My MIL is driving me crazy...help!!

(64 Posts)
mrsbun81 Mon 21-Oct-13 13:17:42

My DS is 12 weeks old, I'm English and my DH is of African origin. Since the day he was born my MIL has been antagonising me with comments about my DS, ranging from saying I'm not feeding him properly, not winding him, he has bowlegs which she 'will fix' to telling me that he will cry when he goes to nursery because I don't let anyone hold him (entirely not true!), we must pull his fingers out of his mouth when he tries to suck them, we mustn't let him do this and that.
Yesterday she came for Sunday lunch and started shouting at my DH because apparently we have given him the wrong name - we should have consulted her first and let her choose his name as this is the tradition in her culture! Then she took my DS and put him face down over her knee and started to pull his legs and say she would fix them. After I'd taken my DS away from her she asked me who in my family has bowlegs, I told her that he is absolutely fine and normal, she then proceeded to scream and shout at me saying that she would like to give him massages with hot water to straighten his legs but she hasn't because she knows that my DH and I are 'the wrong character'. I finally snapped and told her that he is my son and that she has no right to fiddle with his legs, nor to shout at me in my own home. My DH and his sister never speak back to her, they just let her scream and shout and say nothing so I don't think she was expecting me to tell her off so she stormed out of the house.
Frankly, I never want her to set foot n my house again and I'm really concerned about what she's going to try to do to my son next, but she is his Grandmother, and my DH's mum so I can't just cut her off.
What should I do?!!

Goldmandra Tue 22-Oct-13 10:42:27

Just remember that while you are together you will have control of whether your MIL sees your DS unsupervised.

If you leave your DH, what he does during his access time will be none of your business so your MIL may have far greater access to your DS.

EldritchCleavage Tue 22-Oct-13 10:55:08

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

friday16 Tue 22-Oct-13 11:32:34

Oh, and lots of people may come on to post about how in African culture people probably try to defer to older people more,

Laming Report into the death of Victoria Climbie, paragraph 6.300: "(Social worker) believed there can often be a sense of formality in the relationship between parent and child in Afro-Caribbean families “because respect and obedience are very important features on the Afro-Caribbean family script”."

That worked out well for everyone involved, didn't it?

EldritchCleavage Tue 22-Oct-13 11:35:35

Fucking distasteful post. What point are you making, exactly?

friday16 Tue 22-Oct-13 11:36:59

That assuming behaviour, that would otherwise be worrying, is part of a cultural script is not a safe assumption. I fail to see why that's "fucking distasteful". There's similar language in the SCR for Kyra Ishak, too.

TheFabulousIdiot Tue 22-Oct-13 11:37:32

I would absolutely keep her away from him. Can you get your Health Visitor involved? Maybe get your health visitor to come round when your MIL is over next.

EldritchCleavage Tue 22-Oct-13 11:40:19

Well why quote my post as a preface to it, that was making no such claim?
My entire point tot eh OP was that she should ignore any suggestion this behaviour was culturally mandated and therefore to be tolerated.

And this isn't an 'Afro-Caribbean' family.

LouiseAderyn Tue 22-Oct-13 11:47:01

Your mil needs to be told that her culture does not override yours. So although it might be the norm in her culture for the mil to choose part of the baby's name, it is not the norm in yours, so she had better get used to the fact that not everything is going to go her way.

And yes, you can stop contact with someone who would cause harm to your child. To do otherwise would be a disservice to your baby. She wouldn't be going anywhere near mine if she was my mil.

Well done for shouting back at her - she sounds like a bully and this has already had an impact on your dh and sil. The sooner she learns it won't work with you, the better!

friday16 Tue 22-Oct-13 11:48:57

My entire point tot eh OP was that she should ignore any suggestion this behaviour was culturally mandated

Indeed. Which I was, I thought, re-inforcing. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

EldritchCleavage Tue 22-Oct-13 17:09:03

Ditto, friday.

mrsbun81 Wed 23-Oct-13 08:40:01

I'm so angry!!
So not only has dh spoken to his mum and just acted like normal and not said anything, when I told him that I'm going to go to some baby massage classes he told me I am a hypocrite!!!!!!! Like he doesn't see what the big deal is. He claims she didn't mean that she'd massage him to straighten his legs but that is exactly what she meant, that was what the whole argument was about. And apparently she meant warm water, even though she said hot. He's sticking up for her and making excuses for her and really doesn't seem to understand why I feel it's so important to speak to her. I don't feel he respects my opinion at all!

diddl Wed 23-Oct-13 08:48:53

Are you surprised?

LouiseAderyn Wed 23-Oct-13 08:49:47

Then you are going to have to take control of this and not allow her any unsupervised ( by you, not h) contact.
Continue to stand up for yourself and remind her, when she next tells you what you should be doing with your baby, that she's had her time to parent and now needs to stfu step back because now is your time.

Keep working on your h - it will take time to undo her influence. But it can be done. Be wary of leaving him because you won't be able to control what happens in your absence.

Sorry it didn't go well

LittleBairn Wed 23-Oct-13 08:57:44

I agree with Lousie of that's your DH attitude then I wouldn't trust him alone with his mother and DS. Make sure that your DS is only in her company when your around.
If your DH is going to be so weak take your MIL to task yourself be firm if she continues with her suggestions and attitude towards you (screaming and shouting are an absolute no no) then she will be banned from your house and very limited in her contact with your DS.

ballstoit Wed 23-Oct-13 08:57:54

You're right to be angry.

Wish I had some more constructive advice, but hold on to that anger and use it to keep your son safe. The early months are often difficult, as parents try to negotiate how their own family life will be. I remember with ex-h feeling it was a his v. my family battle. We are both white British, so don't assume all difficulties are caused by the differing ethnic backgrounds.

Are there elements of DH's culture which you can show you are using with your son? To show him that it's the specifics of mils behaviour which you disagree with, rather than him feeling you are attacking him and his culture?

mrsbun81 Wed 23-Oct-13 09:08:04

I've been very vocal about wanting DS to know all about his Dad's side, in fact, it was me who initiated the African middle name, and made sure it came before the other middle name, I was trying to be as respectful as possible as I feel it's it's really important he knows his heritage. I really feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. Even my own parents are telling me to let it go now and saying that I'm putting DH in a really difficult situation by making him take sides but I feel so strongly about this and think he should be being more supportive of me. If he doesn't take a stand then I feel it will undermine me when I'm trying to stand up for myself.

diddl Wed 23-Oct-13 09:30:04

He shouldn't have to take sides-it should be obvious that you & the baby come first.

Why are your parents saying to leave it?

Although I can see his point a bit if you blew up about massage, but want to take the baby yourself.

EldritchCleavage Wed 23-Oct-13 09:33:37

Oh dear, sorry to hear that.

All you can do is calmly stand your ground. And ignore your parents: DH has to take sides because his mother is kicking off and making weird demands, not because you are being in any way unreasonable. Often the way: everyone expects the younger woman to just cave and toe the line to keep everyone else happy. But why should you? And how are are your DS's best interests served by that?

mrsbun81 Wed 23-Oct-13 09:40:06

diddl it's not that I have a problem with the massage, its that she said she'd use massage to straighten his legs which is entirely different and dangerous which is what I have the problem with.
I think my parents feel it would be better to just brush it under the carpet to keep the peace....maybe they are right but I'm seething and I just can't help feeling really disappointed and let down by DH.

diddl Wed 23-Oct-13 09:44:25

Yes I know that, but for some reason, all your husbands is hearing is that you both want the baby to have a massage-so I can see why he's annoyed by that.

Would you be doing it yourself or a professional doing it?

And it must be hard to him to think that his mum would hurt her GC-even if she did beat him!

I'd forget the massage for the moment tbh.

But calling you a hypocrite-nasty imo.

CookieLady Wed 23-Oct-13 09:50:31

I'd like to point out that your husband has has years and years of being conditioned into believing that he has to respect his mother. Thus, it will be difficult for him to stand up to her.

You need to be firm and reiterate that mil will not be allowed to massage your baby nor babysit. You may even need to spell it out to your dh that if he is willing to compromise your baby's safety and wellbeing then he has left you with no option but to reassess your marriage.

LouiseAderyn Wed 23-Oct-13 10:02:46

I am not at all a believer in sweeping things under the carpet and being quiet so it all blows over. I think she will walk all over you, if you let her and you cannot rely on your h at this point to defend you and reel her back in, if she oversteps the mark.

I think it is more important than ever to stand your ground.

If it helps to know, I had issues with my ils when I had my first baby. They very much wanted to take over - would follow me upstairs when I was bf, would turn up without asking and sit in my house all day, monopolising my newborn etc. In the end I had to tell them to back off and give me some space. Luckily I had a dp who supported me and understood. But if he had not, I would still have stood my ground because if I didn't they would have sucked a lot of the joy out of those early months.

It is a lot better now. Boundaries have been set and respected.

Also dh and I argued a fair bit in the early days of parenthood. It took s while for him to make the transition between being his parents child ( and therefore doing what they wanted) and being a grown man whose primary responsibility was to be a good husband to me. We were quite young parents and it took him a while to grow up!

It does get better though, if you stand up for yourself and don't allow the ils to turn you into a child.

Episode Wed 23-Oct-13 10:07:34

Are there any African posters or even Asian posters who could give an alternative voice.

I understand why a massage to straighten his legs sounds dangerous, but in reality it’s one of those things that's tantamount to an old wives tail.

African is not one homogenous culture but of the 6 or so African cultures that I know quite well, they massage for anything and everything! To flatten the head, to curve the head, to straighten legs, to lengthen bits and bobs!

It doesn’t work.

BUT it is harmless!

Perhaps a middle ground would be to ask her to show you what she means. Then of course you could stop her if anything got uncomfortable for you.

I think you'll find that whatever technique she is using will be similar to what you have been taught in the baby massage class. In fact, these cultures are where a lot of the massage therapies originate from.

Hot water to me sounds like she means after a bath as that’s when I have seen most baby massages take place.

If you want to be crafty, ask her to do it before sleep time and the worst that will happen is you'll get the best nights sleep in your childs life!

Reading your OP and reading the posts following, this does sound like something that been hugely read differently because of culture. I'm not saying do not stand strong as mum but I do think that it would be a mistake to alienate a unit which could be of huge support to you over the years.

My OH's grandma is Indian and we had all sorts of hocus pocus rituals done to the children. No harm was done and there was a lot of it I found stupid quite frankly but I picked my battles wisely and still do!

EldritchCleavage Wed 23-Oct-13 10:10:38

Episode I do, and have PM'ed the OP.

Bit hard to ask the MIL what she means when she has been so confrontational. I think the message that she cannot treat the OP like that has to be sent before OP starts being conciliatory and asks her what she intends. Otherwise, it will be taken as OP deferring to MIL about her DS in a way the OP is not happy with.

thursdaysgirls Wed 23-Oct-13 10:14:05

Yes, yes you can cut her off.

Do not ever leave her alone with your child.

Sounds like she has some severe mental health problems.

As for DH not standing up to her, he needs to defend his child.

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