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Can you help me be a better DiL?

(8 Posts)
Offspring Sat 31-Dec-11 06:41:19

My MiL has three sons, I am married to her second son. I have known her for 12 years and have been married for 7 of those. MiL has three GC and I am mother to two of them (numbers 1 and 3). I am (until March) her only DiL.

MiL is exceedingly generous and kind hearted. She has always treated me as one of her own. As well as this she is quite insecure and a natural worrier, both of which she is aware of.

Things changed a little when I first had DD, her first GC (currently 23 months old). She was constantly telling me that she knew she'd always be less important to us than my own mother and have less involvement with our DC. I assured her each time that this is not the case, but she remains convinced that it is. I know that her mother was much more involved than FiLs mother so perhaps it comes from this?

I have now also has a DS (11 weeks). She (and FiL) see our DC once a week, most weeks, and they are always welcome to drop in although she is sure she'd be bothering us if she/they did. She seems to be becoming more and more resentful of the time I get with the DCs and DH and gets very put out if I don't immediately hand DS over when we walk through the door but gets upset if I do and DS starts crying because he's due a feed and tells me it's because he doesn't know her well enough. Perhaps I'm being too sensitive but I feel like the implication is there that I don't 'let' them spend enough time with him. They sometimes look after DD on her own, but DS is new and breastfed and they haven't had the opportunity yet.

I'm starting to feed on edge each time we see them now because I feel as though I'm not doing enough, or not doing the right thing.

DH says that I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't so don't worry about it. But I'm not happy with that and I want to improve things. Sorry this is so long, but I'd appreciate your collective wisdom if you can please help me!

Greatnan Sat 31-Dec-11 06:52:07

Not boring at all - I am glad you posted here. We have read so many stories from 'the other side' and it is good to hear a DIL's point of view.
It seems to me that you are doing all you can for the moment and time, patience and goodwill will solve the problem of your MIL's lack of confidence.

Do your MIL and your own mother ever get together? Or do you try to give each of them their own time with your babies? Only you can decide which way would help them both to stop seeing each other as rivals, but as joint helpers in the task of supporting young parents.

Just a couple of simple things to try - on any special occasion for her, write a card from the GC saying how much they love her. Of course, she will know it comes from you, but that is all to the good.
Make a special point of inviting her for tea, or a coffee, or whatever is convenient, and actually tell her how much you have valued her kindness ind appreciate her experience. After all, she brought up the man you love. We are possibly too reticent about making our feelings clear to our loved ones - it is a very British trait.

gracesmum Sat 31-Dec-11 11:55:08

You sound like a lovely DIL - well done. I can understand MILs and Mothers feeling insecure when their daughter/son suddenly has a "new Mum" and worrying about the relationship. Your MIL you say is already a very insecure lady but surely seeing her DGC once a week and being involved in their and your life will help her to overcome this.
I think you are on the right track and don't need to worry at all about being a "better" DIL . You can continue to reassure her that you are happy to see her and that the babies/children love her to bits.
On the bright side - you will have no shortage of babysitters!

PS how does your own mother feel about this?

Carol Sat 31-Dec-11 12:09:19

You do sound like a sensitive and thoughtful DIL. Why not say to her 'I would love it if you could come more often so the baby doesn't have to spend the first half hour getting to know you again' in your own words, of course.

As a MIL I often feel I am treading on eggshells and when I have visited, I drive away thinking ' oh dear, I hope they didn't take such and such the wrong way.' It's so easy to take offence at the slightest thing, especially when young couples want to do things their own way. If I offer to cook or iron, am I implying they can't cope? If I stay away and wait for an invite, do they think I don't care that they are exhausted? I send a text every morning, asking if any help is needed, how are they all, have they had enough sleep?

In the end, I think the older generation should be just that bit thicker skinned and not take offence or insist on their way being the right way - even if they know they will be proven right later on. We have to be diplomatic and try to fit in - the prize is all those cuddles with our grandchildren.

supernana Sat 31-Dec-11 12:21:39

Offspring My point of view reflects that of Greatnan and gracesmum. You seem to be an ideal daughter-in-law. You are warm-hearted, patient and generous of spirit. It's a fact that some MIL are less confident than others. In order to compensate, they may try too hard, and so appear to be "pushy" KNOW-ALLS. Some MIL need to feel special because they are "needy" due to a less than warm relationship with their own mother. My three daughters-in-law have always treated me with great affection. I agree with GN when she suggests sending a special greetings card, from time to time, containing a personal loving message from the little one. I have a treasure box in which every card from my grandchildren has pride of place. X

nanarosie Sat 31-Dec-11 21:38:59

Hi Offs[ring I notice you MIL has no daughter of her own so perhaps she just isn't quite used to the mother-daughter too and fro because of this. You can be my DIL anytime you like! I have to say it took a while to shake down into an easy going relationship with my own DIL but after 17 years we get along just fine and she often asks for advice regarding my DS and the DGC so perhaps just time will be the answer for you

glammanana Sat 31-Dec-11 21:53:15

Offspring how thoughtful you are as a DIL and how lucky your MIL is to have you,have you thought maybe of letting MIL take your DD for an hour or two out her own and letting them have qualitty time to-gether whilst you relax for a wee while with your new DS, that may give her a more hands one role in the family,and surely she will understand that your little man is clingy to you because you are b/feeding and that is his natural response,I do support nanarosie with your MIL not having a daughter of her own it does make a differance I have seen it with my DSs partners,but I never make a fuss with them.thanks

Offspring Sun 01-Jan-12 02:35:54

Thank you all for your responses, I'm so glad I posted here thanks. I am on mumsnet but am looking for those in the same position as MiL and not myself, and I am grateful to have your perspectives.

I have also asked my own Mum what she would like me to do if she was in the same position and she just advised to give MiL time to find her place in the changed family dynamic and make her feel welcome whilst she is doing so.

Thank you for all of the suggestions, I like the idea of DD making something for her that we can attach a special note to. DH speaks to his Dad regularly but I was also thinking that perhaps I could also ring her once a week (outside of our visit) to let her know how the DCs are etc. DD does sometimes have one to one visits with PiL when DH and I have things to do that are no fun for little ones but I can make this more often which might make her feel a little more needed/useful.

FiL also (unintentionally) might make MiL feel more insecure as if he visits without her will comment to her (when MiL makes observations on the DCs) that DD 'always does that' or that DS 'doesn't like to be held that way' which can't make her feel all that good about it either. I might see if DH can intervene on those occasions perhaps to reassure MiL.

I think that the observations of not having daughters of her own are spot on too.

I know that it also needs MiL to relax and realise her important role in our DCs lives but I'd love to assist with this and not allow anything to sour our relationship.