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Family disagree with parenting style, getting through xmas support thread.

(55 Posts)
Porcelain Sat 04-Dec-10 12:19:14

I'm popping over here from feeding, I was going to post about this anyway, but it seems a lot of us on the sleep regression thread seem to have this issue and could do with a thread for it.

I follow an attachment parenting model, well that is to say, I do what feels right for me and DS (with total support from DH) and then I read a book on AP and went "oh, there's a name for that is there" and got tips on making it work even better for me as well as feeling much more valid in my choices). I breastfeed, co-sleep, babywear, everything but the lentils - I do it because it works for us, it makes my life easier.

My mother however, does not "get" this at all. She believes in bottles and prams, crying it out and sleeping through in a separate room (DS was sleeping through until he hit his 4 month growth spurt, but in my room). When DS was a week old she was trying to persuade me to "give myself a break" by giving him a couple of bottles a day, I pointed out that washing up bottles when I could be sat in bed with my baby didn't seem like a break to me. At 8 weeks (in October) she suggested I put him in the pram in the garden, so that his crying wouldn't interrupt me while I got on with painting the hall. I know this is what she did with me, so I have to be really careful about not accidentally telling her I think she was a rubbish mum, but what it boils down to is that this is my baby, I will raise him my way, just as any other mother, including her, is entitled to raise their babies in their own way.

I got married when DS was 10 weeks. My mother kicked off about him being in my bed with me (she suggested putting him on a folding bed on the floor rather than in a double with me), on the day she got really shirty about me leaving the table during the meal to feed him (he was refusing a bottle of EBM from me and I was bursting, I couldn't feed without taking my dress off or I would have fed him there and she would have been mortified - she's always suggesting I go up to a bedroom to feed him rather than stay chatting to everyone else). What really annoyed me though was overhearing her talking to my brother's new partner, who we had all only just met and telling her "he's spoiled, because she never leaves him on his own". This was false on both counts, I do leave him (and keep a monitor on) to nap in his cot when he is having a proper deep sleep, or to play there if he is really happy and involved with his toys, but I won't leave him when he is hungry, upset or sleeping lightly on my lap. This comment actually really upset me, it's bad enough that she criticises my parenting to me, but to near strangers when she thinks I can't hear.

Anyhow, the point is, that Christmas is coming, which means spending time with the family.

I am finding it really hard to mother DS in the way I want to around my mother. For instance I normally feed him as soon as he starts showing early feeding cues. I would rather get food into him when he is getting peckish, than wait for him to be starving, screaming and have to calm him down to latch on. My mother will see him fussing a bit, and take him off me to walk around, bounce etc, and put off his feed, or if she has him already, not bring him back to me. She repeatedly criticises the frequency of his feeding, and is perpetually asking me when I am going to give him a bottle (he has gone from 50th to 91st centile, he no way needs a bottle). I don't feel like I have the freedom to feed him, to rock him to sleep, to carry him with me, in her house, so visits are getting really tense. Add to this the fact that he is teething, and going through a growth spurt/sleep regression, which means my mum will be more convinced that I'm doing it wrong and more pushy with her "helpful advice".

I am seriously considering Christmas being a flying 2 hour visit (they live 4 hours drive away) rather than an overnight, or staying in a B&B.

So anyone else in this situation, any ideas on dealing with pestering parents or in-laws who think they know best?

annielennox Sat 04-Dec-10 12:26:03

Stay at home. Is this your 1st DC? If so start a 'family tradition' trhat you stay at home at Christmas, and people can come to you if they like but will have to fit in with your plans (make them unattractive plans obv.). We did this when we had DC1 14 years ago and it has been our best Xmas present to ourselves. It's good she lives 4 hours away; make use of the distance!

lucy101 Sat 04-Dec-10 12:28:43

You are an AP hero! I know it will wear you down but you must continue in the face of all this negativity as it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job. Maybe it needs to be tackled on various levels:

-a shorter trip (or be prepared to leave earlier than planned if it all gets too much)
-'time out' for you and the baby whenever she starts/don't let her take him off of you, just walk away from her
-get DH on board to distract her or change the topic
-try and let some of it wash over you maybe have some kind of mantra that you can have in your head that gets you through her criticism.

Ultimately though if it is too much, then you might have to tackle it with a conversation about your parenting style being off-limits as a conversational topic with you and DH or you will find it difficult to see her next year at Christmas. In fact if she starts criticising I would be telling her something like this anyway. Not so much you can do about what she tells others though...

I sympathise as (still pregnant) I fear this is what my mother is going to do with me.... but I have had a few run ins with her now and she is beginning to get the message that DH and I won't see her or spend time with her if she tries to bully/criticise etc.

This has caused a few tantrums but I just won't see her if she behaves badly!

BertieBotts Sat 04-Dec-10 12:30:01

Yes - can you say as this is your first xmas as a family you want to spend it at home alone?

OR tell everyone you all have raging diarrhoea and don't want to pass it on grin the first one at least gives them advance warning though!

annielennox Sat 04-Dec-10 12:30:02

And the rest of the year it is ignore, ignore, ignore all comments and do what you want. Tis the only way. Is the same with comments from friends etc too.

Onetoomanycornettos Sat 04-Dec-10 12:33:37

I agree that limiting their time with you is key to this. Dedicate a few hours to smiling, gritting your teeth, opening presents and then getting back to your own cosy home (visiting them might actually be better as you can leave when you want).

As for her ideas about giving the baby a bottle early on,leaving him to cry it out, being cross because you wanted to breasfeed a 10 week old baby, they all sound remarkably old-fashioned for a tiny baby. Perhaps she can't actually remember what it was like to have a very small baby and that's why you should take what she advises with more than a pinch of salt (i.e. ignore entirely).

ExistentialistCat Sat 04-Dec-10 12:57:06

OP, I think we must be sisters, as your mum is clearly my mum!

My DD2 is also 10 weeks old. BF didn't work with DD1 and I'm delighted it has worked this time round, but all I ever get from my parents is questions about when I'm going to go on to formula. It's ridiculous that their opinion should still matter so much to me at the grand old age of 34, but it does!

I seem to be doing AP but a little reluctantly - out of necessity rather than entirely out of choice. DD2 will only sleep on me, so I wear her and co-sleep. The fact that I'm not entirely happy with this makes me even more vulnerable to critical comments, I think.

I've managed to have a huge row with one of my sisters (both childless) as she thinks I'm being very negative about motherhood and a martyr to the cause (sample quotation: "You're not the first mother to have had broken sleep, you know.").

We're spending Christmas alone, just the four of us, and although I know I'll miss my parents and sisters, I also know that this is going to be by far the less stressful option.

So, no advice really, just sympathy and sharing the experience!

SJisontheway Sat 04-Dec-10 13:06:39

I don't know - I think if you try to not make an issue of it, it will get easier. My MIL is like this. Does the bouncing and walking about when DS starts getting peckish. I just make sure I'm near by and take him off her - tell her I'm going to give him a feed. She normally replies "again" or "so soon". I ignore. I'm on DC3 now and I really don't let it bother me. We have different parenting styles - I avoid the topic, and it really isn't that much of an issue anymore. Maybe it would be trickier if it was my mum as I care more what she thinks. She also has more old fashioned ideas, but respects my way of doing things.

FattyArbuckel Sat 04-Dec-10 13:09:50

Tell her that you appreciate she is trying to give you helpful advice but that you have chosen a different parenting style that you are happy with.

Tell her you would be appreciate it if she could stop offering advice/ proffering criticism and allow you to bring up your baby your way. Tell her that visiting her is stressful for you because of this at the moment and you would like it to be pleasurable and relaxing for all concerned.

If she refuses to change then make your visits shorter or stay home for christmas.

Porcelain Sat 04-Dec-10 13:21:26

Thanks ladies.

Definitely not going there Christmas day, I told her that weeks ago, it's baby's first, and our first married. She then sent me an email telling me all the reasons why I should go to her, so I told her again. We set a bad precedent last year as we had to rush up to see FIL in hospital the week before Christmas, he died on Christmas eve and we were running around like loons sorting paperwork so the undertaker could take the body and stuff before the registrar closed. We didn't want to spend Christmas in FIL's empty house, and food and presents were still 300 miles away, so we took the shorter drive to my parents.

I think we still need to see them at some point, as they will want to see their grandchild, and I want to see my brother.

I don't really want her here, it gives her the chance to criticise everything, not just the bits she sees at her place. She has this thing where she will have been in the house less than 10 minutes and somehow she has got ahold of a bottle of bleach (from her handbag maybe?) and she's scrubbing my kitchen sink, as if my house is so squalid, she can't even have a cup of tea until she disinfects. She is clearly a little crackers.

Nanny0gg Sat 04-Dec-10 13:39:10

Crumbs, I had no idea that what I did 30 years ago has a name! I thought it was just what you did - and I'm the least lentil-weaving person you could meet.

As a grandnma, the best advice I can give you is to tell her.

It's your baby, your house, your rules. She is a (welcome?) guest and if she wants to help she must ask you what you need, not just do what she thinks.
What does your father think?

Porcelain Sat 04-Dec-10 13:40:50

What is it with criticising the frequency of feeds anyhow? It's not like the baby will ask for, or take a feed if he isn't hungry, so why question it as if the mother is some kind of oddity? She keeps calling him greedy. My mother also hadn't heard of cluster feeding, she actually said "babies never used to do that" as if it is some kind of rebellion they came up with in foetus training camp to take the piss.

DS feeds every 1 1/2 to 3 hours during the day, and up until last week, was going 7 hours at night (now about 3-5 I think), except for an evening cluster feed (tanking up so he can go all night) but my mother is convinced he should have been 4 hourly all along hmm

BertieBotts Sat 04-Dec-10 13:59:14

Isn't that because babies mainly used to be bottlefed though?

Saying that DS was breastfed and I don't really remember the cluster feeding now. (Though I know he must have done it!) God knows what I'll "remember" in 30 years' time. Probably that he fed once a day and slept the rest of the time grin

matildarosepink Sat 04-Dec-10 14:05:41

She's HAD her turn, it's yours now.

It's sad she won't support you, but maybe that for her would be some implied self-criticism of what she did.

People so often want 'the way they did it' to be right for everyone. Babies are human beings, and therefore individual, so we have to do what seems right for them by instinct.

Stick to your guns, and don't let her ideas spoil it for you.

vesela Sat 04-Dec-10 14:19:41

I agree with Fatty Arbuckel that the best thign would be to sit down and talk to her about it. If not, then it won't just be this Christmas - it'll be all the other times you see her, and next Christmas, and on and on. Plus even if you're only there for two hours, it won't be good if she manages to upset you during that time.

If you withdraw, she'll only get worse. I'd be inclined to talk to her about it in the way FA described, ahead of time, and then plan to stay the night and see if you can all get through that OK.

putthekettleon Sat 04-Dec-10 15:45:59

I went through all this with DD1 - criticism for the sling, the BF, the co-sleeping. I really let it get to me and was very defensive and hyper-sensitive to any criticism.

Second time round with DD2 it's a whole different ballgame - the family haven't changed but I have! I do exactly what I want, completely ignore the criticism (it always comes in veiled comments rather than confrontation so it's easier to ignore!) and I just don't let it get to me.

moondog Sat 04-Dec-10 15:55:21

Poor you, doing everything that is the best for your baby and being undermined so horridly.

Stand your ground, do your own thing and keep on telling her' You've had your family. This is my baby and I'm doing it my way so snout out!'

putthekettleon Sat 04-Dec-10 15:57:01

Meant to add I now have the perfect response: "It's what I did with DD1 and she's fine/eats well/sleeps through the night now without being rocked to sleep..."

FattyArbuckel Sat 04-Dec-10 18:24:32

I think you need to be straightforward and direct with your mother, but in a kind way.

So if she gets out the bleach, just say its nice of you to try to help out while you stay but in fact I don't like other people to clean my house so I would appreciate it if you relaxed with a cup of tea and we can chat.

Chandon Sat 04-Dec-10 18:40:12

I have this with my mum, and still have to grit my teeth when teh topic of babies comes up and she will start rolling her eyes and say: "remember how cross you got when we put your boy in a playpen when you were out. my son! In a playpen! you went bonkers!" etc etc.

I did not go bonkers. I did mention that we did not have him in a playpen at home, and that he wasn't used to it. In my memory it was not a big deal, in hers it was.

Also, I was bottle fed and left to "cry it out". A bit disturbingly, my first childhood memory is of crying and screaming until I had no voice, and knowing my parents were around but would not come. It's not a trauma, or something that worries me, but not a great first memory.

I have always tried to eb patient with my mum.

When the children were bigger, she once confessed after some glasses of wine that seeing me breastfeed made her feel a crap mum, with hindsight. It was almost as if my style of parenting was a "criticism" of how she did it back in the seventies. She also told me she had had PND. And still ahs some lingering insecurities about parenting.

It is a generation gap thing as well.

try and be patient with your mum. She loves you and her grandchild just so much.

try to grin and bear it. practice to smile and move on.

soon your Dc won't be a baby anymore, and these issues will have gone.

fruitful Sat 04-Dec-10 18:48:05

Can you visit them (for the day) the weekend before Christmas? That way the stressful bit is done before Christmas and you can relax and enjoy yourself.

Think up a stock response to every spoken/implied criticism of your parenting, and repeat it, deadpan, ad nauseam. "I am bringing my child up in my way, which is different to yours".

Or, could you try "I have a very different parenting style to you. Please could you stop giving me advice?" Followed by "Mum I'm finding it difficult to be with you when you keep giving me unwanted advice all the time. Could you stop, or we might have to spend less time with you". If she takes offence, you won't see her for a bit, and then she'll work out that you have something she wants.

If she does things you don't like at your house (like clean) go tell her to stop. Or get dh to do it ("MIL, did you realise how hurtful and offensive Porcelain finds it when you do this? Please be more considerate of her feelings, especially when you are a guest in our home").

I also love the line "shock that sounded very rude! Did you mean to be rude?"

You're going to have to get blatant and set some boundaries for her, I think.

iamusuallybeingunreasonable Sat 04-Dec-10 19:13:34

Oh gosh, I didn't realise what I did had a name! I thought I was co sleeping, sling wearing, constant cuddling and attentive feeding because I was doing somwthing wrong ha! None of my friends do AP either, my mum certainly didn't, and my MIL... Well!

Let's just say, she also jiggles baby when it needs a feed, walking away from me, as if she is helping, or asking innane questions about how often were feeding now, as if baby should be on a rota, or asking (suggesting) "do they still give babies boiled sugary water?" - its all I can do to hold my tongue sometimes, exercising lungs is another good one, I think the qnswer is to be as frank as they are, they don't hold back do they?! Speak your mind or forever be spoken to this way, it won't end unless you let her know you don't tolerate it, times have changed, the silly old goat!

CarGirl Sat 04-Dec-10 19:26:22

I didn't do the AP thing - bad back, huge babies and couldn't sleep at all with them in the same room as me BUT your Mum is being horrid.

I would learn a phrase that you reel off everytime she starts........

"Those were your choices, this is mine" perhaps when you've said it for the 500th time she may get the hint?

MrsGravy Sat 04-Dec-10 19:29:43

How would your mum respond to sarcasm? I tend to use it against my mils criticism as a way to highlight how ridiculous she is being i.e the greedy comment, reply with 'he is VERY greedy, I caught him sneaking downstairs to make himself a sandwich the other night'.

Porcelain Sat 04-Dec-10 21:00:44

Loads of ideas, thanks. I know she means well really, she's one of those mums who thinks she knows best and will try to make us do things her way for our own good, it's just she isn't always as right as she would like to be. She often refers to DS as if he is an inconvenience to me, possibly because she assumes he was an accident, but even if he was I'm his mum, looking after him, and all that comes with it is my job and I love doing it.

MrsGravy, I have to admit, I have resorted to sarcasm in the past, she told me he needed to be more independent (6 weeks I think this was), so I told her I was saving up for his own flat, but it might take a while. I'm glad I stuck by my guns as I can see him breaking for his independence a little bit at a time now, he makes it very clear to me when he wants to be put down to play and when he wants to be cuddled, and who he wants to be cuddled by. I fully expect he will do the same with choosing to sleep in his own "big boy" room and everything else.

I've had the "exercising lungs" thing too, but despite never being left alone to cry for longer than it takes me to run back from the loo (he has spent a good while crying while being cuddled with colic/teeth/tiredness mind) he has a serious little voice on him, we were at friends the other day and people in the next room thought something was very wrong, he was just shrieking with glee at a toy! He doesn't cry very much at all now, and unless he is in pain it's not a very "convincing" cry, his cues are much more subtle, I've just noticed his feeding cue has changed from handsucking/lip smacking to a "pick me up" nervous giggle followed by peering down my top making little grunts and huffs when I've picked him up, it's quite cute, but of course not everyone would recognise that as a hungry baby, so mum thinks I'm being odd feeding him "again".

Hopefully he will be less full of growing and teeth in a couple of weeks, so she can see what a charming little chap he is turning out to be and. with a bit of a chat, realise I might have something after all!

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