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Anyone want to give me some advice on relationship with mil

(22 Posts)
wickedwithofthenorth Mon 13-May-13 22:56:28

This is going to sound unbelievable but I don't think I could make it up if I tried.
Will try not to drip feed but writing out everything took up over 10 pages in word and don't think anyone could wade through that.
Basically when I first met and married dh I liked my mil and thought I had a decent relationship with her. Then there was an awful incident.
Mil told people I was pregnant. I found out about this at work in front of my manager when asked by a parent mil was friends with when I was taking maternity leave.
To cut a long story and a lot of rambling short I spent a long time crying in my managers office as dh and I were in no position to consider starting a family despite wanting to, eventually turned into a better and more open relationship. The parent cut ties with mil and we eventually found a way to get over our embarrassment bonding over mil being a batty cow.
Dh and I confronted mil but she sated I wasn't pregnant so had no idea where people were getting it from.
As it was such an emotive subject for me the issue was never pushed and I just took a very clinical approach to mil, letting dh deal with her as he pleased.
Now however happily we have dd, six months old, and I've moved on.
It's not an option for us to drag up the past as it would only add to a difficult situation. As much as I would have loved an apology years ago I've accepted that won't happen.
I don't think I'll ever be able to build an amazing relationship with mil but want a civil one for the sake of dd.
Mil is very jealous of the time my parents spend with dd and gets herself worked up over every single issue. I currently dread talking to her because of this and how she always manages to twist our words.
Anyone willing to offer up some ideas of how to start clearing the air and starting afresh?
Dh doesn't want to cut her out but has next to nothing to do with her. But want her to have a chance at getting to know dd.
Hope this all makes sense as typing one handed on phone while sleep deprived.

BabyHMummy Mon 13-May-13 23:02:30

Sounds like a no win situation hun.

My best advice is to allow her controlled access but lay down strict guidelines about appropriate behaviour etc and see hoe you get on

forgetmenots Mon 13-May-13 23:04:25

Couple of questions first (and for full disclosure I'm due to have dc1 any day and the ILs don't know, we have no contact after years of heartache ). So I'm far from unbiased here, but maybe thinking these through will help you focus on what you want from it.

1) why do you want her to have anything to do with dd if you both don't really want anything to do with her? (Sounds glib, but seriously you've said you dread talking to her, why inflict this on your dd unnecessarily?)

2) would there be a limit on her relationship with dd? For example what would happen if you caught her telling more lies?

Good luck op

wickedwithofthenorth Mon 13-May-13 23:40:23

Any contact she would have with dd would be supervised indefinitely until dd is old enough to understand what nanny says isn't always true and can essentially look after herself. I'm sure there would be more lies in the future about thing she would like to be true and we'll have to deal with that depending on the situation.
I think the reason I need to do something with her is the fact my dh is very close to his db who still lives at home and. It is making things really awkward for them both.
Despite living in a fantasy world she was at one point a nice person. Dh is a typical man, he doesn't actively maintain a relationship with her as you have to make a lot of effort when talking to her.
I'd like dd to have the chance at a relationship with her as has potential to be a lovely grandparent and it's all she's wanted for years.
As dh dealt with her for so long I get myself worked up when I have to communicate with her because I feel like I'm walking on egg shells. The dread comes into it because she's so worried about talking to me after upsetting us by camping out on the sofa when dd was days old and I was hours out of hospital. Dh had strong words.
I doubt there is a way to clear the air, but I'd like to be able to call her up and say let's take dd to the park without having to plan the conversation before calling.

Ginga66 Tue 14-May-13 00:03:10

Wow the whole in law thing is such a minefield. My dh is ok with my dm but neither of my dbros. I tolerate his ds. His mother is very useful with sitting but recently has shown her true colours as an emotionally stunted controlling manipulative truth twister! Too strong? If we did not need her input with the kids I'd happily not see her for longer stretches. It irks me greatly that dh can't see through her. At least you and dh are on same page. If she is unwilling to make amends and neither of you get along with her bu you want to see the brother I guess be civil. It's that or no contact o hav it out. Depends how much energy you have.best avoid the talk whn knackered though!

Your actions whilst understandable, could be misguided so I would give this far more thought. Your reasons for this woman having contact are frankly poor and it could all too easily go so horribly wrong.

Your role as parents here is to protect your DD from such toxic damaging influences.

If this woman is too toxic for you as parents, then she is far too toxic for your vulnerable and defenceless child end of. You will not be able to clear the air because she is inherently emotionally dysfunctional to start with. Also she has not apologised to you both nor has taken any responsibility for her actions. Toxic people do not do this so the "normal" ways (which you are seemingly adopting here by expressing a wish to clear the air) of dealing with familial relations do not apply. These people do not and never do play by the "normal" rules governing familial relations.

This is from Lighthouse:-
A percentage of the general population is dysfunctional and/or abusive. That percentage, like everyone else, has children. Then those children grow and have children of their own. The not-so-loving grandparents expect to have a relationship with their grandchildren. The only problem is, they’re not good grandparents.

Many adult children of toxic parents feel torn between their parents’ (and society’s) expectation that grandparents will have access to their grandkids, and their own unfortunate first hand knowledge that their parents are emotionally/physically/sexually abusive, or just plain too difficult to have any kind of healthy relationship with.

The children’s parents may allow the grandparents to begin a relationship with their children, hoping that things will be different this time, that their parents have really changed, and that their children will be emotionally and physically safer than they themselves were.

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, because most abusive people have mental disorders of one kind or another, and many of these disorders are lifelong and not highly treatable. (Others are lifelong and treatable; however, many people never seek the necessary help.)

The well-intentioned parent ends up feeling mortified for having done more harm than good by hoping things would somehow be different — instead of having a child who simply never knew their grandparents and who was never mistreated, they have an abused child who is now also being torn apart by the grief involved in having to sever a lifelong relationship with the unhealthy people they are very attached to.

More Here: http://lightshouse.org/lights-blog/toxic-bad-abusive-grandparents#ixzz2TFBKQrEX

Tiredtrout Tue 14-May-13 07:19:54

Listen to Attila she makes a lot of sense. If anyone can work out how to sort relationships with in laws let me know too. Sometimes people are just too fucked up, it sounds like yours are a bit on the too fucked up side of irrational.

Wicked, I hope you sort it but from experience when they are like this the period while the dc are little and can't really get what is being said to them is great it's when the dc are bigger and start having their own opinions and views it gets worse

forgetmenots Tue 14-May-13 08:37:49

Attila has a lot of experience and wisdom to offer on this OP, you could do a lot worse than listen to her.

If I can be really bold it sounds like you're putting up and shutting up:
'It's not a option for us to drag up the past' - says who? Better than pretending it hasn't happened in my experience. You've accepted an apology won't happen. Why? Seems like a very necessary step forward for me that she acknowledges what happened so it will not happen again. But you've said you're sure there will be more lies, which is awful in itself sad

You obviously know this situation better than we do, but it sounds to me that the only thing you're giving your dd the 'chance' of here is to see dysfunction up close. And to make life easier for your DH and BIL.

If being a grandparent is 'all she has wanted for years', you can bet the controlling streak is going to go through the roof with your dd. I can't help but feeling if she was going to be such an amazing grandmother she would have thought, like you and most other people, how she could put things right. She would have apologised, properly and fully. She would have tried to show you how her behaviour had changed. Instead, like a lot if narcissistic people, she is still in attack mode and sees herself as the wronged party (her jealousy of your parents).

Anyway - I'm trying and probably failing not to project here but I think involving her more in your dd's life by simply wiping the slate clean is going to be a mistake. My mil won't be part of her grandchild's life as we did this with her many times, the only lesson she learned from all of it was that we would put up with anything and she eroded almost every boundary we had. I wish we hadn't done that now and I'm only grateful dc weren't part of it.

Please if you are set on this, tread with total caution, neutral venues only, leave at the first sign of lies or of disrespect (do not allow your dd to witness you tolerating that), and have agreed boundaries with your DH.

Again I wish you luck, I know how difficult this kind of thing can be and everything I've said here is because I really do feel for you and your DH. But don't make the mistakes I did if you can at all avoid it. flowers

wickedwithofthenorth Tue 14-May-13 09:41:56

Thanks until recently I would have described mil as toxic but I'm now more inclined to think she has some mental health problems.
She's been through a lot and while I'm under no illusions to what type of mother she is she really does love her boys.
If I'm honest she isn't prone to lying, just isn't always clear on the line between fantasy and reality and I believe telling people I was pregnant was a fantasy gone too far that she lost control of.
She believes if you tell the universe what you get it. She just doesn't always use the right words and this has created other misunderstandings for he in the past. Like people thinking one of her sons was training to be aa vet, because she spent months talking about how he'd make such a good vet.
Sadly it was probably a poorly worded comment to a friend that got out of hand that caused her problem as only friends of her through this not family, all of who she informed within hours of finding out when I did get pregnant.
Damage was caused because of how much we wanted children at the time but couldn't consider ttc as dh had lost his job and I had to work an ungodly amount of over time to make ends meet. If we'd gone deeper at the time we'd have probably got things straightened out but to survive emotionally at the time we just had to move briskly on.
Now that I can think about it and only feel embarrassed by the situation I was put in, not unbelievably hurt.
It saddens me to think she put herself in this situation by how much she wanted a grandchild, now she has one it's virtually cut her out of her life.
If it was just her I don't think I'd be inclined to make any effort, but there are other people involved who I think dd would really benefit from having in her life, fil is wonderful and really does deserve to spend time with her and she dotes on her uncle.
I'm sure my future involves lots of silly nanny comments and will certainly always be personally supervising any contact she has with mil in short bursts and public places and if it doesn't work out I'd rather I tried now and it went wrong rather than later in her life.

forgetmenots Tue 14-May-13 09:57:39

Fair enough OP, as I say you'll know the nuances of the situation far better than us. I really and truly hope it works for you and your family - I would have loved our situation to be different too, but it sounds like you think your mil is amenable to trying which mine certainly isn't.

Good luck with all of it and make sure your DH understands exactly what you're doing, limits, etc.

mistlethrush Tue 14-May-13 10:08:12

But it clearly wasn't just this (major) lie about you being pregnant, and this being at a bad time and not being apologised for - she's also comped on your sofa when your dd had just been born? I think you're only telling the real cracker of the lies etc and ignoring a lot of the other things that are her imposing her will on your family in terms of this thread anyway....

wickedwithofthenorth Tue 14-May-13 10:13:59

I shouldn't make excuses for her forgetmenots. I do want to try for dd but need to consider that mil should be making an effort too.
Bil is hoping to move into his own place soon so may keep things as they are until his out of the situation then bring up needing an apology.
Dh is annoyingly laid back at times and just about makes the effort to see her for family parties and the odd phone call. He'd support me if I wanted to ask for an apology but will have to consider implications for him if things do go wrong.
I guess I was feeling guilty like I was the one keeping dd away so thanks for reminding me I can think of it as protecting her from a controlling individual instead.

I really dont get why you want to inflict her on your child? You seriously want to let your baby grow up and bond with her grandma, just to snatch the relationship apart when your mil behaves shoddily next time? It is more cruel than not letting a relationship develop in the first place.

Mil has no rights to your child, and she has no rights to a relationship with your child. As parents you need to protect children from harmful influences. If she is so difficult, manipulative, deceptive, and twist your words, why on earth let her form a relationship who will idolize her and not understand, and not be able to judge for herself?

If I were you, I would not bother. And brother in law can visit his niece at your home, or in the park, if he wishes.

forgetmenots Tue 14-May-13 10:35:56

If that helps to bear that in mind, OP, use it. It's true, after all.

You can support your DH if he wants a relationship with her whilst keeping a boundary for you and your child, it doesn't have to be all or nothing and you don't have to make any snap decisions. The power rests entirely with you - remember that!

wickedwithofthenorth Tue 14-May-13 11:02:02

Actually if I'm honest I don't want to impose her on dd's life.
Have just shown dh this thread and he and bil have both had a good laugh at me in the nicest possible way.
The only people in rl I have been able to talk to about this haven't been privy to the bluntness of this situation and the past dh and I have faced together and having been repeatedly being told I was hormonal and owed it to dd and mil to build bridges this thread is refreshingly honest.
Mil does not have any rights to dd and I'm attempting to justify something that's unjustifiable.
Dh and bil both admit she is controlling and that they both just want a quiet life. Will print this thread and leave it somewhere prominent to remind myself not to make such a stupid mistake!
Planning dd's baptism has brought this all up and felt like I had the responsibility to smooth things over with mil before bring her into our church. This is why I asked for bridge building advice. Will instead trust my initial instincts and find someone to keep mil occupied on the day and warn the people that need to know about her in advance.
Dd is lucky enough to have many people who care about her and doesn't need mil. When she sees mil she's never happy about it any way, so will continue with surgical indifference until a time dh wants to change it or be done with her all together.

forgetmenots Tue 14-May-13 12:03:49

Sounds like a good plan. Hope it's been handy thinking it all through 'out loud' smile

wickedwithofthenorth Tue 14-May-13 12:46:46

Very handy and lovely to be told I wasn't being unreasonable for my lack of contact with mil.
I was trying to convince myself it was my fault as we got on relatively well to begin with but working long hours or whatever is no reason for that.
I'll forget about it and enjoy dd!

AndTheBandPlayedOn Tue 14-May-13 13:39:25

Surgical indifference...love that!! grin

I let dh handle contact with his folks...they think I'm, well, let's edit that wink.

Go with your gut feeling. It sounds like mil wants your dd as a prop to enhance her (mil) life. Your dd will be invisible as a person, just as you are.

If you do allow a relationship while dd is a baby, imho, it won't turn into you snatching the relationship away...dd will start to avoid her in her own time.
Your dd won't get a feeling for this until she's maybe 8 yo (or 11/12) and then your dd will start saying "do I have to go with grandma?" declaring on her own gut instinct that she can see the dynamic with her is not quite right. Until then, if your dd is ever upset by mil, be on standby to debrief dd and revalidate her to minimize the mil influence. It sounds like being angry with mil will just be a waste of time/ energy...surgical indifference grin!

Read up on Attila' s links.

Mutley77 Tue 14-May-13 14:20:46

Thanks for all the info and thoughts on this thread. I recognise far to much of our situation in this and have taken on board that I really need to stand up for the needs of my children. I have ordered the book someone recommended on another thread called Toxic In-Laws and it looks really useful for anyone else facing similar.

forgetmenots Tue 14-May-13 15:06:15

Really pleased it's been useful mutley. Check out the stately homes thread too if you need a bit of support.

wickedwithofthenorth Tue 14-May-13 15:12:41

Oh my manager gave me that book, will dig it out.
I never wanted to be the girl that hated her mother in law... It just seems to be an unfortunately common problem.
Dh has suggested I stick mil's mil on her at dd baptism, we get on famously, mil can't stand her and cut contact completely when dh was little. She's actually been a rock since dd was born.
Feel for anyone who has to encounter such a draining person like my mil.
Talking about it has really helped put things in perspective. Thanks all.

And surgical indifference must be one of the best pieces of advice my grandma ever gave me, although that was when she found out I was taking on a job with toddlers.

Hissy Tue 14-May-13 22:04:23

You own H has little to do with his own mother. he knows her.

You don't. You grew up with normal parents. You think fundamentally people are trying to be good.

They are NOT, not always anyway.

Take the lead from your H. If he doesn't want anything to do with her, trust him. It's NOT a decision ANYONE has ever taken lightly.

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