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Hostilities between DS's

(94 Posts)
Yummygran Wed 04-Jan-12 17:07:02

Help I don't know what to do!

Boxing Day was meant to be a happy gathering of my two DS's and their respective partners, each with a little DD. It all began well, but my eldest made a 'helpful' comment to his DB about their 2yr old's potty training mishaps whilst in my house and his SIL took exception to it and made a derogatory comment about his DD, not being the 'perfect' child and how she wouldn't ever listen to 'his parenting skills'.

This caused my eldest DS to try and frog march her out of my house, which then erupted into a fight between both DS's. I quickly put a stop to it and everyone left, but it was so upsetting. My eldest DS and his SIL have never got on and he can't understand why I tolerate her when she has caused so much trouble in the past between me and both my DS's. She is rather a difficult person to get on with despite my various attempts in the past, I have always tried to treat her the same as my other DIL but she seems to be very jealous of my other DS and his partner, and often makes unkind comments.

Since this happened I have hardly heard from my younger DS who thinks I have taken my eldest DS's side.

Both have vowed never to speak to the other again, and their DF and I are at our wit's end to know how to handle this without taking either side or losing touch with the lot of them, which would break my heart.

Any suggestions would be very welcome.

JessM Wed 04-Jan-12 17:58:55

Hi there. You have my sympathies. My two have a prickly relationship and I think it is tricky - brothers and their wives/partners. There are various jealousies. The wives don't understand sometimes that they need to step back and give the brothers a bit of space. I wish mine could go off on a camping trip or something together and just get some brother time, but this is a darn sight easier said than done, for some large and practical reasons.
You have every right to be furious with all of them for behaving so badly in your house. I am guessing that they wouldn't put on a performance like that anywhere else. So perhaps you (both) need to let both sons know that, rather than feel that as their parents it is your responsibility to get them kissing and making up. Let them know that you still love them but you are equally furious with both of them, and want to know how they are going to make it up to you. Then at least they know you are not taking sides smile
Your DIL sounds insecure. Unkind comments only matter if people take any notice of them. When we are adults we do have a choice about taking such things to heart don't we.
Anyway, interested to hear what you other mothers of sons think...

gracesmum Wed 04-Jan-12 18:03:20

They need their heads banging together! I am in 2 minds whether to say let it all blow over and maybe they will calm down, but on the other hand maybe you need to talk to them without their wives present and say how they are upsetting you both. The last thing you want is a rift in the family which might extend downwards to the grandchildren. It sounds as if SIL played a not inconsiderable part and a man will understandably defend his wife/partner - no doubt she is also egging him on.

Speak to them, don't let it escalate - that will only make everybody even more unhappy. Boys will be boys, but these 2 need to grow up now!

greenmossgiel Wed 04-Jan-12 18:05:07

This is so very difficult for both of you, Yummygran. Maybe though, for a wee while, do you think it may be an idea to take a step back and see if they can sort it all out for themselves? It must have been terrible to see your sons fighting each other in your house, and I hope they've made some effort to apologise for this. Is it possible to make it completely clear to both couples that you have no intentions of taking sides in any way, as you love them equally and that you feel very upset that it happened at all. Try and be positive. thanks

Greatnan Wed 04-Jan-12 18:28:42

Yummy, what a rotten way to end Christmas. You have my deepest sympathy. The suggestions made so far seem very wise. I know from my own experience that simply not agreeing to criticise a sibling can be taken as a proof that you are favouring them.

Yummygran Wed 04-Jan-12 19:18:38

Thank you all for your wise words.....JessM I am furious with all of them, not least my younger DS's partner for her initial comment something she has done so many times, she is very opinionated but rarely says anything face to face, usually waiting to criticise people in their absence, and I have to bite my lip regularly so as not to get drawn into rows and to take sides.

Their Father has suggested we take a step back to see if they can sort themselves out, but I am tempted, like you suggest gracemum, to organise a meeting between the four of us, without partners, to thrash things out, if they would agree to it.

harrigran Wed 04-Jan-12 23:06:58

I would be tempted to ring each DS and tell him his brother has expressed regret and hope that is an end to the dispute. In real life though i doubt if it would work especially if DIL is prone to foot and mouth disease.

glammanana Thu 05-Jan-12 00:10:38

Yummygran what a sad end to your celebrations and how upsetting the boys have fallen out,DS2 will most probably be aware that his partner is critical as to members of your family,but as my DS1 has always said to regarding a previous partner "mum I have to live with her when we get home" so he will have to show he is defending her,I would telephone both in a day or two and tell them you understand the time of year is stressful for everyone and to let bygones be bygones.

Yummygran Thu 05-Jan-12 10:15:50

I know what you mean glammanana, that is the problem he has to live with her, this sort of thing has happened in the past, and he moved out for a few days, but went back because of their little one. Gradually they are loosing contact with all of his friends...and now family! I feel so helpless!

gracesmum Thu 05-Jan-12 11:39:04

There is a deeper issue here, isn't there?
But I would still try to broker some sort of peace between your "boys" if you can - use a bit of emotional blackmail - "you're breaking your Dad's heart - and mine" if necessary.

absentgrana Thu 05-Jan-12 12:25:53

Your daughter-in-law responded to what she clearly took as criticism of her daughter and, by extension, of herself as a mother and verbally attacked your elder son – attack being the best form of defence. It wasn't polite, especially to you as her hostess, but then your elder son's subsequent behaviour in attempting to frogmarch her out of your house was disgraceful. Understandably, your younger son went to the rescue of his wife but then allowing the whole matter to degenerate into such an unseemly brawl is appalling behaviour on both their parts. (No doubt, at this stage in reading my post – if you haven't given up already – you are feeling defensive about your sons as mothers do when their offspring are criticised.)

If they were my sons, I would have no compunction about telling them off like naughty children for their rudeness, lack of consideration and generally puerile behaviour and demanding apologies all round and reasonable, civilised courteous behaviour in future.

GoldenGran Thu 05-Jan-12 12:30:51

Thinking about it,I feel that, if you can step back get on with your life ,and they may come to their senses. Leave it for a while and then aproach both DS's without wives, but have a breathing space first. You poor thing, they are ungrateful wretches spoiling what shoud have been a lovely family day, I would like to bang their heads together on your behalf.thanks

Yummygran Thu 05-Jan-12 12:38:15

I agree with everything you say absentgrana and GoldenGran, I don't feel like defending either of them and would love to have them both in front of me together, to read them the riot act, as I did when they were children! I feel they're not thinking about anything but themselves.

I have distanced my self from them, georgraphically too, as I live approx 60 miles from them during the week when at work, only potentially seeing them at weekends when I return home. But to be honest I don't feel like going back down to my home.

JaneMarie Thu 05-Jan-12 13:54:06

Hello, I am a new user so not sure of what am doing as yet, I have a problem and wondered whether anyone had any advice please? we are a small family, starting with myself, I have a son and two daughters, my youngest daughter has two sons, one of 5 and one is 3 months, my eldest daughter has an 11 month old boy. The eldest child (5) is very much loved, he comes to me regularly and we are very close he stays here on a very regular basis, I live alone so he gets all the attention, he has however in the last year had to move house suddenly twice, I also moved house, his little brother was born and so was his cousin, he has also just started school, my grandson is of mixed race and my other two are not, am not sure whether any of this is relevant but maybe so. Several times now both daughters and myself have left him in a room alone with one of the babies, we have come back into the room when the baby has issued that hurt cry that they do, we have realised that the eldest has sprung away from the baby, I said to him on the 3rd occasion this happened in my house (I wasn't totally sure the first twice) "what happened?" by this time I knew that the baby had been deliberately hurt in some way, I said to him that I knew he had hurt the baby and asked him why, he said he didn't know, I am so confused, the eldest gets lots of love and attention, we know this has been a difficult time for him but we cannot allow this to keep happening, please can someone give us any idea if this is normal behaviour? any idea why? or any idea of how to deal with it please? Thank you for taking the time to read this. Janie x

absentgrana Thu 05-Jan-12 14:09:25

JaneMarie For a five-year-old, he has had to cope with a lot of changes recently which must be deeply unsettling. Perhaps the most difficult one is that having been the beloved one and only, the little prince and apple of the eye for five years, he suddenly has to share the limelight, attention and adult time with not just one but two babies. What's more, babies, by the very nature of their needs, take up a lot of parental time. It would not be surprising if somewhere in his mind is the feeling that everything was so much better before the babies and it's somehow their fault. This is not naughtiness, just confusion, insecurity and a degree of unhappiness.

I suggest that he is not left alone with one or both babies simply to pre-empt physical problems. I also suggest that you allocate some special time that is just for him (no sibling or cousin present) doing one of the things or going to one of the places that you used to share happily together to reassure him that he is still loved and valued. Finally, I would avoid any kind of phrases or descriptions of how he is a big boy now, how he can show his little brother/cousin how to do things or how he an help mummy with the baby. (A bit of ignoring the baby on your part might not come amiss, but do warn your daughter why you are doing so that her feelings aren't hurt.)

glammanana Thu 05-Jan-12 14:52:33

JaneMarie the little man is in my opinion is showing signs that he feels left out of things and I am sure this is not the case but who knows what goes on in their little minds,maybe he thinks now I have to go to school mummy not only has a new baby but nana has another new baby as well (his cousin),I would do everything to make sure he is not alone with either babies and to try and ignore the babies as much as you can whilst he gets over this feeling of not being the only child,everything will work out for him,have a friends over day and invite some friends from school and keep the babies away from them whilst they are visiting and playing.Good luck.

JessM Thu 05-Jan-12 15:10:57

I agree. Poor chap. I suspect this kind of behaviour is much more common than people acknowledge. Though maybe more common with 2-4 age group. Supposed to "love" little brother or sister... and blind eyes being turned etc. Maybe some lively energetic activities in which he gets to throw stuff or bash something might help get some of that pent up anger out of his system.

Charlotta Thu 05-Jan-12 16:13:27

Getting back to the two adult men fighting I think we women can't begin to understand what a fight with fists etc means to two men. These are brothers and going back to jean-marie's post about sibling rivalry, this will not be the first fight they have ever had, perhaps they always settled their differences with fights in the past. The women should show their disapproval but keep out of it.
Jean-marie's GS is also feeling left out and therefore adults should not leave him alone with a baby. Just be realistic and wait until this phase has passed.

My mother told me about sending the pram with her baby sister down a hill intending it to fall in the river which fortunately it didn't, but stopped just at the edge. My brother dropped a brick on a toddler's head and and my DH filled a baby''s mouth with gravel. When he was 3.
All these stories come from talking about such thngs in a family. Sibling rivalry is a fact of life.

Carol Thu 05-Jan-12 16:21:09

Yummygran there's already been lots of helpful advice on here, so I would just add....if you decide to tell them to sort things out and say how upset you have been by their behaviour, make yourself unavailable when the phone starts ringing, so they can't keep coming back to you to mediate. I had a similar, less dramatic problem with my equally volatile son and daughter a month or so ago. One needed information from the other and I voted with my feet and disappeared off the scene for the afternoon, ignoring phone calls. By the evening they'd had to speak to each other and were friends again.

JaneMarie this is common behaviour and I know of older children who can't be left alone with the new baby. My twin 3 year old grandsons have announced they are planning to 'pow!' their tiny twin girl cousins when they see them, so they will be trussed up and placed in a corner if they aren't careful! (only kidding, but you know what I mean). Most young children don't always realise that they are hurting babies, and other do want to hurt them because they are understandably jealous. It'll pass x

Carol Thu 05-Jan-12 16:23:34

You've just revived a memory for me Charlotta. Apparently, when I was three, I managed to tip my new baby sister out of her pram - fortunately she wasn't hurt. Sorry.....!!

JessM Thu 05-Jan-12 16:44:35

I poured condensed milk on my sisters head once. I must have been about 6 and her 4.

GoldenGran Thu 05-Jan-12 16:53:03

My brother chased me round the garden with a little axe. He was stopped just before he got the chance to hit me with it. He was 4 I was 5.

harrigran Thu 05-Jan-12 22:12:12

I do not believe it is a good idea to ignore the baby and give the 5 year old more attention. This will only reinforce his belief that he is more deserving than the baby. I used to watch my eldest GD like a hawk in case she sat on the baby or put cushions on top of her. Now that GD#2 can fight back the sly nips etc seem to have stopped.

JaneMarie Thu 05-Jan-12 22:57:30

Thank you all for your answers, I have had a chat with him this evening, we have had a lovely time after our little chat playing with a teapot and generally grandson and grandma time as we usually have, I asked him gently why he feels the need to hurt them and what he does, he says he nipped and smacked them, and I said that it upsets not only the babies but also himself because I know he doesn't really want to hurt them, he said he doesn't, I reassured him that we all love him and that we love the babies too but we have loved him for much longer, we had cuddles and story time and am now hoping that he knows he can tell me what's on his mind, I don't expect the nipping to stop immediately but we will make sure that we don't leave babies alone with him, I feel reassured that this is not unusual behaviour in a child who has been the only one for a good length of time. Thank you all again xxxx

Faye Thu 05-Jan-12 23:11:23

Yummygran Your son attempting to frogmarch your DIL out the house was over the top. I would say she was sticking up for her child and even if your son was trying to be helpful he shouldn't criticize her child. The child is only two, why say anything at all, it's not helpful. I believe your sons were both out of order and I would be asking the son who did the frogmarching to apologize to his sister in law. She may seem to have strong opinions but maybe she feels she has to stick up for herself. I had a lot of criticism from my own family when D1 was very small as she was the eldest of all of the cousins and I guess some of my siblings thought they knew it all, never having had a child of their own at that stage. It still annoys me to this day that they spoilt for me what should have been happy family events. I do hope that you sort wishes!!!

JaneMarie My GS who had doubts at the end of his mother's pregnancy just loves his baby sister now she is here. We always referred to her as 'his baby' and at first he wouldn't touch her and barely looked at her, one time he mentioned she was 'too small.' He was more interested in the the Spiderman House the baby was 'getting for him' when she was born. He gradually started to take an interest, all the time the baby was referred to as 'his baby.' He is fine with her now (she is 8 weeks old tomorrow) but his mother found him in her cot last week, he was going to get her out. Babies are tiny and helpless and have to be watched all the time and I am sure that my GS will be too rough at times. Second children do seem to be made of more tougher stuff, maybe because they have to be!!!!