Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

How to approach pushiness from in-laws about my children?

(16 Posts)
Walktothepark20 Wed 02-Jun-21 11:57:17

Hi grans smile I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice.

I have two children 2.5 years and 6 months old. My in-laws for religious and other reasons did not initially like or accept me. They were always polite enough but didn’t make much effort to get to know me. My husband is close with them so we have always seen them perhaps weekly. My relationship with them has also had some positive memories too.

Ever since I was pregnant, my mother in law changed her tune. It was obvious to me that it was because I was pregnant. She offered to attend my ultrasounds and initially I said yes. But she cried during my ultrasound and I felt uncomfortable, like it should have been my husband there.

Fast forward to birth and beyond, my in-laws have dropped in (I’ve done my best with boundaries there), called incessantly, wanted frequent visits (currently once a week which I’m happy with but they want more and exclaim that it’s been ages since we’ve seen them at our weekly catch up), they’ve offered to take my children but make us feel guilty if we say no (I’m a stay at home mum and rarely require babysitting) including comparing us to their friends who babysit for working DILs, my MIL has accidentally referred to herself as mummy several times and always tries to take over any caretaking tasks during visits. They spoil my son and say “what a shame” if we ever discipline him or say no to treats.

My FIL is often vocal if he disagrees with any of our parenting approaches (criticising us for being too cautious - meanwhile he is forgetful and even left his front door open during a visit and my toddler ran out to the street unnoticed by him), and has also been judgemental and disapproving of my choice to breastfeed my babies (presumably because they couldn’t bottle feed or babysit or because it wasn’t how they did it).

I could go on. Hopefully it gives a few examples of how the relationship is going. I feel they haven’t considered my perspective much or shown any empathy for how I must feel as a new mother. It has been much more of a focus how they feel and what their hopes and expectations have been as grandparents.

My husband of course loves his parents and wants them included and we have had many fights (he feels guilt and pressure) but he ultimately agrees with me that their expectations are too high and that they are interfering and pushy. I do worry that he regresses and feels guilty sometimes and pushes me to see them more or allow them to take the kids whenever the guilt gets too much.

So any advice is appreciated on how to manage this relationship and my marriage. They live 5 mins away.

I’d love to hear any and all ideas - what do you think I should do?

I worry with age my son will come to prefer them as they spoil so much and they can’t wait to take him / relive their parenthood I guess... that’s my big fear. That he will be older and will prefer to be with them (he is of course very fond of them).

Newatthis Wed 02-Jun-21 12:04:40

Gosh - they only live 5 minutes away - this makes it more difficult. Firstly, your children will never prefer to be with anyone other than you until at least their teen years (then his friends might come first but this is natural!) Your children your rules - however, you must agree these rules with your husband and be on the same page and this will save any arguments with him in the future. It looks as if he already agrees on some things so can he say something to them. When they compare you, and what you're doing, with anyone else, just say -"yes, everybody has different ideas on ....". Good luck though, you sound as if you will need it. I empathise with you as many on this forum will.

Hithere Wed 02-Jun-21 12:21:46

The issue is your dh.

Does he realize your toddler could have been harmed and it would have been fil's fault?

You and your dh need to sit down and agree on which boundaries and consequences for breaking them.

If he balks at that - marital counseling.

For example, call them out when they do something you do not like. Give a warning and if they complain, leave with the kids.

They complain once a week is not enough? Make it every two weeks instead
They complain? Visit every 4 weeks
You get the idea.

But this will fail if you have a mommy's and daddy's boy - you need to be on the same page

sodapop Wed 02-Jun-21 12:32:33

I agree with Hithere you need to get your husband to agree boundaries with you. If you don't act soon then I think things will only get worse. I appreciate your husband loves his parents but his loyalties should now be with his wife and children. There should be some areas of compromise but in the end childcare is the responsibility of parents not grandparents. Good luck.

25Avalon Wed 02-Jun-21 12:44:20

My in-laws, not as bad as yours, used to spoil the children whenever they had them. The consequence was that the children were very badly behaved for several days afterwards. So just another warning to add to the others.

You don’t mention your own parents. I hope it’s not unkind to ask. Your in-laws are spending a disproportionate amount of time with your family. Mil is referring to herself as mummy. That is not good. Next she will be referring to them by your dh’s name and then she will want to take over completely. You must stop this or your life will be hell. As others have said you need to get dh to agree boundaries and stand up to his parents.

eazybee Wed 02-Jun-21 12:58:49

You are their mother and you are fighting for your children.

Your in-laws are interfering with your childrearing practices: forcing themselves on you, criticizing breastfeeding, undermining you when you impose discipline or limit treats, spoiling the boy yet not supervising properly.
Your son won't prefer them to you, but it will make your job as a responsible mother more difficult and you need to make it clear now you are not going to tolerate this.

You need to establish this with your husband first, but make it very clear that his parent's behaviour oversteps the line, and he must support you. I doubt it will be pleasant, but these grandparents are putting your children at risk.
Every time they try and intervene make it clear that it is not acceptable; never mind what they say, and as someone suggests , limit the amount of visits.

Fleur20 Wed 02-Jun-21 13:01:22

They have had their children and their turn at parenthood. Now they are grandparents and need to step back. Things have moved on considerably and it is a different world.
Use the following phrases on a regular basis as appropriate:
My house : my rules.
My children : my rules.
Practise saying them to yourself til you get the tone and emphasis just as you mean it.

And get your husband to toe the line.. or his parents will be the least of his problems!

icanhandthemback Wed 02-Jun-21 13:01:34

I agree that you and your husband should set your boundaries and stick to them but I also feel that your comment about your children preferring them to you is a bit of a red flag. It suggests that you have low self esteem or don't feel confident in your parenting abilities. Maybe you need a little talking therapy to help you find a way to raise your perception of yourself.
As with all things there are lines in the sand that nobody should cross which you and your husband should be able to agree upon. One should be that it is your child, your rules. The other should be that you are never undermined to your children. Those two things encompass most of the problems parents are likely to experience. Perhaps when your in-laws are overstepping, your husband could very quietly say something like, "We have discussed this as parents of our child and we are agreed that this is the way we are going to do things." He should do this when you are there and when you are not. He can shut down any discussion by just telling them that it is not open to negotiation.
As a grandparent, I know that some of the things I have said that might have been misinterpreted as a criticism were observations and it seems to me that this is par for the course for relationships when a baby enters the equation. I've learned to keep my mouth shut but I have always said to my children that the best advice I can give is the sort that can be ignored if they want to and I won't take offence. It is a learning curve for Grandparents too, not just for new parents, so mistakes will be made and working through those mistakes will make future children so much easier. Framing things in a nice way will make life smoother too. A "we love your visits but would you mind phoning first?" can soften the blow. If they don't call first, a calm but firm refusal at the door (no crossing that boundary!) "Oh I hate to give you a wasted journey. If you had rung we could have told you, we are just off out. Could you ring tomorrow and we'll arrange a visit." You probably wouldn't have to do this often and they'll get the message. They won't like it at first but they'll get used to it and when you say other things, they'll be prepared for you mean it.
Good luck.

Doodledog Wed 02-Jun-21 13:07:38

I think this is very sound advice, Icanhandthemback.

JaneJudge Wed 02-Jun-21 13:11:19

It sounds very suffocating. There is is just 'too much' going on iykwim. I remember my Mother in law being quite funny about me breastfeeding, she felt it was unnatural grin I remember her once saying to me "are you still carrying on with this? that baby must be starving" whilst pointing to a bonny little baby. But that was it. She didn't turn up at my house or do any other over powering things. I agree with other posters who have said your husband needs to set boundaries with them. You've suggested it is to do with religion, so if they have different cultural expectations then that needs to be addressed too. I'm sure it can all be worked through, just stay strong smile

Chardy Wed 02-Jun-21 13:55:05

Good luck Walktothe park20. You are staying at home to bring up your kids your way.
Can you call the shots re. visits and timing of them? Now the weather is nice, can you take them out for walk or playground with her? Sitting round the house with her sounds like it exacerbates the problems

Shelflife Wed 02-Jun-21 14:22:48

Your parents in law expect far far too much. My mum was the perfect MIL and Grandma. When I married she told us " I will never be a mother in law who expects to see you every weekend " She was great and spent the last four years with us. We have grandchildren and I follow her fine example. If your in laws expect to visit every week that is too much pressure! I would have hated the inevitably of that with my parents or my in-laws. Get your husband on side and make a stand. We have had our children, these are your children and you make the rules !! Your PIL must respect your authority and position! We love our ' children' and grandchildren dearly but would never insist on set visits! Your lives are separate and you deserve privacy.
When that happens, then time with grandchildren is relaxed. Stick to your guns and rear your children your way, they do not belong to grandparents!!! Your children will never prefer their grandparents to you or their father. Be brave and good luck.

nanna8 Wed 02-Jun-21 15:03:50

If they are their first grandchildren I can understand how they are. Understand but not agree. They need to learn to stop being parents and become grandparents. It is a lesson we all have to learn. My MIL never did and it damaged our relationship over the years and so it will with these two. When my first grandchild was born I really wanted to mother her, especially as her Mum, my daughter, was going through a torrid time with her husband. In the end I couldn't and shouldn't have even tried but it is a lesson not always easy to learn!

wildswan16 Wed 02-Jun-21 15:06:23

You already know that you (and DH) need to take control.

Maybe next time they come round on a Monday, as they are leaving YOU suggest that it's been lovely to see them and would they come back on Friday about 11 when you'd love to see them for coffee. Or any other day that suits you. That "may" discourage them from popping in before then.

crazyH Wed 02-Jun-21 15:24:26

Grandparents do love to spoil the grandchildren.....I do, but only with the approval of my
Btw your husband needs to get his act and your wishes come first. I don’t know why you let them walk all over you.
It really tickled me when you said, m.I.l. was in the delivery room and not your husband.
I didn’t notice any mention of your mother. What do your parents think about this odd behaviour by your m.i.l. ?

Madgran77 Wed 02-Jun-21 18:58:46

It is a learning curve for Grandparents too, not just for new parents, so mistakes will be made and working through those mistakes will make future children so much easier

Wise words