A mother writes in to Lisa Belkin at The New York Times’ Motherlode blog asking whether she should be worried that her mother-in-law keeps putting her potty-trained son in diapers. Though the child is 3.5 and plenty capable of using the toilet, his grandmother, who watches him two times a week, insists that he wear a diaper.
There are many reasons for this mother to worry, the mother-in-law’s actions aren’t the biggest.
First reason to worry: the mother and the mother-in-law do not speak a common language, which shouldn’t be a problem except that they rely on the 3.5-year-old to do all of the interpreting. About this power struggle of a situation. At which the toddler is the center. Red flag!
Also a reason to worry? The father has apparently left the mother to deal with this problem. He’s an adult. He speaks both languages. He’s got a foot in both cultures, which is important here, since the grandmother is playing the “in my culture” card and claiming she’s more accustomed to kids in diapers until they’re 4 or 5. It’s worrisome that the child’s father is not more involved.
Final worry: the parents’ inaction (except to look for assurances from readers of the Times that the grandmother isn’t harming the child or setting back his potty training success by putting him in diapers). The mother’s parents watch the child three times a week. If the two-times-a-week grandma can’t get on board, and if the child dreads being with her, it’s time to pay someone to watch him.
At least until he’s 4 or 5 and, in the mind of a diaper addict, an acceptable age to not go in his pants.
Would you tolerate someone refusing your potty-trained child a trip to the bathroom?
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