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Do I just grin and bear this? Is there another way around it? Feel very unhappy.

(143 Posts)
ReverseThePolarity Mon 23-Jun-08 12:36:33

Wasn't sure where to put this.

We are very lucky to have mil as ds' almost-free childminder.

I've always been very into "attachment" style parenting; you know, slings, co-sleeping, that sort of thing. Call it pfb syndrome if you like but that's how I'd like ds to be raised.

Mil always said she agreed with me over the "Unconditional Parenting" style of child-raising (as per Alfie Kohn) in addition to AP-type concepts and said she wished she'd done it with her own kids.

So I was confused when some of the things she did included:
Ditching the sling and getting an outward facing buggy (i.e. facing away from mil so no interaction)
Giving him juice / tinned baked beans & sausage / "baby" crisps (you know those "Organix" ones) etc to eat
Putting him in disposable nappies
Shouting "NO!" at him very loudly over spurious "misbehaviours" (he is 14 m/o)
Give him sugary tea from her cup
Smoking near him (I always knew she smoked but had assumed she would do it away from him)

And now, she has got him some of those kiddie reins. I am particularly upset because I really can't stand these things. I know opinion on MN is a bit divided over them but I can't bear them. But apparently, "he really creates when he's in the buggy" (that's the outward facing buggy mentioned above) so she wants to let him walk but have him on the reins. She told me today "I know you hate them but I need them and that's that" basically.

BUT having said all the above, she does adore him. She never lets him cry himself to sleep (the most important thing to me) and apart from the odd shouted "NO!" which does my head in, she is very gentle with him. He has one continuous caregiver during the day who really does love him.

Dh of course is no help. "We can't say anything as she is doing it for (almost) free". Besides he thinks I am too soft on ds anyway and it will do him good to have a bit of discipline etc. etc.

Is there anything I can do? Do I have to grin and bear this? I can't afford not to work and in the current economic climate need the job security of permanent office work.

I know you might all accuse me of pfb syndrome and the comments about mil's choices might even get your backs up if that's how you decide to parent. But you must understand, if you've made that decision, it's your decision. This isn't my decision, it's someone taking it out of my hands.

Feel quite upset, possibly irrationally, and please excuse any cruddy spelling that results from this!

OP’s posts: |
stealthsquiggle Mon 23-Jun-08 12:43:28

The smoking I would confront her about.

The reins I wouldn't. Irrespective of your feelings on the subject, if they are not to be stuck in the house all the time, he needs to be safe, and MIL needs to feel he is safe when walking with him, and if she needs reins to do that I personally think you have to live with that. What would you do - carry him? I am thinking that may not be an option for her?

fedup1981 Mon 23-Jun-08 12:46:40

So is it mostly the reigns you're upset about? because I know opinion is divided but personally if I was minding someone's precious child and they were unhappy in the buggy, I'd definitely want reigns on them. How on earth would she feel if he darted across the road and got killed, in her care? she'd never forgive herself.

And maybe she can't manage with him in the sling, my lo is 10 months but there's no way I could carry him in a sling all day, kudos to you if you can! Don't babies at 14 m prefer to be seeing outwards in the pushchair at other babies and the surroundings rather than just at one persons face? My lo loves waving at other kids.

A few baby crisps and sips of tea won't do him any harm if he's eating a good diet generally. The most important thing is she loves him like her own, and you can't put a price on it.

Just speak to her politely if you really dislike something she's doing, like the shouting "no"- I think that's worse than disposable nappies etc, but I think you need to pick your battles. I think she's coming from a good place with the reigns, and if she feels she needs them, imho you should let it go. Try not to get too stressed over it all. Your lo is lucky to have both of you to look after him and love him, in your own individual ways.

fedup1981 Mon 23-Jun-08 12:47:54

Agreed, smoking around kids is not on, ever, and I would definitely confront her on it. Missed that in my last post.

ComeOVeneer Mon 23-Jun-08 12:52:56

I would(tactfully) put my foot down over the food and smoking issues, however the buggy vs sling and reins, I think you have to let slide. I agree that your MIL (certainly mine or my own mother) may not be agile enough to dart around after a toddler so fels more secure with the reins, and likewise not being able to carry a heavy baby in a sling.

PuppyMonkey Mon 23-Jun-08 12:53:46

The smoking thing is the only one that's a real biggy imho. Get that sorted straight away...

If you gently mention the foods you don't approve of, I'm sure she'd be happy to comply with your wishes. She maybe didn't know you'd find them so bad.

I couldn't carry my 14 mo round in a sling. She weighs a tonne. Your poor MIL if you insist she does!

Don't understand the prob with an outward facing pushchair or reins, sorry. They're just modes of transport!!

The disposable nappies thing - again, have you had a word and supplied her with all the stuff she needs for the alternative?

MamaG Mon 23-Jun-08 12:55:30

I agree completely with COV

cmotdibbler Mon 23-Jun-08 13:02:48

I agree that you have to pick your battles, and if you aren't happy with what she's doing, then you have to look for another caregiver, whether that be nursery or a childminder.

I'm happy to carry my DS (who is 2) in a sling, but no one else apart from DH is - so we have a rear facing pushchair for occasions when others want to take him out. Can you buy one for her to use ?
DS does have reins as he's very fast to run off to see things, and I don't see the problem if they aren't used all the time and he has the freedom to run around in the park etc.

Best thing to do (IMO) would be to sit down with her and establish some ground rules and discuss what she does with him.

batters Mon 23-Jun-08 13:03:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EffiePerine Mon 23-Jun-08 13:04:59

def confront her on the smoking issue. Re: the reins, I can't see it's massive problem if he hates the buggy. I wouldn't want to carry a 14mo in a sling all the time (ouch!) and DS would be incredibly bored in a rear-facing buggy (he's 20 mo and has been forward-fcing since about 3 mo).

Re: the food, I don't think it's that bad tbh but if he's eating a lot of stuff you don't like have a quiet word.

Deal with the one thing that's affecting his health (the smoking) and if you can sort that, let the rest go or deal with them more tactfully.

TheBlonde Mon 23-Jun-08 13:05:26

I wouldn't be happy about the smoking or the tea
(tea inhibits iron absorption) or the nappies
What is her issue with the reusables?

The buggy and the reins wouldn't matter to me
My parents are happier with the LOs on reins as they are worried about losing them
I don't think either will have a damaging effect

shubiedoo Mon 23-Jun-08 13:08:17

You need to pick your battles and personally, I can understand why a granny would use disposables over reusables.
It sounds like she loves her grandson and you can't buy love from a childminder...

getbackinyouryurtjimjams Mon 23-Jun-08 13:09:40

Smoking and tea I would ask her to change.

14 month old in a sling? My back couldn't cope with it so not surprised she's ditched that. If you want a backwards facing pushchair buy it but I think at 14 months baby's like to nose at what's going on around them.

Food- if you want something different provide a packed lunch.

Reins- you might be able to control him, perhaps she doesn't feel safe not having him in reins. DH refuses to put ds1 (severely autistic) on his belt (rein type thing but he's 9 so bigger and a bit more discreet) - but then he also refuses to take him to a shop because he's scared he'll run off (he probably would). If she feels she needs reins to keep him safe then I think that's fair enough really.

foxythesnowfox Mon 23-Jun-08 13:11:34

I think the smoking thing is a massive no. That would really upset me.

The food thing doesn't sound too bad IMHO. Actually, I'm quite impressed she gets Organix crisps - my mum would shove Wotsits down my LOs throats given the chance wink

As for the reins/buggy thing, you could take a positive stance on it - reins allow him some freedom to explore safety. As long as she is not using it as a lead to control him, but it allows him to lead her within reason. The outward facing buggy would probably stimulate him more, and he'll be more aware of the environment around him, rather than just her face.

Truth is, to me who has no family close by and that I do have doesn't give a damn, she sounds like a marvel and perhaps you could cut her a bit of slack? Obviously you have, as is your perogative, given careful thought and made your decisions, which she obviously respects, but DS has a lot to gain from this relationship.

But tackle the smoking. Good luck smile

getbackinyouryurtjimjams Mon 23-Jun-08 13:11:47

oh and nappies- I'd let it go. My mum is young, works full time, perfectly able to look after my 3, yes she always made a cock up with reusable nappies, so I just let her get on with disposables. Weird really since I would have been in terries.

Kewcumber Mon 23-Jun-08 13:16:28

Having family look after your DC's almost always invloved a larger degree of compromise than with paid for childcarers.

I followed a lot of the AP principles when I first had DS as he was adopted and need to attach to me as soon as possible.

My own views based on rasiing as child who needs to be attached far more than your average child is...

- sling vs outward facing buggy: either buy her an outward facing buggy or accept the reins (reinds aren't prohibited by any AP rules I know, just that you don't like them). Your DS should be well enough attached by 14 months for buggy vs sling to not have that big an impact - and if he isn;t you have bigger problems than your MIL!

- juice tinned food etc: you need to tell MIL what food you don't want him to have and why eg too much salt in tinned beans and sausage, juice bad for his teeth (watered down should be OK though), not sure why you object to Organix but tell her the reason. Or tell her he can have a pcaket once a week or something.

- disposable nappies: her choice, won't impact your DS at all.

- NO: nothing wrong with saying No perhaps you could persuade her to quieten it down if you think she sounds quite agressive and why not agree with her what behaviours are unacceptable so that you can be consitent. Stress the consistency thing and say there's no point you both having a different set of rules as it will confuse him.

- sugary tea: if its just a mouthful it won;t do him any harm. I used to have a fit when my mum did it but tbh it hasn;t really been an issue. If more than a mouthful stress the sugar/teeth thing again.

- smoking: zero tolerance in my book.

The fewer of the above you can raise with her the bigger effect saying no to the last one will have IME.

How long has she been looking after him?

Kewcumber Mon 23-Jun-08 13:18:31

buy her an outward inward facing buggy

colditz Mon 23-Jun-08 13:19:24

I'd talk about the smoking, definitely. I might mention the food - if you are prepared to send him with the food you do want him to eat. The rest I would let go, because I don't think you can put a price on that sort of care.

You have to remember, this woman is 20 or 30 years older than you. She can't carry a toddler around all day. She can't catch him if he runs off - she may not be strong or agile enough for the above. But this doesn't make her a bad child carer, and he is in probably the best situation he could be - the focus of an adoring, mostly competent and well meaning relative. Anywhere else and he will be someone's means of income - harsh but true.

Piffle Mon 23-Jun-08 13:20:23

smoking is my non negotiable. I even refuse my mum having my kids to hers and she adores them.
you should be able to control his diet, she should offer him what you provide. The odd treat as agreed.
the reins. I hate them end of but if she needs them I'm not sure you can argue... And pushchair... Ds2 faces outwards now despite having chance to face in which he now hates. He was not AP but very close sling carried bf on demand etc

The no thing aaarggghhh am asking DP atm to desist.
as they grow they learn different carers have different ways.

I would advise pick the issues you care most about and battle/compromise those first?

Kewcumber Mon 23-Jun-08 13:22:02

also try to imagine any childcare that will treat your child exactly as you do... not going to happen.

snickersnack Mon 23-Jun-08 13:22:13

I'm not sure that the food and nappy issues go hand in hand with an AP approach. It's probably fair to say that a lot of AP parents do use re-usables and do make their own (organic) food, but I think that is more reflective of a general approach to life than it being more or less "AP". I would see if you can negotiate on these if it upsets you - maybe she just puts the dirty reusables in a bucket for you to take home, or you provide more of the food? Both could be a convenience thing - no way would my mother contemplate using reusables when looking after either of mine, so I didn't push the issue. But I don't think doing these things makes her less "AP"-like, if that's your concern.

You are totally entitled to challenge her on the smoking. That's a big no as far as I'm concerned and I wouldn't want anyone looking after my children to smoke while doing so.

The reins and the buggy I can understand, though I can see why you are upset. But if she's older, the sling might be uncomfortable. The reins I'm sure are a generational thing - we all had reins, and you don't see them very often (probably because children stay in buggies until they are much older...) but if she's anxious about safety you may have to concede that point. How long does he spend in the buggy? If it's only brief spells, I wouldn't make a big deal over it.

With the "no" - I struggle with this because although I would say I have a broadly AP approach to things I do think "no" has a place. Depends how loudly you shout, and why you're shouting, but I don't think that an AP mindset means letting your children do what they like. They do need guidance and "no" is a handy short hand for "stop doing that right now and I'll explain to you why I don't want you to do it when you've stopped".

Apart from the smoking, and possibly the "no" thing, these all sound minor and/or negotiable to me. If you're happy with her approach apart from that (and it sounds like you are), I think you may have to learn to live with them - I doubt you'd find alternative childcare that met your criteria, apart from possibly a nanny. The love and affection and one-to-one care in my view outweighs the negatives.

But, if you're going to continue with the arrangements as they stand you absolutely need to make sure that you are dealing with these issues as they arise rather than letting them fester, or hitting her with a long "shopping list" of requests and complaints all in one go as then she'll feel like you've got hundreds of complaints. How long has she been looking after your son? Could you suggest a regular time to have a catch up about arrangements and so on, which you can both use as an opportunity to discuss what is and isn't working (focusing on the good stuff as well as the bad?). Bit formal, but might work.

unknownrebelbang Mon 23-Jun-08 13:26:03

Smoking - needs to be dealt with.

The food and tea is something I would consider discussing with her, depending on how often/how long she has him.

Don't have a problem with him being told no, obviously it doesn't need to be shouted.

You have to proceed carefully, and given the circumstances - and the fact that she obviously adores him - then you have to accept that she will do some things her way, to a degree. He is her grandson, as well as providing you with virtually free childcare.

If you're not happy with this, then you need to reconsider the childcare.

AtheneNoctua Mon 23-Jun-08 13:33:11

I would sacrifice a whole lot more than what you have listed in return for (almost) free childcare -- except the smoking. At least she is not feeding him snack a jacks.

Regarding the reigns, my number one rule of parenting is "safety First!" It comes before freedom. It comes before education. And it comes before the child's happiness (within reason). If those reigns keep your DS safe, then I think asking her not to use them would be very unwise. Likewise, if my toddler does not want to wear a seatbelt too bad it keeps him safe and he will wear it or I will stop the car.

Free childcare... we should all be so luck!! envy

shreddies Mon 23-Jun-08 13:36:18

Of course smoking is unacceptable, but I honestly don't think you will find childcare that will fulfil all your needs as described above, unless you were to find a nanny who really got what you wanted. Certainly no childminder or nursery would be able to do it

imananny Mon 23-Jun-08 13:37:41

agree smoking is a no no!!

she should be able to respect your wishes with this!!!

i wouldnt carry a 14mth old in sling, buggy or reins or holding hands

have to say outward buggies are nicer for the child to see new people/views/dogs etc

child can see your face anytime wink

drinking sugary tea - WTF?

nappies and food should be your choice

unfort as mil is doing out of love and not for money, then you have to decide is it a big enough problem to think about using paid childcare

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