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is this normal grandmother behaviour?

(45 Posts)
monkeysonmyback Fri 05-Oct-12 11:54:16

My mother really dotes on my two year old daughter, and always wants to see more of her/overnight. It's lovely really, and I do appreciate how lucky we are for my daughter to have a grandma who wants to be so involved. However, sometimes I find it overbearing/controlling.

So basically, want to ask, would the below bother you or should I just catch myself on?

- grandma insists on seeing granddaughter at least every 2 weeks, despite us living an hour and a half away from each other and all working. We do this and I do want my daughter to be close to her grandparents, but she still constantly says things like she worries that she will be a stranger to my daughter and talks about relocating to where we live (she hasn't asked if we plan on staying in the area long term, and if she does would feel obliged to, she doesn't seem to think of it from anyone else's point of view)

- When we are meeting up with grandma, she texts/emails me to remind me to put her in a pretty dress as she doesn't like it when I dress her in "boyish" clothes like jeans. Again, I adhere to this and often have to wash things especially the night before because I don't really have many feminine clothes for her.

- pretty much every time we meet up my mum manages to mention that she worries that my daughter is cold in bed every night and she buys us loads of sleeping bags etc, which feel like a not so subtle hint. Our house is a warm house and I would never let my daughter go cold.

- When I was pregnant, she said she didn't want to be called grandma, and would like to also be called 'mum' or some variation of this, like 'momma'.

- When my daughter starting holding her bottle herself, my mother refused to let her, holding her like a much younger baby. I would tell her that she likes to do it herself, but she would say "not with grandma she doesn't" and that she wants her to stay a little baby forever.

Obviously, I have picked things that irritate me and I have to say, she is very loving of my daughter. So, is this okay behaviour or not? I really can't work it out.

Iheartpasties Fri 05-Oct-12 11:57:38

I owuldnt want my dd calling my mum momma! no way! And I would be dressing her how I want - I cant stand being told what to do by my mother!

ClippedPhoenix Fri 05-Oct-12 11:59:49

Your mum seems to be a bit OTT forceful with some of her view on childcare doesn't she. Maybe you need to stand up to her a bit?

indecisiveme Fri 05-Oct-12 12:01:21

Not normal, she had her turn with you, now its yours. My MIL can be like this, it is difficult, you have my sympathy.

DoubleYew Fri 05-Oct-12 12:02:48

I would not be happy about the clothes and mum thing. Also the staying a baby forever in light of her other behaviour.

Wantng to see her and being cold, I would put down to just usual grandma fretting.

It is lovely she wants to be a part of her life but is the visiting getting in the way of your own life. When she is older she may want to go to activities, see friends, go to parties and it doesn't sound like she will accept your dd having her own say in her time.

My 2 year old sees my mum a few times a year (abroad) and he knows who she is, talking on the phone etc.

Can you talk to her about this kind of thing?

N0tinmylife Fri 05-Oct-12 12:02:50

As you say, its lovely that your Mum loves your DD, but it does sound like she is going way over the top. I'd sit her down and have a chat with her about some of it. Calling her something like Mum is not on, she is not her Mum, you are. Maybe you need to reassure her that you value her role in her granddaughters life, but she needs to respect the fact that you are her Mum, and will decide things like how she is dressed!

BarbarianMum Fri 05-Oct-12 12:03:18


Wanting to see her every 2 weeks (she can't insist) - normal.

Worrying that she isn't warm enough - entirely irrational normal grandmotherly behaviour (my mother is cold therefore her grandchildren must be - even tho they are now 4 and 6 and capable of asking for or putting on a jumper if needed).

Talking about moving closer - normal. Mine did this but on the understanding that we may not be permanently settled.

The other stuff sounds overbearing but if you keep ignoring it (put her in the clothes you want her to wear, refer to her as gran/granny/nana whatever) then it might die down. Otherwise you may have to say something.

ClippedPhoenix Fri 05-Oct-12 12:03:32

I remember my Stepmother saying she thought I wouldn't make a very good mother once, I was pregnant with my son at the time....

I went into a massive monologue on how I was going to bring DS up, ie. leaving him to fend for himself from the age of 18 months in the morning whilst staying in bed until mid-day after smoking and drinking with mates, blah, blah, blah.

She never uttered a word after that grin

Lottapianos Fri 05-Oct-12 12:05:22

Trust your instinct OP. You're obviously not happy with how your mother is behaving. I don't blame you, I would feel the same. Lots of grandparents seem to treat their grandchild as their second chance at being a parent. It's not fair on you - she's your child and your mother's behaviour is undermining your authority and your role as mother. It's up to you what your child wears and how you feed your child - she needs to support you and do what she's told to a certain extent.

Never listen to anyone who tells you to 'catch yourself on' or 'get a grip'. You are entitled to feel however you feel.

The question is what you do about this! How is your relationship in general? Do you feel she has always been forceful with you? Have you had difficulties with her overbearing behaviour in the past?

HarderToKidnap Fri 05-Oct-12 12:05:24

Some things sound like normal fussy grandmother-hen stuff. I think seeing each other once a fortnight is reasonable, obviously you won't be able to do every fortnight for ever, but its a nice frequency to aim for. Her worrying about "being a stranger" is just her vocalising her concerns, I wouldn't let that or the relocation stuff bother me, you can have a more indepth chat about it if she ever looks like actually moving!

I wouldn't dress her differently for your mum, just say you want her to be comfy and don't want her to associate coming to see her grandma with being stiff and uncomfortable. I'd totally ignore the wanting to be called mum thing, I'm sure now your daughter is here she realises that's a bit silly too! The warm thing I'd just let wash over me, my mum also fixates on things like that, its not meant as a criticism, its a fussy anxious thing. I just smile and nod, don't take it to heart and feel pleased she has a loving nanny.

schnauzerfan Fri 05-Oct-12 12:08:00

The putting her in a dress would really wind me up as well the wanting to be called Momma.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 05-Oct-12 12:09:12

Was she like this (i.e overbearing and controlling) when you were growing up as well?.

Does she have anxiety issues?.

I would actually think about boundaries here; what is and is not acceptable to you and to reassert yourself here. If she is by nature quite a forceful person in her own right this may be difficult but you do need to assert your own position here quite clearly. You are her mother and she is her grandmother. She does not have to be called grandmother but your DD will probably over time come to call her (her nan) by a name she herself chooses.

Hand back the sleeping bags; what would you do with so many anyway?.

Your mother has been a mother; I would be very uneasy at she wanting to be called "mom" or "momma". Using such words in front of DD will go onto confuse your DD as well.

What is her husband like; does he take a back seat?.

I do not think she is as much loving as somewhat controlling to be honest with you. Does this lady have other grandchildren; if so what is she like with them?.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 05-Oct-12 12:12:46

It's normal for your relationship with your mum to change after you have had a child, however OP, your mother seems to be particularly overbearing.

I had to have a talk with my mum after DS was born. I brought up all the inconsistencies and annoyances and we discussed them and came to agreement. She wasn't even aware what she was doing/saying most of the time.

All three of us now have a great relationship and we all know where we stand. She is not so overbearing. I am not so PFB. And DS doesn't play us off against eachother. Because make no mistake OP, once your DC realises a power struggle is happening (and they catch on really quickly), they use it to their own advantage.

Do you think that you can talk to her or send her a letter?

Mandy21 Fri 05-Oct-12 12:13:21

I'd say its pretty much normal, but I'm coming from a point where I know I have a completely overbearring mother / grandma. I think asking to be called momma or a variation of that is a bit weird though.

My oldest children are 7 now, so I've had time to adjust and hand on heart I wouldn't have it any other way. She is absolutely brilliant with them, she would drop everything to drive 100 miles if I said we were stuck for childcare, and she has them overnight (and has taken them on holiday in the UK) which gives my H and I a break. If it means I have to put my DDs in a dress when they see her and she buys them clothes / shoes that I don't like (with a suggestion that the clothes I've bought them are not pretty / warm / suitable enough) then thats a small price to pay for all the help she gives us.

On the other hand their other grandma (H's mother) sees them once every blue moon, never offered to babysit / help us out with childcare until they were over 4 years old.

DuelingFanjo Fri 05-Oct-12 12:15:20

I think it sounds over-bearing and I would dress her how you want. I'd also be heading off the moving closer to you suggestions! Maybe tell her you are planning on re-locating in the next couple of years but not sure where yet.

BerthaTheBogBurglar Fri 05-Oct-12 12:17:56

It isn't ok, but only you can tell if this is over-fussy behaviour from a loving, grandma who has got over-excited and forgotten she is not the mum, or over-controlling wierd behavour from potential psycho-granny!

Put your foot down over the things you don't like. I don't think every fortnight is reasonable, given the distance and that it has to be at the weekend, and presumably there is another set of grandparents who'd like to see you too? And friends, and you like to spend time with each other, and do the DIY and all that. All though it does depend on whether everyone involved is enjoying the visits. If they're not, then they're too frequent!

And me, I'd sending her a text telling her what to wear when I visited grin

MrsJohnDeere Fri 05-Oct-12 12:21:00

Not normal. Sounds very controlling and overbearing to me.

If it was me, I'd make a point of dressing her in trousers/jeans and find some excuses to not visit every fortnight to break the habit and expectations but I'm an awkward sod and don't like being told what to do

LemonBreeland Fri 05-Oct-12 12:22:34

When DS1 was little my Mum used to visit us about every 4 weeks for the weekend and I qould do the same so we would see her every 2 weeks. That is okay if you are happy to do that.

Telling you how to dress her I would tell her to bog off. Dress her the way you want to, she is your child. Tell your Mum she had her chance to dress her children.

Sleeping bag thing I'm a bit meh about.

As for Mom Momma not a bloody chance.

pommedechocolat Fri 05-Oct-12 12:31:25

My mil is like this and it drives me mad. She wont give it up despite my gentle hints. dh wont talk to her about it.

She sees the dds (its dd1 shes fixated on really) less than she would otherwise so ultimately she has cut of her nose to spite her face. i feel no guilt whatsoever.

monkeysonmyback Fri 05-Oct-12 12:49:41

Thanks for the replies everyone.

Her husband (who isn't my dad) takes a back seat really, though is still very doting.

I guess she was possibly overbearing when I was a kid, it's difficult to know as that's the only childhood I had if that makes sense. She told me recently that she loved it when I was ill as a kid as she got to look after me and that people used to joke she had munchhausens!

Ok, so thinking the following is what I should do -

- make a point of dressing her in none girly things (it will be mentioned though and this sounds silly but I will find it really hard to go against what my mother wants - she will keep bringing it up)

- put the warmth stuff down to being a caring grandma

- do the whole regular visits but only whilst it doesn't interfere too much

- if she does anything like the bottle thing again (infantalises her or whatever its called) I will say something back, like I think its important to embrace DD's development.

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 05-Oct-12 12:55:32

Good post OP I think baby steps are the way to go.

Once your DD is a bit older anyway it will be hard for you to meet up every other weekend because of parties and swimming lessons and so forth so it may be worth spacing visit a little bit here and there say sometimes every third weekend rather than every other one. You could both get yourselves set up on Skype so she can still see her grand daughter more regularly.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 05-Oct-12 12:55:52


re your comment:-

"Her husband (who isn't my dad) takes a back seat really, though is still very doting.

I guess she was possibly overbearing when I was a kid, it's difficult to know as that's the only childhood I had if that makes sense. She told me recently that she loved it when I was ill as a kid as she got to look after me and that people used to joke she had munchhausens!"

Both of the above points make me feel uneasy as well particularly the second sentence of your second paragraph.

Your stepfather by taking a back seat is acting perhaps out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. He is not pulling her up on any excessive behaviour and is enabling her.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 05-Oct-12 12:56:08

My Mum is the original besotted grandmother and does her fair share of nutty behaviour. But even she wouldn't try anything as stupid as 'call me Momma' or dictating how often we visit. hmm When DS stayed at their house as a baby or a toddler she had a fairly free rein on how to dress him, feed him and part his hair in the middle or whatever. I'm sure she enjoyed herself thoroughly but, now he's 12, he tells her very firmly to back off. smile When I'm in charge on the other hand, I'm in charge.

The clothes thing, yes, you have to just stick her in the jeans and wait for the inevitable complaints. Think of a withering put-down along the lines of 'it's 2012, not 1952 mother'.... and just keep reinforcing the other stuff until she gets bored commenting. "We don't need more sleeping bags grandma! The house is perfectly warm"

FireOverBabylon Fri 05-Oct-12 12:57:19

Start putting your DD in "boyish" clothes now - give it another year and you'll be dying to get her to a park to burn off some energy and you won't want to do that in frocks. Also, she can't climb , crawl after toys as easily. Explain to your mother that you are dressing your DD in the most suiable clothes for her regardless of what your mother wants.

pommedechocolat Fri 05-Oct-12 12:57:30

I like to use 'oh well nasty old mummy's in charge so we need to do x,y,z' when my mil contradicts me/goes against my wishes. I use 'mummy' as she often speaks as if she's dd1 (passive aggressive much??) and also it's a nice way of reminding her she is dd1's grandmother not mother.

As I'm sure one day she is going to say something along the lines of 'i feel like I'm her mummy' I'm practising 'I don't remember you being present at either the conception or birth'.

Funny how its always the person you feel unable to really speak to that does it. if it was my mum I'd have no issues talking to her about it.

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