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Asking all grandparents advise please re boundaries and hurting

(21 Posts)
Happy16 Wed 30-Nov-16 01:24:16

Hi everyone I'm putting myself out there to all you experienced grandparents coz my problem is eating me up at the moment and I'd love to hear your thoughts of wisdom.
My hubby & I have 2 young babies 2 yrs & 6 months. He also has 2 older children 14&17 my 2 step kids, who see us every week. I'm proud we all have a very solid 'blended family'. We've been together 10 years and for most of it I've been the main bread winner providing for our family. It's been a joy as a adore children.
In all of this I bought my own home years ago by saving up a deposit over 15 years hard work, I welcomed my partner and his 2 children making my home theirs.
My hubbies mum and dad used to visit us unannounced a couple times a week for years, often when we were still in bed on a Sat or Sun morning . My hubby hated it and so did I , my family always ring up beforehand to make sure it's convenient to call. However we put up with it as his mum made us feel awkward that she couldn't see her grandchildren as often as her son was now divorced. Every time she'd call it was always 'hello, we've just called to see our kids, my babies etc...' I turned a blind eye to this even though it was a pain in the butt and an invasion of our privacy.
Anyway after going through various heartaches re miscarriages we ended up with a beautiful baby of our own. It was an extremely traumatic birth and I nearly lost my life. However thanks the Lord I'm still here! However after asking everyone could they please call beforehand to make arrangements to visit as we didn't want too many visitors together etc...they decided to ignore that request & kept coming around unannounced often while I was breast feeding or tired, then getting a face on when I didn't come dutifully downstairs at their request!
I could write a book, but all I'm looking for is how to deal with this situation from all you lovely experienced grans out there. Before I was pregnant by the way I felt she tolerated me, I always made more effort than her regularly taking her flowers etc...however once I got pregnant OMG it was like ' we'll have to go shopping together' I was 'whooooooaaa' you've never asked this of me in the last 8 years and all of a sudden you actually want to get to know me??!!
On my birthday I got no messages, my hubby got a card posted through the letterbox on his birthday as they said well not knock were we are not welcome! They text or call my hubbies 2 other children weekly as they're teenage and they meet up with them regularly. They also pay for their school hols amounting to hundreds of pounds. They fail to ring their son or I however to ask if they could pop over to see their other 2 baby grandchildren. His mum says to my hubby I'm not ringing up to ask to see you like making an appointment at the doctors, ive never been more insulted! However the way I been brought up is have respect for every family & home coz there's so much going on in there you need to drop by on a convenient time for all.
We have since been tarred in the family that we don't let them see their grandchildren (we do but on a distance basis unfortunately, we go to theirs every 8-10 weeks then make it clear don't forget to call us when you want to see us but they don't bother). But they call my hubbies 2 teenage children every week to arrange to see them & buy them lots and give them money. My mum by the way has always given my step childrens weekly pocket money for 10 years, now she gives her 2 grandchildren and step grandchildren the same every week.
I'd love to know your advice on how to deal with this situation please. My hubbys mother has always ruled the roost, is passive-aggressive, negative, judgemental, opinionated. I'm a mature career woman who will not be pushed around and be manipulated! How do I deal with this please? I'm lost at the moment as I hate friction and love everyone to live in harmony but this woman seems to create or want drama everyehere she goes. Ironically she's a devout Church goer but fails to respect our family boundaries or beliefs? Please help all your advise is most welcome at this a very hard time in my life. Thank you xxxxxx

Christinefrance Wed 30-Nov-16 13:19:10

Sounds like things have got totally out of hand happy. The longer you allow this to go on the more difficult it will be to recover any sort of relationship. I don't like people just dropping in either whether family or friends but think you have to find some sort of middle way.
Christmas may be a good time to try and sort things out, sounds like two strong women not wanting to give way. Sometimes you have to be the better person and try for a reconciliation for the sake of everyone else. Perhaps you and mother in law could meet up somewhere nice for a drink or afternoon tea and discuss the problems calmly.

rubylady Thu 01-Dec-16 02:41:39

Probably from the time your husband wasn't with his older children's mother to meeting you, his mum thought that she had her son back. And then you came along and took him back off her, and made babies with him. She doesn't like it. But tough, he loves you and your family and she is going to have to lump it. But, don't tell her that. You have to win her over in your own charming way. Maybe get the older children onside and arrange a family get together, maybe in a play centre where the little ones can play. If the older children request their company, then they will probably oblige. You have to be over kind to them, get them on side first before putting boundaries in place for visits etc. Mention that the young ones have missed their gran and gramps. Ask them if they would like to go seeing Father Christmas with them. Bring the delight of young children back to them. Do it slowly over the next few weeks and see how it goes. You can only try. But for the peace of the whole family, it is worth giving it a go. Good luck love, we can be a cantankerous bunch sometimes, well, I can anyway. grin

Anya Thu 01-Dec-16 07:04:38

Looks like not many of us have spotted your post Happy and I'm sorry to read that your at a hard time in your life.

Personally I think you've enough on your plate with two young children (are you back at work yet?) to be worrying about this woman. She is the problem, not you.

You need to put an invisible line between her and you so her behaviour don't affect you. After all you rarely see her so don't let her upset you from afar. Put her mentally in a box and lock it away. When you do have to see her just be as pleasant as possible, then shut her away again in that box when she leaves. Anything negative, such as phone calls, gossip from other family members -shut that away too.

It's a useful psychological technique that I employed with an alcoholic and demanding sister, who took, took, took, distrusted our lives and gave nothing back in return. It wax the only way to survive her.

I'm sure now this threat is rebooted and 'out there' people will have other ideas to offer.

Anya Thu 01-Dec-16 07:05:37

You're not your.

Anya Thu 01-Dec-16 07:06:34

Disrupted our lives. Lots of typos sorry.

Happy16 Thu 01-Dec-16 08:52:05

Thankyou so much for your replies & advice. Anya I go back to work next year but am hoping to go part time as the thought of going back to 10-11 hour days is too much! I don't want to be parted from my babies at all really but needs must.
When all this came to a head my hubby and I politely asked if they would call before dropping by unannounced to make sure it was a convenient time. His Dad said yes if that's what you want fine. However his mum rang my hubby days later to give him lots of abuse & how dare we suggest such a thing etc...this has now led to the stand off. I am polite on visits but don't get any eye contact when she's talking or we don't get asked how we are. Even when I was heavily pregnant I bumped into her in the high street smiled & asked how she was. She practically ignored me just talking to my baby & never asked how I was. This was hurtful. My hubby said get wise & don't ask how her again but that's not my way.
When my first baby was born she'd say what she was going to feed him, she'd snatch him out my arms as soon as I walked into the room, she'd never ask me anything about the baby just coo over him then leave. I can write a book over the hutful things she's said & done (often subtly so if you pull her on anything you're the one ending up feeling guilty for saying anything so we now say nothing at all now). I ended up with post natal depression with my first baby (only my hubby my mum & close friends know this). I spent a lot of the first year in tears & her hurtful behaviour only added to what was such a difficult time. She used to say anyone who thinks they have depression has got too much time on their hands.
You paint this picture in your head of how you'd love your life to be with inlaws & I wish things were different. But they're not and yes it's so sad. I suggested to my hubby about inviting his mum & dad on a family day out to the park or something but he said they'd see that as an insult too as we're not going to their home. All this is so suffocating & toxic. I just hope his family are wise to know there are always two sides to every story. They know I've been a loving, caring & committed step mum for the past 10 years. I'm now just needing to know from all you wise grans how best to deal with this situation so it brings the greatest peace & a calm mind, if that's at all possible?
Thank you again for your replies they've been really helpful xx

grannyactivist Thu 01-Dec-16 12:34:39

Happy16 - what a horrid situation to be in. I do think people's behaviours can change, but it's often a very long and painful process. I agree with the options other grans have suggested - only you can know what will work best for you in your situation. The only thing I would say is to make sure your husband and step-children are always on board so that there can be no 'divide and rule' tactics from your in-laws. Let us know if things improve. smile

Swanny Thu 01-Dec-16 13:12:03

Sounds as though she's trying to drive a wedge between you and your step-children too. I do hope they can see what's happening for what it is and not be deceived by her manipulations and bribery.

Happy I suggest you put her behaviour in a box at the back of the cupboard under the sink. Smile, be polite and open towards her when you meet but then put her back in the box. Don't let her spoil your life with hubby and all 4 children. I think she believed she had her son back where he belongs, till you came along and took him away again. How did she get on with his previous wife?

Let your hubby have the necessary words with his mother, he does seems to be with you in decrying her behaviour. You focus on what you know is right and don't let any of you be pulled apart flowers

NfkDumpling Thu 01-Dec-16 13:26:04

Have you tried calling round on them unannounced? Say just before you know they're going to church, or when you know they're likely to be sitting down to their main meal?

I agree with the others who suggest that she thought she had her son back - and become the mother figure for your step-children. What do they think of this favouritism they get over your babies?

Jayh Thu 01-Dec-16 13:40:08

So sorry that you are in this situation Happy. It sounds like the more you try to offer friendship to this lady, the more she pushes you away. The other Gnetters have already given you good advice and it is time to draw the line. If it means you lose some contact with her then so be it. She can still stay close to her son and grandchildren.
If she wants to behave like an old besom then she will have to take the consequences.

Luckygirl Thu 01-Dec-16 13:58:55

What a pressure for you - whatever you do,l please do not let this come between you and your hubby. You have worked hard to be a family together and that is what matters most.

It does sound as though she is being unreasonable and that you have tried everything, so all you can do is set her aside, grit your teeth when she is there, but put her pout of your mind when she is not. I would not answer the door if she came round early at the weekend.

Deedaa Thu 01-Dec-16 21:48:50

I drop in on DD and SIL at any time, unannounced, and always have done and they do the same with us. However I never call on my DIL and DS unannounced because it's just not quite the same relationship.

rosesarered Thu 01-Dec-16 21:49:49

Same here Deeda

Hilltopgran Thu 01-Dec-16 22:48:39

Happy, I feel for you, you are at a time where you should be able to enjoy your career break and the time with your children. I think your MIL is out of order, I would never call on my son and DIL without checking it is convenient. Your MIL knows how you feel she should respect your views in your home, stay polite and firm don't allow her bad manners and controlling behaviour to dictate how you live your life. Life has taught me that some people never change, so agree with your husband acceptable boundaries and then if your MIL decides not to accept them, agree to differ and do not let it spoil this special time.

Synonymous Fri 02-Dec-16 02:25:32

Happy I wonder what happened to ruin your DH's first marriage and whether it was engineered by MIL. It would be interesting to know if MIL is one of those narcissistic people whom you will never please and who will strive to make your life a misery. If she is one then you will need to protect yourself and your family. Please be aware that someone can be a church goer and yet not be a Christian! "By their fruits you will know them." Matt 7:15-20
There is much sound advice on here and I would just add that you need to make sure that you and your DH stay close to each other and keep your lines of communication alive. He seems to be aware and supportive to you so that seems very positive. It also sounds from his advice to you that he has travelled this road before so I would definitely heed his advice. I think the "box under the sink" is a good idea too. smile
I wish you well for I think you have a tough furrow to plough. flowers

Happy16 Sun 04-Dec-16 09:08:35

Thankyou all for the wise & supportive advice. Swanny they hardly called round when hubby was first married as they lived so far away but they got on well with her by all accounts. They married young & first wife was happy to leave her children with family weekends at a time so she could go out & party, she also conformed to what Mil wanted. Nfk yes we've called round on them when theyve been on their way out, we got this thrown back in our faces that we were doing it on purpose to be awkward as we knew what days

Happy16 Sun 04-Dec-16 09:36:01

Pressed send too we apparently knew what days they'd be going out (they're creatures of habit). When the 2 older GC get pocket money from them & they leave their other 2 out we make them share it 4 ways when they get home.
My Mil had a falling out with one of her other sons years ago & told us all not to let him know if she ever got ill & if she died then he'd have to live with the guilt for the rest of his life! My hubby & brothers have had past problems with gf that his parents didn't approve of so is used to their behaviour. They have the pretend they don't exist tactic to a fine art now I think haha.
I agree with the posts I do think she wanted to be stand in mum when hubby's first marriage broke down. I also think she expected me to be like first wife & hand my babies over & let her do the looking after & decision making about them. Even 2 years on I still haven't left my babies with anyone else overnight (other than their Dad when i was in hospital). That's what works for me & I have peace of mind knowing mummy's there for them if they need me. I did all my partying in my teens & 20''s.
My hubby & I will remain united & hopefully strong dealing with this unfortunate situation. I will try not to play things out in my mind over & over. The box under the kitchen is a great idea. Thankyou all xxx

vampirequeen Sun 04-Dec-16 17:10:11

I come from a 'call before you visit' family and hate people just dropping in so I understand what you mean.

The problem lies with your MIL not you. It seems she's a woman who likes her own way and sees herself as a martyr if anyone doesn't let her have it.

You have a good relationship with your stepchildren. It's unlikely that will change because of their grandmother. Sadly I think your younger children will probably grow up knowing they have a grandmother but rarely/never seeing her. Try to see it as her loss not theirs. After all do you really want them to grow up having their heads played with by this manipulative woman?

starbird Sun 04-Dec-16 17:41:40

Some families operate happily on the dropping in unnanounced basis, but if you don't that is you prerogative - although it might not be easy for MIL to understand that attitude if she has not encountered it before. As you are the one to own the house and have a good job, she may feel that you think they are not good enough for you. She may feel inferior and being rejected (as she may see it) could make that worse. Coming across as bossy may be a front she puts on to hide behind, it may take a big effort for her. It might help if you allow her to see your weaknesses, maybe come and find the house a bit untidy, etc so that she knows you are as human as she is.
If you want to mend fences, have you tried phoning and inviting them round say for a meal on a specific date - with their input as to which day suits them? Might be worth a try to fix something over Christmas time - it doesn't really matter who is right or wrong in this, just give it a try and if MIL refuses then at least you know you have done your best.. Be thankful that you have other extended family that you get on with, and, as long as your husband is with you all the way, move on with your life without feeling guilty.

starbird Mon 05-Dec-16 03:08:10

I can't help saying that it may not be a good idea to make the older children share the pocket money. Your two children are too young to have it surely whereas teenagers will want clothes. go out with friends for a burger. go to the cinema etc. Your MIL will get to find out and she will just tell them not to share it, it could lead to them having secrets from you and being deceitful.I do have sympathy for your situation and admire you for still trying out