or bad feeling... our relationship is delicate anyway
But I feel very guilty about my son having to go through that when its obviously effecting him.
Should I try and speak to her about it or is that ridiculous?
Shes not the type of person who really takes on board any type of perceived criticism... both my parents think im oversensitive.. they have quite old school ideas they dont talk in emotional terms really and are set in their ways and respond negatively to any challenge to that (for example they chain smoke in the car even when they have my son in the car despite telling me they wouldn't just to placate me, but my son mentioned that they do it anyway)
So I'm at a loss as to how to make this better... how much do you put up with to keep a relationship stable and have grandparents in grandchildren lives?
I love them and I know they love my children... but I also don't want my son to be emotionally invalidated and essentially bullied
And we dont see them that often to be fair...

YABU ignore it you are overreacting
YANBU you have to try and do something about it

OP’s posts: |
wandawombat Wed 03-Mar-21 13:22:30

Squashing a ladybird is hideous.

I'd go on my own, poor little kid.

RedHelenB Wed 03-Mar-21 13:24:41

I'd say killing insects is the norm for a 6 year old boy, he seems very sensitive.

Aquamarine1029 Wed 03-Mar-21 13:26:02

You won't change your mother, so don't bother trying. What you need to do is empower your son to say no to things that he feels are wrong and make him uncomfortable. He should know that it's ok to tell his grandmother "no" if she tries to pressure him into killing another insect.

MyLittleOrangutan Wed 03-Mar-21 13:26:12

That's awful. We only kill mosquitos if they are in the house or on our body, would never dream of killing a ladybird!

Could you promise him you'll stay with him the whole time and stop her from doing it then. If you say something to her it will probably make it worse if you then leave him alone with her. She'll feel the need to prove herself right. If she says anything to him telling him to kill something then interject straight away "No we dont kill insects, it's not kind." That's what he's told you he believes, so take the brunt of her for him.

MuddleMoo Wed 03-Mar-21 13:26:43

She made him squash a ladybird? If she wants it squashed she should do it herself

MuddleMoo Wed 03-Mar-21 13:27:07

Not that I personally agree with it

Love51 Wed 03-Mar-21 13:27:48

Encouraging a child to kill is hideous.

JustStopFightingPlease Wed 03-Mar-21 13:28:01

YANBU at all.

My FIL once laughed about when his sons were small and they would all have a laugh jumping on snails on the patio to crunch them up. My FIL has pissed me off many, many times but that really got to me and I asked him why the hell he thought that was funny.

Thankfully as an adult my DH is incredibly gentle and kind and teaches my DS to be the same, but if there was ever a whiff of something similar with my DC from my FIL I wouldn't be tolerating it for one second.

Easterbunnygettingready Wed 03-Mar-21 13:28:44

Smoking with a dc on the car is an offence... And killing things is vile...
My ndn encouraged her ds to kill snails on the fence.
He didn't end up a pleasant man..
Your dm needs very limited contact your ds. And none of it unsupervised.. He is telling you that isn't making him happy isn't he?

MondeoFan Wed 03-Mar-21 13:28:49

I'd never knowingly kill any animal or insect not even a spider or fly and teach my children to do the same.
As another poster said I'd be teaching your Son instead about saying no to things he feels uncomfortable doing. This is an important thing to learn as he will need this later on in life too so he isn't a walkover.
Too late to teach your mum some manners though.

Unicant Wed 03-Mar-21 13:30:13

@Aquamarine1029 yes you are right.. its hard to do tho. Hes 5 years old and she's an adult and he loves her... and what example am I when half the time I cant even stand up to her.. and if I do they both act like its me who is being unreasonable.
My son is quite sensitive but I dont think thats a bad thing... he is anxious too and he worries about peoples feelings.. he's similar in nature to me which worries me because I'm still not handling this well as an adult so how on earth do I teach him to?

Of course when I saw it happening I said something but I cant watch them together all the time.

I do try and encourage him to stand up for his own values

OP’s posts: |
JesusInTheCabbageVan Wed 03-Mar-21 13:31:47


I'd say killing insects is the norm for a 6 year old boy, he seems very sensitive.

Mine has never done that hmm

CaptainMyCaptain Wed 03-Mar-21 13:32:52


I'd say killing insects is the norm for a 6 year old boy, he seems very sensitive.

It really isn't the norm.

JustStopFightingPlease Wed 03-Mar-21 13:33:19

I'd say killing insects is the norm for a 6 year old boy, he seems very sensitive

Nope, nope, nope. My DS is 5 and it wouldn't cross his mind to knowingly hurt another creature (wrestling with his DSis doesn't count)

Easterbunnygettingready Wed 03-Mar-21 13:33:34

Dc love the idea of a lovely dgm. She isn't one given the incidents above. She is risking his health. And his mental well-being..
Please put both of those things above placating your dm with visits..
I am nc with my dm. As are my dc..

recklessruby Wed 03-Mar-21 13:35:51

Definitely say something. We dont kill insects or snails either and my ds was a sensitive little boy who cried when a friend trod on a snail.
He grew up to be a wildlife photographer with amazing empathy for all animals.
Your ds sounds similar as its been on his mind all this time.
And smoking in the car with dc is just dangerous and irresponsible. Maybe tell them its illegal nowadays (although maybe only UK?). Anyway it s not nice for dc to breathe in in an enclosed space.

Odile13 Wed 03-Mar-21 13:35:53

YANBU. I wouldn’t like to think of my child being told to kill insects, it’s horrible. And even worse that you know your son is anxious about it. I think I’d have to say something or make sure your son knows he doesn’t have to do it. I understand it’s difficult because your mother doesn’t take criticism well, however I don’t think you’re BU in not wanting the situation to continue.

BoyTree Wed 03-Mar-21 13:37:07

I'd say killing insects is the norm for a 6 year old boy, he seems very sensitive.

Another one saying that is not normal and that you don't have to be 'very sensitive' to not want to needlessly kill animals.

Bagamoyo1 Wed 03-Mar-21 13:37:13


I'd say killing insects is the norm for a 6 year old boy, he seems very sensitive.

It really isn’t

PheasantPlucker1 Wed 03-Mar-21 13:39:35

You say youre worried about how you Mum will feel if you approach it, but what about your DS?

Does he even want to go visit her?

I dont like confrontation, but wouldnt allowed my child to be bullied so Id go for an honest but straight approach.

"Sorry Mum, not sure if we will visit as DS doesnt want too. He hates it when you nag him to kill insects and cant be bothered with another week ok it, but I will let you know how he feels closer to the time".

Then dont enter into any conversations about it, just repeat that DS doesnt like her nagging. Broken record approach.

She then has a choice to ofer to stop, or carry on.

Either way if this is worrying your son it isnt fair to take him back there.

Sgjudxbyef Wed 03-Mar-21 13:39:42

And killing things is vile

What about viruses and bacteria? Is it ok to kill those things?

DavidsSchitt Wed 03-Mar-21 13:40:00

"I'd say killing insects is the norm for a 6 year old boy, he seems very sensitive"

Nope. It's not normal.

I'd tell her straight. Mosquitoes fine. Ladybirds no.

Unicant Wed 03-Mar-21 13:40:07

Its very hard. I was no contact with my parents from the age of 16 until 23.. then quite low contact until I married... but they have really engaged with my children and as I say they live abroad so its not like they are a daily influence. I think they had my son once overnight when he was a baby and thats it as far as completely unsupervised contact goes...
And I do love my parents very much I think often I am being oversensitive.. its very hard to work out whats an overreaction and whats justified because of course they act like everything I do is an overreaction and I'm tired of having to deal with it so I just sort of mentally check out when we are around them.
I dont want it to harm my son and I didnt think it was because he always talks about his grandparents with delight and looks forward to seeing them..
This thing with the insects has just unsettled me and reminded me of aspects of my own childhood with them... so I feel like I should do something but what can I do other than go no contact which woukd hurt my son in a different way?..... over this pandemic he's been so sad he couldn't see them at Christmas.. he cried after they rang.
I dont want to deprive my child of grandparents...

OP’s posts: |
PhantomErik Wed 03-Mar-21 13:40:45

RedHelenB it's really not 'the norm' for any children to kill insects. None of mine have ever done so & I don't think I know of any who have.

It's the sort of thing if I heard of a child like that I'd assume they had other issues & a nasty streak. It's akin to bullying in my opinion.

OP I would either avoid taking the DC or make it very clear that you won't tolerate that behaviour.

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