I disagree with most of my daughter-in-law’s opinions… What I do next could change everything 203



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My son is married to a beautiful girl named Alice and together they have two gorgeous children: Tom and Gracie. Alice is a lovely girl and a wonderful wife to Matthew; she loves him and supports him and for the most part is everything I could have hoped for my only son.

When he first introduced me to her I knew he’d found ‘the one’. He was smitten from the beginning and she felt the same way about him. As I got to know Alice, I learnt that she was a smart driven young lady with a great sense of humour and a rare gift for seeing the best in everyone.

No one is perfect of course and Alice, like the rest of us, has her ‘faults’. I have seen her stubbornness and sometimes childish behaviour first hand. She has thrown mini-tantrums at family events and left to sulk in the car outside and once refused to speak to Matthew for two days because he missed their dinner plans because he had to work late.

Normally I wouldn’t think too much about that type of behaviour – not my circus not my monkeys –  but now I see her passing those same traits onto my grandchildren.

I raised Matthew to eat a balanced and healthy diet. He would stay at the table until he finished his vegetables and knew to eat whatever meal he was served without complaint – sulking or refusing would get him nowhere.

Alice, on the other hand, is a terribly fussy eater. Despite maintaining a slim figure, she eats copious amounts of junk food, will only buy white bread, and refuses to eat most vegetables.

She is also prone to bouts of worrying… about everything. A tiny cough warrants a visit to the doctor and a dose of antibiotics; a little pressure at work will cause constant stress; and a change in her carefully organised schedule will completely throw her off course.

Now, she has started passing these habits and traits on to Tom and Gracie and to be completely honest: it drives me crazy.

She regularly serves the kids spaghetti with just butter and cheese, or chicken nuggets with chips and tomato sauce. If vegetables are included in the meal, Tom and Gracie will refuse to eat them – and they’ll get away with it.

I’ve seen Matthew try to force them to stay at the table until they’re done but it just ends in a tantrum. Matthew has also tried to get Alice to teach the kids to finish their vegetables and be more adventurous with what they eat, but to no effect.

She doesn’t see a problem with giving them cordial and lollies as an after-school snack or feeding them sugary cereal in the morning for breakfast. Now, when I take care of them after school, it’s an uphill battle to get them to eat anything besides the treats they are used to.

She is also, for want of a better phrase, a ‘helicopter parent’. She is constantly worrying about Tom and Gracie and jumping in to rescue them from every situation. If Gracie drops her pencil, Alice practically dives on top of it to pick it up for her. If Tom falls over playing in the back yard and scrapes his knee she is there in an instant cradling him in her arms.

As they get older, I see both children relying on their mother for simple things that most other children do themselves. If they lose something – Alice finds it, if they don’t want to share their toys with other kids – Alice finds new toys for their friends instead of teaching them to share.

As a grandmother, I find it difficult to sit by and watch as Tom and Gracie are raised in the exact opposite way I way raised Matthew. I completely understand that Alice and Matthew should be able to raise their children however they want to, but I find myself gritting my teeth and resenting Alice for all of these issues.

I have broached the subject with Matthew once before, but while he is much more relaxed and less indulgent than Alice, he is happy for her to continue to raise the kids the way she does.

I’m at a point now where I’m seriously considering saying something to Alice. I want to sit down with her and tell her that she doesn’t have to fret and hover over the children the way she does. I want to make her understand how important it is for the kids to eat a healthy diet and receive the proper nutrition they need.

I’m just not quite sure if it’s the right thing to do… as much as I want to step in, I’m not sure if it’s really my place. As their grandmother, a part of me feels like I have a right to intervene.

The other part of me knows how badly it could backfire. I don’t want to cause a rift between our family and I don’t want to make Matthew uncomfortable. If anyone out there has been through this before or has any advice to offer, I’d love to hear it before I do something I might regret forever…

Do you have any advice for this writer? Should she say something to her daughter-in-law? Have you ever been in a similar situation with someone in your family?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Have been through this with more than one in law and understand completely. My advice is sit back and wait, I have found that as the children grew older and spent more time with other families outside their own they started to question their own parents way of doing things, they then made decisions on the changes they wanted. The techno age does have many advantages as there is a lot of readily available information for them to sort through and make these decisions. Age 12 and up seems to be when they start to question and make small changes to eating habits, hygiene (not always the best for a while) and other situations. We currently have 6 in the 12-24 age bracket and few more coming up, so we have experienced nearly all.

    1 REPLY
    • Eve is correct. They observe their friends food habits and will try something healthy and find that they like it. It’s not worth causing family problems.

  2. Stay out of it! I know that is so hard when you can see the problems they are creating….but chances are you will merely cause a rift in your family….
    It’s hard to accept, but children are raised differently today! My own grandchildren never eat what I call a “proper” meal, are up all hours of the day and night, and seem to have very little concept of what I would call “good manners”. I keep quiet….nobody listens anyway!!

  3. Everyone is entitled to their own oplnions their lives have got nothing to do with you, if she needs advice or wants your help then that is different. I have seen too much of mother’s protecting their sons because of the daughter-in-laws opinion. Stay out of their lives and you will get more respect.

  4. Butt out. You can,t live your kids life. Let them make their own mistakes it,s the only way you learn and move forward. Don,t turn into a helicopter nana.

  5. That is good advice from what I read his choice he made his bed he lies in it just walk away.hard to do but do it

  6. Hey alice may need help. Does she work. No idea how old the kids are. Did u ask her does she need help. I had a mum inlaw that drove me crazy but whe did buy me a recipe book on healthy meals that could be quickly cooked & served up. When u visit take a present of fresh fruit. Ie a kilo of bananas.. if the kids wont eat them take them home with u.. cos theyl possibly be thrown out grannys r the ones who normally take junk food presents 2 their grandkids, lollies or a chocie bar.. well for these gkids take a chilled prepacked fruitsalad of their favourite fruit or home made cakes or biscuits. At least there is no added chemicals in them.

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