Gransnet forums


To not understand MIL?

(139 Posts)
Wibble Sat 13-Aug-11 22:21:40

Hi! I have been reading some of the other threads on here and rather than chipping in there and interrupting, I thought I'd start a new thread - just to see if anyone could explain something to me?

I am not a Gran myself but a DIL who has quite a few issues with my MIL - resulting in long stretches of time of not seeing her at all and the current situation which is her seeing us once a year at Christmas, despite living only 20 minutes away. I have really struggled to understand her thinking and behaviour and although I am not comfortable with the current set up (I always wanted an extended family - lots of gatherings etc) - I have concluded that I just don't have the time or energy anymore to spend on trying to 'get on' with her - either she needs to fit in with us or she doesn't. Both DH and I work outside of the house extremely long hours (case of having too -finances dictate - you need to do the hours in order to keep the job) and that plus all the time spent looking after DC, taking them to their various activities and appointments (oldest DC has SEN), looking after an elderly relative of mine, plus all housework, laundry, admin etc mean that there is just no free time to do anything other than just try to survive. I therefore don't have time to phone MIL for chats or go around there - if she wants to see us she has to fit in with us eg when invited to DC's football matches. (That sounds harsh but it really is the reallity - both DH regularly survive on 5/6 hours sleep a night - as after getting in from work at 6pm, sorting out DC and getting them to bed we then will work into the night just to keep on top of paid work and the house - and then up again at 6am, to get everyone up, ready and out. Weekends are DC sport, eldest DC appointments, house, laundry and occasionally realising that we are married to each other and trying to have a conversation! I am at the point where I really cannot push myself any harder - I ended up in hospital for major surgery earlier this year - I had been ignoring a condition and putting up with it because I really didn't have the option of taking the several weeks off that were needed to get over it - until I got to the point that I couldn't keep going anymore and had no choice because my immune system packed up working - so I had to have the op. My point is, that I really do push myself to do everything that needs doing - but cannot deal with MIL on top of it all). Anyway, after several invites like this had been turned down for ridiculous reasons - her bus pass wasn't valid until 9.30am so she couldn't get there in time, she promised her neighbour she'd go round for a cup of tea that day - that kind of thing - I stopped asking.

DH is free to go and see her if he wants - but he rarely has time off of work and when he does wants to spend it with DC and myself - not trekking over to his mothers. That is his choice, not mine. I am not going to see her - she is not my Mother and to be honest after she chose her neighbour and a cup of tea when my 5 year old proudly phoned her up, very excited, to invite her to his first school play (he was very upset), I lost all desire to put myself out for her.

However, according to her it is me who has stopped her seeing her GC and got between her and her son. As I said earlier I really struggle to understand how in her mind this situation is down to me? I know none of you are inside her mind, but just wondered if anyone could throw any light on her thinking for me?

I also would like to ask another question: I can understand the upset that being alienated from your grown up child could cause - you know them, you have known them for a long time - they are the most precious thing in the world to you - therefore it is totally understandable that you miss them - the prospect of not seeing my DC when they grow up is horrendous. However I do not understand why some GP's seem to be so adamant that they should have time with their GC. They are not their children - they (the GP's) have had their time raising children - they have no claim on these new children - they are not their parents. They would not demand that their friends gave them access to their children - so why do they seem to think they can demand that their DC give them time with their children?? I again, can understand missing the GC if they have had contact and then that stopped - the same way you would miss any relative, but how can you miss GC that you have never met? I am truly not trying to upset anyone here or cause offence - I really just don't understand it - MY children are the most important thing in the world to me - if my children had children, then they would be precious, of course, but MY adult children would be the ones I would want to see and spend time with, not their children, MY children would be the ones that I would be devastated to lose contact with (or not be part of a life with), not a baby or young child that I had never met, I would do anything to maintain the contact with my child because I love them - I hope that makes sense?

gangy5 Sat 13-Aug-11 23:18:16

Wibble - it is difficult to understand what your MIL is up to!! She surely must want to be in some sort of contact with you and her grandchildren. It is hard to see why she is keeping at such a distance. Having 2 sons myself I know it is important to realise that they and their families lead extremely busy lives and in some respects we may feel that our DIL's have 'control' over them and what they do. Their free time is limited and it is to be expected (by MIL's) that making contact is not always easy due to lack of time.
I feel that your MIL is the one who should be making the effort to get together with you and the family. She should perhaps be phoning you once or twice a week to see how you're getting on but as she doesn't live far away there should be some way of arranging the occasional get together. It seems to me that she can't be bothered. This seems really odd as a Mother/Son bond is usually very strong.

GrannyTunnocks Sun 14-Aug-11 00:03:11

I cant understand families who do not make the effort to see one another. I know that young people lead very busy lives but surely they can spare j little time for grandparents. Also grandparents have to make a little effort to get to know their grandchildren. I think you and your mil have to try a bit harder. My grandchildren are just as important to me as my children and although 2 live abroad I cant imagine not being in their lives.

harrigran Sun 14-Aug-11 00:15:14

Reading between the lines Wibble, I think your MIL may feel surplus to requirements. You are obviously very efficient at coping with work and home and caring for the children, perhaps she can not see a role for her.
As a MIL it is sometimes like walking a tightrope, methods of child rearing have changed over the years and sometimes we are nervous of doing or saying the wrong thing. That said nothing stops me from turning up on doorstep every week to see the DG.

glammanana Sun 14-Aug-11 00:17:05

Our DGC are a big part of our lives and we see them on almost a daily basis
to think that my DD or DS are more important to me than my GC has never
even crossed my mind,in fact my DGs would come first as they are unable to
look after themselve's and my DCs can.I think a long talk with MIL is needed
to clear the air,does she think your family unit is to busy for her to fit into,
maybe she feel's left out and doesn't know how to broach the subject,I have
noticed on a lot of thread's the problem's are mostly with MIL and not the
actual mother of the DIL,does this tell us something,because I know that
mums & daughter's are very close normally,but son's tend to follow the view's of the wife.

Faye Sun 14-Aug-11 01:57:49

Wibble I don't think you realize the great importance for children lucky enough to have loving grandparents in their lives. I can't stress enough how much children benefit from another adult that also loves them. They learn other things from their grandparents who have had different life experiences from you. Research has shown that children benefit emotionally and mentally. Grandparents can be role models and have an influence on the younger generation or just because they are great at giving cuddles and love to read and tell stories. They can be there to babysit their grandchildren, teach them to cook, help put them to bed, have them stay at their home overnight so parents can have a much needed break. Grandparents can help support the parents, the list just goes on and on. You are actually doing your children a disservice by not making sure they have time with their grandmother. Who better to be of support to your family than someone that loves them.

I would suggest that maybe if your MIL only lives 20 minutes away that maybe your husband could go and pick her up. I would imagine that she feels hurt you don't include her or she is a last minute thought. Her reactions may be eg 'I am going to my friends for a cup of tea.' I would myself be amazed if my son or SILs expected me to catch the bus when I only lived 20 minutes away. Plus much as I love my grandchildren I don't see myself catching the bus then standing there for an hour watching a sports game, then standing at the bus stop while my son and his family drive past on their way home. My families would definitely have lunch together after the game, then maybe we would do something interesting or I would help them or they would help me, with whatever needed being done that day. We are family and we just do normal things together.

I don't think you are doing enough to maintain contact with your MIL, I understand that you are busy, maybe too busy to enjoy your own family. This is the woman who brought up the man that you love, could you give her a bit of respect and be a bit more friendlier. You yourself may react in an entirely different way from her, if you find yourself in the same situation in the future too. Some DILs can be intimidating to their MILs as some MILs are intimidating to their DILs.

Could you make the effort to ensure your children don't miss out on having great memories of their grandmother. None of us own our children or grandchildren, whether we are the parents or grandparents we want the children to grow up with a healthy outlook. Which means spending time with as many people that they can that love them too. Grandparents can in fact miss and grieve for the grandchildren they have little or no contact with...its true! There are many grandparents on here that will tell you it is...they know how they feel!

Wibble....please let us know if you can turn this situation around, you really would get so much out of another person who loves and wants to be part of your family.

Baggy Sun 14-Aug-11 08:29:09

Where's your work/life balance, Wibble? It sounds as if you and your husband are working yourselves into the ground. Why? That's not a nasty question. I'm just wondering if you really do need to work such long hours. It doesn't sound healthy to me. And what's not healthy for you — as it clearly wasn't when you needed the op — is not healthy for your family, neither your children nor your extended family. You don't mention your own parents and whether they manage to see you and the children.

What I'm getting at is this: have you really no choice in working such long hours and limiting social time spent with your family? Could you make changes to your lifestyle that would benefit the family in ways other than financial? Just asking. Children are so precious, I feel you might be missing out yourself, never mind your MiL.

Nanban Sun 14-Aug-11 10:20:50

I wonder if your children's nanna is contributing to this forum without us knowing. Faye and Baggy talk lots of sense although not perhaps what you want to hear. Of course if she lives such a short distance away you should not expect her to get on a bus and of course she feels surplus to requirements. She is a very valuable resource for your children and, though you look on her as another chore, for you she could be a godsend. Go talk to her, air it all and you may both be surprised at what you learn about each other.

You talk about when your children are grown and how you will feel and behave. You simply cannot have the least understanding until that time arrives so that is no justification for what is happening now. Stand in my shoes time. Maybe your MiL is an ogre, maybe you are, maybe you are both nice people who haven't communicated.

Jacey Sun 14-Aug-11 10:59:14

I hope that your long post was cathartic ...having got all of this 'off your chest' to us ...have you sat down with your husband and said all of this to him?

You said "occasionally realising that we are married to each other" ...I'm sorry, but you must find time for each other and time for yourself. It seems to me that you are both 'existing' ...neither of you are living. Who will be there for your children if you both continue with these stress levels?

At the end of the day ...there will always be someone else to do your paid employment ...there, you are not indispensible! Stop living for work -start working at living.

I genuinely believe ...that the issues you have with your MIL are a symptom of your over-worked life style. Stop 'managing/coping' ...she could be a super resource to reduce your 'work-load'.

You and your husband need to both sit down and openly re-evaluate your priorities.

jangly Sun 14-Aug-11 11:01:06

I haven't read all that post (well, who would [hmm) but you say you are not a gran yet.

You wait!


jangly Sun 14-Aug-11 11:01:46

hmm even

jangly Sun 14-Aug-11 11:03:04

anyway, sort your own troubles us.

Don't whine to us.

Grandmacool Sun 14-Aug-11 11:12:40

I would be very upset if I didn`t get to see my grandchildren. They are very important to me and they love coming to visit and have sleep overs.

I also think it is important for the grandchildren to have contact with Grandma and Grandpa. I grew up without my grandparents living close by which meant I didn`t see them very much and then my grandmother died when I was about 9yo.

Your MIL should make an effort to see her grandkids a bit more often, maybe your DH should have a talk with her.

jangly Sun 14-Aug-11 11:39:58

One minute you're saying she can't be bothered to speak to your child preferring cup of tea with neighbour. The next you're saying a granny should want time with her grownup children, but not expect time with grandchildren??

And what makes you think we have time to read posts that long anyway?

glammanana Sun 14-Aug-11 13:03:26

After such a long and detailed post why has there been no response from
Wibble ?

Baggy Sun 14-Aug-11 13:56:19

Troll alert!

Elegran Sun 14-Aug-11 14:53:08

Baggy Not necessarily, it was only yesterday.

Baggy Sun 14-Aug-11 15:15:51

Not necessarily, of course.

ElseG Sun 14-Aug-11 15:56:58

Oh dear I almost hope this is a 'Troll alert' because reading the post made me angry and sad all in one go. I am now suffering much reduced time with two of my grandchildren (forthcoming parents divorce means it is MUCH more important for them to be with mum than me) and I have to admit to being quite devastated. I love seeing my children and I love hugging my grandchildren too; is this wrong?

I hope Wibble sorts out her problems and that she listens to the brilliant advice offered by members on here, I am much in awe!

Wibble Sun 14-Aug-11 18:48:06

Just quickly popped back on whilst DC in bath - so do not have time for a massive response as only have a couple of minutes - I will come back a bit later and do a better one - but very quickly:
a) I am not a troll - I haven't been on here since yesterday because I have young children - I do not have the time during the day to sit on the computer - I am looking after my children whilst trying to do a million and one other things.
b) Jangly - seriously? Why are you being so rude? I do not believe you have a gun to your head to make you read the post - if it is too long then don't read it - don't read some and then moan about having taken the time to read it - just go away and read something else. Also I am not "whining" to you - you clearly haven't read my post properly or you would understand that - so please take yourself somewhere else and talk to somewhere else.
c) I do not need to discuss this with DH - we already have at length - of the two of us, it is me who feels the more uncomfortable with the situation - ie the lack of seeing her - he only phones her when I remind him to do so - which I do occasionally, but I do think that HE should be responsible for the relationship he has with HIS mother.
d) My Mum died (cancer) several years before I had DC - so they have never met her. My Dad does see DC fairly often - because he just joins in, in what we do - ie he will turn up on a Saturday morning, come to any sports or appointments with us and stay for lunch and dinner and then trundle off in the evening. He does not cause extra work - I just cook a slightly larger meal and I will iron/fold laundry/hoover around him if he is here and he just gets on with things - makes himself a cup of tea etc when needed and falls asleep in front of the telly with DC charging around him! Why MIL can't do the same I don't understand?
e) Yes, I do expect her to get the bus over unless it is late at night or extremely cold etc. 20/25 mins away means with getting in and out of car, traffic in town etc usually is best part of an hour gone. That is then nearly two hours by the time you have picked up, driven back here and driven back there to drop off again later on. I don't have two hours to spare in the day. I commute nearly an hour each way to work in the week, plus all the running around with DC - I really do not want to do more driving in the evenings or on weekends. MIL is perfectly fit and capable - she has no infirmities or illnesses (if she did then obviously it would be different), she chooses not to drive because she doesn't want to. She could easily afford to and is fit enough too. She has plenty of money, so can get taxis if she wants too - she chooses to go everywhere by bus - that is up to her - I do not see why I should add the job of nearly two hours of running her around on top of everything else I have to do.
c) Thank you all so much for those of you that have responded with constructive comments and thoughts - I am thinking about what you have said - and will be back later - I need to go and sort out DC again now.

Mamie Sun 14-Aug-11 19:36:04

The sad thing is Wibble, that it feels like you could really do with the support of you MIL in your life. Reading your post, I wonder if your MIL feels that she has to maintain her dignity by saying that she is busy and has to see a neighbour etc. Could it be that she feels that if she offers to help then she might sometimes be rebuffed? I can't really think of a solution apart from a real heart to heart between the two of you; maybe you telling her that you and her GC do need her and then trying to get her to talk about how she feels?
You must never doubt the strength of grandparents' feelings for their grandchildren. People have so much invested in their children, with all the worries and responsibilities that parenthood entails, but grandparenthood is pure joy (well I know it is for me and many others). I love my children deeply, but they are adults and can manage their own lives; I feel that I can make a real difference to my grandchildren, even though there are many miles between us.
I think with honesty in your relationship that you should be able to overcome the barriers; my MIL was difficult, but we ended up with a strong and loving relationship, even though it took many years to get there.

Baggy Sun 14-Aug-11 19:46:30

I have read your last, Wibble. A question arose in my mind. Why can't your hubby collect and deliver his mother?
I understand your argument about her being able to get the bus. Yes, able physically, but perhaps not psychologically. I don't mean she's frightened of being mugged or anything (though she may be) but that she doesn't feel welcome enough to go to the trouble of getting the bus.
If you're really as hyper busy as you make out, I wouldn't feel welcome. Your father knows you better than your MIL does, which you should also consider. He will feel at ease where she doesn't.
I think you could try to be a little less hectic and a little more understanding. Of course, I can only respond to what you have written. I don't know you or your MIL, but I have known hectic people. They can be very off-putting.

glammanana Sun 14-Aug-11 19:54:37

Wibble I'm not being unkind but you are not the only person who has run a busy household and brought up children and had problem's within your family,
and you won't be the last I'm sorry to say.Life is not about running yourself
ragged so chill out and stop and look at your life and help your DCs enjoy the
person who is their grandmother

NannaJeannie Sun 14-Aug-11 20:09:55

Hmmm...Wibble if you are so busy, how come to had time to write 2 long posts and read all the replies including all the acronyms.

You may genuinely be seeking some insight into why your MIL is giving you a wide berth, but I guess there is something else behind this, your posts don't ring all that true.

I suppose you can be forgiven for saying that you can understand why she does not want to see her grandchildren but not her son. I suppose you can, but then again, if you had picked up anything from lurking on gransnet you will know how the love of grandchildren is such a powerful force.

If you are genuine, I am sorry for you and I hope you do find a better work-life balance especially to include your MIL.

If you are a troll or doing some creative writing, you are rumbled.

glammanana Sun 14-Aug-11 20:14:24

Well said NanaJeannie