Author Topic: Can't seem to get it into my parent's head that we cannot simply 'pop over'.  (Read 12097 times)

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Syrse

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Hey all...

my mother is driving me up the wall. Ever since we had a baby, we're interesting again, and my parents insist on seeing baby once a month so they can take oodles of pictures of her, treat her like a trophy grandbaby, and then leave us alone for another month. Before we had a baby, we only heard from them about, once a year.
They live about an hour away, and for the first year, they would call to ask when they could visit, drive up to our place, stay half an hour in which they treat baby as a 'thing' to take pictures of (they actually go 'quick take a picture!' whenever she tries to communicate with them, which confuses and upsets her). Then they get mad because baby cries when she sees them, and blame it on the fact that they never see her. Baby smiles at absolutely everybody, just not my parents, because, well, they don't communicate with her, and treat her like an object.
They are also notoriously bad with the agreed upon times. Once, they were supposed to visit at 6. I called them at 6:20, and they were just getting in the car. For an hour drive. And then they got upset when I said baby would be going to bed at 8, and not a minute later.

Last month my mother had surgery. As a result, she cannot come visit. She now wants us to visit them. We did that once, resulting in a very unhappy and upset baby (one hour in car, one hour of pictures, one hour back in car). I honestly do not want to do it again. And even if I wanted to, I don't really see how; baby has to be in bed by 8. Both me and my husband work the week. Even if we left right after work, we'd have to start driving back right away to make it to her bedtime.
I have to repeat this information to my mother every single time she calls. She keeps suggesting weekdays, and keeps acting surprised whenever I mention that 'we work'.

I have half my mind made up to just go with 'sorry, won't be possible' until they can come visit us again. Which, to be honest, I won't like, but at least then I wouldn't have to upset baby's sleeping pattern.

Any ideas on how I could best voice that? My mother has very long toes...

TootsNYC

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Can you just not answer her phone calls?

Or have a rule--"sorry, Mom, we don't go anywhere on week nights. Gotta go!" <click>


Get off the phone as fast as you can, and then simply decide that you don't care if your mom is unhappy with your decision. Decide that it is not important to please her anymore. Say it out loud--"I don't care if my mom is unhappy. It's not important to please her anymore."

TurtleDove

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"I already explained this - we cannot drive to visit you on weekdays."

esposita

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I know exactly what you mean. Some people just don't get it!

I'd get proactive. Set up skype, or schedule a visit for a weekend a month from now. Be very firm on the date and time.

TootsNYC

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You titled this thread:
Quote
"Can't seem to get it into my parent's head"

Here's your problem. You are defining "success" as "getting my parents to think the way I want them to."

That's not sensible, and it's not appropriate. And it's doomed to failure.

Give it up as a goal.

Make your goals be:

reducing your stress when you talk to your mother on the phone
    -screen her calls; return them whenever you want (or don't)
    -hold both hands with your husband, and jump up and down together in the living room chanting, "I do not need to make my mother happy" over and over for a full minute, every day for two weeks.

keeping your parents' whims from disrupting your child's and your family's schedule
    -make a rule: you never, ever travel farther than 20 minutes on a weeknight. Write it down, stick it on the fridge.
   -make another rule: you won't visit with them any more than once every 6 weeks. Block it out on the calendar (use a pencil and gray-shade the non-annoying-grandparents weekends).

figuring out how to buffer your child from their "treat her like an object" approach
    (here I'm a little lost)
     -insist on being the main interacter with your child, and treat them like audience

But the biggie: change your goal.

Your goal is not to "fix" your parents. Your goal is to manage your own family so as to keep them from disrupting you unduly.

Calypso

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What do they say when you ask them about visiting on the weekends?

And, if they're aware that Baby doesn't smile at them, and they mind that, can you use that to lead them to some real interaction? "Tell you what, guys, put the cameras down for a while and let's just talk amongst ourselves; then when Baby tries to get someone's attention, you can be the ones to 'talk' with her (play Peek a Boo, hold her, whatever)."

They're (hopefully) going to be her grandparents for a long time. Whey not see if you can steer the ship in a better direction starting now?

Nemesis

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Your response should be as short and curt as possible.

"No."

Or

"No, there is no way that is happening. Please stop asking, the answer is still no".

mspallaton

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You titled this thread:
Quote
"Can't seem to get it into my parent's head"

Here's your problem. You are defining "success" as "getting my parents to think the way I want them to."

That's not sensible, and it's not appropriate. And it's doomed to failure.

Give it up as a goal.

Make your goals be:

reducing your stress when you talk to your mother on the phone
    -screen her calls; return them whenever you want (or don't)
    -hold both hands with your husband, and jump up and down together in the living room chanting, "I do not need to make my mother happy" over and over for a full minute, every day for two weeks.

keeping your parents' whims from disrupting your child's and your family's schedule
    -make a rule: you never, ever travel farther than 20 minutes on a weeknight. Write it down, stick it on the fridge.
   -make another rule: you won't visit with them any more than once every 6 weeks. Block it out on the calendar (use a pencil and gray-shade the non-annoying-grandparents weekends).

figuring out how to buffer your child from their "treat her like an object" approach
    (here I'm a little lost)
     -insist on being the main interacter with your child, and treat them like audience

But the biggie: change your goal.

Your goal is not to "fix" your parents. Your goal is to manage your own family so as to keep them from disrupting you unduly.

POD to ALL OF THIS.

Your actions show that you have the right priorities - you noticed your baby's negative reaction to them and are trying to mitigate it, you aren't changing your baby's schedule to please them - but the hardest part is remembering that you can't make people be different than how they are.

Your decision becomes - how many times am I willing to say no before I simply stop taking questions?  If they are going to keep asking, maybe it starts to be time for the response "mom, that's been asked and answered - it's not going to happen".

But mostly - POD to setting different goals for the interactions and finding any way you can to get zen about the fact that your parents are who they are - flawed just like the rest of us.

EllenS

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I'm not clear from your post whether you would be willing to visit on the weekend.  It kind of sounds like you don't want to and have maybe avoided suggesting the weekend, because that would remove your excuse about working and lateness.  (I don't blame you for that, I'm just trying to see where you're coming from).

Personally, I would not do an hour car trip with a baby unless I was staying most of the day or overnight.  What about meeting them to hang out at some point halfway between, so it is less of a drive for everybody?

If you just don't want to do it at all, that is totally OK. If you are working and have a baby, I know you are exhausted and you should not have to put up with garbage that just makes your life harder for no good reason.

"Mom, three hours with a baby in the car is torture for everybody.  We'll see you when you are better."

Hmmmmm

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Since you used to only interact with your parents annually, it doesn't sound like keeping a really harmonious relationship is a critical issue for you. So just go back to that.

Mom: Can you guys drive down next week?
You: I don't think our work schedule will allow it but I'll check. Hope your feeling better. I'll call you next week.

Mom: You were going to call me last week.
You: Sorry we were busy. How are you feeling?
Mom: Are you coming next week?
You: I'll have to check our schedule. I'll call you soon.

Mom: When are you coming?
You: I don't know. You remember how busy it is with a baby.
Mom: Well you need to come.
You:  How's Dad? Let me talk with him.

I just don't see how a woman you used to interact with only once a year can suddenly start creating this much drama for you or start insisting on anything.

If they do come visit, you have the power to control the interaction.

Dad, please put away the camera. DD's tired of having her photo taken.

But don't give excuses for anything. A 3 hour car trip with our kids was heaven because they slept the entire time.

Pen^2

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First, well done for standing up with what you already have. Bedtime at 8pm sharp and so on. Very good. It is not worth upsetting your daughter's sleeping pattern in order to do something that will upset her. Your mother is an adult and can cope with this. A baby comes first.

Don't JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain). JADEing opens up a discussion, which is not something you should do when it's not something optional. You aren't going to debate whether or not this will happen--no matter what she thinks, it won't happen. So just don't go there.

Nemesis has the right idea. "No." Or, "No. I'm afraid that won't be possible." Repeat as often as you need to. "But why?" etc. can be met with the same response, word-for-word. They'll get the point pretty quickly.

Once your mother has healed (I have no idea of what the surgery was, so maybe this isn't something worth worrying about in the near future), I'd keep using the same response for them coming over to see you. "No. That day/time doesn't work for us." Don't give a reason and don't JADE. Once you give a reason, they can start explaining how to overcome it. That's not what this is about.

I'd also limit the time they have holding or handling your baby. If she gets upset while she's being photographed and passed around like an ornament, start limiting the time they have with her. Seriously, that's just not okay to do to a baby (upset her, I mean, not holding/passing), and it should stop ASAP. I'd use now as a time to polish up your polite spine, since otherwise this'll likely get worse as your daughter starts being more "interesting" as she grows. Use a line like, "You're upsetting the baby, so I'll have to soothe her now," as you take her back. Next time they want to juggle her, state politely but firmly, "Last time you upset her, so let's limit it to X minutes this time. I wouldn't want you to have to deal with a cranky baby." Keep reducing X until you find a number that works. Don't factor in your parents' enjoyment, but only your daughter's. If she's unhappy, then your adult parents are going to have to accept that their wants don't come first.

cwm

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your adult parents are going to have to accept that their wants don't come first.

This stood out at me the most.

When my niece Sproglet was young, she wasn't the easiest of tots to deal with. Sis had a hard time keeping her happy and on a set schedule, and Sproglet's dad always messed it up every weekend, without fail. Sis had to keep telling our dad that no, she was not going to let him take them out to dinner at 6:45. Dad complained far and wide about how terrible Sis was being, that this was his granddaughter and he was only trying to be nice, didn't Sis need help with food? He was offering to feed her, how was that so bad?

Finally, Sproglet calmed down into a happy baby and spring came. Dad offered to watch Sproglet once a week during the week so Sis could go to work and pay less for daycare. Every time she came home, her nap schedule was off, her feeding schedule was off, she had been given foods that Sis had specifically told Dad not to give her, and all sorts of other boundaries were trampled. Sis finally said no more and has not let Dad have the kid unsupervised. Which severely limits the time Dad can spend with Sproglet, but has made Sis and Sproglet's lives much happier.

OP, you are responsible for the health and happiness of you, your husband, and your daughter. If your parents aren't happy with the situation, they have the means to change it. Maybe not so much when your mother is recovering, but sometimes situations happen that are out of our control, and we have to deal with them. They have to learn to deal with you taking care of your family. Good for you for setting boundaries early, continue to live them. It may get easier with time, when the "novelty" of a new baby wears off. Good luck!

EllenS

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Since you used to only interact with your parents annually, it doesn't sound like keeping a really harmonious relationship is a critical issue for you. So just go back to that.

Mom: Can you guys drive down next week?
You: I don't think our work schedule will allow it but I'll check. Hope your feeling better. I'll call you next week.

Mom: You were going to call me last week.
You: Sorry we were busy. How are you feeling?
Mom: Are you coming next week?
You: I'll have to check our schedule. I'll call you soon.

Mom: When are you coming?
You: I don't know. You remember how busy it is with a baby.
Mom: Well you need to come.
You:  How's Dad? Let me talk with him.


The only problem with this approach is that it maintains the illusion that next week things will be different, so Mom will keep asking (why shouldn't she? After all, that's what she was told.)

If, in reality, this is not a case-by-case thing, but a decision, then that needs to be clear.  Otherwise, this conversation will go on and on forever (which sounds maddening).

LadyL

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Hey all...

my mother is driving me up the wall. Ever since we had a baby, we're interesting again, and my parents insist on seeing baby once a month so they can take oodles of pictures of her, treat her like a trophy grandbaby, and then leave us alone for another month. Before we had a baby, we only heard from them about, once a year.
They live about an hour away, and for the first year, they would call to ask when they could visit, drive up to our place, stay half an hour in which they treat baby as a 'thing' to take pictures of (they actually go 'quick take a picture!' whenever she tries to communicate with them, which confuses and upsets her). Then they get mad because baby cries when she sees them, and blame it on the fact that they never see her. Baby smiles at absolutely everybody, just not my parents, because, well, they don't communicate with her, and treat her like an object.

You've gotten good advice about avoiding visits at all but here are some suggestions for if/when you do have a visit with them.

Since this dynamic isn't working for you (I understand why - it sounds tedious, the  very opposite of "quality time") have you tried to change it entirely? That worked for us with visits to see LordL's parents.  Simply changing the dynamic from being in their home to being at a restaurant led to a positive change in their behavior. Could you meet your parents at a park, the zoo, an indoor play place, or a museum - ANYWHERE where there would be an activity, things to see and do, so they can't turn it into a photoshoot and then leave as soon as they're done with photos?


Or, have you tried redirecting the behavior? I.e. saying something like "the constant camera flash upsets baby, so let's limit it to 5 photos this time" or "if you talk directly to her or dangle this toy she will probably smile instead of cry"? Is there a chance they just don't know what to *do* with a baby?

Hmmmmm

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Since you used to only interact with your parents annually, it doesn't sound like keeping a really harmonious relationship is a critical issue for you. So just go back to that.

Mom: Can you guys drive down next week?
You: I don't think our work schedule will allow it but I'll check. Hope your feeling better. I'll call you next week.

Mom: You were going to call me last week.
You: Sorry we were busy. How are you feeling?
Mom: Are you coming next week?
You: I'll have to check our schedule. I'll call you soon.

Mom: When are you coming?
You: I don't know. You remember how busy it is with a baby.
Mom: Well you need to come.
You:  How's Dad? Let me talk with him.


The only problem with this approach is that it maintains the illusion that next week things will be different, so Mom will keep asking (why shouldn't she? After all, that's what she was told.)

If, in reality, this is not a case-by-case thing, but a decision, then that needs to be clear.  Otherwise, this conversation will go on and on forever (which sounds maddening).
But I'm ok with that. It's like putting off that acquaintance who is always suggesting you get together for happy hour. It's just not worth getting into why you don't want to go so you put off till they finally realize you'll never say yes.

I'm really advocating reducing contact back down to the pre- baby relationship. And if she keeps postponing making commitments her mom will finally get the hint.