Hi lovely experienced grandparents, today I need your sage advice as I cannot seem to understand my current predicament.
The background is: my husband’s mother (MIL) is someone I usually get on very well with, to the point where she has called me her best friend in the past. She is not interfering and we involve her in our lives as much as possible, we have two children and although a few hours drive away she visits for a weekend every 3-6 weeks and we FaceTime/Skype every few days and text almost daily. We even holiday together once a year and it is really lovely. My husband has a brother (with wife and two kids), who treats her really well then really badly, and so she is often on an emotional rollercoaster regarding them, and she is heavily influenced by what they either say to her or tell her to do. My husband’s brother and him have not spoken now for 10 years because of him/his wife causing rifts and divides (some other family members on his side also avoid them). They say jump and MIL says how high (these are the people who she found out on social media that she had a new grandchild, yet for us we sent her a parcel next day delivery just to tell her the sex of our child in a little box of treats with the answer at the bottom).
The background might be important, it might not. So here is my question, what would you do? Two years ago at Christmas, my father in law needed life saving surgery. We were there, taking mother in law to and from a hospital to visit him over an hours drive away every day at visiting time. His brother was nowhere to be seen. MIL and FIL inevitably stayed at ours for Christmas which was lovely. Last year we invited them for Christmas, they declined and later told us that it was because they wanted it to be fair for both sets of grandchildren. I asked if they’d been invited to their other son’s, they said actually they’d been told by them that they were busy for the whole of December, so my husband said to come to us as we wanted them with us so they did end up coming, and again having a lovely time. Her other son found out and was angry, I’m not sure why as he didn’t want them there.
This Christmas we have invited them as our children love to have them around and we love that, after all Christmas to me is about the children. They have said no. This time on the grounds that they dislike Christmas and want to be at home on their own this year for the big day (but do want to do a Christmas of sorts with us on another weekend). They are spending the weekend before Christmas with their other son because again they do not invite them for actual Christmas. My MIL has started to also treat us unkindly, for example, at a recent event we hosted, I asked if she could help by cutting the cake whilst I was super busy with another task and she said no with a smirk (my parents are no longer around I might add). She has also started questioning all our decisions, switches off and uses her mobile phone when around our children, and is now emotionally affecting them by saying whenever we part ‘oh you’re leaving your nanna’ over and over in a really sad voice. My husband is so cross as she is being quite unkind to us all of late, and we genuinely dont know why. We feel we can’t raise it with her directly as she is very sensitive and I dont want to hurt her.
On social media she professes to adore our children and wants to spend every waking hour with them. I’m feeling very hurt, and very confused over Christmas. Being a very caring daughter in law, I am now after being treated like this after often putting my own happiness second, am feeling like I want to withdraw from them as feeling rejected and unappreciated is starting to really affect me. Do we spend so much time with them that they don’t see Christmas as special? Is it my husband’s brother influencing her decision and she isnt telling us? Is she just getting older? What would you advise I do to maintain a relationship without getting hurt over and over? My husband is tired of investing so much time and effort into the relationship with his parents compared to his brother and getting treated equally and so he wants to now after many many years, back away, I’m not sure that is the answer. Many thanks. PK
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