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Help me to understand

(148 Posts)
satsum Thu 24-May-12 10:01:11

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.

Anagram Thu 24-May-12 10:14:43

I'm sorry, satsum, I can't understand your MIL either! How distressing it must be for all of you - and very confusing for your daughter. I find it especially hard to see why she would want to keep your baby from you when you were breastfeeding confused.

As you get on so well with MIL, I'm surprised you haven't had a tactful word with her before now - but better late than never. When your daughter wants to come to you, just say to MIL "I'll take her now, thanks - she's tired/hungry/whatever..". Good luck!

Mishap Thu 24-May-12 10:47:26

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 11:34:24

I think this is too harsh mishap please see my comments on the other thread. `i really don't think you can diagnose MiL in this way after reading one short note. It is just too easy to jump in and cause more issues than they started with.

Mishap Thu 24-May-12 11:51:58

Indeed not - I cannot diagnose MIL, but only point out that her behaviour is very odd, and hopefully this will provide the poster with some reassurance that she is not over-reacting. The poster herself sounds very thoughtful and is clearly trying to understand her MIL's feelings - but the bottom line is well being of the child. And if she goes round there and is distressed each time, the whole thing will get worse, as she will resist the visits.

I always felt that my prime duty was to my children as they cannot protect themselves. I would not have been prepared to put a child of mine through this.

I think that perhaps FIL might be the key - he may have some thoughts. And the question of how she reacts to other GC (if she has any) seems very relevant.

I had to deal with a situation with my parents (who were causing my children distress by manipulating them in their arguments) that in the end involved limiting visits - not a route I would have chosen, but when reason fails the child(ren) comes first.

It is interesting to be told I am being harsh - on a previous thread I was told I was a softie!!

glammanana Thu 24-May-12 12:01:04

I feel that I would have to take the baby from MIL when she is upset and say as stated "I'll take her now please" insist that she is returned before she gets herself to upset,I must be a totally different type of person because as soon any of ours started crying they where quickly handed back to mum,the breastfeeding senario is very strange I think the comment that maybe she had a problem when younger may be correct.You sound such a tolerent and thougtful DIL well done you.

AlisonMA Thu 24-May-12 12:21:01

I do totally agree that the child comes first and that will be achieved by a good relationship between her mother and grandmother. My concern is that MiL is being portrayed as someone with a serious problem rather than someone who needs to be handled gently. One of my DiL's has a lot of issues and her mother and I are not allowed to be anywhere near this close to her and her sons. If she were on such a thread it would make her so sure she is right not to let GMs near their GSs. This is a good relationship and it would be a shame if GN were to do anything to damage that.

If this has been going on for 8 months it is clear that MiL is unaware how her DiL feels and she sounds like someone who would respond well if approached in the right way. Surely our job is to suggest what that might be rather than demonise MiL?

soop Thu 24-May-12 13:04:44

Alison Makes good sense. The relationship between mother and MiL seems to be wholesome enough to withstand a new rule...'when our daughter needs me, or her daddy, we wish to deal with her...' Be friendly. Be firm. Be consistent. flowers

nanaej Thu 24-May-12 14:01:05

hear hear soop! It just should not continue.. not right for child.

gracesmum Thu 24-May-12 16:26:06

I wonder if your MIL is trying not to do that thing of handing the baby back as soon as she starts crying and might be trying to give you a break? I am sure she means well, she may even believe she has some "magic touch" with crying babies (we grans often do!).You have to say "I'd LIKE to have her please" I am sure there is no sinister motive just misguided helpfulness.

Anagram Thu 24-May-12 16:38:24

Yees...but to run out of the room with the baby when satsum was breastfeeding! confused

jeni Thu 24-May-12 16:49:46

Not normal behaviour!

Butternut Thu 24-May-12 17:42:09

I agree with jeni.
In all other respects, your Mother-in-law sounds, as you say satsum, fantastic, and it is a credit to you that you can see beyond this one area of her behaviour.
It's important that you find time to discuss your concerns with her, at a time when you are able to have a little time alone with her, without your baby.
Your mother-in-law's distress sounds deeply rooted, so a gentle approach, but as soop says, be firm and consistent too.

Let us know how things develop, won't you.

All the best. x

Annobel Thu 24-May-12 17:48:15

I'm trying to understand why this has gone on for all of eight months. This is an age when children tend to be quite clinging and it is insensitive to put it mildly not to hand her back to her mum when she so obviously wants her. MiL's strange behaviour wasn't nipped in the bud which makes it all the more difficult to tackle now. I'd agree that FiL, if he exists, may have the clue or are there others in your OH's family who might throw some light on her problems.

JessM Thu 24-May-12 18:05:33

When someone keeps repeating a pattern like this, it is indeed strange and she may not even realise she is doing it. I agree that politely but firmly taking baby off her is a sensible response when it happens.
Then some time when you are having a relaxed cuppa together, maybe when the baby is asleep, say gently that you've noticed she seems to be reluctant to hand over the baby to you when she cries and then listen to what she says. This may be enough to make her reflect on her own behaviour and understand herself a bit better.

Mishap Thu 24-May-12 18:23:12

Here is the scenario: small baby is being held by third party; baby begins to cry and become very distressed; it is apparent that baby wishes to go to its mother; third party refuses to hand baby over and runs from the room with the baby. Extremely abnormal behaviour.

MIL is indeed someone with a serious problem. By all means handle her gently and try to help her resolve whatever is distressing her - but not at the cost of safeguarding the child's interests. They are 2 separate issues.

It would seem that the OP has talked to MIL about this behaviour, and no change has been forthcoming. So MIL is aware how DIL feels.

Is the baby to be put through this continually? Certainly no babe of mine!

Ideally children need a relationship with their grandparents, but not at any cost. We do not have an inalienable right to contact with our GC - we have a duty to behave in a way that makes that contact positive for everyone, above all else the children.

AlisonMA Thu 24-May-12 18:56:39

mishap I cannot agree, it is not so black and white and I am sure you are being too hard. Some of the gentler suggestions are much more useful if we don't want to ruin this excellent relationship. One note of caution, have you ever met the guilty party in a divorce? I haven't therefore it is quite possible there is more to this than meets they eye! Very strange that in such a good relationship something has been wrong for 8 months. I think there is a lot we haven't been told. There is definitely a problem but let's not get it out of perspective.

j04 Thu 24-May-12 19:29:18

I think it is perfectly black and white. The mil in question is jealous. Nothing unusual in that. Just very extreme in this case.

Tell her to stop being so weird.

Do not pussyfoot around her. She is a grownup.

Anagram Thu 24-May-12 19:35:22

I agree, jingl. Eight months is far too long to have let this behaviour go on.
But I think satsum just wanted our take on the situation.

flump Thu 24-May-12 19:38:37

May I ask if MiL has more children? If not, this may be a deep seated reaction to only having the one but always have wanted more. Weird, I know, but the psyche makes one do odd things.

Do not be upset by your MiL's reaction when you take your baby back, that is her problem not yours and she has to address it.

It would be good if she could sit down with you and your DH and try to work out why this happens. If she refuses or does not consider her behaviour strange then I feel your husband, as her son, must firmly state that the baby is your daughter, not hers, and her behaviour is totally unacceptable. You may have to make some hard decisions for the future.

I do hope you can all sort this out. Good Luck.

Mishap Thu 24-May-12 19:59:12

I think that satsum had covered the shades of grey and made it clear that she is not engaging in black and white thinking - she acknowledges MIL's good side and (to her credit) is ready to continue to be her friend and a good DIL. As a first time Mum she was asking for some sort of take on whether her MIL's behaviour in relation to the baby is normal - it isn't. Hopefully that will help her to make a decision as to how to deal with things.

I wish her lots of luck with this - and my advice would be to be clear in your thinking about where the priorities lie.

nanaej Thu 24-May-12 20:07:17

I think I said it on the other thread.. has MiL been asked directly why she does it? Sometimes a calm question at a time when the situation is not happening, reference to some professional articles so it can be discussed amicably with this otherwise sensible woman has to happen and OP and husband must be allowed to hold their child when they want & she needs them.
Seems some GN postss hinting that OP may be being 'economical, with the truth. She states she is otherwise on good terms with MiL and happy to say she is a nice woman..not sure why there is reason to think OP is hiding somethingconfused

JessM Thu 24-May-12 20:12:37

lets give her a break - it is very hard sometimes making the transition to grandmother from being the mum of the family, and we have no idea what has happened to her in the past. This behaviour is probably either something she saw done in her childhood, or the result of some pain she has gone through.
She is in other respects a great MIL by the sounds of it! The person who has never had an irrational and inappropriate emotional reaction in their life is probably quite rare.

Anagram Thu 24-May-12 20:13:07

I agree, nanaej. There's no point trying to dig too deeply into the relationship between satsum and her MIL. We can only give our opinions on the basis of the information given.

Anne58 Thu 24-May-12 21:10:24

No response as yet from satsum , I would be interested to hear her thoughts.