Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Pregnancy & ParentingToddler & Preschooler · 1 decade ago

What to do about in-laws that won't follow my rules?

Long story short, my in-laws are a nightmare. We live a block away and I have a two year old daughter, so we are between the two houses constantly. The problem is them not following our rules in reguard to what we want our daughter eating. I never had weight issues as a child, so I am mostly just concerned about her developing healthy eating habits for life. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a house where everyone over-eats and basically eats junk all the time. He was very obese as a child and has had to work extremley hard to get fit and stay fit, so he is also concerned about our daughter learning the habits that he learned at a young age and having to go through everything he did as the "fat kid" at school, then having to feel deprived of something when she has to change her eating habits in the future. We have been very direct in conveying our rules and they blatently disregard anything they think is "silly". Don't get me wrong, we're not food Natzi's or anything..

Update:

We just have basic rules like only one snack in between meals, we eat meals at the table, one treat after dinner, milk or water, no juice, things like that. But every time I turn around someone is sneaking her snacks behind our back. I have been good natured up until this point but I just walked in on his grandmother feeding her a jumbo sized piece of key lime pie ten minutes before her bed-time. I about blew my lid. I don't know what to do short of just not taking her there anymore. I just picked her up and left because I didn't want to say something that I would regret later, but I'm not sure how I could be more clear. I'm ready to tell them that I am going to start paying a babysitter to watch my daughter when I am not home (usually she stays with them) just to make sure things are done the way I want. It's been causing her to have terrible tantrums at home now because she doesn't get the things she gets there. I'm at wits end...any ideas or help is appreciated, thanks!

Update 2:

Wow...thanks to everyone who answered. I'm working my way through reading all the answers now, but I just wanted to comment on a few...

First of all, this is not an occasional treat I am talking about. This has been going on since my daughter was three weeks old and they tried to sneak rice cereal in her bottle. At three months old they started with the juice and the solid food. I asked them repeatedly not to per doc's orders (really) but continued to find baby juice in the garbage and chunks in her formula. It only got worse when she began to eat real food. Now she expects a cookie every time she walks through the kitchen.

I don't give my daughter juice because her pediatrician specifically recommends against it. It is all sugar and empty calories. She eats plenty of fruit for vitamins and also takes a toddler multivitamin everyday.

Finaly, I do not "take advantage" of their free babysitting. I have a job that allows me to bring my daughter with me, so I rarely ask for...

Update 3:

them to watch her, it is very much the opposite. Her grandmother calls me nearly every morning to ask if I can bring her by. I can do just about anything I need to with my daughter so dropping her off is not a necessity, I do it as a favor to them because I know they enjoy her company. Even when I sit in the house with them grandma will sneak my daughter things, literally while my back is turned so I feel like I have to follow her from room to room. Because we live so close, she can look out the window and see if my car is home so when I don't answer the phone she just walks over. Grrr....

Once again, I am not a food nazi. I am all about letting kids be kids, but I want to also instill healthy habits in her now so that when she does have to make choices for herself hopefully they will be healthy ones. Family medical history includes diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. and that's just one generation.

243 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    ****EDIT*****

    YOUR HUSBAND WILL HAVE TO ask them, "We did tell you, didn't we, that we didn't want that being done?" (That narrows it down to a yes/no question that makes explanation an inappropriate answer) - and if they try to "explain" he can re-ask the question "BUT, Did we tell you we don't want that being done?" And regardless of their explanation, he may acknowledge their reasoning, but return to the fact that she is YOUR daughter, and you have specifically asked certain rules to be followed, by not following rules themselves they are teaching your child to be a truant to her parents, that her parents rules are unimportant, and that this is about a LOT more than just snacks, but is setting YOUR daughter up to be disobedient, dishonest and untrustworthy and you don't want that kind of example set for her, nor do you want people who do those kinds of things making YOU out to be something other than a loving parent just because you have rules, and that they are losing their babysitting PRIVELEDGES until they demonstrate that THEY can be trusted to follow rules and be responsible.

    He needs to say it with love, say a prayer, and be tactful, and hopefully this will make things clear. Sometimes, there's no substitute for being honest.

    You may have to not allow her to be watched for a while by them, and ultimately, I would consider moving away from the in-laws to get a bit of freedom if finances and opportunity present themselves.

    Source(s): parent of 2 - very invested in his children's upbringing
  • 5 years ago

    They don't realise today it's a tough battle with all the crud on supermarket shelves, which is backed up by more advertising that you can possibly block out.

    Maybe if you're going over there just to visit for a little bit, take some healthier snacks of your own to share with everyone. If they're looking after her for you for periods of time I'm guessing they won't be told. I know my mother will listen attentively to my concerns and then throw them all out the window the minute my back is turned. I gave her a list of food additives and their effects (whether good or bad) and she does check it - while an improvement it hasn't fully fixed the situation. Just keep reinforcing your rules at home and try your best with the inlaws. You can only do what you can do and lead by example for your child.

  • 5 years ago

    Maybe if you're going over there just to visit for a little bit, take some healthier snacks of your own to share with everyone. If they're looking after her for you for periods of time I'm guessing they won't be told. I know my mother will listen attentively to my concerns and then throw them all out the window the minute my back is turned. I gave her a list of food additives and their effects (whether good or bad) and she does check it - while an improvement it hasn't fully fixed the situation. Just keep reinforcing your rules at home and try your best with the inlaws. You can only do what you can do and lead by example for your child.

  • 1 decade ago

    Eeeeeeeee - that must be so hard with the in-laws living so close!

    I know grandparents think they are older and wiser ... and the reality is, they grew up during a time when if a treat wasn't made with just flour, eggs, milk and sugar - it probably didn't exist!

    They don't realise today it's a tough battle with all the crud on supermarket shelves, which is backed up by more advertising that you can possibly block out.

    Maybe if you're going over there just to visit for a little bit, take some healthier snacks of your own to share with everyone. If they're looking after her for you for periods of time I'm guessing they won't be told. I know my mother will listen attentively to my concerns and then throw them all out the window the minute my back is turned. I gave her a list of food additives and their effects (whether good or bad) and she does check it - while an improvement it hasn't fully fixed the situation. Just keep reinforcing your rules at home and try your best with the inlaws. You can only do what you can do and lead by example for your child.

    good luck!

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  • 1 decade ago

    I'm less concerned about them giving her a cookie, what my real problem would be is that they are completely disregarding your rules, (regardless of rather it's about food or what) and complete lack of respect. I do agree with the no juice rule, I also feel your husband's pain, although my mom tried to instill good habits, a thryoid problem (both over and underactive) runs in our family, especially among the women, but TRY explaining that to school children.

    I would put my foot down and say "look this is our daughter, we will raise her the way we want to, even if you think it's silly, I still expect you to respect our rules, if you can't, we will have to seriously limit the visits" if they don't stop, I would limit the visits to maybe 5 or 10 mintues, or insist they come over to your house (and not bring any treats or anything). They are basically spoiling her with food, which is bad for her attitude (being spoiled) and for her health. It may not affect her now, but it will later in life. Sorry you have to deal with this, good luck.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I too would be very p.o.ed that's your child u really just need to be firm with it I have a almost 6 yr old step son I been raising him with his dad since he was 3 yrs 2 months so now I feel like when he goes to his grandmas ( b/f moms) an I don't want him having something I tell her an at first she kinda was like oh he can I was like no really he can't. An this is for all things not just candy but takin off shoes an making a mess an manners if he does it at home he will do it other places...I also have twins with my b/f so I'm like family now an I have been very dominant with what I want with my children when my twins were born they were in nicu I didn't want any one but my their dad my b/f an me to kiss them I caught her kissin them once an got mad an told her no I do not want u to do that I thought I was clear she said oh well u do it!!! I said I'm the mom I am allowed u are out an around others who knows what u are bringing in here to my preimee babies...I told her from the get go that these are mine an they will have done what I want I say u go an find a babysitter. an if she asks why tell her bc u don't listen an if I don't see u change ur respect for me an my rules for my kid u won't be seeing them as often as u do. An I don't want to do that but I have to do what's best for her so until u learn to respect my choices she has a babysitter...

  • 1 decade ago

    You're the mom (and your husband's the dad) (I guess...). You get to make the rules. If your daughter refused to abide by rules that you were implementing for her own health and well-being, what would happen? She'd probably go into a timeout, am I right? So the in-laws get timeout. It is probably best - although hardest - if you tell them exactly what's going on, why you're making this decision: "When you won't cooperate with the healthy eating habits we're trying to instill in little Mary, you make our job as her parents harder - she's throwing tantrums at home and misbehaving because she's gotten used to getting her way here, so we're going to have to break this habit by not letting her visit your house for a few weeks. You're more than welcome to come over here to spend some time with her, but we can't let her go to your house until we break these bad habits."

    If you make excuses or lie about it, you're setting the stage for their disrespect and disregard for your rules to continue. It's tempting to blame it on the doctor or whatever, but what are you going to do when they let her do something *else* that you've specifically said is off limits - watching violent movies or something? You can't say "Doctor's orders" for everything; you have to establish with them that you are the parents and that you're taking your jobs seriously.

    The two really tricky parts are: (1) you need to have your husband's 100% support on this or it'll never work, and (2) if they're watching her out of necessity - you both work and can't afford daycare - then you're going to suffer when you follow through with it.

    But the way I see it, you have to establish your authority as the child's parents - an occasional treat at the grandparents' house isn't going to do any damage, but what you're describing is a power struggle - and the sneaking treats behind your back is a VERY bad sign.

    Recognize this for what it is - a power struggle - and make your decision... they get to call the shots in raising your daughter, or you do. You can't FORCE them to behave the way you want them to, but you *can* restrict access and set things up so that they can only spend time with her under your direct supervision.

  • 1 decade ago

    Obviously you are getting a lot of advice in regards to this.

    Here is my advice from dealing with my own in-laws...

    1. You and your husband NEED to be on the same page about everything. Discuss the situation until you have reached agreement on ALL issues with the in-laws.

    2. Remember that these people are still people and adults and the parents that raised your wonderful husband.

    3. Both you and your husband need to arrange to have a meeting with the in-laws. Don't explain what it is you want to talk with them about, just that you have something important that you and your husband need to discuss with them.

    4. Don't attack them. This isn't about who is right or who is wrong, this is about who are the parents and who aren't. I am guessing that you and your husband have not had a sit down grown up discussion with them about your daughter so do not hold the past transgressions against them. Start fresh.

    5. Don't make the point of the argument the food, or any other specific issue. The real point is that you are the parents charged with the care and upbringing of this child, so you and your husband make the decision and you are requesting of the in-laws to respect that. I am sure that they didn't appreciate other people telling them how to raise their child/ren.

    6. Once you have their understanding and agreement about the bigger issue of parental authority, then provide specific rules that you would like the "help" in following. Try to make them part of the solution and not the problem.

    7. Thank them often for their care and love they give your daughter. Pour on compliments about how they treat your daughter with love and the things (good things) they do for her.

    8. Lastly, don't make it personal. This is not about you not being heard, or them trying to slight you or something else. You are the parents. You make the rules. Assume that they are going to comply and not bring up consequences in the first discussion. If they continue to violate your rules, again keep it unemotional, have another discussion and then bring up consequences if they continue to not comply with your rules.

    I am sure that many of the others have given you all kinds of consequences you can use. Be smart, be wise, be an adult and think through your choices about what you are comfortable with for these. Again I cannot stress enough, don't make it an emotional issue and treat them with the utmost respect. Blowing up at them or you and your husband being divided will not help your cause.

  • 5 years ago

    with the rules at your house, then they can't come in to your house. They think they are being nice, but they are just causing you problems because the child thinks that you are denying her things that she can get from the grandparents, and doesn't understand. I see this all the time on the "Super Nanny" shows - one parent says its OK and the other says "no it isn't" so there is zero consistency in the message. Lay down the law - and end the talk with "or else". You may get a few tantrums, but in the long run you will be vastly better off. The grandparents aren't the parents, and they need to be told that in no uncertain terms. Lay down the law, period. If it really gets out of hand you might even have to threaten them with child abuse charges, but I hope it doesn't get that far. Even if they live a block away, don't let them in the house unless they agree to abide by your rules. If they break those rules, do

  • 1 decade ago

    Although you have quite a few answers!

    LOL!

    I had a similar problem with my in laws. They didn't like that I have a 'no sugar' rule until the age of 4 and since my kids are 2 and 9 months, they are a little overexcited about giving them all the things that they want.(Like you I am not a 'food-Nazi, I just want to instill good eating habits now) Well they decided to give my son when he was 3 months, gravy and chocolate pudding, which oh a little taste wouldn't have bothered me so much, but they had given him so much he became constipated and fussy and almost ended up needing a enema! At 3 months! We had a BIG blow out over that! Then when I had my second child, they decided to give her mashed potato's until she vomited and had streaks of blood in the vomit and had to have her doctor come to our house (tell me that's not a pricey visit!!) All because they didn't want to listen to me! I finally had to say to them, 'Look these are MY children! If you can not follow my instructions,then maybe they shouldn't come to visit until they can tell you NO! Well this changed everything! They now ask me for a list of what they can have and they say sorry every time I see them. Was that I wanted? No. But they should know what the PARENTS say is the law. I hope you get to read this, and that it helps. Good Luck!

    Source(s): Mom Of 2
  • 1 decade ago

    I can understand the way you feel. My niece is a big girl because my brother and his wife let their kid "rule the roost" so to say when it comes to eating and she snacks all day and even when she's eating dinner she's eating like a 300-pound man. She's 7 years old and weighs 85 pounds; my son is seven and weighs 45 pounds. (She’s 2 months older than he is) I worry about her eating habits and when my brother watches my son (I live 300 miles away from him so when my son goes to visit he’s there for a week or two at a time), my son gets sick every time he goes to their house because they eat constantly. I’m not kidding; they’ll eat a huge breakfast, (pancakes, bacon, sausage, toast) 2 snacks before lunch, then a big lunch (pasta and garlic bread) and 2 or 3 snacks before dinner and a big dinner (a meat, potatoes, and a veggie with butter and bread) and 2 or 3 snacks after dinner. I’ve tried to tell my brother and his wife that their daughter is too big and they agree but his wife has no patience when it comes to the kids throwing a tantrum when she wants a snack so his wife gives in. If I where is your situation though, and I could afford a babysitter or daycare I’d go that route this way you know what your child is eating and how often. If you’ve told your in-laws, your rules and they continue to break them, tell them one more time that you’re not playing around and if you catch them breaking your rules, you will have no other option but to put your child in daycare.

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