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Why is my daughter in law so competitive?

(63 Posts)
Album1 Thu 07-Apr-11 09:32:43

I've tried very hard with my daughter-in-law, who's been with my son for seven years and married to him for three. They seem happy, which is the main thing, but I get very annoyed when she comes round because she's always subtly criticising the way I do things and implying the ways she does them is much more modern. A lot of this centres around food, but now she is pregnant - which is great - but I can already tell from the way she's talking that she thinks she's going to know it all and doesn't want to hear anything from me. I have no intention of offering advice where it's not wanted, but I feel she is deliberately trying to shut me out to prove she's in charge. Is this normal?

Fan9 Fri 08-Apr-11 11:01:49

this is so normal - I had the exact same thing with my daughter in law. She kept getting at me and getting at me ( although my son was of course oblivious) until finally last christmas after 2 and a half years of this I stormed out (not too old to be a drama queen grin) and she was slightly forced to apologise which led to a great conversation. I wouldn't recommend this route though, was very stressful but things HAVE been much better since.
Sorry, don't know how useful that is but really hope you manage to sort it out!

lillypie Thu 05-May-11 08:14:35

I have one like this and one who is lovely.I bit my lip and try very had not to obviously favour the lovely one grin

Avocado Thu 05-May-11 10:44:03

What sort of things is she criticising? Maybe she has a point?

Or maybe she feels that you are supercompetent at everything and she needs to prove to you that she is not just a silly kid who doesn't know everything? Maybe she wants your approval?

verybusyspider Thu 05-May-11 12:35:23

I'm a daugther in law smile and I did (maybe still do a little) have a lack of confidence around the in laws - I want them to love me and think I'm great and a compentent mother even if I do things differently to how they brought up my husband, ultimately I want their approval - I sure at times I have been a nightmare (although not conciously, I know I used to get very defensive) With my mum and dad I know I have unconditional love and understanding even if I say something stupid - I'm not sure with my inlaws and I'm looking for signs they even like me sometimes as its so important they do, I'm often on my guard so I don't say the wrong thing.

I think just as you are trying to get used to being a mother in law she is trying to work out where she stands as a daugther in law and maybe (as all kids do) find out what the boundaries are.

It has also taken me a long time to work out that when I was learning how to be a mother, my in laws and parents where learning to be grandparents and sometimes got it wrong too.

Maybe she is worried you'll disapprove of her parenting and is trying to justify her choices to you already? The sigma of bad relationships with inlaws also doesn't help, we are brought up to believe that we won't get on.

The break through with my mother in law was one day just saying I was finding it hard as a parent as no one ever told you if your were doing a good job, I noticed she started saying things like how happy ds was, commenting on his ability to do things like 'hasn't he got good fine motor skills' and not 'he's a late walker isn't he - X is the same age and already walking' (like she used to) or if I said 'he's been a handful' she'd say dh was just the same as a boy and I shouldn't be so hard on my self and she'd soon tell me if we needed to call in super nanny

as I've become more relaxed in their company (and I've been with dh for 14 years, married for almost 7 and have 3 children!) I find it easier to let their annoying comments slide and be more confident around them, I guess I feel I have less to prove, my relationship with dh is great and we are our own family unit.

Not sure if thats much help but only to say if she starts off on some critism make some none commital sound and change the subject - think of what she says that annoys you - does it really matter? is she just insecure in your company? is it a lack of confidence? what do you want from her in terms of understanding and acceptance? is it that she's asking for the same thing from you but is being a 'child' about it?

glassortwo Thu 05-May-11 12:46:59

I had a terrible few years with my MIL until we both realised that we did not have to fight for every small thing. We became very good friends and I miss her very much now that she is not here and feel we missed out on those years when we both were standing our ground.

I try so hard with my Ds P not to make her any different from my dd, and feel that as a MIL it is not my place to judge her, she is a very important part of the family.

All I can say is give DIL's a chance dont make it any harder than it is.

Woollyjumper Thu 05-May-11 13:41:04

I was warned by my late mother-in-law's cousin that I would make an enemy of her the day I married her darling son and boy did I do that to the extent that she even wrote a diary lying about how I treated her when I nursed her after a broken hip. Of course her son (now my ex) would not believe me over her and I never did get her to come round in her attitude and like me.

I now have a daughter in law of my own and learning the lessons of my own experience am very careful not to offer unasked for advice. Sometimes I refer back to my son's childhood and what we did with him but she knows I am not being critical of her. I am flattered too that when they were having a few problems she came to me for advice and complained about my son! She was right and I thank my lucky stars that we have a really good relationship and of course I adore my granddaughters.

This said it doesn't stop me getting occasionally a bit hurt if I have the mickey taken out of me by her and my son for my views and ideas but I keep my own counsel on this but may one day retalliate.

supernana Thu 05-May-11 14:41:29

Hello, We grandmothers (when new mothers) did things the way that we thought best...even though we were perhaps sometimes considered pushy or know it all by our own parents and in-laws. It's the way of the world. I have three fine sons and three very pleasant capable daughters-in-law. Now have seven grandchildren - all delightful! My mantra is - allow the parent to make their own decisions regarding the upbringing of their own family. I offer advice, if asked for. I'm there when most needed. It's understandable to feel "left out" but not a good plan to express dismay as retalliation can cause rifts...

dorsetpennt Thu 05-May-11 15:08:27

My daughter-in-law and son have been married 10 years and have known each other for 15 - teenage sweethearts really. They have a darling little girl of 2 and another on the way in November. I adore my daughter-in-law and we've never had a cross word or moment. With her pregnancies she kept me as involved as her own mother, I don't always agree with some of the things she does and vice versa but we've never had to have words about it. I know how lucky I am because I have friends who have a difficult relationship with their son's wife.

trixie Thu 05-May-11 20:13:25

I remember being made to feel very inferior by my late mother-in-law for more than 30 years. I was determined not to mete out similar treatment when it came to my turn to be a MIL but to give praise and encouragement wherever possible.

Luckily I have an adorable daughter-in-law who manages five children (including 9 month-old twins) in a way that leaves me stunned with admiration. She's amazing and I tell her so regularly!

grandmaagain Thu 05-May-11 22:28:20

maybe the wrong siteblush but just a word in favour of sons in law, I have 2 and I could"nt love them more if they were my own! they are both great partners to my DDs and great fun and friends to us smile

Clematis Fri 06-May-11 11:08:14

I had a great relationship with my mother in law - we were able to talk about anything and everything, and she was very supportive when we were first married. I was worried because my husband was an only child and son. She adored my son, and I dont know what i would have done without her support - and yes, love. I have had sad problems with my daughter in law, she prefers her own family to be fully involved in her and my sons family life. I bite my tongue, am careful not to be critical. For instance, she made clear from the start that Christmas would be with her family every year. I am invited up in January to deliver my presents. My son is afraid to say anything. Any ideas?

greenfordgran Fri 06-May-11 11:39:48

I think Xmas is a thorn in a lot of peoples sides re 'who goes where' can't you all go out for lunch and then back to someones house for present giving etc. we did this last Xmas & it was very successful ,everyone was included so no feelings were hurt.I thought I would hate it but it was lovely & relaxing.

Grannysmith Fri 06-May-11 13:23:36

Hi all
My son is not yet married (he is only 25) & I am hoping that when he gets married we will all get on. Reading your stories does worry me slightly! He lives in Sweden so I will probably have a lovely blond, blue eyed DIL who hopefully will like me. However I think that daughters do gravitate towards their mothers once married & not thier MILs. PS I have just become a G Ma to my daughter's baby but that's another stroy....

silkycat Fri 06-May-11 14:22:32

Hi bite your tongue sit back and let her get on with it smile and nod and say yes dear, has you will end up lossing your son and grandchild which is what as happened to me my daughter in law was all sweetness till they got married 3 years ago and we loaned them £3,000 everything was ok then this time last year we called with a card and present for our sons birthday and because she was having a bad day she sent me a text message shortly after we got home saying that we should have phoned before calling and that they want nothing more to do with us we still have the childrens christmas present as she wont let them have them l know my son should not have to chose between us but he will not return my calls or texts asking to meet and talk things over l am at my wits end and miss them all so much so just smile and say nothing good luck and hope all goes well with your new grandchild

HildaW Fri 06-May-11 17:01:49

Dear Silkycat....I doubt this was due to anything you did......such an extreme reaction is beyond any explanation. I just want to say how sorry I am and hope that either your son or his wife sees sense. The longer she keeps it up....the more damage she is doing to everyone.

supernana Sat 07-May-11 16:21:49

Hello...will some kind grannie tell me how to get a smiley face on my comment page please?

Rosiebee Mon 09-May-11 21:15:05

Just type in what it says next to the smiley face. Include the
I only found this out through another of the forums on Gransnet. Really enjoying the variety of forums.

KittyVentura Tue 10-May-11 23:39:07

I doubt many DILs mean to be competitive. Some will unfortunately... and some just plain dislike their MILs and (as a mother of one 7 month old boy so far) this makes me very sad and scared.

One of the problems is that most of the guidelines given by the health professionals now seems to contradict everything that was previously done, and all with "good" reason. We have so much information now available to us and so many studies have been completed which gives evidence to state that many things need to be done differently with babies these days. That's not to say that the olds ways were wrong, just that the more we learn, the more that guidelines change to prevent risk of illness or harm.

*Things like:
Not weaning until 6 months - Can cause digestive issues, allergies and other "badies"
Not allowing babies to sleep on their fronts - Increased risk of SIDs
Not giving the baby too many blankets - Increased risk of SIDs
Not allowing babies to "cry it out" - Can cause anxiety and behavioural problems
Following a "baby-led" routine rather than a strict routine - Can cause anxiety and behavioural problems
Giving water as a drink - No longer deemed neccessary
etc etc*

However, as most of you will have done things the way you did... and raised perfectly healthy babies in the process... it is sometimes hard for you to see and fully understand why we are doing things a different way.

This leads to a new mother feeling a need to assert herself more to ensure that current guidelines are followed... and for the older generation to think that we are being awkward. It's not the case at all, we just want the best for our babies.

I am personally closer to my MIL than I am to my own mother (which I think is fab because my husband has just one brother and I really am like the daughter she never had - it gives her that "front row seat" with our children that she might not normally get as a MIL). I love her to bits, respect her entirely and trust her implicitly. I felt this same need to assert myself though. It wasn't in any way to be competitive at all. I could just see, after explaining for the 5th time that week why my son did not need to be offered water, that sometimes it is hard to really appreciate why new guidelines are there when you raised healthy adults doing things a different way.

I hope that helps you see things from another perspective. We do all (and I'm sure many of you were the same) have an idea of the parents we want to be and how we want to do things and sometimes the determination to do things a certain was can come across as stubborn.

KV xx

harrigran Thu 12-May-11 17:26:51

My MIL was my saviour, she was always there with a helping hand and to babysit. When I had my DS she sat up all night making tea for midwives and supporting DH. I was devastated when we lost her at 58 and the children lost a wonderful Nanna. I try to be a good MIL too and will always help but never interfere, I offer advice but only if it was something I found worked for me. I know my DIL does not feel afraid to ask for help when she needs it.

MollyMurphy Thu 12-May-11 18:01:38

I think that its pretty common. Many parents are keen to do things differently, follow current parenting trends etc and I think they feel a need to try to get everyone on board. When people perceive that they want to do things a new way and have specific parenting values in mind they can be a bit defensive. I have to admit to being culpable in this regard at times myself.

She is free of course to want to be modern and do things her way. I would try to go with the flow and show a positive and encouraging interest in how she's doing things - probably a topic she will enjoy if she's like many new moms reading lots of child rearing books. That could help you understand better and open a doorway for her to fully explain herself so she doesn't feel the need for little side comments.

Just be wary of criticism and unsolicited advice. Nobody appreciates that.

baggythecrust! Sun 05-Jun-11 09:09:41

I love my ex-MIL. Always did, always will. She accepted me totally and was (is) a supergran. I used to find her super-efficiency and apparently endless energy a bit overpowering but she is so nice that I always knew that was just me feeling inadequate (don't we all, at times?) and not her fault.
My own mother has always felt threatened by me (I wonder now if she thought I was stealing some of my dad's affection that rightly belonged to her) and still challenges me over trivia all the time. She also challenges me about my daughters' way of doing things, which is often different from mine, as is normal. I don't ask my daughters too many questions so often I'm unable to answer my mum's. One day she said: "Don't you CARE?" This was because I couldn't remember exactly what OU course DD was doing. I thought for a bit and said: "Actually, no. If my daughter is happy, then I don't care how she chooses to do things. It's her life."
Eventually my phone chats with my mum petered out (she is not within easy visiting distance) because I simply couldn't handle the constant attack. We still have "conversations of purpose", as the Amish call them, and I still see my mum at family gatherings but I have, in effect, backed off. It is sad but it is also a relief.

Mamie Sun 05-Jun-11 12:34:20

KittyVentura - I think every generation thinks they have the last word in "scientific" evidence, only to see ideas change with the next generation. For example, whilst I agree that the evidence about SIDS is robust, I am not so sure about the "evidence" about late weaning and I am certainly unconvinced by the idea that routine, unless it is ridiculously over-strict, causes anxiety and behavioural problems.
I think these things feel terribly important when you have a young baby, but by the time you get to the end of the process (if you ever do), and youir children leave home, you realise that it is just that long-term process that is really important and that people who are text-book parents of young children are sometimes hopeless with teenagers etc
I think as parents you have to find the way that works for you, your family and your situation and that "expert" advice often needs very careful evaluation. You only have to look at the different outcomes of studies about the impact of different forms of childcare (nursery / home / childminder) to see that experts very rarely agree.

Poppygran Sun 05-Jun-11 17:07:05

I love her to bits, respect her entirely and trust her implicitly.

KittyVentura what a lovely thing to say about your MIL.

CATSGRAN Wed 12-Oct-11 08:49:06

I have tried very hard with my daughter in law but from day 1 it was obvious that she didn't want to be involved with the wider family. M son changed so much and from a very close friendship we now have virtually no relationship. I live around the corner and have done masses of daycare and babysitting for my grandchildren and have always tried to say the right things and tell them what brilliant parents they are..but the slightest confrontation with my son brings a punishing routine of no contact,no phone or text messages and it goes on for weeks if I let it...its always me that makes the apology even though I havent caused the problem...its making me ill and I can't sleep...I know that ones relationship will change dramatically once a child marries but surely my son should be able to find a place in his heart for me alongside his new family...any help would be gratefully recieved !