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Grandparenting

Help with DIL

(192 Posts)
grandmaeurope Fri 17-Mar-17 08:46:54

Dear all,

I come to you after the advice of a dear friend.
I really need your help to make the relationship with my one and only DIL better.

Some background : I am 68 years old married to my DH (dear husband) (dear husband) 70 years old since 44 years and we have 2 children : DD (dear daughter) (dear daughter) 42 who has no children and DS (dear son) (dear son) 38 has a GF 32 that i will call DIL. They have my only grandaughter B, 8 months old, the light of my life.
Me and DH (dear husband) (dear husband) live in Europe. DS, DIL and DGD, live abroad 6 hours by plane from us.

My DIL is clever, beautiful, kind, funny and generous. Well, that was before the arrival of my grandaughter.

It started during pregnancy when she would not take my calls or answer my messages. It was so not her to do that ! She is very talkative usually. She had a very high risk pregnancy and i was worried. She was in bedrest at her mother in Europe while my DS (dear son) (dear son) was still abroad working. So i would call or text her everyday asking some questions about some medical stuff or just to tchat. She would not answer and send a text every 2 weeks or so to write :"everything is fine. Hope your okay!". Almost always the same text.
My DH (dear husband) (dear husband) and I asked my DS (dear son) (dear son) what was happening and he only told us to leave her alone.

Since then, our relationship got worse.
They decided to have the baby in Europe in our town and it has been decided that after the planned c section they will come rest at our place. (Where they live health facilities are very bad, it is a third world country). We were delighted to have our DGD home !

It was terrible as first she said she wanted 24 hours with no visits at the hospital. Then she would not let us take the baby to cuddle or spend time with. I understand she was very possessive of this baby as she has suffered previous losses.
But she would not even talk to us or very little. She was suddenly so aloof and cold.
She spent her time breastfeeding. It seems that she was breastfeeding non stop. Breastfeeding on demand she said. I have never seen that in my life. Or sleeping with the baby !
One time we were at dinner and the baby started crying. She took the baby to calm her but i wanted to help. So i woke up and told her to give me the baby. She just said no. It was really inconfortable and my son said nothing !
I pardon her because she seemed very tired after the birth !
After 3 weeks, my DH (dear husband) (dear husband) and I had to go the the mariage of my nephew in the Caribbean. But when we came back they had rented an appartement elsewhere ! We did not see our DGD during 10 days. We saw her during 1 dinner and then my DIL and DGD left to her mother in another town.
When she was at her mother, DH (dear husband) (dear husband) will text her and she will respond very sporadically. After 9 days without news, he texted my DIL's mother asking some news. Let's thing i know my DIL sends him a very mean text telling him to back off !

We only saw them 3 months later last Christmas and she was still very aloof almost mean.
I admit the mistakes I made during this week but i don't think it was that terrible.
I put an orange in my DGD mouth during one meal. She jumped of her seat and screamed at me "she is exclusively breastfeeded. I told You!". My DS (dear son) (dear son) started to get mad at me too. God it was just an orange !

I said 2 things and my DIL overreacted :

1/ Sometimes I call my DGD " my daughter". My DIL looked at me in the eyes with a scary look and told me "one thing needs to be clear : she is not your daughter, she is mine". I told her as she is my son's daughter, it is like she is my daughter. My son tells me i'm ridiculous. I think my DIL is. It is just to be affectionnate.

2/I told her next time they come, i will put the baby bed near the back of the room. She can't cosleep with her mother at 1 year old ! They have to get a bit detached.
She cut me while i was speaking and said in a non-friendly voice " i am sure the parents have a say in where their baby sleep".

I understand that sometimes as PIL (parents-in-law) (parents-in-law) we can be overbearing and sometimes pushy. But i only see them 2/3 times a year. And i feel like i can't enjoy my DGD. I walk on eggshells with her. I had never spend time alone with my DGD, her mother is always around.
Since they are abroad, we try to facetime once a week but she rarely participates in our talks with my DS.
My son told me she is going to fly to Washington DC (daycare, dear child) (daycare, dear child) for 2 weeks for business. And she is bringing the baby and her sister will come to babysit. I am sad she did not ask me as i do not work anymore. But i told her nothing.

Don't get me wrong, i love my DIL and she is a good mom. But i think she is a bit possessive. I have the feeling she is backing off the relationship and i want to do something.

I have 3 questions :
1/ Can someone explain me the behaviour of my DIL ? She seems frightened by our love.
2/ They are suppose to stay 3 weeks with us this summer. How to make her feel confortable and like her old self ? Talkative, funny and gracious ?
3/ My DS (dear son) (dear son) told me my DGD has a nanny and sometimes they go out at night and the baby stays with the nanny. We have the hope to babysit our baby this summer. How to make DIL confortable with this idea ?

Thanks for your help.

Grandmother M.

aggie Fri 17-Mar-17 09:10:30

Oh dear , what a tale of woe ! It looks , from your post , as if you are trying too hard , give the wee family space. She is not your Daughter , she is your Sons Daughter and it is up to her Mum how she sleeps and eats . The wee scrap is not a toy . You should read over your own post , how would you have reacted if your Mother In Law had acted as you are doing ?

ninathenana Fri 17-Mar-17 09:18:49

Sorry but you do seem a bit full on. All those texts.shock if my MiL had text me every day I'd have gone mad. You seem to expect an awful lot of DiL. Feeding her child, telling her where the child will sleep. As for calling the baby your daughter well I'm not surprised DiL was angry. I wouldn't say that in jest about my D 's child let a lone my DiL's. (Yes I do realise she's your son's too)
You need to step back.

Penstemmon Fri 17-Mar-17 09:44:48

Take the lead from you DiL.
Abide by her parenting rules, it is her child.
Wait to be asked to do things & do not fuss her or your DGD.
Ask before they come what foods the child is able to eat now and does she need you to get anything in or will DiL bring all she needs?
Ask if they have planned to do much when they come or are they coming for a rest.. Do not plan any things for them to do /or visitors without asking. Listen to what they want.
If they allow you to care for DGD on your own..still stick to DiL rules. Your relationship is too shaky to overstep the line.
hopefully by taking a less hands on approach DiL will feel better that you are not trying to tell her how to raise her child and trust you more.

It may feel wrong to you but you have to choose: mend the rift or make it bigger?

grandmaeurope Fri 17-Mar-17 09:45:47

Ok I am surprised by your answers
It is not like i see them everyday.
They come 2 or at best 3 times a year.

I know it was a mistake calling her my daughter or give an orange. I know it and i will not do it anymore.

But i want to enjoy my grandaughter without my DIL interfering. How to proceed ?

Lona Fri 17-Mar-17 09:48:32

It's not about what you want, it isn't your child. Unless you accept that, you and your dil will never get on.

thatbags Fri 17-Mar-17 09:53:20

If anyone (anyone!) had contacted me every day (every day! good grief!) to ask how my pregnancy was going, I wouldn't have answered either.

There is a word for what your son's daughter is to you: she is your grand-daughter. Use the correct word and stop being so annoying to your DiL.

All, or very nearly all, mums are possessive. They have to be while their infants are helpless.

Take about a hundred steps back and stop having so many preconceived ideas about how things should be. It is your son and DiL who will decide that and, essentially, it's none of your business unless they make it so.

aggie Fri 17-Mar-17 09:54:00

Ooops ! your DIL interfering ! with her child , not your child ! We love our Grandchildren , but they are not ours , my DIL and I rub along very well but I do not treat her as you do , she is an equal , not just the Mother of my Grandchildren

Luckygirl Fri 17-Mar-17 09:54:12

Putting an orange in her mouth! - unbelievable!
"I will put the baby bed near the back of the room"!!!!! - I am surprised that your DIL is agreeing to come to your place at all!

She can co-sleep at one year; she can breast feed as long as she likes - in fact, she can parent just as she chooses and you have to button your lip.

"We have the hope to babysit our baby this summer." - that about sums it up. She is NOT YOUR BABY!!!!

grandmaeurope Fri 17-Mar-17 09:58:09

Thanks you. Very useful

aggie Fri 17-Mar-17 09:58:46

Having said all that I do understand how you want to love and cuddle your GRANDCHILD , but it has to be on terms agreed with the PARENTS

thatbags Fri 17-Mar-17 10:01:05

Hmm. Never seen (heard of?) breast-feeding on demand? Never seen (heard of) sleeping with baby?

Hmm 🤔

I've a feeling I would keep out of your way if you were my MiL.

Luckygirl Fri 17-Mar-17 10:02:19

"But i want to enjoy my granddaughter without my DIL interfering."

It is you who is interfering - your poor DIL.

glammanana Fri 17-Mar-17 10:10:31

Whilst I understand that you adore your DGD you must stand right back and realise this child is not yours and if you don't want to loose your DSs family all together you must stand back and allow them to become the parents they so want to be,I have always stood back and let my DIL do her own thing and only get involved when asked so I would tread carefully,your time will come I think when the couple need time to theim selves and are looking for babysitters or after school care when the time arrives.

Starlady Fri 17-Mar-17 10:14:16

First, you and dh have to win back dil's trust that you'll respect her feelings and her and ds' choices for their child. You could start by apologizing for disrespecting them before and promising not to do that from now on. Then follow through.

After all that's gone on, they may not believe you at first. So maybe no babysitting this time around. But if they see you really have changed, maybe they'll allow it in the future.

Also, after all that has happened, don't be surprised if dil doesn't really plan to stay 3 weeks but takes baby to visit her mother for a while. She might think it's only fair anyway. Accept it graciously if she does this.

Please don't push her to be more "talkative," etc. If you and dh treat her with respect as a mother, in time, she will probably let down her guard.

She's not "afraid of your love" - she's afraid of your crossing parental boundaries and trying to take over. You need to show her that won't happen.

Izabella Fri 17-Mar-17 10:23:50

Your DIL already had factors for developing PND in the antenatal period and IMHO would should been treated as a high risk for this. IF she was this would have been discussed with her partner. It should come as no surprise that she reacted as she did in the postpartum period.

I would suggest you keep a distance and even apologise for the pressure you inadvertently put on her in the early days (texts etc.). There is time for you to repair the relationship but it has to to be on her terms. It will not be easy, and you may well be rebuffed. I wish you well.

Chloret1 Fri 17-Mar-17 10:27:39

This hits so many buttons, I find it hard to believe that it is genuine. However, suspending my disbelief, there is some good advice from previous posters. Space and empathy is required and hopefully bridges can be rebuilt.

suzied Fri 17-Mar-17 10:29:30

I am surprised she's agreed to come for 3 weeks! Am I detecting some cultural misunderstandings here? I agree with others- you must take the lead from the child's parents, if they prefer to keep her close that's up to them.

TenGran Fri 17-Mar-17 10:34:31

My oldest granddaughter is now 18, and there are another four grand children after that. I've always been Grandma at a distance: one family five hours away and the other in Australia. You really have to back off and let the children get used to you. And, obvious first rule of any grand parenting- button it, unless you are asked. They started staying with me on their own from about seven or eight: we thought they were a bit young before that. Now all the children ring, text and email me independently of their Mums.

Christinefrance Fri 17-Mar-17 10:36:32

You need to stop pressuring the family and let them decide what is best for the baby. Things have changed since we brought up our babies and whether or not you agree with current trends they are not your decisions to make. Try to support the family and not be critical, let them see you love them.

Diane47 Fri 17-Mar-17 10:37:35

A good friend and I share one rule - when we're with our DDs or DILs we zip it! Meaning mouth firmly closed when tempted to give advice which hasn't been asked for. There is a lot of good advice in previous posts - I'd say back off and reassess what you can expect unless you want a relationship breakdown with this DIL. Do you have a good friend you can share this with and whose advice you would respect.

DotMH1901 Fri 17-Mar-17 10:40:29

I agree with the other postings in reply - if you want to see/spend more time with you DGD then you are going to have to follow what your DIL and DS want. Step back and let them get used to being a family first. It is very hard sometimes as a grandparent to have to take a back seat but we have to remember how we were as new parents. You will hopefully have many years ahead to get to know your DGD - it would be a shame to spoil things now by insisting on things being done your way.

Grantasticpasta Fri 17-Mar-17 10:42:08

Oh my goodness OP you sound like you have so much love for your family, and such good intentions, but you are playing to a different rule book. I got into trouble for giving my grandchild honey (I didn't know it was risky in under 1s) there are all sorts of things we could do with an update on - I have just spotted a "Grantenatal class" advertised in my post office - I wish I had gone to that!! Maybe updating your knowledge would help you to understand your DIL better, she has a different approach to parenting to you, but keeping her baby close to her and feeding her on demand are all recommended nowadays. Good luck OP xx

Kitspurr Fri 17-Mar-17 10:42:45

It is a bit odd that her behaviour towards you changed so quickly and drastically. Does she treat your DH in the same way? Have you asked her or your DS why she suddenly changed towards you prior to the birth of your DGD.

I think you have to be guided by your DIL and DS when it comes to your relationship with your DGD, as obviously all is not as you'd wish it to be. You're very much walking on eggshells and the only way to improve things is by backing off and letting things happen without pushing. Why don't you ask them what they'd like you to do for their 3 week visit to you. Do they need anything that will make their stay easier and more comfortable. When they're with you, offer to help but don't force it.

All things being well, you wouldn't have to watch your behaviour, but something's obviously bothering your DIL, so it's going to be up to you ensure that you continue to have a relationship with your DGD.

meandashy Fri 17-Mar-17 10:44:18

I think it may be part of your culture to play a big part in the grandchilds life. That said, it does seem that your dil does not want this.
You are pushing too hard and are interfering. How they want to parent THEIR baby is THEIR business, not yours! Back off before you lose all contact in the future.