Posted by: V | 2007/02/18

mom refuses to accommodate grandchildren

My mom is a very "unloving" person. I can not recall one warm, loving, mother-daughter experience with her. She's extremely stressed, overworked and rude. She hardly ever smiles. She always projected her own fears onto us children (and still does). The only difference being that I'm 30 years old now and realise that her fears do not have to be my fears. I'm struggling to come to terms with the one dream I gave up in my teenage years - namely to become an actress. She talked me out of following that career route many years ago - and I blame myself today for listening to her. But it's not as if I hate her for helping me make the "wrong" decision. Now I'm too old to enter the entertainment industry - I am married and have two children. In any case, the reason why I'm writing is that my mom refuses to make her house child friendly when we go and visit (my son is 16 months old), second one still on his/her way (-: She would sit with my son on her lap and would leave her fork and steak knive within reach (even though I asked her politely at the beginning of the weekend not to place dangerous objects within his reach etc.). When I complained about it (my child actually grabbed the fork and would have stuck it into his eye if I did not take it away from him), my mom just said that she's not use to children in the home and that we have to adjust to her rules when we visit her home. She would also leave expensive decor elements within his reach etc. She would offer my son a piece of ice with the same hand the dog licked. And when I make her aware of it - she would say that" ek boek van die kwaad hou," meaning that I'm watching her and that I can't wait to catch her doing something wrong! She would never ever offer to watch my son for an hour or two in the afternoon so that I can perhaps take a nap. She says she's too tired and overworked and needs her sleep more than I do. She would never ever come and help me at nights if my child is sick and is up all night. If my sister (who has twins) and I just mention that we're tired (without moaning you know - but we're not superwomen) then my mom would say in a cold voice "ag, it's only in your heads." What the hell is wrong with this woman? Why is she behaving in such an "unmotherly" way. I don't want my son to like or love her - she does not deserve it. I feel guilty for feeling this way.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

She is being unreasonable. Adult visirots, indeed, should keep to the house rules when visiting --- but the greater vulnerability and lack of self-protective skills of an infant or young child, by far over-ride that otherwise general principle. It is NOT acceptable to refuse to even faintly inconvenience herself in ways thatg would enhance the safety of your child. And she sees any tiredness on your part as "all in your head" ( where else should one feel tiredness ?) --- but not her own ? Don't feel guilty. Apparently she has few if any motherly or protective skills, and may simply not be someone uyou can ever rely on to be motherly towards you or your children.
I like anon's idea of "adopt-a-gran" --- I think more programs to facilitate that would be a great idea, as there are also many skilled and loving grans around, with no children to be a granny to. And as anon says, accept her as you find her, rather than exhausting yourself by expecting more than she can deliver.
For once I disagree with Buzz, and also with dove --- there are real limits to how much one can reasonably expect from a kid of 16 months, especially just to accomodate a selfish old woman. That sort of policy too readily becomes one of "the kid must learn not to tought dangerous objects --- or die".
And I like Britty's idea, of concentrating on your mom visiting you and the kid(s) in your own safer and organized home, rather than you visiting her in hers

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Our users say:
Posted by: Britty | 2007/02/20

Wny not have your mom visit you in your child friendly home instead where your child is protected for by its the best person, you! You mom might then miss you and the children popping in and doing something about putting dangerous objects (to a child) away and maybe her home will be come more family friendly - pig might fly too! Good luck.

Reply to Britty
Posted by: Buzz | 2007/02/19

LOL RMC - and to you, I sound like your SIL? LMAO.

Reply to Buzz
Posted by: V | 2007/02/19

Thanks for the comments. I would just like to mention to Dove that my child listens when I tell him NO. I might have to tell him more than once - but it does have an impact. So I do teach him to have respect for other people's valuables. As far as knives and forks are concerned - I feel that it is extremely irresponsible to leave it within a child's reach - especially if he's at an age where he grabs stuff. Would you leave a boiling kettle within a young toddlers reach? I don't think so. And that said, I'm not seeing my mom as an "alltime" babysitter. I know my responsibilities and I am a very involved mother. I would have liked mym mom to play with my son a bit (and be more understanding of the ups and downs of raising a young kid) when we go and visit though. She's very fast to point out the negatives (which in most cases aren't even true because she's reflecting her own fear onto us and our children). She's not involved at all. But you guys are right - I need to accept her as she is. That's her personality. To me it just seems very cold and that's actually why I wrote. I'm trying to come to terms with how she does things as her personality is totally opposite than mine. That's actually what my email is about. Would like to hear Cybershrink's views on it.

Reply to V
Posted by: RMC | 2007/02/19

Buzz - my SIL is really really bright!!! So bright she thinks she is clever?? Plus - we go visit one day and they are looking after the other son's child -- and let him play with a bottle of antibiotics and put the cap in his mouth. I agree, respect the hosts -- but for pity's sake -- don't leave meds out, or knives with crawling toddlers ;-)

Reply to RMC
Posted by: Dove | 2007/02/19

I Don't agree with you why should your mother change her home to accommodate your son, your son should be taught not to touch things, and to learn that knieves and forks at table are not toys to play with. I have three grand sons one of 22 months and do not put anything out of his reach he must learn not to touch. I also do not offer to baby sit and will only do so when it suits me. Granny's are not there to look after your children, we had our own. I know of granny's that have to look after their grand kids every weekend so that the parents can go out at night. It does not mean that your mother does not love her grand children some peole are just that way. She can not be that bad you managed to grow up all right.I would offer more offen to look after the youngest if the mother taught him to leave thing alone and not let him open cupboards all the time and pack out at her place he then thinks he can't do it every where. Thank googness he is now learning he can't do it at my place.

Reply to Dove
Posted by: Buzz | 2007/02/19

RMC, you're right - it's almost an impossible task, teaching a baby not to touch. Most hosts would automatically remove dangerous or valuable objects with a toddler around, but some don't and we should respect their wish and home by keeping an eye on our child, or else not visit there. Your SIL must be very bright.

Reply to Buzz
Posted by: RMC | 2007/02/19

Don't even think of leaving your children alone there -- bet she does not even put her medication out of their reach. My MIL let my 18 month child get hold of her trepaline (and then later her foster grand child tried to kill herself with it too).

Buzz, sorry but at 16 months old I am sure most babies do not know not to touch everything. We have friends that simpy move ornaments and things back if little babies go visit. Obviously we expect parents to not allow their kids to fiddle with everything, but say there is something really precious and expensive -- are you really going to leave it within reach and expect that a little baby that has just started to crawl for example to know not to touch it? You sound like my SIL who said 'surely he KNOWS not to touch medicine?"

I do think you need to just accept your mom for who she is -- she may not be great but she is your mom and not all of us have one. But why not follow that suggestion of adopting a gran? there might be a lonely old lady somewhere that would blossom by having your child around?

Reply to RMC
Posted by: Buzz | 2007/02/19

V, there's probably a whole lot more to this than just your son's wellbeing. You're saying that your mother is a danger to your child, yet you're blaming her for not offering to babysit for an hour so you can sleep? Maybe she's doomed either way?... In my opinion, your mother has the right to keep her home the way it is even if it doesn't accommodate a toddler - and you have a duty to teach your child to respect others' possessions. You may expect your mom to change her home, but you can't expect other family and friends to do the same, so the sooner your son learns the better for you, but especially him. If you're complaining about exhaustion, why can't your mom? Loving grannies are great to have around, they're priceless, but they're not our babysitters.

I agree with Anon.

Reply to Buzz
Posted by: anon | 2007/02/18

After what you have shared with us, I doubt you would trust your mom looking after your baby/babies.

It does hurt having a mom who is not "normal loving, helpful and kindhearted". You cannot change her and have to accept well that is the way she is.

There are many people who are not blessed having parents alive and then again there are lots of grandparents whose children have left the country leaving them all alone.

Why don't you adopt a gran. Amongst your friends organise babysitting, eg. on a swop basis, if they babysit your child you can babysit theirs on another occasion.

When you perhaps change your attitude towards your mother, accept her for who and what she is and not try and change her to someone you want her to be. You will feel less resentful towards her and her behaviour.

Reply to anon

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