AIBU to find MIL comments annoying and critical

(22 Posts)
Macdaddylonglegs Tue 10-May-16 15:23:20

I have a 2 year old and a 12 week old. My MIL has come over 3 times in the last couple of months to 'help' me in caring for them. Quite frankly don't find her that helpful, I end up waiting on her with food and cups of tea but that's a separate issue. My 2 year old is a lively, high spirited child and I happened to mention to MIL that I'd had a particularly difficult few days with LO with lots of tantrums etc. Difficult time had coincided with DP working extra long hours and being stressed and 12 week old being more difficult to get down for naps so I felt 2yr old was struggling with reduced attention from me. The next day MIL text, she needed to speak as needed to talk to me about 2yr old. She felt I needed to think more laterally about my approach, to avoid power struggles and not be so 'combative'!! Also dropped round a book on gentle discipline. AIBU to feel a little offended and judged? To put into context most people (family and friends) tell me I'm very gentle, even DP thinks I spend too long thinking laterally to persuade toddler to do what I expect, he's much quicker to lay down law. I do employ several gentle tactics, which I've got from books, mums net etc. I do choose my battles, you can't live with a 2yr old without learning to choose battles carefully. Im not a hot headed person at all. I have lost my temper with LO a couple of times recently as she has taken to kicking and thrashing when im changing her poo filled nappy. After trying to rationalise with toddler i did regretably end up shouting at them as poo getting smeared everywhere. Felt guilty for shouting afterwards. Feel im doing my best juggling 2 kids, little sleep and DP being stressed and working more. More context I have felt criticised and judged in the past by MIL for things like not breastfeeding my 2yr old for longer ( I stopped at 15 months, MIL practiced extended BF with her children till 3+), not co-sleeping etc. I guess we do have different parenting styles and beliefs which is fine. Can't help feeling a little offended, like she'said saying I could do better but maybe she'said just being helpful and I should stop being so sensitive??

squizita Tue 10-May-16 15:53:54

She's being uncommunicative and passive-aggressive, and it's a power thing.
TBH I would listen very patiently and then ask a few pertinent questions which might result in her reflecting on the way she communicates or might result in bluster. TBH I would ask her what kind of adult behaviours would you expect in a gentle family? In an environment of listening and respect, is there one way of doing things? etc. Mind you I am

This is about her. Not you.

The natural term BF stuff sounds like she is setting steep expectations and wants to feel superior. Even right old NCT lentil weavers like me can tell you BF for a perfectly good length of time for a western baby with access to clean drinks and a wide range of food. There is no space for criticism there.

It's some quite un-gentle older-person-wants-authority stuff disguised as caring.

squizita Tue 10-May-16 15:54:26

Does DP know about all of this and what she said?

Macdaddylonglegs Tue 10-May-16 16:11:53

Yes DP knows, he was initially frustrated too and said it was patronising but is now reading the book. I guess that's a respectful thing to do?! He definitely doesn't feel I need to change my parenting style but excuses MIL as a bad communicator.

AliceInHinterland Tue 10-May-16 16:12:02

It's really none of her business at all is it. She needs to respect, and more importantly support, your parenting if she wants you to welcome her into your life. I would try slipping into conversation about how sometimes you just want to vent and you find it really shuts down a relationship when people just offer advice all the time - as if you hadn't the wit to consider these things yourself (pretty offensive IMO). Of course you don't intend to shout at your toddler, but they are extraordinarily challenging! And why on earth would her breastfeeding decisions necessarily be right for your circumstances? If she won't accept that then she can visit when your DP has the kids and leave you in peace. I hate the cup of tea guzzling type of 'helpers'.

brassbrass Tue 10-May-16 16:15:39

Thing is now you know how she can be you need to stop sharing too much stuff with her. Don't give her any info and she won't have anything to judge. Just keep it light and breezy.

In an ideal world it would be lovely to be able to just talk about how things are going with a maternal figure. You may not really want solutions just an encouraging word or a bit of sympathy. Sadly that is rare in the real world. People lack tact or boundaries or have other agendas. Not really what you need when you have small knackering children!

If she isn't helpful then don't entertain her on your own if all that does is make extra work for you. Only have her round when your DH is there. Don't get dragged into defending your parenting choices. You don't need to justify anything to anyone. Just repeat 'we're happy with our choices'.

squizita Tue 10-May-16 16:27:30

A gentle and communicative family life is not about a tone of voice or doing xyz, it's about respect. And she isn't showing family respect: she's patronising you.

The irony that she's the parent (in law) in this case!

VagueIdeas Tue 10-May-16 16:28:48

I hope the book took a flying trip to the bin?

FeralBeryl Tue 10-May-16 16:37:49

If she wants to be helpful, it'd be nice if instead of the passive aggressive book drop, she could take her DGD out for a bit to give you a break, and her some one to one attention with an adult.
Try to smile and nod, whilst ignoring anything that makes you feel twitchy.
The other option is to actually speak to her vaguely, say that you wonder if she's aware that you feel pressurised when she makes certain comments?
My MIL was the same, sneered when I stopped BF at 7 months, thought I was drugging them if they had calpolhmm.
It's difficult not to become hyper sensitive to everything they say after a while, even when they really are just being nice.
MIL is actually ok now occasionally and I've learnt to cope better with her judgements.

I had 2 under 18 months and it's fucking hideous at first.
It'll settle down in a few months. Head down, eat, sleep when you can, and remember it isn't forever flowers

Macdaddylonglegs Tue 10-May-16 21:39:34

Thanks everyone. It is tricky as DH often thinks I'm oversensitive when it comes to his mum. I have suggested in the past that perhaps she should visit when he was looking after the kids or at the weekend when the -burden pleasure of the visit could be shared but he felt that was unreasonable of me, considering MIL is retired and should be able to visit when she likes. Do find visits very draining as she stays for the whole day and conversation can be very strained and I feel most of my parenting decisions are judged. FeralBeryl I think it's a good idea to try to suggest she take DGD out but it still doesn't stop her from sticking around throughout naptime and the whole day. Not sure there's a way to tactfully ask her to leave/ shorten visits hmm

brassbrass Wed 11-May-16 16:36:48

really don't think your DH can insist on you entertaining his mum alone though if she causes you stress.

kiki22 Wed 11-May-16 21:16:23

I kind of feel that she's trying to help just not in a great way, I'm thinking she's been over your stressed mentioned your not having a easy time she's gone away been thinking about how she would handle it and tried to help by suggesting what she would do and bringing a book she thinks might help you have said you've picked up tips from books so many she thought it would be helpful??

I'm thinking of how my own mum, mil and gran are with me if I mention DS is doing something they all want to help with there way of how to resolve the issue, my mum thinks I'm to harsh she's what would now be discribed as an attachment/gentel parent, mil thinks I'm too soft she would have been a great Victorian parent and my gran just thinks all this talking through things with a little kid is ridiculous (we were just told what's what and we were all fine) I learned not to take it as them thinking I'm doing badly just that their way is better, which at the end of the day I think my ways better so fair enough they are intitled to their opinion too.

waterrat Thu 12-May-16 18:17:26

You know what she probably means well but I'd find that really annoying too.

Take a deep breath and ignore. Or if it would make you feel better say calmly to her..Thanks for the book I do put a lot of thought into my parenting thanks.

I'd just accept you find her a bit annoying and to be honest with a tiny baby you are knackered and not going to feel particularly tolerant.

I don't think she should be able to come round all the time when your husband isn't there. It will be easier for her to be useful when they are older so perhaps just avoid her for a bit while you are tired and need to keep life calm for yourself.

waterrat Thu 12-May-16 18:19:27

Can she ve trusted to look after the 2 yr old? If so can she be asked clearly to help by taking the toddler out?

If not I think just remember that as the children get older life gets easier and it's easier for grandparents to be useful.

Breastfeeding till 15 months is about a year more than most uk mums so she is ludicrous if she judged you for that !

waterrat Thu 12-May-16 18:20:31

P's. I found visitors staying too long really exhausting. Could you be honest and tell her uou want to take the baby and go to bed during nap time ?

Janey50 Thu 12-May-16 18:59:30

Breast-feeding until 3+ hmm. I think the fact that you managed to breastfeed for 15 months is amazing. I know its easy to say, but please try not to let her get you down. My ex-MIL was awful to me. Nothing I did was right in her opinion. And after all,she should know,she had raised 4 children and look how they turned out. It was a relief that I didn't have to see her any more when me and my ex H got divorced.

OnceMoreIntoTheBleach Thu 12-May-16 19:10:28

OP I know how you feel about stilted conversations with the MIL when DH isn't there to be the 'glue' in the room.

Have you tried delegating jobs to her when she's there so that you get the sort of help you actually want?

Might help take the pressure off - she feels useful and you feel less stressed and you both have a common goal of childcare so the lack of conversation is less of an elephant in the room?

Macdaddylonglegs Thu 12-May-16 20:26:20

Thanks for the ideas and support. It's nice just to be able to have a bit of a rant about her and find out that others have just as good relationships with their MILs too wink

She wanted to come to help next week but I thankfully have excuse plans. I definitely need a week off. OnceMore I have tried delegating jobs as I do think she genuinely wants to be helpful and often asks if she can do laundry or washing up. However she has previously ruined delicate laundry items and I've never know anyone be completely incapable of washing things up but she managed it. The 'clean' dishes are usually still caked in food and when she's gone (to save offence) I then have to wash everything up again! I once came downstairs from a nap with the baby and she'd decided to rearrange my storage and created absolute chaos!!! You couldn't make it up. But the one things she can do is take DD out so I think that's a good idea and that's what I need to steer her to do.... and then hide sleep in my room with the baby during nap time!

Macdaddylonglegs Thu 12-May-16 20:32:25

waterrat I think you're right, I'm definitely not at my most tolerant right now and being around my MIL makes me miss my mum who lives further away and can't visit as often. I feel guilty but I guess I should just admit I find her irritating hmm but it is mainly because I do feel judged, she's a strong lady and knows what she wants and the stilted conversation is so painful!

DeadGood Fri 13-May-16 06:56:32

The communication issues probably aren't going to change, but what you can change is your husband's attitude and the shape of your MILs visits.
How dare he tell you that she can show up whenever she likes? You get to set the terms, he'd do well to remember that.
And on occasions when she does come, it can absolutely leave her to it during nap time. Every second week, tell her what a bad night you all had and retire to your bedroom for a nap while your child asleep. (Obviously you don't have to sleep - watch something on your laptop or read a book etc) On the other weeks, gush about how happy you are that someone is there to keep an ear out for your LO while she's asleep, as you have to pick something up from a shop in town with steps, and there's no way you could do it with a pram. Set her up with tea, biscuits, the TV on, and then skip down the street enjoying a baby-free walk to a cafe with cake.
I'd also second the suggestion of sending her out with your LO to buy you yet more time alone to get on with things.
You get the idea. There is absolutely no reason why you two have to spend the entire visit attached at the hip.

DeadGood Fri 13-May-16 06:58:47

You can also think of other things she could help with - personally I'd never point someone to the laundry and tell them to go for it - would not trust my clothes to someone in that way - but hanging out washing is fairly straightforward so you could plan to have a load ready for her each visit. Vacuuming or folding laundry? Popping to the shops with a list (and the baby in a pram)? Nappy changes?

junebirthdaygirl Fri 13-May-16 07:32:08

I'm a gm of a slightly older child but when l visit my gcs mom encourages her to bring me stories to read playdough to make etc. She pips into kitchen to prepare dinner or do bits and leaves me in living room entertaining little one. I have no problem with this. I also stay no longer than 2 hours. Maybe if she was playing on the floor with a toddler she would be gone quicker from exhaustion. There is no way l could stick my best friend coming for a whole day with a 12 week old not to talk of a Mil. She is totally the one here who needs to change. Toddlers are notorious after a new baby so any way you are coping is good. How would your dh feel if you're mother was sitting there looking at him struggling for a whole day while you were out. Believe me he would not stick it. He needs to cop on and change this scenario.

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