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'Pushover' MIL watches grandson wreck her house, then asks to be compensated. AITA? + Update

'Pushover' MIL watches grandson wreck her house, then asks to be compensated. AITA? + Update


"AITA for not paying for the things that my toddler destroyed?"


Sorry in advance for the mistakes I'll make, as English is my second language. I (36F) have a 2.5 years old son. He is energetic and curious, like every child supposed to be.

Meltdowns are age appropriate but he usually doesn't do that unless he misses sleep, gets sick or something like that. I make sure to let him release his energy in playgrounds etc.. everyday so he wouldn't climb furniture. lol.

Our parenting style is similar to that British show called super nanny . By that I mean, for example, If you don't eat your vegetables, you won't get any deserts. No matter how much you cry won't change that. Or 19:30 is the sleep time after our night time routine.

Unless there is an extreme case, %99 of time he will be in his bed, trying not to be in bed to have more fun. We do a little dance where he comes back to me and I put him in his bed again and again. Rules are the rules.

My MIL (58F) lives far away from us and invited us to her home so she can see her grandson face to face instead of everyday FaceTiming. Her home is filled with nicknacks etc...

I mean, it is not ideal to have my toddler live in there for a week, but with our parenting style, if we say no, it means no, so we thought it would be manageable with my 24/7 supervision.

What we didn't calculate was my MIL's character. She is not a recovering people pleaser. She is a proud people pleaser. She thinks she is like Mother Theresa, but it is actually one of my husband's traumas that he had to act extra aggressive to people to protect his mother from the people using her.

She started giving my son chocolate cake behind my back, because he refused eating his proper meal and I was like "he will eat when he is hungry". Apparently she couldn't imagine a toddler being left hungry by his mother. and since he is refusing the meal, he has to eat something, right?

Whenever my son has meltdowns for the things that I wouldn't let him do, she saves him from his despot mom and does the thing with him... because she couldn't bare watching him cry like it is the end of the world.

Thanks to her week long actions, now my son thinks my MIL overrides my rules. If he cries enough he can get what he wants. So now, he doesn't stop crying for a looong time, since eventually his angel of a gramma will save him.

Today I woke up with the flu, and my MIL volunteered to babysit him. After a few hours, she came to my room asking for me to pay for her kitchen cabinets. Apparently he was banging a ladle on the cabinet doors and made a lot of dents on the paint.

I was like, "where were you when it happened?" She was right there, she wouldn't have left him alone, of course. "why didn't you take the ladle from his hands?" well he didn't let her...

After the meaningless back and forth with similar questions, I already had a headache from my sinus. I just went back to sleep saying "No I won't pay, and it seems like you need to discipline your grandson and be the bad guy for the first time." Now She is crying in her room so AITA?

Here were the top rated comments from readers:


NTA. Your son didn't "let" his grandma take the ladle back? Assuming your MIL has perfectly functional hands, she should've easily been able to take a ladle from a toddler.

Normally, I would say that parents are responsible for anything their child breaks, but it sounds like Grandma didn't want to discipline your son under any circumstances but has no reservations about making it your problem.

And if your MIL were better about enforcing rules and boundaries in the first place, your son probably wouldn't have been able to get a hold of the ladle and use it to hit the kitchen cabinets hard enough to cause noticeable cosmetic damage.

Sadly, it sounds like these kinds of problems will persist unless you set hard ground rules with your MIL. It'll take a while to get your son to stop associating his grandma with laxity in the rules, and he'll keep pitting the two of you against each other.


The parents are responsible if they are the ones watching the child. With a babysitter, it’s a more complicated question but if the babysitter could have stopped the damage (or anticipated and prevented it), it’s definitely on them and not the parent.


NTA. I wouldn't worry about it. If she can't manage to stop a 2-yr-old from denting her cabinets while she's standing right there, she's not going to be able to get money out of you, either.


NTA. Sounds like grandma f*cked around and found out. You were doing right by your child, and she decided she knew better. The price for that sounds like new paint. Hopefully she learns her lesson on this one and grows a bit of a backbone with her grandson.


NTA. Why should you pay for the damage caused by your son when you MIL, who volunteered to babysit him, was supposed to be watching him? If she doesn't want to discipline the child, then she shouldn't volunteer to watch him.

Let me tell you a true story about myself. My parents left me alone with my grandmother on their date night, and I started chewing on a cord that was plugged into an electrical outlet.

My grandmother, like your MIL, didn't want to make me cry, so she just let me keep chewing on it until I eventually broke through and got electrocuted, burning a giant hole in the side of my mouth that left a scar that remains over 50 years later. Refusing to discipline a child is not an act of love; it's an act of laziness.

Two days later, the OP returned with an update.

"UPDATE - AITA for not paying for the things that my toddler destroyed?"


So, when I took my rest, no longer having a headache, I sat down with my MIL and talked about how her actions effects my son and my son's relationship with me and the environment he is in. I told her that undermining my authority is never a good idea.

Even though I might be stricter than she prefers, this is how I choose to raise my son. I've been with him 24/7 since the day he was born. And I do observe he is more happy and learning better with more structured life.

She tried to argue that she is a mom for 36 years and I am just a mom for 2,5 years. I told her, my son is not the same person as her son so they may have different needs. Plus the time is different now we grew up playing on the streets with our big cousins taking care of us, where a car barely passed by.

Every neighbour knew us and and there was a "it takes a village" situation going on. On the other hand, my son doesn't have that "let him free, they grow themselves" kind of luxury.

Well, since in her head, she is the best and nicest person around, she still tried to argue whatever she did, was for the good of her grandson. It took for me to threaten her with letting my husband know about this and let him decide what to do going forward. Then she accepted to act according to my wishes.

There were a lot of comments in my previous post about what my husband does meanwhile. Well, he travels for work, he just spent the first day with us then hopped cities for a week, auditing the franchising locations he is working for.

And when the week ended, he came to take us to our hometown, which was yesterday. I try not to share every small disagreement with my husband. as he is always quick to action instead of thinking it through.

While we have the same principals about life, and we agree about almost everything, yet I think his execution of our same ideas needs some more grace, in my opinion... That was why my MIL was afraid of his reaction to this situation. She knows for the fact he may decide not to show her grandson to her at all.

At the end she did do what I told her to but still tried to make me the bad guy by saying "well your mom told us not to do that" instead of saying "it is a wrong thing to do".

It took her half a day to revert back her usual self. You guys were expecting some broken nicknacks when I mentioned them, well it happened. Her fridge door is full of magnets that she collected around the world while traveling in her younger days. I forbid my son not to touch them at all. And he did avoid them altogether.

Until, She override my decision and said "being curious is good for kids. lets look at them together and you can touch the plastic ones." My son instantly being mesmerized by them, made them his life mission to explore every single one of them.

He was now obsessed with them and he slipped all day and found himself in front of the fridge every chance he got. He doesn't know the concept of plastic or not.... and of course eventually dropped and broke one of the non plastic ones.

I am not paying that either. lol. Karma I guess. I am just glad he didn't broke the heirloom crystal glassware that was showcased in a show cabinet. That would have broke my heart as a wannabe history geek.

Ps. Few comments made fun of me referencing super nanny. I admit it was wrong of me to that. I just wanted to paint a picture in your head about my parenting style. And I only watched 2 episodes and happened to agree the methods used there.

I googled the problems about super nanny and I learned that they were forcing kids to act out to have more drama on screen, and blasting kids mistakes to public may result with them getting bullied at school, which is indeed abuse.

My kid is not problematic, he is just energetic and curious. and I don't think I am punishing him by setting rules. He is more happy when he can guess what will happen next. Predictability makes him feels safe and in control.

Here were the top rated comments from readers after the OP's latest update:


Look, she saw the consequences to her actions (not enforcing the rules = her grandson destroying her things) and she’s not learning. Just consider this a teaching moment for everyone involved.

Either she learns to enforce your rules, she learns to not let her grandson around her breakable stuff, or eventually you learn it’s not worth the hassle of the fallout and stop letting her around him. Someone will learn eventually. Hopefully it’s not just the toddler.

This is not me trying to be mean to you, I personally think she’ll learn first. I have the distinct honor of not being in the middle of it so I can laugh from afar as you and your husband roll your eyes in frustration at his mother being obtuse. (But don’t roll your eyes because that’s a pure sign of disrespect and it’s not good to do it regarding people you like/love.)


"now she is crying in her room" ah, so she is not only a people pleaser, she is manipulative too.


I am usually in the school of parents should always pay for something their child has ruined but in this case I am not. I don’t know what the fuck her mother-in-law was expecting to happen. Also OP honestly really needs to tell her husband that she will not be going to visit their mother-in-law unless he’s there the whole time to keep her in check.


I think "the person responsible for the child should pay for the damages" is the more accurate statement of the rule, which is upheld in this situation - Grandma had assumed responsibility for the child, during which time he damaged her kitchen cabinets.


This is the most "play stupid games win stupid prizes" post I've ever seen. Toddler with high energy who works well with a routine? Let's take him off the routine and see what happens. What do you mean you won't pay for the damage caused by me explicitly flouting all your instructions and not bothering to toddler proof my house at all?

So, what do you think? If you could give the OP any advice here, what would you say?

Sources: Reddit,Reddit
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