My MIL certainly has been getting under my skin lately.
1. When I make any comment to her about ANYTHING, she comes back with something that, although it may be meant to make me feel better, invariably comes across as if she’s minimizing what I’m saying.
2. She seems to think that Adam (3.5 years old) and Mark (5 months) are so much alike; that whatever I’m going through with Mark isn’t much different from what I went through with Adam when he was a baby. Well, I am the mother, and I’m here to say that there is a world of difference between these two boys!
3. When it comes to disciplining Adam, I get the feeling that she doesn’t agree with much of anything we’re doing. For someone who has so many opinions about how children should behave, she certainly keeps mum about any and all strategies (e.g., tickets) that we use to establish expectations and consequences with Adam. Perhaps she is trying to keep out of the issue, which I appreciate, but the problem is that when someone keeps mum about a topic, it is easy (logical, even) to conclude that the person has ample reason to refrain from comment.
Overall, I would say that she thinks we are too strict with Adam and too hard on him, and our consequences are too harsh. What’s ironic is that she has very high expectations for children’s behavior, but at the same time she seems to live in a fantasy world where if you just EXPLAIN to a child why he should behave, then everything will come up roses. As a big fan of Rosemond, I do not believe that for one second.
We try to keep our expectations very specific; instead of “Don’t bother Daddy right now” we would instead put up an actual sign indicating that Daddy was off limits until the sign came down. We also keep our consequences very specific; instead of scolding him for misbehaving, we usually do something specific like take away a ticket and/or privilege. Sadly, I don’t feel she really supports any of this. Granted, a lot of people would find some of our methods unusual, but the thing is that she doesn’t even make an effort to show support, for example by saying, “That is a creative idea. I bet he really understands what’s expected of him.” (Personally, I believe that any time a parent is making an effort to be consistent, reasonable, and calm, that parent should be encouraged!)
As a result, I keep a lot of things private from her, which feels strange since she spends several hours per week watching Adam, and is itching to get time with Mark as well. If only she knew that each time she fails to treat me with respect, her dream of setting up a regular babysitting schedule with Mark gets just a little farther away!
I should also add that nine times out of ten, if we happen to mention a discipline issue with Mark, she comes up with some reason (excuse) for his behavior. Allergies, lack of sleep, time change, etc.; then there’s my favorite — the excuse that what he’s doing isn’t actually misbehaving or being disrespectful.
This particular issue really raises my hackles. I wish she could just spend a day in my shoes; for example, taking him to get a haircut or to a doctor’s appointment. In these situations, he refuses to comply with the simplest requests, and now that he’s getting older, it is getting quite ridiculous.
Now, I understand that with the benefit of age and experience, she has a different perspective and that this could be helpful to us at times. However, the problem is that she practically never (or, perhaps, just plain never) acknowledges that Adam’s behavior is misbehavior and should be dealt with as such. As the mom in these situations, I end up feeling like my MIL doesn’t respect my viewpoint, my decisions, or my actions. If she did, she would express some kind of agreement or support.