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Best way to manage PIL dislike?

(21 Posts)
Abi30 Tue 02-Jul-19 12:07:37

I hope some grandparents here can share some insight on my situation! Hoping for a different perspective than what I might receive from mumsnet.

We are one of those couples that have been married for 10 years before entertaining the idea of having a child, as such we’ve lived all over but are currently 100 miles away from both sides of our families. As you’d imagine after 10+ years, we’ve gotten to know our PIL well and we’ve never had any problems. The dynamics between all our relationships started changing immediately after we announced the pregnancy and our daughter is the first grandchild on both sides. This in itself has probably made things tense as we are all learning how to navigate parenthood, as they are all also first time grandparents.

Where do I start?! Whilst pregnant there was the battle of buying baby essentials and I felt as though my PILs were trying to buy our child off of us, they were too generous but insisted on certain essentials, which we are immensely thankful for. However, they continue to spend a pretty penny on our daughter to a point that it’s OTT, it’s almost like they intend to buy my daughters affections when she gets older (she’s only 6 months at the moment, but I’m forward thinking the situation as some of their intentions will cost them 100s). They have also never asked us as parents what she might need or if certain things are ok with us, which is really the main thing that’s bothering me. Am I being too reserved here? I have no qualms with them spoiling our daughter (as grandparents do) but I definitely feel they should be asking permission for certain things when she’s older... (forward thinking here).

On the other side of things our relationship with my PIL has been quite tense, whilst pregnant my FIL said I had grown fat and was only an incubator for their grandchild on a few occasions and my MIL always comments on my weight with along the line of, “you look better than last time I saw you...” things have gone down hill from there. Apart from assessing my appearance they seem to think I’m invisible, in the sense that they used to call me but now only want to talk to my husband, not once asked how pregnancy, birth or post-birth was whilst my MIL loves to talk about how amazing and perfect her experiences were 35 years ago.... I am often talked over and I feel ignored. My husband is also quite bad at staying in touch with them and he doesn’t share information with them on our daughter readily so I email them every week with pictures and updates, which is more than a 5 min weekly conversation my husband provides. I don’t feel as though I’ve done anything wrong!

Nothing verbal has been passed between us but the itty bitty things have built up over time to a point that I sense a dislike towards me that wasn’t there before pregnancy and I’ve no idea why!! They don’t live close by so we only see them in person once a month for a weekend and during those visits they make my postnatal anxiety peak (which they also have no idea about as they do not appear to be interested in my well being). This is also linked to them doing things with our daughter without first asking us, personally I feel there is a lack of respect towards me as a mother.

My husband would prefer to move abroad so he wouldn’t have to deal with either parents.

Am I being irrational in how I am perceiving the situation?

Tedber Tue 02-Jul-19 12:55:12

I don't think you are being irrational I just don't think you are being assertive enough.

Some grandparents do have to be taught that the GC is simply NOT their own to have and to hold!

Asserting yourself does not have to develop into a massive argument or leave you with feelings of guilt.

First of all explain how you feel to your DH. Getting him to understand will be the first hurdle. Then get him on board with a plan. Ignore what has gone on previously with presents etc. No point in raking up past but NEXT time PIL insist on buying your child something you don't want tell them thank you but it is not what she or you need. Tell them you are grateful but if they do want to spend perhaps they could money into an account for her future education or similar?

They may take the hump for a while but If their generosity is out of pure adoration for the child and you both stay firm then they will come round.

As for liking/disliking - I can't answer what they feel all I can say is some grandparents do get so wrapped up in the new babies that they forget about the needs of their own children.

Please try not to let it get you down. After all your main priorities are your husband and daughter.

eazybee Tue 02-Jul-19 13:12:10

I think you are being irrational.

Bibbity Tue 02-Jul-19 13:18:49

I’d have ripped anyone apart who called me an incubator. That’s awful and beyond rude.

Due to the distance I can’t imagine you have to see them to often so I wouldn’t have to much worry about their relationship with your child.

I would however stop the emails for a while. Just take a break and a breather and let that all fall to your husband. If someone is rude to you you don’t have to continue to go out of your way to do something nice for them that they clearly don’t appreciate.

PamelaJ1 Tue 02-Jul-19 13:42:55

Overthinking, maybe?

NanaandGrampy Tue 02-Jul-19 13:46:35

Sounds like its time for a frank and lively debate to me.

Some of what you described - buying things etc is small potatoes in the big scheme of things... you can thank them prettily and just not use whatever it is or re gift it ...its no big deal to you. BUT how they talk to you and make personal comments etc well that's a whole different thing.

Something that seems sadly lacking these days is communication between all parties. I'm sure it wont be nice and it wont be pretty but they aren't mind readers so unless you have explained how they are making you feel they could be oblivious.

Once you've had that discussion then you can see how things progress , if they continue to treat you badly then you'll know that they don't care for you and lack respect OR they could realise they had not been as supportive as they might and you might find they DO like you and it was simply miscommunication ( or bad manners).

This first grandchild is a big thing for grandparents as much as for parents. Its not until one arrives that you realise how special they are. I'm sure I over indulge my grandchildren but its not daily or even weekly and the children themselves know that things are different when with me than with Mum and Dad .

I wouldn't worry about the future until you have the here and now sorted.

Good luck.

Gonegirl Tue 02-Jul-19 13:54:16

Did your father-in-law really say you were only an incubator for their grandchild?

And you still speak to him? That's weird.

LondonMzFitz Tue 02-Jul-19 13:57:18

I don't know what to suggest in terms of gift giving and contact, but those nasty little digs - could you perhaps try repeating the comment, slowly and thoughtfully, so they can hear how it sounds coming out of your mouth?

PIL - You look better than the last time I saw you.
You - Hmm, I look better than the last time you saw me -? - That leaves them with the opportunity to expand, explain their remark. If you're not happy with the following comment(s), respond by saying "Gosh". Every time. Even thicko's will get the point.

crazyH Tue 02-Jul-19 14:01:21

I think your f.i.l.'s comments were totally unacceptable -not funny 😡

Nansnet Tue 02-Jul-19 14:05:34

Abi30, I can understand how you feel, and the fact that your hormones are probably still all over the place may be making the situation seem worse than it is. Your PiL have obviously been very generous and, as you say, you are very grateful for most of the things they have bought. Grandparents can, and do, often go a little bit overboard with buying things for their new GC, so I don't think what you're experiencing is anything ridiculously unusual ... some of us just more carried away than others!

Having become grandparents ourselves for the first time last year, we couldn't wait to start buying things, although we did always check with our DS and DiL regarding any big items, as we knew they would have their own ideas about what they did and didn't want, but again, some GPs can get carried away and think they know what you should have.

I'm sure you've already discussed all of this with your husband, but next time they say they are buying something, and not what you want, tell your husband that he needs to tell his parents that you are very grateful for their generosity, but that there are some things you would like to choose yourselves. If they still want to pay for it, or give you something towards what you would prefer, then let them know you would appreciate it very much. But I wouldn't make a big deal about what they've already done. They are new to grand-parenting, and they are still trying to find their role, and how they fit into all of this. Obviously, you can't have them taking over where your daughter is concerned, but just be aware that what they are doing is out of love.

Can I just ask, what has your relationship been like with your own parents over the past months? Even though you don't live near to them either, do you have a very close relationship with them, visiting them, talking to your mum very regularly on the phone, etc? It's just a thought, but if you are very close to your own mum & dad, and you say your husband doesn't readily share information with your PiLs about their GC, could they possibly be feeling a little, dare I say it ... jealous, or pushed out? I don't mean that in a nasty way at all, but very often, paternal grandparents can sometimes feel a bit left out ... we get a bit of a raw deal sometimes, and people tend to forget that our sons, and new baby grandchildren, are just as important, and mean just as much to us as daughters, and new GC, mean to maternal grandparents. If that's at all a possibility, please, please tread very carefully. The fact that you say you had a good relationship with them before your daughter came along, it would be very sad to lose that, and I can guarantee that they would be heartbroken if you ended up having a falling out.

On the subject of them making comments about you looking fat/being an incubator for their GC/looking better than last time, etc. I agree that those comments were rather tactless, but maybe they didn't really meant anything awful by them. Sounds like it could've been tongue in cheek, and if your hormones were raging during pregnancy I can totally understand why it would upset you. But it probably wasn't meant that way.

Whatever the reason, I hope you manage to work it all out. Be a bit more assertive, and don't let them do things you don't want them to do, but try to be diplomatic. I'm sure they will settle down sooner or later!

M0nica Tue 02-Jul-19 15:00:51

I am constantly amazed how stupid and proprietorial many grandparents are. No wonder we get constant stories of estrangement.

When I became a mother, DH and I made all the decisions about how we would bring up our children from birth and we would not have brooked any interference from our parents. Thankfully that never arose. They always consulted with us before they bought anything.

Now I am a grandparent I have assumed that my son and wife will have their own ideas about how to bring their children up and these are different to the ones we had when brought up ours. From the day the first pregnancy was confirmed, everything we have bought for our DGCs has been after consultation with their parents and we have never ever asserted ourselves in trying to overrule their decisdisons about their children. When our DGc stay with uswI make sure we keep to the rules the parents set set. These are not that rigid so there is plenty of wriggle room for treats and extras.

Having said that I do think you and your DH are both being a bit wimpy. Most new parents make it clear to both families what their child rearing pattern is and what child rearing practices they will be following and making it clear that they expect the grandparents to respect their wishes and decisions and to reduce contact if they fear that these practices will not be respected. You seem incapable of doing that.

Your husband's suggestion that you just move abroad, is just cowardice in the face of his own parents who love him and your grandchild, but are a bit too much used to having their own way, which, reading your post is not surprising, since you both are crumpling under their demands rather than making what you believe to be best for your child the centre of your lives and making your parents understand that a grand parent's role is to follow their children's rules when they are caring for their child.

Marmight Tue 02-Jul-19 15:42:28

Good heavens! What a dreadful thing to say. I'm surprised but in awe of the way you have dealt with all of this so far. Time to set some ground rules in the nicest possible way of course. No need to stoop to their level of rudeness. The situation needs to be sorted before it gets completely out of hand & your husband needs to be on your side completely. No need to bury his head in the sand run away abroad!
My in-laws were so enchanted with DD1 that when my 2nd daughter was born, they couldn't cope and FiL insisted on calling her 'it'. I soon put him right. "She has a name and its not 'It' "
Good luck..

Missfoodlove Tue 02-Jul-19 15:55:55

Wow! I think under the circumstances your behaving in a calm and considered manner.
The fact your husband wants to move abroad speaks volumes.
Regarding the financial outlay my daughter and son-in-law capped the amount of money that was to be spent on our granddaughter for birthdays and Christmas. This was capped at £25.
My son-in-law‘s mother died recently but there was a large discrepancy in our incomes.As my husband and myself are fortunate enough to have a good income and pensions we opened a bank account for our GD so we pay a nominal amount in each month and add a bit extra for birthdays and Christmas.

Abi30 Tue 02-Jul-19 16:08:24

Thank you for all your responses, it’s good to get a different perspective on things. It’s a shame that my interactions with my PILs has diminished, I wouldn’t have treated a friend how they have treated me, I am a human with feelings and it’s caused a bit of hurt, I’d previously had excellent relations. It’s worth mentioning that they themselves fell out with my husbands grandparents because of the way they treated MIL. I don’t know the details but I wonder if this is having an effect on how they are non-communicating with me. My husbands family is very non-confrontational in general and quite old fashioned, we have different views in terms of the role of the woman in the home. They’d look at me as if I’d grown 2 heads if I start talking about how they’ve made me feel. Being assertive when it comes to our daughter is quite doable though.... we just need a bit of practice. Living far away from anyone means that we are alone and don’t need to correct or assert ourselves in situations.... in terms of contact, it’s equal between both sets of grandparents, however we have more contact with husbands extended family because they are a little bit closer. No one is being pushed out and I don’t intend to do that.

Starlady Tue 02-Jul-19 19:25:13

Glad you reached out to us and that you appreciate the advice here. IMO, it's normal for 1st-time GPs to be very excited, and some GPs express that by purchasing all kinds of gifts. I'm not clear on whether or not you and DH have tried to set any limits w/ them ("please only bring 3 gifts for Christmas" or "please don't get her XYZ"). But, if not, now may be a good time to start. If they ignore your wishes, you can regift, donate, presents.

As for FIL's comments, chances are, he thinks he's funny (sigh). But, of course, he's not. In the future, IMO, you need to shut such comments down in the moment, even w/ just a raised eyebrow and "Excuse me?" Or better yet, perhaps, DH should shut this down.

But also, coupled w/ his and MIL's overall treatment of you, now that you're a mum, it seems to me that they have come to see you as a means to an end - their GC. And yes, I agree they are disrespecting you and DH. So I also agree w/ the posters who say you need to pull back a little. Stop sending those lovely emails, and don't even get into a discussion about the "women's role in the home" (not their business what roles you or DH play in your own home). I'm not suggesting that you cut them out - just "drop the rope" a little and give yourself some space, emotionally.

Distance is often a problem in relationships w/ GPs. But, in this case, IMO, Vive la distance! LOL!

Hetty58 Wed 03-Jul-19 23:29:32

I remember feeling somewhat emotionally fragile and oversensitive as a new mother. Now that I'm a gran to six I have more perspective on where I went wrong with relationships. I lacked confidence, obviously, being new to it. We never fell out but I had a real need to protect myself from (maybe sometimes perceived) criticism. I should have ignored things much more.

My mother had set ideas on how to care for babies. My older sister left home when she married and had a baby within a year (at 19). She agreed with Mum, brainwashed perhaps. I, however, finished my education and had a good career first before motherhood. I disagreed with their methods and ideas. I had my own. Mum and sister had (self) assumed superior 'expert' status by then so everything I did was deemed wrong, unhygienic or downright dangerous.

Alongside those problems I'd lost my career and become just a dependent 'Mum' which I deeply resented. I had trouble adjusting when it seemed that everything was now about the baby and I shouldn't be concerned with anything else (certainly not myself). Conversations I tried to start about interests/hobbies were met by amazement that I had time anymore for those silly things. I was used to respect, interest and understanding at work but with family I was just the wayward kid or little sister.

Points of disagreement:

Nappies - they favoured terry nappies and I used disposable, new at the time and therefore deemed the lazy and unhygienic option.

Routines - they went for set feeding and sleeping times, along with crying to sleep if 'spoilt' and fussing. I didn't. I fed on demand and rocked to sleep when apparently tired.

Milk - they thought bottle feeding, sterilising everything and no dummies was the only way. Unfortunately, I breast fed and used dummies. I wasn't keen on frequent and thorough detergent washing of baby and everything he touched either.

Measuring and recording - they regularly measured feed taken, weight gained, hours slept, clinic visits, vitamin drops, progress made (first smile, sitting up etc.) and religiously recorded everything. I didn't and couldn't remember much either (obviously an unfit mother then - how did I know he wasn't starving?).

Luckily, I had a lovely Mum-in-law who was elderly, widowed, cheerful and easy going. She just wanted to hold the baby and chat. She would always give us money, though. She'd then complain that we didn't visit often enough but we had to explain that we didn't really want or need the money. We agreed that she could only give five pounds (then we could go every week). My last memory of her is (at 83 years old) she was sitting on the floor enthusiastically playing Lego with the boys, bless her.

Of course, I gained in confidence. I had four fit, well and strong children who seem to have developed into pleasant, well adjusted adults. Babies are adapted/designed to survive and I think I mostly got things right!

BradfordLass72 Thu 04-Jul-19 07:21:09

My husband would prefer to move abroad so he wouldn’t have to deal with either parents

You'd LOVE it in New Zealand. Look at our Immigration list for those professionals we're currently needing.

I'm not joking, this is a marvellous country and a brilliant place to bring up children.

Nansnet Thu 04-Jul-19 08:16:41

BradfordLass72, that quote made by the OP ... My husband would prefer to move abroad so he wouldn’t have to deal with either parents, made me smile. It's actually exactly what my husband said to me a long time ago. Not because of the same reasons, but because he never had a great relationship with his own family and, although he sort of got along with mine, I think they irritated him, and he couldn't wait to get away!Lol Consequently, we've been a long, long way from the UK for 23 years now, and wouldn't change a thing. Of course, I'm not advocating that the OP should follow up on what her hubby said, but I just thought it funny!(smile)

Daisymae Thu 04-Jul-19 10:32:29

I imagine that the change in attitude is possibly based in some sort of deep routed jealousy. You sound like a well balanced and caring person. As has already been stated I would challenge hurtful comments. Repeating comments on your appearance, as had been suggested. Places the onus back into them. I would ask that they check with you before buying large items. If they ignore you then sell them and place the proceeds into your daughter's account. Do you need to see them so regularly? Every other month would reduce the pressure by 50 per cent!

Callistemon Thu 04-Jul-19 10:56:25

My husband would prefer to move abroad so he wouldn’t have to deal with either parents

You'd LOVE it in New Zealand. Look at our Immigration list for those professionals we're currently needing.

I presume that the OP is in the United States from the way she has written the post; can you not move from one end of the States to the other?

Hetty58 Thu 04-Jul-19 12:31:54

There are people who you just have to get along with but find annoying (at work, for instance). I agree that reducing the number of visits (and emails, phone calls) will help. Make visits shorter or agree to meet in a public place e.g. family picnic, pub lunch, preferably with other relatives or friends too. The big advantages are that nobody is ruling the roost in their own place and you can leave whenever you like.

Another winning ploy is to change your attitudes and reactions. Be (outwardly) happy and lighthearted. React to insults or criticisms with a laugh and 'Oh, you are funny!'. It works like a charm. My neighbour threw out gifts from her in-laws unless they met her stated strict criteria (no clothes and small toys in their own box or case only). I got a nice kid's desk and chair set from her.