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Why is my daughter in law so competitive?

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Album1 Thu 07-Apr-11 09:32:43

I've tried very hard with my daughter-in-law, who's been with my son for seven years and married to him for three. They seem happy, which is the main thing, but I get very annoyed when she comes round because she's always subtly criticising the way I do things and implying the ways she does them is much more modern. A lot of this centres around food, but now she is pregnant - which is great - but I can already tell from the way she's talking that she thinks she's going to know it all and doesn't want to hear anything from me. I have no intention of offering advice where it's not wanted, but I feel she is deliberately trying to shut me out to prove she's in charge. Is this normal?

Fan9 Fri 08-Apr-11 11:01:49

this is so normal - I had the exact same thing with my daughter in law. She kept getting at me and getting at me ( although my son was of course oblivious) until finally last christmas after 2 and a half years of this I stormed out (not too old to be a drama queen grin) and she was slightly forced to apologise which led to a great conversation. I wouldn't recommend this route though, was very stressful but things HAVE been much better since.
Sorry, don't know how useful that is but really hope you manage to sort it out!

lillypie Thu 05-May-11 08:14:35

I have one like this and one who is lovely.I bit my lip and try very had not to obviously favour the lovely one grin

Avocado Thu 05-May-11 10:44:03

What sort of things is she criticising? Maybe she has a point?

Or maybe she feels that you are supercompetent at everything and she needs to prove to you that she is not just a silly kid who doesn't know everything? Maybe she wants your approval?

verybusyspider Thu 05-May-11 12:35:23

I'm a daugther in law smile and I did (maybe still do a little) have a lack of confidence around the in laws - I want them to love me and think I'm great and a compentent mother even if I do things differently to how they brought up my husband, ultimately I want their approval - I sure at times I have been a nightmare (although not conciously, I know I used to get very defensive) With my mum and dad I know I have unconditional love and understanding even if I say something stupid - I'm not sure with my inlaws and I'm looking for signs they even like me sometimes as its so important they do, I'm often on my guard so I don't say the wrong thing.

I think just as you are trying to get used to being a mother in law she is trying to work out where she stands as a daugther in law and maybe (as all kids do) find out what the boundaries are.

It has also taken me a long time to work out that when I was learning how to be a mother, my in laws and parents where learning to be grandparents and sometimes got it wrong too.

Maybe she is worried you'll disapprove of her parenting and is trying to justify her choices to you already? The sigma of bad relationships with inlaws also doesn't help, we are brought up to believe that we won't get on.

The break through with my mother in law was one day just saying I was finding it hard as a parent as no one ever told you if your were doing a good job, I noticed she started saying things like how happy ds was, commenting on his ability to do things like 'hasn't he got good fine motor skills' and not 'he's a late walker isn't he - X is the same age and already walking' (like she used to) or if I said 'he's been a handful' she'd say dh was just the same as a boy and I shouldn't be so hard on my self and she'd soon tell me if we needed to call in super nanny

as I've become more relaxed in their company (and I've been with dh for 14 years, married for almost 7 and have 3 children!) I find it easier to let their annoying comments slide and be more confident around them, I guess I feel I have less to prove, my relationship with dh is great and we are our own family unit.

Not sure if thats much help but only to say if she starts off on some critism make some none commital sound and change the subject - think of what she says that annoys you - does it really matter? is she just insecure in your company? is it a lack of confidence? what do you want from her in terms of understanding and acceptance? is it that she's asking for the same thing from you but is being a 'child' about it?

glassortwo Thu 05-May-11 12:46:59

I had a terrible few years with my MIL until we both realised that we did not have to fight for every small thing. We became very good friends and I miss her very much now that she is not here and feel we missed out on those years when we both were standing our ground.

I try so hard with my Ds P not to make her any different from my dd, and feel that as a MIL it is not my place to judge her, she is a very important part of the family.

All I can say is give DIL's a chance dont make it any harder than it is.

Woollyjumper Thu 05-May-11 13:41:04

I was warned by my late mother-in-law's cousin that I would make an enemy of her the day I married her darling son and boy did I do that to the extent that she even wrote a diary lying about how I treated her when I nursed her after a broken hip. Of course her son (now my ex) would not believe me over her and I never did get her to come round in her attitude and like me.

I now have a daughter in law of my own and learning the lessons of my own experience am very careful not to offer unasked for advice. Sometimes I refer back to my son's childhood and what we did with him but she knows I am not being critical of her. I am flattered too that when they were having a few problems she came to me for advice and complained about my son! She was right and I thank my lucky stars that we have a really good relationship and of course I adore my granddaughters.

This said it doesn't stop me getting occasionally a bit hurt if I have the mickey taken out of me by her and my son for my views and ideas but I keep my own counsel on this but may one day retalliate.

supernana Thu 05-May-11 14:41:29

Hello, We grandmothers (when new mothers) did things the way that we thought best...even though we were perhaps sometimes considered pushy or know it all by our own parents and in-laws. It's the way of the world. I have three fine sons and three very pleasant capable daughters-in-law. Now have seven grandchildren - all delightful! My mantra is - allow the parent to make their own decisions regarding the upbringing of their own family. I offer advice, if asked for. I'm there when most needed. It's understandable to feel "left out" but not a good plan to express dismay as retalliation can cause rifts...

dorsetpennt Thu 05-May-11 15:08:27

My daughter-in-law and son have been married 10 years and have known each other for 15 - teenage sweethearts really. They have a darling little girl of 2 and another on the way in November. I adore my daughter-in-law and we've never had a cross word or moment. With her pregnancies she kept me as involved as her own mother, I don't always agree with some of the things she does and vice versa but we've never had to have words about it. I know how lucky I am because I have friends who have a difficult relationship with their son's wife.

trixie Thu 05-May-11 20:13:25

I remember being made to feel very inferior by my late mother-in-law for more than 30 years. I was determined not to mete out similar treatment when it came to my turn to be a MIL but to give praise and encouragement wherever possible.

Luckily I have an adorable daughter-in-law who manages five children (including 9 month-old twins) in a way that leaves me stunned with admiration. She's amazing and I tell her so regularly!

grandmaagain Thu 05-May-11 22:28:20

maybe the wrong siteblush but just a word in favour of sons in law, I have 2 and I could"nt love them more if they were my own! they are both great partners to my DDs and great fun and friends to us smile

Clematis Fri 06-May-11 11:08:14

I had a great relationship with my mother in law - we were able to talk about anything and everything, and she was very supportive when we were first married. I was worried because my husband was an only child and son. She adored my son, and I dont know what i would have done without her support - and yes, love. I have had sad problems with my daughter in law, she prefers her own family to be fully involved in her and my sons family life. I bite my tongue, am careful not to be critical. For instance, she made clear from the start that Christmas would be with her family every year. I am invited up in January to deliver my presents. My son is afraid to say anything. Any ideas?

greenfordgran Fri 06-May-11 11:39:48

I think Xmas is a thorn in a lot of peoples sides re 'who goes where' can't you all go out for lunch and then back to someones house for present giving etc. we did this last Xmas & it was very successful ,everyone was included so no feelings were hurt.I thought I would hate it but it was lovely & relaxing.

Grannysmith Fri 06-May-11 13:23:36

Hi all
My son is not yet married (he is only 25) & I am hoping that when he gets married we will all get on. Reading your stories does worry me slightly! He lives in Sweden so I will probably have a lovely blond, blue eyed DIL who hopefully will like me. However I think that daughters do gravitate towards their mothers once married & not thier MILs. PS I have just become a G Ma to my daughter's baby but that's another stroy....

silkycat Fri 06-May-11 14:22:32

Hi bite your tongue sit back and let her get on with it smile and nod and say yes dear, has you will end up lossing your son and grandchild which is what as happened to me my daughter in law was all sweetness till they got married 3 years ago and we loaned them £3,000 everything was ok then this time last year we called with a card and present for our sons birthday and because she was having a bad day she sent me a text message shortly after we got home saying that we should have phoned before calling and that they want nothing more to do with us we still have the childrens christmas present as she wont let them have them l know my son should not have to chose between us but he will not return my calls or texts asking to meet and talk things over l am at my wits end and miss them all so much so just smile and say nothing good luck and hope all goes well with your new grandchild

HildaW Fri 06-May-11 17:01:49

Dear Silkycat....I doubt this was due to anything you did......such an extreme reaction is beyond any explanation. I just want to say how sorry I am and hope that either your son or his wife sees sense. The longer she keeps it up....the more damage she is doing to everyone.

supernana Sat 07-May-11 16:21:49

Hello...will some kind grannie tell me how to get a smiley face on my comment page please?

Rosiebee Mon 09-May-11 21:15:05

Just type in what it says next to the smiley face. Include the
I only found this out through another of the forums on Gransnet. Really enjoying the variety of forums.

KittyVentura Tue 10-May-11 23:39:07

I doubt many DILs mean to be competitive. Some will unfortunately... and some just plain dislike their MILs and (as a mother of one 7 month old boy so far) this makes me very sad and scared.

One of the problems is that most of the guidelines given by the health professionals now seems to contradict everything that was previously done, and all with "good" reason. We have so much information now available to us and so many studies have been completed which gives evidence to state that many things need to be done differently with babies these days. That's not to say that the olds ways were wrong, just that the more we learn, the more that guidelines change to prevent risk of illness or harm.

*Things like:
Not weaning until 6 months - Can cause digestive issues, allergies and other "badies"
Not allowing babies to sleep on their fronts - Increased risk of SIDs
Not giving the baby too many blankets - Increased risk of SIDs
Not allowing babies to "cry it out" - Can cause anxiety and behavioural problems
Following a "baby-led" routine rather than a strict routine - Can cause anxiety and behavioural problems
Giving water as a drink - No longer deemed neccessary
etc etc*

However, as most of you will have done things the way you did... and raised perfectly healthy babies in the process... it is sometimes hard for you to see and fully understand why we are doing things a different way.

This leads to a new mother feeling a need to assert herself more to ensure that current guidelines are followed... and for the older generation to think that we are being awkward. It's not the case at all, we just want the best for our babies.

I am personally closer to my MIL than I am to my own mother (which I think is fab because my husband has just one brother and I really am like the daughter she never had - it gives her that "front row seat" with our children that she might not normally get as a MIL). I love her to bits, respect her entirely and trust her implicitly. I felt this same need to assert myself though. It wasn't in any way to be competitive at all. I could just see, after explaining for the 5th time that week why my son did not need to be offered water, that sometimes it is hard to really appreciate why new guidelines are there when you raised healthy adults doing things a different way.

I hope that helps you see things from another perspective. We do all (and I'm sure many of you were the same) have an idea of the parents we want to be and how we want to do things and sometimes the determination to do things a certain was can come across as stubborn.

KV xx

harrigran Thu 12-May-11 17:26:51

My MIL was my saviour, she was always there with a helping hand and to babysit. When I had my DS she sat up all night making tea for midwives and supporting DH. I was devastated when we lost her at 58 and the children lost a wonderful Nanna. I try to be a good MIL too and will always help but never interfere, I offer advice but only if it was something I found worked for me. I know my DIL does not feel afraid to ask for help when she needs it.

MollyMurphy Thu 12-May-11 18:01:38

I think that its pretty common. Many parents are keen to do things differently, follow current parenting trends etc and I think they feel a need to try to get everyone on board. When people perceive that they want to do things a new way and have specific parenting values in mind they can be a bit defensive. I have to admit to being culpable in this regard at times myself.

She is free of course to want to be modern and do things her way. I would try to go with the flow and show a positive and encouraging interest in how she's doing things - probably a topic she will enjoy if she's like many new moms reading lots of child rearing books. That could help you understand better and open a doorway for her to fully explain herself so she doesn't feel the need for little side comments.

Just be wary of criticism and unsolicited advice. Nobody appreciates that.

baggythecrust! Sun 05-Jun-11 09:09:41

I love my ex-MIL. Always did, always will. She accepted me totally and was (is) a supergran. I used to find her super-efficiency and apparently endless energy a bit overpowering but she is so nice that I always knew that was just me feeling inadequate (don't we all, at times?) and not her fault.
My own mother has always felt threatened by me (I wonder now if she thought I was stealing some of my dad's affection that rightly belonged to her) and still challenges me over trivia all the time. She also challenges me about my daughters' way of doing things, which is often different from mine, as is normal. I don't ask my daughters too many questions so often I'm unable to answer my mum's. One day she said: "Don't you CARE?" This was because I couldn't remember exactly what OU course DD was doing. I thought for a bit and said: "Actually, no. If my daughter is happy, then I don't care how she chooses to do things. It's her life."
Eventually my phone chats with my mum petered out (she is not within easy visiting distance) because I simply couldn't handle the constant attack. We still have "conversations of purpose", as the Amish call them, and I still see my mum at family gatherings but I have, in effect, backed off. It is sad but it is also a relief.

Mamie Sun 05-Jun-11 12:34:20

KittyVentura - I think every generation thinks they have the last word in "scientific" evidence, only to see ideas change with the next generation. For example, whilst I agree that the evidence about SIDS is robust, I am not so sure about the "evidence" about late weaning and I am certainly unconvinced by the idea that routine, unless it is ridiculously over-strict, causes anxiety and behavioural problems.
I think these things feel terribly important when you have a young baby, but by the time you get to the end of the process (if you ever do), and youir children leave home, you realise that it is just that long-term process that is really important and that people who are text-book parents of young children are sometimes hopeless with teenagers etc
I think as parents you have to find the way that works for you, your family and your situation and that "expert" advice often needs very careful evaluation. You only have to look at the different outcomes of studies about the impact of different forms of childcare (nursery / home / childminder) to see that experts very rarely agree.

Poppygran Sun 05-Jun-11 17:07:05

I love her to bits, respect her entirely and trust her implicitly.

KittyVentura what a lovely thing to say about your MIL.

CATSGRAN Wed 12-Oct-11 08:49:06

I have tried very hard with my daughter in law but from day 1 it was obvious that she didn't want to be involved with the wider family. M son changed so much and from a very close friendship we now have virtually no relationship. I live around the corner and have done masses of daycare and babysitting for my grandchildren and have always tried to say the right things and tell them what brilliant parents they are..but the slightest confrontation with my son brings a punishing routine of no contact,no phone or text messages and it goes on for weeks if I let it...its always me that makes the apology even though I havent caused the problem...its making me ill and I can't sleep...I know that ones relationship will change dramatically once a child marries but surely my son should be able to find a place in his heart for me alongside his new family...any help would be gratefully recieved !

expatmaggie Wed 12-Oct-11 16:52:06

As for the guidelines; they arise from the 'new' idea that breast feeding is best for the child and our generation were conned by the dried milk industry to thinking that a bottle was more modern. I fed my 46 year old daughter on egg yolk at the age of 3 weeks and now she has got an egg allergy! She is a modern midwife and I didn't dare tell her that the egg allergy was maybe my fault as I was innocently following doctor's orders.

The DIL problem is very diffcult. My daughter married her schoolboy friend from down the road. We MILs are friends now and I found it difficult knowing both sides and sometimes things were tense until my daughter did behave badly to me. I went home and awaited an apology. When I criticised my DD her MIL stuck up for her! Since that day we have found a way to openly discuss the tensions which arise from DILs From my side I have her son as my SIL and we have no problems. It is different with sons and always will be.

Annobel Wed 12-Oct-11 17:23:40

I must be one of the lucky ones. My DiL and my other son's partner are like the daughters I never had and I can let my hair down with them - in fact, the wine comes out of the fridge when I come in the door! We see eye to eye on most things and they will talk to me about just about anything. And I don't think they like my ex-H very much which gives us something more in common!!

grannyactivist Wed 12-Oct-11 17:39:58

As I love my own mother in law very much and have always found her to be supportive, I want my daughters in law to have the same experience as I've had. I'm truly blessed as I genuinely like both of my sons girlfriends. My oldest son has been 'going steady' (do people still say that, or is it only me?) for a long time and I'm expecting that his girlfriend will, one day, become my daughter in law.
This is how I will look on that day: grin grin grin grin

summergirl123 Sun 08-Jan-12 18:37:46

Hi Catsgran,

You say that the slightest confrontation with my son...brings on no contact. But you shouldn't assume that the DIL is the one that is keeping your son from contact. I think it is great that you watch your grandchildren. Clearly the DIL/son must respect your ability to care for their children. I know that it must be very hard to have your relationship change since your son married, but I also imagine it is just something that happens and not necessarily someone's fault.

As a mom of three boys - my relationship with them is constantly changing. If you could try to see that and respect that as natural, maybe it would keep you from being so upset by the change.

I also believe that your son does have a BIG place for you in his heart. No matter what the circumstances, a child doesn't stop loving their parent/mom but instead has to make room in their heart for the others in their life as well.

My suggestions to you is to continue to work at the relationship but maybe except that the time he gives you is what he has at the time to offer and enjoy that time and the time with your grandchildren.

Maybe your DIl doesn't plan to have a lot of interaction with you for whatever reason and if that is the case, there is not reason to try and force her to. But, continue to show your love and support of your son and grandchildren and your son's relationship with your DIL - maybe eventually things will change and she will welcome a relationship with you.

Ariadne Sun 08-Jan-12 19:20:17

My MiL was such hard work; I got her son pregnant, was not the right class, and was cleverer than her. I was only 19 and came from a loving family who forgave me my errors (1965, remember) and I didn't know how to cope with her nastiness. She came from a very tight, sort of middle class, Scottish (and how!) background, and I was the cause of her shame. (Not, you will notice, DH!)

But, as I've said elsewhere, I said little (probably because I didn't know HOW!) and was actually quite glad I hadn't after she died. We'd reahced an uneasy truce - especially when I produced sons. I wonder how I'd have reacted after I'd gone back to university, gained confidence and found out who I was etc?

I have two wonderful DsiL and I love them to bits. I am constantly amazed at their ability and affection. And, of course, I have the loveliest daughter in the world!

Greatnan Sun 08-Jan-12 20:04:11

I was lucky - my MIL had my ex-OH and then another son exactly one year later. My OH was more or less brought up by his grandmother, who lived with them. Consequently, he was never very close to his mother and she didn't take much interest in us. She actually told me when I was pregnant that my child would not be as important to her as her DD's child. Fair enough, but I don't know why she had to tell me that.
My ex BIL and his wife had terrible problems. She was a widow of 26 with two lovely little girls aged 4 and 2. My in-laws refused to accept them as grandchildren and always bought them cheaper presents than their 'real' grandchildren. They were very narrow-minded and bigoted, and I often had to bite my lip when my FIL started off on his sexist or racist rants. They told me they would not attend our wedding if we had it in a catholic church (I don't know why they thought I would, as they knew I was an atheist) but they would come to a Registry Office wedding, which they did. I remember misquoting Shylock 'If this is Christian charity, thank god I am only an atheist'.
We decided at the start of our marriage that he would deal with his family and I would deal with mine - not that mine gave us any trouble, as my mother thought the sun shone out of me and always liked my OH.

I have only a SIL who is wonderful and knows how much I admire him. He is stepfather to my DD's four eldest children (they have another two as well) and nobody could have done a better job. His mother has always been kindness personified to my DD and her children.

I think I can understand why some wives feel threatened by their MIL's. You have been the most important woman in most of your son's life. She may feel that you will resent her and is on the defensive from the start.
I think it is sometimes possible to 'lance the boil' by being forthright, but by couching what you say in terms of how it affects you, rather than a criticism of her - i.e. It upsets me when you say.....because I really want to be your friend. Can you tell me how I can help our relationship - I know I must get it wrong sometimes.' It may make you grit your teeth to seem to be taking the blame, but ask yourself, do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

Faye Sun 08-Jan-12 21:38:27

Most families have someone that is strange, my family and some of my children's in laws have more than their share. D1's FIL does not like D1 and barely speaks to her, she told her husband this and he assured her that she was imagining it. He doesn't know that his father told D1's friend that he could barely look at my daughter when he first met her. He may feel this way because D1 dared to live with his son and he has never forgiven her. He seems to forget that his own daughter lived with a violent man and had two children with him and then had to move away to get away from the violence. Or that the rest of his many children have all lived with their partners. Or that his S2 is nasty and no one in my family or quite a few in his family speak to him (he unfortunately married my niece). I would say it's D1's FIL's sanctimonious background that made him think that D1 was making his son 'live in sin' and stopped him finishing uni. He seems to have missed that his son was barely passing his subjects through lack of interest. He barely spoke to his eldest son so should not be surprised that his son moved away.
My daughter is a really decent woman and I am very proud of her. She has a wonderful career, loves her husband very much and has two beautiful daughters who are very much loved. D1 and I are puzzled why her FIL would tell one of D1's closest friends this information when he had never met her before. D1 is now wondering who else he has told this. It has put her on edge with her in laws now. She might not be as welcoming when they next visit and stay for a few days.

Carol Sun 08-Jan-12 22:05:36

Maybe it's a good thing that all these strange and brittle people are shared out amongst our respective families, and we all have one or two - I dread to think what it would be like to have a few of them knocking about in the same family - they make life miserable for themselves and others. Some people seem to delight in being vengeful, telling malicious lies and enjoying other people's distress. They are in for a very lonely old age!

harrigran Mon 09-Jan-12 22:58:53

Oh dear, there is nowt as queer as folks. Thankfully we have no problems in our family, we all love each other dearly. My Mother used to fall over herself to do things for my DH, and she used to tell me off if she thought I was not being nice enough to him.

Grannyspecial Tue 07-Feb-12 09:29:27

It's so interesting to read everyone's point of view about MIL and DIL relationships. I've just joined, having come onto the site because of my frustration, sadness and bewilderment confused
My experience has been going on since my 15month old grandson was born. A few not so nice things are:- my DIL hasn't phoned me or come over to see me once in all that time and they only live 10 minutes from my home. She tells my son what she expects me to do, which is more or less nothing, as she sems not to want to encourage my relationship with my grandson. As my user name suggests, I think being a grandparent is very special. My mother died when I was 18, so as a mother and grandmother, I didn't have an "imprint".
My son does his best, but DIL prefers to send her son to nursery 3 days a week, rather than the original 2 planned and 1 day with me. There are many other little niggles, but on the plus side she is a devoted mother, makes all his meals herself and was very patient with her premature baby. I've tried to be in her shoes, but don't think she's been in mine. It's so sad, as I've never had my grandson in my house on his own and often feel like social services are monitoring me when she's here. Probably we've never been close, but it's far worse now and as I hardly ever get the opportunity to talk to her, she can't say I'm interferring!

Carol Tue 07-Feb-12 09:47:56

Welcome Grannyspecial. If you look back over the months, a few Gransnetters have talked about their frustrations at not being allowed to get close to their new grandchildren. Some new mums feel a bit threatened, others want to do everything themselves, and yet others have misunderstood something that may have been said casually and taken it to heart. Are you on good terms with her mother? Can you drop in with a small gift, and offer to help in some small way? Or perhaps send a card to say how much you enjoy seeing your grandchild and what a good job she is making of caring for him, as looking after a premature baby has much more entailed in it than many people realise (I have two sets of twin grandchildren who were premature).

Good luck - I hope things improve for you x

Grannyspecial Tue 07-Feb-12 10:19:36

Hello Carol - thanks for your thoughtful response. Unfortunately my DIL's mother is exactly the same - neither of them have a "warmth" to their relationships with family. My younger son can't stand her sarcasm and one-liners. I've tried just about everything I can think of, including buying a membership to RHS Wisley (near where we live), so we could go together sometimes or she can go with her friends. Needless to say, I haven't been asked once to go there with her in the whole year. My son, her husband, brings my grandson to see me sometimes for a couple of hours and says "You know that she's very possessive". That sums up their relationship too.
It's a very unusual situation, as most of my friends, who are grandparents, see their grandchildren quite freely. I thought she may need me when she went back to work, but so far not!
I suppose I'll just have to live with it, but it's so hurtful.

glassortwo Tue 07-Feb-12 10:23:14

Hello Grannyspecial you could use Mothers Day to send a card or small gift.

I always send something small to my Daughter and Daughter in Law from the GC, both are aware the gifts are from me as the children are too small(well 4 out of the 5) it does no harm showing your gratitude for all they hard work they do. Think Mothers Day is 18th March this year. Hope things improve for you.

Grannyspecial Tue 07-Feb-12 10:34:01

Glassortwo - you are talking my language wine! Have you ever had a card from your grandchildren? I haven't. I have told my DIL that I think she's doing a good job, especially in the early days. I will consider your suggestion anyway, as I don't want this to be the ongoing situation anmd it's not healthy for any of us. Thanks for your help.

harrigran Tue 07-Feb-12 11:43:01

Welcome Grannyspecial

Ariadne Tue 07-Feb-12 13:30:06

Hello, Grannyspecial!

jeni Tue 07-Feb-12 14:06:19

Hi grannyspecial

glammanana Tue 07-Feb-12 14:31:11

Hi grannyspecial welcome to GN

Carol Tue 07-Feb-12 15:15:38

Grannyspecial if your son is able to bring your grandson to see you, perhaps he can make it a more regular thing. You will see on other threads that some of us have used lateral thinking and tried all sorts of strategies to get a few minutes with some of our grandchildren. There might be something you can do that will persuade him to make progress for you. If she's possessive, I wonder what that stems from and whether there is something that you could resort to that could include you in her possessiveness. There's more than one way to skin a cat!!

Grannyspecial Tue 07-Feb-12 18:29:35

My DIL is a manipulator - I've known her for 16 years and since she's had their son and then got married she's defintely got worse. I'd say that she's insecure and just want my son to herself - this carries over into her son now. Most of my friends and family recognise this, but of course I'm the only one who has to "deal with it" I've tried so many things and I know that my son thinks that she should make more of an effort towards me, but I don't want to make trouble, so never criticise her to him. I usually ask him what he thinks can be done and he says, well you know what she's like!

I often feel like Henry Kissinger trying to negotiate a USA/UK diplomatic situation. Now I'm showing my age .... remember him from the 1970s wink

thanks for all your welcoming comments smile

Carol Tue 07-Feb-12 21:23:06

I think I have been dealing with a version of the DIL you describe Grannyspecial. Ex-DIL who is nasty, mean and morbidly possessive and jealous. My son was emotionally abused and financially exploited by her for many years before he started disclosing what she did, although the whole family had sussed her by then. He left her a year ago and since then she has made our lives hell. It suited her to let me look after my grandson, though, so she could party and drink, but now I have to fight for every minute I get to see him.

The only chinks in her armour I can find are that she wants money, and if I let her save face every now and again, whilst asking what I can do in terms of paying for uniform, shoes, trips out etc. she 'allows' me a little time with my grandson (then withdraws it after she has got what she wanted). Also flattery occasionally works - I just grit my teeth and remind myself this is what keeps me in contact with my grandson.

Do you have any idea what the chinks in her armour might be?

Grannyspecial Wed 08-Feb-12 08:38:42

Carol - you are so right about "flattery gets you anywhere" and I have tried this ploy, even with my DIL's mother, who just ignored me!!!!

There seems to be no chink at all ... until my son stands up to her. I didn't tell you that she arranged both days of Christmas with her family and for the first time in 61 years, I spent Christmas Day on my own (I did have offers). It was very upsetting, that my son went along with that arrangement, especially as I had all her family here for the day last year after the birth of my premature grandson. I spent Boixing Day with my other son's fiancee's parents, which was lovely.

I have moved on from all tha hurt and try to just get on with my life, which is quite full. Nevertheless, I'm in a "no win" situtation. My DIL isn't mean outwardly, but manipulates her prey behind the scenes.

Sorry that you're going through a difficult time yourself - I'm sure that gritting your teeth is the right thing to do, but I underrstand how hurtful it is for you.

Often grandchildren seem to be uses as weapons against us grandparents in marriages. So sad.

Carol Wed 08-Feb-12 09:00:50

I had a similar experience over Christmas a couple of years ago - deliberately displaying what lengths she was going to do make it a special family Christmas and then engineering things to ensure I wasn't included. Fortunately, I have three other children and we got on with things ourselves, but it is hurtful when a DIL does this and son goes along with it for the sake of some peace.

What goes round comes round, and your DIL is not immune from everything coming back to bite her. She is creating hostility and, as one of the nasty texts I received from ex-DIL yesterday morning says 'no-one has given me any moral support - all I want is for someone to tell me that I am the one who has been kicked in the teeth. (Her parents live across the road, 30 years away - they are fed up with her). This came after a request (refused) to take my grandson to the cinema in the half terms hols. She lashes out nastily, then has to find a way to save face when I don't respond in kind, but offer sympathy (kills me to do it, but what can I do?).

Last night I got another text saying she had found a couple of books of my son's that he might want, if I would care to pick them up. This is her way of saying she realises she has gone too far and this way I will see my grandson for a few minutes when I call. I'll pick up some treats and a new book to take with me, and his daddy will send something with a letter, which I'll hand over to my grandson directly. Why do we have to go to these lengths, when we could expend all our love and energy on making grandchildren feel happy and secure?

dogtired Mon 01-Apr-13 19:51:54

Dealing with difficult DinLs especially if they are either too close to their own mothers, or are as in the case of one of my DinLs, on really bad terms with hers, can be a nightmare. I've spent many years carefully walking on egg shells, never being confrontational or critical. So far it's seemed to have worked well, but there again, I have always been 'useful' and their parents have most definitely not pulled their weight. Things may change now that chronic ill health has made me not so 'available', we'll see. I still think the best summing up of how to deal with a DinL was put forward by Estee Lauder who had an awful time with hers until she twigged she was interfering too much. She said that she then determined in future and 'keep her mouth shut and her handbag (ie be generous) open'.

nanaej Mon 01-Apr-13 20:19:38

I hope I was a good DiL. My DH was the youngest of 4 by a few war de-mob baby born when MiL was 41. She was a sweet lady and v independent. We visited regularly and invited them regularly in return. Lived nearish so able to go for lunch or tea most weekends
I was naturally closer to my mum who also did some of my childcare but hope my DDs saw their grandmothers as 'equal' in terms of time and love!

As kids got older we continued to visit regularly and became the prime carers as DHs siblings lived further away. She never asked for anything and lived independently ( carers came in about 3 times a week to help with shopping and cleaning ) until her death at 98. My mum had died , aged 61 , some years previously so DDs became close to her.

I wonder what kind of MiL I am to my SsiL?? hmm

york46 Mon 01-Apr-13 20:19:48

I wonder if it has every crossed the minds of these difficult DILs that they themselves will be mothers-in-law one day when their sons marry and their own DILs might treat them in the same way. After all, what goes around comes around!!!

Petal539 Thu 04-Apr-13 16:53:27

My DIL is very competitive in all aspects of life so it hasnt been easy. She is also from a European country and disappears there at every opportunity. I havent had a Christmas, Easter, or more than a couple of days with my son for years and its worse now as his job is so demanding that even if I manage to visit them in their distant home he is likely to have to work. I have now asked, after years of keeping quiet, whether we could have a Christmas together on alternate years, especially since there is still scope for them to visit her home country after seeing us - the special day in her country is 6 January in any case. This was responded to only by my son who agreed it was perfectly reasonable. Having seen that Christmas flights were available to book the other day, I asked if I should book flights for myself and younger son while they were still so cheap. Panic ensued, with my son obviously in stress trying to keep DIL happy by not committing to any dates, saying there were many work commitments in the offing. I now feel they can jolly well come and find ME - but of course this plays right into DIL's hands....

nannu Thu 04-Apr-13 17:37:49

I really relate to difficult daughter-in-laws. My DIL is a very conniving little so and so. Totally has my son under her control.

We weren't happy with his choice but hid this from her and never let her feel any different. However, she's a nightmare but never to his face and he always believes her word over mine.

The most humiliating aspect was when her family held a party and invited us to come along. As it's customary in our culture to accept and bring gifts, we went ahead and did this. At this party, her cousin tried to treat me like a servant to which I did not tolerate and told her not to disrespect me as I've been very nice. Her brothers who are the age of my children shouted at me for saying this. My DIL didn't defend me at all nor did she get her brothers to apologise for this sort of behaviour. We left the house in disgust and my son never apologised on behalf of his in-laws.

Even after this, I have allowed my DIL to come into my house and have never held her family's behaviour against her or made her feel unwelcomed. I've even supported her against my other daughters who dislike her as they see her conniving manipulative side.

I know have a grand-daughter from them however I am unable to see them unless they supervise me. I have bought four children up successfully all going into professional careers, I think I know a thing or two about parenting! My DIL is currently on maternity leave and enquired the days I work. She has deliberately ensure her return to work are on the exact same days to ensure there is no chance of me babysitting my grandchild while she's at work.

It really hurts and I can only hope my son sees through it one day. My SIL on the other hand is amazing. Never been a problem and infact sometimes, he does far more for me as a SIL than my very own DS.

PatriciaPT Thu 04-Apr-13 17:54:04

My MIL (well actually ex-MIL since I've been divorced for well over a decade) just died aged nearly 108; she was quite a character. We never got on but looking back I realise that because my family of origin was completely different from hers (they had lots of shouting matches and she always said exactly what came into her head - the opposite to mine where conflict and expression of emotions was completely forbidden), I was terrified of her and didn't know how to cope at all. Had I simply been able to 'give as good as I got' instead of cowering in a corner I think we would have got on much better. The trouble is it takes maturity to do that and I was hopelessly immature when we first met and my ex-DH didn't know how to handle the situation either. So she and I never managed to make a decent relationship which actually deprived us both, as well as my children. Hope this helps someone!

PatriciaPT Thu 04-Apr-13 17:59:16

Yes, having brought up 4 children you do know a thing or two about bringing up children. But there is more to know than just your 'thing or two'. I brought up 6 children with varying degrees of success and people sometimes say 'You must know everything about bringing up children' - my response is that I know a little bit about bringing up my own children but little or nothing about bringing up anyone else's including my own grandchildren. A bit of humility might help your situation I'd have thought.

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