I once read an article in Time Magazine about the number of hospitals offering grandparent classes because new parents were concerned about letting their parents babysit their children given the number of changes in parenting from when they were babies. A while ago, I wrote a humorous blog on the advice given to my mother by the hospital back in 1962 when she took my newborn sister home.
I, too, had to explain some of those changes: why my children needed to sleep on their backs and not their tummies or why I was exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of their lives. But, I am finding as my children get older, the complexities with allowing my in-laws to babysit are getting a lot more, well, complex (Note: my mom lives in WI, so there is no opportunity for her to babysit my children).
My husband and I trust my in-laws to babysit- or at least we did. The problem arises when my sister-in-law interferes, which, unfortunately, she does all the time. This post would be very long if I went into the details, but the best way to sum this up is that there are some serious concerns about my SIL’s mental health. In addition, she is very careless and irresponsible, and has already told us she will do whatever she wants to do with our children, regardless of what we say. Based on these issues, as well as things that have already happened, my husband and I have jointly decided we do not want her around our children unless either my husband or I are present.
This has upset my in-laws, because they do not understand why we can trust them with our children, but do not trust them when they have both our children and my SIL. While they are very concerned about my SIL, they are also very scared of her, and would rather accommodate her demands than fight with her. However, even that has become irrelevant, as my SIL has told them they are not allowed to babysit our children unless they either have her permission, or she is allowed to be present. Her controlling and manipulative behavior has become very toxic.
We haven’t seen my SIL since the holidays, but last week she announced she wanted to come over to our house while my in-laws were visiting. She told her mother that she did not want to come into our home, so we all had to stand outside in our front yard. My husband and I accommodated this, as we were trying not to cause further stress on my in-laws, but once my SIL arrived, she ignored my husband’s attempts to engage her in conversation and only spoke to her parents. She left after 15 minutes.
Once we went back inside, I told my in-laws that I was very upset we had to accommodate my SIL, especially since she was rude to my husband, and I would not do it again. Needless to say, we did not have a pleasant conversation. My husband is very supportive, but I know he is upset. After all, these are his parents. He is very distraught about what his sister’s actions have done to his parents and both he and his brother no longer want to have a relationship her.
I feel strongly that my husband and I need to keep these boundaries with our children. I recognize some people may feel we are being too overprotective, but my children are more important to me than my own life.
Have you ever had a concern about a family member watching your children? I welcome your comments.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.