Friday, August 17, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Mom's not fond of how Grandma treats son

Q: My mother-in-law treats my son like a toy that (not who) is there to amuse her on her terms and show off to her friends. My husband and I are trying to raise our child to respect others and be attuned to others' feelings, but how do we do this when Grandma defies all of that, especially with him?

Plus, what are the chances he'll grow up to resent her, as she clearly disregards what he wants/needs for her own amusement?

Anonymous

A: Any education includes examples of what to do, and what not to. Just because Grandma is a persistent what-not-to doesn't mean she will undermine the lessons you teach your son.

In fact, the very thing you're concerned about — that your son will resent being treated as a toy — might prove more enlightening to him than anything you and your husband do. Knowing how disrespect feels can give him the insight he needs to be respectful of others.

An important piece of that will be the way you and your husband handle Grandma's behavior. To start, you need to be respectful both of your son and of her. Let's say you witness an instance of his looking uncomfortable as she's showing him off to her friends. In that case, you need to stand up for your son as you also acknowledge her needs: "I know how proud you are of your grandson, but that's enough for now — he's uncomfortable."

As your son matures, teach him ways to apply this formula himself. Do this both in the moment — and in conversations with your son after any awkward encounters with your mother-in-law.

Another crucial example of respect is to recognize your son isn't you. He might bask in the attention, and/or see it as her way of showing love. Thanks in part to your careful teaching, he might have the emotional intelligence to distinguish her expressions of pride from the boundary issues they're wrapped in.

The most respectful example you can set for your boy is to act on his feelings on this issue, not yours. Summon the poise to let these two develop a relationship of their own.

Comments

Tell Me About It: Mom waffles on adding to the family

Q: My husband and I have a 5-year-old girl, and are not planning more children ó primarily because we are easily stressed, donít do well when sleep-deprived, and arenít really baby/toddler people. Our daughter was not an easy baby.Yet, I always feel ...
Published: 08/15/18

Tell Me About It: Compromise and submission: a fine line

Q: As a woman (of any age) in this postmodern, "woke" era: How does one distinguish the fine line between "compromising with" versus "submitting to" a man within a relationship?M.A: Compromise is when both people give a little to their mutual benefit...
Published: 08/14/18

Tell Me About It: Instead of monster or martyr, try ĎMomí

Q: My sister-in-law, "Mary," has always been a mess. She has two kids with two different men who never see them, donít pay child support, and she doesnít work. Mary and her children lived with my mother-in-law, "Kate," until Kate moved into a 55-plus...
Published: 08/12/18

Tell Me About It: Introverted fiancee feels trapped by family

Q: My son and his fiancee bought a condo close to us, which then flooded. They moved in with us and repairs have taken longer than anticipated.His fiancee, "Laura," is an intense introvert. For that reason, I gave up my exercise, TV and craft room fo...
Updated one month ago

Tell Me About It: Check in constantly with depressed friend

Q: I have this friend who lives close but I havenít seen in months. No one in our group of friends has seen her recently. Every time we make plans, she cancels, saying she is too sad or has been crying all day.Iím really worried. She moved here more ...
Updated one month ago

Tell Me About It: An occasional push helps to stay on track

Q: What responsibility does a wife have to push her husband to be a decent friend? For years, my husband was close with a few guys from grad school. As they got married and started families, the frequency of their get-togethers died down and the frie...
Published: 08/07/18

Tell Me About It: Grandma finds no one wants her heirlooms

Q: My mother-in-law has spent much of her life accumulating collectibles, heirlooms and furniture with the rationale that she will give them to her children and grandchildren someday. Her four grandchildren are still in high school. Sheís decided tha...
Updated one month ago

Tell Me About It: Couple ponders rolling the dice on a baby

Q: I mostly want to have a baby; my fiance mostly does not. Iím in my late 30s and have school-age kids; he doesnít have and never planned to have kids. Deciding to have or not to have a baby seems like too enormous a decision for mere mortals. Itís ...
Updated one month ago

Tell Me About It: Boyfriend takes affection to the next level

Q: My boyfriend is responsible, thoughtful, and very very affectionate ó which is great for the first four hours of hand-holding, but which makes me want to shove him away and shout, "Just leave me alone!" by hour six. Before this, I thought I was a ...
Updated one month ago

Tell Me About It: Boyfriend wonít stand up to cruel brother

Q: I just spent the weekend in the company of my boyfriendís brother, who mimicked/mocked me, belittled almost all my actions, and made fun of my chronic health condition. My boyfriend says this is just "íGeorgeísí sense of humor," and that I should ...
Updated one month ago