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Thread: MIL unable to control DS while babysitting HELP

  1. #1

    Default MIL unable to control DS while babysitting HELP

    Need advice with a situation with my MIL. She has always been our babysitter. She is extremely lenient, and I have said from day 1, that it is ok to say no to DS1. It's not so much the spoiling, but rather the response to misbehavior.

    Lately DS1 has been rude, violent, and destructive with her. When she is here for a visit, I simply remove him and he has to lose time visiting with his Grammy. However, when she is babysitting, I'm not here, and he takes it to a whole new level.

    To add to the issue, FIL and MIL have been telling DS that MIL does not get angry. I think DS is trying to push her to get a reaction. I have been explaining to DS that every single human being in the world feels anger. It's a normal emotion, though we all express it differently. We have read books that discuss emotions and how it is ok to feel a certain way because we all do. I talked to my friend whose a therapist, and she agrees that DS probably senses that MIL is angry but is not observing typical behavior that goes along with it, and it's disconcerting to him. I really believe the root of the issues is the lack of MIL responding to rude behavior. At times, she has laughed off things that he has said that he knows are unacceptable (and she wonders why he acts like a NUT!). So, I don't know what to do with this situation. DS's behavior is the worst with her. He adores her, though.

    Her solution is to give quarters when she visits. I am 100% against rewards, and we try to follow natural consequences. For instance, like I said, if he cannot treat others respectfully, then he cannot visit with them. My MIL tried to introduce some gumball machine where he can fill it up and get a reward at the end. He ripped it up. Now she is asking about quarters since it is more immediate. I am still against this for 2 reasons - 1. It does nothing to teach a child how to act appropriately...it only teaches them that I will only behave if I get a reward. 2. MIL will not follow through....I know it. She used to give a certificate after visiting, and he could be awful for all but the last 10 minutes, and she would still give in. I know DS would do the same. He is smart enough to know that he can misbehave the whole time, and just act better once we get home and she almost leaves. I feel like a quarter is just a band-aid on the problem.

    My solution is that if MIL can not handle him or if DS cannot get it together with her, then I will simply hire a babysitter when needed and she can have visits with him when I am around to help him manage his behavior (which with our moving and my working almost 40 hours from home while being a SAHM will not be until mid to late July).

    OTOH, we do need a lot of help tomorrow since we will be at inspections for 4 hours, and then we have 2-3 days of moving and settlement, and it would be pricey to get a sitter, and my time is limited to interview for one.

    Thoughts? AM I expecting too much from her? If it was a typical babysitter, I'm assuming I would have fired her by now.

  2. #2
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    Long term, I would hire a babysitter. For the next few days, though, I think your only choice is to get through as best you can. I would tell MIL no quarters, though. I'm not opposed to rewards but only if they are meaningful and this won't be.
    Me (39) DH (46) & furbabies * m/c 7/08 4/12 11/12

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gwenn View Post
    Long term, I would hire a babysitter. For the next few days, though, I think your only choice is to get through as best you can. I would tell MIL no quarters, though. I'm not opposed to rewards but only if they are meaningful and this won't be.
    this. i agree with all of this.
    MIL needs to learn how to show her anger with ds and to 'crack down' so to speak on his misbehavior. once he sees that she not going to continue being a pushover then he will most likely stop trying to push her over kwim?


  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by froggie83 View Post
    this. i agree with all of this.
    MIL needs to learn how to show her anger with ds and to 'crack down' so to speak on his misbehavior. once he sees that she not going to continue being a pushover then he will most likely stop trying to push her over kwim?
    I really think that needs to happen....she needs to show that she is not a pushover. I don't mean that she needs to yell and him and be harsh, but just more firm and mean business when his behavior escalates. She believes that if she keeps him occupied that he will be too busy to misbehave..that has been her strategy all along.

    We have been talking throughout the day about his listening to MIL. He has said he won't. She is the only one he will not listen to. From moving forward, I will try to get a babysitter at least while I am working from home or packing.

  5. #5

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    For tomorrow, is there something you can take from him if he doesn't behave? Like his one show for the day or another privilege that he would really miss? I know the point is for MIL to be the one doing the disciplining, but for the immediate future - if she isn't going to change - then maybe you can do something? I realize this is not ideal, but I am just trying to help you find a solution to get through tomorrow!


    Anne (37) DH (37) Olivia (4) Harrison (1)

  6. #6
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    I would be really frustrated if my MIL were doing that. I understand that she wants to be seen a certain way and not be angry or "mean" but she is making your job (and hers!) much more difficult. It's probably only a matter of time before DS2 starts behaving the same way. It almost seems like it's a game to DS1 which makes sense if she refuses to show any emotion - which is kind of odd btw. Sometimes the best approach is to not react at all when they are doing attention-seeking behavior. That would really depend on what he is actually doing and how much of it can be ignored.

    I would definitely go with what you mentioned and get a babysitter and not allow her to watch the kids and only have her around when you are around. If you are in a bind right now I would just let all of it go until you can get settled. It sounds like it's too hectic to focus on a plan at the moment.
    Thing 1 (7), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  7. #7

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    Veeeeeery annoying. I agree with hiring babysitter for the future but the next few days you will need to buckle up and manage the best you can with MIL.

    But no, you are not expecting too much from her; it is obvious, however, that she has her own ideas and she won't change if I had to guess
    KEVIN (6) & MATTHEW (4)

  8. #8

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    You really can't change someone else, unfortunately. Taking her out of the babysitter role may induce behavior modification, but it's likely she's been this way her whole life, no?

    The only thing you really have control over is who watches your child, so I agree that I would look for a sitter for future situations.

    Sometimes I don't like the interactions between my DH and my boys, but I remind myself that it's his relationship to make or break with them. It's kind of the same with Grammy, no? It sounds like your son is reserving the bad behavior for her and not exhibiting it with others, is that correct? I'd be more worried if he was beginning to treat EVERYONE that way. He's treating her the way she is allowing him to treat her, unfortunately.
    Dorcas (35) DH (36) 3/13



  9. #9

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    Thanks everyone. We really just have to get through tomorrow right now. The moves and settlement will take place at the end of June, so we have some time. I may hire a mother's helper to help out while I pack. I would want to observe and make sure she could handle before leaving her alone.

    Tomorrow night is the farmer's market. I may use that as an incentive..if he has a good time with his Grammy, we can go out and have a good time. Otherwise, we will stay home and clean the mess that will most likely be my entire house if he misbehaves.

    I know it's a game for DS. The other day I was on a conference call, so I could hear what was going on but couldn't intervene. It was bad...he just refused to do anything and was talking back. Then, FIL came, and it was like a switch was flipped...he was pleasant and listened to his grandfather. He knows.

    And yes, it is odd that she does not express any negative emotion and talks about how she never gets upset. I have overheard her say "I would never get angry with you." I can just hear it in DS's mind "Let's see...". I know I am not going to change her, but I also don't want my sons growing up thinking that some people don't feel anger or sadness because that is not the truth. I want them to understand that it is normal to feel positive and negative emotions, and that there are different ways to work through the negative ones.

    Quote Originally Posted by khadijavye View Post
    You really can't change someone else, unfortunately. Taking her out of the babysitter role may induce behavior modification, but it's likely she's been this way her whole life, no?

    The only thing you really have control over is who watches your child, so I agree that I would look for a sitter for future situations.

    Sometimes I don't like the interactions between my DH and my boys, but I remind myself that it's his relationship to make or break with them. It's kind of the same with Grammy, no? It sounds like your son is reserving the bad behavior for her and not exhibiting it with others, is that correct? I'd be more worried if he was beginning to treat EVERYONE that way. He's treating her the way she is allowing him to treat her, unfortunately.
    You are right that I cannot change her, nor do I really want to. The behavior modification I would want to induce would be to change DS's behavior, not MIL's. If he cannot get it together with her, then he cannot spend time with her unsupervised (and he knows how busy I am right now). I don't think it's the same as a father. DH and I have to be on the same page from a discipline stand point. THe boys know he is the more lenient one, but not so extreme...the boys love to tell me that DH gives them extra raisins..lets them climb on him..lets them run around before bed...little things..they also know they won't get away with backtalk or physical aggression...big things. We are also on the same page in terms of punishment and rewards. He and I need to be a team, and I would hope that anyone who babysits would support us as well.


    There are MANY things that annoy me about the way MIL does things with both of my kids...things I did use to stress about..now those little things don't bother me because I've come to realize that she is just the grandmother and if she spoils them or does something differently, it's ok. It took me a little time to realize this..which is why I wanted to see if I was really expecting too much. Honestly, if she never raised her voice and was never firm, and the boys only misbehaved slightly but were ok overall, I really wouldn't have a problem. If the babysitting only happened once in a blue moon, and she wanted to give a quarter, I'd be fine. The issue is that his misbehavior is escalating and we need her help 1-3 times/week right now. MIL continues to offer to babysit, but has no clue what to do with him. I know I need to look into another sitter, but I also know MIL will be very hurt if she is not given the opportunity to help out. The way she expresses her love for us is by helping out as much as possible. I think it would make her feel rejected if we end up with another babysitter, and I don't want her to feel that way.

  10. #10
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    That has got to be SO confusing for him to have MIL not show what he has been taught is body languages of any certain emotion. I mean, it's hard for adults to handle a person who doesn't show happiness/annoyance/anger in the ways that we have been accustomed to recognizing! Body language, tone, those are HUGE at your son's age. I know you cannot expect to change her behavior, but I would be having a VERY frank conversation with her about it. As in, telling her that you cannot allow your son to treat her (or anyone) that way, connect it to HER actions (inactions) and letting her know that "his" consequence (which in reality is hers also and as I recall, she dotes on him a ton so really, this may affect her to the degree that she chooses to modify her own behaviour, but probably only if it is very plainly laid out to her what she is/isn't doing and why it's a problem). Obviously not to lay blame on her, but to educate her and let her know that as his parent you find his behaviour not ok, and as a parent you have to evaluate the situations and triggers and mitigate. I would be very surprised if she doesn't eventually make some changes in order to help him be able to be left with her.

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  11. #11

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    Well, today he did really well. I was able to talk to him and told him that if he wanted his grandmother to be his babysitter, then he needed to listen to her and follow the rules. HE did. He even said after "Does this mean that I don't have to get another babysitter?" Well, it would be EXCEPT...

    SHE did not follow our rules :/ I talked to my mom on how to approach this subject with her a couple days ago...and during that conversation, she told me that she saw MIL let DS play in the STREET. We live on a quiet street, but I don't care. She parks on the street, and she lets him wash the car with a spray bottle. I always thought she would have them stand in the yard and spray, but I was wrong, she lets them go all around the car. I did not tell DH that I had this info, but DS ran away from DH in a parking lot this weekend, so we both agreed that she needed to keep the boys in our backyard. She is not physically capable if DS decided to run into the street to be able to catch up to him, and even if she could, she could not physically restrain him.

    We drove down the street, and she was out in the front with the boys...with all the tools she uses to "wash the car." I was livid. I was too mad to say anything right then and there. DH had to rush off to work so we haven't talked about this yet, but she couldn't follow one request we had. We made that request for DS's safety. How can I trust her alone with my kids when I can't trust her to do one thing? If she was a babysitter I hired, I would have stopped the car right then and there and told her to leave. She knew we didn't want them up front. The first thing she said to us was "oh, we were up front because they were so good." We didn't restrict them to the backyard as a punishment. It is a safety issue. Dh is going to have to talk to her.

  12. #12
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    I would be livid.
    Me (39) DH (46) & furbabies * m/c 7/08 4/12 11/12

  13. #13

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    I would be livid too.

  14. #14

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    That is really frustrating!


    Anne (37) DH (37) Olivia (4) Harrison (1)

  15. #15

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    Glad to know I am not the only one who would be upset in this situation. I talked to DH about it, and he is not upset because he trusts his mother's judgement, but I don't. And, it's not a matter of judgment, it's a matter of the fact that we had one single request that she could not honor. I did have to point out that she is also not physically able to keep DS safe if he were running into the street. SO, I don't trust her judgment because she obviously doesn't understand her limited abilities. I had to chase DS just a couple months ago in a parking lot which required me lifting and running with my 35lb 3-year old...something she is not capable of doing :/

    I reached out to some friends who are willing to be my back up sitter (I hate asking my friends since they all have kids and mine are a handful), but since it's a one-time deal with moving I asked and I have quite a few who are wiling to watch them at their house if needed. I definitely trust them to keep them safe.

  16. #16
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    Wow that is awful. I would have been FURIOUS. I hope your DH was too? Mine would be. I think it's best if your DH handles that one but he has to make sure HE is angry and shows her that he is upset because #1 she didn't follow your rules and #2 she jeopardized the kids safety.

    I don't let MIL watch my kids for similar reasons. I think if I asked her to follow a certain rule she would but she is flighty and easily distracted and I don't trust that she would not lose track of where someone is especially the baby. Just last weekend we were in a restaurant and she took the 3 girls into the front to look at a display. When it was time to leave she just walked out the door and the baby was walking behind her....it was a VERY busy street! She didn't even notice! I was LIVID. It's reasons like that that she is never alone with them and for your MIL I would do the same.

    I think what you said above about first finding a mother's helper who you can build trust with and eventually use as a full time babysitter sounds like a great idea. It's clear you need someone you can trust and who can follow your rules and MIL is not that person.

    ETA: I think we posted at the same time. I think it's going to be a problem that your DH isn't annoyed or doesn't see anything wrong with what she did. Maybe she is getting mixed signals from the 2 of you?
    Last edited by macksmom; 05-23-2014 at 07:21 AM.
    Thing 1 (7), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by macksmom View Post
    Wow that is awful. I would have been FURIOUS. I hope your DH was too? Mine would be. I think it's best if your DH handles that one but he has to make sure HE is angry and shows her that he is upset because #1 she didn't follow your rules and #2 she jeopardized the kids safety.

    I don't let MIL watch my kids for similar reasons. I think if I asked her to follow a certain rule she would but she is flighty and easily distracted and I don't trust that she would not lose track of where someone is especially the baby. Just last weekend we were in a restaurant and she took the 3 girls into the front to look at a display. When it was time to leave she just walked out the door and the baby was walking behind her....it was a VERY busy street! She didn't even notice! I was LIVID. It's reasons like that that she is never alone with them and for your MIL I would do the same.

    I think what you said above about first finding a mother's helper who you can build trust with and eventually use as a full time babysitter sounds like a great idea. It's clear you need someone you can trust and who can follow your rules and MIL is not that person.

    ETA: I think we posted at the same time. I think it's going to be a problem that your DH isn't annoyed or doesn't see anything wrong with what she did. Maybe she is getting mixed signals from the 2 of you?
    She probably is getting mixed signals. DH did say he would let her know that I was upset because I am. My best friend, whom by boys love, is willing to watch my kids during settlement. We will be technically homeless for 16 hours, so I can't have someone come to the house while all that gets settled.

    MIL will interrupt me while I work at home to ask silly things like if they can have a drink of water or if they can put a jacket on. Supposedly, DH has told me, she does this because she wants to do everything the way I want her to. If she doesnt trust her judgement as to whether or not they can have water then why would she use her judgement to go against something we specifically asked her not to do?? We asked her not to be a pain and anal and controlling, but for safety. I didn't even leave detailed instructions on what to feed them for lunch. I gave her total freedom except one thing.

    How does your MIL feel about not being able to be a babysitter? I know it would make MIL feel horrible, but my kids' safety comes first.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by i.<3.cheesysmiles View Post
    She probably is getting mixed signals. DH did say he would let her know that I was upset because I am. My best friend, whom by boys love, is willing to watch my kids during settlement. We will be technically homeless for 16 hours, so I can't have someone come to the house while all that gets settled.

    MIL will interrupt me while I work at home to ask silly things like if they can have a drink of water or if they can put a jacket on. Supposedly, DH has told me, she does this because she wants to do everything the way I want her to. If she doesnt trust her judgement as to whether or not they can have water then why would she use her judgement to go against something we specifically asked her not to do?? We asked her not to be a pain and anal and controlling, but for safety. I didn't even leave detailed instructions on what to feed them for lunch. I gave her total freedom except one thing.

    How does your MIL feel about not being able to be a babysitter? I know it would make MIL feel horrible, but my kids' safety comes first.
    I don't know how she feels. She isn't good with kids under 3 so I don't think it bothers her. She even says "they are more like people" when they are older (HATE when she says that). It's clear she loves them but she is much better with older kids. When DD1 was born I had gone back to work for 1 day/week and that lasted about 2 months before I did not trust her to take care of an infant anymore. One night I came home and DD had had a poop blowout earlier in the day and still had poop all over her leg and foot I cried for hours over that! That was my last day of work. It was also the last time she babysat.

    She lives 45 mins away and since i have always had a baby by having kids every 2-3 years it hasn't really come up much. Occasionally she will stay with the kids at my house if I go pick up DD1 from school but it's only about 20 mins and DD2 is 5 and old enough to help with the baby (can you believe I trust my 5yo more than MIL?!) DH and I don't go out hardly ever and if we do my mom watches the kids. I have heard FIL make a comment or 2 about my mom babysitting but never MIL. I wonder if deep down she even cares. It's not like she doesn't get to spend time with them. She sees them plenty she just doesn't babysit.

    Are you moving further away from them? Maybe you can use the move as a reason for why you wanted to find a reliable babysitter in the area to spare her feelings? Or I would just say a friend recommended this GREAT babysitter and you decided to try her out and it's nice to have someone you can call and not have to bother MIL or something like that. But personally I would just not bring it up at all, get the sitter, and if she brings it up just say something like the above. I wouldn't do a whole sit down and say, "we are not allowing you to watch the kids anymore". I would just make other arrangements and see if she says something. It's really your business anyway.
    Thing 1 (7), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by macksmom View Post
    I don't know how she feels. She isn't good with kids under 3 so I don't think it bothers her. She even says "they are more like people" when they are older (HATE when she says that). It's clear she loves them but she is much better with older kids. When DD1 was born I had gone back to work for 1 day/week and that lasted about 2 months before I did not trust her to take care of an infant anymore. One night I came home and DD had had a poop blowout earlier in the day and still had poop all over her leg and foot I cried for hours over that! That was my last day of work. It was also the last time she babysat.

    She lives 45 mins away and since i have always had a baby by having kids every 2-3 years it hasn't really come up much. Occasionally she will stay with the kids at my house if I go pick up DD1 from school but it's only about 20 mins and DD2 is 5 and old enough to help with the baby (can you believe I trust my 5yo more than MIL?!) DH and I don't go out hardly ever and if we do my mom watches the kids. I have heard FIL make a comment or 2 about my mom babysitting but never MIL. I wonder if deep down she even cares. It's not like she doesn't get to spend time with them. She sees them plenty she just doesn't babysit.

    Are you moving further away from them? Maybe you can use the move as a reason for why you wanted to find a reliable babysitter in the area to spare her feelings? Or I would just say a friend recommended this GREAT babysitter and you decided to try her out and it's nice to have someone you can call and not have to bother MIL or something like that. But personally I would just not bring it up at all, get the sitter, and if she brings it up just say something like the above. I wouldn't do a whole sit down and say, "we are not allowing you to watch the kids anymore". I would just make other arrangements and see if she says something. It's really your business anyway.
    We are moving 45 minutes away from her. We are now 25 minutes, so it's not as convenient. MIL works in preschools, so she LOVES this age.

    She already expects us to stay over her house on the Thursday we have everything moved out of here, leave the boys with her, and then have them stay on the Friday while we do settlement first thing in the morning. But, we may just get a hotel, and let my friends watch them..not just because of her, but because logistically...they live 25 minutes in the opposite direction of our new house..and that is without traffic. We'd have to leave at 6 am on Friday morning just to get to our new house to do a walkthrough before settlement at 8 am. Then, we'd have to go back up that way to get the kids, and drive another 45 minutes to get to our new home...meanwhile we will have movers waiting to unload our stuff. So, we really want to get to our new house ASAP and not make 2 round trips to their house. So, we really could just explain it in terms of logistics. My friends all live within 5-10 minutes of where we are doing settlement.

    You are right that she does not have to know, but she is always asking everything about our business. DH had to tell her to just stop talking about the house buying process with me because it was getting to be too much. I am so happy to move a little further from her...Far enough that she can't be involved in our daily life, but not too far that she still can visit.

  20. #20

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    If she is hurt about not babysitting, are you able to tell her straight up that ds was having behavior issues because she refused to discipline him?

  21. #21

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    I am sort of tired so I didn't really all the responds but, I will simply state that if you've tried everything you can on your end to make the rules for her to follow and after a few chances she has not got it down then I would move on with a different babysitter. I understand that other people besides your MIL can be pricey which really sucks I get
    that but, if she can follow the rules you want for your child I would hire someone if its going to be a long period of time. If this is all going to pass in a few days however, I would
    hold on but, for the future hire someone. GL! Its just sounds so frustrating.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridget View Post
    If she is hurt about not babysitting, are you able to tell her straight up that ds was having behavior issues because she refused to discipline him?
    Yes, I could. I think I might need to be the one to eventually talk to MIL since DH doesn't see too much of a problem with it. I am more upset by her going against our one request than the discipline. I feel like her doing that was the last straw. I think if everything had been going fine between the 2 of them, I would have been better able to let that go, but really we did ask that one thing of her because of the issues she has had disciplining him. If it were just her and DS2, we would have never asked her to stay in the backyard. DS2 listens very well, especially to his grandmother.

    I have a feeling that if I mention her inability to manage his behavior, she will kind of blame it on me not allowing her to reward with money. Her idea of discipline is to just keep him so busy that he won't misbehave (which isn't true), and then she blames it on hunger, which means she then has to come and bother me about feeding him after I tell him he is perfectly fine. I mean, I only watch my kids 7 am - 9 pm 29/30 days of the month. I think I know when my kids are hungry or if they are just acting up. Just so frustrating dealing with her!

    She is a great grandmother...she loves my sons, loves to play with them, and loves to spoil them. I think it really might be better to have that be their primary relationship vs. one where she has to be in charge. I have to somehow figure out a way to relay this to her.

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