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Sorry another MIL question

(40 Posts)
annebo Sat 07-Nov-20 21:26:37

Hi everyone

I am very much struggling to get along with my MIL to the point that I think our relationship is pretty much breaking down. It is particularly difficult for us as we live on the same road and there is no hope of us ever moving. So I basically want to try and have some civil relationship at the very least. I also desparately want my children to have a relationship with their grandma as I barely knew my own and feel its is something I missed out on as a child.

It seems to me that she has taken against me since we got engaged, no congratulations, wouldn't discuss wedding plans, booked a holiday knowing it was our wedding date. She eventually told DH that she thought we were too young (26) to marry and wanted us to wait until we were in our 30s. We both decided that we really wanted to get married and went ahead, she turned up in black and didn't speak to me for the entire day (except to tell me I "looked about 12).

Things didn't get much better but I hoped that she would eventually except me. Obviously I don't know for sure, but her reaction to all her children getting married was fairly hostile and I often wondered if she has abandonment issues (??). So I foolishly agreed to buy our first home nearby so Dh can spend time with her and made it clear she can visit whenever she liked.

This was somewhat niave on my part and things went from bad to worse as she would literally turn up and criticise everything and trying and micro manage our lives. I bit my tongue but started to feel resentful and somewhat hurt by her constant disapproval. She could also be mischievous; If my husband was away she would turn up and hint that he is probably having an affair "they all do when they work away".

When the babies were born she want from being difficult to being a real nightmare. Very controlling and wanting be to ignore midwives/hv advice, telling me not to BF, wanting to choose names, hating my name choices, telling me I didn't know what I was doing every time I saw her. She blamed me for absolutely everything. When DD caught a cold it was because I wasn't keeping her warm enough. None of my baby equipment met her standards - all wrong. She then wanted me to go back to work so she can give full time care to my DD. She had began telling other people this without discussing it with me.

She would be very hostile to my lovely mother and began criticising her baby skills often her leaving in tears. She brushed this off as 'hurting too easily'. We tried to compromise by saying she could have DD for one day a week which seemed to make her happy. Heres the problem....she was dangerously bad with her. E.g giving her marbles to play with when she was 8 months old. Leaving her alone in a different room when she was crawling around whilst she baked in the kitchen. Forgetting to give her milk even though she was crying. Final straw was when she strapped in a pushchair wrapped up in coat and blankets and left her by the radiator. When we picked her up she was just ignoring her crying obviously far too hot. I refused to leave her alone with her.

I visited a few times a week but would stay with DD. This enraged MIL who naturally knew that I didn't trust her and so she began lashing out at me over every tiny thing. I couldn't cope, so DH would take her around at the weekend for supervised visits. This worked well for a short time.

Problem is now DD and DS are older and neither like to visit and want to go home very quickly. So MIL has started turning up at our house again. Obviously I let her in but she is just so awful to me as she seems to be still holding a grudge. I literally shake when she is here. I have asked her to come when DH is here but she rarely does. I have come to the conclusion that she scares me and I naturally feel nervous her being around my children even supervised even though there is very little harm she can do.

I made the mistake of confiding in her that I have been prescibed AD for anxiety and that I can't always cope with unannounced visits. No sympathy. She is now telling everyone in the family I am unstable.

I want to move but honestly we cannot afford to do this anytime soon as we are trying to renovate (another story).

Please gransnetters help me to cope better with her without confrontation and without cutting her out of our lives (which is the advice I keep getting but am reluctant to do). If possible help me see things from her POV because I am stumped. She also has difficult relationships with other ILs but she is particularly hostile to me I suspect because I am nearest.

Thank you xx

annebo Sat 07-Nov-20 21:27:01

Apologies for length goodness me!

phoenix Sat 07-Nov-20 21:38:52

annebo she does sound pretty awful, but the first thing you need to do (imo) is get your husband completely on board and supporting you and the decisions you both make (ie you and husband/partner) and presenting a solid united front.

Good luck.

Jaxjacky Sat 07-Nov-20 21:39:45

And how is your husband supporting you?

Lolo81 Sat 07-Nov-20 21:40:14

You don’t have to estrange from her, but you also don’t have to give her unlimited access to your life. When she drops by don’t let her in - maybe don’t answer the door every time.

Dinahmo Sat 07-Nov-20 21:44:16

Please don't feel bad about yourself. Feel sorry for her, if that's possible. (it might make you feel a bit better). You haven't mentioned your DH but I assume that he is supporting you. If not, why not? You are his wife and the mother of his children and should be more important than his mother.

I remember when my grandmother was widowed (my father was an only child) and my mother was in poor health. My father was contemplating moving so that my GM could live with my parents. Their GP told my father that he had to chose between his wife and his mother and so he did.

Sparkling Sat 07-Nov-20 21:46:38

She is surely the mil from hell. I would not let her just turn up everyday as she wants, say you’ve made plans, going out anything, but break that habit. When she starts being awful, I do t know what form that takes, but I would confront her, if she really dislikes you and says so, ask her please just to arrange with her son for you to meet up, as you can’t take any more you have tried but won’t put up with her treating you like that in your own home. To be honest I fail to see how you have just taken it all, what is the point , she isn’t just going to start liking you now so you have nothing to lose but a lot to gain. She is rude, lacks any empathy, obviously she has all the answers so you won’t change her.
I think a lot of lovely Mils have a hard time, but you haven’t one of those. She is a foolish woman.

B9exchange Sat 07-Nov-20 21:48:45

You poor soul, she had really got to you. What is your DH's take on all this, I hope he is fully supportive of you? If not you need to enlist his aid so you are both taking the same firm approach with her.

You have tried so hard, I think you need to decide what you can cope with as a family, and tell her together that that will be the way forward from now on. Explain that you would like the grandchildren to have a good relationship with her, but that her behaviour is jeopardising this.

If you need it, do consider some counselling to be more assertive in dealing with her. You have no reason to be afraid of her, but I do know where you are coming from. My MiL used to tell me I was a terrible mother, when my DH was out of the room!

OceanMama Sat 07-Nov-20 21:58:09

Why are you so focused on pleasing her and making your children have a relationship with her? She is not kind to you, or your mother, and it looks like your children do not like her company.

I, too, never had grandparents in my life and felt I missed out. No grandparents are better than toxic ones. My mother tried to get us a substitute family member and I, to this day, remember how awful that person was and still feel that she allowed me to be bullied by her. Your job is to protect your children. What do your children say about their grandmother? The actions you have reported here suggest that they don't want to be with her. Is it upsetting for them?

I have been where you are with a demanding MIL who I wanted a relationship with but who I could never be good enough for. The only long term regret I have is that I did try so hard. It was actually inappropriate for me to be trying so hard too, this issue belonged to my husband to resolve, not me. Where is your husband in this? What does he say and do?

My advice, based on experience, is to tell your MIL that drop in visits don't work for you anymore. Don't answer the door if you need to do that. Yes, that will be hard, but she's not going to get the message any other way. You don't deserve that treatment and neither do your children. Why would your MIL change how she treats you? She gets what she wants and gets to do what she wants without any consequence. Instead you want to placate her because of what you think is the right thing so she gets rewarded. You are worth more than that and deserve to be treated well.

You don't have cut her out, if you really don't want to, but you can take a break from seeing her or see her out for dinner or at a park on less frequent occasions. If she then realises that there are consequences to the way she is treating you and decides to change her ways, you can slowly try seeing her more again, if you want to.

It took me over ten years to get to the point where I'd had enough and decided to let DH deal with his mother. I don't recommend being like me.

annebo Sat 07-Nov-20 23:52:45

Thank you!

annebo Sat 07-Nov-20 23:53:24

Will post detail tomorrow

welbeck Sun 08-Nov-20 00:42:11

your premise is wrong, ie that you have to appease her and make the children go see her.
why would you make your children suffer. they obviously don't want to see her. and she sounds very arrogant to be so dangerous in looking after them.
don't subject them to any more of that. just because they are older does not necessarily mean they are safer with her. and what will they think of you, it could damage your relationship with them. they look to you for comfort and protection, and example.
why expose them, or yourself to a bully.
don't let her in. maybe see her in the park for a coffee but only if your have reinforcements, your husband or another supportive friend with you.
don't waste your energy on negative people.
no wonder you need ADs.

Hithere Sun 08-Nov-20 01:02:27

Stand up for you and your kids. Learn to say no

I hope your husband is on your side

sodapop Sun 08-Nov-20 09:01:38

Seems to me that you have done more than enough to try and maintain a good relationship with your mother in law annebo. Maybe the time has come to say no more.
If your husband wants to visit her and take the children that's fine but you don't have to put up with this behaviour from her.
You need to tell your husband you are not prepared to keep going through this and let him sort it out with his mother. I agree with OceanMama no grandparents are better than toxic ones.

Nonogran Sun 08-Nov-20 10:43:24

Look in the mirror each morning and practice saying "NO" out loud, or anything else you'd like to say to her. Say it loud and clear. Might seem mad but it'll get you used to the sound of your own voice being strong and assertive.
Meanwhile, as others have said, your husband needs to support you to a level you both agree upon and will help to empower you.
Your home is your castle. There is no rule book which says you have to open your door to anyone. If only more people would understand this. I don't answer my door to strangers, ever. Sometimes I call to them from a window if I don't know them, but often, just ignore the knock. You can too, MIL or not. You can always say you were in the bathroom or out the back hanging the washing! Don't give her a key!
Build your relationships with other in-law family members. Get closer to them. She'll hopefully soon get the message that she's not part of the gang. Keep her at arm's length as much as you can while u build your confidence. .... Chin up. Be strong. Big hug.

25Avalon Sun 08-Nov-20 10:56:53

My mil was awful to me but couldn’t carry a candle to yours. I too didn’t want dc growing up not knowing their grandma so put up with it. Yours is so bad your dc won’t want to know her and it’s all of her own making. You are too nice. Whatever you do don’t let her make you feel guilty. She is pulling all the strings to make you miserable.
OceanMama has given you very good advice based on personal experience.

annebo Sun 08-Nov-20 11:16:31

Thanks to all. I agree with all comments.

Regarding DH. From the beginning he has always defended me, or corrected MIL when she has been unfairly critical.

I don't mind advice or guidance as long as its polite and is makes sense. But she has often forced her opinions (which change with the wind) onto me and becomes like a dog with a bone. For instance, she forbad us shortening our childrens names. She told me that no child should have a nap after 10 months even though my DD really needed a little afternoon nap. MIL would not take no for an answer and would call or knock on the door in an afternoon to check DD wasn't napping - she would make me feel guilty for giving my own toddler a nap! Now I'm older and have more experience I can see this was a control thing as she wanted to see her GD when it was convenient to her, not when she was napping. This is why she hated me BF. I could go on forever with bizarre rules that didn't make sense to me.

When DH corrected her and politely asked her to back off the drama would be unbelievable. We would have months and months of punishments and sulking and would involved the wider family to take sides (over the most trivial disagreements). She got into the habit of saying "annebo hurts too easily" and then continue x 10 to do the thing that she had been asked not to do or say. A polite contradiction or the word "no" from DH results in her shouting or him being pushed away from the family. It became easier just not to confront it. We ignore and tends to be forgotten about the next day. But this means we have to walk on eggshells and do normal things in secret.

The last drama involved her wanting to control something regarding DD. DH asserted himself (I didn't know anything about this issue as he was trying to protect me). MIL went insane and began shouting at him that she knew best and she didn't recognise him anymore. A few days later MIL called the house and accused me of pulling DH away from the family, even though I had no idea what she was talking about. That situation, with hindsight, would have been better handled with a smile and wave. Asserting oneself makes a fairly trivial situation 100 x worse.

I really couldn't sit back and let people think I was pulling him away from the family so I wrote an email to all his siblings explaining that I had no intension of pulling anyone away from anything...inviting them to the house anytime and reminding them about how much time DH spends with his parents; doing DIY jobs etc. Thankfully BIL opened up to me about their struggles and made me feel a little better.

I like the suggestion of a neutral place to meet. I have also been thinking that maybe when this whole covid thing is sorted there is a possibilty of us moving further away. Its just going to take hard work and frugality. We live by a great school which has also blinded me into thinking we couldn't move. I can now see there are loads of other good schools in the area...

Thank you once again.

OceanMama Sun 08-Nov-20 11:40:52

Moving sounds like a great solution. Somewhere where she can't just drop around.

You sound too much like me in my early 20s. Wanting to make it nice. If you can just explain surely they will understand. Let's work this out. That's a good approach, but that approach takes two and some people aren't open to it. Don't take so much responsibility for the relationship with your MIL. I'm glad you have an ally in BIL, that must help you to see it isn't you. She sounds terrible.

What do your children say about her? Listen to them too and teach them that they have the right to say who they feel safe with and who they need to avoid. That they can say no to people. They need to learn that they deserve to be treated well for when they grow up.

Grammaretto Sun 08-Nov-20 11:50:02

You shouldn't have to move house to get away from her.
You do need to rewrite the rules.
Did you say you managed to stop her from child minding? You were assertive then but I think unless you put your foot down now, it won't get easier when the DGC start school.
You have to know your own mind and stay true to it.

You say you want your DC to have relationship with their DGM (is she a widow?)
Is there anything she can offer them which you can't?
If so, focus on that.
I wish you well. Life can be an obstacle course at times.

Hithere Sun 08-Nov-20 12:32:10

Your mil needs to hear- from her son, your dh - that she is not to intrude in your lives, give her unwanted and critical opinions, she doesnt know best at all, etc

She has to be told that if she doesnt change, your family will take a break from her so she can reflect on her behaviour and your dh would contact her when you (you, dh and kids) are ready

You have to put your kids first.
Teach them that listening to their instinct is important, act on their gut feeling is crucial and negative and toxic relationships are not beneficial - despite dna
If your kids dont want to see her, don't force them - your kids deserve respect.

Your dh is riding the fence right now, "defending" you with words but not actions.
I hope he is truly on your side when consequences for bad behavior are implemented and mil will likely not change.

Hithere Sun 08-Nov-20 12:38:53

If your dh balks at the idea of giving consequences to mil, I would tell him he is free to have a relationship with her and you and the kids have nothing to do with her.

Do you want your kids to remember their childhood with bad memories from their grandmother?

You still have time to fix this

luluaugust Sun 08-Nov-20 12:50:06

This is a terrible situation for you, your DH must make a stand quite honestly she sounds deranged. You say you obviously have to let her in, no you don't. Nor do you have to go to her house, your children have picked up the atmosphere and although its lovely for children to know their grandparents this is not lovely. Do not confide in her in any circumstances, nor should your mum have to put up with any nonsense. So please don't feel bad make your stand now.

annebo Sun 08-Nov-20 13:00:14

Thanks...and agreed.

Somebody asked what the children think of their grandma and I had to think about it because its not really clear cut.

On the one hand she is actually very pleasant with them. Generous with money and likes to have their favourite snacks in etc. But she is not a typical grandma who plays and interacts with them.

She appears to have an overinflated view of the crate of toys which she has in a cupboard. They are no longer age appropriate and are vintage from the 1960s, bits broken and things missing. She gets very offended if the children bring their own toys to play with and can sulk...but the sulking is quite subtle. E.g busying herself in the kitchen or making little negative comments, "that doll is too big for you". I notice it, and I strongly suspect the children do too.

She finds interacting with the children difficult and will talk to them as though they are adults, about things they don't really understand. If my DD brings a reading book to show her MIL will just talk about her own library book and the type of things she likes to read. If she puts the TV on they will have to watch the programs that MIL likes. If DC watch one of their favourite programs MIL finds fault with it "this is horrible, why do you want to watch that?" (referring to BBC childrens progs).

She essentially likes to talk about herself and has no empathy as to what it is to be a small child. She is not overtly awful, but she often acts disinterested. The result is they get bored very quickly and want to come home.

This is why they don't visit her anymore.

My own mother on the other hand is the cuddly type, has a craft box and buys little things to keep at her house so there is always new things to do and play with. She takes them to the swings and has magazine subscriptions so they have something exciting in the post. She makes DD dressing up clothes to spec, she tickles DS and acts silly - its a whole different scenario which I am sure the children compare and contrast.

This is helping writing it out ...thank you.

annebo Sun 08-Nov-20 13:01:42

Sorry correction should have been her grandma not MIL

Floradora9 Sun 08-Nov-20 15:25:19

Does she have her own transport ? Maybe moving will not sort your problem if she can still get to your house easily . you cannot let her spoil your life so try to really be strong and cut her off .