To not promise my MIL set "visiting rights" to my baby?

(249 Posts)
Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 01:51:35

I had my first baby ten months ago and I've just gone back to work two days a week for now. I'm really lucky that my mum is happy to look after my ds and I'm comfortable with that arrangement both because I'm close to my mum and have a good relationship with her where we can talk things over re childcare issues and she is non-pushy about things, and also because DS is very happy with her.

My MIL lives two hours away and I don't know her very well partly because I'd only been with DP for a year when I unexpectedly fell pregnant. I find her quite difficult to relax around for various reasons but I do want her to feel involved as well. Just to give an idea of how the background, since ds was born we've visited them twice including over his first Christmas, been for a weeks' holiday to Scotland at the end of June. She/they have visited us on a number of other occasions too and overall we've probably seen them once a month or maybe a bit less. The reason I'm being so specific about that is that she is currently demanding that she can visit every four weeks. Obviously with the distance that means her staying in our flat and being there for several days at a time. We've arranged for her to come three weeks running in August (something she is happy to do) and look after my ds while I'm working.

I'm fine with her coming and staying, the problem is that I'm finding her general approach unacceptably pushy. She said to my DP that she wants to make sure she sees her grandson once a month so I called her to talk about it, and said we were looking forward to seeing her but could we keep the arrangement flexible, and make plans when we see her next. She just kept saying that she wanted to be sure to visit every four weeks and do the childcare and she felt that was a "reasonable expectation", so I felt backed into a corner. Eventually said that I didn't want to be pushed into committing to that and I "hoped that didn't sound horrible". She said she thought that was horrible, and we then had a stilted conversation about the weather and hung up.

I'm honestly not trying to stop her from seeing my ds but this has really put my back up, on top of the fact that she invites herself to stay and generally doesn't give me much choice about things (at least not without being rude myself). Recently I had plans with my family and she rang up on the tuesday of that week saying she wanted to come that weekend and it was just a really awkward position to be put in. And now of course I'm the bad guy for not agreeing to the once a month thing but I just don't want to set up that expectation as I feel we should be allowed to live our own lives and she should wait for an invitation. In practise we will see her more than once a month at times but other times it will be less and I don't see why I should be made to feel guilty about it.

Or am I being unreasonable? Should I just say yes?

noblegiraffe Sun 14-Jul-13 09:14:29

Why not, instead of having a rigid schedule, agree that at each visit you'll book in the next visit, for roughly four weeks time? By then you'll have a good idea of important social engagements and can coordinate diaries.

The idea that you might cancel unexpectedly because you fancy a weekend at home with the family is unacceptable to me, btw, you can always book those in on your calendar too.

tittytittyhanghang Sun 14-Jul-13 09:16:44

I think im on the fence with this one.

The fact is that I am closer to my mum both geographically and emotionally and my mum is ten years younger and I'm just happy with the arrangement

This is what makes me think YABU. Obviously you are closer to your mum, shes your mum. But im assuming your DP is not as close to your mum as his own mum because well its not his mum.

Am i right in thinking that you are happy to agree to a regular weekly schedule with your mum but you're not happy to agree a regular monthly schedule with your DP's mum? Seems unfair.

AnotherStitchInTime Sun 14-Jul-13 09:19:17

I think the frequency is fine, and would be good for their relationship, but demanding set times is not. Maybe you could organise it a month ahead as a compromise, that way you get to be more flexible about dates and times.

My mum travels 3.5 hours to visit our children and mostly returns the same day. We then stay with her for longer periods of time every few months. 2 hours is not that far, she does not need to stay every time.

ipswichwitch Sun 14-Jul-13 09:20:07

Your DP is involved since its his child, partner and mother. I don't think you're being at all unreasonable, and frankly I would despise the thought of having a regular house guest every 4 weeks for days at a time. I am the sort of person who hates having people to stay (I get very stressed about lack of personal space) and would be dreading it every time. It's a hell of a commitment to make, and as someone pointed out, how will she behave if you want to change the dates due to something else cropping up?

I don't see why it can't just be a day trip also. Or even meet somewhere in the middle, so an hours travel each. Point out to her that maybe you could see each other more frequenty if that was the case.

I would be hugely resentful of someone trying to impose such an arrangement on me, and I don't see why she finds it unacceptable to arrange the next visit during the current one, unless she has control issues. If she would stop being so demanding, you probably would feel more incline to see her more often and visits would be more pleasant all round.

Zynda Sun 14-Jul-13 09:22:48

She is being a bit pushy but I agree with the others when they say that she feels like the second class grandmother. Your mother is the number one grandmother and she's trying to avoid being so far down in the pecking order. I think she must feel she needs to remind you that she's a grandmother to this baby too.

I had to put up with my xmil coming every thurssday, for years. When my x was at work. Once a month is not that bad surely? I think you should do more for her.

EvieanneVolvic Sun 14-Jul-13 09:24:12

Does anyone else spot the irony with the OP (who actually sounds quite reasonable to me) being so absolutely rigid about being flexible??

It would be perfectly possible, it seems to me, to go along with her MiL's plans as she doesn't seem to object to them per se (I would!) and to alter them if it becomes necessary without laying down the law in advance about being flexible? grin

jeansthatfit Sun 14-Jul-13 09:24:35

"My DP doesn't want to get involved really..." - and he thinks you are being 'mean.'

THIS is your problem. He doesn't want to get involved? He IS involved. By leaving you to deal with his mother and his child, and by not supporting you. Or even talking to you as a partner and coming up with a shared solution if he thinks you are being unfair.

Sorry, big warning. Even if you on your own manage to sort out this particular issue - it will just be the start of the story. not the end. Other conflicts will arise (esp given the sound of your mil) - and without your partner willing to take responsibility and engage, you are screwed.

Sorry to be so blunt but marriages end because of stuff like this.

Flojobunny Sun 14-Jul-13 09:25:28

So she rings on a Tuesday and comes to stay the wkend and you aren't happy because its short notice. So she suggested planning a fixed time every 4 weeks and you aren't happy with that either. I'm guessing you don't like your MIL. I don't like my exH but he has DS every Saturday, regardless of my plans because its in DS best interest to see his dad.
Its only once a month. Surely you can prioritise that?

JackNoneReacher Sun 14-Jul-13 09:26:06

She seems very focussed on her rights and needs.

On what planet do you invite yourself to stay every 4 weeks then call someone horrible for declining?

Presumably she thinks that you should be so grateful for the childcare that she has the right to do this? In which case I'd be even more careful if her help comes with strings attached.

Her daughter and family moved to the other side of the world. Perhaps that should be an alarm bell for you.

Your dp needs to be involved in the whole thing and have these conversations and support you.

yummymumtobe Sun 14-Jul-13 09:27:35

I don't think yabu. I hate having MIL to stay. I think it's the staying that is the issue. My mum looks after dd once a week when I'm at work but she arrives in the morning and leaves 20 mins after I get home, after making me a cup of tea and usually having done some washing, got a couple of bits from the shop etc. ie she comes to look after dd as she loves hanging out with her and wants to help me (my own granny used to mind me after school and stuff too). It's the houseguest element that is stressful as it impacts on everything. If she wants to stay, perhaps make it clear that you won't keep those weekends free around her. She can't expect you to miss days out, play dates etc as she is staying. If she wants to be such a regular fixture you need to make those weekends normal and not stop everything else because she is there. Ie, we're going to John Lewis today, we need to do the garden today etc!

JackNoneReacher Sun 14-Jul-13 09:29:41

zynda why did you have to put up with your MIL every week and what does this have to do with the OP?

flojo of course your ex is your childs Father which is a totally different situation and he does in fact have a right to see his son as well as it being for the benefit of your son.

krasnayaploshad Sun 14-Jul-13 09:30:23

OP, YANBU
Your DP has put you in a difficult position though as he is not presenting a united front.
tittytittyhanghang - I see your point on the OP treating the arrangements with DM & DMIL differently, however I think they're different situations.
The DM is looking after the GC 2 days while the OP is at work, so that needs to be a regular arrangement.
The DMIL on the other hand is a houseguest for a few days over a weekend which is more effort on the OPs part & has the potential to clash with the OPs other plans - weddings, birthdays etc. I don't think a regular arrangement can be set with the DMIL unless DMIL is happy for the OP to cancel a visit if there's a clash.

Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:30:46

Er, no. That's totally turning my words against me! shock

On that particular weekend I had plans to see several family members who I don't see very often, including my sister. Tuesday is short notice for inviting yourself to come and visit someone that friday, if we hadn't had plans though I actually wouldnt have minded except for feeling a little bit taken aback. So because I don't want to agree to these things on HER terms I am wrong somehow? BOTH of these things are inconsiderate just in slightly different ways, it's not a case of 'she just can't win'.

As things currently stand I'm not the biggest fan of her no, but at the same time I think she is basically a good person and I want to be fair, and hopefully in time build a really nice relationship.

Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:31:15

Sorry, that last message was to flojobunny

MiaowTheCat Sun 14-Jul-13 09:31:29

My parents sort out when they're next coming down toward the end of the previous visit - it's generally every 2 - 2 1/2 months. I'd go nuts if my own mother was coming to stay on a strict 4 weekly timescale and stopping here (for those claiming that it's always maternal grandmothers getting favoured).

You might find that the demands back off a bit once the baby's actually born - my MIL was demanding daily skype sessions with the baby - didn't happen (thank fuck for my sanity) and all sorts of other stuff... baby arrived, and she decided my kids were less interesting than the other grandkids anyway and pays them bog-all attention now.

Your fella needs to either man up and get the situation sorted out - or he needs to back off and leave you to deal with it how you see fit (which will probably involve the "I ain't having a house guest for days every 4 weeks on the dot" and him then whining you're being unfair or similar) - and if that isn't in the way he wants - then he needs to sort it himself or shut up!

I can't be doing with this jostling for positions of grandmother supremacy - my mother tried that crap "How often has MIL been down.... has she seen the baby more than me... has she had more cuddles than me" and got promptly told to fucking knock it on the head or she wouldn't see the kids at all because I didn't need someone else behaving like a child to manage too. It's bloody pathetic, it's unfair and it's one of the most likely ways to utterly wreck the relationship and end up not seeing the grandkids at all.

SJisontheway Sun 14-Jul-13 09:33:47

You want her to wait to be invited. I think this would be ok if you weren't using her for childcare (3 weeks in August). I think its unreasonable to rely on her but only when it suits.
From her point of view she has a new grandchild who she adores and wants to see regularly. I think this is reasonable. I don't see what's wrong with having an approximate schedule so you can both plan around it. Of course there needs to be some flexibility on both sides.
I would reccomend trying to reach a compromise. It sound like she will be a positive influence in your dcs life and it also sou ds like you will be relying on her, at least occaisionally for childcare. It would really be in everyone's interest to try and meet in in the middle.

HildaOgden Sun 14-Jul-13 09:34:28

Tell her that you will be inviting her to stay regularly,but you are not going to commit to set dates months in advance.

She will huff,she will puff...but you know what?Even if you did commit to the set-up she wants,there would be another demand made soon after.

Set your boundaries,and stick to them.And don't feel bad about someone trying to guilt trip you into bowing down to their demands,she is being a manipulative bully.

No wonder her daughter emigrated.

Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:35:20

SJ, she has ASKED to do childcare. And no it's not only when it suits - unless you mean "only when it suits both parties and we have arranged it between us". Having an "approximate schedule" is just going to become a millstone around my neck.

Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:38:42

I think there are just hugely different opinions over what frequency is too much, what is too little, how people feel about having houseguests etc. But for me personally every four weeks theoretically is ok I just don't want it carved into stone and I think it's ok for it to sometimes be a bit longer because, you know, ds is my child and this is my life and as grandmother she doesn't actually have the right to force the issue. And again, she DOES see him.

MrsOakenshield Sun 14-Jul-13 09:40:03

errrr, why does your DP not want to get involved in an awkward conversation with his own mother?

I actually think you could make this work, we are struggling fitting in all the GPs and set arrangements in the calendar would be helpful, then we would always know when so-and-so is coming. It can be flexible within that, so if you have an invite or something you (or your DP really) can sort that out on an ad-hoc basis. And think of this - you will know you and your DP can have a night out every four weeks. Right now you might not be bothered about that, but I would love to have that <wracks brains to think of last night out with DH>.

Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:41:55

And maybe that sounds selfish but I just think I have the right to feel comfortable with the arrangements that are being made and the manner i which they are made. Doesn't mean I want to hurt anyone or keep them apart but I have rather been thrown into this situation over a relatively short period of time and I would really like her to chill out. I'm quite a mild-mannered person and I like to keep everyone happy but I have this point where if I feel people are pushing and controlling me - something they probably wouldn't even try if I was more obviously forthright and confident in dealing with people - it just pisses me off a lot.

FrauMoose Sun 14-Jul-13 09:42:42

I had some difficulty with my own father after my daughter was born - quite a lot of difficulty! He wanted to visit quite often and began coming every three weeks, booking into a nearby hotel. But he wasn't good at doing anything practical to help. In the meantime my husband and I were not just getting used to the new baby, but were also very concerned that for his older two children, my stephchildren, life carried on as normal. And I was carrying on with my freelance work, which I did from home.

I did think it was quite reasonable that he wanted to see his grand-daughter and be able to have a sense of how often it would work out for him to come and see us. So we suggested he came about every four weeks. Unfortunately he took offence and said we were trying to keep him from his own grandchild. (In retrospect it has become clear to me that he had Aspergers and just couldn't see the bigger picture. He was solely focused on his wish to see his grandchild.)

I think what I'm saying is that it is quite reasonable for grandparent to want to spend time with their grandchild. It's just useful if they can take on board, the complications of the parents' situation. Sometimes things need to be spelled out a bit and hopefully after a bit of thought an arrangement can be reached.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sun 14-Jul-13 09:46:05

I dont think that it is fair to say that OP has hurt her MiL. Her MiL has taken offence, this is not the same as saying offence was given.

Staying for a several days every month is a huge ask. We lived abroad for a few years and had regular visits from GPs. For the sake of our sanity I completely controlled when they were invited to stay (I booked and paid for the flight tickets).

As the saying goes guests are like fish and go off after a few days. One week was our absolute limit.

Moominmamma86 how does your MiL travel to you? Would a solution be for you to invite her for, say, a week in August? Book and pay for her train tickets (assuming that is how she travels) yourself. This way you know when she will arrive and when she will leave (strangely important that last bit wink). She will have something booked.

Somehow booking visits regularly feels less regimented than having visits regularly booked.

pianodoodle Sun 14-Jul-13 09:47:13

So your DP doesn't want to get involved but he thinks you're being mean? Maybe he should deal with his own mother then!

This is what I don't get - I deal with my family and they are happy to come and visit etc... And make it about all of us not just "visiting the baby"

I don't leave my husband to do the communicating with them. It seems all too normal for DIL to be left to deal with partners family then have to take all the blame when they aren't deemed to be doing things right?!

It just sucks. If she wants to tell you you're being horrible then personally I'd stop calling her. She might be keen to see her grandchild but she doesn't care about what suits you and having a set arrangement like that clearly doesn't.

Normal adults find some agreement between them and are civilised about it. If my friend phones up and wants to go out a certain day and it doesn't suit she doesn't mither on we just agree a different date. If PIL phone for the same thing DH must give them reasons why it doesn't suit and they will still try and push for the day they want regardless. It isn't the way to make plans...

SJisontheway Sun 14-Jul-13 09:47:46

Of course she doesn't have a right. Its up to you. And of course it ahouldnt be set in stone. My advice is to try and reach a compromise with an approximate schedule with some flexibility built in. Others have advised you to tell her to take a hike. I feel, on threads like this people project from their own situation. You can choose to do whatever you want.

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