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I don’t want to cost him a relationship with his grandchildren and daughter.
Thanks in part to your careful teaching, he might have the emotional intelligence to distinguish her expressions of pride from the boundary issues they’re wrapped in.
Accordingly, the most respectful example you can set for your boy is to act on his feelings on this issue, not yours.
The primary goal after all is not to vilify Grandma.
Instead it’s to teach your son to find his limits and articulate them for himself. As your son matures, teach him ways to apply this formula himself.
Let’s say you witness an instance of his looking uncomfortable as she’s showing him off to her friends.
In that case, you need to stand up for your son as you also acknowledge her needs: “I know how proud you are of your grandson, but that’s enough for now — he’s uncomfortable.”It’s a formula you can apply widely here, to enforce limits firmly while showing kindness toward your mother-in-law.
I gave up when during her baby shower we got her a stroller and signed it “Pop Pop & Nana.” My stepdaughter bluntly informed me that her baby has only one grandmother and in no way was I her.
Since then I have stepped back and sent my husband to see her alone.
Dear Carolyn: My mother-in-law treats my son like a toy that (not who) is there to amuse her on her terms and show off to her friends.
My husband and I are trying to raise our child to respect others and be attuned to others’ feelings, but how do we do this when Grandma defies all of that, especially with him?
Do this both in the moment -- “I know Grandma loves your voice, Sonny, but you don’t have to sing ‘Heart and Soul’ for us if you don’t want to” -- and in conversations with your son after any awkward encounters with your mother-in-law.