Q. I am uncomfortable with my baby getting attached to my mother-in-law. What should I do?

Answered by
Dr. Padmapriya Chandran
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
Published on Aug 20, 2017

Hello doctor,

I am not sure if this is the right category to post my question in. My problem is with my mother-in-law. Or maybe the problem is with me, after all.My baby boy is now 8 months old. He is a handful most days. He is not the type that plays by himself and he gets bored really quickly. He is not crawling yet, but he is sort of mobile and very tiring to take care of. He needs constant attention all day long with no breaks except his two naps. Whenever I leave him in his crib to cook his meals or to go to the toilet, he screams horribly and continuously and will go on for at least half an hour, which is as much as I ever left him screaming. In the last two months, I have started feeling run down by all this crazy schedule. I used to be a relaxed, lazy individual and now I have something to do every minute. I cannot get a break and I cannot even think anymore. I started having migraines with aura, something I have never even heard of before, constant tension-type headaches and insomnia. And with these, also anger. A lot of anger. I never hurt the baby in any way, but I did scream at him a few times. I did cry in front of him. And I did have fights with my partner, also in front of the baby. In the last two weeks or so, the baby seems to not like me anymore. We used to have fun but now he is not responding to my jokes and my playfulness. Instead, he is becoming very attached to my mother-in-law. She comes twice a week to help and when he sees her, he squeals with delight and tries to jump out of my arms to be with her. He is obviously very happy to see her. When he sees me he could not care less, not even a smile. Once when he was on the couch and I extended my arms towards him and called him to come to me, he turned around and extended his arms towards his grandmother. Which I found humiliating and it filled me with rage. I could not sleep for days. I wake up at 3 to 4 AM and think about how he prefers his grandmother and how his grandmother is snooping into my life and at the same time, I need her since she offers me some time off. I feel stuck and have a lot, a lot of anger. I am ready to cut her visits off to once per week or less. I am furious at the thought that I gave up my life to stay here with this baby and care for him constantly and he prefers his cheery grandmother that comes in once in a while. I feel like I love my son less because of this. Generally, I loathe unrequited love and avoid it like the plague. I find it even more difficult to attend to his needs. I am ready to give up her help because the pleasure of the free time it gives me weighs less than the pain of seeing my baby reach out to her and ignoring me like that. I am so furious I am ready to part ways with my partner as well if he takes his mother's side.

About my mother-in-law, she loves the baby but also intrudes upon my relationship with him. She always wants to hold him and pretty much tries to dictate how we raise him. But, this does not work, and I do things as I see fit. Overall, she has an influential position and I think the baby might respond to that also. I do not know. She is spoiling him and cuddling and cooing all the time she spends with him. And says stuff like 'come to granny. Granny loves you', 'you are so happy because granny is here, are not you?' etc. It makes me sick. Of course, she is very nice to me as much as she can. I am sure she is holding back a lot of privileges to be in my house with my baby. But, my baby becoming more attached to her and preferring her over me is something I cannot deal with. Do you think my baby stopped liking me because I raised my voice and was aggressive in his presence? Will it get better if I never do that again? I am really trying to, but it is hard for me. I have an explosive temper. What can I do? What should I do? I am at a loss. I am not good with managing my feelings and my relationship. I am super sensitive to rejection and tend to reject the people who reject me. But, this time it is my son and I feel like my love for him is fading away as the anger about the whole situation grows. My partner says I am being irrational and I reply that it is normal that problems stem from being irrational because that is what most people's problems are. Rational problems would probably involve calculus problems. So, why talk about that. Yes, I am irrational but that does not make this any less of a problem. He says I should see a psychiatrist, get some depression pills and then rethink this whole situation and decide if I really want to make his mother come less often. He seems involved in his work and inattentive to what is going on in the house. He says he will be more attentive to see if indeed the baby prefers his mother. All I know is, whatever his conclusion if I feel it is bothering me, then it does not matter what his so-called objective opinion is. I will want her out of my life, even if it means more work for me.

Dr. Padmapriya Chandran

Psychiatry Psychologist/ Counsellor


Welcome to icliniq.com.

  • You are suffering from an adjustment disorder. The anger and frustration are due to your new role as a mother.
  • A mother-child bonding is unique. Nobody can separate your son from you.
  • Of course, he belongs to you. But, he is also her grandchild and hence it is alright for him to be petted by his grandparent. It is natural for children to feel very attached to their grandparents.
  • Allow the child to interact with her freely. This will let your child grow up to be a family oriented man, who respects family values.
  • Meanwhile, use this time for your physical and mental relaxation. Start a physical fitness regimen. Invest in a new hobby. You will slowly get over it. After all, life has much more to offer. Moreover, this could be a temporary phase.

You can review with me for further follow-up.

For further queries consult a psychologist counsellor online --> https://icliniq.com./ask-a-doctor-online/psychologist-counsellor

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