Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

If we separate, how do I still protect DC from him and MIL?

(24 Posts)
salsiverdi Sun 15-May-16 08:19:34

Previous poster about an intrusive MIL under another username.
MIL has made my life a misery since I discovered I was expecting DC, it's taken a long time to get DH to speak up on my behalf an set limits. He has done so but clearly resents me for it. He actually drives much of the enmeshment with his parents himself and has no boundaries until I forced them up recently.
It's not the first time his lack of boundaries has caused issues for me, as a group of his female friends took to bullying me when we first got together and he denies it was happening until one of his male friends spoke to him on my behalf (without any influence from me whatsoever) he then apologised profusely and cut these 'friends' off.
I put a lot of our problems down to his lack of boundaries, he blames my lack of tolerance, which is a problem, bit I don't believe it's a cause for the problems with MIL and his friends.
we're now not getting along at all and staying together is becoming less and less likely. My concern however is how much influence he will allow MIL to have when he has custody of DC at weekends? She will jo doubt swarm about playing mummy to my child making subtle critical comments about me over the years in a mission to sever our lovely mum/daughter relationship.
DH has a tendency to ignore problems or anything he perceives as negative. If DC were to become poorly in his care, I'm not convinced he would take it as seriously as he should do. He never gets concerned. Eg I once went to bed with a migraine and could hear DC screaming uncontrollably downstairs, I went downstairs to ask what was wrong with him and he said "he's crying." Everything is simply black and white to DH, actually DC had a temperature and was coming down with a chest infection.
DH is a wonderful DF aside from this and I couldn't not allow him to have lots of regular contact with DC. But how can I protect DC from these negative influences when I'm not there? The biggest of all being MIL? I've no doubt that EVERY time DH saw DC, she would be there too, telling him what to do and planning lots of cosy days out for them all, whilst my family are frankly rubbish and DC would only have me to enjoy special times with in my care.

I know I cant stay with DH just to protect DC from these influences, but it makes me very reluctant to go...

RiceCrispieTreats Sun 15-May-16 08:33:30

Are you currently the main caregiver? If you are then you would have good cause to argue for him to have them EOW rather than 50/50, which would reduce IL influence.

But overall, you can't stop other people from being crap. You can however mitigate the negative impact on your DC by being the consistent, stable parent who does not pour poison in their ears, and who they know they can always discuss their concerns with.

Children are not stupid and will also sense that any manipulation is "off". If you hold back from any such tactics yourself, and are the person they can speak to about such things, then you'll be giving them a great way to cope with contact with your MIL.

salsiverdi Sun 15-May-16 09:25:05

I am the main caregiver; I work part-time and look after DC for 2 days pw (aside from weekends) although DH is very hands on once he's at home, when not on one of his many weekend pursuits.
He would argue that he currently gets to see DC everyday and wouldn't want that to change so would fight for 50/50 custody I feel, with help from MIL of course.
I just worry that MIL is so subtle that it would pass DC by, just as it passes DH by. It is only through her doing something so obviously and directly critical and manipulative over recent weeks that he's finally put some boundaries in place, albeit reluctantly and not without resentment.

Hissy Sun 15-May-16 09:26:04

You can't control what he does if you split up and he has access to the kids.

I know this is hard, but if you want more control over what your do are exposed to, splitting up is not going to help this happen.

Have you and h been to counselling? Is it just his DM or are there other wider issues?

I don't advocate staying together for the children in any way shape or form, but if you have toxics in the mix your first and best option is to do whatever it takes as a couple to work it out.

Does h want to split? If not then this is your strongest leverage point.

salsiverdi Sun 15-May-16 09:41:29

I am currently in counselling for depression and DH refuses to partake in any sort of relationship counselling, he doesn't 'believe in in it' and does not like talking.

DH wants us to stay together, as do I but we just don't like each other very much at the moment. We've been in a state of 'trying to get on the right track' since christmas time.
Counselling is helping me but is further acknowledging and helping me accept my feelings about DH and MIL. It is through counselling that I've been able to accept the MIL is intentionally going out to sabotage relationships between me and DC, DH and I which pushes DH further and further away. I was denying myself my feelings before this which was causing the depression. DH just won't catch up though.. I think he'd rather me be down and accept MIL the way she is, than be happy and stick to my boundaries.

It's very hard. If I can find a way to stay then I will.

juneau Sun 15-May-16 10:53:49

Is your DH on the autistic spectrum? He seems to have real problems with empathy, relating to others, and appropriate boundaries, which to me is a red flag.

As for your MIL - if the two of you separate and he has the DC 50% of the time then no, unless you can get a restraining order against your MIL there is fuck all you can do about the level of contact or influence she will have once the DC are at his house.

lavenderhoney Sun 15-May-16 11:07:59

If he has finally put boundaries in place you can leverage with those. How often do you all see mil and how old are your DC?

Try and make sure your time as a family is booked and clear- and frankly letting a child scream and do nothing is worrying. Maybe he could take a st Johns course? My dh let my ds go a week with an acute ear infection with mil applying home remedies ( FFS) despite ds spending the week in tears. In a different country. So that was unpleasant especially with the doc back here moaning at me for not doing anything for a week, so that was awful having to tell him in front of ds why he hadn't done anything. And ex mil was a childminder.

salsiverdi Sun 15-May-16 13:44:36

Lavender: that sounds completely our of order. These are the sorts of worries I have once DH and MIL are collectively let loose on the care of my child.
MIL and I are now NC since the recent manipulative outburst from MIL, this has hugely cut down the amount of visits with DC etc. She looks after him perhaps a couple of hours every 2 weeks to give DH and I much needed 'us' time but that's it. Before that, MIL was trying to organise family hols outings, you name it and I was constantly having to put my foot down, say no and be the 'bad' guy because quite frankly, I can't bare her company and she knows it! She would use these events to antagonise me very subtly and criticise my parenting.
Thankfully, I've now openly said that these cosy outings are no more and drawn a line under it. FIL had no idea about the extent of MIL'S behaviour until DH explained to him, he now sees her meddling differently. DH I'm sure, is waiting for the day I 'forgive and forget' so that we can all get along again bit that will never ever happen.

Juneau: regarding autism. Possibly on the spectrum, likely to be more aspergers though I think. That said, DH can be quite emotional and will let it show, he also likes affection, which casts doubt. I'm not sure if he's just so in awe of his parents that he refuses to see any other perception.
In terms of caring for DCS needs: I just think he buries his head in the sand when there is any potential for something he doesn't want to deal with. I feel I'm stuck here, with him and his stubborn ways if I want to go on protecting my daughter from his lack of clear thinking and boundaries.

salsiverdi Sun 15-May-16 13:46:25

My *DS from his lack of clear thinking

Darn predictive text.

ThreeLeggedCat Sun 15-May-16 13:54:58

OP how old are your DC. I used to have similar worries, but my DH and I did sort out the boundaries issue eventually. One thing we learnt was to trust our own parenting, and that the DC will eventually understand the emotional side of it. I'm not saying don't protect them, but do trust them to understand eventually.

So, my DD (7) now realises that my inlaws cannot/will not give her and her brother the same sort of care that my parents give them, and she no longer expects that the inlaws will be able to do this. The kids have a lovely relationship with my parents, who are not toxic in any way. We have had a few age appropriate conversations about what inlaws will/will not do and why we only see them with all 4 of us together etc. My DS (3) obviously doesn't understand in the same way yet, but he also doesn't go to my inlaws for comfort, whereas he will with my parents - he clearly even at this age can sense what people can do what for him (or not).

I know your situation is a bit different, and you can and should protect them from poor influences as much as you possibly can. But do trust your kids that they will be able to tell what is ok, and what isn't.

RiceCrispieTreats Sun 15-May-16 13:56:33

I suggest you read "Toxic In Laws" by Susan Forward.

It's about how people like your husband are warped by having such people as parents, and how it impacts their marriages.

salsiverdi Sun 15-May-16 14:37:22

I've actually read Toxic Inlaws and Toxic parents. My parents are drunks and neglectful, DH'S parents are intrusive and MIL narcissistic. A happy medium please!

Toxic Inlaws helped me understand a few things, but of course, it cannot change the situation. I've had the talk with DH as suggested in the book, he's done the same with PILS. But no good has come of it, DH proclaims to be with me on this and then acts completely resentful, he puts boundaries in place with PILS then a few months later, drops them again. The book gave me insight, buy unfortunately it cant solve out problems or change people.

RiceCrispieTreats Sun 15-May-16 14:49:05

You're right about that.
It really sounds like you've done all you can.

It sounds, then, like staying with your DH means a lifetime of having refresher conversations with him every couple months, so he can briefly put up boundaries that he will eventually drop again, ad infinitum.

And leaving him means that you get to put up any boundary that you want, without resistance from him, but he will drop all attempt at having any of his own.

It's up to you which seems the preferable option to you. FWIW I think it's saner to leave him and control only what you can control (ie. your own choices), rather than having to constantly police his behaviour and negotiate with him, and experience the frustration of a partnership that isn't one. But only you know what is best for you and your DC.

DistanceCall Sun 15-May-16 15:45:21

Have you told him that you are thinking about divorce if you don't get couples therapy? It may shock him into action.

salsiverdi Sun 15-May-16 15:47:42

I think perhaps couples therapy should be our next move...
I will mention it to him. He's doing better on the talking front and we now have a 'talk hour' once a week bit it's largely driven by me. We never argue but he doesn't say much. Perhaps a mediator is just what we need to get him talking...

welshrarebitontheside Sun 15-May-16 16:23:08

I really empathise with you. Re the ASD my oh is very similar and is on the spectrum. He is also very affectionate and expressive of emotion but really cannot shift perspecri e and cannot hold the boundaries between me and his bizarre family and ex wife. Hth.

salsiverdi Sun 15-May-16 19:44:12

I never realised that there was a link between autism and a lack of boundaries. I'll look into this. Thanks

welshrarebitontheside Sun 15-May-16 23:43:51

Salvi - you'd be surprised. Asd does not always present in a cut and dried way..I didn't pick up on dps asd till much later. There are some partner of asd support threads which are very helpful.

mummyto2monkeys Mon 16-May-16 01:49:39

A Mummy to an autistic son, who is incredibly affectionate with those he loves. He also is full of love and concern for others (those who are obviously distressed/ ill/ in trouble) in fact I would say he spends a lot of time worrying about others. His struggle is with putting himself in the shoes of other people.

This sounds like a problem your dh had, I'm guessing because you didn't look very upset, that your dh didn't realise you were feeling hurt. He may be the same with his Mother, she definitely sounds narcissistic and toxic. I think when your MIL says something that upsets you, you must tell your dh and explain how and why it has hurt you. If your husband is on the spectrum then it would definitely be worth trying to seek a diagnosis. Then find support and information about autism.

lavenderhoney Mon 16-May-16 21:45:31

What do you do in the time your mil has the DC? Are the DC old enough to prefer a play date instead and you reciprocate? Or an activity they do together?

You could plan out using the calendar the rest of the year, and put in time with mil but family days out ( you, dh and DC only) as well.

As DC get older they work out who they like and don't like. The key is to keep talking and make sure they have good and kind boundaries at home so that they recognise outside the norm behaviour and how to deal with it. When it's family it's harder to deal with as put up and shut up is the default. My DC are far too young to have to deal with the emotional blackmail they are subjected too, but they absolutely recognise it's wrong.

salsiverdi Tue 17-May-16 11:19:40

It's very difficult as MIL will lavish DC with gifts which she buys to be left at her house. So if I buy DC a new chair for example, DC will tell MIL about in and a week later MIL has bought DC a bigger and better chair to be kept at her own house.
she constantly competes with my parenting; it's very strange. DC genuinely has more toys at MIL'S house now than at her own and he is the only GC. My fear is that over time, Granny's house is where he'll want to be rather than with me. MIL even registered him at her own address during a recent visit to the library. MIL looks after DC around once a fortnight for a couple of hours as it appears the more time we give her, the more 'rights' and the more pushy she seems to become.
If I were to leave DH, I'd have very little control over her obsessive behaviour with DS and it is obsessive, worryingly so.

salsiverdi Tue 17-May-16 11:23:57

I think it would be difficult for any DC to see through her behaviour as manipulative when he's getting lots of lovely new toys and treats every fortnight. Even if Mummy did say she would be buying it for him first.....
she's a very competitive woman, she even competes with her own GCS DM... says a lot really.

ApocalypseSlough Tue 17-May-16 11:30:51

How old is she wink?
Fwiw children aren't stupid, and do take on their parent's values rather than their grandparents. My dcs love their Gps but very much follow us rather than them in mindset and ideals.

salsiverdi Tue 17-May-16 12:30:08

That's good to know. TBF I have a good relationship with DS and no doubt he will soon begin asking why mummy never joins him and DH on trips to Grandma's house. He will also probably pick up on my reluctance to be around MIL no doubt. I guess that's when I'll need to be honest with him and explain that MIL doesn't make me feel very good. I'm not sure this will go down too well with DH and I worry he'll try to convince DS otherwise. The only way to monitor that I guess is through staying with DH so that I know what he's being told. DH will hate the idea of DS being told anything negative about MIL.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now