Demanding grannyI’m the mother of a 2 1/2-year-old boy and split from his father before he was born. His dad works away a lot so contact can be quite sporadic.
For a while it was monthly, so his granny suggested that our boy spend a few hours a week with her in his absence. I reluctantly agreed but have now stopped this as his dad’s schedule means he sees him for a few hours each weekend. My ex’s mother thinks this is unreasonable but I don’t think she can make these demands on me as she has no rights and I don’t see why I should put myself out.
You might find it useful to think about this from your son’s perspective. Do you think he enjoys the time he has been regularly spending with his paternal granny? You don’t mention your own parents or whether he spends time with them.
It is important to find a way your son can enjoy many positive relationships in his life, based on what will be good for him and removing any past hurts that may be influencing your feelings and decisions.
While your son’s granny doesn’t have parental rights, I wonder if you appreciate the importance of grandparent relationships in children’s lives. I’m also interested why you feel you are putting yourself out by enabling your son to enjoy good relationships with members of his dad’s family? It’s part of a parent’s job description to be ‘put out’.
While acknowledging that separated parenting has its challenges it can be helpful to focus on what you want for your son in the future, on positives, and letting the past be just that.
She’s so interfering
I have been married for three years and have a lovely one-year-old daughter who is loved and wanted by both my husband and me. We enjoy a good marriage and, until recently, good in-law relationships.
My mum lives nearby and looks after our daughter two days a week while I’m at work. My husband’s parents live quite far away but have just bought a chalet nearby so they can visit more often. My husband’s mother is very opinionated, always making suggestions about the children’s feeding or sleeping habits, and I can’t bear it. My husband is very loyal to his parents and just shrugs if I say how I feel, but I’m getting ever more wound up.
Each family has its own particular way of doing things, and it would be impossible to find a partner with the same norms and scripts as ours. It sounds like your mother-in-law wants to be involved and feel needed, but her way of doing things conflicts with yours. In the absence of being able to change her, think about ways you can enable the involvement she craves in a positive way. Is it possible that with less resistance from you her need to interfere may begin to feel more like care and support? Is there a way she can have some involvement in the childcare needs you have?
With family demographics changing, so we are dependent on childcare – you may even find that your position is a luxury. Achieveing the right balance of all grandparents may take time, but I wonder if this is something you and your husband can work out together to ensure that issues are dealt with before negative relationship patterns are established.
• Shona Manson is a mediator with Family Mediation Shetland
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