To keep my children safe when visiting in-laws abroad.

(78 Posts)
desertrosefirefly Mon 02-Sep-13 01:35:26

My in-laws live over seas. They have 4 dogs that live outside which I think can be unsafe taking our 3 children aged 5 years to 14 months, since my in-laws disagree with my rules and even ridicule me. They disagree with me about my children not being left without monitoring the behaviour of the dogs or what my children could do to upset the dogs. My 5 year old had 3 of the dogs go for him when he was just about to turn 2 years old and since being here this time my 5 year old has had his bottom nipped by one of the dogs when they got over excited and one of my 14 month olds has been growled at. If my son acts fearful to the dogs he is told off and told to be brave. I had a huge arguement with my father-in-law only last night because he thinks I am hilarious how I go to watch my children when they are close to the dogs and that I would prefer that my babies were not anywhere near the dogs, since even the loveliest of animals will react if they are hurt or surprised.
My in-laws also have a balcony which after many arguements they have now put a net up since the babies could fit through the gaps, but the twins move furniture on the balcony and one infant in particular loves to climb. My rule is that they are not allowed on the balcony alone. The doors are left wide open to the balcony during the day.
My in-laws also have issues with me wanting to use UV suits and cake my children in sun block here. I am always told by my mother-in law that they will be fine if it is after 3pm (or it is cloudy today) even though it is the Caribbean (and I am also told this when she comes to visit the UK when we have sunny weather) where they live you can imagine the effect that the sun could have.
They also have a very relaxed attitude to my children around water. Since I was a lifeguard when I was younger I try to prevent things rather than having to deal with situations. I am now a primary school teacher and so very annoyed when they question every rule I have when it comes to the safety of my children.
I was told that I deserved a slap last night by my mother-in-law (twice in fact) and that children need to have accidents to learn. When I said that they are my children so my rules go, she told me that they are her children and my father-in-laws too and they do not agree with me so they will bring them up their own way.
I would prefer not to take my children out anymore but now my husband has made it clear that the children will be going out no matter if I agree or not. My husband says he agrees with me on the safety of our children but does not speak up when I am made a joke of or ignored by his parents and if left alone with his mother or father will ignore my rules all together. Any advice please.

noobieteacher Sun 15-Sep-13 11:50:34

It seems that you are both compromising a little and that's got to be a good thing. This is what being parents is all about.

He may need to read up about narcissistic mothers as well though. He sounds quite trapped.

desertrosefirefly Sat 14-Sep-13 22:55:22

All of you have cheered me up no end with your chat. I haven't got back on here until now as youngest son has had either a bacterial or viral infection and been quite poorly with it. Husband and I talked when we got back. I told him that there was no point being supportive once we got home, because it would only prove to me that I cannot trust him to be supportive when away and he needed to be supportive whilst there. He did step up slightly when his father decided to throw our son underwater on last day, to teach him a lesson for splashing him when told not to and terrifying our son so much that he cried for 20 minutes. I must point out that I am assertive but that would not be any help with MI since she is well known for having things her way and not listening to others.
Lucky in a way, we had a terrible flight back with the children, which I think was enough to put DH off taking kids back in a hurry. He is going out in February by himself. I have told him I am not going out again unless we stay in a hotel, I have gone out too many times, making myself miserable because every time it is not a holiday for me and I don't enjoy myself. I was trying to put the kids first but now safety is an issue I feel that I would no longer be doing it for the children. He is still saying that we cannot stay in a hotel, but this is my compromise and I am never knowingly putting myself in such a bad position again or the children. I do not want children to lose contact with their grandparents and I can handle situations when they occur here because if they don't listen to me they know I would deal with it. The advantage is only taken when I am stuck. Both IL's travel to the UK regularly, so they will not miss out on seeing their grandchildren but it will be in more controlled circumstances. I am not sure what to do about the great grandmother because I actually do really like her and I think it keeps her going looking forward to seeing everyone, but the ball is in my DH's court with that one, so I am not going to sweat it. DH said he will write an e-mail to his parents before we go next time, outlining what the rules are and what needs to be kept to (his words) I suppose this is the only way he can communicate his wishes to his mother (he wouldn't have talked to her while we were there, I am sure it was her friend, who knows that she can be very controlling) but I am not comfortable with this for many reasons, including their is no guarantee after what has been demonstrated that this would be kept to. I also don't know if DH if challenged by his mother, may suddenly say the list was my idea and he did not agree.

noobieteacher Fri 06-Sep-13 14:07:41

Oh dear Friday.

So your solution is to make sure OPs children never see their GPs again. No negotiation, no second chances? I think it is highly irresponsible to suggest something so drastic, that could result in a family breakup. The real world we live in is not inhabited by perfect people with perfect behaviour.

friday16 Fri 06-Sep-13 13:38:11

"If anyone uses the word 'slap' in front of you or your dcs again be quite clear and assertive that it is not acceptable."

The problem is that this is all middle-class wibble, assuming that it's a gentle disagreement over the brand of cous-cous to buy. You tell them that something is not acceptable. What next? In the world of school teachers in the staff room, "not acceptable" is the nuclear weapon, and everyone scurries around making sure that they don't do it again. But outside such genteel surroundings, what should the OP do if the response is "it's fucking acceptable to me, luv, you just need a slap". What's next?

And telling someone to be assertive is close to victim-blaming: what if they find being assertive hard (as appears to be the case in this)? Is it their fault that they get ridden over roughshod?

The OP is not the bad person here, and it is not her responsibility to help the bad people see the error of their ways. If they can't sort themselves out, she should stay away from them.

noobieteacher Fri 06-Sep-13 11:47:39

OP re your posts on Wednesday, you are doing absolutely the right thing by telling them what your terms and conditions are. Hotel or no visit, and no visits without you until you are satisfied with your dcs safety. Don't let them turn it into anything personal, their behaviour is crap and they will only change if you assert yourself but don't escalate it. If anyone uses the word 'slap' in front of you or your dcs again be quite clear and assertive that it is not acceptable. I'm almost certain they will do what you want but it looks as though you are going to treat them like errant children. When gm comes over it will be a good opportunity to take charge, show her how you do things.

Tryharder Fri 06-Sep-13 11:12:44

Look, don't LTB just because people on MN said so!

There is nowhere that indicates that the OP's DH is behaving badly to the extent that the OP should divorce him. I sometimes think that the people advocating divorce on MN have never actually been divorced and have no idea how shit it is.

OP, you only have a few days. Try and relax; I suspect you are getting overly wrought about this. Just keep an eye on your DCs. Are there no older cousins or siblings who could assist.

I have family in West Africa and it must be similar. Children there are just much more street smart than kids here and I remember having to run around after my DCs at a young age. But it's normal there for teenage girls to be given child are duties and my niece used to help me.

In your situation, there must be a cousin or a niece who could help you. Wrt the dogs, teach your children healthy respect but not to be scared. Dogs there are for guarding the compound and will not attack the compound members, only strangers.

noobieteacher Fri 06-Sep-13 10:49:10

I don't think any child should be denied access to thei gps because of a few thoughtless words, said in anger and confusion. They are a different culture and a different generation. Nobody was hurt and they are all learning from it.

The phrase give you a slap is sadly normalised in some families over the generations but is not intended a threat of violence and translates as 'I'm going to give her a good telling off'. She didn't exactly threaten to kneecap her.

Show me one person that hasn't had a bit of conflict with their inlaws after staying in their house for a couple of weeks.

friday16 Thu 05-Sep-13 17:35:10

noobieteacher

Here's the key quote from the OP:

"I was told that I deserved a slap last night by my mother-in-law (twice in fact) and that children need to have accidents to learn. When I said that they are my children so my rules go, she told me that they are her children and my father-in-laws too and they do not agree with me so they will bring them up their own way."

Tell us why people who threaten to assault a child's mother, and claim that they are the child's parents and therefore can override the mother's parenting, are a positive influence on a child's life?

friday16 Thu 05-Sep-13 17:32:12

"OP's grandparents care about their GCs because they took them in under their roof and did what they could (in this case rather badly) to look after them"

And said, repeatedly, that their mother "needed a slap". Seriously: if a husband said that their wife "needed a slap" MN would would be LTB in the first response. Why should the OP spend time with, and expose her children to, "grandparents" who threaten her with violence? She's the wife of their son and the mother of their grandchildren, but they threaten her with violence when she tries to deal with safety issues. In what world is that acceptable?

"GCs need to know there are other peole around who will always be there for them"

People who threaten to assault their mother when she says things they don't like. Perhaps you think children should have to be exposed to violent people who want to assault their mother, but I overall think it's a bad idea. Or is threatened abuse OK so long as you're a bit older and a bit exotic? Culture, don't you know?

"but having a different understanding of safety isn't a reason to cut a bond between relatives, surely"

But threats of violence are. Your claim is that a mother should accept being threatened with violence in order to maintain a relationship with people who are unwilling to do anything to protect her children. I think you're wrong.

"What will the GCs say years later"

They'll say "at least we don't have to see the people who want to hit mummy". I think that's a good thing. You're obviously more relaxed about assault.

noobieteacher Thu 05-Sep-13 15:29:01

"Why spend time with people you don't like, and who don't like you (as in the OP's case)? Isn't everyone better off spending more time with people that care about them?"

OP's grandparents care about their GCs because they took them in under their roof and did what they could (in this case rather badly) to look after them. GCs need to know there are other peole around who will always be there for them - it his a healthy family dynamic. Life is a learning process and the dynamic always changes when children appear and when family members die.

I find the 'friends are the new family' attitude quite naiive and short-sighted. Of course there are always exceptions, as Jeremy Kyle would illustrate, but having a different understanding of safety isn't a reason to cut a bond between relatives, surely? What will the GCs say years later when they need someone around that knows their family, culture and history and there is nobody there?

YANBU,

I have twins and one 2 years older.
When they were crawling and we went to PILs I had to buy my own playpen for them at PILs or they would have got all over the place. No matter what the intentions (and your PILs seem especially barmy) when there are lots of relatives around 'watching' children its sometimes even easier for them to get out/up/in things because nobody knows who's actually responsible: especially if mum is around. I was never able to let down my 'mummy vigilance eyes in back of head' when mine were little unless I was actually off the premises, as even when GPs were 'watching' them as soon as I walked in the room you could see them letting go of that responsibility, IYKWIM

friday16 Thu 05-Sep-13 14:45:11

"It's your duty as a parent to enable your children to have contact with their extended family"

No, it really isn't. You might regard it as desirable, or indeed beneficial. But it certainly isn't a duty. Why spend time with people you don't like, and who don't like you (as in the OP's case)? Isn't everyone better off spending more time with people that care about them?

noobieteacher Thu 05-Sep-13 14:33:33

"I don't think it's acceptable to deny your children access to their grandparents on the grounds of their dogs / their attitude."
I disagree. If grandparents insist on providing an unsafe environment, it's not just acceptable but your duty as a parent.

It's your duty as a parent to enable your children to have contact with their extended family and it's also your duty to protect them from risk. OP can do both.

" it might be that they're warming to her now because he may have had a word with them."
You really think he'd have a word with them?
<speechless>
<snorts>

Why not? He is her husband. Have you got a cold?

ljny Wed 04-Sep-13 22:24:47

The MIL has a son who nearly died falling off a balcony.

I have a close family member, from the Caribbean, whose brother died there, from an accident, when they were toddlers. It was preventable - lax oversight and absence of safety measures allowed it to happen.

Much of what the Op says about her in-laws' culture sounds familiar. The matriarchy, the attitudes to risk. Obviously, most children survive - but not all.

If you don't even let your baby sleep on its tummy surrounded by stuffed toys, if you don't allow your toddler to ride without a carseat, or send your reception-child to walk to school alone - whyever do you think the Op should accept worse risks for her children?

Again, most children survive. But not all.

Phineyj Wed 04-Sep-13 21:46:08

I think if you want to have a good relationship with your GC, you are nice to their mother and respect her parenting, whether or not you agree with it.

The MIL has a son who nearly died falling off a balcony. There are cases in the paper every week of DC being harmed by dogs. Holiday environments are more dangerous than home because they're not familiar and not set up for you. I wouldn't say the OP was overreacting.

"I don't think it's acceptable to deny your children access to their grandparents on the grounds of their dogs / their attitude."
I disagree. If grandparents insist on providing an unsafe environment, it's not just acceptable but your duty as a parent.

" it might be that they're warming to her now because he may have had a word with them."
You really think he'd have a word with them?
<speechless>
<snorts>

mummytime Wed 04-Sep-13 19:36:31

noobieteacher - No actually it isn't that hard for them!

If it was me, I would put netting or otherwise block off the balcony. I would make sure the dogs were shut out. I would show respect to the child's mother (even if I thought she was over protective).

noobieteacher Wed 04-Sep-13 17:16:54

I'm sure his attitude will change when he is back in the UK.

It is tricky when you're under your parents roof. It's a testing situation and he's obviously a bit scared of them. They are all getting to know each other and it might be that they're warming to her now because he may have had a word with them.

It shows strength of character that they have made an effort to change- in some homes it's extremely rude to disagree with the host and they may have just been outraged (wrongly imo) that OP had a different viewpoint to them.

GPs are important, even if they have dogs and an open balcony door. The trouble is it's very hard for them to change.

FadedSapphire Wed 04-Sep-13 17:07:46

Op has to sort out her dh's attitude though noobieteacher.
Situation intolerable without support and respect from dh.

noobieteacher Wed 04-Sep-13 17:06:03

I don't think it's acceptable to deny your children access to their grandparents on the grounds of their dogs / their attitude. There are ways round this (i.e. don't stay in their house).

FadedSapphire Wed 04-Sep-13 17:03:15

Oh I feel for you so much op.
I am trapped into cycle of having to visit inlaws abroad yearly in a lovely place but not fun for me as they are SO different and awkward. Costs us bloody fortune too. However, they are not nasty and totally different ball game to what you are suffering. You need more support from dh or I am not sure how even your marriage can continue. [I say this as someone whose marriage is always nearest to divorce when at in laws].
You just need to survive this last night.
When home has your dh's family got anyone reasonable who can support you/ make your case to in laws? My bil a help to me [more so than dh].
You be gentle with yourself.
xxx

shock

Your ILs are horrendous, but if you never go back then they're pretty much dealt with. "now I have MIL coming to stay with us next month after all this." - I'd give her one fucking horrible stay. Your house, your rules [hard face].

No, your main problem is your spineless abusive fuckwitted mamma's boy of a husband.

I don't see any way back for him with all he has said and done. Are you in a financial position to kick his sorry arse out? (That would also take care of MIL's trip - without him there it'd be easy to just bar her from your home.) I rarely say LTB, but he honestly sounds beyond redemption. He's not just letting his parents disrespect and abuse you (which would be bad enough), he's doing it too. He's putting you in fear by threatening to take the children back there regardless of your concerns.

When you're getting advice about the children not being allowed out of the country without you, I'd also get advice about divorce sad.

quoteunquote Wed 04-Sep-13 09:42:46

Your husband is not reassuring you and trying to force you into decisions when you are out of your comfort zone, that is not acceptable.

Don't go back, until the children are old enough to understand the dangers, trust your instincts, keep them totally away from the dogs, insist the dogs are no where near the children at any time,

Explain there is no compromise on the dogs ever, suggest they buy muzzles for the dogs. but still keep them totally separate from the children.

these people do not have your children's safety as a high priority,

you offered a compromise with a hotel, and it was dismissed,

I would make sure that your children cannot be taken out of this country without your permission, and never give it.

Lazyjaney Wed 04-Sep-13 08:15:17

Sorry OP, I think your fears have multplied out of all proportion to the dangers.

I grew up in a country with more space and sun than the UK, and DHs parents sound much like people I knew. Kids grow up in these countries too, often fitter and healthier than in the UK. If your DH grew up there then he probably has a better appreciation of the risks than you, and also thinks you are being pretty unreasonable.

friday16 Wed 04-Sep-13 07:33:39

You're married to this man because...?

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