Dear Thelma: My mother complains about having to take care of my son

  • Family
  • Sunday, 19 May 2019

I’m 34 years old and I’m a first-time mum. Before I got married, my relationship with my mum was good. However, after I got married and gave birth to a baby boy, everything seemed to change.

My husband is working overseas and I’m a working mum. After discussing with my husband, we both agreed that it’s better to live with my mum while my husband was away for work since we need her help to take care of my son.

For the past three years, we have also been giving a reasonable amount of money to my mum for taking care of my son and for letting both of us live at her home.

However, recently, I feel that my mum is starting to hate both of us, especially when my three-year-old is having a tantrum, whining or shouting loudly at home.

Whenever these happen, my mum will constantly shout at me and request that I move out of her house, saying that she doesn’t want to take care of my son anymore.

I told myself to just be patient and forgive my mum for whatever she has said or done. However, recently I found that my mum is so evil and secretive.

She even told my mother-in-law and our neighbours how extremely naughty my son is, and telling them frankly that she is so frustrated with him and that she doesn’t want to take care of him. She even told my mother-in-law that it’s better to ask me to stop working and take care of my own son.

My question here is, how can my own biological mum be so calculative with her grandson and daughter? We need more time to enable a three-year-old to understand what is right or wrong.

Another issue is, how could my mum talk bad about her own daughter behind my back and how could she say all the negative things about me and my son in front of my in-law?

Luckily, my husband is finally able to get a new house and we are preparing to move out from my mother’s house with dignity. In a few more months, we will stay together as a family of three and we plan to take care of our son together.

In the morning, we will send him to a pre-school and by noon, my husband will fetch him to my mother-in-law’s house for lunch. We are also thinking of asking her to help take care of our son for a few hours until I finish work.

My husband and I both believe in good and bad karma. We choose to forgive and forget all the bad things my mum has said and done. We believe our aim is to build a happy and healthy living environment for our son.

But occasionally, I still feel sad and cry when I think of all the hurtful words that came out from my mum’s mouth and the feeling of being betrayed by her. My heart is really searing with pain.

Dear Thelma, I really need your kind advice. Is all this negativity my fault?

Depressed daughter

Your mum has told you that she doesn’t want to take care of your child fulltime. Indeed, she has said so over and over again, to you and your relatives – and even her neighbours. She has also told you to move out. Yet you have ignored her wishes.

I’m puzzled why you think you’re entitled to take up her home and her life in this way. You appear to be well off, so it’s not as if driving needs have forced you into this position.

Let me spell this out for you: Your mother is not a maid or a nanny. She is also not running a hotel. Your mum is an older lady who has worked hard all her life, and who was no doubt looking forward to a few years of peaceful retirement.

My advice is that you apologise to your mum immediately. She sounds like a very nice woman for having put up with this for years, so she’ll probably be open to a conversation about the best way for you to move out and to start taking responsibility for your child.

As for moving, that should be done as soon as possible. Go and stay in a hotel or rent a bed-and-breakfast. If your mum allows you to stay a few more weeks, start paying for a nanny today, or take time off work and look after your child yourself. While you are house-hunting, pay your mum for your room and board.

After you have apologised, ask your mum and mum-in-law how much they want to be involved in raising your son. Do not demand; you are asking a favour. Childcare is the responsibility of you and your husband, not your older female relatives.

In that vein, I have a question about your plan of sticking your mother-in-law with your son every day from noon to night. Have you asked her if she wants that responsibility? If she suggested it herself, then OK.

If she is not enthusiastic about this arrangement, rethink your plans. This is your son, so have your husband cook his lunch and arrange for a sitter or a nanny to mind him when you two are busy.

Finally, when you have moved and are settled, I suggest you have a good long think about your attitude. You talk about karma but it seems to me that you have only considered your own needs in this situation. Use this experience to improve yourself.

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help.  E-mail or write to Dear Thelma, c/o StarLifestyle, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.

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