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help with an uncomfortable conversation with inlaws

(47 Posts)
chester21 Tue 06-Sep-11 21:32:18

Me and my partner are going to his parents soon to have an uncomfortable conversation regarding what we/they expect for son/grandson.

This is my first son(and their first grandchild) I am a very independant person who knows exactly how i want to live my life.

Ever since we announced that i was pregnant we have been given all sort of comment (you will be having him in hospital, you must have such and such as your doctor etc) When we found out that our boy had a little issue the comments got a bit more and daily phone calls to see if we knew anything else. I bit my tounge (which is quite a feat for me!!!!lol)for as long as i could. When our boy was born i had requested no visitors due to our son being in neonatal unit, me and my partner wanted to be on our own and we would pass on any information we had when we could.

Since we have been home which is 4 months now the inlaws have never asked how their son is, and the comments have escallated to 'you are changing him too often', he should be in his own room (he is 4 months only) having comments re weaning, how i am wrong to send him to creche

It goes on, generally i love my inlaws but the comments are getting me down and partner has noticed that and we have stopped going to see them as often or inviting them to ours because both of us just dont want to hear how awful we are as parent (which in my opinion i dont think we are at all) Neither of us want to stop them from seeing him so we have decided to have chat.

How in your opinion do we go about it neither of us want to hurt their feelings but we want to let them know that we are capable of raising our son and all the negative comments are unnecessary. Sorry for the really long post

jangly Tue 06-Sep-11 22:24:48

If you know its going to be an uncomfortable conversation, why have it>

Can't you just take the comments on the chin and with a bit of humour. Just be polite and then do your own thing. Some of their advice might actually be good. Don't hurt their feelings.

Its the same in a lot of families. You are no different.

You need to be thoughtful, and grownup.

GrannyTunnocks Tue 06-Sep-11 22:30:45

Yes I agree with jangly. Just smile nicely when they give advice and carry on doing your own thing. It is not worth falling out about.

yogagran Tue 06-Sep-11 22:33:56

In a way jangly is right - listen to the comments/advice - you don't have to take it - just go your own way and then no-one gets upset. It could be upsetting for all of you otherwise. Sometimes it's easier just to keep quiet and not upset things. He's your son and you should do what you think is best and right for him

jangly Tue 06-Sep-11 22:37:31

You could even enter into a conversation with them about how their views on childcare vary from yours.

But you would need to be very grownup for that.

yogagran Tue 06-Sep-11 22:43:17

I can remember back to when my DC were new and I was visiting the in laws, I was critical (not out loud, just to myself luckily) and thought that my MIL was so out of date because she had had her children all of thirty years ago and my attitude was "well, what does she know - it was all so long ago, she's out of touch" Now that I am a GM I realise how arrogant I was in my thinking and I wish that I had been nicer to her!

crimson Tue 06-Sep-11 23:07:28

I think it's reassuring that both of you are having the 'chat' with the in laws..most problems of this kind we've heard before seem to involve one parent having a problem with the grandparent/s. Maybe meeting somewhere neutral as well [ok I'm making it sound like Gunfight at the OK Corral]? I so wish I'd been more assertive when I was younger; if it's done properly it's better than long term grudges that just eat away at you.

grannyactivist Wed 07-Sep-11 00:24:57

I agree with jangly on this one. I usually think it's a good idea to be up front and open about things, but I suspect that a confrontation about this WILL hurt your in-laws feelings and cause long-lasting friction. It's a shame that their comments are getting you down, but as baby is only 4 months old your hormones will still be crashing around and possibly influencing your feelings too. If you could re-frame their 'interference' and see it as evidence of their concern, however misguided, it might help to defuse the situation.
When I had my first baby my mother found plenty to take issue with, but I made a conscious decision not to argue with her. I always appeared tried to listen, find common ground if possible, but otherwise did my own sweet thing!

Faye Wed 07-Sep-11 02:19:07

Chester21 be careful what you wish for.... When our boy was born i had requested no visitors due to our son being in neonatal unit, me and my partner wanted to be on our own and we would pass on any information we had when we could. It must have been awful for your son's grandparents to not be able to see their grandson as soon as possible.

When my last grandchild was born he was in the ICU in another city. I know my DIL and son were grateful for the support from all the grandparents who all made the long trip just to see him and spend a little bit of precious time with him before his first major heart operation the very next day. The aunts and uncles flew to visit over the following months as we just didn't know if he would survive. How awful to be denied that time with a sick grandchild or any grandchild for that matter.

I can understand daily phone calls can be irritating. I always wonder why people especially if they are so closely related as parents and their children can't speak of things, they have to bottle it up and then it becomes a huge issue. Why can't your husband tell his own parents that they are being a tad annoying, the constant phone calls and the constant advice etc is unwelcome!!! Why make problems when there don't need to be any!!!

Baggy Wed 07-Sep-11 06:35:12

If you have a modern phone that can be programmed a bit, you can make it recognise numbers you don't want to answer and fix things so that it doesn't actually ring at your end. That, or have it tell you who is phoning (record a message at your end which the unwanted number then activates), so you can decide whether to answer or not each time.

That's my practical suggestion.

I think jangly's advice is good too, but I know that sometimes the nagging gets on top of you and you just want the annoyance to go away.

Your request that grandparents didn't visit while you were in hospital seems a bit strange — almost as if you were being rather over-possessive. Are you? Don't be offended by my asking that. It's very easy to be possessive about your first baby (especially the first) and perfectly natural, but you do need to recognise that natural feeling and adjust if necessary. Actually, if you're putting the baby in a creche, you don't sound over possessive. So now I'm puzzled. Why didn't you want people to visit a new baby? Wanting to is also the most natural thing in the world.

Libradi Wed 07-Sep-11 08:44:11

I'm sure your in-laws don't think of you as awful parents chester21, just wanting to pass on their experiences to you both to make things easier. As a grandparent I would hate it if my son and daughter in law came over to have an 'uncomfortable conversation regarding what we/they expect for son/grandson.' If something really needs to be said I would far rather my son had a word in my ear than be confronted by the both of them in that way, I think it could do a lot of damage.

When my two were babies my mother in law gave me a lot of advice, I always thought of her as very experienced having brought up eight children, some of it I listened to and some of it in my opinion was a load of old rubbish and outdated.

Times change and the old ways aren't always the 'right way' however my mother in law also gave me a lot of valuable advice too, she would say things like 'have you thought of....' or 'maybe you could try......' If I thought it was a good idea I would use it, if not I'd smile, nod my head and carry on and do exactly what I thought was right. (My own daughter does the same with mesmile)

I would be very careful how you approach this with them, it may not be worth spoiling your relationship. Hope things soon settle down, I'm sure in time it will get easier for you.

susiecb Wed 07-Sep-11 08:56:47

I think jangly has it just right why be confrontational you dont have to take their advice/direction but please be diplomatic and thoughtful about their feelings too. These relationships have to last a lifetime - dont wear them out too soon. Best wishes

Ariadne Wed 07-Sep-11 08:59:54

I am very glad that I never confronted my MiL, though she was a very difficult woman, and extremely disapproving. But when she died, I felt good about not rocking the boat and causing distress.
But I also agree that sometimes it would have been good to be able to raise things - gently with her and my mother. But I was so young....
Am very happy that my DD and I talk freely.
So, I suppose there's no real answer!

JessM Wed 07-Sep-11 09:19:22

I kind of agree with Jangly... Unless you are very confident about your ability to handle this, it risks going badly wrong.
It is a transition for them too - they are delighted but also have to come to terms that they now have to take a back seat in the family.
It is natural for them to be really interested in their grandson - just think how awful it would be if they weren't. The time will come when you will need their support - bringing up a family without backup is very difficult - I know you think you have got it all under control but the day will come when no amount of being organised and general control-freakery will work. Ask any parent who does not have backup on those complicated days when kids are ill or the school is closed...
"Should" is a word that presses buttons . They have not learned that yet. They are behaving just the same as their parents behaved when your DH was born. That is generally what people do unless they have been lucky enough to gain a lot of self awareness and understanding.
When they say "should" just notice that tricky word again and use it to learn - one day you will be tempted to say should to your own DIL. smile its true! I guarantee it!
Take a deep breath and say something calm like "Well the advice from the medical profession these days is..." "The research shows..." or "That's a thought - I'll have a think about that.." You never know, somewhere in all those shoulds there may be a nugget of good advice!
It may work for your DH to have the conversation along the lines of "we need to do it our own way and it is hard to cope with too much advice from everyone, while we are finding our feet"

Annobel Wed 07-Sep-11 09:21:56

My lot rarely seem to have issues with me but if one crops up, my DS2 tactfully mentions it rather than leave it to his partner. Luckily he does seem to have been born with the skill of negotiation - wonder where he gets that! I think this is the best course, rather than get worked up about it and go in with all guns blazing.

raggygranny Wed 07-Sep-11 09:41:16

I would add my voice to those on here advising caution. I am sure your MiL is speaking not out of disapproval of you but out of concern for her GS, although she may not be going about it in the right way! A 'chat' with the express purpose of warning her off can only cause hurt feelings, and possibly problems in the future, when you might well need her help and support. And don't get into a frame of mind where you automatically dismiss any advice she gives, because there may (almost certainly will) be helpful stuff in there.

Elegran Wed 07-Sep-11 10:17:01

I'd say you could try to enlist her help somewhere you know you need it, rather than wait to refuse it where she thinks you need it.

She is anxious to have some input in her grandson's little life - of course she is - and has been rebuffed when he was first born and she was probably very worried about him.

You were the ones who shut her out at first, now you need to do a spot of work to include her. You have your routine established, you will not be overwhelmed as you might have been when all is new.

jangly Wed 07-Sep-11 10:33:46

That must have been so difficult for the granny and grandad - knowing that their first grandchild had been born and had developed difficulties; and not even being welcome to phone and ask how he was getting on.


"I am a very independant person who knows exactly how i want to live my life."

I hope that works out for you. You could be very much on your own if it doesn't.

harrigran Wed 07-Sep-11 11:02:47

jangly wise words.
I was talking to a mother of two young sons and she was talking about her mother and MIL, she said "my children are their children and I want them to enjoy them as much as I do" I thought that was a lovely sentiment.

Elegran Wed 07-Sep-11 11:53:40

Yes Jangly.

chester21 Wed 07-Sep-11 14:28:36

thank u for all of your advice, it is much appriciated.

In response to not allowing visitors to see him at the hospital we had as a couple decided that it was what was best for us lukily he was only in for 6 days but it was extremely upsetting to see him with tubes in. I know i wouldnt have been able to cope with having anyone apart from my partner around me. i am not very good with public emotions we also knew that only me and my partner would be allowed to touch him or hold him, that would be too hard for mil to deal with.

unfortunately some of the comments are difficult to take on the chin and are bringing me down. we are also thinking that they have seen a neighbour who looks after her gc everyday and we think they were under the impresion that they would be as hands on ( i suposse is the term i mean), that was never our intention.

I will take all the advice given and speak with the dh as to what is for the best for all of us

jangly Wed 07-Sep-11 14:32:31

Hope it all goes well for all of you Chester. smile

Do the best you can. No-one can ask more.

JessM Wed 07-Sep-11 14:57:10

Yes good luck Chester and cut yourself some slack.
You don't have to be supermum. And you are allowed to be sensitive when you are a new mum. We are not (and were not) all blessed with sensitive MILs and DILs and families all have different sets of expectations about how things should be arranged.
(I remember my PILs getting outraged because i had served them with SOUP the first time they came to visit us in our first home!!! and my cousin's FIL says things, over dinner, like "What's this muck your giving me now?" )
You don't mention your own parents, so I wonder if there is something going on there, or not going on there, which is affecting the way you are feeling about your DH's parents.

chester21 Wed 07-Sep-11 15:13:35

my parents live in wales we see them about 1 or twice a month i would love to see them more but as i cant drive and they both work full time it isnt possible. in a way i do prefer that as they have all said if i lived closer they would be round all the time!!!!!!! I dont have a really close relationship with my mum really and as soon as i was old enough and had a full time job i moved out on my own then moved away a couple of years later. thinking about it JessM this may very well be influencing my feelings with DH's parents

Libradi Wed 07-Sep-11 15:14:41

Chester I'm sure no one on here would want to make you feel down, but just want to explain our view of the other side of the situation, although none of us really know the full story or your reasons for not wanting your in-laws to be too involved with your son.

Whatever you decide its you and your partners decision, be firm about the way you both want to bring up you son, but just remember a child can never have too many people to love it and one day you may be glad of your in-laws to be more 'hands on' so try and leave the door open for his grandparents to share his life too.

Take care and enjoy your beautiful baby.