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DIL seeking advice from grandparents

(22 Posts)
anonymous44 Fri 05-Apr-19 19:56:42

Thank you all for taking the time to read and respond to my long post. My dd is the first grandchild on both sides and everyone lives nearby.

Please help me understand where my parents-in-law are coming from. They seem to be territorial of dd against me which in turn has made ME feel territorial around them. I'd rather it not be this way and looking for ways to improve the situation.... It is as if they see dd as “theirs” and me as merely an incubator. For example, they take hundreds of photos of dd with themselves, eachother, and their sons, but none with me or their other DIL. And, according to them, everything about dd comes from their side of the family. She’s a spitting image of DH, which I tell them frequently btw, except for her eye color which looks exactly like mine. When they noticed her eye color wasn’t the same as DH’s, they were confused. DH said dd got her eyes from me and they tried to argue that no, she still got that from them (what?? none of them have that color LOL). In general, any personality or physical trait that someone suggests might resemble me they argue that no, it actually comes from them. I once posted an album on Facebook of 20 photos of dd. Only one of those photos was me with dd. I’ll let you guess which photo was the ONLY photo MIL and FIL didn’t “like”. When I was in labor/just given birth, it was so obvious that dd was their only concern that even my nurse said something in my defense.

When dd was going through separation anxiety from me, which was totally normal for her age, they would try to deny that she wanted me. If she chased me to the bathroom, MIL would say she was actually chasing FIL to the kitchen. When DH said that dd misses me when I’m gone, they both chimed in “she doesn’t care about anonymous44 when she’s with us”. When we were on vacation, and dd followed me into our room to unpack instead of staying with them, MIL followed yelling at DH “SHE IS YOUR CHILD TOO” (Of course she is, why does dd wanting her momma make that an issue?). Once, when I invited MIL to surprise DH at his work for lunch (was trying to include her and build a relationship with her), she sternly told DH to “grab dd!” out of my arms because I see her all day and he doesn’t. After this instance, I asked DH if I give him the impression that he would need to “grab” dd out of my arms in the tone that MIL suggested in order to hold her? He said absolutely not, I’ve never kept dd from him and he doesn’t know why his mom said that. There have also been times that both MIL and FIL just walk up and take dd out of my arms without even saying hello to me. I suppose I should speak up in the moment when this happens, but I am usually so taken back and also don’t want to overreact. It’s also something that might not bother me if I felt more respected as the momma by them in general.

Another time I brought dd to one of MIL’s public events solely to be supportive to MIL (DH chose to stay home). MIL wanted to introduce us to her acquaintance. She introduced dd but forgot (or so I thought) to introduce me. No problem, that happens sometimes especially with proud grandmas. So I introduced myself. MIL, who could've said nothing, said something that meant people don't care about me now that I have a child and I should not have bothered introducing myself (not giving the direct quote in the interest of maintaining anonymity). To be clear, what bothered me was MIL taking ownership of dd and choosing to exclude me ( if it was DH there instead of me I guarantee she would've introduced him). Also the fact she intentionally made a hurtful comment. Many other things like these but I think this post is long enough. I know some of this sounds petty, but it adds up like death by a thousand paper cuts.

In addition to this (what feels to me like) territorial behavior against me, they are clingy and obsessive over dd in general. They all but shove DH+I out of the way to get to dd anytime we visit. Since she’s been born, and it’s been years now, they seem unable to do anything other than try to get dd’s attention if she is in the vicinity. FIL frequently follows her around like a puppy dog and can’t keep his hands off her. My blood still boils when I think of the time I was helping dd walk on some rocks and FIL grabbed her away from me saying “that isn’t a very good idea anonymous44” and then took her off to walk on rocks away from me (what happened to it not being a good idea??). Does he think I would let my own daughter fall but he wouldn’t? Or the time dd was crying reaching for me and FIL would not hand her back to me. Physically wouldn’t take his hand off her back and told me “no”. I pried her out anyway, but why does he think it’s okay to keep my crying baby from me? DH has asked him to back off but he seems to struggle with doing so. If he ever stops, MIL takes the reins hovering over whoever is holding/interacting with her, or literally pushing her cheeks onto dd’s while she plays or interacts with someone else. Two of DH’s aunts on different occasions have told MIL “OMG get out of her face!”, because she just wouldn’t back off. Back when dd was an infant, I couldn't do anything with her without MIL's constant masked criticism "she's nursing AGAIN?" "She's STILL nursing?" "OMG you're hurting her!!" (burping her). "Why is she wearing two onesies, she's probably hot" "She's probably cold". Gahhhh why couldn't we just hang together as a family and not nitpick everything I do with my baby??

Once, my parents invited MIL+FIL and us to their house for a meal. MIL + FIL took turns entertaining dd in the spare room away from everyone else. I asked DH afterwards if I wrongly perceived the situation and he said “no” he noticed it too, and just didn’t know what to do in the moment. I said if my own parents did that I would’ve taken dd from them and told them to let other people spend time with her (I’m not talking out my butt here, because I actually did something similar with my own mother one time). My MIL has also made comments multiple times about how she’s going to be “the favorite grandparent”, once right in front of my mom (!). That attitude just rubs me the wrong way.

It’s so weird, because my ILs are normally nice people. I used to think of them as second parents and I though the feeling was mutual. I am hurt by how they’ve acted with me since dd was born and during her birth (basically--you're not needed now, get out of the way and give us that baby). I also feel threatened by their obsession/ strong feelings of ownership of dd in combination with seeming to have little regard for me as her mother. They also aren’t great with DH as the father, but at least they treat him like he’s the older brother so he’s still important. It feels like, if given the opportunity, they would make dd think that I don’t love her as much as they do or try to make her love them more than she loves me (and I know love can’t be quantified and all that, just trying to describe an emotion). Heck, I think they would be glad if I died and they had dd all to themselves.

In the beginning I thought maybe they were acting like this because they were insecure—its stereotypical that paternal grandparents get shafted. And since we live a little closer to my parents (although we live quite close them both sets really) I was worried this might be the issue. So I tried the kill-them-with-kindess route. First Mothers’ day, Fathers’ day, sleepover visit—all with my ILs not my parents. For the first year of dd’s life we saw them almost every weekend (never more than 2 weeks without seeing them), went on 4 overnight trips with them, and saw them for every major and minor holiday. I actually spoke with my parents to let them know I wasn’t forgetting them, I just didn’t want my ILs to worry about being left out. I would also just grin and bear it anytime they did something (in my opinion) wrong or hurtful. Said nothing to DH about how bothered I was until dd was 6 months old--was hoping it would die down as she got older and perhaps I was just hormonal. But, none of this worked. If anything it just fed my IL’s sense of entitlement to dd. Unfortunately this also led to me becoming resentful-I was making a conscious effort to be good to them, why couldn’t they reciprocate? At this point, I feel that my compassion, kindness, and understanding with them has been drained. I am bothered with things I wouldn’t be with other people because of the hurt/whatever negative emotion you want to label what I’ve described. I wish this wasn’t the case and I welcome ideas to help this. I’ve also tried suggesting DH speak with them which is how I handle issues with my own parents, but he is apparently unable or unwilling to be direct with them.

Grandparents, any ideas on what could be going on and what I can do to fix it? Whether I'm in the wrong for feeling this way, they're in the wrong for acting this way, or some combo, there must be something I can do. I miss my old parents-in-law pre-grandchild, I hate feeling like I was just an incubator to them, and I hate feeling like they want to take dd away from me. The mama bear feeling whenever they are around dd is so unpleasant and nothing I ever imagined I would have with them. And as much as I feel hurt and threatened by their behavior, I don’t wish to hurt them by pushing them away.

One thing that may or may not be relevant is that I will not allow dd around FIL without our supervision. This is due to his making multiple creepy comments about dd in addition to being very physically clingy to her despite our requests that he give her space. We did let them babysit in the first year but as she got older and he got worse, I was no longer okay with it. I wrote out a description of the comments and details about concerning behavior, but then I realized they would give my anonymity away because they are so unusual. I know it sounds like I am overreacting, and I even think to myself surely he can’t actually be acting this weirdly. But, some of the things he’s said there is no room for misinterpretation and I won’t leave my daughter alone with someone who has those feelings about her. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good relationship all together while we are chaperoning. (Yes I would let MIL alone if I could guarantee FIL wouldn’t be there.)

maryeliza54 Fri 05-Apr-19 20:00:19

Your DH has to step up to the plate I’m afraid

annsixty Fri 05-Apr-19 20:03:55

Run a mile, you are obviously very uncomfortable with your FiL.
Do not let him near your child, your own instincts are telling you that.

Luckygirl Fri 05-Apr-19 20:11:21

Phew! - I am not sure how old your DD is now; but you have to stop trying to be kind and considerate in the interests of your DD's well-being. What happens when she is a bit older and they start manipulating her against you?

I think you need to stay away from them for a while - and that your DH should tell them why.

Your final paragraph about your FIL is very worrying indeed. Make the break now.

Tangerine Fri 05-Apr-19 20:19:17

Your DH ought to speak to his father about the remarks.

They both sound difficult people.

crazyH Fri 05-Apr-19 20:27:25

As grandparents we adore our grandchildren and would like to spend every waking moment with them, but that's not possible and that's not how it should be.
I remember when my daughter had her first baby and both sets of parents went to visit in Hospital at the same time, my daughter told me off for "hogging " the baby - of course I did feel guilty and quickly passed the baby on to the other grandma.
Having said that, I am seriously concerned about your FIL's questionable behaviour. That's totally unacceptable . Keep him away, please - awkward, I know, but he should not be left alone, anywhere near your daughter.

janeainsworth Fri 05-Apr-19 20:29:41

Until I got to your final paragraph anonymous, my comment was going to be a slightly flippant one along the lines of not to worry, DD will be a teenager soon and will prefer to interact on her phone with her friends, rather than hanging out with her g/parents.
But what you've disclosed about FIL puts a different complexion on it, doesn't it?
You've bent over backwards to accommodate your ILs.
Now's the time to be assertive - with them and your DH.
DD is your child, not your IL's.
You make the rules, not them.
If they say something inappropriate, point it out. It's your right.
If they take DD somewhere and you don't want them to, tell them to bring her back.
Keep telling yourself who's in charge here.
And don't forget your own parents too - I can't imagine what they must make of all this. They've probably got very sore tongues from biting them so much.

I think I can safely say that very few grandparents indeed who come on this forum would behave in the way your ILs do.
The majority of us are grateful to be included in our grandchildren's lives, recognise that our adult children bring up our GCs as they themselves see fit, and would never dream of trying to appropriate our GCs in the way your ILs appear to do.

Good luck.

M0nica Fri 05-Apr-19 20:33:41

anonymous I cannot to begin to understand where your in-laws are coming from. To me they sound very frightening and a threat to your DD.

Loving and getting on with your in-laws is not compulsory and it can be positively dangerous if you do it despite flashing lights and danger signals emenating from them and I really do think this is the case here.

Take space to stand back from your DiL position and look at them and their behaviour around your child as if you were outsider looking at the relationship of another family, grandparents grandchild and mother, rather than yours. I think if you saw this happening in another family you would be deeply concerned. Now act as you think that family should in those circumstances.

Your father in law in particular sounds a real and present threat to your daughter now, and increasingly as she gets older. Be very very careful.

You need to sit down and discuss this with your DH, although you do not say much about him I get the feeling that he, to some extent, understands the situation. You must be up front and clear with him that you think from the things your FiL has said that he looks at your child in a sexual way and that that is dangerous whether he would act on it or not. If your DH or FiL suggests it is all a joke, do not be intimidated. There are somethings that are so abhorrent that the only people who make those kind of jokes are people sounding their way to see if opportunities are there. Take it seriously.

What you need to do now is gently disentangle yourself from DF's family; reduce visiting time, make shorter visits. If your PiL start complaining say nothing, grit your teeth but continue the gentle seperation.

Start spending more time with your own mother if you wish to and if you think she would understand and not overreact tell her about your PiL.

Your child's physical security is the overriding responsibility of you and your DH. Do not let laudable but unattainable ideas about how your relationship with your PiL ought to be, blind you to the real danger to your child it is becoming.

Happychops Fri 05-Apr-19 20:49:19

I think both you and your husband need to tell them their behaviour is unacceptable. Go with your gut instinct.If this is telling you something is not right then trust your instincts and do not leave your child alone with your FIL. If both you and your DH feel uncomfortable with having this conversation with your in-laws you could send a letter. Be nice about it but let them know that this is your child and they can visit but not take control. Do not let them intimidate you. You should be enjoying being a mother not worrying about what they will do next. I would definately tell them if things do not change you will stop all contact. This may seem harsh and it would hurt me not to see my lovely grandchildren, but what they are doing is wrong and the longer they get away with this bad behaviour the worse they will become. Please for all of you, stand up to them.You need to take a stand now.
I wish you well.
Please keep us updated on what you decide.

DillytheGardener Fri 05-Apr-19 21:04:03

I would never normally advocate going 'No Contact' but this situation warrants it.

Your FIL in law must be kept from your child, your daughter relies on you to keep her safe, your MIL has shown her colours and cannot be relied on to stop your FIL accessing your child.

FIL & MIL will kick up a huge fuss but this is not your fight. Yours is to tell hubby that contact must cease, he must enforce this and deliver the news.

Most sexual abuse of children is by family members. I have known many friends lives ruined because of sexual abuse, it is not worth the risk in continuing contact to keep the peace, and your instinct is alerting you that something is wrong. If husband insists on contact with FIL, leave him with daughter and alert child services to the statements you have heard FIL state.

This may sound extreme but no child should be made to spend time with an adult with untoward feelings, it sets up a life time of not understanding inappropriate or abusive behaviour.

Keep us posted. I would also give citizens advice a anonymous call before you broach this with your husband. Good luck and godspeed.

DillytheGardener Fri 05-Apr-19 21:08:11

I meant leave your husband and take with your daughter with you somewhere safe. Accidentally sent before checking it!

jeanie99 Wed 10-Apr-19 23:47:07

This does sound a very strange situation, this is not how normal grandparents behave.

What is your husband doing about this? they are his parents.
If you truly believe your daughter is in danger you shouldn't allow your her to be in their company at all.
Your husband should be telling his parents why they should keep away from your home.
You sound extremely stressed this needs to be sorted now.

oldgirl2 Thu 11-Apr-19 01:02:59

I can only endorse what other say, until your final paragraph ( which I now think is the reason to post), I was going to commend your patience, humour and willingness to overly include in-laws. However, I have gds too, you must go with your gut feelings, if you fight them you will always doubt! you are right to watch over everything, she is your first concern.

GrandmainOz Thu 11-Apr-19 02:19:01

They sound awful. I did what you did with my MIL back when I had little ones and bent over backwards, tried to wage a sort of kindness campaign against her dreadful behaviour. Really feared being seen as a difficult DIL. I eventually came to my senses. It didn't work in the least. Similar issues in my OWN family with a man I had bad instincts about.
I pulled right back. Got assertive. Said to MIL once in private "you do that again, and you're out. I bloody well mean it. This stops now".
She was stunned. Couldn't complain about me as she knew I could play HER game and sweetly deny saying anything!
Everything changed. I allowed contact, but only on my terms. You may choose to go NC.
That's something I would barely ever suggest, but in your case it sounds warranted.
And I think you have to tell DH about your creepy FIL. Especially if he has contact with other children too.
Best of luck. You sound like a lovely woman who's been really ill treated. You do not have to accept that!! Make a stand.
You don't want your child to think you're a doormat either.
And involve your own mother in what you're thinking. I'm sure she'd want to support you and may have been biting her tongue so as not to "make trouble "

GrandmainOz Thu 11-Apr-19 04:41:24

Oh and P.S. the man who concerned me, I stopped ALL contact. Was abused myself as a child and I listened to my gut on that one. Non negotiable

Chucky Thu 11-Apr-19 06:15:42

The last paragraph in your op is very disturbing.
Why on earth are you allowing your pils to treat you this way and visiting, going on holiday etc. with them?
You are allowing this dreadful behaviour to continue. Your dh needs to support you and insist that they stop behaving in this way now.
Your fil must never be left alone with your dd and, as you cannot trust your mil to ensure this, I would stop contact now. Your dd is your main concern and she deserves to be kept safe and away from this dreadful man. Does he have access to any other children? If so, please contact social services and explain your concerns about his behaviour to them!

Trust your instincts, if not for your own sake, for your daughter’s sake! No one wants to insinuate your fil is an abuser, but this behaviour and what you have left out screams out that the way he is around your dd is not only inappropriate but dangerous!
You will never forgive yourself if something dreadful happens to her!

Starlady Sat 20-Apr-19 08:05:06

No, you are NOT overreacting! Your pils behavior is over-the-top and your fil could easily be a danger to your dd. I agree with pps that you need to cut back on contact or, sadly, go nc (no contact), and let them know why. It doesn't have to be a permanent estrangement. You and yours could just take a break from them until and unless they decide to change their behavior (though I doubt they will). Ideally, dh should speak to them about the problem, but if he won't/can't, then you'll have to tell them. They may be hurt, angry, etc., but your (and dh's) first priority is to protect your child.

If you do see them, please be prepared in your mind for the fact that they are going to try to pull dd away from you, and be ready to say "No!" to them and hold onto her/pull her back. When they get demanding/aggressive/refuse to give her back to you, be prepared to take her and leave/end the visit. Hopefully, dh will be on board with this, too. And, of course, as pps have said, NEVER leave fil alone with her.

It was very kind and loving of you to try to see their pov and make excuses for them, but now it's time to stop. You have to stand firm for the sake of your child and your relationship with her.

dragonfly46 Sat 20-Apr-19 08:13:25

Try and keep away from them. It is the only way.

Starlady Sat 20-Apr-19 08:14:54

This next point may mean nothing, but do you realize you capitalize all acronyms - MIL, DH, etc. - EXCEPT dd? I don't mean to go all Freudian on you, but could that possibly reflect some feeling you have that the adults' needs and wishes are more important than your child's? (true, I use small letters for these abbreviations, but I do it for all of them). If so, please try to ditch that attitude. Sure, sometimes, it's true, and the grownup wants and needs have to come before a child's. But NOT in this situation. A child's safety and emotional well-being come first, and that includes if dd simply wants her "mama." It's not ok for them to deny her that. Imo, their "love" is selfish and manipulative, and she should not be subjected to that. Plus, you have been more than fair to your pils, but all they have done, in return, is taken advantage of your good nature.Please start putting DD's needs FIRST, AHEAD of THEIRS (caps for emphasis, not shouting at you). And please keep us posted!

Telly Sat 20-Apr-19 08:41:30

It doesn't sound like you are ever going to have a normal relationship. I would suggest seeing them on a minimal basis. You obviously cannot leave your DD alone with them. Why you would wish to see them when their own son does not want to come along, I really don't understand. I think that you must stand up to them, with the support of your husband if course.

Sara65 Sat 20-Apr-19 09:44:42

Your situation sounds very scary! You have been amazingly tolerant and kind, now is the time to walk away! Be strong, they will have brought it on themselves, they sound slightly unbalanced to me! And I’m afraid to say, your husband sounds rather weak!

Starlady Sat 20-Apr-19 15:53:23

Good catch, Telly! I didn't notice, at first, that the op and dd attended an event of mil's without dh. It was very kind and caring of you, anonymous, to want to be supportive of mil. The fact that dh chose not to be, plus his difficulty in speaking up to his parents are clues, imo, to the fact that something is very wrong there. Maybe you didn't see that before, but hopefully, now you do. Has dh ever opened up to you about any concerns about his foo (family of origin)? Regardless, in the future, please follow his lead. If he chooses not to go to an event, don't go there with dd either. That will be part of lowering contact, as well.