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Started by Cathy, March 11, 2013, 06:38:07 pm

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I am so thankful to have found this site. I am really struggling with my DIL of almost 2 yrs. I have tried everything! I am a former teacher, former daycare owner. I have sons and my youngest is a 16 yr old girl who has recently asked WHY is DIL so cruel and mean to you? The most recent visit was with DIL without son/her husband. When leaving DIL states 3 times that they have discussed that they can't trust me to abide by their wishes for the child concerning discipline enough to leave her (almost 1 yr old) with me. I am SICK over this. I kept quiet until the end of the 3rd time of repeating this and I said simply that it would be a loss to this child not to be a part of my life. I have spoke to my son about their spanking of this baby with a ruler and he said whatever the wife wants is what he goes with. The baby CRIES out in fear when she sees the ruler!!! They have told me I must do this and I said no, I don't want to. So, now I am waiting to see what will come next. They are supposedly visiting this Saturday and Easter Sunday. I am hurt, do not want them to come. I want some space, can not discuss this with them as the DIL yells, gets upset, blames me and wants to leave. I do not handle stress like this well at all. Please help me!!! It is just one problem after another with this prideful, self centered girl. They live just over an hour away and I really don't see them often. I don't go to their home, has been several months since I have been there as DIL said before marriage that she didn't want us "on the doorstep all the time".


Welcome, Cathy. If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to read the pink highlighted items under the topic Open Me First. We ask this of all new members to make sure the site is a good fit.

I'm so sorry you are going through this. You sound like a loving, caring GP. Unfortunately, the parents have the last word, rightly or wrongly. It is up to your DS to speak up if he wants his children to have a relationship w/you or if he feels that spanking with a ruler isn't a good childrearing practice.

Please keep reading and posting. Many GMs here have gone through similar trials and tribulations. You'll find a lot of support. You know, you don't have to have visitors in your home who make you uncomfortable. I understand you want to see your GD, but please make sure you take care of yourself and your health. If that means setting some boundaries and taking a break from the drama, so be it.

Some have had success with "loving detachment." They refuse to buy into another's drama and learn techniques to disarm it. Perhaps such tactic would work with your DIL? When she starts in, leave the room (calmly, not in anger or in tears) and get busy doing something - straightening a vase, basting a ham, whatever. Without an audience she has no power. If she corners you and starts in, say "Oh, DIL. Let me get back to you," and then leave the room to powder your nose, feed the cat, gather herbs from the garden, etc. Be a moving target. By all means do not be alone w/her!

And IMO, do not hit a baby w/a ruler no matter what anyone tells you to do. Ever!
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Hello, I completely agree with everything that Pen has suggested about being a moving target from the behaviour.  I am not sure about the legal issues in your country but from what I understand and please do not quote me here, it is not legal to physically assault a child with any implement in the country that I live in and in my humble opinion, is not right in any circumstance, ever!  I hope that you will be able to find a way to avoid the pitfalls of the adults behaviour when they are around so that you can enjoy some time with your DGC.  Good Luck!


Cathy - Your story reminds me of ours.  After well over a decade of marriage, our son divorced our DIL (actually she left him and abandoned her two children) and it is getting much better.  I really believe that some are not capable of being a nurturer to either a child or even a spouse; and I believe that our DIL fits into this category.  Oh, she tried - but the rages, fights, lack of empathy, extreme self-centeredness, and plain "no mothering" overshadowed any efforts on her part.  She could not get past the "what about me" phase.

I believe that our DIL suffers from a personality disorder and that she never, ever should have tried to be a "mother".  I'm wondering if your DIL also suffers from a mental health issue.  Whatever - it will be up to your son to take care of your grandchild.  In our case, we had to back off - way off, and let our son deal with the "family".  You did not cause this; you can not control this; you can not cure this - I used to say this mantra over and over, again and again.  It's not fair but it is what it is.

Surprisingly, we are close to one of our grandchildren but not the other.  It seems the elder child is of the same genetic make-up as the mother - yes, it hurts (a lot), but there is nothing I can do.  Maybe when she gets older ....   Boy - this is not what I thought having grandchildren would be like - you know, the happy Christmases, loving Mother's Days, barbeques for Father's Day - but, we're coping.  One thing that I might add is to be careful not to sever the ties with your son because if he has to choose between his parents and his wife, he will choose his wife.  Be really careful what you say and do in this regard.  I feel this is the relationship you will need to fight for - by the way, the last three years of our son's marriage our DIL did not speak to us, even once, let alone attend any events.  I've been there - a situation I would never would have believed on their wedding day.  We are still fighting for a "normal" relationship with our son.

You will find that many other women, wise women, on this site have also been held "hostage" by their DIL's.  Not fair - but we cope and we learn and we survive ....


Wow!  That's a really difficult situation and I'm sorry you have to deal with that.  It's true like Penn says the parents have the last word about child-rearing right or wrong, but she is your granddaughter and you care about her well-being.  Hitting with a ruler sounds like abuse to me too for a child of any age, but especially a baby not even a year old.  I don't blame you for your concern and for saying no you won't do that. I would be the same way. Does the ruler leave marks?  It must be so hard to bite your tongue about that, or at least it would be for me.  I wish I had some answers for you.  I can see why you feel hurt and angry and want some space.  On the other hand, if it were me, I think I'd try to find a way to still be in their lives for your granddaughter's sake.  She could benefit from a relationship with you. 
I have learned to ask myself before I act, "what is it I want to accomplish?"   I understand you don't like your DIL and the way she disciplines your granddaughter.  But if you alienate your son and DIL, and are out of the picture, then you won't be there to love and support your granddaughter, which it seems she might need.  If it were me, I think I would want to be in the picture with my grandchild no matter what, in case the abuse gets worse and needs to be reported or something.  I think your son is to blame too, just for going along with it. 


Spanking a not-quite-one-year-old with a ruler?  Who is standing up for this child?  I would report this to the authorities.  You could probably do so anonymously - but think hard before you simply turn a blind eye to the physical abuse of this baby. 


Thanks to everyone for your comments and help. I have thought about contacting authorities. I would have to state, when I saw the abuse and if there are bruises. This information would be given to son and DIL and they would KNOW who called it in. My son would never speak to me again as he has already stated he will support his wife. I am reading lots of things on this site and am sitting still on this. It makes me sick and yes, I do blame my son for going along with it. I do not want them to visit because I am physically so upset by the end of the visit that I need days to recover. This wife is so self centered, so controlling, everything is about her. I have been trying for almost 2 yrs to cater to her, to do for her and the baby. No matter, she is bold and opionated. She is disrespectful to me. I am backing away, will let them be. I hardly make contact as it is. I am a nice person, a loving, gentle person who raised my children to be independent. They were not raised with physical punishment. Of course, her family matters to her. I wonder if they know/see this from her, the discipline of the little one. They are not local and only see her every couple of months. I am certain this comes from a book she has read, perhaps other people she is around at church. I am learning so much from this site, thanks to everyone.


It's a horrible situation, Cathy. If you report, you will be cut off and the baby will have no one to look out for it. It's quite possible that the parents won't be cited and the abuse will continue. If you don't report, the abuse will likely continue but you are still able to check on your GC.

Perhaps a brochure, generically sent from Health & Human Resources or their well-baby clinic, or whatever is appropriate for your area, might jog your DS into reality. Look into what is possible and anonymously sign them up to receive newsletters or whatever. It's worth a try and wouldn't be traced back to you.

Lacking that, I hope a health care professional, day care provider, or teacher will see the signs & report as they are mandated to do. I hope it happens very soon.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Have you actually witnessed them spanking the GD?  We could spend hours and hours debating spanking as punishment.  Just because GD cries when she sees the ruler doesn't mean the parents are hitting her so hard or so often that what they are doing constitutes child abuse.  If you haven't seen them spank her or seen marks or bruises from spanking, you'd be on thin ice to report them.  If you have witnessed abuse or seen bruises that indicate abuse, you'll need to really think about what is the best course of action for your GD would be.  Reporting the parents even if it means being cut out might be the best thing.  Not reporting it so you can have some contact and hopefully some influence might be the best thing.  Sorry I can't tell you which is the best.  You have my sympathy for your situation.

The parents do get to set the rules - whether it's discipline, dietary, activities, etc.  Anyone who won't follow the parents' rules can't expect to have alone time with the child.  I knew a couple who were raising their children vegetarian.  The relatives - don't know if it was his side, her side or both - would make fun of vegetarians and say they were going to take the kids to McDonald's the first chance they got.  Any wonder family wasn't asked to babysit?  While you don't get a chance to babysit, it seems you do have your GD in your life.  There are plenty of GPs who have never babysat - never wanted to, in fact - but develop close, fulfilling relationships with their GC.   I'd say find a way to deal with the stress of interacting with the parents so that you can remain a part of GD's life.  What exactly that entails, I don't know.  Perhaps a family therapist could help you.  I don't mean for you and AS and DIL, just you. 

Good Luck!!! 


I agree with the comments here. If the baby gets spanked, and that with a ruler! OMG...I would report them too.

How sad that your son accepts this. Maybe you could just sweetly or tearfully or whatever works, slip him some information on child abuse, and plead that he opens his eyes and heart. Try to work through your son instead of your DIL.

If he refuses; then reporting them is the only thing you can do. Don't mention or threaten him with this. I would report anonymously as well.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
            -- Michel de Montaigne


I'm with herbal.  Have you actually witnessed what you would deem as abuse? 

I'm not debating spanking either, as I believe every parent has the right to choose their sort of discipline as long as it's not abusive.  My Mother used switches on us but that was only in extreme cases.  She also had a small hand paddle when we were spanked because this may sound weird, but she believed you shouldn't spank with your hand, because that same hand loved on you.  I could debate that all day long with her if I wanted to get into technicalities, but that was her belief.  I promise, when that paddle came out on occasion, I cringed and was fearful because I knew I was getting a paddling. But I also promise, I wasn't abused at all.

So I think when a parent(s) decide that they do want to spank as discipline, as long as it doesn't cross into abuse, then that is their choice.  I also believe that a GP shouldn't have to follow that if they don't want to, when they are watching them.  I didn't spank my GD when she was with us, but gave her time-outs.  I think the key is that a GP does have to discipline, if warranted but in a way they are comfortable with.  If DIL told me I had to spank, then I would have to gracefully acknowledge that I wouldn't be able to watch the GC.  I would hate it, but if there is no compromise, there is no communication and it will never work.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


I am so sorry.  No one can tell you what to do, it is a decision you need to make weighing all the pro's and con's.   I understand I don't like the way my DIL constantly yells at the kids.   However, hitting a child with a ruler is not acceptable and not when they are a year old.   That to me is abusive.   What you need to determine is if you believe or have any doubts at all that this will continue or potentially get worse.

Yes your son may sever ties with you, however, no child should grow up in an environment of fear, or in a situation where they are not safe.   What you need to think about is how dangerous is this and what is the next step that she may take. 

What you may do is talk to your health care professional.  Your Dr. could in fact call their Dr. or the baby's Dr. and give them a heads up.  Dr's are required to report any abuse they suspect by law, as are hospitals.   That way you are not involved and CYS will investigate them.   

Also I would try and have a one on one with your son and explain that this is not acceptable behavior is as positive way as you can. 

Bottom line is no one can tell you what to do, we are not in your situation, we don't know what the repercussions will be. 


I believe it is considered abuse if there are marks left on the child's body.  If you see marks and report it and caseworker sees marks then I believe it's a founded report.  I think the idea about giving heads up to the child's doctor is a good idea. 
You are in a tough situation and I certainly don't know what I would do. 


I can not contact the doctor, don't even know his name. They live over an hour away from here. I am just avoiding the situation for now as I don't know what I am going to do. I thought sending the brochures was a great idea but then I would have to get it postmarked in their little town. Thanks to everyone for your time in reponding. I am grateful for the understanding and ideas of help.


I won't debate spanking either... but there is "spanking" and then there is "beating"  A well placed smack on the bottom, although I believe there are better ways to disipline, is a far cry from beating with a ruler to cause welts or wounds.   The parents have the final say on whether to spank or not spank, so unless you have actually seen HOW they use the ruler and if there are wounds from it.. reporting them to the authorities will insure that you never see your grandchild again.   That said.. I know how it feels to be denied access to you grandkids.. and I was also told that I was not trusted to babysit or be alone with the kids..  I have no idea why.. I raised two of my own and I am a registered nurse... but.. as you will hear often here.. it's impossible to make sense of the senseless..