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Mom Calls Out Her MIL For Refusing To Correct Strangers Who Assume Grandson Is Her Baby

Grandmother with young grandson
People Images/Getty Images

We’ve all heard the stereotypes about children loving to spend time at their grandparents’ home, and their grandparents spoiling them and generally not listening to how the parents want to raise them.

But when a grandparent oversteps boundaries and seems too attached to their grandchildren, it can begin to feel like something out of a horror movie instead of a fairy tale, shuddered the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor One_h**l_of_a_lifeee was becoming increasingly concerned about the relationship her mother-in-law was building with her four-year-old grandson.

But when she overheard her mother-in-law talking to her son about his soon-to-be-born sibling, the Original Poster (OP) was certain new boundaries needed to be established.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for thinking my Mother-in-Law’s (MIL) obsession with my son is absurd!?”

The OP had a strained relationship with her mother-in-law (MIL).

“I have a four-year-old, and I am due with my second baby midway through this year. My husband (27) and I (25) have been together since we were teens.”

“MIL (47) was jealous from the get-go of our relationship. I’ve read up a bit on this, it’s to do with her not having their emotional needs met by a partner so they subconsciously use their son to meet those needs.”

But the relationship became worse when the OP had children.

“Then when I fell pregnant with my now four-year-old, she kept saying ‘my baby,’ and sometimes she would slip and start referring to my hubby as our child’s ‘brother.'”

“This continued my whole pregnancy and she would boast about it to anyone and everyone.”

“Then when he was born, it all amplified.”

“She wanted to take him to spend alone time with him from the time he was a couple of weeks old, and would be offended when we said no.”

“She would always say that Grandma loves him more than his parents do.”

“She would kick up a giant stink whenever she wasn’t able to take him out alone, and she never wanted to spend time with him around us.”

The OP attempted to set boundaries but to no avail.

“There were so many times when we tried to set boundaries, but she would always do it her way and guilt-trip us.”

“We have had many talks… me alone with her, my husband alone with her, us together with her, and it always ends with her crying, guilt-tripping us, and running to tell the rest of the family.”

The OP’s MIL even pushed the issue when out in public.

“When we would do things together, she would physically push the pram (stroller) out of my hands, and she would push the pram EVERYWHERE anytime we were together.”

“‘I’ll push my baby,’ she’d say, and I was never allowed.”

“She would never correct people if they assumed she was his mother. And as his parents, we thought that was too weird. He is always ‘her grandson’ but never ever is he our son.”

“Anytime we do anything, it is ALWAYS about her. It’s like she’s now using my son to meet her emotional needs, which even though it’s subconscious, to me it’s SICK! I have tried to place more boundaries but always get met with guilt trips.”

The OP’s MIL tried to control milestones and special moments, as well.

“When we go places together where my son will experience what I call ‘firsts,’ all of those things are taken over by her. Even just small details like going to buy a drink, she NEEDS to take him instead of us.”

“She either takes him and does things without us, or I’ll say, ‘Hey, maybe he could do that with his parents, too,’ and she will be unhappy and make sure that he holds HER HAND and he’s sitting next to her and not us.”

“She always, always makes sure if he comes over to me that she gets his attention back onto her. She constantly, constantly tells him she loves him the most, he’s her favorite, he’s her favorite person, and any time we do anything together, she makes herself the center of his attention.”

The OP was worried about what would happen when her second child was born.

“Now that I’m having another baby (also a boy), I have been worried it’ll be the same thing all over again.”

“But it’s not. I caught her telling my son, ‘Don’t worry, you will be Grandma’s favorite always. You are Grandma’s boy. You won’t have to share. I’ll always be your favorite person,’ and to me, that is just horrible.”

“She is saying things like, ‘You and Grandma can do things together, and mum and dad can have the new baby…'”

“Am I the a**hole for thinking that this is just absurd behavior!?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some were wildly perplexed and creeped out by the MIL’s behavior.

“She doesn’t care about the mental well-being and emotional needs of your son. She just wants her wants and if she needs to hurt him to get them, she doesn’t care.”

“She is emotionally abusing your son.” – Haunting-Aardvark709

“It also sounds like she plans on excluding or treating your second baby as less than your firstborn. He should not have to grow up wondering why grandma doesn’t love him as much as his brother.”

“You are doing the right thing by setting boundaries. It’s not easy. Congrats on the new baby!” – TNG6

“‘Sometimes she would slip and start referring to my hubby as our child’s brother.’ Something else to toss in here, that’s just as disturbing. The way she refers to the child as hers add an extra creepy layer of incest to things.”

“OP said that she’s already made the husband into a pseudo-spouse in the past, so this is kind of her adding on to that. This is ‘her child’ with her pseudo-spouse.”

“I don’t think she’d ever actually do anything to OP’s husband, but I just wanted to add this in to emphasize how wrong this situation actually is here.” – SquirrelGirlVA

“This is not someone you should allow around your children. What you’re describing is called emotional incest. She needs to get it together before she can be involved.”

“This is what’s best for your child. You have to do what’s best for your child every time, because you’re responsible for protecting him, even from family.” – etchedchampion

“NTA. MIL is not relating to your son as a person. She’s using him as a doll.”

“Alert your son’s babysitter, daycare, and schools that MIL is not permitted to visit, pick him up, or have alone time w him. Inform his health care provide.”

“(God forbid) your son is hospitalized, put MIL on a strict supervised visits only policy.” – Hedgehog-Plane

Others urged the OP to set boundaries, go no contact, or really anything. 

“The family is putting pressure on you so you don’t rock the boat. Your MIL is a narcissist, and she will do real harm to both your sons and their relationships with you and each other if you don’t stop this now. Cut them all off if you have to, but do not let this continue.”

“Put another way: MIL rocks the boat. Everyone else scrambles to right it. You need to get off the boat.” – Pleasant-Koala147

“Your MIL is unhealthy to your son and to your family dynamic. Like poisoned candy. Your son doesn’t know better because his grandma is currently the only one who keeps showering him with attention every time they meet, giving him everything he wants, and promising him all the yes’es (whether or not she can fulfill them).”

“As his parents, you and your husband know why you have to say no and put up boundaries, but your son doesn’t understand that. Instead of allowing that poisoned candy within your son’s sight and reach and then telling him no, you need to keep it out of the house for his sake until he learns why it’s bad for him and his loved ones and how to say no for himself.” – Kiruna235

“Though I’m sure you aren’t meaning to, you and your husband are prioritizing the relationship with his family over the well-being of your son.”

“Are you willing to sacrifice the relationship and well-being of both your children to continue these relationships?”

“Bad people cry too. Bad people have backups and supporters too. You MIL to your children and that relationship is bad and toxic. Cut her out.”

“I know it’s hard, but you’re parents. Parents sometimes have to make hard decisions for their children and their happiness and well-being.” – WRose287

“MIL is completely the a**hole, but you need to recognize that you’re allowing her to get away with this. You can’t set a boundary, have her break it, and then not punish her for it. That’s teaching her that she can break all the boundaries you set, and that her emotional manipulation works.”

“Also, your husband should be the one setting the boundaries, it’s his mother, so it’s his responsibility. If you don’t stop this now, it will only get worse and your son will suffer the consequences of being emotionally manipulated by her.”

“If your extended family is all turning on you, then they probably aren’t people you need in your lives, either. But you can’t allow her to do things without consequences being upheld. It’s the same as teaching a kid rules. If you don’t hold her accountable, she will never listen.”

“Maybe you could have a written statement of what your family rules/boundaries are, your husband can present it to her, and if she loses it and runs to her family, then your husband has proof of his demands for her family.”

“Hopefully, they’d see that the demands are reasonable, and again if not they’re just as bad as her.” – probsnta

After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update.

“I understand it now after reading the comments, sometimes it is hard to look in from the outside when you are stuck on the inside.”

“For a while there, I thought taking her away may have been a bad decision because of how much he adores her. In my mind, I was taking away someone he cherished.”

“After reading the comments, I can now see what it is from the outside looking in. I just needed that boost to get there and get out of the box. The guilt I was feeling was mainly because of how he feels toward her, which now I get.”

“How could a four-year-old not cherish someone who gives into his every whim? I get that now that’s actually manipulation but when you stand here and watch them and you watch how his eyes light up when she’s around and how excited he is, it does take a little bit of a shove to look at it from a different angle and have that realization moment.”

The subReddit was thoroughly disturbed by how the mother-in-law was treating her grandchild and excluding his parents away from him whenever she was around, not to mention the newborn when they arrived.

Fortunately, it seems the OP was listening and simply needed the comments as support and would be able to make the best decision for her children.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.