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to think that being a MIL is not a bed of roses

(144 Posts)
loverofwine Thu 27-Dec-12 20:03:21

I am mum of x4 boys. No Granny No 1 for me (tho DS1 is only 7 so a way off yet).

Yet still I wonder when they have all flocked the nest and coupled off (if they do) what the future holds.

Strikes me that being a MIL is hard work. Damned if you do damned if you don't.

My MIL is a nightmare but then my family account for 80% of her grandchildren so she likes to be very involved.

Just wonder what I need to be doing to psychologically prepare myself for the day I get a DDIL and how to love her/make her love me.

thoughts on a postcard pls

BlingLoving Thu 27-Dec-12 20:56:25

I think in law relationships are naturally slightly complex because you are "family" but without the deep history and instinctive understanding that comes with real family.

Having said that, I think the secret for both mil and dil is to accept that the other one is a very important part of their ds/dh life. I have had my issues with my mil but ultimately we have a good relationship because we both accept each others importance to dh. Also, she really sees that dh is happier with me than he ever has been before. And similarly, I see that she truly loves dh and ds and that she tries really hard to do things that Make us happy.

I get quite annoyed by some posters who try to exclude mil and then are surprised when she responds badly. I send mil photos and while dh does most talking with her, I will Skype her if ds is being particularly cute so she can see him or take him to see her if I'm in her town without dh.

OverWintered Thu 27-Dec-12 20:59:57

nope, I have to say I think greylady's advice is good.

apostrophethesnowman Thu 27-Dec-12 21:02:39

Grey lady You do sound very subserviant and grovelling. I feel for you if you think you have to act this way to maintain a relationship with your family.

I think we shouldn't interfere with our adult children's relationships - at all. Even if we don't like things they do or who they're with etc. then we cannot interfere as they're adults and will make their own decisions, and mistakes, as we have all done ourselves.

However, the extent to which you love your young children doesn't disappear because they become adults. It really doesn't. It matures and you have to learn you cannot be as protective with them as you were when they were young, but you still love them unconditionally and completely. Adult children can love and respect their partners without having to distance themselves completely from their parents.

I do think sometimes DILs are threatened by the love their partners have for their mothers. That's quite sad really.

I'm not for one moment saying that some MILs aren't controlling and shouldn't back off a little. Of course there are people like that. Just as there are DILs who aren't happy, whatever the MIL does/doesn't do.

I would also say that until you become a grandparent you cannot have any idea how you feel towards grandchildren and what motivates you. Of course they are their parent's children and not yours, but you do love them immensely - in all honesty just as much as you loved your own children.

CatsRule Thu 27-Dec-12 21:08:04

BlingLoving I do all that and more to include my mil too but it gets me nowhere in our relationship.

My sil will not share a couple of photos she has of my ds's baptism...why? I don't know. I share all my photos with them. I stupidly forgot my camera that day trying to organise things.

I email mil photos and update her even though she, quite frankly, doesn't deserve my cooperation after all the years of abuse I have had to take.

Her own son doesn't know why I bother to try and be inclusive.

What I am trying to say is that while some posters seem to exclude mils for silly things...compared to what mine has done over the years their complaints seem silly...maybe there is more to it...I hope!

AngryGnome Thu 27-Dec-12 21:09:10

blingloving has it spot on - its about repeating that both mil and dil have hugely important unique relationships with ds/dh.

All the problems between mil/dil that I have ever heard of are all about overstepping and not respecting those relationships.

twizzlestix Thu 27-Dec-12 21:10:28

My MIL is lovely. She is kind and caring making sure myself and my SIL are treated as part of the family. She will only give advice when asked for it including issues concerning DGC and understands that her experiences may not be relevant/follow current parenting advice eg. Weaning ages/sleeping in same room etc but doesn't harp on about in 'my day...' DGC are treated equally and loved to pieces. She has her DD child one day a week and mine a separate day (both are young so but tiring for her to have at same time) so we can save ££ on childcare. I even invited her to come choose wedding dresses with me as her DD didn't wear one. I truly luffs her to bits.

forgetmenots Thu 27-Dec-12 21:13:47

Yes, I think for the vast majority blingloving has it bang on.

Also understand where CatsRule is coming from - but both my MIL and hers sound like extreme examples (I hope).

CatsRule Thu 27-Dec-12 21:20:04

I do agree too that some dils want to find fault...maybe they do feel inferior.

For some unfortunately the stereotypical mil is for real!

Hassled Thu 27-Dec-12 21:23:28

One way that becoming a MIL myself has changed me is that I'm a much more understanding/thoughtful DIL myself. I've never had a bad relationship with my MIL, and I've always been very fond of her, but I was maybe a bit dismissive of her - not any more. DH is still her boy, and I make sure she sees him and speaks to him as often as possible. I get it now.

BlingLoving Thu 27-Dec-12 21:29:20

Cats rule: my theory is based on the assumption that both dil and mil are relatively "normal" people. Some are just weird. I do know a few personally, but overall in most cases I think problems start when one party forgets to consider how the other one might feel.

BlueberryHill Thu 27-Dec-12 21:33:19

I have two sons and a daughter, all way off getting together with partners and having children but the threads on MIL do worry me at times, I hope I don't find myself in those situations.

I have a great MIL, there are the odd bumps but she is lovely, helpful and great with the children who love her. The secret of a good relationship is partly that she is lovely, but also that she has raised a great son. If I have a moan / issue with my PIL I talk to my DH who will either

a) say I'm being out of order and to chill,
b) say I have a point but it isn't worth worrying about,
c) say it is an issue and he will then deal with it.

We do discuss it and agree an approach, if he needs to say something to his parents, he does it so it is never a problem between me and my PIL. It works on the whole. If you raise emotionally intelligent sons, it'll be fine, (that is what I am telling myself).

CatsRule Thu 27-Dec-12 21:37:48

BlingLoving I think you are spot on with that point...I too know people who really don't realise how lucky they are with the inlaws they have.

badguider Thu 27-Dec-12 21:53:31

I get on we'll with my mil and I think the key reason is that she realises her ds is an adult as am I. She has always related to me as an adult and had already transitioned into a good adult relationship with my DH before I met him.
It seems to me on mn that many mil problems stem from mums struggling to treat their ds and dil with the same respect for their opinions and ideas as you would any other adult (many dms on mn seem to struggle too not just mils)

EndoplasmicReticulum Thu 27-Dec-12 22:06:39

As a mother of two boys, I am reading this with interest. My MIL and I get on well enough, although as they are hundreds of miles away we don't see each other often.

My children don't have the same relationship with her as they do with my mum, although I'm sure a lot of that is due to geography too - my mum lives in the same village as us so they see a lot more of her.

exoticfruits Thu 27-Dec-12 22:13:17

I don't think it is a problem in RL.It appears to be on MN because people post with problems. I am not one yet- but I love the girlfriend stage and female company. I think the answer is to make your own relationship that has nothing to do with your DS.

forgetmenots Thu 27-Dec-12 22:22:33

Hear hear catsrule. And bling.

I don't know the gender of DC1. If baby is a DS, one of my earliest resolutions to him will be to treat his chosen partners with respect and warmth. I realise I may not be lucky enough for that to be reciprocated. I have to hope that if I raise my son well, he will be sensitive to those around him. I would never, ever want him to put me above his partner and children, though. I will have tried my best and I would honestly swallow a lot from any DIL (as I did with my MIL!) to keep the family together.

forgetmenots Thu 27-Dec-12 22:23:41

Good advice exoticfruits

thegreylady Thu 27-Dec-12 22:30:11

No eggshells here smile I was being a bit tongue in cheek really, I treat them as I would like to be treated-with courtesy,affection and respect. I love spending time with them and their DC and am proud to say I have never had a falling out with any of them. The body I agree you will be a great m-i-l :-)

thegreylady Thu 27-Dec-12 22:35:06

Remember two of my d-i-ls are steps and dh's ex is also around.
I have never been subservient or grovelling in my life but I do believe new parents need space to find out what suits them best without an interfering old biddy putting a spoke in before she is asked.
Just had Christmas with dss2 and his wife and 3 DC. It was pretty near perfect.

exoticfruits Thu 27-Dec-12 22:36:37

Maybe I am just lucky, but the girlfriends are very easy to get on with e.g we like the same books. I found that with MIL it was easier in a way, in that they see you as an adult, whereas sometimes my mother forgets!
It does help if you have managed to let go of your own DSs and accept that they make their own choices and they may be very different from yours. Very often DSs are easy going and let the mother be far too controlling and the DIL is forced to make a stand. There is a thread at the moment where a MIL has announced that she will be on the labour ward! You are bound to have trouble with that sort if thing- I wouldn't have my mother there, and she wouldn't expect it.
The 'number 1' grandmother is also untrue. The mother has control while they are babies, but once they are walking and talking they make their own relationships. Just because their mother is closer to one grandmother doesn't mean they are.

If you accept that your DSs choice of partner is nothing to do with you and are friendly from the start, and are not controlling, it should be fine - unless you are very unlucky and get the controlling DIL!

Flatbread Thu 27-Dec-12 22:38:04

I get along fine with my mil. She has her quirks and I have mine. Doesn't bother me, and I feel no need to compete with her at all. Too many dil are possessive and looking for slights.

If she interferes, I let dh sort it out if it bothers him. I can be an opinionated cow myself, so no ill feelings towards mil if she does the same.

NumericalMum Thu 27-Dec-12 22:44:39

I think for me my mil is just the total opposite to me. Total victim of emotional abuse and a doormat. She genuinely believes she is the only reason her sons are the most perfect beings on the planet. Of course living with one of them for 12 years means I am fairly certain she is wrong. I also hate that she refers to her 42yo and 35yo sons and their wives as "the kids" and shows them no respect at all.
Fil is just a dick, plain and simple.

Valdeeves Thu 27-Dec-12 22:54:29

I've made a list of things "not to do."
I totally agree with the poster who said there may be a biological reason why the relationship is fraught. I think a new baby provokes a strange response in a grandmother - it must be hormonal and a response to their genes continuing forward (as well as plain and simple love!)
I was slightly shocked by the intensity of my own mum and my MIL to my first baby - the first grandchild in the family. It was clear they both claimed the baby instantly. For me the most difficult thing a MIL does and cannot seem to hold back from is the constant taking of the baby from the mother. WAIT to be given the baby, be patient. A new mother's priority is to be the number one in a baby's life and a MIL threatens that - because the DDIL is not their baby first. A mother of a daughter - sees her baby having a baby. A MIL sees a woman she has no relationship with having her baby's baby. Confused??? Ha ha.
A mother in law really does need to walk on eggshells - I feel sorry for them and try to respect mine.

storynanny Thu 27-Dec-12 22:56:30

(Mother of 3 adult sons) but grey lady is right, eggshells and all, that's just the way it is. As someone else on this thread says, just smile and nod. I never want to fall out with my sons over their partners/wives, they will and should always take their wives side however painful it could be and in my case has sometimes been. As long as there is mutual respect for each other and acceptance of differing points of view, then mil's have to keep quiet!!!!!

echt Fri 28-Dec-12 00:44:21

Ages ago, at least 25 years, I read about research into the mother-in-law joke, i.e. was it based at all in a cultural experience of interfering MILs by sons-in-law, or was it just a crock of misogynistic shite. It turned out that the most fraught IL relationship was overwhelmingly that between MIL and DIL. So those jokes were just nasty anti-woman stuff.

What it didn't explain, or I don't remember, is WHY the MIL/DIL was often such a battlefield. I mentioned it briefly to my mum who instantly made a terse comment on her relationship with her MIL (they lived with PILs for a while due to post-war housing shortages). I had never heard her say anything against her MIL, but it was easy to see the experience had left its mark.

Sorry, no links - pre-linky days.

Valdeeves observation about a GP seeing her baby having a baby, while the MIL GP sees a woman having her baby's baby, is a good one.

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