When KC was born, I made the decision to give him a sugar-free life. No candy. No sweets. No pop. No sugar. And things were great. For about the first three years. Until the morning after I picked him up from my mom’s where he had spent the weekend. As usual, I gave him his bowl of “oatmilk” as he called it. Hot oatmeal mixed only with a teeny bit of butter and a lot of milk. Nothing else. He LOVED my oatmilk! So that fateful morn, when he picked up his spoon, took a mouthful of the hot cereal, wrinkled up his cute little nose, and pushed the bowl back across the table at me, I was stunned. But not confused. I knew immediately what had happened.

I calmly picked up the phone and called my mom. “Did you put sugar in my baby’s oatmeal when he was over there this weekend?”

She didn’t even try to deny it! Just led with “That baby can’t eat that thick bland oatmeal you make!”

[Sigh] What’s a mommy ─ who has a strong opinionated mother ─ to do when boundaries are overstepped? My child never ate a simple bowl of oatmilk again. It was always drowned in sugar. She introduced him to Frosted Flakes soon thereafter. The baby – who is now 21 – is still addicted to both.

Grannies mean to be helpful. For goodness sake, we know they’ve been through all of this before. BUT, this is your kid and your rules. GMA (as we call her) needs to know when to back off because her butting in is not kosher! The problem is how to tell her you have veto rights over your family and everything therein. She is your mama after all, and you want to respect her. But she’s gotta respect you, too.

The best way to handle this and not end up with Mommy vs. Granny and be on trial in your own home is to set up rules. Granny is used to rules. Heck, she made plenty for you! So now she needs some herself. (By the way, she had to go through this with her own mother, most likely, so don’t let her make you feel like this is a new experience.) Here are three rules to help you both get started. (If it’s hard for you to share this with your mother, just leave it someplace you know she’ll be nosing around and see it. I’m not usually an advocate of passive aggressiveness – until it comes to dealing with Grannies!)

Rule #1: Ask, Don’t Tell.

Granny, you must ask ME first. For example, please say “May I take the kids for ice cream?” rather than “I’m gonna take the kids for ice cream.” And for heaven’s sake, don’t ask in front of the kids! I don’t like being the villain in my own house.

Rule #2: No Means No.

Granny, if I said, “No, the kids may not play Xbox today” that means I better not see them playing the Xbox even IF they finished their homework. They ain’t earned no rewards this week!

Rule #3: It’s My Way or The Highway (unless someone is on fire).

Granny, when in doubt about my rationale, say “Because I said so!” (You said this one to me many times.) Please apply to any situation in which you don’t understand the method to my madness.

Oatmilkgate caused a showdown ─ wild, wild west style. My argument about how KC couldn’t miss something he’d never had, which was why he’d enjoyed oatmilk for three years without complaint, fell on deaf ears. So I had to play my trump card. I said it to him, but more importantly, I said it to her: “When it comes to the boy child, Mommy is the boss of GMA. Got it?” KC completely understood. Eighteen years later, I’m still working on GMA!


But may the Force be with you and your mom.

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