Frustrated Grandma

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Frustrated Grandma
Tue, 08-21-2012 - 12:16pm

Just a little background, SIL & I don't get along. It's nothing awful, he just avoids me. I don't know why but he doesn't like me. I have never been able to form a relationship in the 10 yrs that he & DD been together. DD is just tells me to ignore it but I know that she ends up in the middle a lot. SIL gets along with my DH one of my 2 DSs. DD gets along with his entire family. I live 2 hrs away & prior to retiring a few mths ago was way too busy to be the interfering MIL.

Anyhow, I am always willing to help out whenever needed. I have used many of my vacations since my grandson was born to care for him. SIL was fired in June & I provided him with coaching & advice in dealing with this wrongful dismissal situation. I had hoped this might improve our relationship because SIL really seemed to appreciate my help. I had been careful to only help when & on what I was asked for help on. Since SIL could only find a short term job, we had our grandson live with us for most of July to save on daycare costs. DD came & stayed for a week but SIL couldn't come. We had a wonderful time with our grandson. I have just retired & so this was the first time that I could be with him all day. DH had babysat from the time grandson was 18 mths until 4. We had a great time together. I was the only working grandparent of his 4 & so didn't see as much of him as the other did. In the past, grandson has sometimes said mean things like he doesn't like me,  doesn't want me around or just to even not look at him. I am the only grandparent that can say no to him when it is needed. After raising 3 kids of my own, I know they like to test & even be cruel. So I would ignore this behaviour.

However, now I'm seriously concerned that my SIL is saying negative things about me in front of his son. We just had grandson for another week & his parents came up for 3 days. I was playing with grandson when his parents surprised him & of course, he only wanted them. I had expected not to have much to do with grandson while his parents were here. What I didn't expect was the nastiness & mean things that would come out of grandson's mouth towards me. It was also interesting that he only seemed to do it in front of his Dad who would threaten him with punishment for his comments but then do nothing. I mentioned the behaviour to DD but since she hadn't observed it, thought I was making too much of it. Believe when I say that hearing things several times a day like I hate you, Grandma & you are the most awful person in the world can be a bit disheartening. Some of his comments were too mature for him. Once his parents left, my grandson was back to being his normal sweet self.

Since DD is very independent, I'm used to not being involved in her life decisions & I don't make a big deal if they can't come to a family event or if she shows up without SIL. But it's been 2 wks since they left & I'm still very bothered by my grandson's behaviour. I remember my Mom not liking her MIL & feeling torn because I did love my Nana but I felt this was wrong since Mom disliked her so much. I hate to think of my grandson being pulled in the same way between his feelings for me & his loyalty to his Dad but I don't know what to do about the situation.


Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Tue, 08-21-2012 - 4:16pm


I know this sounds like a reality show suggeestion: but next time he comes to visit have a Nanny cam recording, especially if the other grandparents show up and "surprise" him again. It will be hard for your daughter to believe what you say, until she sees and hears it for herself.

Do you know anything about your SIL's mother and their relationship? Sometimes that will give you a clue as to why someone behaves the way the do toward a person of the same gender and age. The other possibility is your SIL is jealous of your relationship with your daughter. Some men can't handle the idea that a woman needs others, even their own parents, just as much as they need their husbands. It may be an ego problem. Or, the fact that you are an independent, strong woman wigs out your SIL. Are the women in his family weak-spined and dependent? Perhaps he feels threatened by you as an older may challenge his "idea" of what a grandmother is "supposed to be."

Whether you have film or not, I would speak with your daughter one-on-one about what occured when the other grandparents visited. Write down what your grandson said, word-for-word, and show it to her. His "mature" sentences and comments are things he's heard out of his father's mouth and not typical for a little boy. Your daughter may still not believe you but I believe you have a right to ask: "What have I done to make him dislike me and to put these kind of words in my grandson's mind?"

Maybe your daughter will share some insights on her husband. Perhaps she'll be defensive. If that's the case, you need to keep loving both your grandson, daughter and SIL as much as possible and pray that God gives you the strength and courage to be patient and hope for change.

Good luck. My heart goes out to you.


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-19-2010
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 11:41am

I'm sorry to hear that. It must be heartbreaking. I notice that my SIL's son does the same to my MIL and though my MIL is horrible around children (she has no idea how to say "No" to a child), I still don't think kids should act that way around children. I know it hurts my MIL a lot. In our situation, we know that a lot of it is influenced by his father who absolutely despises my in-laws and some of it really is her behavior.

In your situation, I would agree with the previous poster about trying postive reinforcement. A 4-year old doesn't understand much about what is coming out of his mouth. I wouldn't take it personally. Just try to be a good example and call him out when he says something negative to you. Show him as much love as you can. That's probably the most you can do. At the end of the day, his parents and his home environment will affect him the most and it sounds like you don't have much control over that since his parents control that.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 5:51pm

I'm so sorry that this has happened, since that little boy is the light of your life!

What surprises me most about this situation is that your dd blew it off when you told her that her son was saying mean things to you. Just because she didn't witness it doesn't mean that it didn't happen or that you are exaggerating etc. If I was told that one of my kids had said something like that to a grandparent I would have dealt with it...children need their parents to point out inappropriate behavior and explain why its not permitted---as you know from raising 3 kids. One mean remark could be overlooked but several in the course of an afternoon is completely unacceptable IMO.

Your grandson is 5 or 6 now? which is old enough to know that mean words hurt people's feelings. It could be that his dad is saying bad things about you and dgs wants to earn his dad's approval by also saying bad things; or maybe he is trying to get a reaction, see how far he can push the envelope before somebody disciplines him. Maybe a bit of a dare to see if you will discipline him in front of his father who apparently does not follow through on threats?

I think that next time you are alone with your dd you should discuss the situation again (without accusing SIL of speaking ill of you in front of dgs) to reiterate the behavior that you witnessed in front of SIL and to let her know that after she and SIL left that grandson went back to his normal nice self. Maybe even discuss who will do the disciplining in your home when the parents are present. You are not making too much of it and its normal to have your feelings hurt, especially in light of all that you have done for your grandson and his parents. 

Avatar for ribrit
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2001
Tue, 09-25-2012 - 11:31am

I am very sorry ((((hugs)))))


I dont have any good advice. I wish I did. But whatevet you do....when and if you see him again..when he throws out horrible remarks, do not act phased. Respond with things like "I am sorry you feel that way" and such. Don't just say "sorry"...make sure you make it clear that these are HIS feelings..but don't give a big reaction, which is what he is looking for.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008
Tue, 09-25-2012 - 12:47pm



From reading your post a couple of things come to mind.  First, while he shouldn't be saying those things - I do believe that there is probably something else going on that maybe you aren't aware of.  Like, you discipline him and hold him accountable and his parents maybe do not.  Therefore he perceives you as being mean and says the things he says.  Also, if that is the case, they probably have not taught him that he shouldn't say those things (thus the point about lack of parental advisement/accountability etc.).  Like you said, he has done it before when they are not around and even when they are around they do it but they don't notice. 


I wonder also if your sil has a problem with showing emotions and if also, he somehow feels inadequate around you.  Maybe he doesn't want to put in the time it takes to be a good parent etc. and when he sees you taking an active role it ticks him off because deep down he knows that he isn't.


I don't know what other issues you have with him but honestly, I would take a deep breath and continue to spend time with your grandson and explain to him that those kind of comments are not acceptable.  If he is under your care then that means your judgment also and I would have some consequences for that.  For instance, when he uses the words "I don't like you" maybe he should have to spend some time in time out and say why he doesn't - what makes him say that? 


It seems he is acting out about something - but not necessarily in my opinion - demonstrating what he has heard at home about you.  Maybe just in general what he has heard etc. about people in general.  Does your sil tend to be a very negative person?