I very recently became a Godmother to an amazing baby girl who already has my Husband (her Godfather) wrapped around her little bitty pinky, I'll refer to her as "A" from now on. We are over the moon to have been chosen as A's Godparents, but becoming Godparents has introduced a challenge we never saw coming. My Mother has decided that she wants to not only meet A, whose Parents don't much care for her, she wants A to call her Nana (aka, Grandmother).
Now, there is a precedent in my family of more or less adopting nonrelated Grandchildren under certain circumstances. After my Uncle married my Aunt, her Nieces' circumstances took a dramatic turn for the worse and it looked like my Uncle and Aunt might have had to adopt her. This unfortunate period in her life lasted long enough that my Grandparents sort of adopted her as their Grandchild and she calls them Grandmommy and Granddaddy to this day many years later. However, A's circumstances could not be more opposite. A has wonderful biological Grandparents, her Parents are stable/loving and everything else you could want for her.
As I previously mentioned, A's Parents don't much care for my Mother and have said point blank they don't want my Mother making A call her Nana or any other form of Grandmother. I am 100% onboard with their wishes as is my Husband. The only person not on board, is my Mother.
My Mother and I have a somewhat rocky relationship as it is and when I tried to broach this topic the first time she dissolved into tears, demanded to know why I was denying her a Granddaughter, and said a slew of other things not worth repeating. When it comes right down to it, I will adhere to A's Parents wishes without fail as I feel A is more important in this situation than my Mother's disappointment. What I need advice on is how to approach this with my Mother again to make A's Parents wishes clear, as well as my commitment to honoring them, without the conversation resulting in tears and shouting again.
Cornered by a Manipulator
I'm sorry that you're having to go through this. Agreeing to be godparents to little A is a big responsibility and an honor. Your friends clearly see you and your husband as the kind of people they would want their daughter raised by if anything ever happened to them. Good job and what a joy for you!
Now, regarding your mother. The truth of the matter is that this isn't about her. Or even about you, really. This is about A and A's parents, who are making an important decision about their child's future. It is wonderful that they are thinking hard about who should be responsible for A if they weren't around, and I know that the decision to name godparents also gives you a special relationship with A. That relationship does not extend to your mother. A is not part of your family. You and your husband will have a wonderful, joyful tie to A her whole life, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with your mother, regardless of anything else that may have happened in the past. This situation is unique.
Kudos to you for realizing that you need to abide by A's parents wishes 100%. Now comes the hard part. Setting boundaries with your mother. When your mother breaks down into tears and calls you every name in the book because she doesn't get her way, she is being manipulative and emotionally abusive. That kind of behavior does not make a strong relationship. If you want to be close with your mother, or even maintain the status quo, you'll need to have strong boundaries and stick to them. Tell your mother, KINDLY, that these are A's parents wishes and you will be following those wishes to the letter. Let her know that you love her and you see that she's upset by this news, but that the subject is non-negotiable and you won't be discussing it further. Period.
Sound harsh? I know it does. And I don't mean to sound patronizing when I say this, but you have to treat you mother's behavior like you would a child - be clear and be consistent. You can apply this lesson to any other area of your relationship with your mother because this kind of behavior is inappropriate. Believe me, from one who has had to work hard on boundaries in my life, the exercise may seem hard, but it's totally worth it. Again, I'm not advocating being mean to your mother. But you need to draw a line in the sand about this issue and be willing to stick to it. And if you use this approach with other tough interactions with your mom, she'll start to understand what you are and are not wiling to put up with in your relationship with her.
I hope this helps, and I wish you luck. Please let me know if you need any further advice.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.