When Grandma Comes to Spoil the Kids, part 2 of 3

Momof3, I feel your pain. Been there.

I could give you my usual responses, but I sense you’ve read the Intro to 12 Steps to Whole Foods, and my further comments on this topic, on this blog. You seem to know my ideas on this subject really well. What I hear is deep concern, anxiety even, for what your children are learning as well as what they’re eating in Grandma’s care.

I remember once being at my mother-in-law’s house many years ago, where the Standard American Diet rules and the Standard Health Consequences inevitably do, too. I walked around the kitchen corner to find her hurriedly shoveling chocolate cake in my toddler’s mouth. She startled, seeing me, since I was the one she was hiding the cake from.

I’m sure I stopped short and frowned. I remember she said something in her own defense, to the effect of it not being “normal” that my kids weren’t fed candy and cake and cinnamon rolls like other kids. Refined and processed foods are so ingrained in us, now, as a culture, that it seems some grandmas feel junk food belongs in the Bill of Rights.

Your family may truly feel they are “rescuing” our children from “deprivation.” My friend Jan told me the other day about her friend who secretly took Jan’s kids to McD’s because she felt sorry for them. She tells people her Down’s son, Jordan, is “allergic” to dairy and sugar. I laughed because I did the same thing when my kids were little and I delivered them to a babysitter or a teacher at church.

Jan says, “He’s allergic because I say he is!”

My MIL and I then went through a period of learning to work with each other. She eventually did respect my wishes even if she never had any interest in nutrition, herself. She was the one who taught me, through her reaction, when I was in my 20’s and first began studying nutrition, that people aren’t interested until they’re interested, and not a minute sooner, and sometimes never.

(I had mistakenly thought, in my own reading and discoveries, “Everyone should know about this! I think I’ll undertake a mission to teach everyone!” Mistake #1! Not to be repeated!)

As strongly as you feel about this, it’s time for a frank talk with your mother-in-law. Being short with her, or rolling your eyes, just builds tension–so you’ve nothing to lose by just talking.

Tell your husband that you intend to do it calmly and with love and every benefit of the doubt possible, but you do plan to do it.

I would do it on the phone BEFORE she comes. Or, write her a letter. That way she can mull it over before arriving and clear the air on any “hurt feelings” in advance. I would cover the points in my blog tomorrow, which I’ve written as if I were you.

5 thoughts on “When Grandma Comes to Spoil the Kids, part 2 of 3

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  1. we struggle with this too. even my mom who tries to be healthy still wants to give my kids candy. I allow her to give them some (since it is rare and I’m okay with doingmy best in MY home and slacking a BIT when in other people’s homes (save my kids can’t have gluten, dairy, egg, soy because of allergies–that makes people listen easier) however swedish RED fish are all of those free and grandma has huge bags all the time (and red 40 filled)- most of the time I can use the times as learning experiences –for my kids AND for grandma–I will point out to grandma how the kids are acting or FREAKING out, etc. One night my son was up in bed LATE LATE just sitting there talking to himself after a bag of skittles from grandpa — and at 11pm my son said, “mom–the sugar won’t let me sleep” these are learning experiences.

    however I do put my foot down with important things–like NO pop I have snapped at grandpa when he gave the kids a sip and said that if they do not respect me then we cannot be in their house. they should respect you and your decisions as YOUR kids’ mom. AND you can agree to little things here and there to let them “feel” they are “loving” the kids. Sometimes my mom may have fruit leathers for the kids’ treats- becasue we have talked and agreed on this. good luck! there is a line to draw but my kids come first and I would stop visiting family if they were that outright disprespectful. (of course–I suggest talking things out and trying trying to work it out first!)

  2. Thanks Robyn. I know you really care about helping me make a difference in the lives of my babies. Tuesday, while grocery shopping, I saw a baby bib that read, “What happens at Grandma’s house stays at Grandma’s house” with a picture of a cookie with bites out of it and crumbs sitting by a big glass of milk. It seems even the baby bib industry is against me and other young moms…ha ha ha……..

  3. I had this battle with my parents too-we were living with them before moving after my marriage ended which made it really hard. My 4 year old daughter had continual sinus chest middle ear infections and the naturopath put her supplements and herbs and said NO dairy! I exactly the same as a child. I’ve now been dairy free for 5 years but was never a big milk drinker. They could not accept that dairy was wrong “but she needs her calcium” and continually gave her chocolate milk  and took both of them to Maccas for thickshakes and sundaes.

    If I didn’t get her up from the table after dinner at home straight away they’d be getting the ice-cream out-which was normal for them and of course I was the bad mean mother when I was saying no…and then she’d wake up with bad sinus and headache sore throat…but no it was never the milk causing the problems -I was imagining it and their doctor told them I was wrong and she needed to have dairy for her teeth and bones!!! On the upside they were never big candy/lolly eaters and we were brought up with no soda/sweets and chewing gum but dairy? Hard to change years of misinformation. Anyway she’s an independent 21 now and chose to go dairy free years ago…soy lattes all the way!

  4. I agree with some of the other commenters on this topic that the husband needs to step up to the plate and take some responsibility for standing up for his children’s health and his wife’s decision about what food is/is not acceptable. These are his parents, and the opening salvo should come from HIM, not her. I have had issues with my in-laws (fortunately, not food-related), but my husband fought the battle, not me. This woman’s husband needs to act like a man and stand up for his family. It’s not disrespecting his parents — it’s the circle of life. Our spouse and offspring come first, and our parents come second, in my opinion. Man up!!

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