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Help me to understand

(23 Posts)
satsum Thu 24-May-12 09:51:20

Good morning I am hoping for some insight to help me understand my MIL. I will try and be as conherent and concise as possible.
My MIL is fantastic. She gives us our space, she is always available to help, she never gives unsolicited advice and she always tells me what a fantastic job I am doing. We have a lot in common and I try and take my daughter around at least once a week and let her know how much I appreciate having her in my life.
Here is the tricky bit for me. My MIL will not give my daughter back when she is screaming for my husband or myself. This started when she was one week old and I was breastfeeding my daughter on demand. My MIL would run out of the room instead of giving her back to be fed. My daughter is eight months old now and it is still a huge issue. My MIL finds it very upsetting when my daughter cries for me and she refuses to let her come to me. I find this so upsetting to watch my daughter reaching out for me and crying however I also find it upsetting to watch how devestated my MIL looks after I have to take the baby away and comfort her. Can anyone offer me some insight into my MIL feelings so that I can understand and not feel so angry. I now feel anxious before every visit and I am finding it hard to sleep.

AlisonMA Thu 24-May-12 09:59:48

Hi satsum I wish you were my DiL! There seems to me to be nothing for it but to have the difficult conversation, either you or your husband. Maybe you can find some info on the clingy phase that little ones go through and show it to her? You could then go on to tell her stories of older toddlers who won't go back to their mum or dad and prefer grandparents. This would show her that it is a temporary thing. At our GS's 2nd birthday party last week he wouldn't go in the house to his parents and insisted on sitting in the garden with 'Gandad' to share a picnic, one bite Gandan, on bite Samuel!

Good luck

Anagram Thu 24-May-12 10:16:02

Just noticed there are two of these threads, and I've replied on the other one! confused

nanaej Thu 24-May-12 10:18:01

Oh dear.. sounds very tricky. MiL sounds as if she is either trying to prove that she is a good gran/ mother or expressing her unspoken opinion that your approach to feeding on demand is not hers. However it will backfire. In the long term your daughter will refuse to go to her grandmother as she will begin to feel anxious that she cannot get to you when she needs you. She will associate grandma with feeling anxious and sad.

I would try to engineer a conversation, not when a tricky situation has just occurred, about attachment theory, or buy a book on attachment theory and say you are reading it etc etc. See below...sensitive & responsive... being the key in your situation. Hopefully the penny will drop...if not I think you have to risk a minor disagreement and say , again not when it is happening, that you do not want your daughter to get distressed again and that she must hand her back when she cries. That way she will feel safe and secure and not worry about going to other people.

'Infants become attached to adults who are sensitive and responsive in social interactions with them, and who remain as consistent caregivers for some months during the period from about six months to two years of age.'

flowerfriend Thu 24-May-12 10:29:31

That Gran/MiL has real problems if she behaves like this. nanaej puts it brilliantly.

satsum Thu 24-May-12 10:30:34

Thanks for the advice. Both myself and my husband have spoken to her about this but unfortunately it has not been taken on board. I will have the talk again I think.....

AlisonMA Thu 24-May-12 10:39:31

I think it is very hard to say she has real problems, it sounds as if in all other ways she is fantastic. Let those without sin cast the first stone. None of us is perfect but she sounds pretty close to it except in this one instance so maybe a little more understanding would help. Perhaps she needs to feel needed? Perhaps asking her to do something else to help when the little one want Mum so she doesn't feel excluded? Maybe ask her to prepare the child's food or something else 'she is really so good at' but can't do with a baby on her hip?

satsum Thu 24-May-12 10:45:24

Yes distraction could be good. Yes you're right she is great in all other ways. I wish she could share my daughter with me instead of being so possesive with her when we go visit.... I hate to say it but it feels like she wants to be Mum and she wants me out of the way. Oh gosh that sounds awful when you say it loud but that is how it feels...

nanaej Thu 24-May-12 10:47:50

Does she have a daughter?

Bags Thu 24-May-12 10:48:22

Child who won't give someone else's doll back is what comes to my mind. I expect you've tried telling MIL that she can have the baby back again when it is fed/settled/whatever. Good luck.

Mishap Thu 24-May-12 10:48:24

I've replied to this on the other thread! You are going to be busy dodging from one to the other!

satsum Thu 24-May-12 10:55:38

Your responses have been good because I know now that I am not being a precious first time Mum. I feel empowered and I will now feel confident about taking my daughter and conforting her without feeling guilty. Thanks x

gillybob Thu 24-May-12 10:59:04

Hi satsum You sound lovely and I wish you were my DIL !

I guess your MIL is probably feeling a little upset that she is not able to comfort your daughter herself. Perhaps she feels inadequate and frustrated that despite her best efforts your daughter still needs her mummy or daddy when she is upset.

Next time it happens (and to save your MIL's hurt feelings) what about saying something on the lines of ................... "oh what a silly billy you are (directed to baby daughter) mummy and daddy are only here" and then gently taking daughter from MIL saying something like " Apparently I was exactly the same when I was little, when I needed comfort only mummy or daddy would do".

I can appreciate its tricky not to hurt MIL's feelings.

Good luck.

nanaej Thu 24-May-12 11:12:37

Hmm..decided I am mean old moo!
MiL is not thinking of her grandchild's feelings / needs when she is withholding what she wants from her..why then should great sensitivity be shown to MiL. I know 2 wrongs etc but the issue has been raised with her and she is still doing what she wants to do.

satsum Thu 24-May-12 11:28:39

I agree with you nanaej, however the only way I can prove a point is to not visit with her grandchild..... Morally that is the wring thing to do though isn't it.

Mishap Thu 24-May-12 11:28:47

Well - this truly is quite bizarre. I have certainly never heard this scenario before - I used to work in Child Guidance and saw a heap of things - but never this!

To be quite honest, if you and OH have already spoken to her about it to no avail, I would limit the number of times that you go round. I know that sounds truly harsh, but you cannot have the little one upset in this way - she is your priority. Nor do you have the time or expertise to psychoanalyze poor MIL - goodness knows what is motivating her! I am not able to give you any insight into her feelings, as they are clearly pathological.

I am sure that she will ask why the visits have been less frequent and you can simply say why - that you find it hard when she does this and cannot bear to see your D being upset unnecessarily.

Your MIL needs to gradually establish her own relationship with your D, in the knowledge that yours and your OH's take precedence and are undoubtedly the most important. The grandparent role is one that we have to learn and she may not get it all right straight away - but this really does sound very odd indeed. Running out of the room rather than giving her back is quite off the wall really.

What does your OH say? Has he any idea why this might be? Did she lose a child as a baby?

Is this her first grandchild? How are things with the others if there are any? Is FIL alive and around? Might he be able to shed some light or to suggest ways forward?

You sound a very tolerant lady - well done!

AlisonMA Thu 24-May-12 11:29:39

Good idea gilly. Please could everyone bear in mind that satsum and her MiL have a very good relationship and that she is a good MiL. I think some of the comments on here will make her question her MiL's motivation and could cause far more problems. I am sure she is a very nice person with only one issue, how many of us could claim that?

satsum Thu 24-May-12 11:44:57

The the fact is AlisonMA is that I was questioning my MIL's motivations already and that is why I asked for some advice. The posts have been a confirmation that my MIL's behaviour is unacceptable, however this does not mean that I on't love her and appreciate her or think any less of her. It just means that I can confidently coomfort my daughter and show a little more confidence doing so, knowing that I am not being selfish.

glammanana Thu 24-May-12 12:03:23

I replied on the other thread to this one.

Bags Thu 24-May-12 12:07:56

Yes, the MIL's motives need to be questioned! This is not a little thing; it is a fundamental challenge, by the MIL, to the natural order of things. She may come over as a lovely person in every other way but not giving a child back to its mother when the mother and the baby want it is, as someone else said, off the wall. If she can't accept that, she's going to get upset. That isn't anyone else's fault. I pity her and hope she can get treatment for what is clearly a serious problem. I am not blaming her by saying that the controlling/grabbing behaviour must stop, but there is no good reason why it should be tolerated. It is childish.

nanaej Thu 24-May-12 12:09:32

satsum you are a loving mother and DiL. However your child's needs have to be your priority. I am sure if MiL fully realises how she could be jeopardising her relationship with her granddaughter she will rethink. You could , if not done already, just ask her straight why she does it. Why do you want to make xx unhappy? She may feel she is helping to 'toughen' her up and make her more independent of you. You need to explain it is more likely to have the opposite impact! Follow your are right.

whenim64 Thu 24-May-12 12:42:14

A great MIL who is so kind in every other respect - so just assert your rule that your child is handed to you when she reaches for you in the same way you would pass her to grandma when she reaches for her. I think you are being a bit more understanding than you need to be if MIL is so easy to relate to. If my daughters say what they want doing with their little ones my only question is 'how soon do you want that done?' Good luck (smile)

dorsetpennt Thu 24-May-12 13:17:31

What bizarre behaviour, especially as she seems so helpful in every way. Is it because she feels she has to be the one to console your child? As for doing this when your daughter was a week old - I'm trying to visualise this with me doing it to my son's children. To honest despite my being as helpful as your MIL I think a family row would ensue. Bags put it well, it's a bit not giving a dolly back. I think you really need to talk over this , again, with your MIL and this time when she does this be really firm. Good luck.