Don't take this the wrong way, the relationship between grandma and grandchild is a special and very beautiful relationship at that. However, sometimes this can bring more headaches for parents who have their own parenting script, and most of the time don't want to use the same one their own parents did with them. Or even worse, the one their in-laws try to push onto them.
This is why setting boundaries with the extending family is important. However, even that can sometimes be misunderstood or ignored by grandparents, especially grandma! Just when parents starting to get to know the spouse, after a season of marital bliss from the wedding to the honeymoon, then a little member of the family joins the party, and all the attention is shifted to him or her. While moms are working out the modalities of bringing up a child, the external family, which is equally excited, also wants to join in the discussion. The hardest part isn't the aunties or cousins, it's the grandparents. And it's no walk in the park to have them maintain the boundaries mom and dad has set in place. In grandma's eyes, this is their grandchild and they get first dibs on them. Wrong-O, grandma!
Moms have to balance everything delicately or risk making grandma feel insulted or rejected. However, sometimes grandma ignores the boundaries set in place, which may lead to a cold war.
These moms, featured in this list of 15 grandmas who overstepped the family rules, totally get it. Thankfully, they overcame their differences and managed to set things straight.
When grandma visits, there is a desire that the whole family will be together, sharing stories, and having some wholesome fun. It is normally a joyous, picture perfect moment that most couples desire. However, what actually happens is grandma visits and begins to sideline the members of the home, which can create conflicts that can lead to cracks in the family's unity. These topics are important to discuss, and/or manage the conflict in question before it explodes.
"Last time I had an issue with her, it came out she went nuts, I went nuts and my hubby ended up getting involved. He was stuck in the middle. I ended up apologizing didn't get anywhere," she said.
B.G. from East Meadow, New York, had challenges relating to grandma. Whenever grandma visited her home, she would run to the kids and assume her presence, and this was extended to grandma's home whenever they visit. Most of the time, her husband was not around when all this was happening. Sometimes, moms try to keep the problem to themselves, hoping it will fizzle out on its' own, but it ends up becoming a painful situation that needs to be resolved before it gets out of hand.
Moms who work hard every day to make ends meet usually come home drained from a long day's work. But her day isn't over just yet because she still has the responsibility of raising her kids, which means bathing, feeding, helping with homework, and tucking them into sleep at night. And, of course, instilling good values and loving on them.
For Danielle in Chester, a walled city in Cheshire, England, her kids' grandma considered her work as "too much time spent away that could be used better raising her children." Um, excuse me? Well, here's what Danielle says about grandma,
"So, a bit of background info... I work full-time Monday 9-3 and Tuesday to Friday 9-5, as does hubby. My son is 7 and daughter is 3. I take the kids to school/preschool each day and twice a week, their grandma picks them up from school, twice a week my sister-in-law picks them up and once a week I finish early and pick them up. I was having a chat with my son after I picked him up from his grandma's last week and he told me that she had said to him 'your mum should not be going to work so much and should be spending more time with you!' I'm so angry that she would say this to my son! It's really not appropriate! I feel guilty enough (as a lot of parents do) that I am working and not with my children, so it's upset me that somebody has reinforced that feeling and made my son question why I am not the one picking him up from school, etc."
Why can't we just get along? That is the question most moms and grandmas ask each other, especially if the grandmother is your mother in law (sometimes even your own mom.) But, this question hardly gets answered because, just when you thought everything was okay, it all comes tumbling down again.
For Lacye of Grenada, Missouri, the dynamics ran deep. When her own husband was a kid, it was pretty challenging with her children's grandma.
“I have to admit that my mother-in-law tried when my daughter was born, but there was still too much tension from her treatment of me when I was pregnant. I mean, let's face it, the woman was never really a mother to my husband when he was a kid. I didn't really have to deal with her for long though. After we had a blowup over my daughter's name, she pretty much stayed away from us.”
Family harmony can be elusive, but there are different dynamics to every family relationship. The more you understand each of them, the better you will be at handling the misunderstandings in the relationships. When you learn to see things from the point of view of others and add that to great communication skills, then you have the most important key to a healthy relationship.
If you thought you've seen anything yet, wait until you hear Danielle from Sussex, England, rant about her kids' grandma (her own mother-in-law). For her, it's never a happy moment, if her story is anything to go by. Grandma just doesn't seem to be the right person to leave the kids with, and probably not the best for Danielle to be around. Here's why:
"Mine really does my head in with the way she looks down her nose at me and tries to tell me how to raise my children when while I was pregnant, both times, she acted like it was the worst thing on earth. 3 of my kids are by her son, yet she barely acknowledges the twins when she wants to visit."
She continues, "She thinks I swear and drink too much, and badmouths me to all her family so when we are in a family situation, she doesn't talk to me because otherwise, she would make herself look bad talking to me after all the horrible things she has said, and lied about,,but when she wants something on the internet she tries to act like my best friend. I also find myself very busy when she wants to come round. I don't want to be like this, but being with her is just unbearable. She just really annoys the living crap out of me with the way she is, everything about her in general."
Stacy from Brighton, Falkirk in Scotland, says that her child's grandmother always tells her what is best for her little girl. As if that wasn't bad enough, grandma completely ignores what Stacy has to say when it comes to her child, like eating treats and giving attention.
"It's got to the point with her that everything I say that my little girl has done cause I'm proud its all because her dad used to do it so basically all I did was carry her for 9 months and gave birth to her but other than that she isn't mine. She has hit me with grandparents rights before because I split from my own husband for a few months (back together now). I searched online because I was terrified she would take her away from me, or when she had her, she would take her away basically."
Like Stacy, many moms have had to experience the drama of grandmas overstepping their allotted boundaries when it comes to what foods the child should eat because almost every mom knows what she wants for her kids. Sometimes, moms even going to the extent of having a menu for each and every day. That's organization! Grandma seems to want to have her way, so treats and any other goodies will be given to the children whether or not mom lays down the law on food choices.
When a mother holds her baby in her arms for the very first time, it's an amazing moment. There is so much love for the child and she has great plans for her child for the future. However, sometimes the plans come tumbling down when grandma also has great plans for him.
C.S. from Dearborn, MI, had a 16-month-old daughter, and a great mom, whose obsession with the baby (her granddaughter) went to another level. She became obsessed over hogging the baby, what the baby feeds on, what she wore, the baby's weight, or even being outside. C.S. says,
"She doesn't want her to climb (for fear of her falling), she only wants me to expose her to "girlie" stuff. She was upset when I bought her toy cars to play with. She insisted that she would turn into a "tomboy".
She asked her mother to take a step back and allow her to raise her own kids, but things did not change much. Her mother told her that she cared for her granddaughter more than she did and that C.S. was threatened by her. Her husband suggested that they put their daughter in daycare to avoid aggravations from her grandmother.
There's nothing more painful than family members being estranged from each other. What's worse, if your own parents hardly ever meet or interact with your their grandchildren. Losing contact also comes with many emotions, for example, you don't understand how you feel, and you don't know how to deal with those feelings. There can be feelings of grief, which definitely need coping strategies to be relieved.
However, Jenny from Brooklyn, New York, describes this better from her experience with her in-laws and the birth of her two children - their grandchildren.
“My in-laws never congratulated us when I found out that I was pregnant with my first. In fact, all my mother-in-law said was, ‘I’m going to be a grandmother,’ and my father-in-law yelled at me for not drinking coffee the last time we visited. They always comment on how tired my husband looked but never me. Even when I lost the weight after the birth of my son, still no comments on how I looked. Now that I’m expecting my second, there have been no calls checking in. They visit every two to three months. I was hoping they would come monthly, but they are strangers to my son and will be to our child on the way. Very sad!”
Don't we all know someone like this grandma?
When it comes to running the house or raising the kids, any external interference can raise conflicts in your home. Sometimes, you may require someone to help around the house and make some of the decisions. Grandmas have a way of getting things done, and sometimes, they may go overboard and lead to a stressful relationship between parents and grandma.
D.T. from Riverbank, CA, is a stay-at-home mom with twins. Her mom has been helping her for some time. Over time, it has affected their relationship where decision making is concerned. D.T. used to agree with her decisions to avoid disagreements, until one day.
"I'm an excellent mom and I have been told by several people that I am. Other people notice this behavior and it gets uncomfortable at times. I'm always tired and I have have found myself on the verge of losing my mind with her but I calm myself down. She has to realize that I'm a mom now and I require respect."
When D.T. began to disagree with her mother on how to raise her kids, grandma became mad and began to threaten her.
Grandma just needs to know you also know what's best for your kids.
Not all grandma-grandchildren relationships have to be a strain on parents. Sometimes, all it takes is having an open mind and trying to understand the other person more than trying to be understood. Everyone means well in their own way. Kristy from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had this to say about getting unsolicited advice which made her feel less of a grown up. But with time, she got over it.
“We got along pretty well before our first baby was born. After that, it got a bit strained. I felt like I was always getting unsolicited advice, and it wasn't really in a kind way. But nine years later, I know my mother-in-law’s personality better, and I know she was trying to help."
She continues, "It was probably frustrating for her to tell me what she knew and not have it done, ’cause she's used to being the one who everyone goes to for advice, and they all listen. I had her, plus my own mom and grandmothers and friends who were moms, to turn to. When I had my second baby, I was able to respond to her better and had more confidence in what I was doing. I’m better able to let that stuff roll off my back, so we get along much better now. I know that when my in-laws do bring up concerns, it's because they love their grandkids and are checking up on them in the way that they know how.”
Setting boundaries come as a result of overwhelming experiences. In the beginning, the gestures seem innocent and may be ignored. Until they reach the point of no return, and you may have to put your foot down. You may require some help around the house, being a new mom, and grandma is the closest you can think of. However, when it becomes overbearing, there is a point you reach and bring out the yellow tape that's marked 'No Passing Beyond This Point.'
What more can you do, especially when it is over the top? Like AC from New Jersey. She was grateful for her mother to move in and help her when she had given birth. Over time, her mother took over the house and created the rules, complained about the management of the home. AC says in her words,
"She'll go off on me about not making my own baby food or insist on feeding my younger daughter herself, saying, 'If it weren't for me she would starve to death."
This went on for some time to the point that she experienced challenges in expressing her own views. At the time, she also had a nine-month-old baby and was becoming frustrated.
Should grandmas move from their home to be closer to their grandchildren? Well, that is a tricky question, but most times, parents don't like when that happens. They do this for many reasons including being close in proximity, they want time to bond with the grandkids, they need to have frequent contact and share or pass down their own family values. Let's face it, parents are really busy these days, so a little bit of grandma around the kids isn't too bad.
Annalise of Wilmington, North Carolina, describes how her kids' grandma keeps moving closer to their neighborhood which is affecting their relationship.
“His mom and I were pretty close, but when I had my daughter, we had a big problem with her trying to butt in and parent our child. The situation got worse, and she turned the rest of my husband’s family against me. We ended up moving 10 hours away just to get away from the drama. We came back a year later when my husband got a new job but had to lay down the law with her. We limit the amount of time our daughter spends over at their house. We are friendly enough now, but whatever closeness we shared before is gone.”
Sometimes grandmas overstep their boundaries and this can cause a strain on the relationship, compared to the one they have with their grandchildren.
Sometimes rules can be very strenuous to follow. However, for those who do not want to follow rules, the stress is upon those who do. As a mother or parents, you may wish to have rules and regulations for easier and better operations within the house. Although the desire may be made known, the external family may affect how things run because they want things to run in a certain way. But let's take a minute to remember that everyone (hopefully) have good intentions.
A.L.from Downers Grove, IL, had a 16-month-old son whose grandma frequently visited them without fail. A.L. did not allow her son to watch TV while eating because it affected the baby.
"I've seen my nephew just stare at the TV while his mother force fed him his meals and he's always been a horrible eater. Well, she doesn't turn on the TV for him, but she does pull up little kiddie shows and songs on her laptop while he eats so it's pretty much the same thing,"
Although she cares for the baby, she is fond of breaking that rule all the time. This, in turn, has affected the baby's eating patterns since he is reaching for something during feeding time.
When a baby arrives, there is a lot of excitement, desire to hold and spend time with the baby. Everyone wants to experience that joy, especially grandmothers (even more so if it's the first grandbaby of the family.) Parents desire to have some time to share the joy with each other, as well as have their own experience of raising the child. However, there are times when the extended family members hog the baby, such that moms may have a difficult time trying to take the baby from them.
B.H. from Detroit shared her experience of how grandma and the baby. She said,
"My MIL is the sweetest and kindest woman. She never has an opinion unless she is asked, never had an unkind word to say about anyone and she minds her own business. The moment the baby came things changed. I remember that I had to hide somewhere in the house if I wanted to keep my baby in my arms because someone was constantly grabbing for him,"
It would be good to create some baby and grandma time so that they can have more time together and less stress for mom.
Having company over at the house can be really overwhelming, and when it is regularly done, it may develop unwarranted conflicts within the family. Just like when you have a newborn baby, the number of visitors who would like to see the baby begins to increase with time. Grandparents may become frequent impromptu visitors, which may be stressful sometimes (Hi, Terri!) Although they mean well, there are times they may cross the line and the couple may be forced to set strict boundaries.
"I've called and invited her to come over many times too so that I could prepare the dogs in the kitchen so as to not look like I am trying to push her away from seeing the baby," she says.
M.M. from Fredonia, NY, had a 5 1/2-month-old baby who was a light sleeper. Any loud noise would disrupt her sleep even in the night. She discussed it with grandma, who lives at least 5 minutes away, and pays a visit without any notification. Grandma was requested to communicate her visits earlier so that she could keep the dogs away-which normally make a lot of noise. But it fell on deaf ears with grandma.
However, her mother declined all the invitations and still visited them unannounced.
In the good old days, a well-known photographer would visit once a week or so to take family photos. The entire community would prepare and wait their turn to have family photos or self-portraits taken. Today, taking photos is within your reach and you can choose to print or post it on social media through your cell phone or your digital camera instantly.
However, posting images of your kids on social media becomes a very sensitive issue, especially when it relates to your family. But Grandma sometimes may not see it that way. She may not be able to hold back the overwhelming need to share her excitement with her circle of friends, by taking photos and posting them on social media. By the time you come to realize, it has acquired enough comments and likes that she no longer wants to take them down.
"I have made it clear, or so I thought that I did not want anyone to post any pictures containing myself or my kids on any social networking site,"
A.G. from Albuquerque, NM, discovered that grandma and her daughter had posted pictures on Facebook without her permission. This upset her because she does not hold any social media accounts.