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?!!

Your child is 12 weeks old, right? Your MIL is talking about 'straightening' his legs (by whatever method she thinks is right), right?

Could it be that a 12 week old baby has what appears to be bow-legs but it is just the legs that were curled up under him in the womb learning, at their own rate of time, to straighten up all by themselves??? All babies legs take a while to straighten up by themselves which is why babies learn to crawl at different times (they have their knees under them at different times) and they learn to walk at different times (the muscles and bones in the legs are able to support their weight). Every child is different and every child straightens up at a different time in their development.

As for taking your child to a massage class, can you show your DH what type of massage you would be doing in that class and how it would differ from the type of massage that his mother would be doing? Are there any videos on Youtube you could show him so that he could understand more about what you are planning on doing and inform him rather than just saying the word 'massage' as it would have different meanings in different countries (grasping at straws here but there may be something lost in translation here)

Good luck with it all.

mrsbun81 Wed 23-Oct-13 10:42:58

diddl it'll be me doing the massage in a class.
eldrich you are totally right that the main problem is how confrontational and rude she has been to me and I think what hurts most is that DH didn't stick up for me and tell her that she has no right to speak to me like that. The massage thing is never going to happen and I will never trust her enough to leave DS with her because of what she's said and also what he's told me about his upbringing, I can deal with that. It's DH's lack of support and that he now seems to be actually siding with her that I can't handle!

diddl Wed 23-Oct-13 10:50:29

Perhaps what is needed now though is for you/him to speak to her at the time.

If you say something, will he back you up or at least not contradict you?

How does he feel about visits by her to you being VERY limited for the time being-and he can go see her when he wants.

Without your baby as he can't be trusted to keep him safe from her!

mrsbun81 Wed 23-Oct-13 10:57:28

I've told him that she will never be left alone with him and also that I'm not happy to see her until she's apologised to me but he's acting like I'm being really silly and ott and he's starting to get angry with me about it rather than being understanding.

mrsbun81 Wed 23-Oct-13 11:08:34

Yes witchy - she seems to believe that he needs to be corrected and doesn't understand that all babies are bowlegged, despite me telling her that a few times, actually that seemed to be the reason she lost the plot and started shouting at me - because I was telling her that she was wrong. She's a very overpowering and domineering bully.

friday16 Wed 23-Oct-13 11:12:10

So your husband is more concerned about his mother's views on your child than on yours? Hmm. You need to deal with that right now, because otherwise it will only get worse. And the problem is your husband, not your mother-in-law.

2rebecca Wed 23-Oct-13 11:39:08

Her traditions don't over ride your parenting practices.
I must admit if my MIL had wacky beliefs about massaging babies to straighten their legs I'd be giving all baby massages a wide birth not booking into a different type of massage so I think you didn't help yourself there.
Did you not discuss these sort of issues before marrying and having a baby with someone with different traditions?
A friend of mine married an African woman and she had all sorts of odd traditions re the baby and her not leaving the house for weeks after the birth etc. All this was discussed in advance though so when the baby came everyone knew what would be happening, plus a mothers birthing traditions usually take priority over a father's as most birth traditions involve her more.
The straightening legs sounds potentioally dangerous as babies have softer bones than adults.
I would be limiting how much I see her and continuing to make it clear that no-one shouts at you. Your husband also needs to accept he has married someone who doesn't have African traditions and if the marriage is to last he needs to prioritise you.

EldritchCleavage Wed 23-Oct-13 11:41:07

Please don't assume this has anything to do with MIL's traditions. It is much more likely to do with MIL being an overbearing character. Plenty of Englishmen have mothers like this, and cave in like this: it's all over Mumsnet.

mrsbun81 Wed 23-Oct-13 11:48:36

I give DS massages and so does h but we are talking about a completely different scenario. Baby massages are really beneficial for mother/father and baby but when you start talking about using it to correct bowlegs it becomes a totally different thing. I want to go to a baby massage class not just for the massage but also to socialise and h and I have talked about me doing that before all this happened.
I think it's less to do with tradition/culture and more to do with MIL being ignorant and also feeling like she can take control of how we bring up our child.

friday16 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:01:05

Please don't assume this has anything to do with MIL's traditions.

Absiolutely. But even if it is to do with her traditions, that doesn't mean that it's OK. A good test is "would I accept this behaviour from anyone else?" If the answer is "no", then it's not "being respectful of other traditions and cultures" it's "the racism of low expectations". This is why our society has tied itself in knots while failing to deliver effective child protection over issues like forced marriage and genital mutilation: by starting from the position that certain behaviours are acceptable if they are "traditional", we end up giving children (particularly girls) born into those traditions a lower standard of protection than we would give them if they were white.

EldritchCleavage Wed 23-Oct-13 12:26:23

I agree with that.

No idea why our earlier posts were deleted, by the way.

friday16 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:38:24

No idea why our earlier posts were deleted, by the way.

Indeed, more bizarrely, our little spat wasn't deleted, but your original and completely uncontentious posting was. Most odd.

Reprint Wed 23-Oct-13 12:51:48

I think the problem you face OP is not really to do with MIL's attitude to massage but with your DH conditioning.
He has grown up with a "domineering and bullying" mother and has learned at her knee that he crosses her at his peril. That is why you have noticed that he doesn't stand up to her.
And this is the problem you need to address.

I think you are going to have to fight fire with fire, or you will always be secondary to his mothers wishes.
Its a sad consequence of domineering parenting.

TheBigJessie Wed 23-Oct-13 13:09:33

friday Absiolutely. But even if itisto do with her traditions, that doesn't mean that it's OK. A good test is "would I accept this behaviour from anyone else?" If the answer is "no", then it's not "being respectful of other traditions and cultures" it's "the racism of low expectations". This is why our society has tied itself in knots while failing to deliver effective child protection over issues like forced marriage and genital mutilation: by starting from the position that certain behaviours are acceptable if they are "traditional", we end up giving children (particularly girls) born into those traditions a lower standard of protection than we would give them if they were white.

This is one of the best posts on MN. The racism dressed up as being "understanding of different cultures" is something that really bothers me, and your post is the clearest explanation of why it is racism that I've seen yet.

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