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ILs, Babysitting, and Guilt

Sorry this is so long, I was trying to put as much detail as possible!

MIL is older and has some health-mobility issues, she needs 1 or 2 canes to walk, can't really do stairs (she can but it takes her a long time), can't walk and carry a purse, can't bend over to put on her shoes, etc.  FIL is fine, gets around, healthy, strong, etc.

When our twins were ~8 weeks old, we had them come over to babysit so DH and I coud go to a dinner party (thier first time).  MIL and FIL have to come together since MIL can't do much physically, so FIL was the main care provider.  They called on their way over about dinner, DH said we had frozen pizza or soup and sandwiches for them, MIL said she would just have FIL run out and get something because that didn't sound good.  DH said no, that isn't a good idea, we would prefer it if he stays here with the kids.  So they get here, we show FIL the food, how to put the kids down, etc. and leave.  We get home and are chatting, kids did fine were upstairs sleeping in the nursery, no issues.  However, they said that FIL had run out to get them food after the kids were asleep leaving only MIL there.  DH and I were both furious, and her response was oh they were fine, they were asleep the whole time.  Of course they were fine, but if something had gone wrong or one had woken up, or they had started choking, or any hundreds of other things that could happen while FIL was gone, MIL would not have been able to 1) get up the stairs to get them, or 2) pick them up out of the crib.

So fast forward to now, they are 11 months old, we have not asked the ILs to babysit since, and they keep giving us guilt trips about it.  If we have a babysitter when we go out it has been my parents, my sister, my BIL/SIL, or our nanny.  We initially expressed our anger/disappointment with them, but haven't brought it up again since that night, when they do guilt us, DH usually just gives some excuse for why someone else is watching them. 

They recen't gave us a nice GC to a restaurant and a babysitting coupon.  I know they love their grandkids and DH wants them to be able to watch them, but I keep telling him that I can't trust their judgement, but I am starting to feel guilty and have second thoughts about maybe giving them another shot.  WWYD?  

Re: ILs, Babysitting, and Guilt

  • I think it's time for DH to sit down with his parents and be up front.  As in, unless FIL agrees to not leave and be 100% accessible in case the kids need something the entire time, it can't happen.  That he loves them, and he knows they love the kids, and it's not about that, it's about everyone's safety.

    I won't say it won't hurt them or potentially harm relationships for a while, but in this case, since they won't let up, I'd be up front.  If possible though, I'd have DH talk to FIL alone vs. the both of them first. 

  • maybe I'm reading this wrong but it sounds like your over reacting.  They were babysitting, they put the kids in their cribs and FIL went out to grab something to eat for the two of them while the kids are sleeping figuring that they wouldn't need any help in that time. It might not have been the GREATEST thing to do but it doesn't sound like a situation in which they should be punished for life and not be able to look after the kids ever again.  I think I would just talk to your FIL about how important it is for you to have both of them or at least him there to be able to get to the kids room and take care of them if they wake up in the middle of the night with a problem, as long as he understands this and agrees I don't see why you shouldn't be able to trust him again. I'm sure when he left for the 10 minutes he did so innocently enough and didn't think it was going to be such a huge problem, other than that one thing it sounds like they did a perfect job, I'd give them another chance if this is the case.

  • image Sabrina121:

    maybe I'm reading this wrong but it sounds like your over reacting.  They were babysitting, they put the kids in their cribs and FIL went out to grab something to eat for the two of them while the kids are sleeping figuring that they wouldn't need any help in that time. It might not have been the GREATEST thing to do but it doesn't sound like a situation in which they should be punished for life and not be able to look after the kids ever again.  I think I would just talk to your FIL about how important it is for you to have both of them or at least him there to be able to get to the kids room and take care of them if they wake up in the middle of the night with a problem, as long as he understands this and agrees I don't see why you shouldn't be able to trust him again. I'm sure when he left for the 10 minutes he did so innocently enough and didn't think it was going to be such a huge problem, other than that one thing it sounds like they did a perfect job, I'd give them another chance if this is the case.

    THIS.  They were 8 weeks old and sleeping in their cribs which I assume you have baby proofed to the newest codes where they dont' have pillows and bumper pads and their heads dont' fit through the cribs bars?

    And I think it was your fault that you didn't have the fore thought and condsideration to ask them what would they like for dinner before they were on their way over so you could have that available to them so your FIL would have to leave the house.

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  • Absolutely not.  You have nothing to feel guilty about.  You gave MIL and FIL a fair chance, and even after you said "no" to FIL running out and leaving MIL alone with the babies--they still disobeyed your request.  You can forgive them for what they did, but you don't have to allow the situation to happen again.  You can say "thank you" for the gift card and decline the babysitting coupon.  Gifts do not come with strings attached. 

    And instead of DH giving excuses as to why MIL and FIL have not baby-sitted with them again, stop.  DH is trying not to hurt his parents feelings, but he has to be firm and say, "We have agreed you won't babysit babies in the future.  It's not open for discussion.  We do not hate you.  You are more than welcome to see the babies when we are present." 

    Your MIL's feelings vs. your babies safety --- I think you know which is more important.

  • image sweetie0228:

    And I think it was your fault that you didn't have the fore thought and condsideration to ask them what would they like for dinner before they were on their way over so you could have that available to them so your FIL would have to leave the house.

    We did ask the day before they came up, but MIL said not to worry about it, they would pick up food on their way.  They were an hour and a half late, so they didn't have time to stop so I could only offer them what we had on hand.  The place FIL went was ~25 min drive from our house, so he would have been gone at least 45 min or so. 

    I appreciate this feedback, I think part of my guilt comes from whether or not we overreacted or because they were still so new then, were we feeling too over-protective?

  • I say give them another chance. Have your H sit down and talk with his dad, and tell him, in a gentle way, that when they're there, he is basically the babysitter. Due to your MIL's mobility issues, she doesn't count - she's there as company for him, in all truth. She can't really do anything to help in case it's needed, and if he leaves, he's in essence leaving the kids alone. Of course your H should soften this message up a bit before sharing it with his dad, but it's basically what needs to be said.

    I'm sure that your FIL is sad about his wife's state of health, and wishes it were different. He might even be in a bit of a state of denial, thinking that she's more capable than she is. Consider that aspect - you never know.

    But yeah, let them try again. 

  • I don't think you over reacted to new born twins... had you not specifically said no to FIL running out, it wouldn't have been a big deal...but for them to ignore your request seems really disrespectful. They could have always had food delivered to them.

    That being said, I don't think this instance should stop you from giving them another chance, making sure they understand what needs to happen.

    Part of me raises my eye a bit that they gave you a GC and certificate, making sure that you had a night out so they could babysit... but I do think it is a nice gift. 

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  • image KoCoLoCo:
    image sweetie0228:

    And I think it was your fault that you didn't have the fore thought and condsideration to ask them what would they like for dinner before they were on their way over so you could have that available to them so your FIL would have to leave the house.

    We did ask the day before they came up, but MIL said not to worry about it, they would pick up food on their way.  They were an hour and a half late, so they didn't have time to stop so I could only offer them what we had on hand.  The place FIL went was ~25 min drive from our house, so he would have been gone at least 45 min or so. 

    I appreciate this feedback, I think part of my guilt comes from whether or not we overreacted or because they were still so new then, were we feeling too over-protective?

    45 minutes is a big deal.  (10 minutes I *might* reconsider letting them baby-sit again.)  And the fact that the mom said not to worry about dinner, and later made a big fuss about it, was just not cool.  How are you going to enjoy your time out with your H while worrying about MIL and FIL baby-sitting?  (or lack of baby-sitting)

    I understand it's a touchy issue.  Someone else has a good point that FIL might be in denial of how immobile his wife is, but that's their issue to work out.  You wouldn't hire a baby-sitter again who went MIA for 45 minutes.

  • Did you ever tell them exactly why you didn't want FIL to leave? I'm guessing you just skirted the issue, and lack of communication on your part contributed to this problem.

    My advice is to be straightforward and explain why you want both MIL and FIL there. And give them a chance. I too, don't think they should be punished for life over this on instance. If they do it again, then feel free to turn down their requests.

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  • image susiederkins:

     If they do it again, then feel free to turn down their requests.

    Especially if the twins are 11 months old now I wouldn't chance them doing it again..

    A lot more can go wrong with two mobile 11 month olds than it can with two cribbed infants.  

  • This is my first post here on FM, but I really just wanted to let you know that I do NOT think you are out of line not wanting your ILs to babysit again.  From what you said, your MIL isn't capable of being a caregiver due to her mobility issues.  So she wasn't there to babysit, she was there to keep the babysitter (FIL) company, as well as spend some time with her grandchildren.  That is lovely, however, when your FIL left, effectively the "babysitter" left.  If you had hired a babysitter for the night, who then decided that leaving your infants alone, for whatever reason, (whether it was for 45 minutes or 5 minutes) figuring that they would be ok because they were asleep, you wouldn't even think twice about hiring that babysitter again.  If people think that you're overreacting simply because these are your ILs, they're crazy. 

    I do think you should explain your concerns to your ILs, that way they will understand what exactly it is about them babysitting that makes you uncomfortable.  You are not wrong, don't feel guilty!

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  • I think it is time for a one one one conversation between H and FIL. No excuses, no trying to beat around the bush.

    Lay out all of his concerns politely and state that while he loves and respects his mom, he just doesn't feel that she would be capable of instantly reacting to an emergency situation.

     

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  • One of the biggest problems with family babysitters is that since you're usually not their employer (and in many cases you or your spouse was raised by the person or persons in question), they don't always feel obligated to stick to the letter of your directions.

    The fact that you specifically stated you did not want your FIL to leave your MIL alone with the children (sleeping or not) and he went ahead and did it anyway says a lot about how they view your preferences about your children's care.

    If they're still harping on it nine months after the fact, your DH should sit down with his dad and have an honest discussion about why the two of you are not comfortable with his mother being left alone with the children under any circumstances.  Stress that it's a safety issue and that her mobility limitations and frailty make it impossible for her to provide the level of supervision that the children need right now.  

    Honestly, though, I'd go with my gut in this situation.  If you are going to be worried the entire time you're out that your in-laws will disregard your instructions on a major issue, it's not worth it.

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  • image symphony4586:

    image susiederkins:

     If they do it again, then feel free to turn down their requests.

    Especially if the twins are 11 months old now I wouldn't chance them doing it again..

    A lot more can go wrong with two mobile 11 month olds than it can with two cribbed infants.  

    I don't think it will happen again. My guess is that the conversation went something like "Well, we'd prefer it if FIL stayed home." But not really conveying why that is important. It was taken as a suggestion, not a request.

    I think being more upfront about what you expect and why would do the trick. I don't think it's blatant disregard of their wishes, but a misunderstanding.

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  • I do think your H should be clear with your FIL about why they aren't being asked to babysit.  Giving excuses when you have no intention of using them as babysitters kind of strings them along- which I don't think is what you/ DH mean to do, but if the answer is "No." they need to know that.

    Also- please go with your gut, and trust your gut.  The guilt you feel over denying your ILs something they want to do is nothing compared to the guilt you would feel if something did happen, and you knew that your gut had been telling you it was a bad idea and you had them to sit anyway.  

  • image symphony4586:

    A lot more can go wrong with two mobile 11 month olds than it can with two cribbed infants.  

    First, this.

    Second, ditto:

    Your MIL's feelings vs. your babies safety --- I think you know which is more important.

    We're in a similar situation.  MIL is not physically capable of taking care of DS, especially now that he is 18 months old and walks all over the place and is a bundle of energy.  While FIL is more physically capable, there are other reasons why we arent comfortable w/ him watching DS.

    YOU are the parent and YOU have to do what you are comfortable with.  Your childrens safety is BY FAR more important than their feelings, or "rights" as grandparents. 

    My FIL mentions a lot how he wants to watch DS, he wants to help w/ daycare, etc.  It's just not going to happen.  We haven't been super direct about it because that's a hard thing to have to say to someone.

    But if push ever does come to shove, DH will have to say "We apprecaite your offer, but we don't feel it's a good idea" and explain why.  Your DH may need to do this to get them to back off. 

     

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  • What's the point of making excuses when the real reason is that you don't trust them? 

    I'm not sure if you are conserned that he would leave again or that they've demonstrated such poor judgement that you will never trust them again.

    By making these excuses you have completely lost the opportunity to solve this.  They keep asking because they are just waiting for their "turn" to come up. No one is deali with the real, underlying issue.  Not even you.

    It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about the suitability of your ILs to babysit, it only matters what YOU think.  How does someone regain trust once it is broken?  Tough answer.  But if you want to ever trust them again, ever feel comfortable letting them babysit, you have to be honest about their behavior and how it affected you.  You expressed it once, on that night, nine months ago.  Hardly the stuff of changing behavior.

    So get honest.  Either to say you will not allow them, and here's why ... or okay, but FIL must never leave ... or seek to build trust in some way.

    And one more thing ... based on your reaction, it sounds like you feel that MIL's supervision was the equivalent to having no supervision.  It was as if your FIL tucked them into bed and then left them alone in the house for 45 minutes.  If a babysitter left my house for an hour I would never let them babysit again.  But he didn't quite do that.  In reality, he did the equivelant of falling asleep.  Which may be more forgivable.    

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  • Oh, the other thing I wanted to say - people are telling you to give them another chance, like you somehow owe it to them.

    You DON'T!  you don't owe your IL's anything.  You let them babysit once, they made a bad choice that you specficially told them not to do, if you dont' want to let them sit again, you don't have to! 

    It's truly as simple as that.

    Especially, again, at the age your kids are now!  Can your FIL really handle two 11 month olds on his own?  If you don't feel he can, then you don't have to let him "try again". 

    You just simply don't have to. 

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  • I think that you overreacted after the first instance and by not communicating with them clearly for the past 11 months as to why they're not able to currently babysit, the issue has snow balled.

    Now that they're 11 months old, I would be extremely weary of leaving them both with them and you have every right for concern. 

    You need to be completely upfront with them and honest. Your lack of communication and dodging the conversation has gotten you into this mess. 

    image image image
  • image susiederkins:

    I don't think it will happen again. My guess is that the conversation went something like "Well, we'd prefer it if FIL stayed home." But not really conveying why that is important. It was taken as a suggestion, not a request.

    You are sort of correct, DH wasn't explicitly up-front with MIL when she said that FIL would just run out for food.  DH did say that he would really prefer it if he didn't leave and that we would just get something for them for dinner.  He also did say not take it the wrong way, but dad needed to be there in case something happened.  I guess he could have been more direct, and he did say this to MIL and not FIL.  It was more just our assumption that FIL would know not to leave the babies at the house essentially unattended.  We definitely were very direct when we had gotten home that night about why we wanted FIL there, which is what brought on MILs "Oh it was fine, they were asleep the whole time" comment.  But that was after the fact. 

    I think you are all right, DH needs to be much more honest in the future when they bring it up again about why we haven't asked them to baby-sit. 

  • Whoa, wait, they gave you a restaurant giftcard with a babysitting coupon that they made out for themselves so that you could use them specifically?  Oh, that would soooooo rub me the wrong way.  I don't even think that's "cute" or "creative."  It just seems so passive-aggressive and forceful, I would have a problem even using the restaurant giftcard.

     

  • WahooWahoo member
    Ancient Membership 2500 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    image lipstick101:

    Whoa, wait, they gave you a restaurant giftcard with a babysitting coupon that they made out for themselves so that you could use them specifically?  Oh, that would soooooo rub me the wrong way.  I don't even think that's "cute" or "creative."  It just seems so passive-aggressive and forceful, I would have a problem even using the restaurant giftcard.

     

    Oh, I'd use the giftcard, I just would hire a real babysitter to watch the kids.  The ILS aren't going to get a phone call from the restaurant informing them that their gift card has been used!

    Your dh needs to have a direct talk with his dad.  "Dad, the reason we don't ask you to babysit was because we don't trust you to make good choices.  You left the kids with mom for 45 minutes to get food, when you know that she isn't mobile enough to help the kids if something goes wrong.  You and mom will not be sitting for the kids."

    Your ILS don't have a RIGHT to babysit.  There is no point in them watching the kids if you are going to be sick with worry.

    I don't agree with the analogy that FIL did the same thing as "falling asleep" while the kids were sleeping.  What if there was a fire?  A sleeping adult would wake up, and get the kids out of the house.  A adult getting pizza 25 minutes away can't do that, and from what you decribe, MIL couldn't even do THAT much for the kids.  Maybe she could phone 911. 

    Don't feel guilty for not using them.  If they try to throw guilt trips on you, I"d just smile and do what you have been doing.  Let your H explain that you don't trust them to use good judgement when it comes to your kids.

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  • image Wahoo:
    image lipstick101:

    Whoa, wait, they gave you a restaurant giftcard with a babysitting coupon that they made out for themselves so that you could use them specifically?  Oh, that would soooooo rub me the wrong way.  I don't even think that's "cute" or "creative."  It just seems so passive-aggressive and forceful, I would have a problem even using the restaurant giftcard.

     

    Oh, I'd use the giftcard, I just would hire a real babysitter to watch the kids.  The ILS aren't going to get a phone call from the restaurant informing them that their gift card has been used!

    Your dh needs to have a direct talk with his dad.  "Dad, the reason we don't ask you to babysit was because we don't trust you to make good choices.  You left the kids with mom for 45 minutes to get food, when you know that she isn't mobile enough to help the kids if something goes wrong.  You and mom will not be sitting for the kids."

    Your ILS don't have a RIGHT to babysit.  There is no point in them watching the kids if you are going to be sick with worry.

    I don't agree with the analogy that FIL did the same thing as "falling asleep" while the kids were sleeping.  What if there was a fire?  A sleeping adult would wake up, and get the kids out of the house.  A adult getting pizza 25 minutes away can't do that, and from what you decribe, MIL couldn't even do THAT much for the kids.  Maybe she could phone 911. 

    Don't feel guilty for not using them.  If they try to throw guilt trips on you, I"d just smile and do what you have been doing.  Let your H explain that you don't trust them to use good judgement when it comes to your kids.

    I agree with this.

  • image EastCoastBride:

    Oh, the other thing I wanted to say - people are telling you to give them another chance, like you somehow owe it to them.

    You DON'T!  you don't owe your IL's anything.  You let them babysit once, they made a bad choice that you specficially told them not to do, if you dont' want to let them sit again, you don't have to! 

    It's truly as simple as that.

    Especially, again, at the age your kids are now!  Can your FIL really handle two 11 month olds on his own?  If you don't feel he can, then you don't have to let him "try again". 

    You just simply don't have to. 

    I agree with ECB.  Given that your MIL dismissed your concerns when you discovered your FIL left her alone with the kids, she obviously doesn't see things the way you do and will likely do it again.  It was like leaving your kids alone for 45 min, which I fully understand makes you not trust their judgment.  You are responsible for making decisions that are in the best interest of your children.  You are not responsible for pleasing his parents. 

  • image mob2006:
    image EastCoastBride:

    Oh, the other thing I wanted to say - people are telling you to give them another chance, like you somehow owe it to them.

    You DON'T!  you don't owe your IL's anything.  You let them babysit once, they made a bad choice that you specficially told them not to do, if you dont' want to let them sit again, you don't have to! 

    It's truly as simple as that.

    Especially, again, at the age your kids are now!  Can your FIL really handle two 11 month olds on his own?  If you don't feel he can, then you don't have to let him "try again". 

    You just simply don't have to. 

    I agree with ECB.  Given that your MIL dismissed your concerns when you discovered your FIL left her alone with the kids, she obviously doesn't see things the way you do and will likely do it again.  It was like leaving your kids alone for 45 min, which I fully understand makes you not trust their judgment.  You are responsible for making decisions that are in the best interest of your children.  You are not responsible for pleasing his parents. 

    Having given it some more thought, and having read more of the replies on this thread, I'm taking the woman's right to change my mind and putting it into action. ;)

    No, you don't owe them anything. Yes, it would be nice if your H could sit down with his dad and tell him exactly why not, just so they don't expect it anymore. But you're the mother and if you think they shouldn't babysit, they don't babysit. End of story.

  • image JoEsther:
       I'm taking the woman's right to change my mind and putting it into action. ;)

    LOL!  You go girl....
    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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