To be worrying about how FIL will be when baby arrives...(129 Posts)
Currently 30 weeks pregnant and can't tell if I'm being irrational and unreasonable or if there really are red flags....
I have lovely PIL, have never had reason to fault them or be annoyed with them or anything like that, I get on really well with them both. However, over the last few months FIL had been showing some traits that have unnerved me as to how he may be when the baby arrives.
I feel like he is always offering his 'opinion' and that whatever me and DH think or want to do isn't correct in his eyes. Me and DH were talking about our storage plans for when baby arrives, what will go in what cupboards etc but no, FIL has a better idea and we should obviously follow his advice... .
We are having a new kitchen fitted on Friday and FIL has been making negative comments about what plans we have gone for and belittling the decisions we have already made. We are having our garden renovated in the Spring and the way in which me and DH want it done apparently isn't right in FIL's eyes and instead he is telling us what we should do.
He was very pushy about what kind of cot we should buy and now he keeps telling me what kind of pushchair I should buy. He keeps giving me suggestions on what I need to do round the house ready for when the baby comes - including comments on net curtains to keep flies out and how the 'little one' can't be expected to go up a flight of stairs every time he needs the toilet
wtf He keeps asking if we've done X, Y and seems to have a disapproving look on his face if we don't give the answer he wants. He isn't doing it in a nasty way at all but it makes me feel like he thinks me and DH don't know what we're doing.
He was passing comment earlier that showed he wasn't happy he'd not been here when we had assembled all the nursery furniture (my dad and DH did it) as he thinks he would obviously had made a better job of it. It is just little digs and comments that are continuously coming. He is never, ever normally like this.
It's like he thinks he knows best about everything and I can't tell if I'm just being over sensitive. I just want me and DH to be allowed to make our own decisions and not have them questioned or belittled.
I actually had a cry over it earlier when I was doing the washing up because I can't help but feel that when baby comes I'm going to be under constant criticism for whatever parenting choices I make
My fil was a bit like this and it bothered me. We don't live close but I worried he'd question my decisions in front of my child etc. then my sister in law had a baby and he melted. I don't know what happened but he changed overnight. Then when we had out little chap he was (and is) the same.
He might be so in love with your baby that nothing you do is wrong?
Or if that doesn't work, I found out I could be MENTAL inherent first few months due to lack of sleep and hormones so have a blow out at him and make your point!
Aww ... If he's normally lovely, do you think he's trying to be involved?
I honestly understand it must be annoying, but the cot thing reads to me as if he felt left out!
The only behaviour you can control is your own.
I would start getting into the habit of listening, making "Mmm" sounds then changing the subject. Then do whatever you think is right.
My Mum has a wonderful habit (bless her!) of telling people what to do. I just wish she spent as much time and energy on her own life!
Three words OP.
Smile and nod.
You smile and nod and make vague polite noises, then carry on as you were doing anyway.
Don't cry. x
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Smile, nod and then do whatever you feel is right.
My PIL live on the same street.....
I'm worried that I may have been a bit short with him, not on purpose but just because I can feel my anger gently bubbling up and I find myself making snappy comments or I just look away from him, disengage and wait for the conversation topic to change.
Lol - thanks everyone, my DH has also told me to go with the 'smile and nod' approach
Maybe when you discuss stuff with him he thinks that you want his opinion?
Tell him nothing & he can't criticise!
And stuff like the nursery-don't let him belittle you & others-tell him that your dad & husband are just as capable as him of following instructions if necessary.
If anybody should have words, it's your DH - he is his father, after all.
But if he says something toOP that she doesn't like she should be able to respond.
Worrying about something like this often turns it into a self fulfilling prophecy.
You're irritated by FIL, you've let a few little things get to you and now you're hyper-sensitive and perceiving slights or criticism where there possibly is none, or where most people would not even notice or shrug them off.
It's a vicious circle and you need to change your reaction.
Smile, nod, make a vague noise then carry on doing your own thing.
Sounds exactly like my FIL, he didn't change when GDCs arrived.
If he doesn't melt like KatyN's FIL then get used to saying something like
"thank you for the advice, or information, we have decided to do X" then move the conversation on.
WRT the disapproving face, do you need his approval for everything thing you do?
You're right to be concerned.
When you become a parent, you are often filled with self doubt and if anyone adds to that, you can start to lose faith in your instinct.
Believe me, lots of first time parenting is based on instinct and it's a very valuable tool. But it's also easily ignored when you are insecure and doubtful.
Ultimately, you have to do what is best and what works for you and your dh. If you don't then you may as well hand over the reins of your life to your fil and whoever else wants to take charge.
So, you know what your fil is like now so forewarned is forearmed.
You have choices.
- do everything his way and how he thinks best
- ignore what he says/looks like and think, "I'm going to do what I think best, thank you," and just carry on and do what you want.
- smile and say, "We've done/chosen/decided what is best for us, thanks." And change the subject.
- if he persists, say it's none of his business. He will say his grandchild is his business and you can say, parenting this child is NOT his business because you and your dh are the parents, not him.
He may say he's done it before, this parenting malarky, but I would then stress he's parented his child/ren and not yours. You know yours best.
I'm afraid you may well have to assert yourself quite firmly if you don't want his constant input.
What is your dh's take on this?
I did speak to my DH about it and told him I'm worried that his dad will be really critical when the baby is born. My DH completely saw my point and acknowledged that his dad's opinions and suggestions which will no doubt be forthcoming should just be smiled at and go in one ear and out the other. Not in a nasty way, but just because his dad has a personality of being a complete perfectionist and thinking there is only one right way to do something and if it isn't being done in the manner he'd do it then it must be wrong. He works in a job that involves precision and exactness and I think those traits in him might be transferring over to the pregnancy and imminent birth. I know my PIL means no offence or harm but it is getting to me a little bit.
Perhaps he feels a bit "pushed out" because your Dad is involved in things that he isn't iyswim. He may be making imagined slightsd into massive issues and getting all worked up about it, when he actually has nothing to worry about.
Could you find something for him to do/be responsible for maybe? (and I can't think of anything, but there must be something ) so he can feel involved with the preparations for his grandchild too. Is this the first grandchild? He might just be "over excited" so to speak bless him, and not realise how he's coming across.
There are a few possible brush offs, from an uninterested "that's nice dear", to a jaunty smile and a "lucky we're not inviting you to live here, then, isn't it?"
Or it might be more fun to fight fire with fire, by visiting their house and saying things like "good god, haven't you got rid of those godawful frilly nets yet?" Or "isn't it time to think about a bungalow? Those hips can't have many years left..." And when they take offence, do the wide-eyed-innocent routine "but I thought, seeing as you were commenting on MY house..."
When I was pregnant, I often became bizarrely angry at things and afterwards I thought "WTAF?"
I'm not saying this is true in your situation, but it is a distinct possibility.
"do you think he's trying to be involved?"
Why does he need to be involved in the op's choice of cot, kitchen or anything?
I don't get this. I just think if one hangs back and initially offers only casseroles and help with the washing up, you can't go wrong in terms of building a quiet and mutually trusting, respectful relationship.
You can certainly go with the 'smile and nod' but there is no reason why, if pushed, you can't say something.
And you can get away with anything when you are full of hormones. Keep that in mind!
We did invite him round when we were furniture building as we knew it would be something he'd like do but because MIL wasn't feeling too good he didn't come round. This will be their 5th grandchild but they don't really have relationships with the other 4 as the family live in the USA. They only see the other grandchildren maybe once or twice a year.
Is it his first grandchild? It reads that way to me. Dads are used to being practical, it's their outlet where others use emotion perhaps. He wants to be involved and his personality is just quite precise and exact.
Unless he says or does something genuinely hurtful, I would agree with the smile and nod route. It's not worth damaging what sounds like a good relationship. Plus, do remember that you are likely to be feeling things more strongly at the moment. So much changes with a baby, and yes he might always be someone who has to pass comment but ultimately you are the parent. There will always be someone who has to have the last word on parenting, no matter what stage your LO is at, so try to view it as being interested rather than interfering. You will come through it. Good luck x
I get told off my PIL and dgm what's best for my baby .
Fil who had NO involvement in his kids browning up was saying I needed to take professional advise that dd2 wasn't sleeping through yet, she is 9 m.
At the beginning , I smiled and nodded, no I just explain why they are wrong and I am right.
" no mil, dd won't be having rust in her bottle because it's a choking hazard"
" no fil it's not too early for dd to go bed as she needs her sleep to sleep better"
" yes fil we did pay for painters to do decorating and we like it and that's all that matters "
Ignore and defend , they will stop soon enough. Your baby YOUR rules .
I think you are right thinking about what your responses to him might be in the future as he is not likely to change and you cannot change him, only your reaction to his behaviour/what he says.
Yes, don't let it turn into a self-fullfilling prophesy, so if you are finding yourself going tense in his presence, just 'waiting' for his next great idea , then you're probably better saying something out loud, like "I would like to do this my way; it's my first child and I am v excited" or something non-confrontational.
If you find a Zen way of letting go in one ear and out the other, go with that.
When I was PG first time round, PIL had lots of opinions. Still do in fact, three years and a second DC on. I think they have really struggled with the family focus moving from them and their ideas/ideals/values etc to DH and I and our children/family unit. They are forever trying to impose their way of doing things on us (and it is imposing - buying things for the kitchen I have said I don't have and don't need, but MIL thinks I do so goes ahead and buys them anyway).
Honestly? It's made me distance myself from them as they need to recognise us as adults in our own right. Seriously, we're mid 30s and they want to have a say on things we do/buy blah blah blah. It's ridiculous. If we were younger, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt and see it as helpful advice. Now I just see it as stupidly controlling. SIL is a solicitor and she and DH's DB are buying their first house. FIL wants to be involved and is very concerned they won't be everything properly. Despite the fact she is a solicitor and this is her field!!!
I wish I'd been straighter with them sooner and made it very clear that their interference wasn't necessary. They've had their time being parents. If I were you, I'd ask DH to take it up with your FIL before things get so bad. Good luck.
I'm also a bit worried that once the baby is born the IL will be here every day. Like I said, they are lovely and aside from this I have no issues with them at all and I'm close to them both - but I'm so worried they are going to turn into overbearing grandparents
As a previous poster said - I can't tell if I'm being hypersensitive because of my hormones. I'm just scared it is going to blow up. The first time he was going on about pushchairs, practically telling us what to buy, I let it go but when he started on us for the 2nd and again on a 3rd occasion I just wanted to scream!! I just want to be allowed to have my own thoughts and make my own choices without other people's opinions being thrust upon me as though I don't know what I'm doing.
wibbly - I like what you said about you becoming your own family unit and them perhaps struggling with that. Maybe PIL finds it hard to accept that his own son is now going to be a dad and the patriarchal family dynamics are going to change.
I would tackle this with FIL now, mine was the same and i tried the smile and nod approach, he got worse, tensions rose and it turned into a huge fallout and we now haven't seen PIL's for 6 + months. My FIL was extreme in that we would explain how we wanted things bit he would flat out ignore us so this may not be the case with yours but i really think swallowing emotions and smiling and nodding can only lead to resentment. Good luck with whatever you decide and more importantly your new arrival! X
It's interesting how myth suggests that MIL are nightmares but we are having FIL issues. My MIL has actually told FIL to back off and let us make our choices but I'm not sure it had much effect. I just know he's going to come round on Friday once the kitchen fitters are finished and point out faults...
OP, maybe you are being oversensitive about this?
Try taking it as an expression of worry and concern about you both and baby, especially if he's someone who needs to have everything 'just so' to feel that it's all safe and ok. Smile and say 'we are grown ups you know, we do know what we're doing' and then find some things to ask for his advice and support about??
It's really hard being a grown-up's parent, you know!
My FIL is like this - you say anything and 30 minutes later he's still giving you his opinion on how your opinion should be - went as far as telling us not to come crying to him when our planned homebirth went wrong (it went very well as luck would have it).
Just smile and nod, change the subject as soon as you can and keep on with your plans. It really doesn't matter what he thinks. Honestly, it doesn't.
You might be being a bit hormonal, but I do wonder if this is his very clumsy way of wanting to be involved or wanting something to do in prep for the baby?
My MIL (normally wonderful) went a bit dolally when I was pregnant and was extremely overbearing and pushy. I ended up, on advice from DH who had tried and failed to curtail her on several occasions, letting her buy a couple of pieces of kit "seeing as, MIL, you know best". We've taken both items back and swapped them for more practical things now DS is here (she thankfully did listen and bought from John Lewis, who were very understanding!). MIL was unimpressed but could see why we'd had to exchange things. Funnily enough she hasn't pushed as hard since and has reverted back to the woman I love!
Perhaps you could give options for him to choose from or put him in charge of something? Hopefully that will help him feel more a part of it all. And pray he goes back to normal/completely gooey after the birth!
It would make me just not want to tell fil anything about my or my baby's life tbh.
Men of a certain age were not involved (or indeed wanted to be!) in having babies, so he has no experience of supporting you and DH emotionally. He is doing what was expected of him when he had his own babies, which was problem solving, fixing, getting everything ready.
He is excited and worried for you just as your MIL is, but is just showing it in a different way. As long as he isnt as pushy about your child rearing choices (and I suspect he wont be) then I think it is rather sweet, but I can see how irritating it would be!
One thing you are learning that applies to every single person who has ever had a baby - everyone has an opinion and likes to share it with you and you will never be right in their eyes. The sooner you learn to smile and nod the easier it will be (and this applies to everyone not just your FIL!).
I agree he is probably excited more than anything and wants to share his expertise.
I'm with the smile and nod but you may also have to incorporate a 'well, we decided to go with this one as it's what suits us best' [sweet smile] change subject.
Sounds like your MIL will back you up.
I've actually had a conversation with my mother about how she'd had her chance at child rearing and now it was my turn. To do things similar to her (I had a lovely childhood), do them the same and to do some things differently. And to make my very own mistakes .
The trick is going to be finding the right side of assertive without being aggressive or coming across as rude. It is possible, but not always easy.
If you end up being short with him, so be it, he has been provoking. If you can manage to smile and nod that's fine, but you may end up needing to have a blunt 'we don't need your input on this' or 'do not just pop round' conversation or he will continue to think you are finding him really helpful.
Hormonal or not, OP needs to set a boundary to this man. Since when are FIL so damn interested in pregnancy & birth & preparing for new arrivals anyhow?
Also sounds like other family member tiptoe around FIL. Time to set a boundary OP...
I think it's better to be a bit more proactive in letting your FIL know that you don't welcome. There is no need for it to become unpleasant or for you to be rude but it's better to address it rather than let it fester.
I would bring it up with your InLaws and let them know that you have noticed that you have been receiving lots of 'advice' from everyone around you and that you have decided to tell everyone that you are really looking forward to working things out for yourself. I would add that you hope they understand and that you will promise to go to them when you do want advice.
You can see how it goes when the baby arrives but if they start visiting too much you must take control and just say that you don't want any visitors for a day or so. It really is that simple.
Good luck Be strong
Thanks everyone for your thoughts.
In a way I'm glad I'm having a c-section as at least I know I will have some uninterrupted baby bonding time with restricted visiting hours I feel bad saying that because they really are the loveliest IL but I don't fancy bring bombarded with advice straight from birth. I think he probably just wants us to do things as he would do things. When he was initially being super pushy about the pushchair my own dad was also with us and it was quite uncomfortable. FIL did come across as a bit of a control freak and I think my dad was a bit surprised by it. I really just don't want things to come to an almighty explosion because in every other way he's a brilliant FIL...
And that's probably what makes it harder. My PILs, as above, are extremely overbearing. But they are also, in their own way, very nice people. Good neighbours, would give you the shirt off their back, kind of people. And that's when it becomes really hard. Because why would you be unkind to someone so lovely? Except that their interference isn't lovely - eek! They may think they're being helpful, but it's as though they haven't moved on from their children being teenagers. And thus the divide begins... It's also harder to navigate as you're hormonal, feeling less like your old self and don't always have the energy to defend yourself as you once might have (or this was the case for me, anyway). Get your DH to set the boundaries, or, failing that, be very assertive but polite. Don't get into asking their opinions, just state what is going to happen. Failing that, you could always move house(!).
If your FIL is a nice man then he won't mind be asked not to give advice. He might be a bit put out initially but he would probably prefer to be told.
We don't really - he just makes comments off his own back
It's his obsession with the pushchair that I find most odd - he is always researching into them and being quite forceful about what he thinks. I think he knows I'm a bit annoyed with it so now he has started cornering my husband when he's alone send 'discussing it with him. FIL thinks we should get a 2nd hand one and doesn't seem to understand why I want a new one. He also can't understand why I want to go out and look at them and make a decision as opposed to just buying one off the internet based on a picture. I keep explaining my reasonings to him but whenever we next see him he starts up about it again.
Is he Victor Meldrew?
Smile and nod, smile and nod, listen and say hmm, yes, well things were different back then weren't they. Then do whatever the bloody hell you want.
It's your life and your baby.
Why don't you ask him to help you choose something?
Perhaps the car seat? Lots of different fittings & technical stuff to keep him busy researching & looking for good deals for a while. Give him a job of his own.
From your description, he's coming over as wanting to be involved but rather overenthusiastic.
If you can direct all that enthusiasm towards something in particular rather than just being an overbearing knowitall about everything he might be a bit easier to deal with.
My DH does always joke that his dad is a 'Grumpy Sod' - he is just very factual and intense sometimes.
I'm worried that smiling and nodding is only fuelling his attitude because it gives the impression that I want to hear his thoughts and that I'm interested in them - almost like I'm admitting he knows best. Plus, I'm finding it harder and harder to be nice about it. Pregnancy in general had made me much more assertive, I find myself saying things I never normally would and I'm worried I'm going to snap.
When he was offering his opinion on what cot to buy
more like telling us it got very annoying. He seems to think a cot is just a cot, a pushchair is just a pushchair and so what we 'want' is irrelevant and should just buy any old one. It was difficult because PIL offered to buy the cot so he was acting as though it was his right to choose it and wouldn't stop forcing his opinion on us, constantly showing us online images of random cots over and over again and telling us he thought we should get it - that is the point where MIL told him to back off and that we should be allowed to choose our own cot. In the end me and DH just went out and bought the nursery furniture we wanted and showed them afterwards because we knew it was our only option. My husband could see how stressed I was getting over the whole thing.
My ILs are like this, constantly giving unsolicited, outdated advice. I try not to point out that they managed to estrange their son for ten years and their daughter still refuses to talk to them. Mostly I go for non-commital hmmms and leave it up to DP to put them straight.
I was at my worst yesterday when he implied I was unreasonable for expecting a child to go up a flight of stairs whenever they needed the toilet. This is all came from me suggesting that me and DH convert our lower ground toilet into a storage cupboard instead so we have somewhere to keep the pushchair and other big baby bits. We have a 3 storey house with a toilet on each floor, we very, very rarely use the ground floor one anyway. FIL piped up my idea was silly as if 'little one' was playing in the garden he should be able to come in and use a toilet without going up the stairs. I told FIL that many houses don't have ground floor toilets and I'm sure the children in those houses cope - I also snapped that as a child I'd had to go up a flight of stairs to get to a toilet and it hadn't done me any damage! I was quite short with him, but why the need for his criticism over something so stupid??
Seriously, put your foot down. I didn't, massive mistake. It's my MIL that's the problem (cliche!) PILs invited themselves round almost every day of my mat leave, without warning, they would literally just turn up & bang on the door until we let them in (in embarrassment at the neighbours staring). They buy/give things for DD that are unsuitable & unsafe (think things with blades, sharp points or 3ft of cord for a baby). MIL is manipulative & opinionated & likes stirring. She undermines me & calls me precious about safety. This isn't the half of it. I've vetoed any more babies until we can move away.
Sorry, derail over. Put your foot down. You know best.
My IL like to let themselves into the house. His mom will knock a few times but then let herself in if we don't answer, whereas his dad tends yo just walk in. On occasions I've been asleep and they've come in, one occasion I was in the shower....and some days I just want to slob out in my dressing gown without worrying the IL may come round, let themselves in and then I have to get dressed. If I'm home alone I now lock the front door. I hear them knocking and them trying the door handle etc and it does make me feel a but guilty. They must know I'm in as my car is on the drive but sometimes I just want to be left alone.
Do they have a key? Keep the door locked or install a bolt so they can't open it.
I don't think smile and nod is going to work for you as they have very different concepts of boundaries. You are going to need to point them out to them unfortunately eg please can you call round before coming over, it isn't always convenient.
They have a key for emergencies, as we do to their house, which is why when I lock the front door when I'm in the house I leave the key in the door. I honestly don't believe they would ever let themselves in the house with a key though unless we had specifically asked them to. I could ask them to call round but seeing as they only live about 20 houses away from us on the same street they see no harm in just making a 10 second walk to see if we're in. Me and DH do sometimes unexpectedly go and visit them so I guess I can't complain, but 95% of the time we let them know we're coming and we always knock and wait to be let in
'Lose' a key, necessitating a change of the locks. Add a bolt for extra 'security' due to your concerns.
Your FIL does sound very controlling, it definitely sounds more than just wanting to be involved. And that's utter tosh about the downstairs loo. We have one, never used it. It's now full of DH collection of CDs, books & vinyl discs.
It sounds to me like he's over-excited about the new baby (possibly precisely because it's nearby and the others aren't). If his personality has always been to give opinions before you were pregnant then that isn't going to change just because you are. How did you deal with him before you were pregnant? Did you indulge, ignore? Keep doing the same now. You can show your strength when the baby is born but it doesn't have to descend into a family row.
Actually re the toilet thing, I don't think it was criticism, I think you were over-sensitive to the fact he had given his opinion again. A downstairs loo, especially when potty training, will be pretty helpful. You can't see it now as you say you don't use it, etc. but his point about a little one having to get upstairs when desperate is not a bad one.
My FIL gave me the best advice when I was pregnant with DC1. He said people can't help themselves offering advice, but really what they want is for you to acknowledge their way is correct. So what he did when his children were little was to listen politely, thank the person for their suggestion, say how helpful it was to hear from experienced parents, and then carry on doing what he felt was best for his family. He said he was telling me because he knew he wouldn't be able to stop himself from interfering and he wanted me to feel free to ignore him!
To be fair, he really doesn't interfer too much, and overall he's a great grandad. I find the advice he gave me has been very liberating - I just don't really bother about what other people think I should do with the DCs.
Maybe your FIL is keen to be involved? Is listening to him, but ignoring his advice a possibility?
OP I really think you should move! Seriously!
All this popping round all the time? Once you have the baby it will do your head in.
It sounds like FIL is waaaay too involved in your life. He is going to come round as soon as the kitchen is fitted to slag it off? Er, why? Just keep him at bay for a few days. Do you have any boundaries with PIL?
If I were you I would be putting geographical and emotional distance between myself and PIL. If you really can't move, then see them less often and when it suits you. Don't tell them any plans you are making. is it you or DH who does this? If they don't have the information they cannot use it can they?
Boundaries. Just be brave and tell them you feel overpowered and that you are making your own family unit with your own decisions and you only want advice when you ask for it.
Good luck with the baby
You're being a bit YABU
I read the title and thought your FIL was a dodgy paedo or something. He's interested and wants to help. Yes he's a bit annoying and picky but that's not that bad.
My ILs drive me mad. They sound like yours. My FIL does the making comments thing. They even have a key and let themselves in but:
DH established ground rules quickly so they don't come over unannounced. He also brushes aside or picks his dad up on any criticism. As do I now.
This is your family now, like it or not. You have to deal with it in a mature way but don't let it get to you!!
His previous opinions never bothered me, in fact I don't recall him being particularly opinionated. He would give us advice about things but that would just be about mundane things like where was best value for shopping, what might be wrong with my car, what types of paint we should use in the bathrooms etc - just general every day discussions. This side of his personality has never offended me before I've always considered him knowledgable and helpful.
However, The difference is that he has gone from just giving advice and opinions to now being quite critical about something very important and very personal to me and DH. I think that criticising the changes we are making to the house, questioning our choices, belittling our plans, implying we don't know what we are doing,and trying to enforce on us choices he would make and disregard ours is taking it to another level.
Well if his personality never annoyed you pre-pregnancy, then it is quite possible that post-pregnancy it'll be the same. He sounds excited, over-excited definitely, but if he wasn't over-bearing before then with a little work he can be reined in. Everyone assumes it's only MIL's who get excited about new babies but why can't FIL's? That's where great grandfathers can come from (and that I envy you actually because my DS has no grandfathers). Get your DH to speak with him and explain you are finding it all a bit over-whelming and could he be a bit more respectful to you. As they live down the road they'll always be nearby so it needs dealing with before it escalates.
It's just so difficult because they are the loveliest people, will do anything for anyone, including me and DH, they are kind, generous, thoughtful etc but this one issue is really getting to me. I'm really, really hoping I'm just being hypersensitive to it all but if it continues on, especially after the birth then I fear what will be the outcome. I would never want to offend them and I doubt FIL has any idea how much his comments get to me, he probably just thinks he's being really helpful, but it's starting to grate a little bit now. He'd probably be upset if he knew how I was feeling, and that makes it worse. It's horrible feeling this anger towards someone I really like.
You must have seen a kazillion threads like this on Mumsnet. You and your DP need to stop being such wuss'ss and decide what is and is not acceptable. If you don't won't them popping over all the time you have to TELL them. They can't read your minds and it's much better for everyone if you say something rather than let it build up into a huge thing.
The baby arriving is a perfect excuse to tell them that you no longer want unexpected visitors. It's not rude.
If he is giving too much advice simply tell him that you want to make the decision yourself and don't want any advice. You can say it politely.
Just buy whatever pushchair you want. Make light of it and make some joke about not coming between a woman and her pushchair. Oh, and also that we all need to be free to buy the wrong pushchair (and believe me, you will!)
onefewernow - your last comment made me laugh.
Thankfully DH is on my side and has told his dad that I want to choose a new pushchair and so to leave me to it but when his dad next came round he was full of ideas about what size and shape pushchair we should get and with what features etc etc. I caught my husband trying to smother laughter whilst I smiled and nodded
My FIL was and still is a bit like this. It's not as constant as yours by the sound of things.
I either smile and ignore or, if he won't give up
like he did about cutting down the bloody tree in our garden that is apparently going to keel over and kill us all at the slightest wind. It survived the recent storm though! I strongly say 'we are no longer discussing the bloody tree it anymore'.
Yep smile and nod. Pil are like this and i have 4 dcs! Fil announced that Dd1 is at one of the best grammar schools in the country.....as someone had told him. So obviously didnt believe us when we told him this.
- Tinsel your post made me think about last nights 'advice' when it came to how we should renovate our garden (as apparently our ideas are wrong...) and he kept talking about the position of the shed (we don't have one you see and plan to buy one) and what we'd do if the fence fell down.
He has a nightmare hypothetical situation for everything with the purpose of trying to either imply we don't know what we're doing or that we haven't thought things through properly. Admittedly, we hadn't taken the very stable fence into consideration but do all people with sheds and fences live their lives worrying if the two can co-exist? Or do people have sheds randomly placed in the middle of their gardens so that when their fences fall down the she'd doesn't get hurt?
It just feels like everything we say or do he has got a better idea and a better opinion....
Ok, Writer, now I am more worried about your peace in the coming months/years and agree with others, you need to put firm bounderies in place and keep enforcing them.
This coming and going in your house is Just Not On.
This is what my parents have done to my brother and his wife and it has pretty much poisoned their relationship which is a great shame as they live 2 miles apart and I am hundreds of miles away (which is maybe why i get on well with my parents ).
Our parents were given a key 'for emergencies/to water the plants when we are on holiday' and got in to the habit of just using it. My dad would ring the door bell and then immediately let himself in - once encountering my DSiL in the buff, having just come out of the shower (it's a bungalow); once finding the two of them in bed at 10am on a Sunday morning (before kids). My parents overstep the mark All The Time and unfortunately, my DB is a people pleaser who did not from the beginning or after the first 'transgression' said "This has to stop".
Personally, I'd have my key back. Yes, change the locks if that is a way to achieve it. Be very clear about when you do/don't wish to have visitors - by invitation only? Every Tuesday afternoon? By prior phone call?
Also, this baby is not even born yet and you are getting in to discussion about where they are going to wee?? Seriously? Stop this madness now, don't discuss things with them, don't invite options. "We are going to convert the downstairs cloak room" or don't say anything until it's done.
I've had to be quite firm with my parents who wanted to know things like how much I/we earn, what our mortgage is, disagreeing with some of the ways we bring up our DCs (we don't slap which my mother feels is 'letting them get away with it' ).
You MUST get your DH on board, properly and fully on board. In many ways this is IS fight, not yours. If you can get your MiL do be your ally, all the better.
I also like the approach of laughing, kindly, and saying something like "Did you just hear yourself? Stop worrying about our shed, here's another drink/crisp/dinner is ready".
Don't engage, don't explain your choices and never, ever apologise for your choice of shed/push chair/garden lay-out.
"Well, we'll just have to learn from our own mistakes"
"We all do what works for us"
"Don't get stressed about our problems"
"Did you mean to be so pushy/overbearing/rude?" - I have deployed this and it was v effective tbh.
I've dealt with my parents and DH with his (much more awkward and bitter) mother.
You need lines in the sand, bounderies that cannot be crossed, really you do.
Oh gosh, I may have become slightly over-invested in your dilemma.
What a nightmare. I had this from my MIL for 2 months after my DS was born. She lives abroad but unknown to me turned up for 2 months to live with us after DS was born. She had a comment for everything. I was trying to be nice but it upset me dreadfully. I've never forgiven her. I look back and wish I'd said "look, thanks for the advice but I don't want it. I'm intelligent and more than capable of making decisions. Whether you think they're right or wrong I still want to make my own decisions." I should have been more forceful which I think can be done without alienating people. If said in front of your MIL and your DH I'm sure they'll back you up. Your MIL will probably tell your FIL off when he gets home. You need to say something or your DH does but I think it needs to come from you and I think you need to be a bit sharp about it. Time to stop moaning and get assertive or put up with it.
You're right about the insanity of discussing a child's weeing issues before it has even been born - I don't even know why he was talking about it. I think it was just another way of trying to put across a comment that we aren't thinking things through. Same as when he was talking about how we need to buy nets to put across all the doors to keep the flies out....we have never had any kind of mass fly infestation so where do his thoughts come from? I know full well he will mention it again at some point and wouldn't be surprised if he turned up with some net curtains and start putting them up....
I like the idea about just converting the ground floor toilet into a cloakroom anyway and then presenting it to him - I think we need to make a point of doing something we want to do regardless of what his thoughts are. Me and DH have also definitely decided the shed is going to go exactly where we wanted it to in the first place
Don't worry dogwood - at least if someone else is over invested I don't feel so crazy
He's right about the downstairs toilet . He may also be right about some of the other stuff, but if he is irritating you will miss the interesting bits.
You have MIL on your side by the sounds of it which is great. If it gets too much ask DH to speak to her about it. It does sound more like he is trying to hep, albeit very heavy-handedly.
Why is he right about the downstairs toilet? I'm genuinely baffled why we need one?? Are there genuinely MN'ers who have ongoing issues with toiletting because they don't have a downstairs toilet?? Obviously it's nice to have one but it isn't a necessity whereas we could use the space so much more usefully when the baby arrives. Three years down the line when the child is actually using toilets we can always have the toilet re-inserted if it's a huge issue Maybe focusing on toiletting is a grandparent thing as last week my own nan bought me (well, the baby) one of those toilet training seats that you place over the toilet seat so the child can sit on the toilet more comfortably I was just bemused and after thanking her I asked if she was aware the baby hadn't even been born yet and we weren't quite at the stage of toilet training She laughed but said she just thought we could put it to one side until we needed it, bless her
He's right about the downstairs toilet?
In what way?
What do you think people that only have one upstairs toilet do?
People with an upstairs toilet manage just fine I'm sure, but why take away a convenient resource for no good reason other than your FIL wants you to keep it? Seems a bit childish?
My DM told me when we moved in and I said exactly the same thing as you, she said that having a downstairs loo was really useful with DC and I would totally agree with her now.
If you don't have one then it's no big deal, if you do then I would keep it.
I won't be upset if you disregard my advice
Oh I see! There is already a downstairs toilet in place, and OP wants to take it out.
Well...my opinion on that is to keep it, as an extra loo is a very useful thing. It's not an essential though, and him saying your little one can't be expected to go all the way upstairs to pee as an argument for keeping it, is a bit silly.
But then imo getting rid of a second toilet is a bit silly as well. Sorry!
My point exactly pictish
mini - me and DH actually don't want the downstairs toilet, we have various reasons for wanting to get rid of it. It was mentioned yesterday in front of FIL and according to him it's a silly idea because we can't expect a child to climb a flight of stairs whenever it needs the toilet
Its a 3rd toilet!!
Do we really need 3 toilets when we could use the room for something far more useful?
Aw I'd love a downstairs loo. So useful.
I'm not sure where is put it very convenient for you even before potty training.
It would be different if we actually used it as a toilet but at the minute it is just a junk room - the toilet hasn't been used for months. We have another 2 bathrooms so me and DH just use those. We could use the room so well for storage space, somewhere to keep the pushchair, keep our shoes and coats, store the kitchen mop and broom, the Hoover etc! And it's one less bathroom to clean
My kids managed it. And so do everyone else's.
Hmmm...it does sound a bit like he is being somewhat pushier and more insistent about his ideas that he ought to be, if he's going so far as using the child as a spurious emotional bolster to his arguments. Almost like he's saying "if you don't do it my way, it's your child who'll miss out".
Remember OP - smile and nod, and then carry on with your own thing.
Writerwannabe83, it's your toilet, you decide obviously. But, it does seem to me like you are absolutely determined to refuse to accept that it might be a good idea to keep it mainly because the suggestion has come from your FIL. It's not about how many toilets you have, it's about where it is and how when you have small children it can be convenient for them. That was his point and it feels like because it was HIS point, you're going the other way. My house has 4 toilets (not boasting, it's a new build, they put them everywhere regardless of house size) but I can promise you now I'm potty training the one I wouldn't do without is the ground floor one.
The thing is that due to the layout of our house the toilet in question isn't on the same floor as the living room or the bedrooms. The lower ground of our house is just a small welcome type room, the kitchen and the toilet - hence why it doesn't really get used. We then have a bathroom on the 2nd floor where the living room is and then the final bathroom on the third floor where the bedrooms are. So the toilets that are used in the house are the ones that would be near where the child is anyway - unless he's in the garden of course.
It's just annoys me that he thinks he knows best. Me and DH for a while have talked about having the toilet taken out and the pipe blocked off and using the room for something more useful bit then FIL then comes in and just disregards what we want, disregards our reasons and then makes out we are silly and that we should do as he says. It's almost like he has forgotten we are adults who can make our own decisions based on what we think is best.
It can't be normal to be so irked by a comment about a toilet, haha [haha]
I'm going to blame the hormones.....
I think it's because he seems to have a comment for everything that I'm just sick of hearing them now regardless of his intentions.
He does sound pretty annoying OP.
My suggestions are:
Could you give him something insignificant to research, like a night light or something?
Could you or DH get MIL to speak to him again about how you would like to make your own decisions. Also about visiting when you are home from hospital. <The men in my family (particularly my dad and brother) are terrible communicators and a go between sometimes helps. Projecting, I know.>
Try the 'No that doesn't work for us' sentence whenever he suggests something you don't like?
Get your key back!!!
A downstairs loo is very handy with kids though.
Its not just for toilet training but for washing dirty hands when you come in from the garden and not bringing all the dirt into the house.
And getting the child to go to the loo before going to school/days out when the shoes and coats are on and all of the sudden they are just desperate <that may be just my house every flipping day though>
But if you do get rid of it you could always change it back later when the buggy days are over.
When my DDs were little and i was still with XH our downstairs loo was used as a storage cupboard OP It was neat and tidy in there but you couldn't see the loo or the basin!
My dear father was always on about what a waste of a good loo it was (he was a plumber!) and how he'd not be without his downstairs toilet. However their house had aloft and a huge garage for storage. We had neither.
Let the small stuff go, OP. (like children's toileting, and purchasing decisions) and work on the majorly annoying stuff like the coming round un-announced and constant critisism of your future plans.
It's for your DH to deal with really. Perhaps with his mothers help, as she can clearly see the problem.
(my lovely dad was a bugger for being like the priest in father ted who comes in and starts shaking and kicking things and tutting, saying ''it'll never last''! But he meant well - and repaired or replaced many dodgy bits of DIY we'd done saving us lots of £)
WriterWannabe. .... so, have you decided on a game plan?
Game Plan =
1 Change downstairs toilet to a cloakroom/storage space
2 Get the garden done and put the shed exactly where we want it
3 Order a pram/pushchair that me and DH choose then invite IL to see it
4 Be armed and prepared for kitchen criticisms on Friday (to be fair, I've already snapped back a little bit at him when he's made comments on the kitchen)
5 Continue to be honest with my DH about how the FIL comments are affecting me and ask him to take action if things continue.
6 Smile and nod whenever possible
7 Rant on MN when I need to release steam
. Sounds like a great plan. I find I always feel better after a good rant.
Good luck with everything.
Position of third toilet is a complete game changer
In light of new info I would def use toilet as storage area.
Why on God's green earth do you need to discuss your shed, garden, toilet, storage area, pushchair etc etc etc with IL's????
It's naff all to do with them. It's your house and your pregnancy.
Think you're all a bit over-invested in what the other thinks.
We don't need to discuss it with them Roar, I have no desire to do so, but when they raise the subject it seems a bit to rude to blank them and pretend we can't hear them
I'd just be very careful about what you tell them in future.
'We're wondering about getting a new shed' invites comments.
Whereas 'The new shed is being fitted tomorrow, don't come over as the fitters will be very busy' cuts off lots of comment opportunity.
You may have to get over your problems with feeling rude. If FIL has done this all his life, he is probably fairly oblivious to when he is over stepping the mark and won't pick up on normal social cues.
All sounding good. Going forward, perhaps be a little more restricted in what you mention to them in the first place. In this instance, it seems like it's the only way to avoid unwanted opinions. Once they realise you don't need FIL's opinions/blessing then he may back off.
Out of interest, are FIL's views fixed or do they change with time? When we first got a mortgage, FIL was having kittens about how we'd be able to afford to pay it (no idea why). Now he bangs on about how lucky we were to get on the housing ladder when we did... It seems he's not happy unless he has something to fret about (and I do think this comes of having more time on his hands now he's retired). Other gems include stressing about me going into labour at a weekend, in case the standard of care was lower in hospital (DC2 was early hours Sunday morning so failed there!), stressing about school catchment areas for the DC (eldest is 2 and we're living overseas temporarily, don't know which country they'll go to school in, let alone which school!), stressing about BIL getting married (no idea why), the list of doom and gloom mongering goes on...
Feel l may also be over invested in this thread...
Maybe you're right wibbly and he just wants something to fret over. Maybe he likes drama? Maybe he is trying to create problems that aren't really there so he can ponder over how to fix them...
I'm actually looking forward to his reaction to the kitchen being done on Friday - will he be complimentary or critical, who knows. His opinions don't really change, he gives us this specific facial expression if he doesn't agree with us or disagrees with decisions we have made.
Their contribution to our wedding cost was them paying to hire the Wedding Suits and again, FIL thought that gave him free rein to choose the suits He told DH what shop he would be buying the suits from and what suits he liked. Me and DH went to have a look (with the IL) and the suit was awful. DH was polite but said he didn't like it, or any others in the store and asked if they could look around some other shops and find a suit style/colour that my DH wanted. FIL's face was like thunder and it got very awkward. It turned into quite an unpleasant shopping trip. I got the same facial expression when he learnt we had bought our nursery furniture.
It's almost like he is offended if we make decisions without him or don't actively involve him or take his advice. Maybe he sees himself as 'Head of the Family' and doesn't want my DH to 'grow up' and be independent. It's like he thinks we should accept that his way is the right way and just go along with everything.
Well it sounds to me as if your FIL is already being rude to you, so I think you should let go of the guilt here. Or even ask him why he's pulling that facial expression?
I would get yout DH to talk to MIL and make it very clear that you are BOTH upset by this... but you especially as of course you can't be as blunt with FIL as you might be with your own parents.
Make her aware that he needs to BACK RIGHT OFF. Get him to spell it out - if things don't change, BOTH of you are going to end up distancing yourselves because it's getting too irritating and patronising. And that would be a shame when there is a baby on the way.
He should also bring up the fact that you've both noticed that he's only really been like this since the pregnancy. Cut to the chase - tell her that you both think that it's no coincidence, that you becoming the parents and they the grandparents is obviously a difficult transition for him. While you understand that... you aren't going to be prepared for FIL to interfere in your parenting to make himself still feel head of the family, and if he starts, you will end up falling out.
It would be a good idea for your DH to go down the line of 'clearly this is proving that if we're going to live so close to one another, we are going to have to think more carefully about boundaries if we want it to be a success long term.' He should tell MIL that a good start point will be no more letting themselves in, that when a sleeping and feeding baby is in the mix, that habit is going to quickly become an invasion of privacy. And further to that, he's asking her to speak to FIL, think honestly about why he's suddenly started getting so interfering, and tell him it HAS to stop.
'It's almost like he is offended if we make decisions without him or don't actively involve him or take his advice. Maybe he sees himself as 'Head of the Family' and doesn't want my DH to 'grow up' and be independent.'
- yup, got it in one. Or rather, the problem is that your DH has grown up and become independent, and that he can just about handle... but now your DH is about to have his own family. HE (and you) are going to be the parents, the ones at the hub, the ones with the young children and the whirlwind life... and they have been relegated 'down' the organisational order into 'the grandparents'. Not the ones who decide where the family will holiday/what they'll eat/where they'll spend Christmas/etc., but the satellite characters who will be told what the hub of the family (ie where the children are) is doing, and be invited to join in ... or not!
It's a huge step down. Usually it's the MILs who go a bit mad at the thought that the children in the family will be having their mealtimes and naptimes decided by another woman, and that they aren't the all-important 'Mum' anymore. Here it's FIL, desperately trying to retain his crown as patriarch.
If you're lucky, he'll settle down and enjoy his new role, especially once the baby is here. But - NIP IT IN THE BUD!!
Lots of good advice there Bruno thank you
Another thing to consider is to stop or greatly reduce the amount of help you recieve from them. If they are paying for things then it's
a little bit understandable that they think they can give advice.
If your in laws help babysit your new baby then you mustn't be suprised if they want to do things their way or if they comment on how you are raising your DC.
I've already made it clear to DH that we are not using IL as childcare when I return to work
Bruno, very insightful posts. Helpful too. Wish I had had you around when my own mil went bonkers when I refused to wean my ds1 on her instruction.
He's surfing the limits over many things you've mentioned but he's right about the toilet.
OP your game plan.....
3.... "then invite ILs to see it." Why? Why make such a drama out of it? I am not knocking you, I think you have been conditioned by them to think you need to run everything past them and get their approval, or not
mostly. Most people just buy a pushchair and the parents/ILS don't really see it until it is in use. I can't imagine that most would give a flying fuck what it looks like so long as it can carry the baby.
If you are going to survive this with your mental health intact you really need to start detatching from them. You do not have to discuss everything with them.
FIL sounds like a dreadful control freak. Seems there is a very good reason the rest of the siblings/GC are in the US......
Hampton - "3.... "then invite ILs to see it." Why? Why make such a drama out of it?"
I meant this in terms of showing them to prove that we are more than capable of making our own decisions and that we are quite capable of buying a pushchair of our own choice. We aren't bothered about getting his approval otherwise we would do as he suggests, we just want him to realise that we don't need his advice and that we aren't really listening to it anyway He might stop offering it when he realises that....
You have to find a way to want to prove to them that you are capable of making your own decision.
Stop needing to make them see that your are adults.
Just behave like adults - like making purchasing decisions yourself .
Don't run it past them, don't invite them to see the pram because that kind of implies that your are breathlessly awaiting their 'approval' (I am exaggerating for dramatic effect, but I hope you get my drift).
Seriously, in my middle-aged opinion, having had my own battles with overbearing parents (although being 100s of miles away helped), you will only 'free' yourself from this tension when their opinion doesn't actually matter to you/DH anymore.
This sounds terribly cold, and I don't mean in like that.
Imagine how you'd feel discussing prams with a friend: you might take some of their advice, or see their point, but disagree, or think they are utterly wrong. They might be the same about your choices. In any equal friendship you'd both be able to 'agree to disagree' and leave it at that, knowing that you'll each make decisions according to your own judgement and that is how it should be.
Only when you feel you can have that kind of conversation with your FiL, will you be 'grown-up'.
It took me a long time to really fully understand that not all of my opinions or decisions have to be popular or universally liked and they could still be right for me.
I care what my parents think about my life choices, of course I do, but I accept that they disapprove of some of them. Like I wouldn't make the same choices they do in some circumstances. And that's fine.
Stop seeking his approval. Be nice about it, but detach yourself a
"You have to find a way to NOT want to prove to them that you are capable of making your own decision"
Good grief, I should really proof-read - a crucial 'not' missed out
You could go one step further - he comes round, you just happen to have a pushchair in use.
I don't think you not listening to him is going to stop him, he's going to carry on regardless!
We definitely don't need/want their approval and don't seek it all - but that doesn't mean we want constant disapproval either. As everyone has rightly said, our choices are our business, not theirs.
I'm not upset about the fact he doesn't like our kitchen plans or pushchair plans, I don't care what his thoughts are, but what does upset me is the criticism and his need to constantly make out he knows best and imply we are clueless.
I just have absolutely no idea why FIL feels the need to comment on everything? We don't run things past him, we don't ask for his thoughts or advice, we don't invite his comments, we don't ask for his opinions but he just gives them every time he sees us
How can we physically stop him from talking to us and telling us what he thinks?? I'm not sure gagging is allowed.....
Ok then, maybe he is just rude then .
"Stop going on about it, you are really bugging us" should do it then <evil cackle>
Maybe it's like toddler wrangling: just be consistent.
Ach, don't listen to me - I am sure you'll find a way as long as you have DH (and DMiL) on side.
I like the "Stop going on about you are really bugging us line" actually I might start practising and slowly build up the courage to say it to his face
Just wanted to suggest that alongside smiling and nodding you should always be sure and even a bit over enthusiastic about what you are planning or have done. Don't just mention you are moving the downstairs loo tell him in excited and glowing terms just how amazing it will be and how much you are looking forward to the extra space. Then look at him expectantly, ideally with big, excitable eyes filled with the wonder of the extra storage to come.
If he should then in anyway critise your plan just laugh as if he has said something a bit ridiculous and repeat how amazing its going to be.
This always works for me and I also find it strangely enjoyable.
On a separate note I am absolutely with those who say you need to sort out the unwanted visits before the baby arrives. Set rules now, the arrival of the DC is the perfect excuse.
Wow what a good tactic HearMyRoar - I am taking notes
Has your DH ever lived very far from them? Or always a stone's throw down the street? Is he the youngest btw?
Sounds like FIL is acting like he's got a teenager for a son instead of a grown man about to be a father himself. And the fact that your DH doesn't seem to
tell him to shut up stand up to him makes me wonder if he's had a lifetime of FIL knowing best and is unable to.
I dunno... it could all be fine or you could have a nightmare when the baby comes. But you should start putting your foot down now. If your DH is too afraid to say anything directly to his dad, then you're going to have to do it.
My DH is their eldest son. We are both in our 30's and have professional jobs.
With regards to his history of living with/near them:He moved to a different City when he went to University at 19 so lived away from them for 4 years. He then came back to his home town where he bought a house with his girlfriend from Uni and they lived together for a few years. I think this was relatively close to his parents but where they used to live (I.e where he grew up) was a small town. My DH then split up with his girlfriend, they sold their house and my DH bought the house that he and I I was a student nurse at the time and thankfully the baby got her transplant just before I completed my placement. I got quite close to her parents in the 8 weeks I was there and the impression I got was that they were glad it had gone to court and the decision had been taken out of their hands. now live in - it was a 15/20 minute drive away from where his parents lived. About 6 months after moving into this house his parents bought the house that was for sale 20 doors down.
DH definitely isn't afraid of his dad I think we are both taken aback because like I said, it isn't like this behaviour is 'normal' for FIL, it has just sprung from nowhere over the last few months. My DH is a very laid back character and has told me to just ignore his dad but it's easier said than done. I'm hoping FIL's seemingly recent personality transplant is just because the birth is looming and he is going into 'Practical Mode' - fingers crossed he will revert back to normal after the event.
I have absolutely no idea why my previous post is a combination of merged posts??
What on earth??
I was a teeny tiny bit confused.
Umm... I was ok until the transplant business... could you possibly clarify that?
I think (correct me if wrong, OP) that this:
I was a student nurse at the time and thankfully the baby got her transplant just before I completed my placement. I got quite close to her parents in the 8 weeks I was there and the impression I got was that they were glad it had gone to court and the decision had been taken out of their hands.
- is a mistaken cut and paste thrown into the middle of her post, but meant for another thread altogether. It's splitting a sentence, that makes complete sense if you remove that part.
Correct perfectstorm The transplant stuff is from a post I wrote about 2 days ago and I so have no idea why a random sentence has appeared within this thread?? Like you say, I must have accidentally cut and pasted....this IPad does some very weird things!!!
I think these things are best dealt with honestly and in an up front manner. Could you ask to have a talk with them and tell them that you have been finding some of their behaviour difficult recently and you want to set some boundaries before the baby is born. (You and DH). Talk about letting you know before coming round, not giving unsolicited advice etc. it will be hard, but may save the relationship in the long term.
I'm quite horrified that your PIL bought a new house just down the street from you a few months after you'd bought your house - that would feel suffocating to me!
I agree with Pacific Dogwood's post above - you do come across as wanting your PIL's approval for stuff you have done/ bought. You say that you don't want approval, you're just discussing stuff that comes up in conversation, but I suspect your PIL perceive it otherwise.
The way that they are so over-involved in your life (no doubt due to their proximity!) reminds me of my FIL. He's a nice person, who cares a lot about his sons, and would always help us out. But he very much wants to have that 'patriarchal' role of head of the family, be in charge, and have his sons come to him for help and support. He seems incapable of accepting that DH and my BILs are adults who can make their own decisions and don't need dear old dad to help them.
It's not so bad for us as we live 200 miles away, but one thing we have had to do is stop telling FIL stuff, to avoid the endless questions/ comments/ suggestions, which are all made in a fairly patronising tone. The worst time was when we'd bought our first house - we didn't move in straight away as it needed a lot of work, so DH was there every day after work and most of the weekends. FIL rang him every single evening to find our what he'd been doing. DH tried texting him each evening, but FIL would then call back to ask about it! It did change DH's view of his dad, tbh. We are planning to move house this year, and won't be mentioning it to PIL until moving day!
I think at the very least, you need to stop your PIL dropping in without being invited - their response to this request will say a lot. As pp have said, you need to establish boundaries before they upset you even more. And don't discuss purchases/ DIY/ the garden with them - just mention that you've decided you're doing X/Y when it comes up in conversation.
I didn't know my husband when he bought our house, he lived here for 2 years before we even met. When his parents bought their house my DH was sharing his with one of his friends, I.e renting out one of the bedrooms. I moved in with DH 6 months after we started dating and then his friend moved out a few months later. When I first started dating DH I thought it odd that his parents lived so close to him but didn't really make an issue of it.
In some ways it is lovely having them so close - like last night for example when our kitchen flooded at 10pm and I was able to run to theirs and get help!! When there is water absolutely gushing out your walls late at night it is handy having a second pair of hands only a 10 second walk away
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