When Grandma’s A Little Overbearing

November 8, 2010 55 Comments TAGS: Kids, Motherhood

By Guest Bloggers Brandi & Lisa

It takes a village to raise a child, no doubt. But sometimes the village can be, well, a little overbearing… shall we say.  We are both amazingly fortunate (read: most of the time) to have family geographically close by. They have been lifesavers in many ways, including babysitting, picking up a child, a home cooked meal, unlimited mommy advice (read: sometimes unsolicited) and providing endless company.  However, with our fortunes, come our misfortunes.  You know the overbearing, always present, ‘think they know what’s best for your child’ grandparent? The child that YOU spent hours of sweat, blood, and tears delivering? 

We are sure most of you moms have encountered this invasion of over-available opinions and suggestions from the peanut gallery at some point or another.  In our lives, the guiltiest of the parties is the matriarchal figures high up on the family tree. And with the exhaustion from overnight feedings and countless diaper changes, sometimes we have welcomed the intrusiveness- especially if it equates to us getting additional sleep. While other times it’s just down right… frustrating, aggravating, and yes, even sometimes funny!

Now we would like to stress, this is all in good fun.We love our families, but still, these things go on, and we know we can’t possibly be the only ones who have sat on the fence paralyzed on how to deal with it.

So, to further explain our point, let me give you a few scenarios. Now keep in mind, you don’t only have to be a mother of toddler-aged children to catch our drift… any age will do. Have you ever felt like you’ve packed the diaper bag differently depending on where you’re going or whose house you’re at? For instance, one grandma thinks every whine MUST mean he’s hungry, even if he just ate an hour ago. So you pack a whole extra container of formula just to be the “prepared” mother.

Or another grandma thinks he is crying because his “pants are wet” and insists on changing his diaper every half hour because “no one likes wet pants!” For this grandma you are going to need a bunch of extra diapers in that bag. While yet another grandma thinks it MUST be because his shirt is wet, and insists on changing him with every spit up or drool because “you certainly wouldn’t want to smell like wet milk now would you?” So you pack his whole wardrobe in that bag!! After all, you can’t question someone who has already raised children, because things couldn’t possibly have changed from 30 years ago! Then you get the grandma who keeps the house at 100 degrees because their little angel is always cold, they can just tell.

Does it ever end?  As little junior grows up, the expertise and polite interference of the grandparents and other relatives will probably continue, if it’s been omnipresent in your life.  You know that schedule you’ve finally put your kids on? Forget about it.  It is almost like clocks are non-existent in the homes of grandparents. For example, you finally trained your offspring that books, and not television past 7:00pm is the way to go. At grandma’s house, it is like the television remote has no “off” button.  In fact, grandma found it extremely necessary to purchase a television to place… yep you guessed it, in the bedroom at their home, devoted just for their grandchildren. All of the parents’ hard work teaching their child the value of a dollar goes right down the drain.  In your house, a reward is earned through good grades and completion of chores. Their house a cute little smile will do.

While this can be frustrating, you can’t help but laugh at how they want little junior to be happy. You also can’t help but wonder if our kids think they are little celebrities while visiting the Grandmas. Now this can’t be all bad, we agree. And while grandmas may do things differently than us moms, their intentions are noble (for the most part), so we can’t fully fault them. We have to let go of the reigns sometimes. Really, that’s what grandmas are for!

But, if things have gotten to be too frustrating and overbearing, what can you do about this awkward and sometimes helpless feeling? Do you merely sit comfortable smiling and let the entitled-feeling grandmother dictate our child being fed (when we know he’s not hungry) changed (when we know he’s not wet), and clothed with a new shirt (when it’s not needed) or do you jump off the fence and put an end to the overbearingness?

Survival Tips:

  1. If it’s your husband’s family, let him do the talking. Ask him to nicely explain to his parents that you are both very capable and you know how to care for your little one. If it’s your family, you should have a talk with your mom alone about the same thing. Just put your foot down.  Do it early and firmly, but nicely.
  2. Now we’re not into passive aggressive approaches, but this has been proven to work! Email this article to the interferer with a tagline of “Can you believe some grandmas do this?”  and keep your fingers crossed that they can take a hint. 😉
  3. Tell your child that Grandma’s house is kind of like Disney Land.  A magical fun place where it is all about them, all the time.  Some of the rules and schedules are modified slightly so enjoy it, because when you come home, it’s back to reality.

Choose the above strategy wisely, or try them all.  If 1 and 2 fails you always have the Disney Land route.  We also find the two statements below can put a temporary halt to the peanut gallery, if you have young children.

  1. Say “If he isn’t crying…he’s ok!” so his shirt may be wet and his hands might be dirty but if he’s smiling, we are too! (Big Smile). After 100 times repeating this statement, they will learn your child’s general well-being is ok.
  2. Blame the doctor. Try something like “Well the doctor said we shouldn’t feed him every time he cries.” After all, who wants to argue with a doctor?!

Best of Luck!

Brandi & Lisa,  Moms In Heels

Share your stories (funny and frustrating) with us about the overbearing peanut gallery in your life. Misery loves company! And what have been your tricks to gently get a mother-in-law to back off a little. We’d love to know.


Brandi and Lisa are sister-in-laws, and the creators of the funny blog MomsInHeels.net.


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