My Mother In Law…

My mother in law…

This sounds like the beginning of a joke from one of The Comedians from the 70’s.  Sadly what is about to follow is not funny.

My mother in law thinks it acceptable to let my very young children drink coffee. She loves the way they clamour around her for a sip or a slurp.

The first time she did this I watch in horror, but I didn’t say anything. By my silence I was complicit in letting the eldest child have caffeine. His first three drinks were milk, water and Full Roast Arabica.

The next time she came I changed her brew to decaf. I stick up two imaginary fingers every time I make her a cup.

This week she went to drink her coffee and my 14 month old crawled over. I said ‘no Daniel, you’re too young for coffee’. Can you guess what happened next? That’s right, she offered him the cup and he took a good swig.

Can any of you think of a more polite way for me say ‘WHAT THE EFFING HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?’? I didn’t trust myself to speak.

I feel better for getting that off my chest.

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35 Responses to “My Mother In Law…”


  1. 1 Anon November 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    its probably ignorance, tell her that giving children coffee stops them absorbing iron from their food. make out you have just found out, that may work.

  2. 3 crunchy November 4, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Well..I can’t say anything since I drank very milky tea and coffee from a young age. My mom gave it to me!

    Not in Starbucks quantities…

    and do you let your kids drink pop??

    • 4 Post Author November 7, 2009 at 7:32 pm

      My kids are only 2 and 1. I had milky coffee when I was young too, maybe from age 7 onwards, but I think they’re a bit young. No, they don’t have pop.

  3. 5 Cafe Bebe November 4, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Good God almighty! How did you hold your tongue! I had a somewhat similar thing when my mother gave my Little Miss a crisp. We don’t give Little Miss crisps and are pretty adamant about it. She’s 17months…she doesn’t need them! But, what did I do when it happened. Sort of chastised in a gentle way, saying “GRANDMA!” and that was it. It’s so hard…

    I know they’ve been through it all but when mothers or mother in laws can’t respect how YOU want things done, it’s really rude and offensive, if you ask me!

    • 6 Post Author November 7, 2009 at 7:34 pm

      I was horrified, but too scared to say anything. She had just ignored what I said to her so what was the point in saying anything else?!

  4. 7 Liz (LivingwithKids) November 5, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Actually I would have said ‘what the effing hell do you think you’re doing’. Maybe not in a way to frighten your child, obviously. But she has absolutely no right to go against your wishes. Tell it to her straight. And maybe stop offering her coffee!

  5. 9 Linda November 5, 2009 at 12:08 am

    I don’t understand why you haven’t said anything?
    Nothing to be polite about, surely?

    If you feel strongly enough to blog anonymously about it, finding the words to tell someone that you don’t want them to do something, when they may have no clue they are upsetting anyone, *should* be a walk in the park?

    really sorry if I am missing something obvious here. xx

    • 10 Post Author November 7, 2009 at 7:39 pm

      The reason I haven’t said anything is that she is a scary woman. No one ever says anything to her. All her children are scared of her too. My other half did tell her that we’ve stopped giving them coffee so not to give them any please. Next time she’s over we’ll find out if she respects our wishes. I don’t have high hopes. x

  6. 11 Claire November 5, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Grrrrr …. slap her!!!

  7. 13 Wives and Daughters November 5, 2009 at 10:37 am

    I know how you feel, my MIL does those sorts of things all the time (but not with coffee lol) she doesn’t ask just does them and then before I know it the moment has passed for me to say anything.

    It is easy for the moment to pass by and then not speak up. But I have started saying things like ‘grandma’ just like CafeBebe said and that works well x

    • 14 Post Author November 7, 2009 at 7:40 pm

      I’m glad ‘grandma’ works for you. It falls on deaf ears here. It is difficult, especially if you don’t speak up straight away x

  8. 15 Aingeal November 5, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I swear they have soemthing ingrained in them that makes them not listen to anything parents need to say as well as forgetting everything they probably did with their children. Do you think we’ll turn out like them one day? I hope not

  9. 17 20somethingmum November 5, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I would get a glass, fill it with apple juice so it looks like a glass a white wine, then ask the kids if they want a sip in front of her. See what she says when she reacts in horror, then mention how she doesn’t mind giving them coffee, an adults drink, so why should wine hurt? Bet she wont do it again!

  10. 19 Alison November 5, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I would speak up. I know it’s easier said than done but if you don’t say anything, she won’t know you’re not happy with it.

    Good luck if you decide to!

  11. 21 gaelikaa November 6, 2009 at 5:20 am

    I sympathise with you. I really do. But speaking out might be more trouble again. Just let things calm down. And then, one day, when there are no kids or coffee around, tell her tactfully that, well, you don’t want them to have coffee just yet. Better still, back it up with some medical evidence. Once she knows how you feel about it, she’ll think twice about it. Wish you all the best!

  12. 23 Anon November 6, 2009 at 8:44 am

    I once caught my mother in law, together with her sister, giving my 12 week old a sip of wine and thinking it was funny.

    I couldn’t trust myself to speak (we had a long Christmas period to get through) so grabbed my boy and walked out and got my husband to talk to them (more calmly than I ever could have managed).

    I have NEVER forgiven her. Even typing this now makes me feel angry again.

    Then, I get loads of grief from my husband about how my mum always gets more visiting time with the kids. But seriously, how on earth can he think that I can trust his parents after that. It has caused more than a few heated moments between us.

    • 24 Post Author November 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

      That is shocking. SHOCKING. My goodness. Good for you taking your child away. What a shame she has caused arguments between you and your husband too. x

  13. 25 Potty Mummy November 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Bearing in mind that after the first (and only) time I gave my 4 year old son a sip from my frappucino he then spent half an hour on the loo, I’m inclined to agree with you that this is not a great habit to get into… Can you not just tell your mother in law that you don’t want her to do this? Or am I just being overly positive about her ability to process sensible requests? If that doesn’t work, just tell her that you’ve banned coffee in your home and offer her herbal tea… (Yes, I know it tastes rubbish – but it might get the point across!)

    • 26 Post Author November 7, 2009 at 9:54 pm

      The fact that I asked her not to give him coffee and seconds later she gave him coffee makes me think she has no respect for me in my own home. My other half has spoken to her so I’m hoping she has listened to him, otherwise I will have to stop offering coffee. I used to love herbal tea, but since my 2nd pregnancy I can’t drink it!

  14. 27 Very Bored Housewife November 7, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    That’s insane, I thought my mother was bad by trying to get my boy to drink coke, she thought bizarrely, that if it was ‘diet’ it would be OK!

  15. 29 Jo Beaufoix November 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    OMG she sounds like my ex mum-in-law.

    I hope she took it in but if not maybe go for the ‘we haven’t got any coffee.’ Maybe after the 20th time she’ll get the message. Maybe…. Good Luck.

  16. 31 anon November 9, 2009 at 9:58 am

    What’s the big deal..? You cleverly solved the issue with decaf…?

  17. 33 Iota November 9, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Don’t want to up the emotional stakes here, but this might not be just about coffee. There are bound to be many things that you do differently to your mil when you bring up your children. If you get into a pattern of not being able to tell her what goes and what doesn’t go in your house now over this, you might find it harder to do so over the next thing that comes up and the next thing.

    The decaf trick is a sensible short-term option, but it might be worth having a discussion in the family on how you set your own rules for your own children. I’ve just read the other comments, and it sounds like you did that by getting your other half to talk to her – good for you!

    • 34 Post Author November 9, 2009 at 7:47 pm

      You are spot on, it’s not just the coffee. It bothers me that she can so easily brush aside my views and I’m annoyed with myself for not saying something to her at the time. She is a pretty scary woman! Fingers crossed that she has listened to my OH. We find out tomorrow!


  1. 1 Coffeegate « Parent Confidential Trackback on November 10, 2009 at 10:32 pm

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