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FIL lost it with the kids.. Perspective needed(221 Posts)
My head's in a muddle with this one and I'm bloomin angry.
Yesterday we were at the in laws for a family get together. Nice day but FIL gets stressed by our boys aged 7,5 and 2 going within 5 metres a glass/ tea cup/ ornament. He's quite a shouty man and has very limited patience. Anyway, we were about to leave when the two youngest started bickering over a toy. I got up to go and pack our stuff up, left husband sat with the boys, FIL and other family members. I came back into the room 2 minutes later to find FIL dragging the youngest 2 boys by their wrists across the room. They were hysterical and clearly in pain. Apparently he had flipped at their bickering and told them to get out the room. He is a big, strong 6ft 4 man, they are 2 and 4. I shouted 'what the hell is going on ?' at FIL and DH ( who did nothing but that's another story), grabbed the boys and went to the car with them where it took 5 mins to calm them down from their hysteria.
I agree it's their house and their rules but I am livid that he manhandled the kids. AIBU ?
I think as bad as it is, and as horrific an event for you all, there could be a seachange possible here.
Your H suffered at the hands of his bullying father, he felt powerless at the time, and now he's just been trasnported straight back while his DC took the abuse.
This is the time you take on board his childhood trauma, and point out that if your DC are conditioned to accept the same, by their parents doing nothing, that they will grow up in fear too.
Your H needs to see this as a game changer, that now it's time to act. He could really benefit from counselling. To deal with the events of the past, and enable him to get past it, and be able to be a better father to his DC.
Now is the time for him to do something about it. First he must agree that you all won't be going over there, that if they want to see you, and the boys that they come to you. That way the boys will be at home, have toys etc to keep them busy etc. MIL/FIL can leave when they are ready to go.
Personally, I'd be calling the FIL myself and set him damned straight,that he might get some kind of emotional hard on in terrorising and manhandling small boys, and he may have got away with bullying your H, but he WON'T ever be allowed to repeat that behaviour with your DC.
You say they had been there all day. Is it necessary to be in their house for such a long time? If I were you I would severely limit the amount of time you spend there. No children of that age can be kept quiet and calm for hours on end.
A lot of elderly peopl are less tolerant, do no cop with a lt of noise and stress that kids bring, des not make them horrid parents
Something else comes to mind - probably not relevant here - but in the absence of a history of bullying/anger, some elderly people can be irritable/intolerant because of early dementia
Tell them that you are very concerned about the effects of FIL's anger and control problems on your children, and would like to find a solution so that you can still all see each other. Tell them that you're sure FIL knows that is it not acceptable to touch your children in anger, ever, and that you need his promise to never do so again. And suggest that you meet at your house "for a while".
TBH, I suspect there is a whole can of worms waiting to be opened in your dh / FIL here. I wouldn't be afraid of exploding things - better to open it up now than let it fester for a few more years and then do it. (not diplomatic, me!)
Reading the rest of you posts op I would not go back, and would not have much to do with FIL. Go FIL like?
Next time separate the 2 kids if they're arguing
I'd have asked the 4 year old to help carry stuff into the car with you
If your FIL is anything like mine, he won't see anything wrong in his behaviour, and you won't get an apology or acknowledgement or wrongdoing.
I'd be figuring out how to manage the situation from now on - not visiting them in their own home, leaving FIL out of arrangements if possible, or even cutting them out completely.
Harsh, but your priority is your DCs, not maintaining a relationship with a bully.
My Dad is the same, huge anger issues. He walloped my son when he was 18 months old for fiddling with something on the floor of the kitchen.
I no longer see my Dad, he just cannot keep his cool with young children at all and shouts at them easily. My mum comes to me on her own now. It's much much easier. I used to spend the whole visit making sure they didn't go near his antique clocks, tables etc and feeling so on edge, in case he lost it.
An e-mail wouldn't work with my Dad, he's always right and it would inflame things further. I just backed off and became 'busier' and unavailable to come over to theirs etc.
Even now when Mum comes, I keep visits short and make sure the children are kept busy and we go out a lot. Boredom makes things worse and mine are 4 & 5.
My whole family just accept my Dad is who he is. They enable his behaviour tbh. No one challenges him, as it's not worth the fall out
Oh yes - do be prepared for FIL to be outraged that you've dared to question his perfectness, and to respond with more bullying.
Just remember that your children are the most important ones here (and what they need are safe loving grandparents, not any grandparents at any cost).
Some brilliant advice here, thank you do much. Hissy you are so right, maybe this will be the final catalyst for them to examine the deep
Seated issues and make some positive changes.
I'm feeling fortified by all your words of advice and hearing similar stories.
Agree it sounds like your FIL over reacted, but your DH should have stepped in. You said he was telling the kids not to bicker - when did that ever work with little kids?
But these situations happen with small children hermioneweasley, even if you are on top of them all the time. The FIL dealt with it horrendously badly. Yes, her DH could have done better, but don't underestimate the power of childhood conditioning, even as an adult.
I have a feeling it's one of those carefully edited AIBU posts that is written to gather support for OP. The only thing is it would be much easier for all involved during a very formal visit if you or your husband took the children, especially boys, out for a short run around. I wouldn't expect under 5s to behave without it.
They'd run around the garden for an hour in arctic wind and hailstones after lunch
I wouldn't blame your DH, if you've been brought up with that level of control and fear in your life, it is very hard not to flashback to the default setting when you are back in the home and your father is yelling at you.
I would say that visits by grandchildren are a privilege, and that if your FIL isn't prepared to be reasonable, then either the visits cease or they are very short indeed, and preferably on neutral ground.
I have lived with a domineering father, it used to be particularly bad when he'd come back after an unaccompanied posting and feel the need to redefine his turf. I fought back, my other siblings didn't.
Your children need a loving, reasonable and rational environment to grow up in. There is no good reason for them to be dragged about and frightened by their grandfather.
If the DH had been a DW, would you be victim-blaming?
I used to call it the death grip and I used it to remove my children from a situation where I thought their behaviour was out of order and they needed a stern word from me out of the situation <shrugs>
All depends who said what and how it was done.
So what if your kids bickered or even had a complete meltdown? You can't stop children from doing anything negative ever, that's not possible, even if you aim for good behaviour and deal quickly with any noise/issues.
I would see this as a good opportunity to set up some new ground rules. For sure don't take them over there again, a two year old around glass tables with an angry FIL is a recipe for disaster. But I see no reason why they couldn't come to yours and have a good relationship, as long as you spell out very clearly (as your DH clearly can't) that you are the parent, you decide the discipline and they are NOT to discipine/shout/move the children whatsoever.
Now- your FIL won't like this but tough, if he wants to be part of your family, he has to be nicer and more controlled. If he can't, he won't be able to be involved. I think he'll play ball on your territory with your rules.
So, you have not over-reacted, but I also think talk of never seeing them again is too much, try to see this as a way to re-set the reliationship so you are the ones who say what happens with your boys.
I don't do talking nice to bickering children. They need to be told, firmly, that it has to stop. Right now.
I don't do that in front of others at a family occasion and have removed my children from a situation, using a firm grip on their wrist and with a very cross "come with me right now" or "get your backside out here with me right now".
Obviously I'm an abuser and my kids are traumatised and their going to have issues when they have children.
He didn't wallop them - he got the hold of them by the wrist and told them to get out.
Sounds to me like they'd been misbehaving all day and he'd decided he'd had enough.
soundevenfruity even if the OP hadn't taken the children out for a run, you can't only visit the IL's on the condition that the children make no noise, never bicker and don't ever cry or get upset. Otherwise, what's that? A fake visit in which you all pretend to be someone else, all spend time glaring and over-disciplining the children, and then all leave and breathe a sigh of relief. I think it's ok to have children who are basically well-behaved for the vast majority of the time, with the odd lapse when they are tired or at the end of the day. I hate 'best behaviour' visits where you all want them to go quickly so you can get back to real nice normal relaxing life.
I think you should have had more of a handle on the situation tbh. Older generation/small excitable over tired children after a long day is not a great mix. Try a shorter period next time?
They're not their.
A 7 and 5 should definitely be able to behave on a visit, a 2 year old - that's a bigger ask.
But they need to learn to behave. And that a visit is a visit and there is an appropriate standard of behaviour which is expected.
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