My mother-in-law wants my 5-year-old to sleep over at her house. The problem is that even though she has been living with the same man for several years and my husband and I think he is very nice, we still don’t feel comfortable with our daughter sleeping over at her grandmother’s house with him there.
We have offered to let my mother-in-law spend a night at our house, but that isn’t a good enough option for her. She told her live-in that we thought he was a child molester and now we have an estranged relationship with him and her. How can we repair the relationship without giving in to her demands?
— Inadvertent Insulter
You can’t, and please don’t.
You’re not in this spot because you implied Grandma’s boyfriend is a child molester. You’re in this spot because Grandma wouldn’t take no for an answer. She applied enough pressure to force you either to make up flimsy excuses or admit something you’d rather have left unsaid.
Your reservations about Grandma’s boyfriend are so devastating that there was bound to be some strain whether your mother-in-law pushed or not. But even if your discomfort was entirely unfounded, refusing the overnights was your only choice.
And as someone who loves your daughter, Grandma would likely agree. Let’s say we could go back to before things unraveled, allowing you to pose this scenario to her in conversation as a hypothetical — say, in response to a news story. She’d likely be unequivocal in agreeing that these hypothetical parents should never leave a child in a situation they felt uneasy about.
Not to mention: Parents get to say no, period, even for their own stupid reasons.
Trust this, please. Trust that your mother-in-law put her feelings and ego and need(iness) above your fundamental entitlement to decide what’s best for your child. Her error has cost you dearly, too, I get that, but better that than the much higher possible price of overruling your gut.
(c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group