to think SIL was really out of order?(74 Posts)
My older brother is the only surviving member of my family, and until he met SIL, we were close. I do want to be fair here so I will say that due to not having any other family members he could 'vent' to I probably heard the downsides to their relationship as there was no one else he could really talk to.
Quite soon into the relationship she discovered she was pregnant (he was 34 and she was 29, so they were hardly teenagers ) and got married. Their first child was born in spring 2007 and she stopped working to be a SAHM. They had a really difficult period in their relationship after this. My brother was made redundant from his job and managed to get another one in a different area of the country. I accept it must have been difficult for SIL during this time. They then had another child in winter 2009, and another in summer 2012.
The issue is around SIL working, or rather not working. She hated her job before having their first child, but she isn't happy being a SAHM either. What she does do is get interested in doing something or being something and then it gets forgotten about - she has started a number of small business ventures such as making jewellery which are then subsequently forgotten about, and looked into training as a doula for a while, then she got pregnant with DC2, and so on.
Her latest business venture is making cakes, and she has told my brother she wants to 'do it properly' and this includes sending the DCs to a childminder two days a week. He said they couldn't afford it - an almighty row ensued and now my brother is here in my spare room and bearing in mind they live a 2 hour drive away, it seems pretty serious.
Is he being U or is she? I think she is ,but I am obviously a bit biased as he is my brother.
What? He's left....support him without getting involved in his relationship.
I don't think he's left as such, if you see what I mean, I think he's just left on a temporary basis as they were arguing and shouting, he needed to get out and has come here (great.)
I don't think I'm getting involved but am obviously going to say "what the hell happened?"
It doesnt matter who is being unreasonable, this is for them to sort out between them.
The must be more to it. You are already involved.
Maybe the SIL is posting on here - can you imagine the advice she'd be getting now?
I'm not sure Penelope - "we can't afford it" seems fairly clear-cut to me and yelling and shouting about it seems a bit, well, spoiled, to me. I'm not married though so I don't know.
These things are rarely clear-cut.
I would stay well out of it.
If they can't afford a childminder then they can't afford one but maybe your brother could take the DC out for a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday so that your SIL can work. Maybe he could step up regarding housework, etc. so that she has a couple of evenings free to work. Once she starts to make some money then they could reconsider using a childminder. Their DC1 is at school fulltime and their DC2 will be in September so they'd only need childcare for DC3 until the business is very established.
Oh, and tell your brother he can stay for one night only until things calm down.
Other peoples relationships are a minefield - you only ever hear one side of the story and that will be biased depending on who is doing the telling.
You know the old saying; there's three sides to every story, his side, her side and the truth!
All - I know that he does. He takes them out on Sunday mornings and does all the cooking as she doesn't like it and he loves it (weird man) as well as doing all the gardening. She does the other chores though.
I can't just chuck him out really, he doesn't have anywhere else to go.
I completely accept the 'three sides' thing - trying to be impartial as I know SIL!
In your position, I wouldn't get involved in their row as such, but maybe you could make some suggestions to him about how to work it out. For example, I can't imagine a cake making business requiring two days a week of child-free work until it is fairly well established, so perhaps instead of a flat out 'no' he could suggest that she finds a couple of places to sell her cakes whilst he facilitates her being able to do the work by taking over some of her household duties, and then when the business is at least earning some money they can revisit the childcare issue. I think you can suggest things like this without getting into who's right and who's wrong.
Just be very careful with any suggestions you give him. All it needs is for him to say "dandelion said XYZ" and that may be red rag to a bull and it will,backfire if and when they make it up.
Support him and try to say nothing. I don't envy you, he has put you in an impossible situation - you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don't.
If she doesn't like cooking, why on earth is she setting herself up as a baker?
Hope she's not planning on going into the cup cake business, btw, as that has reached its peak, apparently.
I'm not sure Imperial! She is a bit like that though; she gets interested in something and then is gets discarded. They spent quite a lot of money on a previous business venture and I think that's the source of the argument, that he doesn't want to invest more money they don't really have.
Yes, it is cup cakes! I don't get this obsession with cup cakes at all.
I don't, either. They're really sickly and overpriced.
If she wanted to do this, she could start off at a farmers' market kind of place and try to sell a few trays to see whether they're popular.
It does sound as though she's not going to make a success of working for herself. Does she think it would be easier than working for an employer?
Well before she can set her self up as a baker, she has to show that she enjoys baking.. This can be done with the children around. She can start small, doing trials, to see how it goes and get the children involved. This way, she gets to do baking without the need of a childminder.
Then the financial side isn't just a childminder. It's basic food and hygiene cert. It's insurance.
No point wasting money if well, the doesn't like to cook, is crap at baking.
Well the only one that needs childcare is dc3 as the dc1 is at school and dc2 gets 15 free hours.
Child benefit might help towards those 2 days per week for dc3?
* he doesn't have anywhere else to go*
Yes he does. Home. Where the grown-ups parent their children.
I think, in fairness to her, she had a rotten time at work when she was pregnant with DC1 (she was a teacher) and so is reluctant to venture back into what I think of as "work work"
She's a funny sod to be honest: well, perhaps that isn't fair. She's nice enough but she's a real "mum" - she posts endlessly on Facebook about such a place being "good for the kids" and takes a leading role in their local NCT branch and involves herself in every playgroup going, yet for all that, I don't think she actually enjoys it very much - she complains a lot about afternoons in particular being tedious with them (the children.) But I don't think she can bring herself to out and out admit that she struggles and my DB does that annoying man thing where he witters solutions at her when what she probably wants is a hug.
Is it possible that he can say to her that if she wants to do it she has to show that she is committed to it? The only way of knowing if it will be an earner will be if she can show that there are people interested in buying her cakes. She could do some practice bakes and try to get a small client base with 3 children around.
There isn't much else you can really do because you can't run their relationship for them.
LineRunner; she's thrown him out. Sorry if that wasn't clear - he hasn't just walked out because he couldn't be bothered with her
He's annoying but harmless enough and he certainly wouldn't have walked out on his children, he idolises them to the point of worship.
Christ this is not about fucking cup cakes.
She has a 5 year old a 3 year old and a baby and she wants to start a cupcake business.
Cooking in the evening and taking the kids out for a bit on Sunday is not a huge help to be honest, there are quite a few other jobs (huge understatement) involved in running a home and looking after 3 very young children.
I doubt very much that they can afford for her to go out to work. Wanting to be a doula and then having another child instead, presumably involved both of them and isn't a personal failure. The jewellery thing am just not have brought in enough money so went bust, that happens sometimes when you try something.
I feel very sorry for his wife. Your brother shouldn't be wingeing about her to you. I think the best thing you can do is try to point out how inappropriate that is to him, and then try to forget anything he has told you.
[all] she probably wants is a hug
So he needs to go back and do that. As long as you are putting him up, he won't and can't.
Forget about the cupcakes. Give him a bed for as long as he need one. And encourage him to talk to her and listen to her. What else can you do?
LineRunner, this isn't my fault and I'm not going to have it implied that it is - I think that is out of order.
zzzz yeah, point taken. However, he doesn't generally get in until gone 6 in the evening and works full time - not sure what else he could do, to be honest? He obviously can't look after the children when he's at work and he leaves the house at 7. He also works Saturday mornings which is difficult for both of them, but they need the money, so what can you do?
Perhaps you could point out to him that she doesn't necessarily want solutions, but just wants a hug?
The thing is, they do need to sort it out between themselves, and you should be encouraging him to do that, rather than worrying about who is right and who is wrong in this particular argument.
She may be going mad at home with 3 dcs. The childminder might be to give her a break/let her do something creative.
Difficult replying to that without sounding really defensive, but obviously I have suggested that! He doesn't 'get it' though and she is a difficult lady to read - I find her difficult. The other thing is that has a tendency to bring up things about him that displease her in a long list and the most upsetting for him is the redundancy - "you were made redundant, you made me move, so this is all YOUR fault and now you won't even pay for a childminder."
Like I say I can quite see how it's not easy for her, I really can. But I think being made redundant did massively impact on DB and he gets very upset when he's reminded of it. (before anyone says anything, he didn't want to move but as we all know jobs are scarce.)
Iggi - like I have said, I can see that and so can he, but they just can't afford it. When they moved it was to an expensive area because that's just where the job was (he works for a university) and the mortgage is a killer.
Your SIL sounds like me (though I only have 2 DC!). I was a teacher, had 2 children, gave up work and don't/didn't want to go back to teaching and have started my own cake business from home.
It's expensive - training courses, kit, childminder fees. There's a LOT of competition about so you have to be really genuinely talented to get the work. It doesn't bring in a lot of money as a lot of people aren't prepared to pay what the work is worth. I've been doing it for a year almost and am just breaking into the wedding cake market. It's hard work! In fact, I need to get out of the house so I am applying for non-teaching roles in schools and have an interview next week. I think she is being unreasonable quite honestly but it's likely to be a product of the fact she has lost herself a bit and is no doubt feeling frustrated, lacking confidence and direction. Your brother needs to go home and TALK to her, really get to the bottom of it all and come to some agreement. Could she get a small part time job (say, 2 days a week) to earn some money to cover herself while she sets up even? I would put money on her not sticking with it!
Thanks I agree they need to talk but it's one of those frustrating situations. He is a bit timid and I think in some ways he's a bit scared of her - obviously not physically, but in the sense that she unleashes all this pent-up frustration on him and makes it his fault and I think he gets a bit scared about hearing "it's your fault anyway for being made redundant, bastard!" (He doesn't even like it if someone mentions it in passing.)
I think the part time job is a good idea I think it depends if she can find one of course but that would work well.
I can see it's difficult for her and so can DB, and I think he genuinely would like to help and feels upset when he can't.
Other people's relationships are so easy aren't they!
Good luck with your cakes Sianilaa; I can barely make toast so admire anyone with the skills and the patience, but can see it being very competitive.
You do sound fairly defensive, tbh, OP. I think that's understandable, but not necessarily in your brother's or his family's best interests.
You hit the nail on the head about the hug. You got that right You have helped him out, but you need to steer him back to adulthood.
No-one's blaming you for anything. You seem like a really caring sister.
I have 3 children of similar ages to your SIL.
LineRunner - I'm not, honestly I did get a bit pissed off with your post, as it sounded a bit like I'd had a hand in the breakup of their marriage when what I actually happened was I opened the door to a sobbing DB saying "please let me stay" so I'm hardly going to say "no, piss off back to your wife!" but that'll be me reading it wrong probably!
Hopefully it'll sort itself out but I can empathise with the money thing - when it isn't there, it just isn't, as we all know
I think, thinking about it some more, she's probably grieving for her old life back 'home' and that must be hard but they need to make steps to make a new life for themselves either where they are or at 'home', together.
From what you say I think it is unfair to imagine that she doesn't enjoy being at home with her children.
She seems to be keeping herself busy and involved in lots of things.
But 3 small children is really hard work. And the afternoons can be murderous.
If you don't have children it's going to be very hard to understand her perspective, even without being your brother's sister.
Why does he get to decide what they can afford? Have they looked at their budget to see if they can make it work?
AThing - what makes you think I don't have DCs of my own?
I imagine he's looked through the budget, he's certainly
anal careful about things like that. The problem is, as he said when he first got here, that they can't guarantee that the business will make much, if any, money and they can't afford to pay childcare without there being some money from her as there's only £50 left after all essential outgoings (including the grocery shop) so having childcare would mean incurring some debt which he doesn't want to do - I can understand that.
I think they need to go through the finances together to see if this is a goer.
It will be a while before she makes money from this, if at all. I think she would be better off trying to get a regular job as it sounds like she could use a change of scene and adults to talk to. Small businesses can be lonely.
Because you said you didn't!
Didn't you! DIDN'T YOU?!
Ignore me, I might be hallucinating.
No, they certainly can't go into debt to pay for childcare.
That would be crazy irresponsible.
I think a small business wouldn't be the right thing for her because she'd have to work alone. If she's lonely and wants adult company, she'd be better off with a job.
Couldn't she get a job where she at least breaks even with the cost of childminders? How much would she have to pay out? Or could she do something in the evening like a course which would give her adult company?
To be fair to her if she was lonely and unhappy before, she'll be even worse now. Tell him to go back and to try to make things right with her. It sounds as though she's lost all her confidence and is trying desperately to think of things that will work.
AThing - haha, you made me laugh!
(I don't! Yet! Trying to though, so I'm a bit super sensitive to anyone complaining about those who don't have kids not having a clue - I know that's not what you said. Sorry, own insecurities came out a bit there; joys of fertility treatment.)
I think she needs to work part time to be honest but other people, hey!
One of the mums at my dds nursery has cake business, what sells best for her is occassion cakes, not cupcakes, she sells 6 inch cake for a fiver, decoration is not astounding but passable, and the price is good enough that we can order for any get togethers etc, and doesn't just have to be birthdays, so we end up ordering all the time, if people have someone round for coffee etc, as well as for birthdays, mothers day. The taste is amazing though. If it wasnt we wouldnt buy!
OP said she wasn't married I think?
I would be very wary of getting too involved. Seriously, tell him he can stay for a bit but get him to sort it out soon. You have no idea what her side of this is and it could be your DB at fault.
You could also be a little more sympathetic towards your sil who has given up a formal career and now may be finding it hard to work out what to do next. She wouldn't be the first SAHM to struggle to find her professional mojo after years at home.
Also it is common to feel very undecided between wanting to work and not wanting to give up doing all the caring for children.
I think the things your SIL is saying are things I have heard many times over.
If you think infertility treatment can make you insecure, try very limited cash, new area, 3 small children, a failed business, staying at home having had a career, a husband who tells his sister how substandard he thinks you are..... She probably spent ages trying to think up something she can do from home to help.
zzzzz that was a very unpleasant message.
DB hasn't said the word 'substandard' once. He turned up here in tears.
I think most of my messages about her HAVE been fairly sympathetic, actually! I have acknowledged how hard it must be for her and I have sympathised with how rotten it must have been moving away.
However, unfortunately, they can't conjure money out of nowhere, can they?
No he didn't say substandard but I am sure he's said other not so nice things. When people vent, its usually never positive. And, he's vented in the past many times to you as you stated in your OP.
dandelion people's posts on here often say more about their own situation than the OP's. You know your SIL, just do what you think you'd want if you were in their situation. That way you can't go wrong.
You are in a thankless position. Hope it works itself out soon
I think if he is in tears after a 2 hour drive, there may be more to it. Has anyone phoned to see if she is alright?
I'm not sure why it's unpleasant to try and explain that she is probably utterly miserable herself? I'm sorry if it came across that way.
Dandelion - you do seem a bit defensive tbh.
Also, you only have your brother's word for the claim they can't afford a CM. Your sil may have different spending priorities.
Thanks Penelope. It's difficult knowing how to help as they do need to talk but he really is quite scared of the backlash I think. His self esteem has never been great and she does give people a real verbal kicking when she puts her mind to it.
Probably shouldn't have posted but I feel a bit helpless really.
zzzz, it was the comparison to fertility treatment that upset me a bit really, as I had only mentioned that in brief to another poster. Saying to someone going through fertility treatment for their own children "well try having 3 and see how YOU like it" - well, yes, it's a bit upsetting, I won't lie.
I have acknowledged throughout the thread that she is unhappy and I do sympathise with that but by the same token, it's depressing for him as well I suppose.
I know they are really hard up financially, largely because of the redundancy and the house move which he gets blamed for.
Sorry, there's been no real defensiveness to my posts apart from the one over the page re fertility treatment so I apologise if I've come across like that as I haven't intended to at all
I think that's it really - you are helpless re their situation.
I wouldn't take much notice of the posters encouraging you to ask about this that and the other. It's really none of your business and you probably aren't remotely interested in it? Just be sympathetic and supportive ( to both) but try not to pass comment. What's the phrase 'least said soonest mended'?
She may be going mad at home with 3 dcs. The childminder might be to give her a break/let her do something creative.
dandelion sometimes on here posters are almost goaded into being defensive. I take that view that with the advice given on here 'Take what you like and leave the rest'.
Yes, that's pretty much what I have tried to do
and he probably wouldn't listen even if I did ask
At the heart of it they are both working hard and wanting to do the best they can for their family, I am sure they will sort it out!
iggi this is not about the SIL, it's about the OP!
iggi - yep, I think we all get that but if you can't afford it, you can't afford it can you?
Of course you feel helpless, you can't win!
Dbrother and SIL came to live with us for 9 months a few years ago and took it apon themselves to appoint me as their live in Sally Jesse Raph-fucking-ael.
Every few days one of them would come to me complaining about the other and they would sometimes call me into their arguments.
God knows why as all I did was gibber about suggesting "A nice cup of tea"
If you get too deep into these things it can only end badly. They will make up and move on and then you'll be the asshole.
My advice is to be a neutral listening ear for your brother, ever encouraging him to sort things out yet reassuring him your are always there.
Just never let them move in with you.
Bath was overflowing.
I think the only real suggestion you can make is that they think about getting some counseling together. It sounds as if they are probably both unhappy and are carrying some sensitivities/hurts that they both bring up repeatedly in arguments, and that neither of them is very good at communicating with the other. It's very easy to get stuck in really unproductive ruts in relationships, especially when they are under significant strain (and they have a lot on their plate - several small children, losing a job, moving to a new area, pressure of a high mortgage, no spare money etc I don't envy them at all).
The other thing to bear in mind is that there is a strong meme around running small businesses from home, it's frequently offered as 'the solution' to mothers of young children, with little or no reality attached about how incredibly hard it is to run a small business successfully, let alone at the same time as bringing up a young family. I think she may have got suckered into the idea that cupcakes will be her salvation, and she sees her dh as screwing up her escape plans. He may well be being more realistic and sensible, but this is an emotional argument, not a rational one I suspect.
Babooshska thanks enjoy your bath!
nooka yeah, I think there's probably a great deal of truth in what you say Will point this out to DB when he's a bit more calm - thanks.
Yeah, nooka's right about the "Mommy Business" thing.
Penelope - "AIBU to think SIL was really out of order?" is the title. Don't really understand your comment to me.
It's impossible to tell, if you haven't had experience of it, how flipping draining and hard being at home with three kids is, particularly in a new area and under financial strain. It's tough. I don't blame SIL for seeking an out. But Nooka is so right, a small business is almost impossible to get right. Cupcakes in particular is hardly going to be a money spinner. Just on basic volumes, say your margin per cupcake was 30p once you'd taken into account labour, electricity, wastage, marketing, transport etc. You'd have to sell 10,000 units just to make 3000 pound. I wouldn't bother with all the faff for that sort of money, frankly. It's piddles.
If she has teaching experience she could consider setting herself up as a tutor of some sort, or set up an after school education childcare service.
I have a lot of sympathy for all parties. I'm a SAHM with 2 young children and we've relocated thousands of miles away from family and friends for my husband's work. My husband bears the brunt of my frustrations about being home all day with no support network, he also bears all the financial responsibilityy. I can't do the job I'm qualified to do as the hours are just not compatible with family life when my husband is doing the same kind of hours. I feel I have lost myself over the years I've been home and I'm struggling to find my identity.
After a few crisis meetings I've recently set up a small business to run from home doing some admin and bookkeeping for a couple of local businesses. I'm loving doing it as its a break and a way of building my confidence back up to return to work. However I have to do it in evenings and weekends as we can't commit to childcare costs until I'm bringing in some money. This is something your brother and his wife need to discuss. Does she really want to work or does she just need a break? No harm in the latter but they need to go over the finances together and see if it can be afforded at all.
I also winced at a few of the comments directed towards you. Prior to having our first daughter we went through years of fertility treatments and I feel some of the comments were unnecessarily harsh towards you. You sound a lovely caring sister so I think you can just be there for your brother and his family and hopefully your SIL will find something that she enjoys that will cover the childcare costs.
Op, I think your sil is a bit of a dreamer with regards to her business venture! But I really do sympathise with her, it is very hard looking after small children with no support.
Regarding the business: I would suggest to your Db to ask her to first make a plan, talk to people who have done this already to see how long it took to setup, how much did it cost, etc. maybe with some figures on paper he can demonstrate how crazy her idea is (money doesn't grow on trees)
Regarding her complaint about him being made redundant: that is not on really. He needs to be more assertive!
The best he can do is go back home, talk things over with her calmly and give her a hug!
She could do private tutoring?
Your SIL has three kids, has had to move away from her area and has tried a few business ideas that didn't work. That must all be hard. Has she suffered from depression?
Did she and your DBro do the family budget together? Do they both know what money is spent where?
Could your DBro request flexible work to get home earlier once or twice a week and give her a chance to work on something?
Nailak - a fiver for a 6" cake?! You realise she's probably paying to make you a cake?! I couldn't even get ingredients for a fiver let alone actually cover my costs. I expect it's not a business but a hobby?
Also if the SILs business idea is cupcakes, it isn't going to make any money so I think your brother is right to say they will be getting into debt to cover childcare. If she's a qualified teacher it's a much more valuable qualification. Someone mentioned private tutoring? Or a non-teaching role in a school?
"we can't afford it" seems fairly clear-cut to me and yelling and shouting about it seems a bit, well, spoiled, to me"
You mean she should take your brother's word for it without arguing?
Surely what two adults should do is to sit down together and look at the budget and work through the various possibilities?
Shouting and yelling is not on but neither is "we will do it this way because I say so".
Your SIL may well be totally unrealistic but you don't know that unless you have actually seen their workings out.
In any case, I really don't think your involvement is helping your brother. He needs to talk this through with somebody neutral- like a counsellor- not with somebody whose emotions are on his side.
dandelion as I said I'm sorry is my comparison to fertility treatment upset you. It is of course useless to try and compare levels of stress and sadness. I myself have experienced both situations having only become a parent after many years of trying and then as sometime happens having multiple small children at home. I wish both you and your SIL all the best.
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