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How to deal with the other annoying/overbearing GPs?

(46 Posts)
Nansnet Wed 30-Aug-23 11:18:37

Well, just that really!

I thought we were over situations like this since our GCs were born a few years ago, and we took a step back, and let the other GPs just get on with it. However, since our DS and family moved closer to both sets of GPs, they have become insufferable.

Previously, they had their own time visiting and spending time with the GCs, and we had ours. Things were fairly harmonious. However, now that they are living closer, they have taken over the show, so to speak.

She is quite overbearing, and they are both self absorbed people, and often manipulate situations to suit themselves. They are constantly telling us about our own grandchildren, as though we don't know them, or spend any time with them (we do!).

They constantly spout off to mutual friends about 'their' grandchildren, as though we have nothing to do with them. We wouldn't be able to get a word in edgeways even if we wanted to! I've been in situations with friends where I've been asked something about the GCs, and one of them will take over the conversation!

We're getting to the point where we really want to spend as little time with them as possible, but due to our family dynamics, and mutual friends, this is very difficult. We really don't want to rock the boat, or have any fallings out, as this wouldn't be fair on our DiL and DS.

I can see they are going to be a thorn in our sides for years to come! Any advice on how to handle people like this would be most welcome! Thanks!

Aveline Wed 30-Aug-23 11:45:57

Don't you remind them that they're your grandchildren too? Surely pointing that out to them might make them think twice.

Grandmabatty Wed 30-Aug-23 11:51:25

See them as little as possible! Never criticise them to your son and daughter in law as it puts them in a difficult position. I have a polite relationship with my son in laws parents because I keep it friendly and vague. We don't have mutual friends though. If they are being competitive grandparents with your friends, my sympathies. Competitive granddad here deliberately takes dgs1 away for a walk when the whole family is together. I drop the rope and let him get on with it. Try not to let it wind you up (easy to say, I know) but if they tell you about the grandchildren and what they do, just have anodyne comments ready. "That's nice," or "How lovely," or "Sounds fun Mabel." Don't make the mistake of trying to one upmanship with them! Good luck

Fleur20 Wed 30-Aug-23 12:04:47

Practice the expression you use when the exuberant 5 year old tells you a long drawn out saga of their latest adventure..
Wide eyes, slightly raised eyebrows, big smile and gentle nod... and Gosh!! at the end...
And breathe... the rest of the audience is doing the same... trust me!😉

lyleLyle Wed 30-Aug-23 12:30:19

One of my DILs has slightly similar parents. We smile and nod politely but I think they have received the hint that we think them a bit silly. They are harmless. Never speak ill of them to your son or DIL. Try to schedule time with the son and DIL at your home or invite them somewhere. Most importantly, try not to give them so much headspace. They can only be thorns in your side if you allow them to be. Annoying as you may find them, evaluate whether they are actually causing harm. Doesn’t appear so from your post, so ignore and move on.

Luckygirl3 Wed 30-Aug-23 12:31:57

I think you just have to let it wash by you - nothing to be gained from confrontation.

When I talk about my GC I do not say "mine and X and Y's GC!! - so I do not think it is unreasonable for them to talk about "their" GC. It foes without saying that they are also yours.

I am in the situation where some of my local GC see more of the "other lot" but I do not mind - they are younger and fitter than I am and can do days out etc. more easily. They come to me and we do art, reading, playing board games and cards - they enjoy these too.

Smileless2012 Wed 30-Aug-23 12:37:25

It might help to feel a but sorry for them Nansnet as they seem to believe they're in a competition with you. Despite the amount of contact they have with the GC, I sense a degree of insecurity, hence the need to brag and over emphasise their role as GP's.

crazyH Wed 30-Aug-23 13:04:15

My middle son’s mother-in-law is a bit like that. It used to bother me at first, but over the years I have let them get on with it. They live near the School and when d.I.l. does the school run, she goes over to their house for tea etc. She is an only child and very close to her mother. So no point stressing over it.

Aveline Wed 30-Aug-23 13:25:38

We're lucky enough to live near DD and the DGSs and see them at least once a week. I'm very aware that the other grandparents don't live in this country and that their visits are very important to them so I quite understand the need to take a very back seat when they're here.
It's not hard to be aware of the need for the other grandparents to have time with DGCs.

MercuryQueen Wed 30-Aug-23 19:48:28

When they start answering a question on your behalf, “I believe x was asking me.” I loathe it when someone does that sort of thing. It’s rude and disrespectful, imo.

Telling you about your mutual gc? “Yes, I know.”

Other than that, I’d avoid them as much as possible.

Baggs Wed 30-Aug-23 19:54:58

Imagine you are in a stream, ankle deep or deeper but the water is not fierce enough to knock you off balance. You are a rock and they are the water crashing by.

As lucky suggested, let it all wash by you. I agree with smileless too and began to feel a bit sorry for them. They must feel inadequate in some way.

Madgran77 Thu 31-Aug-23 14:20:45

Maybe gentle reminders that you do things with the grandchildren would help ....not in a competitive way ...just when they tell a story about GC or comment on a behaviour you could say "Oh yes I've noticed that too" or "Oh yes he did similar with us the other day" and just smile!!

Definitely no competition with them, just let most of it wash over you.
When they answer something you were asked I'd say something like " "Oh yes Mabel is right, they often do ..." or whatever is relevant to the subject. So highlighting your part in the GC lives without any hassle etc

Good luck flowers

Nansnet Thu 31-Aug-23 17:19:54

Thank you all for your comments and advice. Much of which I will take on board. In order to save my sanity, I will try my best to not give them headspace, and to just let it all wash over me!smile

Grandmabatty, I recently had an issue with our 'competitive grandad' at a family gathering. Little one wanted to get down out of her high chair and walk around. I took her out and proceeded to put on her shoes so that I could take her on a little walk. Competitive grandad immediately whisked her up, away from me, and said she didn't need her shoes, she'd only lose them! And off he went with her! Leaving me standing with my hands on hips, and mouth agape! As I said, they always take over the show, which infuriates me!angry

lyleLyle, we never speak ill of them to DiL. However, DS often moans and complains about them to us. He's fully aware of what they are like, and knows how we feel. In fact, when they moved, he told DiL that she will have to lay down some boundaries, particularly with her mum, if things get too much! Otherwise, she will take over their lives. Incidentally, DiL knows herself exactly what they are like, but she would never want to get on the wrong side of them, so to speak.

Smileless2012, you have hit the nail right on the head! I think there is definitely a degree of insecurity, and I know where it comes from. So, I guess I should feel sorry for them in a way, that they feel the need to be so over the top where the GCs are concerned.

Mercury Queen, I do often say, 'Yes, that's right', or 'Yes, I know, we do the same', etc. But they never get the hint! I guess I'll just have to put up with it.

Baggs, I like your advice, I will imagine being a rock in that stream from now on! I'll just let the water flow on by ...

Thanks again to all for the advice!

Aveline Thu 31-Aug-23 18:15:46

Try not to let your irritation show to the grandchildren as they grow up. My maternal grandmother disliked my paternal one and had a rant about her to me one day when I was about 12. It really made me appreciate my paternal gran all the more. She would never be unkind about anyone. The rant really backfired!

Hetty58 Thu 31-Aug-23 18:39:27

I'm a laid back grandparent but I have to put up with this daft competitive streak from a sibling - who constantly goes on (and on) about her grandchildren and her close involvement in every aspect of their lives.

It does come across as pathetic insecurity. She was a competitive parent as well - and has nothing else in her life.

I deal with it by starting conversations about other things (anything else) and she has little input or interest. She tries to steer the talk back to grandchildren, the only thing she has an interest in.

Still, I smile and laugh (a lot) to keep the peace - when I'm bored rigid and would rather walk away.

JackyB Fri 01-Sep-23 08:44:50

This makes me appreciate how lucky we are with both sets of grandparents of our sons' children, so I can't offer any advice from experience. I agree that the children should not get wind of the situation though.

Philippa111 Fri 01-Sep-23 11:57:54

I think this is a common problem. You are not alone. I think generally the grandparents of the mother of the child can perhaps be a bit closer.

Could you find a way of you both finding similarities in your grandchildren antics. So when they say.... 'they did x,y and z' you could say, yes, we find they do the same when with us or perhaps something they do differently. ie it's not a competition but a mutual sharing of experience. You could also share how nice it is to be a grandparent and tell them the bits you enjoy and perhaps the less easy bits...and get them to share their things too.

Instead of going silent and resentful could you be happy that your grandchildren are getting lots of attention and love. Also you could come out and be more vociferous about your relationship with the grandchildren.

Another thought ,how nice for the grandchildren that they have two sets of gandparents and that both sets love them. See them as loving and caring,which despite their bragging etc, they are.

They will only be a thorn in your side if you choose to feel that. We never have control over the behaviour of others but we do have control over how we react. Don't choose to be a victim here. That's a painful place to be. A change of attitude will help.

If you are close to your son you could joke a bit about the other grandparents being over proud. But go very gently and feel your way. Don't criticise. He might be finding them difficult too and you might find some support for you both.

Clarebear Fri 01-Sep-23 12:16:57

I experience exactly the same behaviour from my ex-husbands new wife. Firstly in relation to my own children and now in relation to their children.

I learnt a long time ago not to compete and to remind myself that I love my own children/grandchildren more than I dislike them and their behaviour. It would hurt my loved ones more if the two grans were at war so I hold my tongue when I have to be in their company. Not easy but it has worked and my adult children have acknowledged and thanked me over the years.

Good luck. It isn’t an easy situation and tempting to compare your relationship with theirs.

Sasta Fri 01-Sep-23 12:24:16

I agree with Smileless2012‘s comments. You can also be sure this is their typical behaviour in all ways, they can’t turn this competitiveness on just for you, people will know what they are like, especially if you mix with the same people. Rise above it and leave them to it. As many have said, avoid criticising them to you DS, or anybody……(just us).

Nansnet Fri 01-Sep-23 12:31:12

Aveline, we would never let our irritation show in front of our GCs. In fact, I often mention them, and only to say nice things about them, and the lovely things they do together. So there's no worry about that.

Philippalll, we are a close family. Always had a good relationship with our son, and now also with our DiL. We get on very well with her, and have done for many years, even before they were married. We all enjoy spending time together, so are are very lucky, and I thank my lucky stars for that. It is also wonderful that our GCs have four GPs who love them very much. I know I should think about this more, and be less negative due to the irritations that we sometimes have to put up with. I will train myself to do so!smile

Nansnet Fri 01-Sep-23 12:36:38

Clarebear, I'll be sure to follow your advice!

Sasta, exactly what you said! ... You don't know how close you are to the truth!grin

HeavenLeigh Fri 01-Sep-23 12:52:24

All very childish to me ! I’d let them get on with it to be honest! Wouldn’t say anything to my son or daughter in law though. I’m sure all the mutual friends notice anyway. I think a lot of time the dil mothers are closer, her parents do seem obsessed.

Dcba Fri 01-Sep-23 12:55:52

Ghost them…..make an effort to expand your circle of friends who have no connection with them and try and organize visits with your GC when they are not around. There are no modification options with this problem …… if you don’t ghost them they will continue to be a thorn in your side for years to come and all the interaction you choose to have with them will make your life miserable!

grandtanteJE65 Fri 01-Sep-23 13:14:29

A lot depends on the dynamics of the family as a whole.

How does your DIL deal with her mother's behaviour? My mother was an overbearing woman too, and my sister and I learned to ignore any except the worse incidents of her wanting to rule the roost, but how we rejoiced when others put her in her place. My DH was really good at it, and my sister's second husband could joke with our mother about her being a dreadful old interfering besom, which lightened the atmosphere considerable.

Certainly ignore the "My grandchildren" attitude from your DILs mother and father, unless you can make a joke of it, by saying something like, "Hang on a sec. they're my grandchildren too."

Try to find a range of harmless subjects of conversation to divert your son's MIL away from continually talking of the grandchildren. And if she cannot be distracted, some of the other adult friends of the family will probably join in happily on the topics you bring into play.

BazingaGranny Fri 01-Sep-23 14:06:58

Nansnet, you have my sympathy, you could have been talking about the ‘other’ grandparents in our life. Our son-in-law is fab, but his parents seem to be overbearing and selfish.

Their controlling behaviour reached a climax when we went on a family holiday when our mutual grandchildren were aged 3 and 2. After a few days, I realised that neither my husband nor I were ‘allowed’ to do anything with our grandchildren. The grandmother even came and wrenched a previously happy child out of my arms, I was too shocked to stop her, and this set the tone for the holiday.

On another holiday, the ‘other’ grandparents several times, for example, found a dining table at breakfast and at dinner in the hotel dining room that was ‘too small’ for us to join them even though other larger tables were within a few feet! Bizarre behaviour from them and I’m now used to their very manipulative ways.

BUT, at the time, it was utterly devastating. I didn't know what to do, so I rang a friend at home who gave me some very good advice but I’m afraid that the other granny remains manipulative and over bearing to this day. As others have suggested on this thread, we always praise them and their family, but I’ve been told off in front of our/their grandchildren several times by granny.

Anyway, absolutely no more shared holidays or weekends with them!

Nansnet, I hope you’ve found some helpful advice here. I’m relieved to hear that others have similar problems to me regarding the ‘other parents’. I had worried that I was being over sensitive but think that this is a problem faced by many families around the world.

Thank you Gransnetters, good practical advice here!