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Relationship with MIL

(19 Posts)
cait Tue 12-Jan-21 20:25:02

My inlaws live approximately 600km away from where we are based at the moment.

I have only known my inlaws for a little bit longer than two years which isnt long and I have known their son for four years. We have two children a 2 year old and 4 month old.

My relationship with my MIL is strained to say the least and I am struggling to interact with her. I find her quite bossy and overbearing and I'm unsure how to tell her (or even if to tell her) that I would prefer she didnt tell me how she would handle our children for any given situation. I think my FIL is awesome and he has told me a number of times that I should just agree with my MIL in the moment and then do whatever I want anyway. My husband just laughs and says that's what mum does when I try to discuss how I can broach the subject with her - he agrees that she expects to get what she wants. I met my MIL less than two weeks after my own mother died which prob wasnt ideal because i was still sad all she talked about was how she dealt with her own mothers death 10 years before and how it was crazy that my mother died younger when she was younger than her. I mentioned that all people deal with bereavement differently and that I was working thru mine my own way but she still kept offering unsolicited advice.

I dont think my MIL would be someone that I would choose to associate with if we didnt have her son in common so I am aware that a relationship always has two sides and that both ppl are responsible and need to make an effort to get along but I am just not sure what to do or say ... what I am doing atm doesnt work so I need to change something. What I struggle with the most is face to face visits (although due to the timing of covid we hadn't seen them face to face for nearly a year).

* We see them at their house
* she is very particular about where things are and how things are done in her house which is her right but makes it difficult with children and toys
* she trys to dictate when the children should do things, bedtimes and wake up and when they should have baths - which is essentially the right idea but doesnt work all the time and def not when children are in a new environment.
* she undermines my decisions-little things like I told my 2 year old she could have juice at lunch cause we were at nans for a holiday and then she said no cause they only have juice in the morning (I had purchased the juice)
* my two year old had her birthday while we were there and she didnt get to open her presents until lunch time cause Nan was busy washing and vacuuming (we spent christmas day at theirs last year and my daughter wasnt allowed to open santa presents until 4.30pm when I would have let her open them after breakfast but it's her house therefore her rules and we waited for her sister to get there ... if my daughter has of been older I would have pushed this point.

Because we see them a few times a year at most I just let all this ride but this last visit it really got to me and I need to address it now as it's not sustainable. If it was anyone else other than my MIL I would just not see them. If my own mother was like this i would be able to tell her what I think. If i or our children never spoke to her or saw her again i would be ok with that but i get that isnt reasonable approach

Has anyone had this happen to them or how would you prefer your daughter in law to handle it

cait Tue 12-Jan-21 20:26:57

That was way too long and not at all consider so if anyone reads it all thanks. I really could have kept going with all the things that annoy me but I had to stop somewhere

Whingingmom Tue 12-Jan-21 20:53:42

What does your husband think? Does he support you when she disagrees with you/tells you how she thinks you should raise your children. Agreeing a plan with him before you meet her and getting him to back you up would be a step in the right direction. You sound as though you are very accommodating and too nice, I don’t know how you have put up with her !

Lolo81 Tue 12-Jan-21 21:08:03

Maybe stay at a hotel or rent a room nearby for the visits and arrange to see them outside the home to actually do things like parks or museums? Obvs that’s COVID permitting.
It’s hard, because it is her home, so realistically with the tidying up etc I’d be inclined to let that one go.
When she undermines you maybe speak up in the moment? So the juice thing - “that’s not grandma’s choice to make - mum said it’s fine” and give your child their juice.
She’s not your cup of tea, and not everyone has to get along - I’d pick my battles on this one and my big battle would be a refusal to stay in her house.
I get the impulse to have a discussion, but in my experience bringing up issues after the fact puts the other person on the defensive and is counter productive. My inclination would be to address each thing as and when it happens in the future - if she kicks off then leave. You can’t control her behaviour, only your own, and you can stand up for yourself whilst still being kind.

Oopsadaisy1 Tue 12-Jan-21 21:17:07

You must be relieved not to have seen her for months! I’m with lolo, don’t stay with her, then you can pick a time to get away.
Please remember that You are the parent of your DD and if you say she can have juice then she gets juice, best to start as you mean to go on, nip her ways in the bud, at least she will know where she stands.
And have Christmas at your own home and start your own traditions.

cait Tue 12-Jan-21 21:43:46

It's only cause we are so far away that I let so much go and I would love to stay somewhere else but financially that doesnt work at the moment plus they live in a coastal tourist town and accommodation would have been nearly impossible to find but staying elsewhere is def what needs to happen for an extended trip as the longer we stay the harder I find it, to the point that I only speak to her when spoken, however, I then look like the the sullen disrespectful person that is hard to get along with

MIL doesnt like crowds and is a home body so dislikes trips and I go on outings but she gets annoyed cause we came to see her and then I take the kids away (one is breastfed so that's a given)

Anyway I actually really like the area they live in and we have had one trip over there that was wonderful and cruisy cause she was at her fathers which proves that it's our relationship that I struggle with and not other factors.

Next trip should be better as my 4 month old will older and handle more outings and it wont be a hot australian summer which also stopped me from getting some space cause it was way too hot for the children to be outside little own on trips to the beach etc

The replies that I have had make me feel better so thankyou. It's not my imagination she is overbearing and opinionated so I should kindly speak up when incidents happen rather than stewing on them and becoming the silent brooding DIL that doesnt talk.

My husband is a different issue ... he doesnt really listen to his mum ... to the point of being a little rude and when I mention to him that his mum is bossy he just says you can't change a person ... I think about how best to get him to help me cause he commented that I am not happy there

Thanks again for your responses

Esspee Tue 12-Jan-21 22:29:21

Your husband needs to control the situation while you are with themas it is important that you do not become the scapegoat so e.g. if she wants to put off present giving he should tell her that it’s fine for her to do that with their presents if they wish but your presents are going to be opened first thing. If she comes up with rules that you don’t like he should tell her she might have done that with her children but the two of you have different rules and routines which you wish to be adhered to.
You both have to be firm all the time. Treat her like a child to establish boundaries.

Alexa Tue 12-Jan-21 22:58:22

Could you not just do what your husband does? He sounds nice and easygoing.

V3ra Tue 12-Jan-21 23:37:06

Definitely you and your husband need to present a united front and not let her bully you. She's behaving in a very childish way and is hardly being very welcoming.

Your daughter's birthday present opening shouldn't be put on hold because mother-in-law is vacuuming, for goodness sake.
Say to her, "Your granddaughter's opening her presents now if you want to come and join us," and then just carry on.

Similarly at Christmas: my own four year old granddaughter opened her presents before breakfast, never mind being made to wait all day! That's just mean.
What a power trip this woman is on.

We had a lot of nonsense when we visited in-laws when our children were young.
Eventually my husband refused to visit any more, he said if they wanted to see us they could come to ours.

cait Tue 12-Jan-21 23:38:19

I feel bad for my MIL as her other DIL has cut contact apart from visits at a playground near the childrens birthday

welbeck Wed 13-Jan-21 00:04:53

i wonder why !
well that's it. tell her you are considering following SIL's lead and keeping visits to the playground.
do not stay in her house.
take back control. good luck.

Lakelover89 Wed 13-Jan-21 01:07:36

I can't really offer any good advice as I face similar things with my MIL. It is hard to be around someone controlling and overbearing. I have said similar things to my husband too about if his mom was a stranger I would avoid her like the plague.
It sucks just wanted to say I understand how you feel and it isn't you. I got some great advice to be more assertive. Just remember you are not the bad guy here you just wanted to be treated like an adult with respect. Good luck smile

cait Wed 13-Jan-21 03:10:56

Your comments are wise. I also want to acknowledge that we are two very different ppl and that towards the end of the visit I was the one being childish as I couldn't keep the pretense up anymore. Keeping the piece by keeping silent works for her but not for me. This and another thread have provided me with different ways to combat the bossiness - dont criticise the person provide feedback on the words. My husband really only saw the way I was reacting not what was being said by her

Nicegranny Wed 13-Jan-21 05:13:09

What a foolish woman. Ignore what she says when you’re child asks for juice. Do bath times when you decide and carry on the way that you feel is in the children’s interest. If she objects tell her straight that if your routine doesn’t suit her it might be easier for her to visit you instead or you will stay in a B&B and see her when the routine allows.
Stop being so polite and put your foot down.
Making a child wait until the afternoon to open Christmas presents is unheard of!
Bloody woman’s a nutter.

Grandmabatty Wed 13-Jan-21 12:29:34

I think maybe you were falling into being a 'child' mode when you were at her house ? Therefore she took over in adult mode. You said you started to behave childishly. I'm not agreeing with her by the way,just observing possible dynamics. I see this with DM and the way she interacts with my brother who lives with her. So you need to reclaim your adult persona back. Find a phrase and practise using it. "We're happy doing it this way" or "that doesn't work for us." Or if you want to be less confrontational then ,"That's an idea, we'll think about it." She doesn't get to make the parenting rules for your child. Good luck.

Smileless2012 Wed 13-Jan-21 14:20:39

It looks as if your H's way of dealing with his mum is let what she says or does than annoys him, to wash over him cait and is maybe an approach you should consider.

Not wishing to be unkind, I do think that you are partly responsible for not making a stand from the beginning, for allowing your m.i.l. to see you as a passive receiver of her behaviour, rather than being who and what you are; a wife, a mother a d.i.l. and above all and adult.

I totally understand your frustration as my m.i.l. was very much the same but these aren't insurmountable issues are they. When presents can be opened, whether or not your child can drink juice and when, are decisions to be made by you and your H, not your m.i.l. so don't go along with them.

There have been have excellent ideas of responses you can make so I hope that you'll take these on board. In my case, once my m.i.l. knew her 'advice' and 'suggestions' were falling on deaf ears, she stopped giving them; eventually!!

Madgran77 Wed 13-Jan-21 14:51:32

I feel bad for my MIL as her other DIL has cut contact apart from visits at a playground near the children's birthday

And is that because she behaves the same way with that DIL too? And she hasn't learnt!! Might be worth pointing that out to your husband/FIL when they say it is just the way she is!!

* she undermines my decisions-little things like I told my 2 year old she could have juice at lunch cause we were at nans for a holiday and then she said no cause they only have juice in the morning (I had purchased the juice)*

A reply like" I understand that you only have juice in the mornings. However that is not what we do and I have bought the juice as a special holiday treat." She will probably push the point and you use broken record as in "Yes I understand that you only..., However ....!" If she keeps pushing it just give your child the juice and say "I understand that we don't agree on this. However this is what I am going to do!" That type of scenario is most definitely not an appropriate or reasonable "her house, her rules" scenario.

she trys to dictate when the children should do things, bedtimes and wake up and when they should have baths - which is essentially the right idea but doesnt work all the time and def not when children are in a new environment

It is not the right idea because these decisions are for you and your husband in whatever house you are in (within any compromises because of hot water availability or whatever)! A possible reply something like "Our routine is that baths happen ....and it is more settling if we keep to that. I am sure you understand!" "Our routine is bedtime at ...! We will stick to that to make sure ...doesn't get over tired/ doesn't wake up too early. I am sure you understand!"" Then again, just use broken record!

The important things to pick up on are the interference with your child's routine and how you want to parent. Other stuff you can choose whether it is worth commenting or ignoring.

Your husband may have his own way for dealing with his mother but I think you need to differentiate together between things that impact negatively on your child/your parenting and things where ignoring strategy might be ok!

One other thing to possibly think about ...*My husband is a different issue ... he doesnt really listen to his mum ... to the point of being a little rude and when I mention to him that his mum is bossy he just says you can't change a person*

Does him treating her like that make her feel a more desperate need to assert herself/be queen bee in her own home? Does your FIL also treat her like that? That dynamic in a family can be very demoralising for a woman who is getting older and may, underneath all the rubbish behaviour, have had her confidence in her worth/place in the family undermined too many time!!

I am not in anyway excusing some of her unreasonable behaviour and only you know if that last point might be valid or worth thinking about but if it is then maybe seeing potential reasons for this behaviour might help in building a different relationship with her around that problem that she has with her "menfolk". Sorry if that is completely off track. No offence intended flowers

cait Fri 15-Jan-21 20:44:06

I have def taken the her house her rules things too far. It's a great point

welbeck Fri 15-Jan-21 21:22:38

don't stay in her house.
you are bound to be on the back foot.