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Ask Amy: Mother-in-law is ‘enraged’ when she’s not asked to babysit

Dear Amy: My husband and I have two boys under the age of 2.

We operate a successful business from home, so we only need child care for an occasional break or date night. We sometimes use a sitter, but our preference is to ask one of the grandparents to watch the children.

My (working) mom is always eager to watch the kids. My (retired) MIL rarely asks to take them and when she does, often cancels at the last minute. Because of this, we tend to ask my mother to watch the kids more often.

My MIL has let us know how much this upsets her. She’s now using social media to “track” when the boys are with my mother. She will show up at our home enraged that we did not ask her to be with the children. She found out we used our sitter to go to dinner this past weekend and told us how awful we are for not asking her.

Amy, she had broken her hand and foot in a fall the week before; we thought we were doing her a favor by letting her heal and rest!

We’ve tried explaining; we’ve told her that her behavior is pushing us away. My husband confronted his mom yesterday, and it led to an argument. She will not listen to reason and refuses to acknowledge her behavior.

I want my children to have a relationship with her, but the amount of stress it causes almost isn’t worth it. Please help!

— Tired Mom of Two

Tired: Some of your MIL’s behavior points to problems beyond being difficult or reactive. Regardless, you and your husband have tried the rational approach.

It seems that your only remaining option is to actually deliver some consequences.

Despite the way she may perceive her rights and privileges, grandparents don’t have an automatic right to be with their grandchildren, certainly when both parents are alive, together, and making reasonable choices regarding the best interests of their family.

I hear from heartbroken grandparents every day who are denied access to their grandchildren, and who wonder why.

In your case, you have understandable and valid reasons not to have this volatile woman spend time alone with two very young children.

I suggest that you let her know that she is welcome to visit your household to see the children when you are home — but until her behavior stabilizes and she treats you with respect, she won’t be spending time alone with them.

Also, your mother and others who are with your children should not post about the kids’ whereabouts on social media, until the kids have returned home. Nor should they post any photos of your children, or identify them, without your express permission.

Dear Amy: I am hoping that parents of children who need speech classes will read this.

Quite often parents either refuse the services for their children or withdraw their children from the classes too early.

The services are offered during the school day by professionals who have studied intensely to work with children who need improvement in speech.

Sometimes parents are fearful their child will be labeled or will be treated differently by other students and/or teachers, but the time to correct speech is when the child is young.

I know young adults who still mispronounce words or demonstrate speech problems which are correctable, especially if this is done during their youth.

Parents, please agree with the professionals and allow your child to reap the rewards of speech classes to ensure they can speak correctly, maximizing the opportunity for success in their lives.

If your child is tested and has been identified to attend speech classes, don’t fret over this but support the eagerness of the teachers to get your child speaking correctly.

Let’s help our kids!

— A NJ Mom

Mom: I recently talked with a very close friend, who told me about her experience with an in-school speech therapist who worked with her for a year to correct an extreme speech problem (I had no idea).

Yes, parents — give your children access to this life-changing help!

Dear Amy: I was a little taken aback by your comments to “Sympathy Deserved,” who felt no sympathy for anti-vaccine people who have died of covid.

What took me aback was the compassion of your answer, and I was surprised to find that I agreed with you.

Any death deserves sympathy.

— Feeling Better

Feeling Better: Well, my own occasional judgmental attitude has — somewhat surprisingly — led me toward greater compassion.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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