‘You are not my Mama!’: mother-in-law fuming after 18-month-toddler refuses to call her ‘Mama’

Gillian Sisley

For some parents, the idea of their child calling anyone else "mama" can be a difficult concept to grapple with. This is the situation that one Mumsnet user recently found themselves in with their in-laws.

*This is a work of non-fiction sourced from social media discussion boards and verified experts/specialists.*

The author begins by explaining that she has a child, who was 18 months old at the time, when she started calling their own mother "mama" and their father "dada". That said, the author started hearing something rather concerning, as she explains:

“One day I heard my mother-in-law tell my child to call her mother and then on another occasion Mama. When I asked my mother-in-law not to call herself Mama she said I was mistaken... but I wasn't.”

Grandparents often cross boundaries with their grandchildren in an attempt to show their love, but it is important to set clear boundaries with them in order to ensure healthy relationships. Setting boundaries can include communicating your needs and desires and setting consequences for crossing those boundaries.

Despite the author’s demands things didn’t change, and a line was crossed when her child refused to comply, as the author continues in her post:

“I heard my father-in-law do the same thing. Until my child shouted at them saying 'you are not my mama!'”

The author confronted her in-laws about the situation, and they still claim they weren’t up to anything, yet are still trying to get the child to call them names which make the author question their motives. She concludes:

“Now they want my child to call my mother-in-law a name from their country that strangely sounds like mummy, they said it means grandmother in the country. Should I talk to them or wait till they give up?”

The author is now unsure of what to do, and asked fellow users for their advice. Many suggested that the author should speak to the in-laws about their behavior further.

One author commented:

“If the child is that young, they need to understand that they are their own person and they can choose who they want to call whatever they want.”

Another author agreed, saying:

“I think it's really important to talk to them, and to clearly explain why you prefer your child to call you mama and not someone else.”

What do you think?

Should the author kick things up a notch and set a firm boundary with her in-laws, who refuse to follow her instructions and keep crossing the line?

Or is the author overreacting to the situation, and should let her child decide what they want to call their grandparents?

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