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Coffee With Clare

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Hi Family & Friends.  Welcome back to Coffee with Clare everything Thursday!  I am delighted that you are here!

Dear Clare:

I am frustrated and have a “catch-22” problem.  My mother-in-law (Sandy), who is a dear, lives about 3 miles away from us.  My husband, Jim, and I just had our first child (a boy, Jason, now 13 months old).  We are blessed as Sandy comes to our home and babysits Jason while my husband and I work full-time. We trust her without question; she loves that boy, and there really is no one else I could trust like this (with the exception of my husband and me – and my Mom who lives out of state).  We are on a limited income, and with the high cost of daycare, this helps us enormously.  

With that said, our dilemma is that Sandy feeds our son whatever he wants – she loads him up with carbs, snacks, sugar, sweets, sodas and the like.  Sandy does prepare nutritious foods too; she makes Jason a delicious breakfast and hearty lunch.  However, Sandy fills Jason with all these other non-nourishing “fillers” anytime he wants.  Both my husband and I have asked Sandy repeatedly not to feed or give Jason these unhealthy “extras.”   My husband and I are very health-minded and our healthy eating is very important to us.  We want to raise Jason to hopefully make healthy food choices, too.  Sandy is overweight and also overeats quite a bit of foods that we would never ingest ourselves!  We have told her repeatedly about our concerns – what can we do?   I want my husband, Jim, to handle this as it is HIS mother, and I don’t want any ill-will between us.  Apart from this, we have a great family relationship with Sandy.  Help!

Signed – Pulling my hair out in Cincinnati! 

Young boy eating piece of cake in cafe

Dear Pulling My Hair Out:

Both you and your husband need to sit down together with Sandy (when your son is not around), and explain how grateful and thankful you are that she takes care of Jason while you both work.  Speak from the heart and let her know how important nutrition is to your family; you want Jason to grow up learning how to make healthy choices.  Finally, talk with her about the importance of her supporting your parenting choices related to nutrition.  Tell Sandy you have a healthy nutritional plan, and that is why you are introducing these healthy foods to him now at such a young age.  Explain to “Grandma Sandy” that you do not allow sweets and sodas in the house – what you have here at the house is what he is to eat.  You may choose to prepare and label the food for Jason with which meal, and be sure and label any snacks.  Again, be sure to finish the conversation with praising Sandy for helping you and taking such wonderful care of Jason.

Wait a few weeks – if you don’t see any improvement, I would suggest you start to look for at least part-time daycare and explain to Sandy you are looking at other outside babysitting help a few days a week.

Portrait of unhappy adult couple having problems

Readers – any suggestions for “pulling my hair out”?

Thank you for stopping in today!  I invite you to email your questions, problems and “life challenges” directly to me at:   I would love to hear from you!

Until next time~


Clare is a 57-year-old fun loving Italian-American self-proclaimed “Jersey Girl” who believes, “Life ain’t easy street. Life is one of those crazy little city streets, complete with potholes that could swallow your car.” With one foot planted in fun and the other planted firmly in her Christian faith, Clare enjoys making people laugh while helping them navigate life’s “crazy little city streets”. Clare has raised two girls (now grown young adults) with her husband, Michial, Clare is ready to take on the challenges of making new friends through her blog, Life Ain’t Easy Street. With an aim to entertain while addressing topics important to women, Clare’s focus on the positive power of good stories, good friends, inspiring women, and strong faith will have you looking forward to reading the next post. Clare is a freelance writer who lives a real life in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

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  • lisa says:

    Having grandparents babysit is both a blessing and a curse. It’s hard to lead the person who raised you or your spouse in a different direction- after all, they refused you, and you turned out fine! Good luck!

  • My mom watched my sister’s twins and there were different but similar conflicts. It is hard to tell the person who raised you that she is “parenting” your children “wrong.” There were lots of hurt feelings over the years. But lots of good feelings too, but I think it would be great to sit down and have a discussion when a relative starts being daycare about the expectations. It also helps to pay them something because then it creates a professionalism in the relationship. My MIL said she wouldn’t make my daughter wear a bicycle helmet at her house. I said, “well, she won’t be coming to ride bikes at your house then.” She kind of looked at me and tried to argue, and I just said, wearing a helmet protects her from getting brain damage, it isn’t negotiable. I want her to be safe anywhere she goes. That ended the conversation and when she outgrew her first helmet, guess who bought her the second? 😉

    • Clare says:

      Wow – thanks for sharing that experience- and twins no less! That was a big job! Yes, straight communication like you are talking about and what you needed to do with your own mother-in-law is key here! I appreciate your sharing these experiences!

  • Farrah says:

    When I was little, my dad worked during the day and my mom worked at night and would sleep in the daytime, so my grandma would often cook meals for us, but they were thankfully pretty healthy. That can be a hard predicament to be in, but I think the advice that you gave was super helpful! I hope it works for them!!

    • Clare says:

      Thanks Farrah – and I know that must have been difficult on your parents. So glad you have fond memories of your grandmother helping out! I appreciate your sharing your experiences!

  • Great advice, praise God that your child is loved and you have a good relationship with your mil. x

  • This is exactly our fear! Coincidentally, my MIL is named Sandy too and overweight! My husband speaks very straightforwardly to his mom though. She is strong willed and will do whatever she thinks is okay, but my husband is not timid about his standards either! Our baby is still an infant, but I know we will run into problems like these with whoever is babysitting our child.

    • Clare says:

      Wow, wow Rachel – that is a similar situation! Goodness, well it sounds like your husband has taken the lead and is doing fine communicating with his mom! I would suggest the two of you sit down together and try to iron things out before MIL if and when watches your baby a lot! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • GiGi Eats says:

    Oh man, that’s a tough one – don’t want to step on anyone’s toes 🙁

    I can only imagine WHAT it will be like when I have my first kid – ha!!! My husband will sneak him French Fries!

  • You give sound advice here! I am very particular about what my 18-month old eats so I totally feel for this momma!

  • Bread says:

    Great advice. She could also make sure none of this stuff is in the house.

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