Grandma's Parenting Style

Jan Faull, MEd, on a mother-in-law's parenting practices.
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Mom's Instructions

Q. My husband's mother lives with us and helps with our child. I leave milk, food, and everything else prepared for my baby so my mother-in-law doesn't have to prepare anything. But she disregards any instructions I leave for her. She'll warm up my baby's milk in the microwave, even though the milk bottle clearly says "Do Not Microwave." The other day my baby spent the whole day in just his diapers. She did not even bother to cover him up with a shirt or something. But he got a cold as a result of spending the whole day practically naked.

I am really tired of her style of parenting. But when I tell my husband he gets offended and says I should back off -- she just does things differently. I really think she should follow my directions in taking care of my son. What do you think?

A. Of course your mother-in-law should follow your directions about caring for your baby. It's your job as his responsible and loving mother to see that he is cared for in the manner you deem appropriate and that is in his best interest.

Lay out your expectations to your mother-in-law/caregiver. If she continues to go against your requests, you must be willing to end the caregiving relationship and find another childcare arrangement.

It's important to explain to your husband that you have nothing against your mother-in-law -- you're simply concerned about the health and well-being of your baby. While you can't force your mother-in-law to do as she's told, she should follow your instructions out of respect for you as the baby's primary caregiver and the one who knows this child's needs best.

Continued on page 2:  Grandma's Role


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