Mum livid after mother-in-law overrules parenting decisions in front of her: 'Flagrantly disregards them'

Picture: Getty Images
Picture: Getty Images 

Ah, in-laws. It's all polite conversation until kids are involved and suddenly any questionable parenting choices they made with your spouse become questionable choices for your child.

And when it comes to setting boundaries around what will and won't fly, not everyone will agree to follow the rules.

For one mum on Slate's Care and Feeding, calling herself 'Disrespected Daughter-in-Law', her mother-in-law's 'flagrant' disregard for her wishes has left her reeling. 

As she explains, her MIL did not agree with the choices she and her husband had made for their 18-month-old, particularly when it came to TV and sugar. While the parents had chosen to avoid both, grandma had other ideas when they were in her house.

Often when they'd explain their reasoning to her, she'd protest - saying shows like Sesame Street were OK and would find her turning on the TV for the toddler just moments later. . 

Despite the pair also telling grandma they were avoiding unnecessary sugar while she was too young to ask for it, there would always be cookies waiting for the little girl when they got there. If they objected, she'd reply 'one bite won't hurt' and feed her one anyway.

"I totally understand wanting a special relationship with her granddaughter, and I also understand that sometimes rules are bent at a grandparent's house. However, it seems unnecessary to be doing this stuff with an 18-month-old," she continued.

"What was the point of watching Sesame Street when we were only over there for a few hours? It seems as if she's doing it just to prove that she's in charge. If our daughter were older, and understood that rules are different at a grandparents, that would make more sense to me."

The mum was also losing patience with her husband, who struggled to enforce boundaries with his mother.

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"I've asked him to have conversations with her, and he did discuss the recent TV thing, but he never brought up the larger picture of her disrespect for our parenting styles, only that specific instance," she said.

"Honestly, I don't even feel like my daughter's mother when I am with my mother-in-law, she's constantly telling me what I should be doing, and has never shown any interest in how our family has come to the decisions (evidence-based research) on how to raise my daughter.

While Slate's 'agony uncle' agreed that the mum was 100 per cent in charge of how she chose to raise her daughter - especially when she was with her, he suggested a compromise would help ease the tension.

"I can't go too hard on grandma because I know her heart is in the right place, and I actually agree with her in some ways," he said, explaining his own sugar and TV intake as a child had not negatively affected him.

"I'm not saying kids should be hopped up on sugar and iPad screens all day, I just wish more parents would let kids be kids," he said.

"Here's the kicker, though: I'm not raising your kid, and neither is grandma, so our opinions don't matter too much. If you are firm in your convictions, then you need to put your money where your mouth is when dealing with your mother-in-law."

He advised talking it out with her husband so he was tougher with his mother, and if that failed to 'kick it up a notch' and tell her she had to play by the rules if she wanted to see her granddaughter.

But cautioned this approach, while likely to work, could affect both her own relationship with her MIL, and that of her daughter and her grandma and in the long run may not be worth it for minor issues. 

"Is it worth it just to ensure every rule you have for your kid is followed? Only you can answer that."