Gransnet forums


Difficult dil

(50 Posts)
Aggy21 Sun 13-Dec-15 22:21:32

I am so fed up with my dil's attitude. It really gets me down. She was all sweetness and light when we first met her but once they were married and especially after having children she's become more and more distant, cold and unfriendly. My son seems oblivious to it, but then he's got used to her being so controlling over the years. She keeps the children on a very tight rein. Sometimes I wonder if she's on the autistic spectrum, but then I see her being all nicey and charming to certain others in the family. She is even more horrible to my dh than to me. I could never confront her because she would just get all flustered and deny anything is wrong and it could cause a rift which might never heal. I'd like to try a subtle approach. Any ideas? My younger colleagues at work say they'd love to have a young friendly mil like me so I can't be that bad! We've tried so hard to welcome her into the family and babysit and help out but this problem really gets me down.

janeainsworth Sun 13-Dec-15 22:37:39

'Confronting' her doesn't sound like a good idea.
Perhaps you could try asking her if there's anything wrong?
You say you've welcomed her into your family - perhaps she feels 'the family' is her and your DS and their children, and you come across as a bit possessive of your son? Could that be a possibility?

rosequartz Sun 13-Dec-15 22:58:39

janea has a point; after all, she is your family and it sounds as if she has been for quite some time now.

You say she keeps the children on a tight rein - not sure what that means? Does it mean she doesn't allow bad behaviour, or that she won't allow them to just be children?

I am a bit shocked that you have suggested that she could be on the autistic spectrum - if she is friendly and jolly with everyone else then I think you may have to have a good think where it all went wrong with you and your DH.

Coolgran65 Sun 13-Dec-15 23:03:21

Any chance of doing something briefly together, lunch or meeting for coffee. A girlie hour. .... not to mention your feelings - just to yarn about anything and everything.
Do you think she'd go for that?
Or a good one I find, is a walk with dil and children with a coffee stop.
But if you've never done anything together before it might look contrived.
On the other hand..... being straightforward.... I'd love us to have lunch/coffee, could we meet up.
I do understand that you could be setting yourself up to be shot down, but you would have tried.

I have three really friendly dils and one who is a little more distant. I do my best and occasionally do get a little irked but have not mentioned it to anyone.... least said and all that.

If your dil won't respond to your overtures you may have to accept that this is how she is.

But rudeness is a different matter I.e. ......... Oh my, did you mean to sound sharp just then or perhaps I misunderstood?

rosequartz Sun 13-Dec-15 23:05:18

Misread that janea, but that is quite right too - DS, DIL and children are a family and you are all part of a wider family. Your DS' s loyalties will be towards his wife and if you start being confrontational that could split the wider family.

louisamay Sun 13-Dec-15 23:14:16

This has a very familiar ring to me. My son has been with his partner 5 years and they have a gorgeous little boy. Like your DIL, ours was charm personified until she had the baby. I won't go over the details, it would be all too long and boring. After an incoherent rant outside our house, DIL has not made any contact with us in 4 months. Son is very concerned. From what I have read (and believe me I have scoured books and articles on what seems to be a common problem) it's often down to low self esteem/insecurity on the part of the DIL who sometimes becomes almost paranoid about her place in the family, and sees her MIL as 'competition.'
Of course, that's not to say that there aren't some awful MIL's out there - as I'm sure anyone from Mumsnet would like to assure us. However, you sound like a relaxed lady (as am I) so it might be difficult to get to the roots of your DIL's attitude. It's probably not something you've 'done' - it's just that you are her husbands mother! Simple as that. I really don't have any constructive advice, apart from agreeing with janeainsworth - don't confront her. Maybe an email? But be very careful how you word it. These relationships are a minefield. A good read is Reluctanly Related. Good luck, I feel your pain..

Synonymous Mon 14-Dec-15 01:02:27

Whatever you do don't send her an email! shockThey are never read as you would say it and it could be the end of the line! Confrontation is never good anyway unless you have absolutely nothing to lose which is not your situation at all!
Clearly you will always be her husband's mother and nothing is going to alter that so you will have to put some work into making the relationship better, or as good as you can, possibly by paying her compliments, no negativity and being extra loving to her.
Sometimes we just have to accept that we are not that important to them and learn to live with that fact and don't complain to anyone, least of all your son who really does not need that complication. Don't complain to your DH either as he will probably rattle in on your behalf and before you know it there will be a full scale family feud and estrangement. Above all relax. We are all different and she is raising her family now, you've already done it, got the t-shirt etc. etc. and that really was in the last century. grin

BlackeyedSusan Mon 14-Dec-15 07:50:08

well... you could have said something quite innocently that she has taken the hump at whilst hormonal.

or she could just be shattered and have little time for the social niceties now.

your ds could have said something and you are collateral damage. (oh my mum thinks... insert something different to dil) not something youwould have said at all or at least out loud.

tight rein for children? I keep mine on a tight rein... for a very good reason. (1 is autistic and one possibly dyspraxic, definitely hypermobile and prone to runnign off when smal and just falling into precious objects)

she might need to be controling as you put it as she is the one running the day to day organisation and needs it to work properly. It may seem controlling to say that the childrenneed to leave now... but this could be for good reasons. (bedtimes, nap times, school night... homework to finish [kids these days get punished for not doing homework])

RedheadedMommy Mon 14-Dec-15 08:24:04

What does she do?
You said she keeps the children on a tight rein, does that mean she pulls them up on their behaviour? She doesn't let you look after them?
What mean things does she do and say?
How is she controlling?

You can call her everything under the sun but without proof of what she's said, no proper advice can be given.

tiggypiro Mon 14-Dec-15 08:30:01

All this makes me so thankful for my lovely DiL and SiL. They are both of different nationalities and culture to me (politics and religion are definitely off limits !) but both make me feel so welcome when I visit.
I am so sorry for those of you who have problems. flowers for you all.

Riverwalk Mon 14-Dec-15 08:38:44

You babysit and help out so have access to your grandchildren which is the most important thing.

You don't actually say what the problem is that gets you down.

Don't send an email!

Marmark1 Mon 14-Dec-15 08:53:58

You are definitely not alone.This is very common.Some women will resent their MIL no matter who she is.I tread on eggshells sometimes.Just be yourself,don't ever critisis ,you have to step back.I focus on the kids,which isn't hard,we play all day,I find now,that DIL will join us sometimes.

janeainsworth Mon 14-Dec-15 09:22:40

marmark It also seems common for some grown women not to be able to untie the apron strings if their adult children, and recognise that the adult children make their own families, of which the grandparents are only an extension.

Aggy21 Mon 14-Dec-15 10:56:56

Thanks to all for taking the time to reply. Sorry didn't go into details because I thought the post would be too long! Examples are- not saying hello or goodbye, avoiding eye contact, giving one word answers, not telling us anything about the children's concerts, activities etc, having lots of photos around the house of her parents and not us, not thanking us for presents, not showing any concern if we're ill or have to go for operations, just generally acting as if she hates us! I try to downplay it to my dh cos I'm afraid he might say something. I've invited her to lunches, dinners, coffees, walks etc but she's very guarded and quiet. I praise her and act smiley and friendly towards her. I don't think I act possessivemy towards my son. When I say a tight rein on kids I mean not letting them jump about at all or be loud ever and punishing them for tiny misdemeanours. think she sees the world in quite a black and white way and likes to control things and because she can't make us do what she wants and be exactly the type of grandparents she wants she gets very irritated. I appreciate everyone's point of view! Maybe I ll have to grin and bear it!

Coolgran65 Mon 14-Dec-15 11:04:25

What everyone else has said .....
Definitely don't send an email.
Be friendly, but not over the top.
Compliment dil, the family, the children, her home.
A cheap bunch of flowers if you go visit, Asda lillies or the like...

Direct rudeness is very hard to take and to keep quiet.... perhaps a small pause from you, at the end of her rude comment..... and then onto something else.

Don't offload onto son - it's his wife, and I certainly don't offload to my dh in case he would say something and blow everything into a bigger mess.

My best friend is my confidante.... I am hers. She will soon tell me if I'm being picky or unreasonable.

Contact with the dgc and ds is what is top of the list. flowers

RedheadedMommy Mon 14-Dec-15 11:18:25

The rudeness I'd just grit your teeth.
Something must of happened for her to go from lovely to cold and distant.

Does your son tell you about the Childrens activities etc? It's not just down the woman.

I'd honestly just grit your teeth. You both sound like different kinds of people. Have a rant on here about her but talk to your son about it. You see him and your DGC so just grit your teeth and smile grin

Aggy21 Mon 14-Dec-15 11:33:14

Ta coolgran65 and redheadedmommy! Good advice. I do offload to my friend which does help but she has no gc so bit different. I shall make the most of the time I have with the gc before they grow up!

sherish Mon 14-Dec-15 11:51:32

Maybe ask her advice on something? If she feels that you are the 'perfect' mum, she may feel a little honoured knowing that you don't know everything and need her input. Just a thought.

elena Mon 14-Dec-15 14:42:53

Sounds hard, Aggy sad

You say: 'not saying hello or goodbye' - you can deal with that, by directly saying 'hello, lovely to see you, how was the journey?' or something like a direct question which she has to answer, somehow, so the lack of 'hello' is less obvious. As for 'goodbye', then actually saying 'oh, are you going, sorry, I haven't said goodbye properly'.

The lack of eye contact and lack of communication is probably something you will just have to put up with. The children's concerts etc - ask your son.

I don't think not having photos of you round the house is anything to worry about - you certainly can't change that!

'Not thanking us for presents' - not acceptable, and needs to be challenged, I think, politely, with you saying something about needing to know she received it, or did she like it.

Lack of concern over your health is again nothing you can do about, I don't think.

It sounds like you are doing what you can, on the whole. She might change and thaw out a little - hope so.

louisamay Mon 14-Dec-15 16:57:54

I think your son and mine must be married to the same woman.

granjura Mon 14-Dec-15 18:10:07

And on mumsnet they are saying 'I bet with have the same mil'...;)

louisamay Mon 14-Dec-15 18:30:08

Oh, very droll.....
Just letting Aggy21 she is not alone. It's NEVER ok to not acknowledge a greeting, not say 'thank you' for presents (don't accept them if you can't be bothered to acknowledge them), and to be totally unconcerned about a family members health. Frankly, I would call that selfish.
After being discharged from hospital after nearly dying from a serious infection, the first contact I received in several weeks from my DIL was an email link showing items she required for a forthcoming event and asking what I wanted to contribute. No 'How are you?' Perhaps that's on Mumsnet.

Aggy21 Mon 14-Dec-15 19:56:36

Oh Louisa May u made me laugh out loud! I think I need to keep my sense of humour over this. There are so many folk out there ill at the moment and having a difficult time that I have to remember to keep my problems in proportion . Plus I'm so sorry your dil treated you so badly after your illness. A lot of good advice from elena and others too. Cheers ladies, this means a lot. smile

Smileless2012 Mon 14-Dec-15 20:39:44

No, you're not alone Aggy as louisamay says, she sounds just like our d.i.l. and it's very hurtful and upsetting when you've believed you had a good relationship with your adult child's partner and things begin to change once they marry and become even more strained when they have children.

There is never an excuse for rudeness, and not acknowledging gifts you've received, not saying 'hello' and 'goodbye' and giving one word answers are all examples of being rude.

The main thing is that you continue to have contact with your son and grandchildren and long may that continue. Enjoy the time that you get to spend with them and try to put one side any problems with your d.i.l.

We have been estranged from our son for more than 3 years which means we are also estranged from our GC. In that time because of various sites I go on, including a thread on GN, I've come into contact with countless mothers in the same terrible situation. From my experience janeainsworth the common problem is not mothers who are unable to untie the apron strings with their adult children, but the unwillingness of their adult children's partners, men and women to share.

The vast majority of parents do recognise that their adult children make families of their own, the fault often seems to lie with those they've chosen to make their family with in that they do not want their in laws to be a part of that new family. We don't cease to be parents to our children when they have partners and children of their own, we remain as parents, become in laws and grandparents and are not "only an extension".

You're doing very well in difficult circumstances Aggy and I hope that one day your d.i.l. will realise how much you have to offer and how much she can gain by including you instead of pushing you to one side.

Marmark1 Mon 14-Dec-15 23:25:04

Sometimes mothers of sons have to do all the letting go,all the sitting back and waiting to be asked,all the biting the lip and keeping stum.I don't mind,I'm big enough,if that's what it takes,she will see the good in you one day,I'm sure.If not,she will reap what she sews.