Issues with family babysitting — The Bump
Babies: 3 - 6 Months

Issues with family babysitting

My dad's been practically begging to babysit.  He's watched DD once before for a brief period of time (~1 hr).  Yesterday was my birthday, so we asked my dad to watch DD for a few hours tonight so DH and I could go out to celebrate.

In the past, my dad has questioned our parenting choices to the point that he gets into arguments with us.  He argued for 10 minutes once about why we don't use powder.  Whenever we mention something we want to do, it takes forever to justify our choice to him.

I fed DD at 4:30, and my dad came over at 5.  We showed him how to use our glass bottles, and told him that we only have 9 bottles in the freezer, to give her one between 6:30 and 7:30, but try not to use a second one unless necessary.  We went out and had a great time.

We got home at 9, and he said she just ate at 8:30 and that she only took half a bottle.  He chastised us for leaving a frozen bottle.  He said that she was screaming, and that it wasn't warming fast enough in the water.  He said we need to leave a liquid bottle so that he can microwave it, which we told him not to do.  I don't know if he actually microwaved her bottle tonight or not.

When I asked why he waited so long, he mockingly said that we told him to treat those bottles like gold, that I was whining about pumping.  He said that it wasn't that hard to pump.  That he went through it with me, and he knows what he's doing.  He didn't actually pump (obviously), but it can't be that hard and that my mother did it.

Every time I tell him how we do things, I do it in a respectful way.  Instead of doing what we ask, he shoots back with retorts of "it worked for you".  I called my mom (they divorced a few years ago) and she told me he was the same way when I was little - he'd never listen to her, just do what was convenient for him.  He actually gave me formula bottles when he took care of me, and that she never pumped.  He refused to put me in cloth diapers when I was little, he'd buy a special pack for when he had to deal with me on his own.

So right now I'm really frustrated.  He gets upset when we don't ask him to babysit.  When we do ask him to babysit, he stresses us out and challenges our choices.  Would you let him babysit again with clear, written instructions, or would you just ask the other 3 local grandparents next go around and put him off as long as possible?

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Re: Issues with family babysitting

  • :hugs: I'd just be honest and have a tough conversation w/him.  I would start by telling him you appreciate everything that he has done for you and for your LO and that you want him to be involved in her life, but that e way things are going really stresses you out and puts a damper on things.
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  • i struggle with this sometimes too. My SIL watches my LO 2 days a week. She has tried alternative bottles and an alternative formula thinking that my LO has too many gassy issues. I don't feel like my LO needs a different formula or bottles because her gassy times are random and not constant. Maybe once or 2x a week she'll have gas pains and cry for 30-60 minutes and then it'll pass. Pedi says that babys GI system is just immature and she'll gas time to time and its normal.

    Its tough because I trust her more than LO's daycare because I know she loves my daughter and I don't want to be ungrateful BUT you can't go against a parents "parenting rules" 

    I try to remember that even though she is doing things differently than me sometimes that she is NOT endangering my daughter and I try to be more relaxed about it. There are some things that are obviously not ok, like safety issues. ie:sleeping w/ blanets, laying LO on tummy, etc. But when its just different than my way, I try to just go with it.

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  • image mindymaske:

    I try to remember that even though she is doing things differently than me sometimes that she is NOT endangering my daughter and I try to be more relaxed about it. ...But when its just different than my way, I try to just go with it.

    I agree with this in general, and if he were just powdering her butt, I wouldn't care.  But I have a really hard time pumping.  DD needs 4 bottles a week for the nights I work.  It takes me two 20 minute sessions (1 morning and 1 night) to get a 3 oz bottle.  So not feeding her for hours then leaving half a bottle uneaten really drives me crazy.

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  • I would not let your dad watch LO again. He clearly doesn't respect your parenting decisions and sounds like he never will. Grandparents can be a wonderful thing in a child's life, but that doesn't mean they have a right to co-parent your children. Your dad can have a supervised relationship with your child if he can't handle respecting your simple instructions. Frankly, not feeding your child on time is cruel in my opinion, which would be a deal breaker for me, not to mentioning the microwaving issue.
    I also think it's creepy that people demand to babysit small babies. Spend time with them, yes. But spend time with them alone? Weird and a clear sign they don't want the parents there overriding their decisions.
    I don't think you have to bend over backwards to accommodate your dad's feelings when he clearly isn't doing the same for you. Just be direct. Tell him he does not follow your simple instructions and therefore will not be babysitting. It's not like you are saying he can never spend time with LO or that you are limiting his time with her in anyway. If he freaks out over that, then you know it's because he wants to play daddy when you aren't around. 
  • I don't think anything nefarious is going on, I just think he's set in his ways.  He's jealous that we ask my mom to babysit way more than we ask him.  She was at the birth, he wasn't.  She stayed the night the weekend after she was born to help us, he didn't.  He thinks anything she can do, he can do just as well or better.  And he wants to prove it.
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  • My mom is this way: she says "ok" to all my instructions but then does what she wants. One day, I asked her to feed DD2 at 1, 4 and 7:30 pm. She fed her at 2:30 and 5:15 pm. Totally not the same times. For me, it's important to keep a certain schedule, but she told me she'll never ever wake a sleeping baby.

    Anyway, we do have all 4 grandparents in the city we live in but I trust my mom 100x more than the others. I mean, my in-laws can babysit (together, they couldn't do it alone) but I still am most comfortable with my mom.

    So, I basically have to accept the help she gives or I'd get no help at all.

    I'm interested in other responses, because I need this same help!

    ETA: Like a PP said, if it's just "different than my way" but not endangering the kids, I try to relax about it.

    About the bottle thing... sometimes babies just don't eat all that you give them. Did your LO just get full sooner than usual?

    Also, was she sleeping? Like, did he not want to wake a sleeping baby?

    Lastly, for the microwave thing, explain how dangerous microwaving a bottle is.

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  • image juliane2004:

    About the bottle thing... sometimes babies just don't eat all that you give them. Did your LO just get full sooner than usual?

    She only ate 1 oz after not having eaten for 4ish hours.  I know she was more hungry than that.  As soon as he left, she chugged the rest of the bottle and nursed solidly on top of that.

    Also, was she sleeping? Like, did he not want to wake a sleeping baby?

    He said they were playing all night, and he put her down after eating.

    Lastly, for the microwave thing, explain how dangerous microwaving a bottle is.

    Microwaving any bottle can cause hot spots that will burn the baby.  Microwaving a glass bottle can create small cracks in the bottle that can cause them to shatter.

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  • image AndromedaEclipse:
    I don't think anything nefarious is going on, I just think he's set in his ways.  He's jealous that we ask my mom to babysit way more than we ask him.  She was at the birth, he wasn't.  She stayed the night the weekend after she was born to help us, he didn't.  He thinks anything she can do, he can do just as well or better.  And he wants to prove it.

    Disrespect doesn't have to be nefarious to be wrong. Personally, I wouldn't want anyone using my LO to prove a point to their ex. You mentioned it stresses you out to have him babysit and not follow your instructions, so it seems pretty simple. Either you value your parenting decisions more than his need to prove himself or your don't. If your parenting decisions come first, then don't use him to babysit. It's not punishment and it's not cruel. It's a question of what matters most to you. You can also ask yourself, would you rehire a non-family babysitter who completely disregarded your choices?

  • image AndromedaEclipse:
    image juliane2004:

    Lastly, for the microwave thing, explain how dangerous microwaving a bottle is.

    Microwaving any bottle can cause hot spots that will burn the baby.  Microwaving a glass bottle can create small cracks in the bottle that can cause them to shatter.

    Yes, I know. :) I meant, explain it to him. :)

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  • OK on some things you need to stop explaining and put your foot down. You explained why bottles cannot be heated in the microwave so next time the response is, "dad, I already explained the reason why. I am telling you for the last time the correct way to heat the bottles. Ifd you can't follow these instructions then we'll find someone else to watch lo." Sometimes you just have to get bitchy.

    On somethings you need to give. Leaving a frozen bottle for anyone watching your child is just setting them up for failure. You know how long they take to warm. You are a master at looking for hunger cues and you have a feeding routine down pat. But if you want people to be comfortable watching your child then do whatever makes it easier on them.  Before you leave,stick the bottle in a cup of water and left it defrost over a couple hours.breast milk can certainly sit at room temp for a few hours. No ones, not even a grandparent is going to feel comfortable hearing your baby cry. And they resort to what they think is best because your instructions are failing them. 

     Lastly you are not going to change your parents. So decide if you can bend a little or work with them to compromise on how some things are done. Those things which are not inherently dangerous may not be the hill to die on. 

    I totally empathize with how hard pumping is and how challenging grandparent babysitters are. But at the end of the day they are doing you a favor and based on what you've written I believe there is a solution. 

  • You do not have to justify your parenting decisions to your father.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat and for some issues, I'd say let it go.  My MIL watches LO every Friday and every Friday she goes through all of the back-up clothing we leave with her.  Says "oh, LO was SOOOOOOOOO spitty, he just had explosive spit-up - I had to change him".  Realistically I know my MIL just likes to see my LO naked (I do find that weird, but it's more my MIL is a weirdo rather than my MIL is a pedophile, I agree little man is cute just hanging out in his diaper).  She also doesn't pay attention when she is changing his diaper and he ends up peeing all over, then she uses the spit rags to catch the pee/wipe him off.  So at the end of Friday I get a plastic bag of damp spit rags and clothes.  I have just resigned myself to doing more laundry on Fridays.  Annoying?  Yes, but I can deal because it isn't hurting LO.

    However, MIL wasn't respecting our feeding schedule.  Pulled the "I did it this way with DH and SIL".  We told her that was nice, but this is how we are parenting "our child".  I also said that LO is happy on the schedule we'd set (he actually set it) and when the schedule isn't followed then he is cranky.  We didn't have a discussion about it, just said this is how it is for the feeding/sleeping/changing schedule.  

    If your Dad will not follow your directions on major issues (which to me are health, safety, and schedule) and is combative, perhaps he is not a good childcare option.  The next time he begs, tell him you're not comfortable with him watching DD because he doesn't respect your parenting.  Sometimes the cards just have to be laid out on the table.  He can cry and fuss, but ultimately your baby = your rules.

    Way easier said than done, so best of luck.  DH and I are still struggling through issues with his parents and will be starting couples therapy soonish to help us work through the challenges.


  • Obviously, there are definitely some issues with your dad and I would not be leaving my DD alone with him if he deliberately wasn't following my instructions.

    That said, if you knew you were going to be gone long enough for LO to need to eat again, why in the world would you not leave a bottle fully prepared? That doesn't make any sense to me at all.

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  • So let me get this straight.... You won't let your father babysit again because he wants to use powder, doesn't want your child to be hungry while a frozen bottle of BM thaws in water and used disposable diapers on you? 

    Really?

     I'm totally with you that people should respect your choices as a parent, but sometimes you can let the little non harmful things go. Jmo. I would draw the line at microwaving, but leaving a bottle of BM in the fridge that is good for a few days solves that problem. 

    chasechristmas

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  • There are definitely issues that need taken care of. The microwaving of bottles namely. Now I don't bf, but even formula is good in a fridge for 24 hours prepared.I do think it would be a courtesy, especially since you even told him TO feed lo once that night to have at least that bottle thawed in the refrigerator. That way if LO likes a warm bottle it goes in the hot water a lot shorter of a period of time, and doesn't cause any stress.

    The rest of it I don't think is a big deal aside from your dad trying to tell you it is super easy to pump. He doesn't do it. Once he has boobs and a baby and actually goes through pumping then he can give his input on how easy/hard it is to pump, and I would tell him so. There is no need for talk like that.

    I would just inform him that if he thinks microwaving a bottle is the option, that you don't feel that he is best suited to take care of LO while you aren't around. That you don't mind him being around and a presence but that you prefer to also be around to actually do the taking care of. If he can adapt to proper bottle feeding then it isn't a big deal for him to babysit. 

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  • I'd be honest with him and tell him.  If he doesn't respect your choices, then he can't babysit.  It's his choice. 

     

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