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(38 Posts)
Chris4159 Tue 12-Oct-21 05:45:47

Hi all just need opinion from other's.
I have 3 daughter in laws. I thought they liked me as we all seemed to get on well. Other day I found out they find me intimidating and a matriach.
I have been so shocked as I am a friendly quiet and laid back person.
If they need help of any type, 're childcare,have 3 of them quite a lot 1 I have Grandson one day a week to give Mum time for herself. Others I do school runs everyday and have children on school holidays & over the weekend if they want to go out. If son's are short of money I will help them out. Etc etc. We do go out as a large family group quite often, but my husband says I shouldn't go as they don't want a 65 yr old tagging along with them and that I get too involved.
I feel I should back right off now. Yet they call me for advice, lifts, etc. Nott sure how to act now. As this has thrown me a bit. How would any of you react?

BlueBelle Tue 12-Oct-21 05:53:41

How did you ‘find out’ ?

CafeAuLait Tue 12-Oct-21 06:29:12

Hmmmm. Your husband says you are too involved and all three DIL's say you are a matriarch. Honestly, I would react with some self-examination if they were all saying it. Do you have the kind of relationship you could discuss why they feel this way?

V3ra Tue 12-Oct-21 06:42:28

Could it be that they are a bit in awe of you, but nevertheless admire you?
They seem to appreciate your help and ring you for advice.
If they didn't want you going out with them presumably they wouldn't include you. Is your husband a bit jealous?
A matriarch isn't always a bad thing!

M0nica Tue 12-Oct-21 06:49:16

I thought being a matriarch was a compliment. But given that this time it wasn't, I think it means that you are ever present. Always there, even if you are friendly and laid back.
Your DH, himself, has said that 'they do not want a 65 year old tagging along'.

I think you are making the mistake so many grandmothers seem to make at present because of the ease of being for ever in contact and the need for childcare and that is that you haven't untied the apron strings that tie you to your children, you are too involved with their lives, too ready to be available, wanting to tag along no matter what.

You need to stand back. Stop trying to go everywhere with your children - and the obverse side, that perhaps your children have forgotten, do not be constantly available to babysit and care for your grandchildren.

You are only 65, there is more to life than being a grandparent. At your age you should be making the most of this time to spend more time with your DH, being together, going out together, enjoying each others company - without grandchildren and children being with you.

Develop other interests, make a life that is seperate from that of your immediate family. Otherwise in 10-15 years time, with DGC grown up and away, and no other interests or friends, you are going to be a very lonely old lady.

So stop tagging along, start to be less availaable for babysitting and bring your DH to the forefront of your life and give sometime to him - and take up marathon running or wild swimming, or cross stitch or - anything that is new and fun.

Sago Tue 12-Oct-21 07:22:29

I agree with MOnica a Matriarch is a compliment.

I recently had a conversation with my daughter, she has recently moved to a very large property, I said I would hand over the reins as Matriarch and she could take over.

A matriarch is described as a powerful woman and head of the family.

Kim19 Tue 12-Oct-21 07:36:34

Matriarch as described here is not the kind of person I would ever have wanted to be (fat chance!) but in your current position I would start to gently back off. Nothing dramatic but decisively find a new space of your own slowly but surely and don't make a big deal of it or it might turn into a family drama. There's a whole lovely world out there which doesn't involve family. After all they're always in your heart and running through your veins therefore with you whatever you're doing. I wish you well. It certainly works for me.

ginny Tue 12-Oct-21 07:48:41

I think we need to know how you ‘found out and in what context the comment was made. .

Katie59 Tue 12-Oct-21 07:56:19

Take it as a complement and a wake up for you to behave kindly and equally to your DILs.
I have 3 step DILs, in our family the eldest is the Matriarch, she is lovely we get on well, such a change from my own DIL who is an absolute cow. Having good family politics is such a godsend I can relax and sleep well.

Grandmabatty Tue 12-Oct-21 08:03:54

I always thought the term matriarch was a compliment. To me, it says the female head of the family and the person who keeps everyone together. The woman whose views are listened to and who is wise. The context, which is missing from your story, is everything. Was it said as a joke and you've taken it the wrong way? The second point which your husband made is not necessarily connected to the first. It's maybe the way you are feeling just now. Perhaps you do spend too much time with your family and perhaps he is jealous? Ask your dils what they meant by it. Do they ask you to go on big family outings or are you organising them and expecting them to go along with you? As I say, context is everything

Chris4159 Tue 12-Oct-21 08:05:45

Thank you so much for your comments. My son told my sister, that my daughter in law feels that way. My sister then felt she should tell me. I am glad she did, as it is now making me see myself through other people's eyes. I do see a lot of my son's at least once a week as they all live close by. People say to me how lucky I am to get on with my daughter in laws, but now I realise they just put up with me. Oddly the daughter in law whom said it, is the one I help most esp money wise.
My husband has medical needs and dosent go anywhere just watches tv all day since retiring. My elderly Mother also lives with us, but she is in good health. Perhaps as mentioned should back off quietly and try to catch up with old friends, which I know I have lapsed I also work part time which gets me out. Will have to play this out gently without making it an issue.

CafeAuLait Tue 12-Oct-21 08:27:04


I agree with MOnica a Matriarch is a compliment.

I recently had a conversation with my daughter, she has recently moved to a very large property, I said I would hand over the reins as Matriarch and she could take over.

A matriarch is described as a powerful woman and head of the family.

Your last sentence is why matriarch is not a compliment, if that is the working definition! I am the matriarch in my own home. MIL also wanted to be matriarch in my home. No way.

Luckygirl Tue 12-Oct-21 08:50:39

I am not sure how I would take this really. It could go either way. It could be a compliment - DIL sees you as a strong head of the family. It could be a complaint - DIL sees you as overbearing.

But - if DIL wants your help - childcare, school pick-ups, financial etc. - then she has to take you as you are. I am sure there are things about DIL that you like and things that you don't - you take her as she is. There may be things that she does that you like and things that you don't - you take her as she is.

The DILS can't make all the running - they are using you (with your blessing), but they can't decide every contact and how it should play out, any more than you should be.

I certainly would not mention this, but would keep a weather eye out for any hint that something is amiss and act accordingly.

You talk about going out as a large family group but sort of imply that he does not join in as he is telling you that they do not want you tagging along. Where does he fit in in all this?

My DDs have been more available to me since my OH died last year - I see quite a lot of them and their families. I did lots of child care when the GC were smaller - and did this whilst also caring for my sick OH. I think they appreciate this. I still do one school run.

However I do not try to be a spare part and only see them when they ask and on their terms mainly. But they are always saying "Just come round Mum, it's always lovely to see you." But I do not really do that much - mainly because I am too busy! - secretary to a choral society, run a choir of my own, involved with women's group who initiate all sort of fund raising in the village, write book reviews etc. etc. etc.

It maybe helps them to know that I am not sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for their call. Maybe your DILs need to see that you have a life of your own outside of family?

But I would not read too much into this if I were you.

Shelflife Tue 12-Oct-21 08:51:05

I think you are correct Chris in recognizing that " I need to play this out gently without making it an issue' You sound sensible lady , if you discuss this too much with your DILs it may become an issue. I think if you simply back off quietly you will retain a sound relationship with them. They will recognize and appreciate your awareness. Carve out new interests for yourself , swim , join a walking group? It seems to me you simply want to help your sons and their families,- I get that . You have received the message now so I am sure you will act accordingly and maintain a loving relationship with your family. Don't beat yourself up about this , you have meant well . I wish you well.

hazel93 Tue 12-Oct-21 08:52:27

I also think "matriarch" is a compliment , "intimidating " is not !
I have a suspicion your sons, unwittingly ,may have thrown in the odd comment on the lines of " I'll ask Mum" or "Mum thinks ..."
Could that be possible ?

Luckygirl Tue 12-Oct-21 08:52:38

However I do not try to be a spare part should read I DO try not to be a spare part....

Calendargirl Tue 12-Oct-21 08:57:38

When you go out as a ‘large family group’, does your DH go as well, or is it just you?

Sounds as though you are constantly with them or involved with them, one way or another. They probably really want you on their terms, i.e. childminding, school runs etc when it suits, but don’t necessarily want you on other activities as well, at least, not so often.

Perhaps they have mentioned this to your husband, and he is trying to drop hints for you to back off a bit?

As others have said, maybe don’t be so ‘available’.

Nell8 Tue 12-Oct-21 08:58:04

Chris "Well done, you" for taking it all on board and making plans to adapt. The family are lucky to have you!

Calendargirl Tue 12-Oct-21 08:59:32

I posted the above before I read the last few comments, might not make much sense now I realise.

Germanshepherdsmum Tue 12-Oct-21 09:09:00

Everyone has given such wise advice as always. The only thing I would add is about the ‘tagging along’. You say your husband has medical problems so perhaps it is just you going out with children and grandchildren which sounds a bit awkward to me, generation-wise. Much as I love them, and they me, I wouldn’t dream of tagging along with my son and daughter in law when they go out unless specifically asked. Perhaps you can get your husband out and about a bit more as sitting in front of the tv all day is terribly bad for anyone. You sound like a nice person and I’m sure this will all blow over if you just back off a little.

Smileless2012 Tue 12-Oct-21 09:14:40

I agree with you Luckygirl.

Your d's.i.l., your sons and your GC benefit from the active role you have in their lives Chris and surely, if your d's.i.l. felt you are over involved, you wouldn't be included in family outings.

Rather than seeing yourself as tagging along, you should see yourself as a welcome addition to these activities which IMO you are, or you wouldn't be asked.

Perhaps you H is a little jealous and wants you to spend more time as a couple. You could decline some of the invitations for family outings, but I'd be careful about being less available for childcare in case they begin to feel that you have an issue with them.

Granniesunite Tue 12-Oct-21 09:31:37

Go by your gut instinct by backing off gently and saying nothing. You know you can do that as your families happiness is everything to you. You’ve proved that by helping all you can.

You have an ill husband and an older mum to look after and you still work part time. That’s a lot of caring.Turn your thoughts to what you would like to do for a bit of me time now.

It’ll be difficult at first but keep trying and I hope you find something that you enjoy.

You sound a lovely caring gran mum and mum in law.
I’m sure you are loved . You deserve to be.

M0nica Tue 12-Oct-21 09:40:51

Chris4159, I think you are a remarkable lady. Few women hearing what you did, would have acted so thoughtfully, or have responded so well to our comments.

With an invalid husband and frail mother I can see how the youth and enthusiasm of young families and children offer you an uplift and breathing space from domestic responsibilities. but as you recognise this can end up with you appearing to be a burden, when you are anything but.

So gently return to your old friends and find ways to make new ones.

midgey Tue 12-Oct-21 09:48:41

I would say stop helping with money! It must be pretty vexing for an in law to hear that instead of sorting out money issues the answer is to ‘ask mum’! You may well need that money in the future for yourself.

VioletSky Tue 12-Oct-21 09:53:10

Chris I don't think it sounds all that bad, especially as you seem very nice after reading your comments through.

You actually do a lot to help out so I am not surprised you might be seen as head of the family. Intimidating could mean anything. Like you are a strong, confident character.

I would do as others suggest and back off a little bit, stop trying to take care of everyone and well protect the herd.

Making time and plans for you more often would definitely be a good start because it honestly sounds like you need that anyway!