My MIL has helped us out many times with babysitting. My older child is clearly her favorite grandchild (everyone notices), and she has commented that she is willing to babysit for us in the summer when my older son is home but that she can’t handle looking after two children and that my younger son will have to go to daycare. I said that it isn’t fair to keep one boy and not both, and we haven’t had her look after my older one anymore unless it is periodically and it is with his brother. She has also commented that my younger son looks like me (maybe that’s why she isn’t so “attached” to him) but everyone else sees my husband in him too and thinks that both of my boys look alike. She will often ask to take my older son out with her and will buy him toys without ever bringing anything back for my younger one. I made a comment that she has two grandchildren and that it isn’t fair to only buy for one of them and not both.
Here are some other things that she does that really get my blood boiling:
1. She stops by unannounced and walks in our front door without knocking and then stays until I have to ask her to leave.
2. She will often show up at my son’s hockey practice unannounced, and then he acts up and I have to tell her to leave. If my son hears me tell his grandmother to leave, I look like the bad guy.
3. She has commented that the kids have too many toys and then she brings more toys over for my son. She brought something over for my older boy one day and I said, “I thought you said they had too many toys and now you are bringing more. I don’t want you to do that anymore.” She said, “Fine. Sorry, Justin, but Mommy doesn’t want you to have this, so I guess I will have to keep it at Nana’s house.” Makes me look mean in front of my son!
4. She has also commented that my first-born was so good when she was babysitting him, and then after he has started acting up when I came home, she has implied that I don’t know how to raise him right, saying: “If he were mine, he wouldn’t act like that.”
5. In the past she has offered to come over and babysit for us but then asked if my mother would come over too so that my mother could look after the younger grandchild while my mother-in-law played with the older. I told my mom that, and she said, “I don’t want to go there when she is there — she is too controlling”.
My MIL asked me whom I would get to look after my kids if something happened to us, and I told her that I hadn’t thought of that yet. She told me that she wouldn’t let them go to anyone else. I told my dad that, and he stated that he hoped that I wouldn’t have her be their legal guardian as she would never let my parents see the children. I told my SIL, too, and she agreed that her mother would keep the kids all to herself. Then my SIL said, “I would take them!” I thought about this and, since she has never been in a stable relationship with anyone and she cannot stand up to her mother, I decided that that would not be a good idea either.
Recently, my MIL showed up at my son’s hockey practice again. I asked what she was doing there and she swung open the door very hard and stormed out, so I sent her a text saying that she didn’t need to leave mad but that I get angry when she shows up unannounced. She didn’t respond. Later on, I sent another text to explain how I didn’t want to deal with any negative behavior from my son because of her being there and then I asked her why she always gets mad when she doesn’t get her way with my kids. I told her that she needs to respect my rules with them. I told her that it frustrates me when she just shows up to our place or other places where we are at and that I have to get rude so that my point gets across. I also explained to her that I don’t like to be made to look like the bad guy in front of my son when she does the things she does. Later, my husband got mad at me and said, “You started shit with my mom and now I am gonna hear about it. Thanks!”
So…what do you think of all of this? I try as much as I can to stay away from her and to not have her around. Is that a good thing to do in this situation? — Sick and Tired of My MIL
Well, I’ve got a list for you, too:
1. All y’all need to grow the eff up. Through your long narrative (from which I edited out over 1400 words–someone give me a damn raise), it’s hard to distinguish who the kids are and who the adults are. Start acting like a freaking grown-up. Below are some helpful tips.
2. Stop asking your MIL to babysit. The free babysitting comes with big, long, huge strings. If you can’t pay for a non-relative to babysit, stick with your own mother or your SIL if she ever offers, but STOP asking your MIL to babysit. It’s not worth the price you end up paying.
3. Change the locks on your door and then lock your front door so your MIL can’t come strolling in whenever she pleases.
4. Every time your MIL shows up at hockey practice or wherever else you are that you don’t want her to be, continue telling her you want her to leave. She won’t like it, but so what? You’ve made it clear you don’t want to be friends with her anyway.
5. Create designated times for her to see her grandchildren — like a weekly visit to her place or your place that you husband supervises while you go do something for and by yourself. Continue limiting your contact with your MIL while creating regular visits she can look forward to with her grandchildren.
6. When you DO come in contact with her and feel tempted to criticize or reprimand her, don’t. At least, don’t do it in front of your children. You don’t like looking like the bad guy? Then, for God’s sake, don’t tell her in front of your children that you don’t want her buying them toys. I mean, how is she supposed to respond to that? OF COURSE she turns to your son and says, “Mommy doesn’t want you to have that.” BECAUSE THAT’S ESSENTIALLY WHAT YOU JUST SAID! Do you think your son didn’t hear you say that? Do you think he, at 5 years old, understands the back story and the dynamic between you and your MIL? No! He just hears you tell his grandmother not to give him toys.
7. When your MIL criticizes your parenting, ignore her. When she says things like, “If he were my son, he wouldn’t act like that,” simply smile and remind her that he isn’t her son. She’s a crazy old lady. Who cares what she thinks and says? Just tune her out.
8. When you do need to express yourself and your concerns, do so either in person or in a phone conversation rather than in a text message. Better yet, get your damn husband to speak up and start setting some boundaries with his mother. He needs liquid courage to do so? Well, get out the Jack Daniels, ’cause the lines in the sand need to be drawn, my friend.
9. Appoint guardians for your kids should something happen to you and your husband. This is what grown-ups do. You plan for the long-term care of your children. You think about their well-being. You make sure they’re taken care of. How is this, after five years of parenting, not something you’ve even thought about yet?
10. Stop letting your MIL babysit. Oh, I already said that? I don’t care — I’m saying it again! Half of your long letter involves your MIL babysitting, which makes me think that at least half the problems you have with her would be avoided if you stopped relying on her for free babysitting. She thinks she can tell you what’s what because you owe her — because she has saved you so much money in babysitting fees. Change the power dynamic by changing your dependence on her. And you know what else you should change? The damn locks on your door! And I know I already said that, but I’m saying it again because the other half of your problems would probably be avoided if your Mil couldn’t stroll through your front door whenever she wanted.
11. I need a drink.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
zombeyonce December 15, 2015, 1:41 pm
Who are all these people that don’t lock their doors? That is so weird to me. We have always kept our doors locked no matter if we’re at home or not; it’s just a safe practice. And it’s not like I live in a bad neighborhood or anything, it just seems sensible.
My sister lives in a small town and they rarely lock their doors, which I really don’t get because the town is low on violent crime but high on robbery because of a meth problem. Why make things so easy for someone to walk into your house?! (Especially if they’re nosy, intrusive family members. You’re not coming into my home unless I invite you in, emotional vampires.)
MissDre December 15, 2015, 1:44 pm
Same here. The door is just always locked, whether I’m home or not. Not out of fear, it’s just habit.
K December 15, 2015, 2:20 pm
I have no idea. It’s so easy to just lock the door behind you! Not to mention safe, especially when you have children.
Cleopatra Jones December 15, 2015, 2:40 pm
Same here! As a matter of fact, don’t even stop by unless you’ve called.
You’re not coming IN my house, and inconvenience me ’cause you thought you’d ‘drop by’. Not going to happen.
Diablo December 15, 2015, 2:59 pm
I hear you, and yet, my parents basically shunned me and M for about ten years after they moved back to my hometown and I ended up having to tell them not to just drop by without calling first. Then, shortly after that, my mom called while M and I were having a big fight (about something now long forgotten). We didn’t answer, so she came by anyway, to drop some tomatoes from her garden. I wouldn’t let her in because we were in the midst of a fight and M was crying. So my mom was pissed for, like, years over this, and my dad even commented on how hurtful it was. “I shouldn’t need an appointment to see my son!” said Dad. We didn’t even know that this was why they had severely cut down contact with us until a few years had gone by. My sister would tell me my mom kept talking about how we didn’t want them around based on the infamous tomato incident. It has been a seriously polarizing situation. Parents really double down on their ownership of you sometimes. I had been 2000 miles from them from the time I moved out on my own at 20 until age 37, and M and I had our own view of our life. I had no idea setting this boundary would cause such a kerfuffle. My folks appear quite sane to a casual observer, BTW.
othy December 15, 2015, 3:13 pm
You should have had M do what I (unintentionally) did when my in-laws showed up unannounced. Walk out of the shower completely naked. That did far more good in setting boundaries with them than words ever could have.
Also, for the record, Othello has gotten much better about warning me that I need to wear a robe out of the bathroom.
ktfran December 15, 2015, 3:16 pm
LisforLeslie December 15, 2015, 3:15 pm
Growing up the door between the garage and the kitchen was left unlocked. The unspoken policy was if the garage door was open, come on in. Of course, the other unspoken policy was call before you plan to stop by.
ele4phant December 15, 2015, 11:08 pm
I grew up in a very small safe town and we never locked our doors, even when we were away. I don’t think my parents even knew were the house keys were.
I would still leave my door unlocked when I was home until I moved to my current home, you don’t really hear the door open or close when you are living on the ground floor.
Essie December 15, 2015, 2:04 pm
Excellent answer, Wendy!
The only thing I’d add is to tell your husband it’s time to act like a man and stop being afraid of his mommy. In exactly those words. Jesus. It’s complete BS that he dumps all the problems with his mother on you, and then has the gall to whine at you when he actually has to step up and deal with her. That speaks of such a lack of respect for you, and a lack of backbone, that I probably would have left him by now.
Here’s why: If he’s afraid to deal with mommy, how is he going to deal with real issues in life? What if he loses his job? What if you become seriously ill and he has to take care of you and the kids? What if you have some kind of financial problem? What if one of the kids becomes seriously ill and needs a lot of extra care? I’ll tell you how. He’ll retreat into his bottle of booze, and dump everything on you. Or he’ll leave.
Anonymous December 15, 2015, 2:13 pm
We didn’t get the whole letter, but I didn’t see where the LW mentioned that her husband has a problem with his mother’s behavior. Maybe he does or doesn’t, but if he’s perfectly ok with how his mother is acting, then there’s still obviously a huge issue, but it’s not a “man up, momma’s boy” issue.
Cleopatra Jones December 15, 2015, 2:44 pm
Not to mention that he’s probably used to his mother being overbearing, and emotionally manipulative. It probably doesn’t even register (to him) that’s it’s something he should stop. I guarantee that he chalks it up to ‘that’s how Mom is’.
ktfran December 15, 2015, 2:53 pm
That… or I was actually thinking LW’s husband is attracted to strong (domineering?) personalities. Which he probably learned from his mom. But I see a bit of that in this LW with the telling the MIL off via text message, etc.
I agree with Wendy that you need to change your locks and/or keep your door locked.
I also think the LW should limit her time with the MIL and just let her husband take the kids to her house. Or leave when she visits. She doesn’t need to be hovering over them 100% of the time.
My mom didn’t care much for my dad’s parents. They were condescending towards her and often say mean things disguised as a joke. Do you know how she handled it? She didn’t go over to their house with us every time. She let our dad take us and we’d get Dad and Grandma/Grandpa time. And my mom got a break.
othy December 15, 2015, 2:35 pm
Can I add a suggestion to #4? Don’t tell her when/where hockey practice is. She can’t show up uninvited to things she doesn’t know about.
MissDre December 15, 2015, 2:41 pm
I was wondering that… but maybe hockey practice is the same night/time every week? And if she already knows about it… not much LW can do.
othy December 15, 2015, 2:57 pm
True, but I think this logic applies to things beyond hockey practice.
MissDre December 15, 2015, 3:08 pm
Portia December 15, 2015, 2:55 pm
Holy hell, I couldn’t even keep reading once I saw she hadn’t appointed guardians. WTF? I get not wanting to think about what if, but you have to have something in place! I knew about my SIL’s plans for their kids in that terrible, hypothetical situation before I was officially part of the family.
Also, yes, Wendy covered everything. Stop thinking that your MIL is going to suddenly get it, when she’s shown herself incapable. Because when you keep letting the same thing happen over and over, that must be what you’re thinking.
othy December 15, 2015, 2:58 pm
No kidding. I got a call from my brother, when his kid was about 2 weeks old, asking if we’d be willing to step up if anything happened to them. Clearly it was one of the first things they wanted to have sorted, just in case.
SpaceySteph December 15, 2015, 4:00 pm
Yeah, really. My husband and I have appointed a guardian for our dog in case we die. OUR DOG.
va-in-ny December 15, 2015, 2:58 pm
So much of your letter is reactionary behavior. I know you’ve dealt with this stuff for so long, it’s hard not to be that way, but hear me out.
She shows up at hockey practice, uninvited. If your son is playing hockey, he probably doesn’t even notice her there. I’m assuming the “acting up” she’s doing that causes you to ask her to leave is in direct relation to you. She says something you don’t like and then you tell her to leave. Of course your son is going to wonder why his mother is making a scene about getting his grandmother to leave. Why can’t she sit there, watch the practice, you and your son say hello at the end of it and then go about your day?
She gives your children a toy? “Oh, thank you! Boys, say thank you” and leave it at that.
It seems like you allow yourself to get so riled up about her that you can’t act normally anymore. Every little thing that she does somehow pushes you and you react. It’s time to start thinking of her as a non-issue. Deal with her when you have to and the rest of the time, don’t. A lot of the stuff you mention in this letter could be solved by you refusing to react to her. Oh, and lock your doors. Or, let her walk in on you naked.
J December 15, 2015, 4:07 pm
Yes. So much yes.
I think that’s pretty common, but it’s totally what is happening.
honeybeenicki December 15, 2015, 5:27 pm
It sounds like the son is the one “acting up” when the MIL shows up to practice. But I’d like to know what the LW means by that.
And the toy thing would piss me off too because its not boyS say thank you, its just BOY. Sounds like she pretty much ignores the younger one.
Sketchee December 16, 2015, 12:28 am
Exactly! When a grown up gets a gift they’re not excited about, what do we do? We say thank you and then donate the sweater. Take all the toys she wants to give. And then donate them to charity.
_s_ December 15, 2015, 3:26 pm
You and your husband need to have a come to Jesus meeting about boundaries – what they will be, and that you will be uniform about enforcing them together. You will need to help of a couples counselor to do this, since you haven’t managed to get on the same page yourselves after all these years. They can also help you with strategies to address the obvious favoritism, and to “pick your battles” in terms of boundaries – the toy thing is something you can brush off, but other things like walking into your house unannounced need to be addressed. Immediate solutions others have addressed, such as locking your doors with a lock for which she does not have the key. Give her notice that things are hectic at your house these days and she needs to call before coming over to make sure it’s a good time. Then if she shows up unannounced and knocks, you simply open the door, greet her politely, tell her you weren’t expecting her since she didn’t call and now is not a good time for visitors but you are looking forward to seeing her next Friday (or whatever), and close and lock the door. Invest in a paid babysitter so you are not under obligation to her. And if her coming to hockey practice bothers you, well, why the hell are you there anyway? Surely they don’t have a policy that parents have to be there? Drop your kid off when practice starts, leave, and pick him up when practice is over. Then you won’t even know if she’s there.
RedRoverRedRover December 15, 2015, 3:35 pm
Actually I don’t think the toy thing CAN be brushed off. She’s bringing toys for only the oldest kid. That’s messed up. I’d be upset too. You either bring something for both, or for neither. You don’t get to push your favouritism in my kid’s face.
Skyblossom December 15, 2015, 3:37 pm
Exactly! Both of none.
othy December 15, 2015, 3:39 pm
I’d love to see Grandma’s reaction if you put her on the spot:
Mom: “Look kids, grandma got you a toy to share”
Gma: “Oh, it’s only for kid 1.”
Mom: “So what did you get for kid 2?”
RedRoverRedRover December 15, 2015, 3:45 pm
Even better, politely say “Grandma could only bring one gift this time. We’ll put this aside till next time when she brings the second one”. Then never give the gift till she ponies up for the second kid.
ktfran December 15, 2015, 4:05 pm
I like both these options. That’s definitely a good way to get around favortism without looking like the “bad guy”
Skyblossom December 15, 2015, 4:13 pm
I like this. It says nothing bad about grandma but keeps her from favoring one child with a gift while skipping the other. She will learn to bring two or not show up at all.
Skyblossom December 15, 2015, 4:13 pm
The two gifts also must be equal.
_s_ December 15, 2015, 3:45 pm
To clarify, I meant the act of MIL saying the kids have too many toys then bringing over more toys is the kind of crazy/hypocrisy/dig at LW that LW can smile and nod and accept the toy and ignore. I didn’t mean LW should ignore the blatant favoritism; in fact, I said the counselor should help with the strategies to address with that.
honeybeenicki December 15, 2015, 5:25 pm
Eh, at 5 years old, they may have a parents have to be there rule for practices. We loved watching my bonus daughter at hockey practice because at 7 or 8 they didn’t have many “games” (I think like 2 a season) – it was all practices and scrimmages within practice – so we really wanted to be there to watch.
Skyblossom December 15, 2015, 5:41 pm
Most parents stay when the child is that young. There is always the problem of what if you get caught in traffic and can’t make it back in time. What does a child who is five do if you aren’t there? At that age the practice is probably not long enough for the parent to get much of anything done or to go anywhere that isn’t very close. It is easier and more relaxing to sit and talk with the other parents.
Skyblossom December 15, 2015, 3:37 pm
I’d institute a both or none rule for the boys. Both get equal toys or neither gets a toy. The same for anything else she might bring for the older son. I’d be wary about letting her take either boy out because if she has to take both she will probably mostly ignore the younger child and over time that is a terrible thing to have happen. Since you know she won’t be nice to the younger child she should take neither child out with her. She also shouldn’t be babysitting and she shouldn’t be alone with the boys because of the way she favors the older one. Your husband should, at the very least, stand up for his younger son. As a dad, he should allow no one to mistreat his child and that definitely includes his mom. Even if he doesn’t agree that it is a problem or undesirable to have his mom walk into your home whenever she wants. Even if he sees nothing else as a problem he should see that his son shouldn’t be mistreated.
SpaceySteph December 15, 2015, 4:12 pm
It is not ok that she barges into your house or that she shows obvious favoritism to your older child… but nothing will change as long as husband’s response to you trying to set reasonable boundaries is “why did you start shit with my mom?” Oh. Hell. No.
Like so many other LWs, your MIL problem is a symptom of your husband problem. You have a husband who is not capable of setting boundaries with his mother. Counseling, counseling, counseling. Counseling for him on his mommy issues (I can’t imagine growing up with this woman was a picnic, there are obviously some hidden scars), counseling for you as a couple on how to set and enforce boundaries.
Once you get husband to agree on setting boundaries, it’s time to pick your battles. MIL says they have too many toys and then brings more? Shrug it off. MIL shows obvious favoritism toward one child? Time to engage.
And for the love of god, be an adult and put together a will. It sucks to think about dying, but its the responsible and loving thing to do to make sure your children are properly looked after in the case something happens to you. Set up a guardian, a secondary beneficiary for any life insurance you have, details of a trust for your estate that your kids can use for expenses or college. Don’t just *assume* this will all work out if something happens to you and your husband. It wont. Things work out because you make them work out.
J December 15, 2015, 4:13 pm
And can I add stop talking to everyone about the problems before you talk to your husband? Your mom, dad, siblings and your MIL’s CHILDREN do not need to know. Seriously.
dinoceros December 15, 2015, 4:26 pm
I’d spend less time talking to her about being mad and just set boundaries. Lock your doors, etc. If she storms out mad, let her go. Don’t send her multiple text messages to rile her up more.
honeybeenicki December 15, 2015, 5:23 pm
I tried to comment on this earlier but my internet crashed. I think it was just telling me to be quiet. Here’s the basics – get a fucking guardian appointed for your kids. Lock your doors. Tell your husband to man up. Don’t be afraid to be the bad guy. Let the kid have the toys, but instate a 1 in, 1 out rule. Stand up for your other child. They notice if they’re treated different. Grow up.
Sabrisa December 15, 2015, 8:35 pm
I love this answer so much! also FYI you probably have “passive” personality traits /behaviours/ habits from your mother, I got that from the ” “babysitting together idea” story. And you being passive plus your husband being whatever he is is not a great combo to deal with his mom. When you get upset with MIL behaviour try to “act like a boss” and ” think like a boss” too
I got bad passive (and passive agressive, and whiny, and blame-y) habits from my mother too and after becoming a mother myself I recognized it. Once I realized I could be the boss and still be polite in situations with my MIL I never got anxious about her anymore. She’s another story but sometimes I have to keep saying no like 10 times because she thinks saying it another way ( or just again) would make me agree to what she wants. After I behaved assertively enough times of course she started asking less, which is what I like 🙂
S December 16, 2015, 6:52 am
If I did not know better, I’d think you were talking about my ex MIL & my ex husband. Please know that there is more crazy going on with her than you currently know. All of the things you point are symptoms of much larger problems. The fact that your husband will not stand up to her, she favors the older child and makes it clear, she has a fantasy that he’s her child and that “she can raise him better…” She cares no more for your younger child than she would a stranger on the street. This is going to be up to YOU to correct. Your husband has mommy issues from being raised by a very controlling woman & is not going to step up — or he would have done so by now. WWS: babysitting, door locks, a will and guardianship, etc. Then stick to it. You need to manage the exposure your children have to this woman. In a kind, business like way. You need to think of her as a bad employee you can’t fire. Only manage. You’re going to need to grow a set of balls and have no expectation that your husband is going to “stick up for you” or your children. Not going to happen. Assume, based on what you know about her, that she is a very bad influence on your children; the older one because she plays “favorites” and the younger one, as she will make him feel left out and inferior. Get strong, protect your children like a momma bear. Sit down with a pen and paper and write down what your plan is and what you will and will not tolerate. Then edit it. Then have a discussion with your husband — not a fight. Come to consensus on what the plan is going forward. Then, never, ever, waiver. You’re stuck with her. Just because she’s blood, does not mean she has certain rights; especially when she has proven that she does not respect you — or your younger child. I can assure you — she does not respect you. YOU are the mommy manager. Take all the drama out, create a strategy, and manage it. I’m quite certain you only know a very small portion of your husbands family dynamics. Pretty sure they’re sick.
Skyblossom December 16, 2015, 9:17 am
Very astute. Spoken by someone who has been there.
Skyblossom December 16, 2015, 10:41 am
I think it is easy to assume that the older child will be fine with grandma because she at least likes him but she is setting him up for emotional blackmail and he needs to be protected as much as the younger child. There will be the constant example of how you will be treated if grandma doesn’t like you. You won’t get the special attention and toys. You can be treated just like your younger brother. Grandma will have nothing to do with you. If you don’t do the things grandma wants you too can be ignored and receive no presents. Grandma will be able to begin demanding things of the older child who will begin to jump through hoops to keep grandma’s love. That is just as emotionally damaging as it is to the younger child to be ignored. Conditional love is damaging to all who receive it. The older child needs to learn love in a normal manner. He will have trouble having a healthy romantic relationship as an adult if he learns that you have to do whatever someone else demands to keep their love. He will be ripe pickings for an emotionally abusive girlfriend/spouse.
RedRoverRedRover December 17, 2015, 9:31 am
There’s also the “golden child” syndrome, where they think that it’s something special about them that makes them deserve the better treatment. Then when they get out into the real world and discover that isn’t true, it can really shatter them. Or alternatively they spend their life trying to live up to their golden child status, which they can never really do because it’s not based on anything real.
saneinca December 16, 2015, 1:55 pm
+ 1. Best summary and advice.
yep. Favoritism is as damaging to the favored grand child as it is to the ignored one.
Lay down the law. Either bring 2 gifts or none. Babysit both kids or none. (lean towards none as much as possible)
RedBlue December 16, 2015, 1:35 pm
Based only on past observed experience, I wouldn’t be surprised if the husband is being intimidated, pressed upon and beleaguered by both women who appear to be intransigent and egocentric.
I can see this man (and his children) bring beaten down by both sides. I include the children because there is no one with this amount of rage who has the self control to keep it to the husband.
I actually feel sorry for the man, being forced to choose between the two women in his life. Maybe it’s just my read, again from past experience, but I can see a guy who is probably not allowed to have his own opinion, which might have to explain why he needs a drink when he is forced to confront his mother.
If it was him writing, I would suggest a separation where he moves out and takes the kids and let’s each woman see them on alternate weeks.
There are two controlling women in this situation.
Just the statement that she won’t allow the MIL attend the arena, a public place, solely for the reason that the boy acts up.
The MIL is no prize either but the LW doesn’t mention her age, but I assume that she is older because the LW said she had the first child later in life. But perhaps she prefers the older because he can easily be reasoned with at her age. I would suggest that she alternate which child she looks after.
Either way it is the husband and children who are the victims not the LW.
Lurker December 16, 2015, 8:13 pm
I don’t blame this mother. She had no idea that by asking a relative to care for her children she was getting the wicked witch of he west. Before we all got so damn sophisticated, and urban, grandparents, aunts, older siblings were the go to babysitters. There was no day care. Families were the natural caregivers. We have lost something when we feel obligated about something that in our history was a natural part of family life.
Also, my daughter has a friend who was the “un” favorite grandchild and she was hurt terribly, especially because her mother never took up for her.
The husband needs to grow a pair and set clear boundaries.
Day care looks better every day.