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My mum has finally discovered that my dcs call my dsm 'Grandma' and has hit the roof. Help me work out how to handle it, please.

(103 Posts)
Olihan Fri 26-Sep-08 19:42:14

Sorry, this might be long but it's all relevant so bear with

My dad and dsm have been together since 1990. Dsm and her then-dh were friends of my parents, dad and dsm had an affair and set up home together and eventually married once both divorces were finalised.

Obviously my mum was devastated by the affair and my dad leaving but she met her dp in 1992 and they've been together ever since.

I was 13 at the time, my dsis was 12 and my mum said and did a lot of things (cried when dsis and I were supposed to be going over to dad's for the night, emotional blackmail stuff) to try and wreck my relationship with my dad. I didn't speak to him for nearly 2 years, didn't go to his wedding and had a very rocky relationship with him until I was 19, went to Uni and basically was able to realise what she was doing. Now I'm very close to both of them and they have a very good relationship with dh too.

Fast forward to 2003 when I was expecting ds1. Mum told me that her dp would be known to my dcs by his name. That was fine. It was her choice - we were happy to go along with what she wanted.

However, she also stated that she thought dsm should also be known by her name, not Grandma/Granny/Nanny, etc. Her reasoning for this was that my paternal grandad left my grandma for another woman shortly after my parent's wedding and my dsis and I called his new woman by name.

DH and I didn't agree with her, because dsm had been with dad and in my life for as long as she hadn't, iyswim. However, we didn't make an issue of it, dsm became Grandma, as that's what her son's dcs called her and that was that.

We never actually explicitly told her this, which was probably stupid, but we assumed that the dcs would have said it as she often asks them about what they've done with my dad (he lives in Singapore and we go over for a fortnight every year).

Jump on again to the present. My dsis' baby is being christened next month and both sets of parents will be in the same room for the first time. Dsis asked if mum knew about the dsm/Grandma situation and I said I didn't know. So she asked her and it turns out that she had no idea. I am genuinely surprised that she didn't know but there we go.

However, mum has gone slightly off the deep end about it. Not to me though, to my dad via email.

So how do I approach it with her? My instinct is to tell her it's actually none of her business, she made the decision about her and her dp's names, this one was down to us and she has to like it or lump it. It all happened 18 years ago, she's been with her new dp for 16 years, we've all moved on so she needs to get over it.

So I need some MN wisdom because I suspect that's not the best approach <understatement>. What do I do or say? I'm ringing her in an hour or so to discuss it.


Cocolepew Fri 26-Sep-08 19:44:30

Like it or lump it.

Acinonyx Fri 26-Sep-08 19:45:23

I agree.

Olihan Fri 26-Sep-08 19:47:09


I don't mind like it or lump it at all but wondered if I should be more reasonable?

jangly Fri 26-Sep-08 19:47:39

Tell her that "Grandma" is just a name. The dcs share her gene pool as she is the biological granny, and that means she will always be closer to them in reality than dsm. Just try to make her feel special.

LongDroopyBoobyLady Fri 26-Sep-08 19:48:46

Another for like it or lump it.

jangly Fri 26-Sep-08 19:49:41

Like it or lump it would be unkind.

LittleMyDancingForJoy Fri 26-Sep-08 19:50:21

i think you can be reasonable while also saying 'like it or lump it', iyswim.

just explain that you understand her feelings are hurt, but that you felt it was up to people what they wanted to be called, and it doesn't in any way diminish her relationship with your DCs.

What do they call your mum, by the way?

Cocolepew Fri 26-Sep-08 19:50:37

Tell her that's what your children want to call her, they weren't forced too. Your Mum is being very unreasonable, she has moved on and has a new partner, why is she being so petty?

Cappuccino Fri 26-Sep-08 19:51:09

my mum is divorced; both my parents are remarried

I think your mum was prob trying to do the right thing re her dp's name. It gave your dad the grandad role, which was rightly his; if it were my mum that would probably have been her reasoning even though there is no love lost between my mum and dad

by doing this I think you tacitly agreed to do the same for your dad's dp

I think I would feel a bit betrayed if I were her; she missed out on the chance to be 'grandma and grandad' yet your dad did not

"Her reasoning for this was that my paternal grandad left my grandma for another woman shortly after my parent's wedding and my dsis and I called his new woman by name. "

she has tried to follow an established pattern but you have not told her that you were not dong the same

you should not have kept quiet about it. You just wanted a quiet life didn't you? and it came back and bit you


artichokes Fri 26-Sep-08 19:52:15

Why do you need to ring her about it? She has had ago at your Dad not you. Let them sort it out. If she drags you in then go with like-it-or-lump-it and if you wish to be kind sweeten that blow with Jangly's additional comments.

blinks Fri 26-Sep-08 19:52:34

be uber unemotional about it or you'll give her an excuse to be silly... be lighthearted so maybe

"We all think of you as being a very mature individual and it never crossed our minds that you would have a problem".

Confuzzle her with a compliment I say.

TheProvincialLady Fri 26-Sep-08 19:52:38

You don't have to justify it at all actually. Your children call another woman grandma, which is their choice and yours. It was very presumptious of her to tell you what your DC would be calling your stepmother in the first place - not her decision to make. I actually think that by ringing her to discuss it you are allowing her an opinion and a voice that she is not entitled to. What the hell does she want you to do, tell your children that from now on they have to call their other grandma something else? She needs to grow up.

umberella Fri 26-Sep-08 19:53:31

eeew, we are going to have exactly this situation with dp's 'angry and bitter 30 yrs later' mother.

no-one's brave enough to just get it out of the way now blush

RachelsAunty Fri 26-Sep-08 19:54:18

Hi Olihan, IMO honesty is usually the best policy, without any flannel. Explain what you've told us, say that you didn't mean to hide anything from her and say that you don't mean for her to be upset/offended. Say that this doesn't alter your mother's relationship with your children, Good luck & let us know how it goes!

Olihan Fri 26-Sep-08 19:54:43

Grandma, LMDFJ. It was her choice, we don't really do 'Nanny/Nan' in our family. MIL is Granny, also her choice.

Dsm was already 'Grandma' to her dgc as they are older than my 3.

My Dcs call my mum Grandma and my dsm Grandma Her Name.

snigger Fri 26-Sep-08 19:54:51


How about:

"Mum, we only see them once a year. I don't want DCs feeling odd ones out calling her X, they call her what her grandkids call her, this was not meant to hurt you, and I'm sorry if it did, but everyone will end up hurt if you make a major issue out of this."

Then run away.

I'll be here, with gin.

Best of luck to you.

Cappuccino Fri 26-Sep-08 19:55:06

"we've all moved on so she needs to get over it"

yes this is my point

I think she prob thought that not letting her dp be 'grandad' she was moving on, and giving your dad the title

she didn't get the same respect back imo, and you should have told her, so she could rethink what your children called her dp. The chance is lost now because you kept it quiet

LongDroopyBoobyLady Fri 26-Sep-08 19:55:07

I don't think I'd ring her to specifically explain myself. It instantly draws attention to the fact that at some level you are feeling a tad guilty perhaps?

jangly Fri 26-Sep-08 19:55:37

Grandchildren seem to tie in with very deep emotions. Be careful not to hurt her. She doesn't sound entirely happy already.

Olihan Fri 26-Sep-08 19:56:39

Lol, Cappucino, It's come back and bitten me on the bum in a BIG way. I honestly thought it would have come out before now though, we have never told the dcs not to say anything in front of mum.

plantsitter Fri 26-Sep-08 19:56:49


Really this is yet another issue that is between your mum and dad which you shouldn't have to deal with. If it looks like she's going to make a fuss, point out that this will be your dsis's day and you'd like it to be as nice as possible for her. Having said that, she has talked to your dad and not you about this - maybe she is trying to get it out of her system before the Christening?

The nearest you should get to an apology is 'we should have told you' rather than the whole name thing is wrong. But she really is going to have to lump it in the end, isn't she?

TheFallenMadonna Fri 26-Sep-08 19:58:12

I do sort of agree with Cappuccino I'm afraid.

aeao Fri 26-Sep-08 19:58:35

Ooh it makes me grateful my parents are so harmonious now.

She just has to get on with it. It has been Sooooooooooo long now.

My parents split the same time as yours got divorced.

When DD was born we told GPs to pick their names. SM actually chose to be Nanny Hername. I feel terrible though because none of us stuck to it (her and my dad etc included) so she stayed Hername Now another grandchild from me and two of "her own" (her words ), she is Nanny to them and still her name to mine. It makes the divide even bigger and more apparent.

Moving On is the most important thing for everyone, and I think proper grandparent names are essential to create stability and proper affection for everyone.

aeao Fri 26-Sep-08 19:59:42

Her mum decided what her DP was to be called. It was her choice not to do the grandad thing

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