You are here

Need help with drawing a big boundary with my mom, please!

bulletproof's picture

My trip is still a ways away, but since this realm of boundaries to protect my DD is new, I feel like I need to figure some things out in advance so when the time comes to implement the boundaries, I am well-versed and confident.

I need to tell a short story about some cousins of mine, because I feel it relates and is telling with how my mom will feel/take my boundary.

I have cousins; one is male (we'll call him Mark) and one is female (we'll call her Andrea). Andrea is bi-polar and, frankly, falls WAY off her rocker frequently and is very, very cruel. She lives with their mother, my aunt. Mark married with two children. Ever since his wife entered the picture, Andrea has made it a point to actively hate her and be hateful toward her whenever she can. Mark and his wife invited Andrea to their wedding despite her nasty behavior, and since Andrea was irate that she wasn't walking her brother down the aisle (don't ask), she caused a huge scene at their wedding.

Because of her behavior, Mark and his wife decided that Andrea wouldn't be allowed around their children, and she wouldn't hold them. They just didn't trust her to not fall off her rocker. They communicated clearly to my aunt that Andrea was not to hold or be around their son (he is their first born). Mark went to my aunt's house to help her paint one day and had to bring their son, who at the time was an infant. My aunt was watching the baby while Mark painted, and decided to break the agreement and went to Andrea and allowed her to hold the baby. My aunt took photos of Andrea holding him, which Andrea posted on FB, which is how Mark and his wife found out that this happened. Now, the only time my aunt sees her grandchildren is at Mark and his wife's home or at large family functions (like our annual family reunion). The babies aren't allowed at her home, period.

When all of this went down, my mom was upset and said that my aunt was "put in the middle by Mark and his wife." I don't see it this way; I see it that my aunt put herself in the middle by disregarding her son and DIL's wishes. I can remember my mom bitching about how wrong it was of Mark and his wife to do this.

I spoke with Mark and his wife to get some pointers on how they navigated the new territory that came with having kids and the crazies. His wife suggested I be very, very clear with my wishes and expectations. I want to do that with my mom and dad, but I'm not sure of WHEN and HOW to communicate this to them.

My DH suggested waiting until I arrive in the states, but had no suggestions on how to say it to them. I was thinking of saying something like, "We do not want either of my brothers nor my SIL to hold or play with DD. We know that although you both may not understand or agree with this, that you will respect it. Thank you in advance for respecting our wishes."

My BFF told me that if we are at a family function (which we will be; there are a few family parties at which my entire family will be) and one of my brothers or my SIL magically ends up with my DD, to just go up to them and say, "It's time for DD to eat," or "She's due for a new diaper," and just take her away.

I am not sure if I want to clearly spell out that I don't want them to play with or hold her, though. My mom is the type where she twists everything and fabricates stories to make me look like the most demonic person to ever have existed when it comes to my brothers, and since I'd be communicating this verbally (unless I choose to do it via email before we arrive), she would undoubtedly twist my words and tell everyone how sad it is that her only granddaughter can't be held or played with by DD's uncles and aunt. When I think of this, my BFF's approach seems best. But then I second guess that and think it is better to be clear, and that I don't need to defend myself to anyone.



Willow2010's picture

My BFF told me that if we are at a family function (which we will be; there are a few family parties at which my entire family will be) and one of my brothers or my SIL magically ends up with my DD, to just go up to them and say, "It's time for DD to eat," or "She's due for a new diaper," and just take her away.
This. It will save a lot of drama in the long run.

What are you afraid will happen? Are they nuts enough to try and hurt the baby in front of you and your whole family?

bulletproof's picture

I agree that it will save drama. Thank you Smile

Scubed, it is necessary that I prepare myself. Interactions always used to end poorly because once they started in on me, I would get upset and act on my feelings, which fueled them. The way I learned, through therapy, to change this and to take control of myself and not allow it to go to that place is to think of and then look at all possible options and figure out which is best ahead of time, so that when the time comes for me to say/do whatever, I am 100% prepared and I do not become emotional. That way, I can't fall victim to them.

This is very new to me, so it doesn't yet come naturally to act on the spot.

Jsmom's picture

Families are all difficult. I agree with not saying anything and just being vigilant when you are there. Otherwise, you start a visit out on the wrong note. Just be very attached to your child and direct them away if it bothers you. But, do not go in with this attitude, or you will have a miserable trip.

arjuna79's picture

I had to do this. To protect my daughter from abusive relatives. Be vigilant, be concrete in your boundaries, without the emotional charge. Stand up and be the protective mother - you don't need to justify it to anyone. Remember, the relatives who will be most offended by you holding an appropriate boundary are the ones who have NO boundaries or common sense themselves. You don't owe them any explanation.

You can hold a safe, unviolated space for your daughter and she can still get to know her relatives. Just recently my daughter (now 26) THANKED ME for keeping her SAFE in that crazy environment.

moeilijk's picture


You will know what to say and what to do - the crap you put up with yourself you will not tolerate when it comes to your daughter. You just won't.

doll faced sm's picture

This all depends on you. You know yourself well enough to know if you will buckle under family pressure when the time comes. If you think there is even a remote possibility that you will change your mind once you are *in* the situation, then let them know very clearly now. Better to be the demonic daughter that your mom will make you out to be anyway than second guess yourself in the moment with disastrous results.

hurtandalone's picture

No advice but I wanted to say that I know exactly what you mean about your words twisted and demonized. I am also the "difficult child" in my family as my mom likes to say and have all of my words and intentions demonized. I am also one of the oldest of 7 kids so there is a lot of opportunity for my mother to play the victim. It truly hurts at a level unlike anything I have felt before to be rejected and demonized by your mother. Especially as an adult. I'm sorry Sad Oh, and I made the decision a year ago to not play her games any more, we do not talk.

bulletproof's picture

My older brother has been verbally abusive to me my entire life. My younger brother has been verbally and physically abusive. They have always and continue to blame me for their actions. I have given them chance after chance for over a decade now and they continuously treat me the same. The last I spoke with them, I was yelled at and cussed out. I said then to take some time to think and reflect and contact me again, because I would not be against a relationship with them IF they changed how they treat me. Haven't heard a word since.

My brothers are the same as my bi-polar cousin except they aren't diagnosed bi-polar. And even now, when my name or my DD's name is brought up, they make nasty comments and refuse to even be around a conversation that involves our names.

I do not want my DD to be around toxic people. With a history of yelling at me, cussing me out, (both of those things happened when DH and I visited with SS a few years back), and the continued nastiness, lack of respect, and now the behavior at the mere mention of our names, I don't think it is okay for them to hold my DD.

To put it into perspective, if I had to choose between BM or SS and one of my brothers or my SIL holding my DD, it would be extremely hard to choose.

bulletproof's picture

This is a good idea. My BFF actually said she'd accompany me to the extended family gatherings to help. She can be that person!

justbdais's picture

I agree with your BFF, sometimes it is just easier to not say anything and just be onguard and take the baby from them with an excuse that she needs feeding or changing. Unless, like your cousin, you are dealing with someone who you are worried would physically hurt your child, then just let it play out. I never wanted my SS14s mom anywhere near my DS, she is crazy and I knew she would try to befriend him (or try to hold him)...gross! When they day came and she saw him I freaked out on my DH but then I realized that it was not something I can control because I can only control myself. Will there ever be a time you leave you DD with your mom by herself? Or with anyone else? If you will always be around, you will always have eyes on DD and can step in when you get too uncomfortable. I think if you make it known that you don't want certain people holding or near DD it will just create more grief for you during your visit, and some people may even go out of there way to make sure they go against your wishes.

bulletproof's picture

I doubt I will leave my DD with anyone. IF I need a sitter, I'll have my BFF's mom watch her before I let anyone else.

farting_glitter's picture

Bullet, I would just keep that precious DD of yours away from these people... Sad

twoviewpoints's picture

" And even now, when my name or my DD's name is brought up, they make nasty comments and refuse to even be around a conversation that involves our names."

If this is how they feel, it's very likely the brothers won't come near you or your baby. They don't sound as if they would have any interest in trying to hold and/or play with Baby. I assume you'll be the main person holding/carrying around Baby at these events where brothers/SIL will be present.

Instead of making this something that drags Mom/Dad into this (she thinks the brothers are just dandy) or put them on the spot with 'no you can't hold Baby' (which could set off temper scene from the brothers) why not ask a different trusted relative or a good friend to hold baby for you while you use the restroom and/or go to get a plate of food? Let Mom/Dad hold and play with Baby when you intend to be right there. At the other times give her to someone you know you can trust and simply ask if you feel it's necessary 'please hold baby for me while I run ______, I'd appreciate it if anyone else ask that you ask them to wait until I get back' you can mumble about colds, illness or something being the reason or you can flat out state it's reassuring to you to know exactly where Baby is at and exactly who has her. That might not work with your parents being your Mom has this brother thing going on, but it should work every well with a trusted other person. That person will guard Baby in her/his own arms knowing you're counting on him/her. Your parents? Maybe not so much.

bulletproof's picture

I can see my brothers making nasty remarks to my DD about how they don't know her because of me keeping her from me and things of that nature. Obviously (and thankfully) she won't understand them, but with the comments COULD come them trying to hold her because they want to make me uncomfortable and they think they're entitled to hold her regardless of what I say. The crossing of boundaries in my family is ridiculous.

My SIL is also a worry. She loves kids and has always wanted them, but my jerk older brother married her with the promise of children and has since gone back on his word. Apparently she is all over the babies in our family, and I can definitely see her trying to get DD ESPECIALLY when my mom is holding her. I don't even want my SIL to talk to DD, frankly. Though she never did anything directly to me like my brothers have, my SIL is obviously loyal to my older brother since she is his spouse and she has told me to "just be quiet and let them be" when my brothers and father have been yelling and cussing at me...mind you, she came into the picture when I was 18, so she told me to shut up and put up with it when I was an adult!