Clashing with your in-laws or parents over decisions regarding your kids is extremely common — we’ve all been there! But one mom on Reddit has commenters divided on if she’s setting healthy boundaries with her mother-in-law (MIL) or being too controlling.
In Reddit’s Am I The A–hole? forum, a mom of three boys (6-year-old twins and a 4-year-old) recently posted about her decision to cut off unsupervised visits with her kids and MIL due to the secret fast food and junk food meals she was feeding them.
In the post, the mom wrote, “I am very peculiar about the children eating fast food like McDonalds and KFC.” Although they have had fast food on occasion, the mom prefers that “they don’t know McDonalds even exists.” Apparently, her MIL didn’t agree and “rolled her eyes the first time I mentioned this and asked her to not order it.”
“She told me she thought I was being ridiculous because my husband ate McDonalds every day after school and he turned out fine (insert him having the most delicate stomach I’ve seen on a human being),” explained the mom. “I told her she can think it’s silly, just to please not order it for the boys. She agreed. A few weekends ago surprise surprise the twins came back talking about ‘their secret meal from mummy’ giggling around. I took them to the mall and they were frantically pointing at the big M begging me to go.”
So, after the MIL agreed to not ordering fast food for the boys, she apparently did anyway, calling it a “secret meal.” Teaching my kids to keep secrets from me? Yeah, I would be livid.
Because the mom is a full adult, she decided to just have a conversation with her MIL about it. “I called my MIL told her I did not appreciate it and she should at least tell me next time,” the mom wrote. “She said okay, it was a one time deal.”
Apparently, that was also a lie. The next weekend, “the kids ate a ton of snacks, drank only sugar drinks and stayed up till 12 a.m. That includes the 4yo. I tried to talk to my MIL again and told her we can make compromises but she needs to be willing to work with me.”
This mom then gave her MIL a third chance to not lie to her, but you can guess how the story goes. “Kids come back the third weekend giggling again and tell their dad they ate McDonalds 3 times over at grandma,” she wrote.
At this point, the mom decided to keep her kids home, prompting the MIL to come over and ask what was wrong. When the mom voiced her frustrations, the MIL said, “it was her house her rules, I was controlling and needed to get myself a hobby. She also called me an a-hole when I said from now on she is welcome to visit them at our house but they won’t be going over to her house.”
Reddit was divided, for one thing because the mom was getting free weekend babysitting — every weekend. Sounds like the dream right? But the mom clarified in her post, writing: “For everyone saying stfu if you want a babysitter for the weekend, well, I can watch my kids and I can call a babysitter. I won’t screw with what I stand for because I want someone to take my kids for a day or two.”
The mom also addressed commenters who said she “went crazy that I am creating picky eaters and withholding certain foods.” She said, “I can only laugh. They’ve become picky after eating so much junk and now refuse healthy foods and keep begging to get the same ‘cool’ nights they have at grandma. So yeah, she made fast food to be this unicorn food and I have to spend 20-30 minutes trying to explain why we cannot have cheeseburgers for dinner and candy and stay up late.”
Others on Reddit took issue with the MIL teaching the kids to keep secrets from their parents. One commenter wrote, “Kids should never be encouraged to keep secrets (apart from temporary nice ones like not telling daddy what he’s getting for his birthday because it’s a surprise). Abusers weaponize secret-keeping so it’s important for everyone around kids of that age to always be aware that the only secrets you have are nice, temporary ones.”
Based on recent comments from the mom, it sounds like she’s decided to let her husband handle communications with her MIL going forward. She wrote, “It’s up to them to find common ground so she can eventually have them again. I’ve said what I wanted and I was ignored. It’s up to my husband to get her to listen or she’ll have to see the kiddos only at our house.”
Whether or not the MIL agrees with the fast food rules, she still should have respected the mom’s choices, not lied about it, and not told the kids to keep it a secret from their parents. This sounds like a toxic relationship to us, and we’re glad the mom is getting her husband involved to back her up to his mom. The free babysitting is definitely not worth the stress that comes with it!
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