I share custody of my 5-year-old daughter with her father. When he is at work, his mother watches her. My daughter is potty trained and doesn't wet the bed at my house. But her grandmother still gives her a spill-proof cup and puts diapers on her. I feel she is stunting my child's progress toward independence.

On the first day of school her grandmother even wanted to follow the school bus! When I protested, she called me out in front of my daughter. And the father won't listen to me. He just follows his mother's orders.

Am I wrong to be annoyed? What can I do to fix this situation?


Of course you are annoyed. You know your child has grown beyond spill-proof cups and diapers. And you know that no child likes to be treated as a baby.

From what you say, it sounds as if the infantilizing you describe hasn't led the child to regress. But the tension in the adult relationships in this situation could make it harder for her to stand her ground. Can you manage to control your feelings and present a calm, neutral approach to her grandmother's behavior?

If your daughter doesn't feel caught between her loyalties to each of the adults, or pressured to protect one from the other, she is more likely to be freed up to make her own decisions about it. I can almost promise you then that she will resist her grandmother's babying. If you and her father are not stirred up to get into the act, she will put up her own resistance. This will work better with her grandmother than just about anything else you can do.

If the child begins to show persistent, delayed problem behavior, you may have to enlist a court advocate (for example, a court-appointed guardian ad litem for the child) to try to intervene with the grandmother, but it would certainly be better if your daughter could handle it herself.

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