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Grandparenting

DIL seeking advice

(18 Posts)
Sugarplum1248 Thu 25-Apr-19 22:38:10

I'm the DIL asking for insight and advice on my MIL. I also posted on mumsnet and received some great advice but also received some extreme responses stating I should cut off contact which I find horrifying to even consider.

I apologize for the length in advance. First of all, I just want to say that I have always had a really great relationship with my MILbefore my son was born. To the point where I would brag on how awesome she was and how lucky I was that I didn't have one of those "crazy and overbearing MILs" that I had heard the horror stories about from my friends. Well, my husband and I had our first baby in June of last year and he is the first grandchild. Her other two sons are most likely not going to have kids. One has never been in any kind of serious relationship before and really likes his independence and the other one married a woman that already had two kids and she is about 10 years older than her son so she's done having kids. I tried to prepare myself for all of the grandparents reactions to the first grandbaby in the family. However, my MILhas made me feel like I have been nothing but an incubator. I feel bad complaining about her because she is extremely sweet and will do anything to help us out but some of the comments that she has made have really hurt me. Some of it I feel like I may be overly sensitive or just overreacting being a first time mom and all. But she is constantly talking about how much my baby favors her son and everything he gets is either from her, her son or someone in her family. I do understand that she's not going to say that he got anything from my family because she doesn't know them like she does her family but she is implying that he didn't get anything from me. I mean he does have half of my DNA so there was a contribution there. My mother doesn't do that. My mom did say that he looked like me right after he was born when I was a baby but a few months later she told me that he was looking more like my husband. She just says what she really thinks. But my MILwill never say that he is anything like me or looks like me or anybody in my family. I even tried to say certain things that he gets from me and she's like oh no I'm musically inclined so he gets that from me or my other son is really tall so that's why the baby is so long he's going to be tall even though her other son is like 6 feet and they're people in my family that are 6 1/2 to almost 7 foot tall. She says his blue eyes he gets from me even though my dad and her son has blue eyes. My son has problems with constipation and we were discussing that the other day and I was saying how when I was little I had a lot of problems like that and it was difficult for me to go and she started talking about how he must have got it from her because she's always been constipated. Who argues about constipation coming from their side of the family? I mean geez.

I've always tried to include her and my FILwhen I was pregnant and anytime I would send unltrasound pictures or updates to my parents I would also send them to them. Same thing since the baby's been born anything I send my parents I feel like I need to send them as well because I'm trying my hardest not to treat them differently. We live two and a half hours away from our family so when I take the baby for a weekend because my husband has to work I make sure that I don't just go to my family and I go to their house for at the very least a few hours if not for a day. I've invited my MILup to stay with us for a week just about every other month so that she can see her grandson. She's not working but my FILis. When she is here I try to do chores and run errands and not hover and give her space with the baby alone. To the point where I start having anxiety because I haven't held my baby and he starts getting really fussy and wanting to come to me because he's used to being with me everyday. There are times he is screaming and trying to reach out to me and she is restraining him and I have to physically take him from her. She wants to be the one to console him. He will even say "Mama" why he is crying and she just says "what" like she doesnt hear him. She refers to my baby as "my boy" which I know shouldn't be a big deal but when you had trouble getting pregnant and cried and prayed for a child you get a little bit upset when someone tries to stake claim onhim. Myhusband and I took my son and MILto the park the other day when she was here and put my son on the swing for the first time. There was another mother swinging her baby beside of us and later my MILtold me she couldn't help comparing the babies and that when she saw that mother with her baby she thought "mine's cuter." I'm sorry why didn't you think your grandbaby is cuter not mine. He is your grandchild not your child.

I honestly don't think I would feel this possessive if I didn't feel like she tried to exclude me when she talks about my baby getting everything from her side of the family and she's also been telling my son every chance she could you have to say Dada first and would try to get him to say it. What's funny is that I worked really hard on getting him to say mama first and he did so now she's really trying to get him to sayDaDa. Sheapparently asked my husband a couple of months ago about keeping our baby overnight and he said that she could so she told me that her son said it was okay and I said well I'm not ready, he's too young. I talked to my husband about it and he said I think she misunderstood me because I meant that eventually yes he could stay with his grandparents but I didn't say soon or right now. Then a couple of days ago she says in this playful voice to my son "me and your grandpa decided that we will wait until you turn one but then you're going to come stay the night with us whether mommy likes it or not." Um, no. He's not sleeping through the night still and even though he's 10 months I don't feel comfortable being away from him for a night when I never have been. Especially considering they live two and a half hours away. This caused a huge argument between my husband and I because I felt like we were not showing that we were a united front on this topic because she obviously feels that my husband is perfectly fine with the baby spending the night and I'm the problem. Otherwise she wouldn't have said whether mommy likes it or not she would have said whether mommy AND daddy like it or not. Then my husband made a joke later about her taking our dogs with her when she leaves because they were driving us crazy and then said take the baby too. So now that gives her the idea that I'm the holdout and the bad guy and he's okay with it but when I've talked to my husband about it he agrees with me that he's not comfortable yet and the baby is too young. He didnt seem to see my point and just said we are the parents so we will decide when the baby can spend the night regardless of what they say so why are you worried? He didnt get that he's causing this conflict because it seems as though he's playing both sides. The second time we talked I told him everything that I had been hearing and witnessing and after that he agreed that the behavior was odd. He apologized to me and understood what was going on after that. He offered to go downstairs and put her in her place right then and there but she would be with us for the rest of the week because my FILwas working and he's the one that dropped her off and wouldn't be able to pick her up until the end of the week. I didn't want to have to spend the rest of the time with her in extreme awkwardness so I told him that he just needs to pay more attention to these things and he needs to say something when they occur. Of course then she didn't say or do anything unless he was at work. We did agree that the next time they bring up him coming to spend a night most likely in a couple months when he turns one, that he would let them know that he was also not comfortable with him coming to stay so far away. I felt better knowing that he understood my point of view and was on my side.

She also tries to make everything into a competition. I went to wake up my son from his nap because I wanted him to sleep good at night and he was taking longer nap than usual and he was fussy about it and whined and gave me a hard time about getting up. We were chuckling together about it and then she said to my son "tell your mommy that you did so much better for Grandma when she woke you up this morning then you're doing for your mommy." If I had said that to her she would have got her feelings hurt. So why say it to me? She gets giddy when she makes my son smile which I love to see and she gushes about how sweet it is when my husband interacts but then when I play or make him laugh she won't smile and sometimes tries to get him to ignore me or distract him. I just feel like I go out of my way to not be that horrible DIL that treats their in-laws poorly or blatantly favors their parents when it comes to the grandbaby.

Lastly, she will sit and stare at my son sleeping almost like the whole time he sleeps. I get that she loves him and I'm so glad about that and that she's excited but some of her behaviors seem abnormal to me. We just saw her when I went down to visit about a week ago and she knew she was coming to stay this week and when she got here she told me that as soon as we had left she was so upset and that she just couldn't wait to see the baby again. When she first came into the house she's used to seeing the baby playing on the floor or at least in view and he was in the kitchen in his high chair eating a snack and she was like "where's the baby" all frantic. I told her and she ran in there to do her baby talk and everything. She told me later that she thought she might have an actual panic attack when she didn't see him. She kisses him constantly. And I mean I'll be in the kitchen making us lunch and all I hear the whole time I feel like is kissing sounds. It just all seems to be a bit much. My question would be is this behavior normal for a first-time grandparent? Am I being too overprotective? I wonder when everyone else normally lets their babies go overnight the first time. Also, what is the fascination of grandparents getting to have the baby alone to themselves at their house? I mean I've offered countless times and they usually always take me up on it for both grandparents to come and stay the night with us and husband I go out on a date night and run errands during the day so they are alone with our child most of the day. I mean what can you do with the baby that you can't do in front of the parents? I do understand they want to bond with their grandchild and that is so very important. Some of my fondest memories were with my grandparents but he's not going to remember anything going over there as an infant, that's more for them than it is for him. Is it to play mommy again? I mean when she said that about him coming to spend the night once he was one she also said your mom would let you come if she was able to come but it would be grandparents time and you need to get away from mommy. I totally disagree. My fear about even later when I am ready to have him go spend the night is that she is the type of person since she wants to make everything a competition that she'll be doing everything she can to be my son's "favorite" person. I need to know if I am being a crazy mama bear or do I have a right to feel this way??

BradfordLass72 Thu 25-Apr-19 23:10:24

You are a wonderful daughter in law. You have gone out of your way to be understanding and loving - but there's a limit and your Mil has pushed it to that limit.
.

I read all your post and some of it was, as you say, anxiety which would not occur if all other things were good. But then I came to "whether mommy likes it or not."

Now that's overstepping the line and I re-read some of the post and definitely think your Mil has something of a problem.

It is NOT her baby and although she is possibly thinking he may be her only grandchild at this stage, given the family history, she is jeopardizing her chance of a good relationship with you and the baby by her over-the-top reactions.

First of all I suggest you and your husband have yet another talk about this so you have a united front. Emphasise how much she's changed from the caring woman you knew and appreciated, even bragged about.

Then it may be better if your husband has a word with his father and points out that things have gotten so bad now that you are actually scared of her being with the baby - and you are, that's clear.

For your son to be screaming in her arms and you compelled to force your mother in law to let go is a sign of a very disturbed lady, who may well be in the early stages of dementia or obsession.

I certainly don't think 'no contact' is an option but less contact may be and I would, if I were you, contrive to have a third person there at all times. Never forget that whatever happens, this is YOUR baby and YOU have the right to say what happens to him, in or out of your home.

Overnight stays without you at this stage, or until your son gladly goes anywhere for long periods without your presence (my son was 4) would be very unwise.

Young children need their Mommy far more than they need their grandmother as Mommy is safety and comfort in every sense of the word.

Which is how it should be and how you should insist it IS in your home.

flowers

gransal Thu 25-Apr-19 23:54:05

You and your partner MUST have a united front. Something is not quite right here and I would be very wary of leaving DS in this womans care. Please talk to partner as soon as possible.

Namsnanny Fri 26-Apr-19 00:25:11

I wish you were my DIL!! You sound caring and considerate.

Everything Bradfordlass said is good common sense.

I would only differ over less contact.
I wonder if MIL would implode under that pressure? Which would only impact on you and your husbands relationship, for the worse I think.
Let her see your son as often as before but try impose your personality over her as his mother.
Supervising her really!
As Bradfordlass said, don't leave him alone with her for much time.

Ask her to make tea coffee lunch etc., or go out together.

May be in the early days referring to the baby as HER gc isn't anything to worry about, but talking negatively about you in the 3rd party????????? NO definitely calculated to undermine your position.

Your understanding of the situation is clear. You have noted certain behaviour and your instinct is right.

Keep on referring to her as a valued GP but never let an opportunity pass to reinforce your position as his Mother (Mummy knows best, come along MY son bed time etc.,)

I'm sure such a thoughtful sensible girl such as yourself will push through this and hopefully MIL will get the message.

BTW perhaps your mum has some good advice too!

shamrockflowers

Newmom101 Fri 26-Apr-19 08:27:03

I had similar things from my mum and MIL when I first had DD (mostly my mum), and also had a similar experience on mumsnet.

My MIL also (and sometimes still does) link everything about DD to her family, which did irritate me. One day DPs aunt did it (saying DD looked just like her son as a baby, she really looked nothing like him and even MIL was amused by it) and I realised it's just a way of them looking for a connection with DD. You're the mum, and the main carer, so you've got an instant connection and bond. Other people have to try to build a relationship and sometimes get a little competitive with trying to 'see themselves' in DC (not just grandparents, my sister in law and DPs aunts all do the same!). I just learnt to brush this off with 'oh really' and it happens much less often now.

I would be very annoyed by the comments about overnight stays even if you don't want him to, you need to be firm about this when she says it 'no, MIL, DH and I have agreed that there will be no overnights for a long time yet, DS is still so little that WE aren't comfortable with it. We will consider it in a few years though' and get your DH on board to say the exact same! You need a firm, united front on this. No child that young needs to be babysat, when they're old enough to ask for a sleepover at nannys then that's different, as they actually want to! DDs nearly 2, she's never been looked after by family and it hasn't affected her confidence on her bond with them at all. She knows who her nan and grandad and aunts and uncles are and is happy to see them all. So it's not something you have to do.

Are you going back to work? I told my parents and in laws that as I knew I was going back when DD was 1 I didn't want to miss out on time with her by having her away overnight, and now I'm back at work I just say that 3 days apart from her when I'm at work is more than enough, so I still don't need her babysat. We do have issues around DDs safety with them though, (for example them not understanding that we don't want the dogs allowed to jump all over her and my dad not noticing when he's left doors open and 16 month old DD is halfway upstairs by herself). So it's more a case of not trusting them, at least whilst DD is so small.

She told me later that she thought she might have an actual panic attack when she didn't see him

Honestly, this is the part of your post which stood out to me most. It's normal to love and miss her grandchild, it's not normal to feel this way. Part of me wonders if this is to sort of guilt trip you, to make you feel like you need to give her more time with DS. Does she not have much going on in her life? You mention she doesn't work? Does she have friends? What about getting her involved in volunteer work, with children. Lots of primary schools are looking for volunteer readers to go in and read with the children every week. You could suggest that she's so good with children that it may be something she could do.

Sorry this has gotten so long, but lastly I think that when she makes comments about DS being better for her than you, it may be worth you saying outright to her that those sort of comments hurt you. You say you had a good relationship with her before, hopefully she's just got carried away with being a grandparent and hasn't stopped to consider how her these comments may be affecting you.

TwiceAsNice Fri 26-Apr-19 08:53:09

This woman is nuts. Babies need their mother the most and it doesn’t usually happen that they stay with grandparents this early especially as your MIL seems obsessed. He is YOUR baby, your decisions .

I didn’t have my grandchildren stay over until years later. They are 9 now the one has suddenly got a bit clingy for mummy and sometimes won’t stay even now and I live in the next street not 2 hours away!

Please talk to your husband and FIL about this and have a united front and nip it in the bud, some of the remarks she has made to you are outrageous! Tell her if she doesn’t rein it in she jeopardises all her relationships with all of you. Your son is not a prize to be fought over, you have bent over backwards for this woman call a halt.

dragonfly46 Fri 26-Apr-19 09:51:37

At the beginning of your post I thought it was you being anxious. It really doesn't matter who your DS looks like or whether he says Mama or Dada first. As someone said it is MiL's way of bonding.

BUT she should not be expecting to have your DS for the night especially as she is two and a half hours away. Nor should she be undermining you with your DS or your DH. Maybe your DH could have a quiet non-confrontational word with her. She may not know how over the top she is being. Was she like that with her own children. He needs to make it clear that your DS is not staying with them overnight any time soon.

Also I think a week once a month is too often. Make the intervals longer - she is getting too attached. By all means go and see the inlaws when you visit your parents but keep it short. Do not pander to her as it will only get worse.

M0nica Fri 26-Apr-19 10:15:59

It strikes me that your MiL os over compensating for her other two sons not producing grandchildren and that is going to be an ongoing concern.

She also sounds like a lady who has no other interests and purpos in life and wants to make her grandchildren her life. This is sad - and also dangerous and her behaviour, at present, seems to me to boardering on the mentally disturbed. At the moment I would be very afraid to leave her alone with your new child.

You and your DH have to discuss this matter through and decide on a united policy, then you have to put it to her firmly and kindly. This child is your child legally and genetically. You make all the decisions, especially on upbringing and welfare and that includes relationships with other family members. Make it clear that grandmothers have no rights to see their grandchildren and how much contact they have with these children depends entirely on the good will of the parents and that that is how it should be

I would suggest that you set clear guidlines for when and how you have contact with this grandmother, not excluding her, she does in many ways have my pity You must decide how often she can come round, any thing from once a week to once every several moths, it depends on distance and be clear that any other visits will be unwelcome. Make clear that breaches of your rules will lead to less contact.

I think while she is in an almost deranged state at the moment , she will recover and by the time your child is 2 will just be a normal loving grandmother.

Doodle Fri 26-Apr-19 17:17:50

Right first off let me say that when my son brought my first grandchild to see me at work I did refer to her as my baby (I meant nothing by it and I certainly didn’t mean anyone to think she was mine). When we had my son and DIL and baby to stay for a few days and then they went home I did feel really sad and wanted to see her again soon. I felt really miserable for a while as I loved having her with us for a while (they don’t live far away so it’s not that I don’t see her).
I did talk to her like we can do this can’t we or mummy won’t mind will she. In fact many of the things you mention looking back I think I may have done too (apart from the staying overnight thing)
I think you sound like a wonderful DIL. Well balanced and kind. Reading your thread I wonder what my DIL thought of my actions.
If I can fast forward two more grandchildren and many many years later. We are a loving family. My DGC are very loving towards us but we don’t see them as often as we did because they are more grown up and have their own lives. I miss playing with them and the fun we had but at the same time am so pleased to see the lovely young people they have grown up into.
I am not a baby snatcher or I think in any way odd (a bit potty maybe but definitely not a weird baby snatching monster). I am very lucky that I was blessed with two DILs who allowed me to fuss over my DGC and play with them, cuddle them, kiss them, laugh with them and be a part of their wonderful lives. My first DGC mum has often told me she feels lucky that I (and my DH) loved her children and wanted to be with them because so many of her friends parents and in laws weren’t interested in their grandchildren.
Don’t allow your MIL to do anything with your child that you are not happy about but give her some leeway because I can assure you your child knows who his mum is and whilst he might like granny, you will be the centre of his world for a long time. The things you think that are so important now will fade into the past as he gets older and having another person/s around who love your son will be no bad thing.
I think you are doing a great job and your MIL is lucky to have you as her DIL 😊

Telly Fri 26-Apr-19 17:55:51

It's obvious that the more she pushes the more you will feel the need to hold onto your son. That's the key here, he is your son and you have the responsibility for deciding who, what when. This behaviour is obsessive and I would suggest that you agree boundaries with your partner. I would also minimise visits. You are not going to cure this, the best you can do is to manage it.

annodomini Fri 26-Apr-19 18:13:05

Is she menopausal, or is she past that stage? It could be an explanation of a kind for this obsessive behaviour.

agnurse Fri 26-Apr-19 19:06:34

I think you should see her less. Not full NC, but less.

If she makes comments, call her out on them. "No, you won't be getting him overnight until DH and I decide on that." "If you are having panic attacks because you aren't seeing him, you need to seek help. That's not normal behaviour." "I'm taking my son now. I need to feed him." I also wouldn't let her see him unsupervised. You might cut back the visits to once or twice a month.

I would only suggest NC if she goes off the deep end. If she starts talking about having actual panic attacks because she isn't seeing him (as in, she actually had one, not just she said she thought she might), she needs to be aware that it's unfair to your son for her to make him responsible for her happiness. If she cannot function without him, she needs professional help.

crazyH Fri 26-Apr-19 19:44:15

I have 6 grandchildren now. When I had my first grandson, and he was the only one for 2 years, I didn't have a 'panic attack' if I didn't see him, And I adored him.
Your m.i.l. has an abnormal attachment to your child. There's no doubt she loves him to bits, but it's high time she realised the little one belongs to you and her son and not to her.
Having said all that, there is no such thing as too much love...the more love the child gets, the better. My older two GC have practically been brought up by myself and the other gp. The younger ones have stay-at-home Mums and so ,don't need our help.
You are a good d.i.l. as your name suggests. Just carry on having the lovely relationship you have with your m.i.l. I have 2 d.i.ls, one of whom was very hostile to me for a couple of years and life was difficult. It's not entirely her fault. Her husband (my son) and I had a 'difference of opinion' (putting it mildly) and that rubbed off on her. After all she is his wife first, and my d.i.l. second.
Things are ok now and life is pleasant once more.
Whatever happens , continue to be nice to your m.i.l. She is just an adoring grandmother, who occasionally needs reassurance.

Starlady Sun 28-Apr-19 02:02:07

Sugarplum, you are a wonderful dil! No doubt many gps would give their eye teeth to have a dil like you!

Unfortunately, your mil sounds obsessed with your baby. Sounds a little like she wishes she were really the mum and you were just a childminder or something. Not just because she says "my boy" or that he looks like her or whatever. But when you put it all together - yikes!

Like many pps, I wouldn't go totally nc over this, but I would go lc (lowered contact). And yes, also, I would speak up more in the moment when she oversteps. I agree that dh needs to talk to her, but you can't always wait for him apparently.

Best of luck moving forward!

Starlady Sun 28-Apr-19 02:39:50

The thing that worries me most about mil is her refusal to give baby back to you when he's crying and clearly wants you. That isn't love, imo, that's obsession and a desire to control. I'm NOT saying she doesn't love him, I have no doubt she does. But, imo, it's a selfish love, more about her needs, whatever they are, than his.

Her indication that she would countermand you also bothers me. I agree with dh that, in the end, you and he will make the decision, and that's that. But the idea that mil is willing to fight you bothers me. I wouldn't let her have him overnight for a long time, if only for that reason.

Not crazy about the "panic attack" comment either. I'm afraid either mil needs counseling (dh might suggest it) or she's just using that claim to guilt you into making sure baby boy is ready and waiting for her when she comes over. Come to think of it, she would benefit from counseling whether the panic attacks are real or not.

I'm glad dh is on the same page with you and understands that you must present a united front. You may want to avoid having her there when he's not. But if you can't, then you're going to have to face the fact that sometimes he won't be there and you'll have to stand up for yourself and your child. You definitely need to demand him from her if she won't give him to you. Imo, it's not just about you v. her, it's for your child's wellbeing.

I'm sorry your once-lovely relationship with mil has gone downhill this way. Hopefully, she'll calm down as baby gets older as a pp suggested. It's not the first time we've heard of this kind of change happening after the first child arrives, only usually we hear it in the other direction, a mil saying her relationship with her dil changed once the baby was here. I think it's about conflicting attitudes and expectations of how things will be when baby is here. But, in the end, the parents usually prevail and mil is going to have to realize that.

Grandma2213 Sun 28-Apr-19 03:37:11

Sugarplum I have no real advice to offer except that every relationship is different. I am the MiL and first DGS was left with me overnight at only 6 weeks old. That was incredibly stressful to me after a 24 year break from baby care. Since then I have been a major carer for him and his two sisters as well, as parents separated. I also had two other DGDs overnight from a very young age though less frequently (another separation). I have always tried to present a positive attitude and have fought to maintain a good relationship with their mothers. Hopefully I have succeeded over the past 12 years, though two of the DGDs often don't want to go back to their own Mum when it is time, as I am more of a Mum than a Grandma due to the amount of involvement in their lives.

I now have a new DGS from another DS and stupidly feel guilty that I have only seen him about 5 times in his 8 weeks of life but have made a deliberate effort to step back as his parents' relationship is so much more secure ( so far anyway!) I feel that this is a more 'normal' relationship but really miss the hands on involvement.

One thing is for sure. I love all my DGC equally and however I am involved I hope they will realise that one day.

absent Sun 28-Apr-19 05:44:26

Grannies are sometimes great but still take second or even third place. Grannies who are not great don't even get a certificate.

Anja Sun 28-Apr-19 06:56:21

I do think you have to set a few ground rules and make it clear that there are times when she is out of order.

Firsr exsmple, when she wouldn’t give him back and you had to take him off her quite physically. I’m sorry but you have to exert control and tell her quite sharply
‘I said give him to me. Now!’ and then tell her ‘Never do that again.’

Re the one-upmanship suggesting ‘behaved’ for her that you just smile sweetly, get up with baby and move away.

She is obviously obsessed with her grandchild and I don’t see much harm in some of her behaviour towards baby. To be honest if she carries on with excessive kisses and cuddles he’ll soon start pushing her away.

It’s her behaviour towards you and her son you need to nip in the bud. If she says something hurtful don’t react just take baby and turn or walk away and talk to your FiL or DH.
If she does something with baby that you would rather she didn’t then explain that’s not how you want it done. If she persists then tell her politely ‘that’s enough, please give baby to me’ and if that doesn’t work then be very firm and make it an order not a request.