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Mother in Law doing my head in big time

(41 Posts)
heavenlybaby Sun 01-Nov-09 14:27:20

Hi there,

I was wondering if anyone else has come across this before. My mother in law is wonderful with my DS but sometimes she just acts as if she is in charge and starts calling the shots and it really annoys me. We were in Next the other day and we were buying clothes for my DS when he started to throw a massive tantrum. He is 22 months. She was going to buy him a toy train but because he was not behaving I said he could not have it because he was not being a good boy. She went ahead a bought it for him anyway after I specifically said he should not get rewarded for bad behavior. I bit my tongue and let it go that time. My DH and I have said we would not buy any toys for our DS because Christmas is approaching and we do not want to get him more toys when he'll get loads of stuff a month from now. We specifically told the grandparents we were doing this but today Mother in law decided she'd splash out for a new toy. When my husband confronted her she said not to tell her what to do with her money she can do what she likes. Help! How do I approach this issue without starting WW3!!!

Katisha Sun 01-Nov-09 14:30:38

You probably cant.

But you could put the toys away the next day and not get them out until Christmas. He probably won't remember.

borderslass Sun 01-Nov-09 14:34:01

I think you should be grateful that you have a grandparent who is involved with your child's life my MIL live 2 streets away and has NEVER been interested in our children only her daughters spoilt child.

GroundhogsRocketScientist Sun 01-Nov-09 14:39:09

Two issues here:

If you are disciplining him, and he's throwing tantrums and you decide not to buy him anything, you are absolutely in the right, and she has literally NO business in countermanding you. You can stand firm with her on this and insist that if you have said no, then No means No. If she wishes to take offence at your disciplining your own son, her problem.

If she is wanting to buy him toys and you are not wanting to give them to him until Christmas, then just tell her, we'll save them for Christmas. Again, your child, your rules.

She can get as upset as you like, but it's ultimately and utterly your decision.

As long as you hold onto that thought, you can calmly explain and re-explain if need be, that these are the decisions you have made for the benefit of your son.

Agree with Katisha in the short run, but that won't work even next Christmas, so it's important to nit this in the bud, gently but firmly sooner rather than later.

Inlaws are just like children, you have to be firm and consistent.


GroundhogsRocketScientist Sun 01-Nov-09 14:40:27

sorry upset as she likes

and nip this in the bud


diddl Sun 01-Nov-09 14:41:10

TBH, if she wanted to buy something, I don´t think it´s up to you to say he can´t have it.

That´s not to say I don´t see your point, but it might have been better if you had asked her at least to tell him he couldn´t have it until he calmed down.

heavenlybaby Sun 01-Nov-09 14:41:36

Don't get me wrong borderlass I am grateful that she is in my sons life that is not the issue. The issue is her respecting the things my DH and I are trying to put across. So my DS doesn't end up two years from now saying I don't like you because you don't give me everything like grandma does.

StrictlyBoogying Sun 01-Nov-09 14:43:09

My MIL is lovely but very indulgent of our children; always buying them a toy, sweets or a comic when she sees them, never telling them off and slightly criticising me for putting them on the naughty step. All they've learned is that Granny's a pushover. It doesn't affect their day to day behaviour, they don't expect toys from me or my Mum and are still well behaved...most of the time!

heavenlybaby Sun 01-Nov-09 14:43:30

Thanks GroundhogsRocketScietist

diddl Sun 01-Nov-09 14:48:19

Put that wrong-I don´t think it´s up to you to tell her she can´t buy it,if that´s what you´re saying.

LissyGlitter Sun 01-Nov-09 14:52:17

My sympathies, I have the same problem with ALL of DDs grandparents and great grandparents. It would be ok if she hardly saw them but she sees my ILs most days and they just ignore my wishes! Or they pay lip service, then I find out they have given her treats behind my back. I don't think there is much that can be done, I'm hoping they will start being sensible when they see that she isn't going anywhere.

borderslass Sun 01-Nov-09 14:52:17

Does your son spend a lot of time with his grandma in her house if so could you not suggest she keeps it at her house.Thats what we used to do with my mum and dad as they where like this spoilt all the grandkids but just with little things.

heavenlybaby Sun 01-Nov-09 14:55:05


It's not exactly that. I'm not saying to her oh don't buy him anything but when he's trowing a major fit and I turn around and say your not being good you don't get a toy and she says oh here's a toy even though your not listening to mummy you can have it. I think she should have said I'll buy this toy for you but you can have it when you start to behave or something like that. It's just the way she comes across with it. Or the Christmas thing she can buy all the toys she wants for the child all I ask is that she waits until his birthday or Christmas both events are next month.

teatank Sun 01-Nov-09 14:57:14

i think grandparents have selective hearing cos mine are the same. i just grin and bear it now i think lifes to short to argue with them

WhereYouLeftIt Sun 01-Nov-09 14:57:54

OP, why did you bite your tongue in Next? Did you not want to cause a scene? Did your MIL know that you wouldn't want to cause a scene, ad use it against you? I know you don't want to start WW3, but you may have to have a bit of skirmish.

She is not in charge, and any shots she gets to call do not involve YOUR DS. You will have to be firm with her next time - and there will be a next time. When she buys him something that you have said no to, you refuse to take it. She either takes it back to her house or, in full view of her, you place it in a cupboard and tell her you will take it to the charity shop in the morning. If she tries to hand it directly to DS, you take it off her or him and say to DS in a firm voice "No. Mummy said no, and Granny is being very naughty. No means no." When If she complains that you have upset DS, again be firm and say that it is SHE who has upset him and you'll thank her not to do it again.

Your MIL can indeed do what she wants with her money, but point out to her that you can do what you want with YOUR DS. She can buy it for him but that doesn't mean he gets to have it when you and your DH have decided it is not to happen.

It will not be pleasant the first time, but with a bit of luck there won't be a second time, especially as you and your DH are in agreement with this. If, before the next time this happens, your DH quietly explains to her that this is what will happen is she tries this stunt again, you may not even have to do it at all. The knowledge that you and DH have discussed it and come to a decision may be enough to stop her.

heavenlybaby Sun 01-Nov-09 14:59:23


He spends five days a week there because my DH and I are at work. We have suggested that she comes here but she would rather watch him from hers so I can't really argue with that one.

borderslass Sun 01-Nov-09 14:59:32

As long as your not giving in to his tantrums he should get the message its all about asserting a bit of Independence at that age, it passes eventually

diddl Sun 01-Nov-09 15:07:42

Yes, I agree, she can buy it,but not give when he´s tantruming.

That said, in the whole scheme of things, if MIL occasionally buys him something when he tantrums, I don´t think he´ll grow up thinking that tantrums get rewarded-just that Gran is a soft touch!

So, if it happens again, just tell her she can buy, but he´s not having it until he calm down.

Sometimes, some things aren´t worth causing upset over/analysing or dwelling on,ime.

WhereYouLeftIt Sun 01-Nov-09 15:34:54

Ooh, you've changed the scenario now heavenlybaby. Your DS spends 5 day a week being cared for by MIL whilst you and DH work. Well, given that she is in charge 5 days a week when you're not there, I can see how it could be difficult for her to switch to not being in charge when you are there. It's not just plain unreasonableness on her part, it's the blurred lines of shared caring.

Your DH and you need to sit down with MIL and talk this through calmly. You and DH are in agreement, and you need to explain your fears of DS becoming spoiled if he is given toys all the time, and that everyone caring for him should be consistent in their approach. If there is a fundemental disagreement in these matters between you/DH and MIL, than you may have to look to the long-term and consider alternative childcare arrangements.

AnyFucker Sun 01-Nov-09 15:42:29

find a childminder or nursery if you can afford it

NanaNina Sun 01-Nov-09 16:15:46

Thought this was a very measured MIL story until I read Groundhogs "ILs are like children - you have to be firm and consistent" - how insulting is that. I just hope that when you are a MIL Groundhog as you probably will be one day that your dil or sil apply those rules to you! I so hate this stereotyping of MILs - we are not all the same you know. As for Whereyouleftit and her thing about "Mummy says No and granny is being very naughty etc" - same goes for you too - how patronising and insulting is that. Wonder how you will feel when your turn comes around, which it will believe me, probably quicker than you think!

AND after all this, this MIL cares for a 22 month old on a 5 day a week basis - I should have thought the poster should be eternally grateful to her MIl rather than carping about christmas presents!

greenwoodpecker Sun 01-Nov-09 16:17:53

perhaps she doesn't agree that a promised toy should be withheld for normal 1 year old behaviour, eg having a tantrum while on shopping trip
kids hate clothes shopping and a 1 year old isn't going to learn anything good from you depriving him of a promised treat, except that adults break their promises

NanaNina Sun 01-Nov-09 17:41:06

Anyfucker - why on earth should the OP "find a childminder or nursery" rather than have the child cared for by a loving grandmother? Small children need one to one attention from an adult who is physically and emotionally available to them, and this is certainly NOT provided for in a nursery I can assure you, as it is institutional care where the children's physical needs are met but not their emotional needs, as this is impossible with the child/carer ratio. Good childminders are much much better as this is more "normal" for a child but WHY not the grandmother who loves the child - what could be better, and dare I say most probably FREE. You clearly don't know a great deal about the needs of children in their formative years if you think that this baby would be better cared for by strangers than by his grandmother.........and just because she wants to give him a toy train for God's sake................words fail me. If the Op is so upset by her MIL maybe she or her H should give up work and look after the child themselves.

I think some of you MNs who have difficult r/ships with your MILs just assume that ALL Mils are just overbearing interfering old women who should not walk the face of the earth. I know I'm ranting but I'm so fed up of this stereotyping of Mils and GPs and all this fuss about GPs "spoiling" children. You will all be MILs and GPs yourselves one day and you may think differently then.

I will now withdraw and get my tine helmet ready for the onslaught!

NanaNina Sun 01-Nov-09 17:42:06

Should be "tin" helmet of course!

RollCorpseIntoHedge Sun 01-Nov-09 17:48:45

I think a 22 month old is too young to understand 'if you tantrum you won't get the toy'. So I am with your MIL on that one.

Also she looks after your DS 5 days a week so I am afraid a bit of spoling and boundary blurring is going to be the price you pay...a small one in my opinion.

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