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

Robyn Openshaw - Jul 31, 2010 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

I don’t know if this draft of a letter helps anyone, but please feel free to use any of it for your own purposes. I think the point is to be both CLEAR and COMPASSIONATE. Not CONFRONTATIONAL, which will just cause defensiveness.

Dear Mom,

I love you and I know that you love my children. There are only a few people in this world who love my kids as much as you do, and I will forever be thankful for that! I want to talk to you about something that’s really important to me.

I spend a lot of time, effort, and money studying, buying, and preparing whole foods for my family. If you’re interested, I can tell you more about what I’ve been learning and why I’ve been changing our nutrition.

I know it’s different than what everyone around us is eating, but I feel strongly as a mother, that for MY family, it’s important to take another path, back to the kind of nutrition we had before fast food and processed food. I feel strongly that for my children’s health and their future, that it’s critical we avoid sugar and other processed foods and dairy and meat products. Our diet isn’t “perfect,” but I believe that what we do 95% of the time will determine whether we are healthy and fit, or sick, overweight, and miserable. We have had many improvements in our health because of these changes, and I don’t want to go backwards.

I know that for you, candy and treats are a way to show love. Again, I so appreciate you and your love for my babies! For me, good nutrition is a way to show love. These two things have the potential to come into conflict while you are here.

I feel that candy is not an appropriate reward for children, and it creates a habit, into adulthood, that high-calorie foods are “earned” by good work or good behavior.

It’s very important to me that when you visit, you not use the desire to “spoil” my children as a reason to feed them foods I feel jeopardize their health. Could you “spoil” them in another ways, like reading to them, playing with them, or making a healthy treat?

I would love to provide you with a healthy cookie recipe and buy the ingredients. I will have healthy treats in the fridge and freezer so you don’t have to wonder what to give them.

I would like us to be friends, and not have any strain between us. I know that the way we view diet and nutrition is different, but I am asking for your support while you are here in something that’s very important to me.

We are all very excited to see you! Thank you for honoring this request.

I love you!


Posted in: Relationships

17 thoughts on “When Grandma Comes to Spoil the Kids, part 3 of 3”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Great letter! Loving, respectful, and to the point.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s a good letter, and worth a try – but until her husband tells his mother to respect his household, nothing will change. It has to come from him. That is the crux of the matter. Momma’s boy needs to honor his wife and look out for his kids more than he fears his mommy.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      A quote comes to mind, actually I’m paraphrasing and I can’t remember where I heard it, either, but it’s true!

      “Nothing strikes fear in a man’s heart more than to be put in between his wife and his mother.”

  3. Anonymous says:

    Perfect! I love it!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful letter! Thank you for sharing this. I love that you are handling it because it shows that you want a friendship with your MIL. You’re not hiding behind anybody, but you’re being forthright and very loving. Great job and thanks for the example!

  5. Great advice. I am the Gma. Now I need to shape up and be true to my convictions. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Awesome of you to share your letter! Hope it does the trick for you guys. I think this is a very sensitive topic for so many out there who have never really had a good way to address it. Much better idea than moving the family away to a remote corner of the world 😉

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Humblebee, Robyn here. I wrote that letter. It’s just a suggestion for parents, hope it helps Momof3 or anyone else who has to stand up to a parent or parent-in-law.

  7. >>>”Nothing strikes fear in a man’s heart more than to be put in between his wife and his mother.”

    YES!!! HERE, HERE!

    I hope many MILs are receiving that email daily! If I were writing it, I also would include MY FEELINGS about how things ARE/WERE, and how my feelings will change as a result of what my desired outcome is with my MIL. For example, “when I think of all the hard work I have put into the health of our family, and then I see you bringing all that junk food into our house I feel sadness, and a bit of anger toward you”.

    I know many women are probably a bit hesitant to express their feelings this boldly but really your MIL must know how you FEEL otherwise she will imagine that she is fulfilling her role as grandma admirably.

    Also here is something mothers could say to express their feelings about their desired outcomes: “I feel joy about seeing you respect our family’s wishes, and invite you to try out some of our food. I am happy to share with you. I feel joyful and abundant in my healthy lifestyle that I choose daily.”

    Those are some simple conscious language upgrades that I have been enjoying in my communication lately. Best wishes to all those mothers and their MILs!

  8. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS DISCUSSION! I have had the same situation with both family and friends. The feeding of oreo’s drives me insane.

    Beyond food, when MIL comes for a visit she wants to lather all sorts of lotions, etc. loaded with chemicals on their little bodies. I have been so diligent for the past two years to not have such products in our house and even have the guest bathroom stocked with non-chemical alternatives (because frankly the fragrances in those chemical products give us all a headache) but they still use their own. I really don’t want my kids to have toxic nail polish on their nails, nor do I think toddlers need lipstick etc.

    Thanks for sharing the letter. I think it may give me a little more confidence in how to approach this situation before the next visit.

  9. I am wondering about specifics too……She really really feels croissants ARE healthy and cookie salad IS a salad. No kidding. I think it is worth it to request before she feeds the kids anything she asks me first? Thanks! It is a wonderful start.

    And, for all you grandma’s out there: I love the other blog from a grandma who said she figured she already raised her grandkids now it’s time to let her children raise their own. Way to go! Thanks for your time and attention everyone!
    As for hubby, he’s a ‘white personality type’. He avoids conflict. He is nonconfrontational by nature. That is one of the reasons I fell in love with him is his laid back personality. He is seeing the light on this since I’ve started the dialogue with him early and before the visit. I wouldn’t call him a momma’s boy. He does want me to go along to get along, because what makes him a success in life in general and a big success in what he does for work is his ability for someones ‘hair to be on fire’ and still be able to keep his cool :). He handles people’s high stress situations very well with his own ability to say little and simply walk away, or stay cool when someone shows anger. He’s slow to anger or get fired up.

    So, the reason for my anxiety is realizing this about my hubby, that he does like to eat mom’s food, and that he would never turn down a bologna sandwich or ask for this to stop on his own. I took ownership, as an adult, to ask for help here knowing this would be up to me, mostly between MIL and me because we two are adults. And, you are right, I do need hubby to be on board somewhat as far as knowin this is what I am doing. Really, the intitiative is mine because it is my expectation that we continue eating healthy during the visit. Not hubby’s.

  10. I love this blog! Thanks for your support and input. I know you are all pulling for me!

  11. I will ask hubby to be sensitive to her blowing me off when I protest. It would feel good if he could just say, “Mom, wife would rather the kids not eat that please. Thanks” I will tell him this wish and be specific. Maybe we could have a code word and that would mean, “Hubby, I feel like your mom is running over my wishes with a lawnmower. Can you back me up here?” Ha ha ha……

  12. Why are so many mother in laws so willing to jepordize a relationship with their daughter in laws? Are the grandkids the only important ones in the family circle? Why is the obvious alienation of a daughter in law not important? Just the “deprevation” of the grandkids for not having sugar? That’s a hot question too!

  13. If there are any grandma’s out there, here’s some advice: No matter how flighty, weird, anal, controlling, picky, unfair or uniformed (unless it is illegal or immoral) you think you daughter in laws wishes are she will know if you are not respectful of her wishes and everyone will feel the consequences (especially your son and grandkids). Just say, “Your mom is the boss. I am going along with what your mom says. (AND DO IT!)” Then the responsiblity (or blame if you feel that is what it is) is back on her and it will teach your grandkids to respect their mom too. Good life lesson!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I think we all need to remember that one day we will all be somebodies mother in law. The problem is that we are all so confident that what we are doing is the right thing, the grandmothers that we are speaking of included. I wonder how we are going to feel when our daughters in law are feeding our precious grandkids nothing but junk and tell us to butt out as they are their kids and they will raise them as they see fit. With this in mind maybe we really need to try and put ourselves in their position and try and work it out in the nicest possible way, because one day we may be that difficult grandparent. I am not trying to down play anyones concerns this is written to myself as much as anyone else I just think it is in everyones best interest to work it out pleasantly.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I know I am late coming into this conversation, but I just want to weigh in. I have two older children, 18 & 20, and a little one, 7. Since the two older ones were very wee, I have done my best to feed them whole organic foods. Now that seems obvious, but 18 years ago, it was a bit more radical and I felt like I was a ship seeking a route and other ships on that route. I tried talking nice, sharing food and resources, putting my foot down (and stamping it in anger), trying to convert my family and friends. Well, my commitment to a healthy lifestyle did more to alienate me from those that I loved and that loved my kids than I ever thought possible, and while I didn’t move to some remote region, I felt very alone. I made a decision that the love and community of family and friends had soul nourishment value that had to balance food nourishment value.

    I worked hard to develop a sense of lightness and humor with those that really wanted to see us revert to old eating habits. I talked regularly about how great I felt and how strong and healthy my kids seemed to be (they rarely got sick). And when someone wanted to give them something that I would never choose for them, I would laugh and say, “Just a little bit, now.” Rather than a direct, “No.” Some people love confrontation and when I no longer engaged it, they backed away.

    I feel that the balance was found and now with my little one, noone questions me or feels they need to prove a point regarding my “deprived” children. And, the best thing of all…. my family and friends just suck down our green smoothies and through our quiet demonstration of stable weight and great health – they are finding that great food tastes great and I see more and more friends buying Blend Tecs and fresh food and enjoying it.

    It is hard to raise children in confrontation with loved ones and I think that noone wants to raise them in a vacuum. It has also been good for my kids to see how to navigate a world that is set on selling them a bill of goods that says its important to be “thin” and “beautiful” and “healthy” but then markets the opposite lifestyle! Thank you for this discussion.

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