Would you ask your mother-in-law to be your GrannyNanny?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  March 4, 2009 12:51 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

I was chatting with my mother-in-law the other day, and we got on to the subject of parents moving in with their adult children, to help with childcare, a la Marian Robinson and the Obamas.

Itís an old idea made new again: Grandparents living with their adult children, helping to raise the grandkids. A January study by the AARP shows that multigenerational households are on the rise, up from 5 million in 2000 to 6.2 million last year, an increase from 4.8 percent of all households to 5.3 percent. I call it the "GrannyNanny" concept, and it's an appealing route to work-life balance -- or so it seems.

"My wife and I have been working our way up to it step by step -- like tip-toeing into an icy lake before making the plunge," my friend Luke told me. "It has been excellent for our daughter, my wife is able to actually do work without worries, I get to enjoy foods that my Mother-in-law often has time to prepare, and I believe my MIL feels very happy to be able to have such a significant role in raising our daughter."

Now, I adore my mother-in-law, but I'm pretty sure that if she moved in with us while we were both hale and hearty, she'd probably want to kill me within a couple of weeks. (She thinks this is funny, but I'm serious). Same with my own mom, who is more than happy to be the de facto GrannyNanny for my brother's kids, who live right around the corner from her and my dad. She picks my nieces up from school, spends the night at their house, chauffeurs them from activity to activity, but when I try to imagine her living with me, doing the same, all I picture is clash after clash after clash. And, apparently, that's the case for other people, too.

"Been there done that wanted to kill each other. Maybe it can work if it is the wifeís mother, but it was my husbandís mother, and that just didnít work," one person told me after I started polling my friends. "When my first son was born, my mom tried way too hard to be helpful," another remembered. "Sheíd barge into my room when she heard my son crying and held out her hands expecting me to just hand him over so she can stop the crying. Umm, no."

Would you ask your mother (or mother-in-law) to be your GrannyNanny? What do you do if your parenting style is vastly different from your momís or dadís? And who is in chargeÖ you or your parents?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

39 comments so far...
  1. My wife and I bought a 2 family so her parents could live next door and watch the kids for us while we go to work. I take the older the one to school and Grandpa picks him up in the afternoon. Grandma takes care of the two younger ones and when they start kindergarten she will be the one to pick up all three of them from school. Our kids love spending time with them and my wife and I are happy that they are with people who love and care about them as much as we do. While my mother-in-law said that we didn't have to pay her, we do. Taking care of children is hard work and we are very blessed to have this arrangement.

    Posted by Lucky Ducky March 4, 09 09:42 AM
  1. Our family is abroad, but my mother and my mother in law will visit us for a few months and spend time with us and the kids.

    Yes, it can occasionally get difficult when they "know better" and try to do things their way only, but with me and my wife patiently and firmly establishing boundaries and setting rules things settled down and everybody is really happy with the visits.

    Still, it might not work for everybody, but try it out and you can always terminate it if it does not work for you. Just don't rush into a decision - as I said, it can take a few weeks for things to settle down.

    Posted by HBX March 4, 09 09:44 AM
  1. Both sets of grandparents live in town, and they all help out with all the grandchildren, A LOT. Honestly, I don't know what we'd do without them. BUT, both sets of grandparents still live in their own homes, which is, I think, why it works so well. If there was a need, other than childcare, we would most certainly cohabitate, but I think that everyone having their own space is what makes it work now. My mom always says she loves spending time with the grandkids and is so glad she can be there to help us, but she also loves putting her feet up when they go home!

    Posted by finny March 4, 09 09:52 AM
  1. DON"T DO IT! Or perhaps I should back off of the statement and suggest that you consider all possible angles of the decision (which you seem to be doing). I think the "couple" must have a very solid relationship, the MIL must also have an understanding or her role...valued but not the decision maker for the most part, and then the kids (depending on the ages) must understand the dynamics etc.
    Perhaps a contract of sorts could be written to help establish some ground rules before you make the plunge. I would never have done it with my MIL (I have 2 college age kids now and a 12 yr old)

    Posted by Incharge March 4, 09 09:55 AM
  1. I think it totally depends on the grandma. My MIL didn't move in with us but she did take care of my oldest 1 day a week for his first 2.5 years at her home. One of the things I loved about this was that it gave him some real quality time with his grandparents. Sometimes she did things differently at her house, but she is very respectful of us as parents and we never clashed about anything. I think it helped that I tried to relax about the ways in which her grandparenting was different from my parenting. She & my FIL moved away for retirement, so that ended, but we did avoid a difficult conversation about how problems she was having related to aging were making it harder for her to keep up with a growing preschooler. I think we do all miss that time they had together though.

    Posted by susan March 4, 09 10:01 AM
  1. I have been fortunate enough to have my mom watch my kids three days a week since they were infants...she had given us three days of her week - for free - for 11 years! Were it not for her generosity, my husband and I would not be able to afford to work full-time and pay for full-time childcare.

    We bring our kids to my parents' house. I don't think that we could all live together, unless it was with a separate in-law apartment so that she and my dad (who is not yet retired) could have kid-free time and we could have our time to be totally free in our home. Having my parents literally in the same house 24/7 would not work for any of us.

    As far as styles and rules go, we try to be consistent but at the end of the day, we don't pay her (and she loses income by not working those days) so if there is a conflict, she gets her way at her house and we get our way at our house and the kids just learn that there are different rules for different houses (not a bad lesson to learn). We try to be mutually respectful of our different ideas and avoid discussing landmines (such as co-sleeping - I'm a fan, she is horrified).

    My kids are definitely closer to my parents than I was to my grandparents, and so far it has worked out well. We have two more years until mom is off the hook for good. She will be glad to have her time back but will also miss having the kids at her house.

    Posted by Jen March 4, 09 10:08 AM
  1. I think this highly depends on who your mother/mother in law is. For example, I would have no problem with my mother taking care of my son as our parenting styles are similar and she understands that my husband and I are his parents. However, I would *never* let my mother in law take care of him for more than a day because the exact opposite is true. It all has to do with who is in charge.

    It is very important that the parents remain "in charge" so if the parenting styles are different and the mom/mom in law can't understand that then the GrannyNanny idea may not be ideal.

    Posted by Sharon March 4, 09 10:11 AM
  1. Mother-in-law. NO. My mom, I could handle better. I love my MIL, but she raised 5 kids, so she thinks she knows it all, and wants to be praised for it. Some moms have the type of personality that allows them to follow a parent's guidelines, some don't. If you don't have a mother who can play by your rules, find someone else.

    Posted by ll March 4, 09 10:13 AM
  1. I wouldn't ask either my MIL or mother to be my kids' GrannyNanny. I think it is too much to ask on a full-time basis. Two of my neighbors use the grandparents as full-time child care and the women are clearly overwhelmed (each family has 3 kids). My mother and MIL have VERY different parenting styles and I'm sure we would clash daily.

    With that said, my husband and I had very flexible schedules so daycare worked for us. I am more than happy with the center we used. I can see in other situations because of work hours, income, etc. that using family members is a perfect alternative.

    I think it is personal choice and I do think it can work but I think you need to objectively decide if the person can handle the demands of that many hours and not just assume that family is best.

    Posted by mom-to-two March 4, 09 11:13 AM
  1. It's the living together part that would do us in - just hand over the divorce papers if my mom moves in because my husband would step out the back jack and make a new plan stan (and I'd want to follow). I can handle mom for an occasional weekend tops and the few times I asked her to watch the kids it was clear she couldn't handle it. My MIL is much more hands on but she made it clear from the beginning that her time raising kids was over. She wants to be the grandma that spoils and plays with the grandkids, not disciplines them.

    Posted by Cordelia March 4, 09 11:55 AM
  1. This discussion makes me a bit sad. I moved one state away to be closer to my mother and she has not taken on the grandmother role that I thought she would. One challenge I empathize with is her health problems (which are now beginning to alleviate now that my daughter is 19 mths old). Another issue is that she's experiencing a second adolescence since she is single and has plenty of friends that she sees at parties and other outings. We did not talk enough about real expectations of the grandmother relationship and she has expressed that she is still resentful that she didn't have her in laws or parents to help her when my brother and I were younger. She gave many mixed messages to me while I was pregnant.

    I live 40 minutes away from my mother and was only hoping for one-day a week childcare--which we agreed upon when I took on my current position. Watching my daughter 1 day per week was becoming far too difficult for my mom. Now I understand and we are past that and I'm accepting of the situation. However, while we could afford 4day/wk childcare and barely keep up with expenses, now we are drowning with 5day/wk childcare expenses. We pay more than $1200/mth for one child to attend a (admittedly fabulous) center 5 days per week. This is in a non-metro area. We look forward to the cost decreasing when our child turns 3. I'm glad I decided to end the one-day per week grandma-sitting just when my mother seemed to start to be burdened by it. It would have ended quite badly if I didn't notice the warning signs and she had to yell "I quit!" and we were stuck without childcare.

    I wish I had thought the whole thing through a little better. We would not have moved so far away if we had known what we just learned recently through experience.

    Posted by Bee March 4, 09 12:57 PM
  1. Awesome discussion. So much respect, so many different angles considered, etc. On some other forums this topic would lead to mother-in-law jokes and accusing cultures of being anti-family if a typical man doesn't live with his parents his whole life and a typical woman doesn't move down the hall of the extended-family household to marry her cousin.

    Also, one point I didn't see yet: what about specifically grandfathers? If a father wanted to spend more quality time with his kids back in the day but his job didn't let him and/or his community considered it too unmanly, maybe today he'd welcome a chance to be his grandchild's GrampyManny (would that be the male version of GrannyNanny?) as long as other factors like distance, stage of aging, etc. didn't get in his way?

    Posted by Leslie March 4, 09 01:01 PM
  1. If your MIL didn't get along with her MIL or your mother didn't get along with her mother - makes you think the cycle will be broken? No kid likes to see their mother criticized or worse, not stick up for themselves.

    Posted by lolipopp March 4, 09 01:16 PM
  1. I would never want to live with any in-law if I have a choice. No two women share
    a same kitchen.

    Posted by stephanie March 4, 09 01:24 PM
  1. I think it's easy to overlook the fact that maybe Mom or MIL doesn't want to watch her grandkids. Even one day per week might be too much. Why? She already did that and doesn't want to assume those responsibilities anymore. Now is her time to travel, meet with friends, volunteer, pursue hobbies, relax etc. I'm not saying she doesn't want to see/watch her grandkids at all, but getting locked down into one day, or heaven forbid, three or more days, might not be at all what she wants to do. And parents, don't hold it against her!

    Good point, Lisa! -- LMA

    Posted by Lisa March 4, 09 01:27 PM
  1. I would absolutely love it if my mother came to watch my kids for us. My mom is fantastic with them, dotes on them and treats them like they're the best thing since sliced bread, all the while following the rules and guidelines we have set for them. She is full of energy and can almost keep up with them better than I can! My own great grandmother took care of me when I was little and I still have not forgotten those days. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, has a tendency to act a little like she's forgotten how to take care of children sometimes, especially when it comes to the little one. While my mother knows automatically what to do (what to feed him, when he should nap, etc), my MIL seems to want/need specific instructions. She also seems to tire very easily (she doesn't have any health issues, either, just 'old lady syndrome') so it's better for her to watch them for short periods of time. She does do a lot better with the older one.

    Posted by J-Bee March 4, 09 01:34 PM
  1. As a child, I was raised in a home with a Mom, a Dad, and a grandmother....I loved it, my grandmother was like a second mother to me and my sister....my Mom and Grandmother (the MIL) butted heads about a lot of things but they made it work. However, my Mom's advise to me was always..."Never live with your mother-in-law."

    In our current situation, both sets of grandparents have to work to pay their own bills and support themselves. They are all young. My Mom is the only one I know I could count on to watch the kids and not cross boundaries, but I don't think she would be happy being a 5 day a week Nanny so I wouldn't ask it of her. My MIL is a very good person, but she is still micromanaging hubby's life so she and I already indirectly butt heads living 1/2 hour away. I don't think I could handle having her in the same house as my family. I have a feeling that lines would get crossed on both sides (her with her actions and me with what I would probably end up saying to her and hubby about it). FIL doesn't work alot of hours but he is very hands off with the kids and spends the entire day in front of the TV. I have already had to work with Hubby about being more involved in the kid's lives so I definately don't want to have that problem with FIL in my home or with my kids. I still think it's sad that my Hubby never got much special one on one time with his Dad.

    I think if the grandparents are willing and can respect the parents wishes, and the parent are open minded about the grandparents way of doing things, it could be beneficial to the whole family, emotionally, financially, and physically. It's a rare relationship and one to be treasured, for certain. I really wish that exteneded families were more involved with child-rearing, where appropriate, but it's not for everyone.

    If it is a situation where you know that a grandparent is going to be going behind your back and doing things they know would tick you off, then it's just going to foster resentment on all sides. I know I had a hard enough time telling a paid daycare provider when I didn't like something she was doing. I really don't relish the fact of having to point that out to my MIL.

    Posted by wolfeyed March 4, 09 02:32 PM
  1. My father's mother moved in with my family when I was 6 months old - she still lives with us today (23 years later). When she moved in, she made it clear that my mother and father were running the show - she may put in her opinion, but she knew it was their house, marriage, etc, and she wasn't going to be the boss. I'm not saying that there were never any disagreements over the years, but for the most part they have all lived harmoniously together, and she and my mother are extremely close.

    As for MILs/Mothers "always" being of the opinion they know what's best for your kids and you don't...my grandmother raised 8 kids herself and still ceded (for the most part - I'm sure there were moments when she couldn't help herself) to my mother when it came to parenting. She backed my mother and father's final decisions and didn't undermine them with us. Her living with us also allowed us to have a very close relationship with our grandmother - one that my friends envy and my siblings and I cherish.

    It completely depends on the Mother or MIL in question and the circumstances involved (does she WANT to watch the kids/move in/move closer, do Mom AND Dad both want her around equally, is she physically capable of caring for the grandkids, etc). For my family, it was one of the best decisions they could have ever made, and I'm thankful for it.

    Posted by Kate March 4, 09 03:33 PM
  1. This is a source of conflict for my husband and I.

    My husband would love nothing more to send our kids to spend the summer with his parents so that they can get to know our children better. (They live thousands of miles away.) However, the ILs have a very different childrearing philosophy. Despite being granny-nanny to three other grandchildren, they have no toys in the house besides the television. That is not acceptable, even if the alternative is spending $2000+ per child for summer care.

    Our solution is for my husband to take the kids to visit his parents a few times a year. I just don't feel comfortable with the boys spending a month away, and my husband knows that if mama isn't happy, nobody's happy.

    My mother would love to be a part-time granny nanny, and hopes to serve in that role in her retirement. However, having the kids full time would be too much.

    Posted by Holly March 4, 09 03:58 PM
  1. I laughed hysterically and then called my Mother to tell her what a trendsetter she was. 15 years ago, when I had my first child, my husband was unemployed, I had to go back to work allmost immediately and Mom stepped in. Being the oldest of ten children, I had a pretty good idea of how things were going to go...That first day my month old son went to 2 banks, 3 grocery stores, a car repair shop and then picked me up at work...Fortunately, my mother is on the same general wavelength as far as disipline goes as both my husband and I am (in fact probably stricter because she didn't have working mommy guilt) and we all acknowledged that there are timeswhen grandparents to get some spoiling rights.
    Why did I have to call her? I stopped working after my fourth child, but my brother's wife just went back to work and my mother now watches her 9 month old granddaughter.
    Mom's comment (after laughing about the trendsetter remark) "Don't you remember all the time your grandmother watched you people....

    Posted by pknog March 4, 09 04:39 PM
  1. My mother in law has been very clear that she does not want to nanny her grandchildren. I think it's better to be honest...last thing I would want is my husband guilt tripping his mom into watching our 20 month old, which I think he would if she didn't say something...and, at some point I know she and I would butt heads. It's inevitable, and it would just breed resentment.
    Her daughter and son in law live next door, and have 2 children, ages 2 and 5, who are back and forth to grandma and grandpa's a lot. My MIL definitely seems to prefer that, and she doesn't mind short term babysitting for an hour or so, if we have doctors appts, etc. My father in law on the other hand, is a baby magnet! He LOVES the kids, and often volunteers to babysit when we're in a pinch. My daughter gets so excited when she's going to her grandparents house, and I love seeing her have a relationship with her grandparents-I missed out on that, as my grandparents lived outside the US.

    Posted by mlm March 4, 09 05:02 PM
  1. My mother, yes....but my father is far too absent-minded to be trusted with an active 2-year-old boy! As for my in-laws, my MIL is like the other poster's MIL -- seems to have forgotten everything about raising kids. She loves her grandson more than anything in the entire world, but she definitely needs specific instructions (as in, how to put on a diaper and not to feed a 1-year-old only formula all day). And my FIL loves to play with him, but needs his quiet time and has no patience with whining or crying.

    That said, my son LOVES spending time with both sets of grandparents, and we are actually moving closer to my family so that we can see them all the time (and hopefully some help). However, we won't be asking anyone to grannynanny! It's lovely when it works, but we like having him in a daycare for the socialization, and I don't know that either of my mother would really want to go back to raising kids . I think she should be able to enjoy her 60s and have time to do what she wants, after spending 20+ years raising 3 kids.

    Posted by murfman March 4, 09 07:27 PM
  1. Holly, you don't say though how your husband feels about your mom being a granny nanny, esp. when you sound so opposed to his parents watching your's (and his) kids.

    When I was younger (around 12), I would get to spend a month to 6 weeks away with my grandmother during the summer (in Canada), and I loved it, even though my grandmother's was more strict then my parents, it was an opportunity to get to know really know her better. Sometimes other of my cousins would be there, along with their siblings, but it was still a great experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    Posted by Charles March 5, 09 12:04 AM
  1. My mother is dead, so I can't count on that support, my dad is sweet but spineless, and I would NEVER EVER NEVER let my in-laws have that kind of power. They are already frothing at the bit for it, so no, no way. I respect them and think they are wonderful people, but I do NOT like their way of doing things. Especially since it would probably involve my sons eating bon bons and watching TV while my daughters ironed socks and cooked dinner for their brothers and grandfather. I think this could work with wife's parents being in charge, but not husband's parents. WORST NIGHTMARE!!!

    Posted by Anon in Cambridge March 5, 09 12:10 AM
  1. I agree with #7, it highly depends upon the people who are involved and whether they will do what is necessary to make it work. When my son was a baby, my mom took care of him each morning while I worked, but did not live with us. I was worried about it because although I trusted her to care for him, she and I had always clashed a lot about other things. However, she was great, and I'll be grateful to her forever. She made it clear that I was the mom and she would do things my way, and she did. I had wonderful childcare that I didn't worry about, my child had loving childcare and got to know his nana before she passed away, and my mom thoroughly loved having that special relationship with him.

    Posted by Dot March 5, 09 07:27 AM
  1. I would NEVER let my MIL nanny my children. She's self-absorbed and needy. Thankfully she lives overseas. We were viviting when my child was 9 months old. She put the (awake) baby on the sofa, left her there and went in the other room to watch TV. Of course within 2 minutes our baby rolled off the sofa and hit her head on the floor. Then my MIL yelled at my DH and I!! Her idea of childcare is watching soap operas while the kids are outside playing in traffic. My DH has enough permanently scarred body parts to attest to this. Like the missing toenail when he was 4 years old playing with an ax! Ah, but I digress. For those with in-laws back in the 'motherland' overseas, please be aware that childrearing is completely different than it is in the US. The concept of 'watching' your children may be more like a having a warm body in the house vs. actively engaging your kids. My neighbor from Greece had her MIL come every summer and I would have a lump in my throat from June to August as she parked a 5 year old, 3 year old and 6 month old baby in the driveway and sat inside the air conditioned house all afternoon watching the Greek soaps on the satellite dish. It's a miracle the kids are alive and maybe only because I was there to stop the toddler from pushing his baby sister in front to oncoming traffic.

    Posted by Bambinosmom2 March 5, 09 07:50 AM
  1. Hahahahhahah. . . . oooooooh . . . I can' t stop laughing! My MIL is 95 and sharp as a tack . . . and DOES NOT hesitate to speak her mind. We would all be withering bowls of jelly within the 1st 5 minutes! Seriously, though, I think the concept is great. If didn't think we'd all be dead within minutes, I would LOVE to have an extended family.

    Posted by Elaine at Lipstickdaily March 5, 09 10:22 AM
  1. My MIL lived with us and cared for my two boys for eight years, about 20 hours a week. She was recently widowed and the arrangement was going to be temporary while she sold the family home and looked for a smaller house, but we all got along and she only moved out when she remarried. It worked for us because we have simular parenting styles and are all fairly easy going people. When grandma was home with the kids, she was in charge, when my husband and I were home, we were in charge. For this to work, you have to be able to let things go, you have to understand that an oreo isn't the end of the world as long as you all agree on the big picture issues. And It also helped that she had her own room and sitting room (the boys shared a room) so she could retreat to her own space. We all shared the cooking duties (this was the hardest part, we all love food and have control issues in the kitchen).

    Also, my MIL had a very active social life that did not include us, and I think that was a key. We were sad to see her leave, but happy that she found someone. She would not let us pay her, but we covered all the household expenses except the dinners she cooked (she insisted on buying the food she cooked). She and her husband still pick up the boys from school once a week and make the whole family dinner. My boys have an very close relationship with her, and I think we all learned from living together and making it work. With grandma gone the boys still share a room, they don't want to be separated.

    Posted by runjumpplay March 5, 09 10:23 AM
  1. Let me add this ...
    Interesting to hear you all discuss Mother/MIL's ... would love to see a post about what Mother/MIL's think about the idea of moving in and/or helping out w/child care ... Let me just say this .. I babysit frequently .. I adore my my granchildren .. am happy and view it as a gift .. however .. the truth is ..It is isn't always easy to be criticized ... Somehow or other I raised my children .. even raised one that you fell in love with .. I may not be perfect .. but I offer .. at no cost .. unconditional love .. Swallow hard before you are so critical .. appreciate my time .. say "thank you" and don't take me for granted ever !

    Posted by Nannygranny March 5, 09 11:25 AM
  1. I gave up my circle of friends so we could move closer to my husband's family. We moved in with my ILs for 7 months while our home was being built next door. It was a challenging transition for me, but our arrangement works perfectly. The ILs are there for back up and are very generous with their time. I cook dinner most nights and they clean up and contribute to the grocery bill. We (more my husband) are available to help out with chores, maintanence etc. Our kids LOVE spending time wth Grammy and Grandpa and we are respectful of one another's boundaries. It isn't for everyone, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

    Posted by Reesie March 5, 09 01:17 PM
  1. I would love the opportunity to take care of my 9-month old grandson. However, that will never happen, only the maternal grandparents are allowed to care for him and spend time alone with him. Many times the paternal grandparents get the short end of the stick. Usually the baby's mother is close with her parents and wants to spend all of her extended family time with them. Spending time with paternal side of the family ends up being viewed as a chore. Hence, the time allotted is minimal, if any.

    Just look at the Obama set up; itís the maternal grandmother who is the live-in nanny. Do you think that Michelle Obama would have welcomed her MIL (if it were an option) to join them and become the live-in nanny? I seriously doubt that would have happened.

    Donít get me wrong, some DILs are wonderful and they make an effort to be part of their husbandís family. They participate in their husbandís family functions, as well as their own familyís function.

    Unfortunately, our DIL is not one of them. Our son knows that his wifeís attitude is wrong and even apologizes for it. But, he goes along to keep the peace. This happens more often than you think.

    Just look at Hollyís post ďÖmy husband knows that if mama isn't happy, nobody's happy.Ē Hollyís is more than willing to have HER mother be a granny-nanny, but no way will she allow her husbandís parents to assume that role, even just for the summer. Also, notice her solution is to have her husband take the kids to visit their paternal grandparents a few times a year. This sounds like she does not go for a visit, when the husband and kids are going.

    I have been the DIL and I make certain that I treat my husbandís family equal to my own. I make certain that we attend all of his family functions, if at all possible. We have vacationed with different members of my husbandís family. When we married, I got a whole new family and I embraced them.

    You have to be the DIL, before you become the MIL. My experience has been that if you are the DIL from Hell, you then become the MIL from Hell.

    My advice to Holly is to embrace your husbandís family. Go visit them. Let the kids spend the summer with them. You wonít regret it.

    Posted by vinca March 5, 09 03:19 PM
  1. My MIL lived with us for about two years and took care of our son when he was a baby for a very short period of time. At first it was a great situation! Then it deteriorated. She started leaving him alone (with our dog) to go outside and garden or chat with the neighbors. She left dangerous items where he could play with them. For example, a butcher knife by his sandbox.

    We decided that she was unable to care for him due to the safety issues and her inability to understand our concerns. We looked for alternative care. Unfortunately, this set off a deep depression for her. Ultimately, she suffered a stroke and was unable to even care for herself. After she had the stroke, I wondered if maybe all the problems were caused by small, undiagnosed strokes (because honestly, some of the problems were really crazy -- who leaves a butcher knife on the ground where a toddler plays?) that left her unable to reason properly. She no longer lives with us. I am saddened by how such a good situation turned so ugly and by how she and I are really no longer the good friends that we used to be. I don't think our relationship can be repaired. She is very angry with me and blames me for much of what happened, saying that I was unreasonable in my requests for how our son was to be cared for.

    I think if you are considering this move, make sure your parent or in-law is healthy. We never understood what was happening until the stroke and at that point I think all the strange and terrifying behavior and decisions kind of made sense. I shudder to think what could have happened had she taken ill while alone with our child or had we let the situation deteriorate and not removed him from her care. I wish we had really thought through the situation beforehand and insisted upon a physical or something. And I will stress to you that if you feel your child is not safe or that your rules for his or her safety are not being respected, stop the situation immediately.

    Posted by DIL March 13, 09 02:39 AM
  1. "Just look at the Obama set up; itís the maternal grandmother who is the live-in nanny. Do you think that Michelle Obama would have welcomed her MIL (if it were an option) to join them and become the live-in nanny? I seriously doubt that would have happened."

    For all we know, if it were an option Michelle and Barack would have settled down in Hawaii to live near Barack's mother, Barack would have been a senator from Hawaii instead of Illinois, and Michelle would have welcomed her MIL to move with them to the White House.

    Posted by Jennifer March 13, 09 09:56 AM
  1. Come on Jennifer get real. Obama had no relationship with his mother. She died of cancer in poverty and he was living large in a million dollar home in his wife's hometown of Chicago. Obama's mother dumped him on his grandparents when he was a kid and ran off after the first foreign student she could get her hands on. As for Barack's MIL, I bet she is the quintessential nightmare MIL: a pushy know-it-all like her daughter. And memo to Michelle Obama-enough with the see through clothes and sleeveless shirts. You are the first lady, not a body builder.

    Posted by Bambinosmom2 March 13, 09 10:47 AM
  1. My grandparents are the ones who raised me adn my 3 brothers my aprents were finishing school and getting settled into their careers now we are all grown and my grandma which is my kids great grandparents take care of my two children my four nieces and 2 nephews ranging two 2,3,5,7,9,10,11grandpa does the daycare pickup and grama does the school run although i love my grandparents they are stubborn old school portuguese adn are set in there own ways so moving in i think i can say for me my fiance my brothers adn there wifes would totally be out of the question

    Posted by kelz April 1, 09 01:33 PM
  1. It makes me very sad to read folks say when they will "let" grandparents care for their children. Grandparents who respect the parents and are willing to sacrifice income, rest, and leisure time to help their children because they love their family might be appreciated. It is a gift that many people never have (I didn't.) I was invited to my son's thirtieth birthday surprise party for one hour because my daughter-in-law wanted me to take my grandson home (first sleepover). When I jokingly said I would just play with him all night if he didn't want to sleep, and then seriously told her I had a rocking chair if he woke up and needing soothing, she "set me straight" in front of all her friends and her mother.

    Posted by Patti April 5, 09 09:53 PM
  1. Evidently, rocking a 7-month old to soothe before putting him down to sleep occasionally is a problem with modern Moms. (By the way, I've been driving to their house 4 days a week to provide free child care and try to follow her instructions to the letter, but I don't believe in letting him cry it out and just can't do it. ) Well, they all stayed and spent the evening celebrating my son's birthday and I went home properly put in my place to babysit. I have tried so hard to do everything the way my daughter-in-law wants (she makes me write everything down), but I'm afraid it will be a very long time before our relationship heals. I gave up half of my income to help my kids, am I unrealistic to hope for some respect and appreciation?

    Posted by Patti April 5, 09 10:02 PM
  1. Interesting how a lot of the MILs posting have said they "don't want to be criticized" and would "like some appreciation." How about appreciating the fact that, even though you raised your kids, your children might have different ideas on how to raise theirs. What gives you the right to say your way is better and ignore their way?

    My MIL will get to babysit my children when it freezes in hell. She thinks it is "cute" when my son plays with electrical cords, and she lets him play with the toaster because "he wants to." She is unable to discipline him at all. She wants to be the caregiver, but she also wants to stay the "fun' grandma. Rarely can you do both. My MIL has said she wants me to die so she can "have" my children. This woman deserves my respect? She said this about me before she ever met me. Now, MIL is busy not having a job, just so she is "available" when we need her (which we haven't yet), in the meantime, SHE isn't saving for HER retirement. She has no health insurance. She is 55 years old.

    I think people need to think about the fact that if you move your MIL/mom in, then they can't save for their retirement, and this living arrangement may last well beyond what everyone is initially prepared for.

    Posted by JenniferL April 27, 09 05:00 PM
  1. All MILs are not alike, my dear. I respect my daughter-in-law to the point that I am a nervous wreck caring for her son for free four days a week (gave up a lot of income to do this for her) because nothing I do pleases her. Yes, I deserve respect. You spoiled young women are owed nothing from us - you are adults and should be taking care of your own children or paying for childcare. I also still fit in 20 hours a week at a "real" job AND am attending grad school, so be careful accusing people you don't know of being like your particular MIL. Criticism is a tricky thing. Perhaps you'll learn in time to be tactful. I'm sorry you've got such a flake for a mother in law but it's not my problem.

    Posted by Patti May 8, 09 09:31 PM
 
39 comments so far...
  1. My wife and I bought a 2 family so her parents could live next door and watch the kids for us while we go to work. I take the older the one to school and Grandpa picks him up in the afternoon. Grandma takes care of the two younger ones and when they start kindergarten she will be the one to pick up all three of them from school. Our kids love spending time with them and my wife and I are happy that they are with people who love and care about them as much as we do. While my mother-in-law said that we didn't have to pay her, we do. Taking care of children is hard work and we are very blessed to have this arrangement.

    Posted by Lucky Ducky March 4, 09 09:42 AM
  1. Our family is abroad, but my mother and my mother in law will visit us for a few months and spend time with us and the kids.

    Yes, it can occasionally get difficult when they "know better" and try to do things their way only, but with me and my wife patiently and firmly establishing boundaries and setting rules things settled down and everybody is really happy with the visits.

    Still, it might not work for everybody, but try it out and you can always terminate it if it does not work for you. Just don't rush into a decision - as I said, it can take a few weeks for things to settle down.

    Posted by HBX March 4, 09 09:44 AM
  1. Both sets of grandparents live in town, and they all help out with all the grandchildren, A LOT. Honestly, I don't know what we'd do without them. BUT, both sets of grandparents still live in their own homes, which is, I think, why it works so well. If there was a need, other than childcare, we would most certainly cohabitate, but I think that everyone having their own space is what makes it work now. My mom always says she loves spending time with the grandkids and is so glad she can be there to help us, but she also loves putting her feet up when they go home!

    Posted by finny March 4, 09 09:52 AM
  1. DON"T DO IT! Or perhaps I should back off of the statement and suggest that you consider all possible angles of the decision (which you seem to be doing). I think the "couple" must have a very solid relationship, the MIL must also have an understanding or her role...valued but not the decision maker for the most part, and then the kids (depending on the ages) must understand the dynamics etc.
    Perhaps a contract of sorts could be written to help establish some ground rules before you make the plunge. I would never have done it with my MIL (I have 2 college age kids now and a 12 yr old)

    Posted by Incharge March 4, 09 09:55 AM
  1. I think it totally depends on the grandma. My MIL didn't move in with us but she did take care of my oldest 1 day a week for his first 2.5 years at her home. One of the things I loved about this was that it gave him some real quality time with his grandparents. Sometimes she did things differently at her house, but she is very respectful of us as parents and we never clashed about anything. I think it helped that I tried to relax about the ways in which her grandparenting was different from my parenting. She & my FIL moved away for retirement, so that ended, but we did avoid a difficult conversation about how problems she was having related to aging were making it harder for her to keep up with a growing preschooler. I think we do all miss that time they had together though.

    Posted by susan March 4, 09 10:01 AM
  1. I have been fortunate enough to have my mom watch my kids three days a week since they were infants...she had given us three days of her week - for free - for 11 years! Were it not for her generosity, my husband and I would not be able to afford to work full-time and pay for full-time childcare.

    We bring our kids to my parents' house. I don't think that we could all live together, unless it was with a separate in-law apartment so that she and my dad (who is not yet retired) could have kid-free time and we could have our time to be totally free in our home. Having my parents literally in the same house 24/7 would not work for any of us.

    As far as styles and rules go, we try to be consistent but at the end of the day, we don't pay her (and she loses income by not working those days) so if there is a conflict, she gets her way at her house and we get our way at our house and the kids just learn that there are different rules for different houses (not a bad lesson to learn). We try to be mutually respectful of our different ideas and avoid discussing landmines (such as co-sleeping - I'm a fan, she is horrified).

    My kids are definitely closer to my parents than I was to my grandparents, and so far it has worked out well. We have two more years until mom is off the hook for good. She will be glad to have her time back but will also miss having the kids at her house.

    Posted by Jen March 4, 09 10:08 AM
  1. I think this highly depends on who your mother/mother in law is. For example, I would have no problem with my mother taking care of my son as our parenting styles are similar and she understands that my husband and I are his parents. However, I would *never* let my mother in law take care of him for more than a day because the exact opposite is true. It all has to do with who is in charge.

    It is very important that the parents remain "in charge" so if the parenting styles are different and the mom/mom in law can't understand that then the GrannyNanny idea may not be ideal.

    Posted by Sharon March 4, 09 10:11 AM
  1. Mother-in-law. NO. My mom, I could handle better. I love my MIL, but she raised 5 kids, so she thinks she knows it all, and wants to be praised for it. Some moms have the type of personality that allows them to follow a parent's guidelines, some don't. If you don't have a mother who can play by your rules, find someone else.

    Posted by ll March 4, 09 10:13 AM
  1. I wouldn't ask either my MIL or mother to be my kids' GrannyNanny. I think it is too much to ask on a full-time basis. Two of my neighbors use the grandparents as full-time child care and the women are clearly overwhelmed (each family has 3 kids). My mother and MIL have VERY different parenting styles and I'm sure we would clash daily.

    With that said, my husband and I had very flexible schedules so daycare worked for us. I am more than happy with the center we used. I can see in other situations because of work hours, income, etc. that using family members is a perfect alternative.

    I think it is personal choice and I do think it can work but I think you need to objectively decide if the person can handle the demands of that many hours and not just assume that family is best.

    Posted by mom-to-two March 4, 09 11:13 AM
  1. It's the living together part that would do us in - just hand over the divorce papers if my mom moves in because my husband would step out the back jack and make a new plan stan (and I'd want to follow). I can handle mom for an occasional weekend tops and the few times I asked her to watch the kids it was clear she couldn't handle it. My MIL is much more hands on but she made it clear from the beginning that her time raising kids was over. She wants to be the grandma that spoils and plays with the grandkids, not disciplines them.

    Posted by Cordelia March 4, 09 11:55 AM
  1. This discussion makes me a bit sad. I moved one state away to be closer to my mother and she has not taken on the grandmother role that I thought she would. One challenge I empathize with is her health problems (which are now beginning to alleviate now that my daughter is 19 mths old). Another issue is that she's experiencing a second adolescence since she is single and has plenty of friends that she sees at parties and other outings. We did not talk enough about real expectations of the grandmother relationship and she has expressed that she is still resentful that she didn't have her in laws or parents to help her when my brother and I were younger. She gave many mixed messages to me while I was pregnant.

    I live 40 minutes away from my mother and was only hoping for one-day a week childcare--which we agreed upon when I took on my current position. Watching my daughter 1 day per week was becoming far too difficult for my mom. Now I understand and we are past that and I'm accepting of the situation. However, while we could afford 4day/wk childcare and barely keep up with expenses, now we are drowning with 5day/wk childcare expenses. We pay more than $1200/mth for one child to attend a (admittedly fabulous) center 5 days per week. This is in a non-metro area. We look forward to the cost decreasing when our child turns 3. I'm glad I decided to end the one-day per week grandma-sitting just when my mother seemed to start to be burdened by it. It would have ended quite badly if I didn't notice the warning signs and she had to yell "I quit!" and we were stuck without childcare.

    I wish I had thought the whole thing through a little better. We would not have moved so far away if we had known what we just learned recently through experience.

    Posted by Bee March 4, 09 12:57 PM
  1. Awesome discussion. So much respect, so many different angles considered, etc. On some other forums this topic would lead to mother-in-law jokes and accusing cultures of being anti-family if a typical man doesn't live with his parents his whole life and a typical woman doesn't move down the hall of the extended-family household to marry her cousin.

    Also, one point I didn't see yet: what about specifically grandfathers? If a father wanted to spend more quality time with his kids back in the day but his job didn't let him and/or his community considered it too unmanly, maybe today he'd welcome a chance to be his grandchild's GrampyManny (would that be the male version of GrannyNanny?) as long as other factors like distance, stage of aging, etc. didn't get in his way?

    Posted by Leslie March 4, 09 01:01 PM
  1. If your MIL didn't get along with her MIL or your mother didn't get along with her mother - makes you think the cycle will be broken? No kid likes to see their mother criticized or worse, not stick up for themselves.

    Posted by lolipopp March 4, 09 01:16 PM
  1. I would never want to live with any in-law if I have a choice. No two women share
    a same kitchen.

    Posted by stephanie March 4, 09 01:24 PM
  1. I think it's easy to overlook the fact that maybe Mom or MIL doesn't want to watch her grandkids. Even one day per week might be too much. Why? She already did that and doesn't want to assume those responsibilities anymore. Now is her time to travel, meet with friends, volunteer, pursue hobbies, relax etc. I'm not saying she doesn't want to see/watch her grandkids at all, but getting locked down into one day, or heaven forbid, three or more days, might not be at all what she wants to do. And parents, don't hold it against her!

    Good point, Lisa! -- LMA

    Posted by Lisa March 4, 09 01:27 PM
  1. I would absolutely love it if my mother came to watch my kids for us. My mom is fantastic with them, dotes on them and treats them like they're the best thing since sliced bread, all the while following the rules and guidelines we have set for them. She is full of energy and can almost keep up with them better than I can! My own great grandmother took care of me when I was little and I still have not forgotten those days. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, has a tendency to act a little like she's forgotten how to take care of children sometimes, especially when it comes to the little one. While my mother knows automatically what to do (what to feed him, when he should nap, etc), my MIL seems to want/need specific instructions. She also seems to tire very easily (she doesn't have any health issues, either, just 'old lady syndrome') so it's better for her to watch them for short periods of time. She does do a lot better with the older one.

    Posted by J-Bee March 4, 09 01:34 PM
  1. As a child, I was raised in a home with a Mom, a Dad, and a grandmother....I loved it, my grandmother was like a second mother to me and my sister....my Mom and Grandmother (the MIL) butted heads about a lot of things but they made it work. However, my Mom's advise to me was always..."Never live with your mother-in-law."

    In our current situation, both sets of grandparents have to work to pay their own bills and support themselves. They are all young. My Mom is the only one I know I could count on to watch the kids and not cross boundaries, but I don't think she would be happy being a 5 day a week Nanny so I wouldn't ask it of her. My MIL is a very good person, but she is still micromanaging hubby's life so she and I already indirectly butt heads living 1/2 hour away. I don't think I could handle having her in the same house as my family. I have a feeling that lines would get crossed on both sides (her with her actions and me with what I would probably end up saying to her and hubby about it). FIL doesn't work alot of hours but he is very hands off with the kids and spends the entire day in front of the TV. I have already had to work with Hubby about being more involved in the kid's lives so I definately don't want to have that problem with FIL in my home or with my kids. I still think it's sad that my Hubby never got much special one on one time with his Dad.

    I think if the grandparents are willing and can respect the parents wishes, and the parent are open minded about the grandparents way of doing things, it could be beneficial to the whole family, emotionally, financially, and physically. It's a rare relationship and one to be treasured, for certain. I really wish that exteneded families were more involved with child-rearing, where appropriate, but it's not for everyone.

    If it is a situation where you know that a grandparent is going to be going behind your back and doing things they know would tick you off, then it's just going to foster resentment on all sides. I know I had a hard enough time telling a paid daycare provider when I didn't like something she was doing. I really don't relish the fact of having to point that out to my MIL.

    Posted by wolfeyed March 4, 09 02:32 PM
  1. My father's mother moved in with my family when I was 6 months old - she still lives with us today (23 years later). When she moved in, she made it clear that my mother and father were running the show - she may put in her opinion, but she knew it was their house, marriage, etc, and she wasn't going to be the boss. I'm not saying that there were never any disagreements over the years, but for the most part they have all lived harmoniously together, and she and my mother are extremely close.

    As for MILs/Mothers "always" being of the opinion they know what's best for your kids and you don't...my grandmother raised 8 kids herself and still ceded (for the most part - I'm sure there were moments when she couldn't help herself) to my mother when it came to parenting. She backed my mother and father's final decisions and didn't undermine them with us. Her living with us also allowed us to have a very close relationship with our grandmother - one that my friends envy and my siblings and I cherish.

    It completely depends on the Mother or MIL in question and the circumstances involved (does she WANT to watch the kids/move in/move closer, do Mom AND Dad both want her around equally, is she physically capable of caring for the grandkids, etc). For my family, it was one of the best decisions they could have ever made, and I'm thankful for it.

    Posted by Kate March 4, 09 03:33 PM
  1. This is a source of conflict for my husband and I.

    My husband would love nothing more to send our kids to spend the summer with his parents so that they can get to know our children better. (They live thousands of miles away.) However, the ILs have a very different childrearing philosophy. Despite being granny-nanny to three other grandchildren, they have no toys in the house besides the television. That is not acceptable, even if the alternative is spending $2000+ per child for summer care.

    Our solution is for my husband to take the kids to visit his parents a few times a year. I just don't feel comfortable with the boys spending a month away, and my husband knows that if mama isn't happy, nobody's happy.

    My mother would love to be a part-time granny nanny, and hopes to serve in that role in her retirement. However, having the kids full time would be too much.

    Posted by Holly March 4, 09 03:58 PM
  1. I laughed hysterically and then called my Mother to tell her what a trendsetter she was. 15 years ago, when I had my first child, my husband was unemployed, I had to go back to work allmost immediately and Mom stepped in. Being the oldest of ten children, I had a pretty good idea of how things were going to go...That first day my month old son went to 2 banks, 3 grocery stores, a car repair shop and then picked me up at work...Fortunately, my mother is on the same general wavelength as far as disipline goes as both my husband and I am (in fact probably stricter because she didn't have working mommy guilt) and we all acknowledged that there are timeswhen grandparents to get some spoiling rights.
    Why did I have to call her? I stopped working after my fourth child, but my brother's wife just went back to work and my mother now watches her 9 month old granddaughter.
    Mom's comment (after laughing about the trendsetter remark) "Don't you remember all the time your grandmother watched you people....

    Posted by pknog March 4, 09 04:39 PM
  1. My mother in law has been very clear that she does not want to nanny her grandchildren. I think it's better to be honest...last thing I would want is my husband guilt tripping his mom into watching our 20 month old, which I think he would if she didn't say something...and, at some point I know she and I would butt heads. It's inevitable, and it would just breed resentment.
    Her daughter and son in law live next door, and have 2 children, ages 2 and 5, who are back and forth to grandma and grandpa's a lot. My MIL definitely seems to prefer that, and she doesn't mind short term babysitting for an hour or so, if we have doctors appts, etc. My father in law on the other hand, is a baby magnet! He LOVES the kids, and often volunteers to babysit when we're in a pinch. My daughter gets so excited when she's going to her grandparents house, and I love seeing her have a relationship with her grandparents-I missed out on that, as my grandparents lived outside the US.

    Posted by mlm March 4, 09 05:02 PM
  1. My mother, yes....but my father is far too absent-minded to be trusted with an active 2-year-old boy! As for my in-laws, my MIL is like the other poster's MIL -- seems to have forgotten everything about raising kids. She loves her grandson more than anything in the entire world, but she definitely needs specific instructions (as in, how to put on a diaper and not to feed a 1-year-old only formula all day). And my FIL loves to play with him, but needs his quiet time and has no patience with whining or crying.

    That said, my son LOVES spending time with both sets of grandparents, and we are actually moving closer to my family so that we can see them all the time (and hopefully some help). However, we won't be asking anyone to grannynanny! It's lovely when it works, but we like having him in a daycare for the socialization, and I don't know that either of my mother would really want to go back to raising kids . I think she should be able to enjoy her 60s and have time to do what she wants, after spending 20+ years raising 3 kids.

    Posted by murfman March 4, 09 07:27 PM
  1. Holly, you don't say though how your husband feels about your mom being a granny nanny, esp. when you sound so opposed to his parents watching your's (and his) kids.

    When I was younger (around 12), I would get to spend a month to 6 weeks away with my grandmother during the summer (in Canada), and I loved it, even though my grandmother's was more strict then my parents, it was an opportunity to get to know really know her better. Sometimes other of my cousins would be there, along with their siblings, but it was still a great experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    Posted by Charles March 5, 09 12:04 AM
  1. My mother is dead, so I can't count on that support, my dad is sweet but spineless, and I would NEVER EVER NEVER let my in-laws have that kind of power. They are already frothing at the bit for it, so no, no way. I respect them and think they are wonderful people, but I do NOT like their way of doing things. Especially since it would probably involve my sons eating bon bons and watching TV while my daughters ironed socks and cooked dinner for their brothers and grandfather. I think this could work with wife's parents being in charge, but not husband's parents. WORST NIGHTMARE!!!

    Posted by Anon in Cambridge March 5, 09 12:10 AM
  1. I agree with #7, it highly depends upon the people who are involved and whether they will do what is necessary to make it work. When my son was a baby, my mom took care of him each morning while I worked, but did not live with us. I was worried about it because although I trusted her to care for him, she and I had always clashed a lot about other things. However, she was great, and I'll be grateful to her forever. She made it clear that I was the mom and she would do things my way, and she did. I had wonderful childcare that I didn't worry about, my child had loving childcare and got to know his nana before she passed away, and my mom thoroughly loved having that special relationship with him.

    Posted by Dot March 5, 09 07:27 AM
  1. I would NEVER let my MIL nanny my children. She's self-absorbed and needy. Thankfully she lives overseas. We were viviting when my child was 9 months old. She put the (awake) baby on the sofa, left her there and went in the other room to watch TV. Of course within 2 minutes our baby rolled off the sofa and hit her head on the floor. Then my MIL yelled at my DH and I!! Her idea of childcare is watching soap operas while the kids are outside playing in traffic. My DH has enough permanently scarred body parts to attest to this. Like the missing toenail when he was 4 years old playing with an ax! Ah, but I digress. For those with in-laws back in the 'motherland' overseas, please be aware that childrearing is completely different than it is in the US. The concept of 'watching' your children may be more like a having a warm body in the house vs. actively engaging your kids. My neighbor from Greece had her MIL come every summer and I would have a lump in my throat from June to August as she parked a 5 year old, 3 year old and 6 month old baby in the driveway and sat inside the air conditioned house all afternoon watching the Greek soaps on the satellite dish. It's a miracle the kids are alive and maybe only because I was there to stop the toddler from pushing his baby sister in front to oncoming traffic.

    Posted by Bambinosmom2 March 5, 09 07:50 AM
  1. Hahahahhahah. . . . oooooooh . . . I can' t stop laughing! My MIL is 95 and sharp as a tack . . . and DOES NOT hesitate to speak her mind. We would all be withering bowls of jelly within the 1st 5 minutes! Seriously, though, I think the concept is great. If didn't think we'd all be dead within minutes, I would LOVE to have an extended family.

    Posted by Elaine at Lipstickdaily March 5, 09 10:22 AM
  1. My MIL lived with us and cared for my two boys for eight years, about 20 hours a week. She was recently widowed and the arrangement was going to be temporary while she sold the family home and looked for a smaller house, but we all got along and she only moved out when she remarried. It worked for us because we have simular parenting styles and are all fairly easy going people. When grandma was home with the kids, she was in charge, when my husband and I were home, we were in charge. For this to work, you have to be able to let things go, you have to understand that an oreo isn't the end of the world as long as you all agree on the big picture issues. And It also helped that she had her own room and sitting room (the boys shared a room) so she could retreat to her own space. We all shared the cooking duties (this was the hardest part, we all love food and have control issues in the kitchen).

    Also, my MIL had a very active social life that did not include us, and I think that was a key. We were sad to see her leave, but happy that she found someone. She would not let us pay her, but we covered all the household expenses except the dinners she cooked (she insisted on buying the food she cooked). She and her husband still pick up the boys from school once a week and make the whole family dinner. My boys have an very close relationship with her, and I think we all learned from living together and making it work. With grandma gone the boys still share a room, they don't want to be separated.

    Posted by runjumpplay March 5, 09 10:23 AM
  1. Let me add this ...
    Interesting to hear you all discuss Mother/MIL's ... would love to see a post about what Mother/MIL's think about the idea of moving in and/or helping out w/child care ... Let me just say this .. I babysit frequently .. I adore my my granchildren .. am happy and view it as a gift .. however .. the truth is ..It is isn't always easy to be criticized ... Somehow or other I raised my children .. even raised one that you fell in love with .. I may not be perfect .. but I offer .. at no cost .. unconditional love .. Swallow hard before you are so critical .. appreciate my time .. say "thank you" and don't take me for granted ever !

    Posted by Nannygranny March 5, 09 11:25 AM
  1. I gave up my circle of friends so we could move closer to my husband's family. We moved in with my ILs for 7 months while our home was being built next door. It was a challenging transition for me, but our arrangement works perfectly. The ILs are there for back up and are very generous with their time. I cook dinner most nights and they clean up and contribute to the grocery bill. We (more my husband) are available to help out with chores, maintanence etc. Our kids LOVE spending time wth Grammy and Grandpa and we are respectful of one another's boundaries. It isn't for everyone, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

    Posted by Reesie March 5, 09 01:17 PM
  1. I would love the opportunity to take care of my 9-month old grandson. However, that will never happen, only the maternal grandparents are allowed to care for him and spend time alone with him. Many times the paternal grandparents get the short end of the stick. Usually the baby's mother is close with her parents and wants to spend all of her extended family time with them. Spending time with paternal side of the family ends up being viewed as a chore. Hence, the time allotted is minimal, if any.

    Just look at the Obama set up; itís the maternal grandmother who is the live-in nanny. Do you think that Michelle Obama would have welcomed her MIL (if it were an option) to join them and become the live-in nanny? I seriously doubt that would have happened.

    Donít get me wrong, some DILs are wonderful and they make an effort to be part of their husbandís family. They participate in their husbandís family functions, as well as their own familyís function.

    Unfortunately, our DIL is not one of them. Our son knows that his wifeís attitude is wrong and even apologizes for it. But, he goes along to keep the peace. This happens more often than you think.

    Just look at Hollyís post ďÖmy husband knows that if mama isn't happy, nobody's happy.Ē Hollyís is more than willing to have HER mother be a granny-nanny, but no way will she allow her husbandís parents to assume that role, even just for the summer. Also, notice her solution is to have her husband take the kids to visit their paternal grandparents a few times a year. This sounds like she does not go for a visit, when the husband and kids are going.

    I have been the DIL and I make certain that I treat my husbandís family equal to my own. I make certain that we attend all of his family functions, if at all possible. We have vacationed with different members of my husbandís family. When we married, I got a whole new family and I embraced them.

    You have to be the DIL, before you become the MIL. My experience has been that if you are the DIL from Hell, you then become the MIL from Hell.

    My advice to Holly is to embrace your husbandís family. Go visit them. Let the kids spend the summer with them. You wonít regret it.

    Posted by vinca March 5, 09 03:19 PM
  1. My MIL lived with us for about two years and took care of our son when he was a baby for a very short period of time. At first it was a great situation! Then it deteriorated. She started leaving him alone (with our dog) to go outside and garden or chat with the neighbors. She left dangerous items where he could play with them. For example, a butcher knife by his sandbox.

    We decided that she was unable to care for him due to the safety issues and her inability to understand our concerns. We looked for alternative care. Unfortunately, this set off a deep depression for her. Ultimately, she suffered a stroke and was unable to even care for herself. After she had the stroke, I wondered if maybe all the problems were caused by small, undiagnosed strokes (because honestly, some of the problems were really crazy -- who leaves a butcher knife on the ground where a toddler plays?) that left her unable to reason properly. She no longer lives with us. I am saddened by how such a good situation turned so ugly and by how she and I are really no longer the good friends that we used to be. I don't think our relationship can be repaired. She is very angry with me and blames me for much of what happened, saying that I was unreasonable in my requests for how our son was to be cared for.

    I think if you are considering this move, make sure your parent or in-law is healthy. We never understood what was happening until the stroke and at that point I think all the strange and terrifying behavior and decisions kind of made sense. I shudder to think what could have happened had she taken ill while alone with our child or had we let the situation deteriorate and not removed him from her care. I wish we had really thought through the situation beforehand and insisted upon a physical or something. And I will stress to you that if you feel your child is not safe or that your rules for his or her safety are not being respected, stop the situation immediately.

    Posted by DIL March 13, 09 02:39 AM
  1. "Just look at the Obama set up; itís the maternal grandmother who is the live-in nanny. Do you think that Michelle Obama would have welcomed her MIL (if it were an option) to join them and become the live-in nanny? I seriously doubt that would have happened."

    For all we know, if it were an option Michelle and Barack would have settled down in Hawaii to live near Barack's mother, Barack would have been a senator from Hawaii instead of Illinois, and Michelle would have welcomed her MIL to move with them to the White House.

    Posted by Jennifer March 13, 09 09:56 AM
  1. Come on Jennifer get real. Obama had no relationship with his mother. She died of cancer in poverty and he was living large in a million dollar home in his wife's hometown of Chicago. Obama's mother dumped him on his grandparents when he was a kid and ran off after the first foreign student she could get her hands on. As for Barack's MIL, I bet she is the quintessential nightmare MIL: a pushy know-it-all like her daughter. And memo to Michelle Obama-enough with the see through clothes and sleeveless shirts. You are the first lady, not a body builder.

    Posted by Bambinosmom2 March 13, 09 10:47 AM
  1. My grandparents are the ones who raised me adn my 3 brothers my aprents were finishing school and getting settled into their careers now we are all grown and my grandma which is my kids great grandparents take care of my two children my four nieces and 2 nephews ranging two 2,3,5,7,9,10,11grandpa does the daycare pickup and grama does the school run although i love my grandparents they are stubborn old school portuguese adn are set in there own ways so moving in i think i can say for me my fiance my brothers adn there wifes would totally be out of the question

    Posted by kelz April 1, 09 01:33 PM
  1. It makes me very sad to read folks say when they will "let" grandparents care for their children. Grandparents who respect the parents and are willing to sacrifice income, rest, and leisure time to help their children because they love their family might be appreciated. It is a gift that many people never have (I didn't.) I was invited to my son's thirtieth birthday surprise party for one hour because my daughter-in-law wanted me to take my grandson home (first sleepover). When I jokingly said I would just play with him all night if he didn't want to sleep, and then seriously told her I had a rocking chair if he woke up and needing soothing, she "set me straight" in front of all her friends and her mother.

    Posted by Patti April 5, 09 09:53 PM
  1. Evidently, rocking a 7-month old to soothe before putting him down to sleep occasionally is a problem with modern Moms. (By the way, I've been driving to their house 4 days a week to provide free child care and try to follow her instructions to the letter, but I don't believe in letting him cry it out and just can't do it. ) Well, they all stayed and spent the evening celebrating my son's birthday and I went home properly put in my place to babysit. I have tried so hard to do everything the way my daughter-in-law wants (she makes me write everything down), but I'm afraid it will be a very long time before our relationship heals. I gave up half of my income to help my kids, am I unrealistic to hope for some respect and appreciation?

    Posted by Patti April 5, 09 10:02 PM
  1. Interesting how a lot of the MILs posting have said they "don't want to be criticized" and would "like some appreciation." How about appreciating the fact that, even though you raised your kids, your children might have different ideas on how to raise theirs. What gives you the right to say your way is better and ignore their way?

    My MIL will get to babysit my children when it freezes in hell. She thinks it is "cute" when my son plays with electrical cords, and she lets him play with the toaster because "he wants to." She is unable to discipline him at all. She wants to be the caregiver, but she also wants to stay the "fun' grandma. Rarely can you do both. My MIL has said she wants me to die so she can "have" my children. This woman deserves my respect? She said this about me before she ever met me. Now, MIL is busy not having a job, just so she is "available" when we need her (which we haven't yet), in the meantime, SHE isn't saving for HER retirement. She has no health insurance. She is 55 years old.

    I think people need to think about the fact that if you move your MIL/mom in, then they can't save for their retirement, and this living arrangement may last well beyond what everyone is initially prepared for.

    Posted by JenniferL April 27, 09 05:00 PM
  1. All MILs are not alike, my dear. I respect my daughter-in-law to the point that I am a nervous wreck caring for her son for free four days a week (gave up a lot of income to do this for her) because nothing I do pleases her. Yes, I deserve respect. You spoiled young women are owed nothing from us - you are adults and should be taking care of your own children or paying for childcare. I also still fit in 20 hours a week at a "real" job AND am attending grad school, so be careful accusing people you don't know of being like your particular MIL. Criticism is a tricky thing. Perhaps you'll learn in time to be tactful. I'm sorry you've got such a flake for a mother in law but it's not my problem.

    Posted by Patti May 8, 09 09:31 PM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

Child in Mind

Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives