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Issues with late DH's mother (MiL) and her reaction to current DP (Loooooooooong!)

(220 Posts)
HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 19:39:44

This might be long, as I don't want to drip feed. Also I want to know if AIBU but I'm not brave enough to post there! grin

Quick history - DH died when DS was a baby (4 years ago). Have been with new DP for a year. He has 2 DSs and he is also a widower. So we (unfortunately) have quite a bit in common in that sense. When DH was alive, I had an OK relationship with his mother, with a few issues arising that were usually dealt with by DH - normal MiL stuff - her demanding that we spend Xmas with her rather than FiL (divorced 25 years ago) etc etc. Since I got pregnant and the subsequent birth of DS, we had quite a few run-ins with MiL overstepping the boundaries but DH dealt with them when he was alive and I have dealt with them since. (Search my name and you'll come up with a few threads about minor annoyances!)

Current situation - Last year I met DP after 3 years on my own with DS. We have moved in together and his DSs and my DS get along fabulously and consider themselves brothers. DS calls DP "Daddy".

All the Grandparents - my FiL, my parents, DP's dad, DP's in-laws - all treat all the DS's like grandchildren. The DS's call the grandparents by their names - nanny, grandad, grandpa etc - and generally everyone is happy that they have gained extra grandchildren and that DP and I have each other.

Except MiL. Immediately after the first meeting of DP, his DS's and MiL, MiL called me and the first thing she said was that she didn't want DP's DSs calling her "Grandma". She was quite forceful that she isn't their Grandma - she is my DS's Grandma and that's all. I said that's fine - it's up to her. I also thought (without saying) that it's no skin off my nose and they already have lots of grandparents willing to love them and treat them as grandchildren.

Current issue - DS and I stayed with MiL just before Xmas (overnight) as we were invited to a family friends wedding (DP and his DS's not invited as v. small wedding and didn't know B&G - everyone fine with that). During breakfast/playtime while getting ready for wedding DS was chatting about "Daddy" (DP) and his brothers.

MiL "You mean <DPname>".

DS "Yes, <DPname>".

MiL "He's not your Daddy."

I was fuming. But as DS was there, I didn't want to raise anything and I let it wash over me. In the car later, I spoke to DS about it (bearing in mind he is 4.7) and confirmed with him that DP is his "Daddy" as well as the Daddy he has in Heaven. He said he was very lucky as he had 2 daddies and 2 brothers. I agreed and we went down the 'Silly Grandma got confused' route.

I couldn't get MiL alone at the wedding (and didn't want to ruin B&G's day) so couldn't speak to her about this, so called while I was driving home in the afternoon (It's 2 hours away and DS fell asleep in the car). I told her that it was not appropriate for her to 'correct' DS and that as far as he was concerned DP is "Daddy". He also knows he has Daddy in Heaven and he feels very lucky to have 2 daddies and 2 brothers.

At which point MiL corrected me and called them "Step-brothers". angry

I explained that DS sees them as his family and that is what matters - not names or blood. DP is the only Daddy he has ever known and he is happy. She (half-heartedly) apologised then reiterated that she didn't want DP's DSs calling her Grandma as she isn't their Grandma. I said thats fine and her choice. She then felt it necessary to remind me that DS is the only child of her son who died so he is very special to her. I reminded her that I remembered him dying (what with being there at the time and all!). Basically she apologised (frostily) and we hung up on a very tense conversation.

Since Xmas she has spoken to FiL (remember - divorced 25 years ago - but she still relies on him a lot) and he has (essentially) bollocked her for being an idiot and jeopardising her relationship with her only grandchild.

She then rang me, apologised for the tense situation and said she'd be happy for DP's DSs to call her Grandma and she doesn't want to jeopardise her access to DS - which I would never do anyway - I would definitely not stop access with DH's family.

Here's the AIBU - AIBU to not want to see or speak to her at the moment. I'm still very very angry that she felt the need to correct a 4 year old as well as the fact that she thought it necessary to remind me that DH died. Like I didn't know, or had forgotten. I am so angry, I shake when I see her name come up on my phone and when I tried to call her back the other day, I could feel my heart racing. I DO NOT want to speak to her right now. She may have apologised and think its all better, but to me, she has done what she thinks she needs to do to see DS - not actually thought about how her actions may have affected me and DS. I am also not happy with seeing her or letting DS see her (for now) as I can't trust her not to say these things again, as she doesn't appear to understand why I am so angry.

If I could confirm that she realises the gravity of what she said and promised she wouldn't do it again, I'd be more than happy for her to see DSs. DP has been very supportive in all of this and is happy to back me up, whatever my decision - although we are both hesitant about her seeing his DS's as she will clearly favour my DS over them and we don't feel that is fair on on any of them.

I may potentially see her in the next week or so (great aunt's funeral) so could speak to her then about how she made me feel and the confusion she could have put DS through (but luckily he is a very chilled little boy and not much phases him!)

Do I speak to her at the funeral? Do I call her before hand (which would then create an atmosphere at the funeral)? Do I let it lie for a while and keep ignoring her calls (I answer maybe 1 out of 6 calls)? Am I being totally unreasonable and should let it go? I need MN wisdom as DP is sick of hearing about it and I'm sick of talking about it. Some sort of action needs to be taken.

Thanks for reading.

Roseformeplease Wed 16-Jan-13 19:47:56

I think her upset is understandable and she is feeling scared and cornered and is lashing out as she wants him all to herself and not to share with your parents, never mind his new "grandparents". Now, I say understandable but that doesn't make it right.

I think you need to tell her how hurt you are but do so in a way that acknowledges her feelings. Perhaps concede something. "You will always be extra special to him as you are a link with his Daddy" or "You must make sure you tell him all about his Daddy as a boy". I think, while you are upset and angry and have every right to be you probably have to allow for her feelings. You now have a son and a partner and she has neither and probably is terrified of losing her grandchild.

Maybe extend an olive branch but make it clear as you do that your son's happiness will not be compromised.

Maybe not what you wanted to hear and I really do see why you are upset and angry.

HecateWhoopass Wed 16-Jan-13 19:51:59

I don't know. I can see and of course understand why you're so pissed off and yes she's really cocked up but as the mother of 2 sons I am also trying to imagine being in the horrible position of having lost one of them and then hearing their child call someone else daddy.
I wonder how that would feel?
I am not saying that her feelings matter more than yours. You've both suffered a dreadful loss. But is she a horrible, toxic person or is she not handling the loss of her son and very mistakenly thinking he's just been replaced and wiped.
I'm not saying she's right to feel that way. She's not, clearly not. It sounds like youve done everything to ensure your child remembers his father and it must hurt you to the heart if it appears she thinks otherwise, but I wonder if there's a way to work through this? If she's focusing on her loss and forgetting yours, could you talk to her and put her straight?

What a difficult situation OP. sad I think you are being perfectly reasonable to ignore the majority of her calls for the time being. Hopefully she will realise how much it has affected you and think before she acts so insensitively in future. If I were you, at the funeral I would stay surrounded with others to avoid getting drawn into conversation with her/ wait for her to approach you, try to stay calm, keep conversation brief but polite etc and if she pesters you, just explain as calmly as you can how you feel and how she has affected you with her attitude. What's said is said, she cannot control how you react to it. Maybe over time she will realise the gravity of her actions, maybe not. I'm not sure how you expect her to prove she realises how serious it is, but you are entitled to feel how you feel and give yourself the time and space to process everything.

ThePinkOcelot Wed 16-Jan-13 19:52:21

I think if it were me I would let it lie for a while. You have spoken about it, so I wouldn;t bring it up again. Of course, if she did something like this again, then by all means kick off! I certainly wouldn't say anything at the funeral - not the time or the place. As you say, your little boy hasn't been phased by it and is only little so will probably have forgotten about it all now. Let sleeping dogs lie - for the moment! xx

Doogle2 Wed 16-Jan-13 19:54:44

I understand its a difficult situation but I don't think you will achieve anything by blanking her. In fairness she apologised and has said your stepson can call her Grandma. Who knows what is going on in her head. Perhaps she feels a bit disloyal to her sons memory?

Just remember that you are happy with your own little family. I think it's lovely that you are still encouraging a good relationship with Grandma. You can't control what she says but you can correct her. I bet she's forgotten all about it now so let it be.

Anifrangapani Wed 16-Jan-13 19:59:04

In answer to your AIBU - yes a little, but is uderstandable why you are cross. However she has appologised and made the conciliatory gesture of saying your dps kids can call her grandma.

I suspect that she is fearful that by increasing number of people in your family that the memory of your late husband will be diluted in your son's mind. And therfore when she dies your husbands memory will die too. It might be wise to have a chat with her to make her realise that your late husband is still very much a part of the discussions you have with your son. Maybe you and her can put together a memory box for when your ds is older.

As for brining it up at the funeral. It is already going to be an emotionally charged time so it is probably best leave it for another day when you can both feel comfortable.

Best of luck. Xxx

Can see it from both sides tbh.

My mum died when I was 4, my dad remarried but none of us have ever called her Mum as you have only 1 mum in my eyes, however I love my stepmum as though she was my mum. To all intents purposes she is my mum. She has done an amazing job with us and she knows I think of her as that.

My DD calls her nanny. I know my mums sister struggles with this, after all that is her sisters granddaughter, not my stepmums but she smiles and says nothing even though I know it really hurts her inside to watch someone else bring up her sisters children and grandchildren...

I don't think you are being unreasonable to be angry, it is your choice what your DS calls your partner but just remember it can hurt like hell to people on the outside.

Well done for starting over after losing your husband, that must have been awful. Hope it all works out for you and you find a solution smile

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 16-Jan-13 20:01:13

Let it go, half of my half siblings kids call my mother by her name the other call her Grandma, My childrens step grandma is called by her name and not grandma as she isn't, and hasn't been around long enough to be called Grandma, but this is a personal issues, she has every right not to be called Grandma by someone else's children and yes techincally they are his step brothers. Please don't forget that she is of an older generartion where blended families and what we call each other was different, and she has lost her son and probably scared that your son is going to forget his father.

millie30 Wed 16-Jan-13 20:01:18

I feel sad reading your OP. My mother died when I was a baby, and my Dad remarried when I was 3. My maternal grandparents were very kind and supportive to my stepmum and when she had my younger sister they welcomed her as one of their grandchildren and never treated her any differently. I'm sure they were heartbroken at the loss of their daughter but they never let it impact how they treated all of the children and always respected that our stepmum became our 'mum' and were very grateful at the role she had in always ensuring they had access, including driving through a blizzard when heavily pregnant so they could see us over christmas.

It is a shame that your MIL has decided to take a hostile stance, and I can only assume it must be grief which is the cause. I wouldn't keep ignoring her though, but I would take the stance with her that she is very important to your DS and you want her to be as involved as possible to keep his father's memory alive, but she cannot be allowed to undermine how he feels about his dad and his brothers.

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Wed 16-Jan-13 20:02:16

I think maybe some space is a good idea.
I've rewritten this post a few times now to try and make sure it reads in an understanding way.
I think she's worried her sons been forgotten, that he's been replaced (she's been replaced) and that both herself and his memory is being left behind.

Now that's clearly not the case at all. But I think you BOTH need to take some deep breaths and show each other some understanding. They'll be times you both get it wrong, but hopefully you'll navigate the way through

I feel quite sorry for her, tbh. She must be so heartbroken at losing her child. I think I'd try to forgive her for the 'Daddy' correction. It must have hurt her to hear your DS refer to another man as Daddy. Like her DS was being forgotten. I know that's not what is happening, but I can imagine it striking her that way. She just wants her boy back sad

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 16-Jan-13 20:06:14

And definitely don't bring it up at the funeral, not to right time or place.

jojane Wed 16-Jan-13 20:08:43

I can see why you are upset but I can also see her point of view too, if the situation was that you had divorced and you ds had a step mum who he calle mummy, you would probably be upset? I think your MIL is trying to make sure that her son is remembered and not replaced which maybe to her mind is what's happening? I agree that you need to chat with her and let her know that her son will always be a part of your ds's life and try and find ways that she can help keep his memory alive, passing on some of his things, talking about him to your DS, taking him to places she used to take her son etc, maybe if she feels her son isn't being forgotten she will be more accepting of the new family you have created.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 20:09:52

Phew! It's nice to see I'm not BU in being angry.

Rose - DP read your post and said "That's what I've been saying!"

Hecate - I was hooping I'd get some wise words from you! I do understand that it must be difficult for her to hear DS call another person Daddy, but shouldn't she be happy that he is happy? Since DH died it has all rather become about her - her grief, her feelings, and everyone pussy-foots around her. I don't think she is as toxic as some people described on MN, but I do think to a certain degree she is. She is very selfish and doesn't consider other people. She does what is best for her, all with the best intentions, but won't think about how her actions/words affect other people. She has been like this forever, and everyone say it's just her way and they never pull her up on it. I wonder if someone (me!) says something she might change? Or just think I'm being too sensitive?

Two - I'm not sure how I can get her to prove she's sorry - just an understanding that she's upset me would be nice. She's apologised for what she thinks has upset me - not what has actually upset me. She lives in her own little world and I'm fairly certain she has no idea I'm still angry, as she thinks she's made it all better by apologising!

Just to clarify, I wouldn't say anything to her about this at the funeral - that would be wildly inappropriate. I was thinking of afterwards (after the wake) just the two of us without involving the rest of the grieving family.

I think she is still grieving - which is understandable. I can't imagine losing a child. It would be unbearable, not matter what his age. But her grief shouldn't over ride everyone else's feelings, and shouldn't give her carte blanche to say what she likes with no repercussions.

defineme Wed 16-Jan-13 20:11:28

It's awful, but in this case I think you need to let it go. I would respectfully suggest that some of that anger is possibly coming from another source-eg you could still be (very reasonably) angry that your dh died-I know my dm was even when she was happy with a new partner-I don't think the grieving process stops when new partners begin. I think you're doing brilliantly btw and I hope I haven't overstepped the mark.

fruitstick Wed 16-Jan-13 20:12:28

I also feel quite sorry for her. She has lost her child. That isn't to say her feelings are more important than yours, but they are different.

I would be sensitive around her. She probably shouldn't have corrected your son but really, what harm did it do. He knows your new DH is not his birth father, he knows he has a Daddy in heaven. The fact that she reminded him hasn't really caused him any trauma.

I think a lot of your anger towards her might be a result of your own grief. You don't want people reinforcing the sadness you have, and moving on after the death of a partner is incredibly difficult.

I realise this is all amateur psychology and you're welcome to tell me to do one.

However, a bit of kindness and understanding on both sides would really help I think.

I hope you work it out.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 20:13:41

Wow massive cross post! Off to read all the rest of the posts......

JustFabulous Wed 16-Jan-13 20:14:31

I think it is perfectly understandable that you want some space from her and I am immediately reminded of the letter I received from my MIL after I had the audacity to miscarry on her birthday. The point being a letter might be the way to go. Explain how you are worried how your DS might feel he is doing something wrong in seeing X as his Daddy and Y as his brother, if Grandma says different. Say access it a different issue and you would never stop her seeing your son. Keep it factual and polite. A letter is useful as you can recheck what you write in a way you can't when you speak. She can read it in private and doesn't have to respond immediately.

You have done nothing wrong and as someone with no family at all I would be happy with any bonus relatives I could get!

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 16-Jan-13 20:17:47

I wouldn't say anything on the day of the funeral at all, wrong time, worng place even if it is after the wake.

allibaba Wed 16-Jan-13 20:19:51

OP your MIL may still be grieving. Grief is sooo complicated anyway and she may not be dealing with it very well, even four years on.

You could suggest Cruse Bereavement Services to her to see if that helps her and in turn may help you and your new family situation.

SaraBellumHertz Wed 16-Jan-13 20:20:23

I'm afraid I think you are being a little unreasonable.

Your mil lost her only child and is now having to get used to her grandson calling another man daddy. After being in his life for less than a year. It must be painful for her.

That's not to negate your pain but you have moved forward and DH never will

SaraBellumHertz Wed 16-Jan-13 20:21:32

Sorry that was an awful typo : should read she will never move on not DH. Sorry

AmberLeaf Wed 16-Jan-13 20:23:03

I think YABU.

I was thinking YANBU until I got to your actual AIBU bit!

Her son died, yes you know that as your husband died too, but that was her child and I can see why she feels upset.

Hearing his son call another man daddy must hurt, even though it sounds like you have a lovely lovely set up with your DP.

I was really with you until you said you felt angry with her!

She has reconsidered, backed down and reached out to you, I think YABmassivelyU to be continue carrying on this ill feeling towards her.

ClartyCarol Wed 16-Jan-13 20:23:17

I agree with pps that it is a horribly difficult situation for both of you. I think it's admirable and for the best that you've managed to move on and find happiness again, however I can imagine what a wrench it must be for your mil to hear your ds call your dp "Daddy". Taking into account your ds was a baby when your dh died, perhaps she had never even got to hear her son called "Daddy" by her grandson, but she hears him say it to another man. Sorry if that sounds insensitive/ sentimental. I think she sounds upset and yes, worried about being forgotten or pushed out.

Oh, it's very difficult but I think if you ignore her calls it will heighten these feelings further for her. Perhaps you could write her a letter putting it all down how you feel, reiterating heavily that she will always be a part of your ds's life, as will of course your late dh. Agree with pp that making a memory box together might be a good idea too, if she wouldn't find it too upsetting (or you, of course).

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 20:23:32

I worry that in her grief she is placing a huge burden on DS. She doesn't want us to forget DH (how could we?) but in the process of trying to keep his memory alive, she treats DS as if he is his dad. She buys him presents that DH would have liked, she sings songs from DH's childhood, she knits clothes that she knitted for DH (the woman doesn't ever throw knitting patterns away grin ). Its like she wants DS to become DH. I want DS to be whoever he wants, not who Grandma wants him to be - I also ink that's too much pressure for a four year old!

After 4 years, I don't know what else I can do to convince her that we aren't going to forget DH. We have photos up, we talk about him, we socialise with his school/uni friends who talk about him, we see his family. Despite all this, she thinks we'll forget him? I'm not sure what more I can do, short of bringing him back to life.

slambang Wed 16-Jan-13 20:29:59

Oh dear. So sad. So understandable.

Your MIL isn't behaving well but she's behaving pretty much in the way that so many of us might behave in the same circumstances. She's lost her beloved ds and now she feels he's being wiped from history by the new family and she's also losing her beloved dgs too. Forgive what she said -it sounds like pain talking.

I can understand your anger but I think it's misplaced. Perhaps what she needs is some reassurance as well as some firm guidelines on how to cope with this new world.
a. Yes, I promise ds will always know he is his daddy in heaven's son and that you are very special because you are his daddy's mum. We wont let him forget his father.
b. He also has a daddy in DP and a new family. We want him to be treated exactly the same way as dp's children. Those are the rules and it will help us all to stay part of one big family if we all use the same terminology.

HecateWhoopass Wed 16-Jan-13 20:30:32

God, I haven't got any wise words at all. I can only speculate and wouldn't presume to claim to truly understand how either of you are feeling. I've never lost a child or a husband and I can't imagine how painful those things both are. Yes, she should be happy that your son is happy, of course, everyone should want a child to be happy. OTOH, it's possible to be both happy that her grandson is happy and extremely sad that she's lost her own child, and fearful that he's a fading memory to his son. Or perhaps she feels that happiness is a betrayal (I am thinking of my mum who has lost her parents and in the beginning it was like you were not allowed to laugh or talk about anything happy because she acted like you'd forgotten them or didn't care).

God, that's waffly.

It's just such a difficult and painful situation and it's hard to put anything coherent together!

In an ideal world, you'd be able to sit down with her and talk openly. Not 'pull her up' on anything, but more exchange your feelings and understand where the other is coming from and plan a way forward. Do you think that's something she would be open to or do you think she'd just close off?

I think jo has a good point about talking to her about how your son's father will be remembered. Showing her that she's wrong, and he's not going to be forgotten. While at the same time making sure she knows that she can't do some of the stuff she's doing.

But she's also got to understand that this is hard for you too. You've lost someone you planned on spending your life with. You've lost the father of your child. You've got to keep him alive for your child while building a life with your new partner and balancing all that is hard.

But it sounds like she might be willing to bend and try to meet you halfway. saying the other children can call her grandma was an olive branch.

BettySuarez Wed 16-Jan-13 20:31:23

I think that this is a situation that you both have to deal with in different ways.

You are able to move forward in your life, with a new partner, new step kids and the ability to watch your own son grow stronger every day.

Your MIL is alone and her son is never coming back sad

Maybe she feels that every step you take forward, diminishes the memory of her son even further. Not that this is in anyway intentional, life needs to go on. But it must be very sad and frightening for her. Something she has absolutely no control over either.

I'm trying to imagine how painful that must feel for her.

You absolutely must embrace your new life though, no doubt about it smile

Sorry to you and your MIL for your very sad loss sad

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 16-Jan-13 20:33:42

But how else is your DS going to know what his Dad was like when he was a child? Do you know? I love asking my father about his childhood. I don't see it as wanting your DS to become your DH but a chance to tell and show your son what his father was like.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 16-Jan-13 20:33:47

I am sorry, what an awful predicament. You were all grieving. Now you have found DP and only MIL out of all the family had until very recently refused to acknowledge DP's children. Keeping contact with her for DS's sake and remembrance of DH has been poorly rewarded.

I totally agree she should not have contradicted DS. I do see why you were and are upset. You hardly need reminding of your loss.

Historically she has never been an easy personality. She needed careful handling by your late DH. Now she's angered you by speaking out of turn. Conceding that she'll let DP's DCs call her grandma is a big climb down. I wouldn't broach this at great aunt's funeral. It would not be the proper time to put things to rights. But afterwards you'd be justified in quietly raising this with her and putting this to bed.

HecateWhoopass Wed 16-Jan-13 20:34:43


So you're already trying to show her how her son is being remembered within the family. She needs to know that she has to let your son be himself.

I get that he's the closest thing she'll ever have to having her son back, but she needs to see your son as a person in his own right, with his own likes and dislikes and his own life to lead.

I am so sorry for you all. It is an unenviable position.

izzyizin Wed 16-Jan-13 20:35:16

I understand where you're coming from, but I believe you're best advised to cut your MIL some slack.

Sadly, you lost your dh before ds had time to get to know him and to have a clear image in his head of his df.

You have now created a blended family with a dp who had his own sad loss to bear and whose dc who are happy to be mothered by you - how old are they, btw, and do they call you 'mummy'?

Your mil may not see or be aware of the way in which you and your dp keep the memories of your former spouses alive in the minds of your dc, and she is most probably coming from a place of fear that your ds will lose all sight of the fact that your dp is not his biological father and that this, in turn, will diminish her late son's right to be known as his df.

Although she may only have done so because of your fil's input, IMO your mil has been gracious in expressing herself as willing to be called 'grandma' by your dp's dc and it's to be hoped that, in time, any fear she may harbour of losing access to her dgs will be allayed by your studious attention to maintaining regular contact with her.

I do not seek in any way to minimise the extent of your loss, but losing a child is very different to losing a spouse/partner in that while you have been able to find new hope and cause to be glad in your dp, your mil cannot alleviate the loss of her son and, consequently, looks to her dgc to keep his memory alive in the years to come when she is no longer around to remind him.

By virtue of the fact that you could cease all contact with her thus depriving her of her child's son, you have immense power over your mil and I trust you will use it wisely.

I didn't read that as an 'awful typo' Sara. To me it seems an accurate observation in that the mil's son can no longer embrace life as he once did and as her dil is now doing. Even though she may be self-centred or selfish, or self-absorbed, I feel deeply sorry for the mil and for any parent who has lost their dc.

BettySuarez Wed 16-Jan-13 20:37:54

Try not to worry about traditional nursery rhymes or knitted jumpers. It is quite normal for grandparents to try to inflict pass these things on down the generations smile

I'm sure you will do the same when you become a grandmother.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 20:41:40

Thanks everyone for your input. This is why i love MN. So many differeing views so quickly!

I feel like I'm going around in the same circle since DH died. It's pity and sadness for her from lots of people. And they should pity her. I cant imagine losing a child. But I can't allow her to use it as an excuse to be selfish and say what she wants with no repercussions.

I know she is trying to keep DHs memory alive, and she has extended the olive branch to DP's DSs, which I will gladly accept. However, I will speak to her - nicely!- and reiterate that we won't let DS forget DH, but that doesn't mean she can carry on doing as she pleases while I seethe in the corner. I will let her know what is appropriate, but in a nice way - I promise!

But I won't do it at the funeral - that would be a baaaaaad idea!

millie30 Wed 16-Jan-13 20:43:32

I do agree with FiveGoMadInDorset's last point. Whilst our situation was a happy one in many ways, one thing that still affects me now is that I have very little knowledge of my mother and what she was like. As a child I didn't really think about it as I was more absorbed in the here and now, but as an adult and a mother myself it is a great sadness to me that I wasn't told many things about her, and my grandparents have both now passed away. Let your MIL share her memories and her stories about his father, it will be nice for him and it is something I deeply wish I had.

Ponders Wed 16-Jan-13 20:45:06

the thing that struck me most was how much she will lose if she continues to put up barriers. It's trite to say you have to give a little love to get a little love but honestly, she is in a position to enlarge her own family circle, after the desperately sad loss of her son, if she will accept the new situation & embrace it

if she is loving & generous to her grandson's new family she will be a welcome part of it. if not - not...

her apology, & willingness to let your DP's boys call her Grandma, is a huge concession from her - providing she can maintain that attitude, I think you can cut her some slack

good luck, HM smile

BettySuarez Wed 16-Jan-13 20:47:46

OP is there something that you and DS and MIL can do together. A day out or a trip to somewhere that was significant to your late DH?

Perhaps once a year the three of you go out for fish and chips (daddies favourite meal) followed by a walk in daddies favourite park.

Not these exact examples obviously but something that was special and unique for your DH. A day to remember daddy?

You could then contact MIL and suggest making it a regular 'thing' that just the three of you do together. Your late DH's birthday for example.?

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 20:49:16

I do want her to tell DS about DH as a child - I like to hear that too! But I don't want her to try to turn DS into DH. There's memories and then there is a step too far!

But I agee, the apology from her (albeit not for the 'Right' thing) was a big climb down from her, so I will take it in good grace.

DP's DSs don't call me mummy - because they have memories of their mother. They were 5 and (just) 3 when she died, so it's slightly different for them. But I do mother them - complete with kisses and telling off for not removing their shoes! grin.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Wed 16-Jan-13 20:56:59

What an awful situation. sad

I do think you are being somewhat unreasonable to be cross with her for singing songs your DH liked, or buying your DS things that his Dad would have liked.
She would have had dreams of watching them together, and those are gone. She will be heartbroken for herself, and probably for your DH too.

And yes, your dreams were also shattered and broken, but now you have new dreams and hopes - which she does not have.

I don't really know what you mean when you say 'carry on doing as she pleases while I seethe'. She has agreed to let your DP's sons call her Grandma and not to correct your DS when he calls your DP 'Daddy'. What else do you want her to do?

GinAndaDashOfLime Wed 16-Jan-13 20:59:45

Hi HMTheQueen - I could have written your op.. My first DH died 4 years ago too when my ds was 2.5. Late DH was an only child, long divorced parents and I always had a difficult relationship with his mother.

Last year I remarried and my ds was delighted to call my new DH "daddy". It was my ds's idea and instigation to use that term which we happily went along with. We too talk about "old daddy" all the time and like you my late DH's mother has found it v hard to hear my ds call my new DH "daddy". We have had heated rows about this and she has been v upset by it - which I do understand.

BUT (and here's the bit other readers WILL NOT understand unless they too have been widowed with v small children) - in the end I told her to accept my new DH, accept that my ds WANTS to call him daddy... Or I would stop all contact. It might sound harsh but my loyalty above all lies with my ds and keeping him secure and happy. Her constant commenting to him "he's not your daddy" was deeply upsetting to him. It worked and we now get along better than ever bizarrely!

Don't want to give away too much more here but please do pm me if you'd like to chat (although I don't know how pm works but I'm sure I can work it out!)

izzyizin Wed 16-Jan-13 21:04:48

Your dp's dcs don't call you mummy because they have clear memories of their dm and are aware that you did not give birth to them but, in calling your dp 'daddy' as opposed to, say, daddy (your dp's name), your ds may lose sight of the fact his daddy was once as alive and tangible as your dp and is much more than an amorphous 'daddy in heaven'.

To counteract any attempt your mil, or anyone else, may make to turn your ds into a carbon copy of his df, simply teach him to be true to himself - in the fullness of time he will be anyway smile

AmberLeaf Wed 16-Jan-13 21:04:57

DP's DSs don't call me mummy - because they have memories of their mother

Is she trying to give your DS memories of his dad in a retrospective way?

I think she feels pushed out, I can see why she would in a way, her grandson is calling someone else [extra] grandma/granny and your DP daddy.

You have every right to be happy and move on, but IMO calling your DP daddy is a step too far.

I imagine your MIL feels the same?

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 21:16:13

Hi Gin - thanks for your message. It's reassuring that others have been through this too. I think at the back of my mind I have your solution kicking about. I'd like to be amicable with MiL and have a nice relationship with her without having to resort to that - but - and it's a big but - my loyalty is to DS not her. I don't think she realises that. I honestly believe she thinks I'll continue to provide DS for visits, and that I trust her to look after him.

I don't trust her. I know that he is physically safe with her, and that he will be fed (copiously!) and watered and will sleep and do fun things, but I don't trust her to look after him emotionally. He has previously mentioned her crying when talking about daddy (which in itself is fine, obviously) but DS was very confused and MiL didn't attempt to explain why she was crying or anything. She does what is best for her - not what is best for him (emotionally).

Gah - this whole thing is so difficult! I'll sleep on it and see how I feel in the morning! Now for wine. I definitely need wine!

boodles Wed 16-Jan-13 21:35:37

My brother died when his first child was one and his second child was not yet born. It has been nearly nine years and still my mum isn't over it, she never ever will be. I do think you are being unreasonable and should cut her some slack. You have only been with your new partner a short amount of time, in the scheme of things, and it does sound, a little, like your sons dad is being replaced by new man. It is fabulous that he is such a good partner but it is very quick.

I also think it is important for your son to have his biological grandma singing songs his dad enjoyed and things like that, it will help your son know real things about his dad. Your mil has rang you and apologised, I think you should be glad of that and be glad that there is someone there, as well as you, who can keep your sons real dad alive for him with memories of him.

boodles Wed 16-Jan-13 21:37:54

Maybe you could explain to your son why your mil is crying? There will be times when your son will want to cry with her for the dad he has lost and will never know. I think it is ok for children to see grief. Your son may need to grieve for the dad he doesn't know.

boodles Wed 16-Jan-13 21:40:19

I also really dislike the term "old daddy", poster above, surely "birth daddy" would be more appropriate? Old makes him sound like something discarded.

LaCiccolina Wed 16-Jan-13 21:40:35

I have little advice really, sorry. My mil is the same. Dh dad was married before and had a dd. We are all in reasonable contact. We have a dd ourselves who is referred to by mil as the official grandchild. All the time. Anything from the 'other' side is nothing to do with her. To the deepest points which I daren't put here. She met the dd when she was 12, i cannot imagine what it must have been like for dd and struggle alot to reconcile this version of mil with tthe person i know. They just aren't her blood, her family or her concern in any sense. Dh of course has sun out of derrière! I find it nauseous, aggravating, insulting, irritating and down right rude. I also hate that they will happily spend time with them, drink champagne etc but she will act as if they are some sort of friend not step mum/sdd.

I don't know if she's jealous of this previous life, if by dealing with it like this it eases some sort of pain for her or if she's the biggest most manipulative bitch I've ever met. I swing wildly on how I view her.
Whatever, it just is and I'm slowly after 11yrs watching it starting to just accept it. Nothing else I can do.

Just wanted u to see other people act similarly. Lord knows why. Weirdos. Hope helps a bit....

Branleuse Wed 16-Jan-13 21:45:32

I think getting them to call your dp daddy which is the same word as for their dead father, in front of their greiving grandmother is actually insensitive, and no wonder shes upset

defineme Wed 16-Jan-13 21:52:06

My inlaws have kept every toy and knitting pattern from dh's childhood. Dh is alive, but dc do love all these things from dh's childhood and often ask to drive past dhs childhood home and go to places he did as a child (eg local caff). I can see how it looks like she's trying to turn your ds into your dh, but I think it's quite normal.
My dm sings the kids songs from my childhood and buys the books she read to me. She also cries in front of them about dead relations and 'Nana gets sad about .... because they've died' has always seemed to suffice.
I think you have reason to be upset about some things but you're lumping other things in with it?

I imagine it feels like a massive punch in the guts for your MIL to hear her grandson call a man he has known for less than a year, 'daddy'.

I think you need to cut her a huge amount of slack here. She's apologised and also backed down on the 'grandma' issue.

I'd imagine she is terrified that you hold the only link with her son, her grandchild, and you could take that away from her any time. Actually on reading your last post I'm quite disturbed that you have been 'kicking about in the back of your mind' the 'solution' of threatening to cut her contact with her grandson. I think to threaten that, even with no intention of carrying it out, would be incredibly cruel.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 21:55:11

branleuse should DS never call DP daddy then? Because it might upset MiL on the occasions we see her? How do you convince a four year old to call someone one name sometimes and another other times? Why should DS grow up without the feeling of having a father, who loves him and treats him like a son, simply because it upsets MiL?

Sorry, but I don't think it was insensitive. What would be insensitive is telling DS that he has to treat Grandma differently. That marks her out for even more special treatment - a four year old shouldn't have to adapt his behaviour to cater for an adult (who should be able to see the benefits for the child having a father).

I don't believe - especially after 4 years - that we should be watching every word we say in front of her in case it upsets her. She should either accept it, or pretend that she does. She shouldn't be putting her feelings above those of a four year old.

Nooneelseisallowedafergus Wed 16-Jan-13 21:55:31


It must be so hard for her to have lost her son, and have your new partner replace him.

You need to respect her feelings, and use your relationship with her to keep your late husband's memory alive so that your little boy grows up knowing about his roots and his father.

Maybe you can sometimes see her without your dp and other children? Just you and your birth son? It would show some kindness and thoughtfulness.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 21:58:50

drgoogle - that is an absolute last resort. I don't want to cut out DH's family from our lives. I love them too (in my own way) and they are my link to DH. BUT my priority is DS. If she can't behave in a way that does not confuse and upset DS then I will resort to the threat of ceasing contact.

This is not something I would do lightly, but I won't put up with her treating my DS as some sort of pawn in her grief.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 22:03:29

defineme - my parents have done similar - they'll no doubt get the baby book out to show DSs photos of me as a baby! DS even has one of my dolls mixed in with his teddy bears on his bed. Knowing the past is very important, to the living and the dead.

boodles Wed 16-Jan-13 22:04:44

It isn't every word though, is it, it is one very important word.

I don't think that it is wrong for your son to call someone daddy BUT I think it is very natural for it to be upsetting for your sons real dads mother and she will take a bit of time to get used to it. I am not sure how you think your son should adapt his behaviour?

If I can be honest, from reading your posts it could appear that you may be looking for an excuse to cut her out anyway. And if, as you keep saying, your son is what is most important the you have to put your son first and not do that as that will be cutting out your sons link to his real dad and he won't thank you for that later.

boodles Wed 16-Jan-13 22:06:39

I am not sure how her saying that her son is your sons real dad is confusing, it is the truth.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 22:07:10

I've just re-read and I sound really harsh. I realise that I have moved on (although not forgotten) and she will probably never move on from losing a son. And I know that grief works differently for everyone - but I don't want to have to be stepping on eggshells in 15 years because her grief is still raw.

4 years is a lifetime (my DSs!) but yet such a short space of time. When a child is involved though, I think you need to put their feelings and emotions first, which she clearly has trouble doing.

AmberLeaf Wed 16-Jan-13 22:09:05

Good lord, Ive only just realised what a short time you have been with your current DP!

YAsoooBU and moving way too fast.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 22:10:23

boodles it is the truth - that's right. But it's not that she said that DH is his 'real' daddy - it's that she thought it appropriate to say that DP isn't his daddy.

They may not be biologically related, but DP is the only daddy he has ever known and he loves him. Can't she be happy that DS gets to have 2 daddies?

BettySuarez Wed 16-Jan-13 22:11:07

I don't think there is anything wrong with your DS being able to call your DP Daddy.

It would be awful for him to live in a house where the other children get to have a Daddy, but he doesn't.

But it just seems that there are some resentments, past issues between you and the MIL - fairly typical stuff that really should have been forgotten, wiped clean when your DH died. You refer to some things in your OP for example. You have every right to set some boundaries ( and it sounds as if you do need to do that). But I think you should also let bygones be bygones.

And just to repeat my earlier point, when I'm a nana I will be throwing the book at my family. Knitting patterns, christmas jumpers, renditions of knees up mother brown constant tales of 'when your mum/dad was little .....). Oh and I cry constantly now so I can only see that getting worse as I get older.

This is normal and I think that you are being unfair on your MIL by seeing anything sinister or abnormal in this.

And OP, please try to remember that one day you too will be a MIL to a DIL. I hope that she manages to accept your 'ways' with good grace and kindness smile

It was her child though HM, he was her son and he is your DSs Daddy.

Losing a child is just so so terrible, all she has left of him is your DS, her GS, I can't believe you could even think of denying him to her and her to him.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 22:12:57

Amber - in normal circumstance I would totally agree with you - and some of my friends have said the same.

But until you lose your husband to a horrible illness in only a couple of months, you cannot understand how short life can be. We both feel that this is the right thing to do for us and our families, and if we wait for months or years to be together to conform to social norms, we could be dead. It's as simple as that.

BuiltForComfort Wed 16-Jan-13 22:12:58

Hello, I remember your previous threads and posted on them as i was in a similar situation to you. First up, lovely news that you have found DP and that between you have created a new family. I remember that your MIL was always quite hard work and made everything about her, was quite smothering etc. as ever its about keeping the moral high ground as you know some of her pain (though I'm not sure she ever really acknowledged the scale of your loss did she?). She's given way on grandma, which is good and you need to acknowledge that again I think.

Re what ds calls DP, what would MIL and the posters in agreement with MlL, suggest your ds calls him exactly? It's not a case of divorced parents where the child has a dad even if not living in the family home. This child, sadly, has no memories of his father, and has forged a much-needed bond with his mum's new partner that is absolutely akin to a father-son relationship. He's never had a person in his life before who he can call Daddy, why would anyone take that away from him?? The only compromise I can think of is that DS calls DP "Dad" and refers to his bio-dad as Daddy, or Dadda or some other name. (Chances are that as time goes by your DPs kids call you Mum and keep Mummy for their bio-mum).

My only worry would be what DP's sons think about your ds calling "their" dad by Daddy too though it sounds like everyone is pretty happy.

PS any tips on how to meet a lovely widower with kids? Would be perfect for me and DS!

Ponders Wed 16-Jan-13 22:13:28

but if OP's DS's grandmother attempts to blank his current family, as she has done previously (though does seem now to be trying to make amends) he will not thank his grandmother for that later either, & then she will be sorry hmm

they need to work together IMO

boodles Wed 16-Jan-13 22:13:36

It isn't about walking on eggshells, it is about respecting her feelings too. She called you and apologised and backed down on the issue, which tells me she is respecting your view.

I also think that you keep saying about how she is not thinking of your child's feelings, however, can you honestly say, hand on heart, that you are only thinking of your child's feelings as far as his real dad is concerned?

Portofino Wed 16-Jan-13 22:15:26

She lost her son, and your new dp is not "daddy" of your son with him. You have to remember that even if your dh was an adult when he died, he will always be her child, her baby. It is a slap in the face for her to have him replaced - hard enough that you move on, but for her GC to call another man daddy???? My mum died when I was 4. No other gfs or wives of my dad have been Mummy.

MorrisZapp Wed 16-Jan-13 22:18:42

Really sorry for your loss op. I feel desperately sorry for your mil though, and I can't imagine what it must have felt like for her to hear your new dp being called daddy by her grandson.

As others have said, you have the chance to move on with a new dp, but she can't find another son.

Please be kind to her. I think you should drop the subject of the daddy correction thing and move on.

MorrisZapp Wed 16-Jan-13 22:21:25

Yes, good point portofino. The mil probably is putting her own feelings first to some extent, but so is the op.

Branleuse Wed 16-Jan-13 22:22:22

OP, maybe a pet name thats not daddy?
I think its a special case because their dad actually died, and I dont think its putting her feelings over a 4 year old. I think its about considering her feelings over your wish for them to have a brand new daddy and to fix this for them. They would still love your dp just as much if they called him by his first name, or by a different pet name, and he would still be a role model and father figure, but he shouldnt be daddy. That is for you, not them.

My ds1 calls my dp papa. He calls his dad, dad or daddy.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 22:23:42

built I think I remember you too and your wise words previously!

I think you have hit the nail on the head - what should DS call DP if not daddy? He finally has the daddy he wanted, just like all the other children, why should we deny that? And surely this is an issue for DS and DP. No one else. If they are both happy with these names who are we to say no or to intervene?

DP's DSs are happy for my DS to call him daddy - in fact it happened without any comments or issues. It was a natural progression. They all see each other as brothers so it is natural that he calls him daddy too. I hope that one day they will feel they can call me mum or mummy, but we are leaving it to when they feel comfortable - not forcing it on them.

Can't help with the meeting of widowers though smile DS and his DS2 met at nursery and set us up through a playdate! But I'll keep an eye out for you wink

ponders I think you've got it - I feel that through her actions she is forcing me to react in a way that I don't want to - but will if I have to. She is well known for instant reactions and regretting them later, and I don't want to be the person who denies her grandchild - but if she keeps pushing I will have to. Hopefully when I speak to her, she will see that we are all trying to do our best, and we can reach a compromise that suits everyone.

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 22:26:24

Can I just say thank you to everyone that has given their views. Although I might not agree with them, it is helpful to see others points of view and I have certainly taken them all on board. smile

izzyizin Wed 16-Jan-13 22:27:17

my loyalty is to DS not her

It surely goes without saying that any 'loyalty' you feel toward your ds should serve to promote his best interests by facilitating contact beteen him and his paternal relatives.

Personally, I find it exceptionally distateful that you would even consider resorting to the threat of cutting contact with your ds's paternal dgm as to merely utter it, let alone carry it out, would be cruel beyond belief.

If you go down that particular path it will be you who is using your ds as a pawn to bolster your notion of how a 'blended' family should conduct itself and to excuse your intolerance of your mil's attempts to remind him of his late father, her deceased son.

I confess to being surprised that you appear to see no discrepancy between what your dp's dc call you and what your ds is expected to call your dp.

To tell it how it is, you are living with a man who has two dc by his late dw. As he is not the father of your ds, it is a misnomer for your ds to call him 'daddy', nor are his dc your ds's 'brothers' or 'stepbrothers' albeit, should you marry, your ds will acquire 2 stepbrothers in addition to a stepfather.

DewDr0p Wed 16-Jan-13 22:30:15

Oh dear OP, first of all I am very very sorry for both of your loss.

My very good friend died just over 4 years ago (leaving her dh and 2 dds) and I know both her dh and her dm quite well so I can see both sides of this story.

My friend's dh has coped well and is rebuilding his life, dating etc. He hasn't quite found that special person yet but I think he will and they will make a new family one day. My friend's dm is doing OK but there are times when the sheer rawness of her grief takes my breath away. Losing a child is so against the natural order of life. There will always be a daughter-shaped hole in her life. I think this is perfectly normal. I can't imagine losing one of my children, the mere thought makes me feel sick - can you?

I imagine that your mil is finding it very very hard to hear your ds calling someone else "Daddy". Prob not made any easier by the fact that your dp's dcs don't call you Mummy tbh. Did you tell her about this? I'm just wondering if she didn't know this was a conscious choice on your part?

Perhaps the best course of action here is to be the bigger person. Take an appropriate moment and thank your MIL for agreeing to be called Grandma. Say how much it means to you and dp, that you are trying to build your new family unit and give the children that security that you thought they had lost. You might even acknowledge that you understand that ds calling dp Daddy must be hard for her but explain the reasons why. Remind her how important dh is to you and your ds and how important her role is in helping ds to know about his dad. But then ask her to respect the decisions you have made and support you in them - for ds.

Velcropoodle Wed 16-Jan-13 22:34:56

Can I suggest that you write her a letter pouring it all out-and then park it in a drawer somewhere and read it a week or so later?
then you can edit, re-park, re-read and finally decide to send if you think the end justifies the means.Chances are you'll never send it.But you will have had your say.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Wed 16-Jan-13 22:36:23

As awful as it obviously is for your poor MIL losing her son, I do think that she must be made aware that you have to do what YOU feel is right for your son's best interests and emotional well-being.

Harsh, I know, but your new family isn't about her.

It is about what is best for your little boy. (And all of your new family).

In your situation, I would meet her on mutual ground and kindly but in no uncertain terms tell her how you feel and what you expect from her.

Good luck and all the best!

AmberLeaf Wed 16-Jan-13 22:37:32

I get your point about life being too short OP, but it isnt just about societal norms, its about how your son copes with it and to a certain extent other peoples [ie MIL] feelings.

How many months has it been? how long since your son called your DP daddy?

HMTheQueen Wed 16-Jan-13 22:40:52

I think I may have given the wrong impression. We didn't tell DS to call DP daddy - he did it completely of his own volition. For a while he called him <dpname> and daddy then he dropped the name. It was totally his choice, but we didn't dissuade him from using that title. I wouldn't have forced him to use that name if he wasn't ready - it was just a natural progression for him.

I'm going to go to bed now, but will read through this all again tomorrow when I have more time. Thanks again to everyone for their views.

Portofino Wed 16-Jan-13 22:49:23

He calls DP daddy because all his friends call their male parents daddy. But I think you NEED to remember that this is a special case and find a middle way. Unless your ex in laws are completely toxic it would be very cruel to deny them a relationship with your dc, and it would be cruel to them to quietly erase your dh.

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Wed 16-Jan-13 22:57:34

I hope you can find a way through this incredibly difficult situation, I do think you should cut your mil some slack but I also agree that it is your sons feelings that are most important. It sounds like your mil is willing to meet up you half way now?

I think its lovely he calls your DP daddy and I agree that that is between your ds and DP (and you of course) and while it must not be easy, it's not anyone else's decision to make. Your ds sounds happy and secure and loved and that is the most important thing of all

Alibabaandthe40nappies Wed 16-Jan-13 23:01:16

OP I do think you are being very harsh, and more so as the thread goes on.

I'm a bit stunned that you are getting annoyed with her grief. Losing a child is not the natural order of things. It can never heal, they can never be replaced, nothing can fill that void.
Perhaps tomorrow you could have a look on the bereaved parents thread, and see how those mothers grieve for their children, some of whom have been dead a lot longer than your DH.

Your MIL must feel that the blink of an eye has passed, and yet here is her son replaced by someone else. No wonder she isn't thinking straight, and yet she has apologised for her behaviour and acceded to your wishes. For you to still be even thinking about cutting contact is utterly, utterly horrible.

I know you say you are thinking of your son before anything else, but are you really? What happens if things break down between you and your DP? Then your DS will have lost another Daddy, which perhaps could have been avoided if you hadn't thrown him in at the deep end while jumping in yourself.
I do absolutely understand your wish on your own behalf to move the relationship on quickly, but I think you should be honest with yourself that it was done for your own benefit and not for the benefit of your son.

DoodlesNoodles Wed 16-Jan-13 23:01:45

I would think about sending a letter. Explain what you feel and reiterate how important she is to you and your DS. I liked the idea of suggesting a special day involving her and DS to remember your DH. This will help her know that you want to involve her for the long term.
You are articulate and I am sure you can explain things clearly. Tell her clearly that you are worried about what she will say to you son. You can tell her that she really upset you but that you welcome her apology and would like to move on. Maybe, you could suggest meeting up for a quick coffee at a coffee shop. (where you can have a bland chit chat about the kids )

...........or something like that.

Maybe, you can write it then leave it a couple of days before reading it again and sending it to her.

Your DS should also have a special relationship with his grandmother, one day his real daddy will become incredibly important to him. This is such a sad thread.

Badvoc Wed 16-Jan-13 23:13:42

You sound very level headed and fair BUT she is obviously struggling with the new situation in your are moving on and that great. She is not or perhaps cannot?
Give it time.
No need to fall out.
A letter is a nice idea.

Solo Wed 16-Jan-13 23:16:06

I agree entirely with Rose at the beginning. Speaks perfect sense imo.

MidnightMasquerader Wed 16-Jan-13 23:40:46

"but - and it's a big but - my loyalty is to DS not her."

The utter, utter irony of this statement. sad

I find this thread unbelievably chilling.

BettySuarez Wed 16-Jan-13 23:47:55

I'm finding it chilling too sad

fruitstick Wed 16-Jan-13 23:53:19

I'm still struggling with the real issue here.

You have every right to do whatever you like.

Your MIL has every right to find that hurtful and painful and difficult.

It is incredibly unfair of you to be ANGRY that she doesn't like your son calling your DP Daddy.

Looking at it logically, your DSS don't call you 'mummy' because they remember theirs and so don't want to.

Your DS doesn't remember his and therefore has no real feelings towards him as a person. THAT'S the painful bit for her. Your son might not rremember his father but she does. Therefore, she doesn't want him calling your DP Daddy.

You shouldn't pussy foot around her but have a bit of heart.

fackinell Thu 17-Jan-13 00:01:53

You're not BU, OP, but she is probably just scared that her son may be forgotten (in her eyes). It's lovely that you're all a big happy family with you DP and DSSs but she is probably still grieving so much and is frightened the link will be lost.

I think it's also important that your son knows a lot about his bio father. Can you imagine if it was you that had died and your son called another woman mummy? How would your Mum feel? She would probably want to talk about you to him. I think neither of you are BU. live and let live. She can embrace your DSSs without them calling her Grandma.

Well done on coping with your bereavement and raising your son well on your own for the most part of his life. grin

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 17-Jan-13 00:21:53

MIL is a lonely woman, she divorced your FIL 25 years' ago, when DH was alive she wasted time with fall-outs when you and he got together. Against the natural order of things she has outlived her son. Understandably she can't bear to see him replaced. When she corrected her GDS she knew you'd hear, and she touched a nerve.

A Pyrrhic victory as now she risks losing touch with that precious link to her son.

I think you are already wavering. I don't think you would deny her access to GDS any more than you would stop FIL from seeing him.

We have photos up, we talk about him, we socialise with his school/uni friends who talk about him, we see his family

Yes you have moved on, life is precious, I haven't walked a mile in your shoes so wouldn't dream of opining about the speed of your new relationship. As DS grows you will see more of his DH in him. FWIW I don't think a mother's love for her DS does trump that of a DIL especially when she's cradling their baby. Nor do I think you have it in you to let MIL's grief break that bond with DS.

What would you do in her shoes? How would you feel if you son died and you missed him whilst his wife (totally understandably) moved on?

Sad, confused.........

Truth is you don't know because grief make fools of us all. It fucks with out mind and reasonable becomes unreasonable for no normal reason whatsoever!

BranchingOut Thu 17-Jan-13 07:17:08

The fundamental problem is that while you can move on and find another husband, an adult cannot do the same when it is the loss of a parent or child.

Speaking bluntly, but from experience.

SaraBellumHertz Thu 17-Jan-13 07:35:24

Having thought this through a little more I actually think it is very odd that your son is calling a man you have known less than a year (and him presumably an even shorter time) daddy.

Whilst I appreciate your argument that life is precious I think you have put your son in a very vulnerable position.

Clytaemnestra Thu 17-Jan-13 10:24:30

Your son isn't in a position to be making the call as to calling your dp daddy. He's 4. He DOES want to replace his biological daddy with this new daddy, because what he wants is a daddy. He never knew his birth daddy, so at 4, he doesn't have any loyalty to him. He's 4, he doesn't have the emotional maturity to understand the concepts involved. His immediate progression to calling your new dp daddy is giving him the security he wants, so he is all keen to replace his birth father. He's diving into this as much as you are.

BUT he's 4. He doesn't understand all the relationships, in his eyes you pretty much can get a new daddy from the shop to be a forever daddy. You do know it's more complicated than that, so leaving the whole decision up to him as to what he calls your dp isn't fair, and it opens it up to heartbreak if your dp decides that, for example, life is too precious to waste on a family set up and actually he fancies moving to Australia. You've been with him for less than a year, you don't know him we'll enough to say hand on heart you know every inch of how he thinks. You can chuck yourself full steam into this relationship, because life is too short to think about what might go wrong...but what if life turns out to not be short, this turns out to be a horrible mess and then your son is down two daddys? You're in a position to understand this, your son isn't so it would be kinder to help him adjust slowly. If your son is calling him daddy, surely your dp should be thinking of adopting him? Getting parental responsibility? If there was a horrible accident and you were unable to care for your son, then currently he would lose you and his brand new daddy in one go. And if you're not ready for your dp to have legal parental responsibility then your ds shouldn't be calling him daddy yet. Because for him, that's the 4 year old equivalent of legal adoption and it will be devastating if it turns out that actually it's not the case.

I suspect you're quite so angry with your mil because you feel she's judging the speed at which you're moving into this relationship, and you don't want to consider the possibility that this might be anything but the perfect blended family dream. Which it might we'll be, and I really hope it is. But you should be cushioning your son from the possibility that it's not.

Junebugjr Thu 17-Jan-13 10:54:21

Oh come on OP. Your pissed off with a woman who's lost her son, and has to hear her grandchild calling another man 'daddy', and then seems to have the tag 'gramma' foisted on her by your new family. Your asking way too much of her.
Anyone with some sense and a heart would be hurt by this, I can't believe you've got the brass neck to come on here asking the best way to get some sort of apology off her! It sounds like you need to do some apologising of your own. FGS be more sensitive around her in future, you've put her in an awkward position and not the other way around. I can't believe my eyes reading your posts honestly.

HappyGirlNow Thu 17-Jan-13 10:57:32

Hi OP.

Firstly, I'm so sorry for the loss of your husband and its great that you've found someone else to share your life with.

However, I find the situation you've created odd to say the least. You've only known your partner a year (a very short time) and insisting that both families become so intertwined they call each other by family names? Surely all the children have their own grandparents? Why should your MIL be happy to be called grandma by another persons children? Why can't they call her by name? As long as she's kind to them what does it matter? And as for your son calling your new partner 'daddy' - again, I don't think that's necessary at all and I can see why she's so hurt.

I think maybe the rest of the family are just trying to keep the peace in meeting your demands. What if you and your new partner split up (a year isn't exactly a long term relationship) and everyone's been calling each other 'grandad, daddy' etc etc? Will you all just move on and do the same in your next relationships? How will your son feel? And would you let him call your next partner 'daddy'?

Sorry, you asked for opinions and that's the strong feeling I have when I read your posts. As I said, it's great that you're happy and it must have been an awful few years for you.

HappyGirlNow Thu 17-Jan-13 13:15:45

Oh OP, missed the bit about you ignoring your MIL's calls.. That's very cruel.

HMTheQueen Thu 17-Jan-13 14:20:07

Thanks to everyone who has contributed. Definitely some interesting points of view and I'll have a proper look at them all after the boys are in bed.

FeistyLass Thu 17-Jan-13 15:30:15

Op, you've been through such a lot but somehow I think you have lost perspective over all this. Your mil has apologised and tbh when I read your OP and she said to FIL she was scared you would cut contact, I thought she was over-reacting but you've since made it clear that you consider this a possibility sad. To me, that seems incredibly cruel and out of all proportion.
If I was you I would be reassuring her that she would never lose contact with your ds, because she is his grandmother and they do have an unique bond. You're confusing lots of normal granny-activities with some sinister attempt to turn your ds into your late husband. They're not.
Everything you have mentioned my MIL does with ds and my dh is still here. It's what MILs do. Actually, it's what grannies do because my dm does the same too.
Names are very powerful and letting your ds slip into calling your new partner daddy without considering the implications seems a little odd. There are lots of names - daddy, dad, papa, pa, father, etc. When your ds wants to talk about his late father, what will he call him? Your new dp and his birth dad are two different people.
You obviously have an unhappy history with your MIL but you shouldn't let that cloud her attempts to have a relationship with your ds. You sound as though you're just waiting for an excuse to cut her off. That isn't putting your ds first. It's putting your feelings first. She has an unique insight into your late dh which none of his uni friends or even your FIL can provide to your ds.
I'm sorry if I sound harsh but you do too.

AutumnDreams Thu 17-Jan-13 16:39:42

Having lived through a time of great pain, losing your DH, I feel that you have tried to create - understandably - a sort of Utopia in your new relationship. It seems that most of the people involved have felt able to enable that. Only the grief stricken mother of your late DH is unable/unwilling to play ball. I actually feel respect for her that she is trying.

As the mother of adult sons, with their own families, I can honestly say that I would feel exactly the way she does if, God forbid, I ever found myself in that position. I would stick to my guns too, and as I said, I have some respect for her that she has backed down and apologised. Is it possible that because you had some problems with her before DH died, you are allowing it to colour your judgement now?

I truly don`t think there can be any worse pain than that of losing a child. I pray I never find out. There is no way forward from that. You have all the power now where your son is concerned, Please use it wisely and with compassion.

HMTheQueen Thu 17-Jan-13 16:51:11

I know I sound harsh, and it is so hard to give a real life perspective of a situation on a website.

I would not cut contact over this issue. Please be clear on that. Threatening to cut contact would be a last ditch solution that I would rather not use. Just because I have mentioned it here, doesn't mean that I am anywhere near using it. Much more would have to happen for me to consider that as a serious option.

But, I do feel that MiL has disregarded my issues, in favour of one that she had - the whole "Grandma" issue. I had no issue at all with whether DPs DSs called her that - as I didn't want to force anyone into calling anyone anything. This was obviously an issue for her, as she raised a couple of times. So she has now decided that she's happy to be called "Grandma".

It feels like she's come around on 'her' issues, but disregarded any problem I had. I understand it was a big come down for her to agree to this in the first place, so I do appreciate the effort she is making.

Also, I do understand that some of what she does is general grandparent stuff. My parents do it too - as do DP's parents and in-laws. I know none of that is unreasonable - but she does so much more. It's hard to describe - like when someone wont acknowledge when you say something - they'll do it anyway. Its like she is ignoring that DS is DS not DH. She's trying to foist DH's childhood onto DS.

I know it sounds like I am trying to justify myself to you all (which I guess I am!), but I feel like, once again, her feelings are being put ahead of everyone elses because she lost a child. It must be hard - i can't imagine, and don't want to imagine how it must feel. I do pity her - and I know she will have a big DH sized space in her life forever more. But does that mean that we have to allow her to say whatever she wants? How long do we have to do that before we can say "No you can't use that excuse anymore?". That sounds really harsh, but this woman has been using her single parents situation as a way of absolving her of her behaviour for the last 25 years. Now she has an even better excuse. That sounds harsh - and it is. But I'm not the only one to say it and it is well known throughout the family, that she will use any excuse to get sympathy and pity.

This is probably the worst website to ask for advice on this situation in, because as mums none of us want to go through what she has. She will always have that sorrow in her life. She may not be able to move on (although DS and I can) but does that absolve her of her behaviour? As a one off, I would agree that I am over-reacting. But as the last in a long line of situations where she has said or done something inappropriate and no-one has pulled her up on it, I have reached the end of my tether. (I know I'm drip feeding here - and I'm sorry but I can't recall everything to you or you'll be here all night!).

Madame said it right - Truth is you don't know because grief make fools of us all. It fucks with out mind and reasonable becomes unreasonable for no normal reason whatsoever! It does. But I feel like I have to be sensible and not offend MiL, FiL, BiL because of their grief, as well as trying to raise DS while dealing with his loss. When do I get to be upset about something someone has said? I AM upset, but its like MiL's grief as a mother supersedes mine as a wife. This is all probably TMI, but I'm just trying to explain that this is not a one off, and although I can appreciate that as mothers we wouldn't want to be in her position, wouldn't you, as a person try to be understanding of my feelings?

I don't think she understands that I am still angry. That is why I am ignoring her calls - not to be cruel, but because if I answer the phone everytime she calls (almost daily at the moment) then I will probably say things I will regret, so this is the only way I stop myself at the moment. I think anyone would have issues with their MiL calling them daily - regardless of the backstory, and I feel like I am pinned into a corner where if I answer the calls I'll get angry, but if I don't I am cruel for ignoring her.

So many people on mumsnet suggest that when one is being hounded by someone else, to just not answer, or breezily brush off the call with a "Very busy - must dash" attitude. But because of her loss, I must talk to her everytime she calls?

I can understand that hearing him call another man "Daddy" must be hard for her - as it must have been hard for FiL to hear DS say it. But he didn't feel the need to correct DS or me. He hasn't mentioned it at all. It must be hard - and I'm sure I would find it difficult if I were in the same situation. But I'd like to think that I wouldn't bring it up with a child. I'd speak to the adult in the relationship. What's done is done. DS calls DP "Daddy". We can't reverse that now. What we can do is control how we react to this. For her to dismiss DS saying it and correct him, is NOT ACCEPTABLE. If she had an issue with it, she could have raised it with me without DS around (as I did with her). But she didn't, she chose to tell a four year old that he was wrong.

If she wasn't bereaved and she had said something inappropriate to a child, most of mumsnet would be saying that I need to speak to her about it, put my foot down and tell her she is not the parent and what she did is unacceptable. But because she is bereaved, we cut her some slack. When do we stop cutting her slack and start saying no? Because so far we've been doing it for 4 years since DH died, before that we cut her slack because she was excited about being a grandparent, before that it was because she hated being alone, before that it was because she was a single parent. When do we stop cutting her slack and stop biting our tongues?

God - I'm going to have to NC after this thread - you'll all think I'm a prize bitch. But after knowing this woman for 10 years, I've had enough. This is a small issue here, but 10 years of history behind me makes it a BIG issue to me.

slambang Thu 17-Jan-13 17:03:13

HM, your latest post is lovely and obviously deeply thought through. I don't think anyone thinks you a prize bitch. But I think so many of us responded strongly to what you are saying because you did just sound so angry. The threats to cut MIL out sounded unreasonable but your questions and consideration don't now.

To answer your question about when to stop allowing MIL to behave badly. My answer woud be you tell her now. You don't have to put up with her bad behaviour but you do have to tell her in a gracious, calm and considerate way. Not in a screaming match.

Tell her. Look MIL - your correction of ds was not OK. It upset me a lot and you could confuse ds. This is the line you must take and if you don't then it will make it harder for us to keep such frequent contact with you.

HMTheQueen Thu 17-Jan-13 17:05:18

Thank you slambang - that is exactly what I will do. I fluctuate wildly between feeling like a bitch and feeling like I am justified in my anger. I will be calm and considered when I speak to her and hope that she understands my feelings.

izzyizin Thu 17-Jan-13 17:37:28

Whatever she may be, whatever she is, your mil is worthy of compassion - as are you.

Extend some to her and save some for yourself because coping with a bereavement of such magnitude is never going to be easy, and in some ways it gets harder to bear as the years go by.

Your love for her ds and for his ds should enable you to build a bridge whereupon you can both come together in an accord which honours and respects his memory, while acknowleging that it's preferable for his ds to have a kind and caring stepfather than to grow up without benefit of paternal wisdom and guidance.

Badvoc Thu 17-Jan-13 17:37:37

Please re read midnight masquerades post op.
I hope you can all move forward eventually.

MMMarmite Thu 17-Jan-13 17:43:32

OP: I think you've had a few harsh receptions on this thread, as well as a lot of really helpful advice. I don't think you're a bitch at all.

I think in the end, children come first. Putting aside all your anger with MIL, and putting aside her (totally reasonable) feelings, what is best for ds? It seems to me that the best things are secure relationships with all of his family - you, your partner, the memory of his dad, and his grandmother.

So I don't think you should give ground on ds calling your partner 'daddy', because being secure in that relationship is great for him. Also, it's done now, it would definitely be confusing for him to make him undo it.

You can't change your MIL's personality, only she can do that. If you can't deal with her all the time (obviously you have your own life to live and your own pain to deal with), you can set reasonable boundaries. Communication is key, agree reasonable levels of contact that won't drive you mad. Better to explain to MIL that you don't have time to talk daily, and arrange to talk twice a week, rather than just ignore the phone call, which will leave her feeling unwanted and insecure. But ultimately, your son's best interest is to have a strong relationship with her, so keep that aim central to whatever action you take.

As a person who lost their Father in childhood I too find this very sad.

I know that my Mum 'got over' my Dad's death in a way that us kids never did. She didn't keep his memory alive for me at all. I have no idea who he was. What his childhood was like (because no one talked about him) . How I am like him. so many questions that will never be answered.

As a child I didn't know this was missing. As an adult I do.

Your MIL keeping her DS alive for your DS is a wonderful gift for him. I can tell she annoys you and I am sure I know none of the history, but the gap left by your DH is (in my opinion, bearing mind I have never been widowed) bigger for your DS and your MIL.

I read your OP and just felt (as a bereaved child) so utterly sad.

I am sorry for your loss.

springyhope Thu 17-Jan-13 18:12:04

imo she will forever be a wounded person, for the rest of her life now. It sounds like she was a wounded person before she lost her son but now, dear me, she has lost everything. She only had one son, no husband, and now he's gone. The poor woman.

I know that will get your goat. I'm sorry (genuinely). Grief is a terrible thing. When my kids lost their dad, the venomous hatred they felt towards his widow because the widow got all the attention. ie there seems to be a kindof 'competition' in grieving. That's a horrible word and I 'd rather use another because it isn't conscious or spiteful competing, just unbearable pain and loss, wondering if our loss is heard and understood.

YOur griefs are maybe clashing at this point. I hope you can come through to some peace together. I know from bitter experience that boundaries need to be very strong around a bereaved person - for their sake as well as ours. I have been too 'soft' around a bereaved person and paid a high price for it. HOwever, there is a way to set boundaries without being harsh. Mighty hard to do, but absolutely essential.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Thu 17-Jan-13 18:25:08

I am in agreement with everything you say.

"Its like she is ignoring that DS is DS not DH. She's trying to foist DH's childhood onto DS."

I think you also need to address this with her.

Your son is his own person and this should be encouraged and celebrated. He must not be changed into something she wants him to be. It won't be good for him, he needs to develop 'his' own personality. Otherwise he may grow up feeling insecure or just never good enough.

I am sorry but I think she sounds like she is quite controlling.

Before anyone flames me, please understand, I feel very very sad for this poor lady, but the little boy's well-being is more important because he's got his whole life in front of him.

HMTheQueen Thu 17-Jan-13 19:04:14

Thank you keepcool

I'm afraid I got angry last night and didn't explain myself very well, so I'm glad I've managed to get some of my points across in a more concise way.

I really do fear she is trying to make DS into a mini-DH. He's not - he's DS! She has actually said to me that it's a pity he has my skin tone and hair rather than DHs. Considering that DH died from skin cancer, I'm pretty happy DS isn't gingery with fair skin!

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Thu 17-Jan-13 19:56:56

You are human, and she should know you well enough by now, so don't be too tough on yourself.

It's a monumental task when you are dealing with a strong personality who has probably always done things 'their' way.

I really do wish you lots of luck. I think you are going to need it, but you will get there because it's for your son. x

Portofino Thu 17-Jan-13 20:22:24

I actually shudder to think what would have happened if my dad had let us call another woman Mummy after a few years. It would have driven my GM over the edge. Yes, she is difficult, but you have to go out of your way for your son and her over this. You are moving on - that is fine and normal. But she. and your ds will feel a loss that will NEVER go away. You need to handle this sensitively. It is not about YOU.

Honsandrevels Thu 17-Jan-13 20:36:28

I lost my dad before I was even born, my mum was 8 months pregnant when he died. She remarried when I was almost 3 and my older brother was 4.5 and went on to have another dc.

My gran had lost her only child when my dad died yet she welcomed my step-dad, dad to me, into her life. I called my step-dad dad and my 'real' dad was daddy Thomas. It helped differentiate! She was a wonderful, caring woman who spoke to me about my dad and what he was like but with no agenda or disparaging of my new dad.

She treated us all the same and when she died when I was 10 and she gave a small inheritance to all 3 of us, she treated my younger brother as her grandchild.

What I'm trying to say is that your Mil is grieving but I don't think that can excuse her behaviour. Of course you are angry. I'd have been heartbroken at any suggestion my dad wasn't my dad. I hope you can move on from this and hope your mil is more sensitive in the future.

I wanted to post as a friend of mine had a similar situation in her family quite some time ago. Her brother was married, 1 child, divorced. He then met a much younger woman, married, 1 child and then wife 2 died very sadly at just age 21 having only just been diagnosed with epilepsy. The brother after a couple of years met someone else (again very much younger), remarried had 2 more children. It was at this point that it was decided that child 2 would call wife 3 "Mummy". It upset enormously wife 2's parents who felt that their daughter had been forgotten. I was quite stunned by how my friend and her family dismissed the feelings of these still grieving people. You could see they were on the outside looking in to the new family group and were scared where they would fit in in the future.

These words that we use - Mummy, daddy and so on produce such strong powerful emotions in all of us. No wonder your 1st MIL reacted strongly.

I wish you all well. As a PP said it will be a difficult road and sometimes you will all get it wrong. I guess your compassion and acknowledgement of your shared past will help you get through it. You've talked about this incredible broader family of "grandparents" - could some of them take some of the burden off you by talking to 1st MIL and letting her see that DH is acknowledged still by the whole family.

Cailinsalach Thu 17-Jan-13 21:20:08

I think if it comforts your ds to call the people he lives with Daddy and Brother then your mil should accept that. Let her tell him stories of your dh but you are right to allow your son the security of strong family bonds in your new family unit.

DoodlesNoodles Thu 17-Jan-13 23:21:34

Honsandrevels. What a lovely family you have. It just goes to show that these things can work out OK smile.

HolgerDanske Fri 18-Jan-13 07:37:33

What a very sad time for everyone. Both sides of the story are valid, of course.

You have had so much good advice already but I just wanted to pick up on one thing that someone else mentioned: If your son hasn't already got one then I think it would be a wonderful solution to let his grandmother have the 'job' of working on a memory box with him. It is a great way of keeping someone's presence alive and will be an invaluable treasure for him as he gets older. And it can be an ongoing thing so doesn't even need to have a beginning and an end - in addition to the box she could buy a nice journal (or you could get it for her as a gift) and write little stories or memories so that when your son is older he can get to know his father. I have a feeling this might help a little and also alleviate her fear that her son is being lost and forgotten.

I'm sorry if I sound patronising, my kids inform me that i have a terrible habit for lecturing. Most of all, I hope that things will come to a peaceful resolution so that your son will have the widest family network possible and a good connection to his dad's side of the family.

Googlella Fri 18-Jan-13 08:04:30

Haven't had time to read all the thread but apologies if repeating what others have said. Agree it's a tricky situation, but can't help but feel for your MIL.
It is wonderful that you have found happiness and that your little boy has a daddy figure; you both deserve that after all the sadness. But presumably your MIL is alone and nothing will ever fill the gap of a deceased son; I am virtually in tears at the thought of how that would feel. She probably struggles with seeing you being one happy family while she is still grief stricken.

She has apologised; I think you should cut her some slack. My experience with older relatives on their own is that they dwell on any upsets, and she is already vulnerable. So my advice would to be pleasant, bite your tongue and sound off on here or to friends/DP.

Good luck. Wishing you all happiness.

springyhope Fri 18-Jan-13 11:09:42

and how old are said kids Holger? I'd take what they say with a pinch of salt iiwy. YOur last para surprised me as I didn't see any evidence of patronising or lecturing.

great posts. HOw are you OP?

BuiltForComfort Fri 18-Jan-13 11:37:44

I wish all the people posting about your MIL's loss being greater or more significant or more difficult than your loss OP would stand back and reconsider. Please also stop talking about OP "moving on." A new partner does not mean she has moved on from her grief, but that she has moved her life on, because that's what happens in life. Generally. Unless you're MIL.

Everyone in this situation has experienced, and continues to suffer from, a tremendous loss. The OP, the MIL and FIL, DS, siblings of OP's DH, friends, colleagues. The loss of a child and the loss of a spouse are different but you really can't weigh one above the other, please don't. OP has had to deal with this loss whilst bringing up a small child on her own. Being a lone parent is hard. Being a lone parent and dealing with grief is immense. OP has done this and continues to do this, whilst also shouldering a good deal of MIL's grief, tantrums and bad behaviours which were already part of her character before OP's DH died.

Were MIL happily married, with her own interests, partner, friends etc then whilst her loss would be just as terrible, she might well have coped better as she would have had a life, company etc. While OP soldiered on, bereaved, parenting alone, no partner to ease the burden, spend time with, do nothing with, go places with. Unable to throw herself into new activities, travelling, ambitious or busy career because she's a widowed parent of a small child, dealing with overwhelming grief and the needs of another person. But she's kept going, onwards, upwards, and she's met a lovely new partner - that's really a fabulous event.

MIL has sat and wallowed. Not found new interests or new friends or even a partner but has relied on OP and her DGS to provide her with a focus. Been overbearing, demanding, overstepped boundaries. And is still overstepping them by demanding that OP's son does not create his own security and comfort within his new family. She wants to stand still. Not let life move on.

There is a difference between life going on and grief going on. Life moving on doesn't mean you don't still miss the deceased person and wish that they had not died, or that you forget about them. But you choose. You stand still and drown in your grief, you let small things sink you and you put responsibility for your happiness onto other people. Or you move on with life, you take responsibility for your own happiness, make new connections whilst keeping in touch with the past.

OP may have rushed into things with new DP, she may not. As both she and her new partner are widowed chances are they will be very much on the same page. What a great opportunity for the bereaved parents and in-laws to welcome a new son in law or daughter in law figure, to have more grandchildren to love and cherish. MIL doesn't seem to see this as an opportunity but a threat.

So again - move on with life and take the joy that it brings, or reject it and hanker for the past which can never return? It's clear which MIL has chosen and that's not the OP's fault.

HolgerDanske Fri 18-Jan-13 11:42:00

Springy, I was trying very hard not to, heh! I'm glad if I succeeded grin

My kids are teenagers (one is almost an adult) and they do have a point - I have a background in child care and that, coupled with a compulsion to analysis and a tendency to go over every angle of any given question or concept or whatnot, means i sometimes go overboard in trying to be helpful and start sounding like I think I am some kind of expert smile

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 18-Jan-13 11:50:32

BuiltForComfort wish there was a 'Like' button.

diplodocus Fri 18-Jan-13 11:51:20

I may be wrong, but it sounds like you've been the "strong one" after your husbands death, and have always been expected to put other people's feelings first (son, MIL, etc). Who put your feelings first? That really isn't a tenable situation, and maybe now you're realising that? That may be why you feel so angry, and are making quite a firm stand about this now? Sorry if this isn't the case, but I think maybe thinking about this a bit may help you address underlying issues, and get a clearer picture of how you move forward with MIL and the rest of your late DH's family.

Horsemad Fri 18-Jan-13 12:10:47

On the Dss' calling her Grandma: my dad died when I was 20, before either of my DS were born. My mum remarried and although my DC call my SF by his Christian name, my mother ALWAYS signs cards from Nanny & Grandad [surname] and I LOATHE it. sad

He is NOT their GF and although I haven't said anything I really don't agree with it.

AngryTrees Fri 18-Jan-13 12:13:15

I agree with you, BuiltForComfort. Especially with the first two paragraphs.

OP I took a look at some of your other posts about your MIL like you suggested earlier on in your thread, and I can understand your worries about your mother in law. It sounds like you've been trying to establish boundaries for the sake of your son (and your own sanity) for years at this point, and I'm not surprised you've reached a point where you feel like you can't deal with it anymore.

I wish I knew what to suggest for you to do. Your thread about her two years ago mentions some pretty serious issues: her making your son the main reason for living and placing all this expectation on him. It does sound like you want what's best for your son and are afraid that the way she acts will have a negative effect on him, and have been afraid of this for a long time.

"DS... he's only 2.7! He can't cope with all her attention, hopes, fears, and still be a normal little boy. It's not fair on me or him - she will need to learn to cope." You wrote this two years ago and this is still your fear today. It doesn't sound like the situation has improved much, if at all.

One little boy can't have all this expectation and weight put on him at such a young age. I sympathise massively with her for losing her son, but I think you may be right about trusting her to look after her grandson physically but not emotionally. He's only four years old.

springyhope Fri 18-Jan-13 12:15:39

My kids are teenagers - quelle surprise

As I said, I'd take what they say with a pinch of salt iiwy. Teenagers can be buggers for your self-confidence.

Great post, Built. I have thought about this thread in rl. There have been significant bereavements in my family and I have seen a variety of responses. All have lost the plot in a major way for quite some time (years); one has still lost the plot nearly 30 years later (she lost her baby). I do consider that this grieving mother has lost perspective on some level, but I also see that she is a vulnerable sort and has not had the resources to recover from her loss (not that anyone ever 'recovers' as such, but learns to live with, if you like). It is now set in stone, really, as the wound is so huge and she wasn't able to take healthy steps at the appropriate times. this is how she is now. Perhaps it is the same for your MIL op. (Incidentally, after many years of unstinting support, I give the bereaved mother a wide berth these days).

Whether MIL is difficult, odd, or whatever, I still find it hard to get past the ease with which you referred to the 'daddy' naming in your OP, seemingly oblivious to the intense pain this would inevitably cause her; indeed, very angry at her response. imo she had to labour the point that she'd lost a son (which, again, made you very angry) and I wonder if she had to do that because she felt you have lost sight of that? Of course she would feel that her son's memory/role had been wiped out, particularly as your son was too young at the time to remember his father.

I'm sorry if I have spoken out of turn or been too blunt. I have not been bereaved, much less significantly, and I am aware that my perspective may be lacking as a result.

HolgerDanske Fri 18-Jan-13 12:31:43

Heh yes Springy, I do realise they would say that smile However I'm also able to concede that I do have a tendency to waffle on. Happy medium is what I aim for these days wink

The suggestion I made about letting grandma build a store of memories was an effort to give her something to work at which might in a roundabout way help herself and give her a means of managing her grief somewhat. All the points that OP brings up about how MIL's actions might be damaging are definitely valid and as last few posters have said, there are things that need to be firmly addressed. I think there are ways to be assertive while still keeping mind the pain that might be driving the other person to act in the way they do.

Good luck with everything, HM.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Fri 18-Jan-13 13:21:56

I think it's lovely for you and your DS that he has someone to call Daddy, that he has someone to act as a Daddy and be there for him in a Daddy way.

But the fact that this is not your sons birth Daddy will kill your MIL. It should be her DS doing this, it should be her son being called Daddy and it must be such a kick in the stomach not only that he's not doing this, but that her grandson is now calling another man Daddy - and so quickly (which is the way of kids and I'm not blaming you at all) but I'm not sure you do understand how much this must be hurting her <and in some ways I'm pleased you don't have that understanding>.

I know you say she's always had 'one excuse or another' to be 'let off' or 'gain sympathy' and I think this might be (understandably) clouding your judegment a bit.

My ex MIL was a complete and utter bitch, no two ways around it and I'm now very pleased (well was, she's since died) that her son and I didn't have children because I would have struggled to maintain any contact with her and something like this would have had her buried in the garden in a nano second - then I look at my Mum and I know how much it would kill her if anything happened to one of my brothers and his wife met someone else and his children started calling them Daddy. I think it would be the straw sad

Just supposing you died and your DP met someone else, (I presume you have arranged it so he would bring up DS if you were to die?) and your DS started calling her Mummy - how do you think your parents would feel?

Your DS is 4, why not get him to call your DP Daddy 'his name' when his Grandma is there and to call his birth Daddy, Daddy 'his name'. He's old enough to do that, he knows he has two Daddies and it's a little kinder on your MIL....

HMTheQueen Fri 18-Jan-13 13:42:01

builtforcomfort you have said in one post what I've been trying to say for 4 years. Thank you for finally putting it into words!

Today is the anniversary of DHs death, so not a great day. But DP is getting me a takeaway tonight (if we can get to the Chinese to pick it up!) and I get to snuggle with the DSs to watch a DVD as they've been sent home early from school.

I know that MiL will probably be telling as many people as possible to get the most sympathy and attention today. I've had enough of the attention that we received after he died, so I'm keeping a low profile from her, FiL and friends on Facebook. I'll get the DSs to call her later and tell her about the snow, as I know that she would love to speak to them. I will be brief and polite, but I'm not going to say anything to her yet. I don't think I can do it over the phone, so I will try to find time to visit her and explain to her how I feel and how her actions have hurt me.

I will attempt to cut her some slack, but as angrytrees said, this is the last in a long line of slack cutting, so my patience is finite.

And holger, please don't listen to teenagers! You were not at all patronising and I so appreciate everyone who has taken the time to give me their opinions.

ohfunnyhoneyface Fri 18-Jan-13 13:49:25

I think suggestions that you've moved on too quickly or that it is hurtful for your MIL are all rather unfair.

You are entitled to move on, it's what your DH would have wanted. It is too much to ask a four year old to switch names when his grandmother is around- that will seriously fuck with his sense of guilt/confusion/happiness.

She is a grown woman, yes it is sad, but you need support too. You've given her a lot of understanding. The time had come for her to put others first.

BuiltForComfort Fri 18-Jan-13 14:15:47

Thinking of you today HMtheQ. Not an easy day, no matter who you have around you (6 years for me next Sat sad ).

If you haven't got in touch with MIL today yet, can you bring yourself to send her just a 'thinking of you' text? And then hopefully speaking to her GDS will help, and it's lovely that all the boys will speak to her and have a chat about things in general. Hope she doesn't lay anniversary sadness on your DS though, too little to understand things like anniversaries really IMO.

HeyHoHereWeGo Fri 18-Jan-13 14:51:08

I am sorry for your loss, but I too feel that it is odd that you want your new blended family to use the names belonging to a straight up traditional family. Why do all the children act like all the grandparents are "their" grandparents. Whats so wrong in saying "Right today we are going to ds's nanny, and next weekend we are going to visit dss's nana".
And why are you all one famlily and not married- i haven't phrased this right at all, but if your MIL is as old as I am, she might be thinking "Boyfriend until you marry" and "Oh so hes Daddy but hes not willing to marry mother, lets see how long this lasts"

ohfunnyhoneyface Fri 18-Jan-13 15:14:08

It sounds like everyone but MIL is happy in the blended family though?

Perhaps losing her DH has put things in perspective and wants to value the people who love her and her family whilst they're still alive?

The name stuff is utter utter bollocks. How can anyone begrudge a small boy having someone he can call daddy??

AmberLeaf Fri 18-Jan-13 15:37:22

I know that MiL will probably be telling as many people as possible to get the most sympathy and attention today

That sounds so mean and spiteful.

Really cold.

AmberLeaf Fri 18-Jan-13 15:37:24

I know that MiL will probably be telling as many people as possible to get the most sympathy and attention today

That sounds so mean and spiteful.

Really cold.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Fri 18-Jan-13 16:41:17

Thinking of you all today sad

I understand that she's a difficult woman, but your comment I know that MiL will probably be telling as many people as possible to get the most sympathy and attention today is really nasty and uncalled for. Everyone is entitled to handle their grief in their own way. She lost her son - she's entitled to shout it from the roof tops any day, of any week, of any year, if it makes her feel any better.

HMTheQueen Fri 18-Jan-13 17:08:20

Yes she is entitled to grieve for her son anyway she see fit - and it probably was cold. But I used it as an example to show the opposite of what im doing - ie not shouting from the rooftops. She can tell whoever she wants whenever she wants, but wearing her loss as a badge of honour to receive as much sympathy/help as she can makes me feel like she's doing it for attention, not because she is grieving. But then I am a much more private person than she is. Each to their own.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Fri 18-Jan-13 17:18:26

What an excellent thread.

My thoughts are with you and HMTheQueen at your sad loss.

You know what HM, you tell her how much she has upset you but, be prepared to hear how upset she is and to listen to her aswell. Everyone grieves differently there is no wrong and right way.

Horsemad Fri 18-Jan-13 17:27:35

HM you do NOT have the monopoly on grieving, however you choose to do it. Her grief as a parent probably does trump yours as a wife - they are totally different relationships.

Just put yourself in her place for one minute please.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Fri 18-Jan-13 17:30:44

HM - I don't want to argue with you, especially not today of all days! I feel for you, I really do, because as I said earlier, if it had been my ex mother in law, maintaining any contact would have taken super human powers and I'd have taken up far too much space on MN trying to deal with it!!

Maybe you are right, maybe she is just an attention seeking pita 'using' this to get attention OR maybe, she is genuinely grieving for her son and this is her way of coping & dealing with it.

Did you consider my suggestion of getting DS to call his birth Daddy, Daddy x and your DP Daddy y when he's around Grandma?

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 18-Jan-13 17:31:35

That must seriously hurt to hear her sons child call someone else daddy! sad

Especially to a man who has only been in his life since last year.

Did he just start calling him that or was is suggested?

It all seems very quick, met him last year, moved in and now he's calling him daddy!

Flatbread Fri 18-Jan-13 17:43:19

I don't get it.

Your mil loves your son more than anything else in the world. She can provide him the comfort, the security of knowing his father intimately and being proud of his father. This will give him so much confidence.

And you want to limit that because you don't like her? And because you have a new man in your life, who face it, will love his own boys the most?

Please don't make this about you. It is not. Your mil has a special link to your son which neither you nor your dp or his new friends can substitute. She is his blood-link to his father.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 18-Jan-13 17:54:46

OP you sound so cold.

It is fine if you want to bury your grief at your DH's death and focus on your new life and relationship - absolutely fine.

But you do not get to decide for everyone else, least of all his mother.

I (for once) agree with Flatbread, I cannot understand why you would want to limit what she can share with your DS about his father, unless you are trying to erase his memory in some way - which I am sure you are not.

AmberLeaf Fri 18-Jan-13 17:59:30

You don't like her open grieving.

You grieve differently to her.

I don't even think its actually about that at all, I think you just don't like her.

fruitstick Fri 18-Jan-13 18:01:59

HM, I don't know you, and have never been in your situation so feel free to ignore.

However, I lost both parents when I was young. I dealt with it very differently to my sisters. They were much more weepy & waily. A lot more 'visible grief'. I kept myself to myself and moved on with life. I never visited graves or did any of the other 'sentimental crap' that I saw them doing.

However, it turns out I wasn't really dealing with it at all. Turning everything off & moving on was my way of denying what happened. It all came back to bite me on the arse 10 years later. I was shocked as I thought I'd done so well hmm

I'm not saying this is what you are doing at all. I'm merely saying that there is no such thing as appropriate grief. There is no correct or better way to behave and I don't know of anyone who puts it on for attention, even if it's not how you choose to behave.

Be careful, of your own feelings as much as hers, but don't let your way of doing things become the only way for your DS.

BuiltForComfort Fri 18-Jan-13 18:05:01

"Her grief as a parent probably does trump yours as a wife - they are totally different relationships".

FFS that really is too much. Different, yes. But to say one trumps another???? Now I've really heard it. Talk about cold or harsh! They are both mourning the same person FFS and they both miss him in different ways. They've lost different things. One is NOT more special than the other.

Yes people grieve differently and that can be difficult. if one person cries in private but functions in public whilst someone else sobs openly and needs people around them,that can be difficult for both to understand or even tolerate and clearly this has been an issue for OP.

Perhaps if OP had been the stroppy difficult demanding one for the last four years and her MIL had been the rock, stoical and dong her best to ensure that their family relationship was maintained, perhaps then we could say to the OP that it's MIL's turn for compassion and understanding, for OP to put her feelings to one side. But the MIL has smothered and overstepped boundaries and given life another difficult dimension for OP at the most horrendous time. And still things aren't right for her, and still it has to be about her. And still it's the OP having to take it on the chin except that this time it's got too much.

AmberLeaf Fri 18-Jan-13 18:08:22

Perhaps if OP had been the stroppy difficult demanding one

Maybe her MIL thinks she has?

BuiltForComfort Fri 18-Jan-13 18:12:02

Oh and by the way isn't it just possible that OP, having married the man, borne his child, been his adult partner, might also have some insights into him that she's sharing with their son? MIL doesn't have the monopoly on this and OP has been clear that they do talk about her DS's Daddy, he calls him Daddy still after all, he hasn't stopped doing that, he says he has two Daddies.

Maybe she doesn't think it healthy for a small child to be receptacle of his GM's emotions, desires etc. ie something beyond sharing memories but instead becoming very intense. It is not a good thing for a child to have that type of focus.

It's about achieving a balance and MIL hasn't in the past shown herself capable of being balanced so OP seeks distance, MIL pushes more, OP distances (or seethes silently, becoming more resentful)... It's pretty familiar territory for a lot of DILs and MILs on here whether or not the son / DH is still here or not!

Astley Fri 18-Jan-13 18:13:10

Not read every single post but must say that if my only son were to die and I heard my only Grandchild calling a man, a man not even married to my DIL, Daddy I would be horrified.

As for having the children of my DIL's partner calling me 'Grandma' ummmm no thanks. I don't think she's odd in not wanting that at all.

JustFabulous Fri 18-Jan-13 18:27:23

Maybe the MIL feels the OP has replaced her husband with another man. MIL can't replace him with another son.

I think that is what makes it a different kind of grief. No one replaces anyone else, there is so such thing as two 100% identical people, but the fact remains a widow/widower can have another spouse. An elderly lady just can not have another son.

Narked Fri 18-Jan-13 18:38:15

You've been with him for a year and your DS calls him Daddy? And you think this is a good thing????

AmberLeaf Fri 18-Jan-13 18:47:19

Is it even a year? OP said she met him last year.

Nanny0gg Fri 18-Jan-13 18:51:35

I know that MiL will probably be telling as many people as possible to get the most sympathy and attention today
Wow, that was cold.
Maybe she'll be telling lots of people so that lots of people think of her son.

You grieve differently. Don't belittle her way. And you have a very understanding partner who can put his arms around you and know what you're feeling. Who does she have?

A friend of my family lost her only child when he was 13. She went to her grave 30-odd years later having mourned him every single day.

There is no 'right' way.

ohfunnyhoneyface Fri 18-Jan-13 18:53:19

Honestly can't get over the outrage on here.

What would you rather? Unhappiness and sadness for ever more?

After four years the OP is entitled to move on. After the difficulties the MIL has given her, she is lucky to be part of the child's life at all.

The names signify love- daddy, grandma- we use them to show respect and affection. How the fuck can people take offence to that?

Astley Fri 18-Jan-13 19:06:07

Can you not love someone without attaching w name to it?

I don't ever want to be called Grandma by other peoples Grandchildren hmm why would anyone want to be?!

I wonder if her partners children call her Mummy?

And yes, calling a man, not even married to your Mother, 'daddy' after a year is not a good idea IMO.

AmberLeaf Fri 18-Jan-13 19:08:07

They don't call OP mummy as they were older when their mum died and have memories of their mum.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 18-Jan-13 19:13:50

I agree with this

Your son isn't in a position to be making the call as to calling your dp daddy. He's 4. He DOES want to replace his biological daddy with this new daddy, because what he wants is a daddy. He never knew his birth daddy, so at 4, he doesn't have any loyalty to him. He's 4, he doesn't have the emotional maturity to understand the concepts involved. His immediate progression to calling your new dp daddy is giving him the security he wants, so he is all keen to replace his birth father. He's diving into this as much as you are. BUT he's 4. He doesn't understand all the relationships, in his eyes you pretty much can get a new daddy from the shop to be a forever daddy. You do know it's more complicated than that, so leaving the whole decision up to him as to what he calls your dp isn't fair, and it opens it up to heartbreak if your dp decides that, for example, life is too precious to waste on a family set up and actually he fancies moving to Australia. You've been with him for less than a year, you don't know him we'll enough to say hand on heart you know every inch of how he thinks. You can chuck yourself full steam into this relationship, because life is too short to think about what might go wrong...but what if life turns out to not be short, this turns out to be a horrible mess and then your son is down two daddys? You're in a position to understand this, your son isn't so it would be kinder to help him adjust slowly. If your son is calling him daddy, surely your dp should be thinking of adopting him? Getting parental responsibility? If there was a horrible accident and you were unable to care for your son, then currently he would lose you and his brand new daddy in one go. And if you're not ready for your dp to have legal parental responsibility then your ds shouldn't be calling him daddy yet. Because for him, that's the 4 year old equivalent of legal adoption and it will be devastating if it turns out that actually it's not the case. I suspect you're quite so angry with your mil because you feel she's judging the speed at which you're moving into this relationship, and you don't want to consider the possibility that this might be anything but the perfect blended family dream. Which it might we'll be, and I really hope it is. But you should be cushioning your son from the possibility that it's not.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Fri 18-Jan-13 19:14:57

With respect, your thread is very much about - 'I' 'I' 'Me' 'Me.' Wouldn't you put what is best for your grandson's interests and well being?

Op's little boy is naturally choosing to be a brother/son/grandson to his new extended family, because HE obviously feels comfortable with this. Why would you want him to doubt this?

What is so bad about being secure and comfortable within a new family?

His father willl NEVER be forgotten, he will always know about his paternal family.

Words cannot convey how awful it is for the MiL to have lost her son, but sadly this cannot be reveresed, and perhaps being part of the new family could actually in time perhaps help her with her loss.

Her son will NEVER be forgotten, but life does and must go on, however difficult this is for the MiL.

OhFunnyHoneyFace - can't agree with you more.

HolgerDanske Fri 18-Jan-13 19:17:04

I think calling them 'Daddy X' and 'Daddy Y' (or 'Daddy X' and just plain 'Daddy', if tacking current partner's name on would be awkward) would probably ease that particular issue a bit. It pays respect to his daddy, and reassures grandma, while still letting him feel as if he has a daddy now to look after him. He will not know anything other than 'this is the man who looks after mum and me', and his step-siblings call him daddy so it's quite natural that he would want to do that too.

AmberLeaf Fri 18-Jan-13 19:17:28

Oh get real, he says 'daddy' because he hears the mans two sons saying it!

He's 4, he isn't choosing anything!

AThingInYourLife Fri 18-Jan-13 19:18:08

"After the difficulties the MIL has given her, she is lucky to be part of the child's life at all."


A child lost his father as a baby, and you think he should have his grandmother taken away from him too?

It's very to lay claim to the "best for the child" ground when he's 4.

It will be a lot more difficult to explain to a teenager or adult why his real Daddy's mother was excised from his life. It will need to be a very good reason.

HM - the Daddy thing with your very recent new partner is done.

But surely you can come up with something better for your son's actual father than "Daddy in heaven"?

You might as well call him Pretend Daddy.

AThingInYourLife Fri 18-Jan-13 19:20:44

"Oh get real, he says 'daddy' because he hears the mans two sons saying it!

He's 4, he isn't choosing anything!"


Pretending that it's a sign of his happiness or level of comfort with the new family he's had imposed on him is self-serving nonsense.

Astley Fri 18-Jan-13 19:20:55

I don't consider it being in a childs best interest to commit to calling someone 'Daddy' after a year with no legal framework around that at all.

HolgerDanske Fri 18-Jan-13 19:28:52

You're right, I suppose, to an extent. It's not what I would do. But it's what they have chosen to do, and it's a bit late now to do much about it isn't it. They have to work with the situation as it is. These things are very personal and everyone will have different ideas on how to negotiate them. I think HM said somewhere upthread that her son started calling the partner daddy and they decided to follow his lead on it. Yes, he probably did do it mainly because that is what his step-siblings call him (and I know they aren't officially step-siblings yet but I don't know what other term to use), but on the other hand, why should he feel different and not quite part of the gang? He can't help it that he doesn't remember his father and that welcoming another man into that very important role might have come quite naturally to him.

digerd Fri 18-Jan-13 19:34:14

The parents of your DP's late wife are also still grieving, but putting the happiness of all the children and your and DP's first, as it should be. I am sure that they wouldn't be so resentful if their 2 GC called you mummy. It is what the half orhaned DC want. Neither of the late parents would want their DCs to be without a loving step mother or stepfather and a lovely extended family of relatives. MIL cannot see that she is spoiling her DGS future happiness, as clouded by her all consuming grief. She really should be made to realise this. Perhaps her ex can tell her the reality of her actions as he helped before.
I assume her ex is the boy's Grandad. Does he have a good relationship with him and DP? Sorry if I have got something wrong.

You don't have to call someone Daddy or Mummy to be part of any gang, many Blended families don't have that problem.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 18-Jan-13 19:35:46

I don't really get the complaints you have about your mil op.

The daddy thing . . . She's understandably upset that the little boy is calling a man who has been in your lives for just a matter of months daddy! Is ridiculously early for that!

As for the knitting and songs . . . What the hell are you moaning about?! Its lovely that she has favourite patterns she knits from when her son was small. As for the songs, what would you have her do? Delete from memory the ones she knows and replace with new ones?

Her crying in front of your son . . . It doesn't harm children to see emotions, in fact i was advised when i was grieving to talk to my children about it and that often meant tears too.

She's shouting from the rooftops that its the anniversary . . . So what? That's her business and her grief and none of your business.

It looks to me that you are looking for reasons to be pissed at her but these reasons are nonsense.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Fri 18-Jan-13 19:40:09

All very 'legal.'
Perhaps try explaining that one to a 4 year old.

Astley Fri 18-Jan-13 19:43:32

digerd you cannot possibly know what the other GP's feel. I'm sure they would be beyond thrilled to hear their daughters children calling someone else 'Mummy'... Yeah right.

Their GC's remember their Mother and don't call OP Mummy so they don't have the same concerns as the MIL.

The MIL knows her GC will never have a sngle memory of his Father. She has to accept that. What I don't think she has to accept is another man getting the title 'Daddy' quite so easily.

You don't have to explain anything to a four year old, just correct the name when said, thousands do it all the time.

Astley Fri 18-Jan-13 19:51:10

Ok keepcoolcalm DS is 5 this week and would understand this.

'DS, DP cares about you very much and I know you care about him too. But he's not your Daddy. Each of us only have one Daddy and your Daddy had to go up to Heaven. < Insert part about doing an important job, or looking down on him if that is what is believed >

That doesn't mean that your Daddy didn't love you, very very much, and want to stay with you always. You remember how DP's sons talk about their Mummy? Well their Mummy is up in Heaven with your Daddy. They don't call me Mummy because you only have one Mummy, and their Mummy loved them very much too.

So Mummy and Daddy are the special names for just our one Mummy and one Daddy. Maybe you could think up a special name for DP for just you and him? Or you can just call him his name?

HolgerDanske Fri 18-Jan-13 19:54:05

Oh I know. As I said, it's not what I would have done. But these things are not always so clear when we're in the middle of them.

I like the explanation above.

HM my mother died before my first birthday and I have to say the issues between my father and her parents were huge and made life horrid.

I do know what you are saying that you have to tip toe around your grief to submit to hers but to me I see it that you can move on with your life, build a new family, and whilst I understand that it will never replace DH it means that your life is full, you have hope for the future, you have a future. For me the loss of one of my children would be a never ending pain, a gaping great hole in me that I doubt could ever be filled.

You have to mentalise, put yourself in her shoes, see a copy of her DS calling another man daddy, you in her mind expecting her to take on the children of another man who in her mind has usurped her dead DS. Remember, you have hope, she has her big painful gaping hole.

I am not trying to make it seem as though your grief is less important just more that you have ways and opportunities to move on, whereas her opportunities are sort of being chosen by you.

I am sure I will never be able to understand your grief and it must be profound so your feelings are just as valid as hers. Just try to find a way to communicate. Sit down, have a cup of tea, hug, understand each other and that you are coming at this from a completely different angle. One trying to move on and come to terms with the death of your beloved husband and another losing her precious child. Find the common ground.

I'm.sorry people have been so horrible in response to this op.

Mil was out of order to challenge a four yr olds use of the word daddy, she should have expressed her concerns to his mother, however much it hurt her to hear it.
But apparently we should let it slide in the name of her grief, the Op however, when expressing resentment regarding mil and her own ability to express grief is considered cold and harsh. sad surely op is allowed to vent here? She hasn't expressed this resentment to the mil you all realize? just on here, where it will not hurt the grieving mother? but will probably help the op deal with her own grief? for her lost dh?

I don't think that your ds should be denied a daddy. It won't take away his real daddy, it won't replace his real daddy, and there will be times in his life where the loss of his real daddy will cut deep. I'm sure at these times and throughout his childhood he will be happy that he had your current dp call daddy and be around for him.

From what you've said you make efforts to keep dhs memory alive, and other posters suggestions of mil and ds creating a memory box strikes me as a good one. It would reiterate that you do not want to replace dh, and welcome her sharing memories with ds, but also create a situation where ds sees that his dad was a real person, and hopefully lead to mil realising that ds is not dh.

also explain to her (sensitively) that her correcting ds could have hurt him, confused him. in a worse case scenario your ds could have taken her saying he's not your daddy very badly. he could have read that to mean he is different from his dsbs, not part of the 'real' family he shares a home with, he could also have felt loss of your dp as daddy, loss of that comfort and security. she could have made a very lonely and unhappy ds.sad She should know the implications of what she says, and as an adult, think before she speaks. I would be angry too in your position.

Oh and dd called dp daddy after a short while with no prompting, not our choice, she was 2.5 and still saw her father.

And the hurt if being cut off from my mothers parents will never go away so please don't do that.

Talk, acknowledge each others feelings and share your grief and happy memories. May be hearts and flowers and shitting butterflies or may be horrendous but you will never know unless you try.

Honsandrevels Fri 18-Jan-13 20:02:21

I'm really shocked that people are being so judgemental about a situation that, thankfully, most know nothing about. Snide comments about the op having 'got over' the death of her DH and moving on.

As I said up thread my dad died before I was born and 3 years later married a man she'd known for 6 months. I called him daddy, my gran accepted my step-dad and loved my younger brother. My mum and dad have been together for 30 years.

Should my mum have remained alone? Should I never have called my dad daddy because it 'disrespected' my real dad? I never even met him, of course that upsets me but I'm glad I had a dad to love me and take me to the park and do all the things dads do rather than just having other people's memories of a dad I never knew. I have two dads, that's good.

Portofino Fri 18-Jan-13 20:05:54

I did not read all the posts sorry, but OP you think she is ATTENTION SEEKING today? That is fucking horrible. She deserves attention and concern and all those things bereaved mothers generally don't get because other people feel uncomfortable and are too busy with their own lives. I hope you have done something with your son to mark the day.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Fri 18-Jan-13 20:13:40

I strongly suggest you read ALL of this thoroughly.

"I hope you have done something with your son to mark the day."

That is very very low.

Something as delicate as this, does not need a 'knee-jerk' reaction.

Portofino Fri 18-Jan-13 20:23:43

I am not new to the thread - I just never read those from today. OP says that today is the anniversary of her DHs death - and she thinks her MIL is "attention seeking" . My mother died 40 years ago this year. Do you think that my nan would be attention seeking to mention it? Or just that it is an important date to her and would like others to remember too. You NEVER get over losing a child. Even if they are grown up. Why is that so hard to understand?

Portofino Fri 18-Jan-13 20:27:14

I don't agree with tiptoeing around her, but calling another man "daddy"....

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Fri 18-Jan-13 20:40:41

Woh, slow down. Absolutely no body is suggesting that she should get over losing her child. Please read all of OP's threads, so that you can put it all in to context.

Not the same op but just to relate, my dh and I lost our son, at birth, which I know is very different, but for the first year I could easily bring any conversation to ds. I obsessed. Talking helped me, constantly referencing what had happened to others made me feel like everyone around me would KNOW how bad it was. Eventually dh spoke to me, he is a very silent mourner and had felt I was attention seeking, he felt that I brought everything back to ds to ensure all conversation revolved around me. In a way it was true. My world revolved around grief and people acting normally weren't appreciating that. I wasn't wrong. Nor was Dh. I went to counseling. I'm not, nor will I ever be over it. (february is still hard)
The point is that you can feel that your mil is attention seeking and shouldn't feel guilty for that feeling. Other posters feel very complied to advise you that people grieve differently, without taking into consideration your way of grieving. You haven't been insensitive to mil, so you have done nothing wrong in expressing yourself here.

Portofino Fri 18-Jan-13 22:13:36

KeepCool - I did read all of OPs posts.

Portofino Fri 18-Jan-13 22:17:14

I am not suggesting at all the MIL should "get over it" I am suggesting that OP is getting all cushty with her new partner and is choosing to forget or overlook or deny some things which should not be forgotten.

hellymelly Fri 18-Jan-13 22:30:29

I haven't read the whole thread, but I think you are being rather hard on your MIL. You havea new partner who you love and are settled with, but she will never have another son, and I think expecting it not to be a knife in her heart to hear her grandson call another man "Daddy" is expecting too much. I also don't think four is too small to be asked to consider someone else's feelings.
I think maybe getting your DS to call your partner Daddy Bob, or whatever, rather than Daddy, or a pet name, might have been a better plan. I understand that you must have an overwhelming desire to mend your son's world and give him all the stability of the family unit he so sadly lost, but to your MIL it must be terribly painful. I would not want any child of my dds to call someone else Mummy, or my own children, should I die while they are small. I find the mere thought of it really upsetting tbh. I think you should cut her some slack, give her plenty of one on one time with your ds and give her some love.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 18-Jan-13 22:43:13

I agree with portofino.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Fri 18-Jan-13 22:46:13

Pregnantpause. When i was bereaved i also found that i would talk about it a lot, nearly every conversation i had. Some years later it is still something which i tell new people i meet early on. Its had such an effect on me that its a large part of who i am now and a lot of my life since has been shaped by it, so its hard not to talk about it.

Sorry to read that you lost your baby. That must have been so so awful sad

vivizone Fri 18-Jan-13 23:06:50

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

BettySuarez Fri 18-Jan-13 23:13:19

What upsets me reading this thread, is that a woman's last link to her son is entirely dependent on the compassion (or otherwise) of the OP.

The fact that your DS wants to call your partner 'daddy' is neither here nor there IMO.

What stands out, is your lack of compassion for a woman who must be living with grief on an unimaginable level.

And the fact that this grief could be described as 'attention seeking' is simply appalling sad

SnowLiviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 18-Jan-13 23:41:43

Good evening all

Just a gentle reminder that if there's one thing we could all do with it's some
moral support.

Portofino Fri 18-Jan-13 23:43:38

Well quite. Anniversary of his death when it is not so long ago. Something to speak to your dc about at least. And you SHOULD OP. The worst thing is that no-one wants to talk about your dead parent. It is too upsetting or something....UM NO. Talk about them, upsetting or not.

vivizone Sat 19-Jan-13 00:24:26

I honestly do not know why my message was deleted.

TheCarefulLaundress Sat 19-Jan-13 03:00:13

What's all this "real daddy" and "you can only have one daddy/mummy" nonsense?

My DD has two mothers; her birth mother and me, her adoptive mother, and I am the one she calls mummy because I am her mummy, just as DH (her adoptive father) is her daddy.

So she has two sets of parents who are equally real but she has never known, nor ever will know, her birth parents. Does she not have the right to call us mummy and daddy, just as OP's DS has the right to call a living, breathing man daddy?

Am tired so maybe not making much sense and might try again in the morning but, whilst I have enormous compassion for the MIL, I do think a 4 year old boy who has no memory of his birth father has every right to call the man who will be raising him daddy.

izzyizin Sat 19-Jan-13 04:38:30

Your situation is fundamentally and materially different to that of the OP, Laundress.

On adopting a dc who is biologically unrelated to yourself and your dh, you have become her parents in law and you are therefore, to all intents and purposes, her mother and father/mummy and daddy.

Although you say your dd will never know her birth parents, I would venture to suggest that if she wishes to go in seach of them at some point in the distant future, and should they be alive at that time, there's no reason to suppose she won't meet them and get to know them unless, of course, you have adopted from outside of the EU from a country where meticulous recording keeping of birth/marriages/deaths and adoptions is not a priority

Because of the premture death of the her dh, the OP's ds will not have opportunity to meet and get to know his biological father and, although he has taken to calling his OP's dp 'daddy', the fact remains that this man is not his 'daddy' nor is he related to him in fact or in law.

Under the circumstances, it would be understandable if the OP's mil fears that her ds's rightful place as her dgc's 'daddy' may come to be overlooked, or airbrushed from the child's history.

AmberLeaf Sat 19-Jan-13 09:21:45

Yes, what Izzy said!

Adoption scenario totally different.

BuiltForComfort Sat 19-Jan-13 09:36:59

Ok so if the OP were to marry her DP and they each adopt the other's children, it's then ok for her ds to call him Daddy? And the knife that would go through MIL's heart would no longer matter?

AmberLeaf Sat 19-Jan-13 09:49:06

That would be nothing like a child being adopted at birth [or as a baby/toddler] though would it?

Again, very different scenario.

But that isn't what has happened here is it, so moot point.

AlreadyScone Sat 19-Jan-13 09:52:39

I like what Donkey said.

Good luck OP, you sound like a caring and loving person doing her best. I have had experience of a very similar situation within my own family, it is very easy for onlookers to judge harshly. No-one can put the loss of your DH right, or bring him back, and it is very hard when other family members believe that their grief trumps yours and that this gives them the right to dictate.

Keep being compassionate with your MIL, she is grieving and afraid - but extend extra compassion to yourself, because you are, too.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Sat 19-Jan-13 10:00:45

I am glad you posted.
This thread has often reminded me of other threads with adopted children scenarios, where a grandparent/family member, will not accept the adopted child and treat them differently to their 'blood' grandchildren.

I think that is a very valid point.

HolgerDanske Sat 19-Jan-13 10:14:11

The knife through her heart of hearing someone else be given the title her son should have had will always be there for MIL. There is nothing anyone can do about that no matter how sensitively it's handled. That's why she deserves unending compassion.

But for the little boy his father will always be something of a pretend-daddy. That is the truth of it. At such a young age and with no memory of his dad, I think it's important to nurture any relationship he has that can fill that hole. He deserves a daddy that he can see and touch. And if that includes calling that person daddy (personally I would have gone for daddy Y, I think) then I think that's ok.

Flatbread Sat 19-Jan-13 10:17:34

Ok so if the OP were to marry her DP and they each adopt the other's children, it's then ok for her ds to call him Daddy? And the knife that would go through MIL's heart would no longer matter?

Yes, it means the relationship was given time and thought and responsibility.

Can OP say truthfully, that if she were to die tomorrow, that her dp would be the best person to bring her son up? That her dp would always have his best interests in heart and if there was conflict, he would put her son before his own, if need be?

And same for her dp, if he were to die tomorrow, would he want op to be the lawful guardian of his children?

What happens if the partner remarries...will the child be brought up by two completely unrelated people?

And wouldn't the grandparents need to be involved in this discussion...?

I think it is reasonable for MIL to be devastated to hear the position of daddy so casually handed over.

TheCarefulLaundress Sat 19-Jan-13 10:18:54

The situations are not completely different. Both are about children who have never, nor ever will, know their biological parents being able to have what nearly all their contemporaries will have - the opportunity to call the man who is raising them daddy.

OP's late DH will always be DS's daddy too but, sadly, he won't be the one taking him sledging today, overseeing his homework, cuddling and horse playing with him. That's what daddies do and therefore DS has every right to call him daddy.

And I would hope that OP will show compassion to her MIL whose life is frozen in grief whilst OP and her DS are living in the happy present - which they have every right to do.

(Izzy - DD adopted from country where there is no paper trail of birth parents).

HolgerDanske Sat 19-Jan-13 10:28:49

And to get back to the original question, HM I can totally understand why you would be angry at your MIL. But I really think the best thing for everyone (esp your son) would be to build bridges. As soon as possible. Don't leave it too long.

Children need all the help and support and love they can get and the wider his family network the better for him. And as he gets older and his dad's person starts to take more importance in his self-identity, he will be much better off for having had a close relationship with his grandmother (as long as you two can gently circumvent any thorny issues between you).

Forgive the rather silly question, but does your son have his own personal photo album of his dad? I imagine he would so I'm sorry if this offends you..
But if he doesn't then please ask your MIL to make one up for him. That, along with the memory box and a journal of memories would probably reassure her enough that things can start to heal between you two. And it will be a treasure for him someday when he starts to wonder about who his dad was.

Velcropoodle Sat 19-Jan-13 10:37:52

Holger that is an inspired, really lovely suggestion.

Flatbread Sat 19-Jan-13 10:54:51

Bolger, that is a wonderful idea.

I read some of OP's other threads and she comes across as a very strong and warm and fun person in those.

I guess this is a stage where there is potential for a lot of conflict as OP enters a new phase in her life. Understandably she is impatient with MIL and wants to move on.

But she needs to accept that MIL will never move on, and that she cannot punish her for that...instead use it as a positive thing to make her son's dad more real for him. And let them build a strong bond with plenty of one-to-one time. The more he loves his dgm and sees her as a strong positive influence in his life, the more likely he is to be really proud of his birth-dad and gain confidence from that.

Flatbread Sat 19-Jan-13 10:55:46

Holger not Bolger blush

springyhope Sat 19-Jan-13 11:01:43

I feel quite miserable that this thread kicked off yesterday, of all days. I hope you survived the day OP.

Astley Sat 19-Jan-13 11:03:27

Thecarefullaundress you seem to be purposefully obtuse. My brother does all those things with my DC, it doesn't make him their Father hmm
Plus my brother is biologically related to them, something the new DP won't ever be.

Allowing a small child to call a man who had been in their lives for a matter of months is just not a good idea IMO. SIL's boyfriend grew up like this, biological Father and Mother split up, Mother moved country and has allowed him to call a sucession of men 'Daddy', she is no longer with any of them and he only has contact with one former 'Daddy'. He is very messed up.

I thought it was just common sense that you didn't get you DC to call men who you've been with only months, something as important as Daddy. It just boggles my mind that a man, not married to your biological Mother, who has only known you a year gets to be 'Daddy' despite how clearly distressing it is for his actual, biological Grandmother!

TheCarefulLaundress Sat 19-Jan-13 12:51:06

Astley - that's quite offensive to the OP who appears to have made a commitment to her DP and his children and has no intention of getting a succession of men to be daddy to her DS.

You clearly believe that blood is thicker than water and my family are proof, along with other adoptive and blended families, that it's not true.

AmberLeaf Sat 19-Jan-13 14:09:51

Dont make this about adoption.

It is nothing like that at all.

diddl Sat 19-Jan-13 14:15:14

Sounds to me as if MIL is doing as OP says as she is frightened that she will lose contact with her GS.

I do agree that correcting him was wrong & she should have spoken to OP about that.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Sat 19-Jan-13 14:48:14

Nobody is trying to change this in to an adoption thread. It merely shows that there are sometimes 'similarities' between the two i.e. blended families/adoption families.

ohfunnyhoneyface Sat 19-Jan-13 15:08:03

OP: just wanted to say good luck and I'm so pleased for you that you've found someone special to love and share your lives with.

There really isn't enough love in this world- you've done what you think is right, your MIL is not supporting you. I hope she comes round and you find a way for her to be part of your lives in a positive way that everyone is happy with.

None of us know how we'd feel in this situation- but I feel strongly that I would want my DC to have someone to love and care about them if the worst happened to me. I would want people to be happy and move on with their lives. I would not want people wallowing and I would not want my parents making things awkward for my DP and his new partner.

TheCarefulLaundress Sat 19-Jan-13 16:22:53

Amber - don't dictate what people discuss. It's entirely relevant.

Astley Sat 19-Jan-13 16:30:32

How? This child has biological relatives, still alive and desperate to have a relationship him.

That's not really the same as adoption. Then the Grandmother would no longer be legally related to the child.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Sat 19-Jan-13 17:02:38

Tactful kindness and sensitivity on everyone's part can help preserve contact with the living and a link by memory to the dead.

FIL and BIL and MIL are and could still be a loving part of her DS's life. I don't see that OP is trying to blot out or forget her late husband or deny their son any knowledge of past history. More than one poster has said, it's not all about her. A few have criticised her for 'jumping in at the deep end' and moving in with DP so soon. She's come back and defended herself and been taken to task.

But without her this little boy wouldn't be at the centre of this dilemma. True, she hasn't been a Queen Victoria figure, setting the pace of grieving, jealously clinging onto her status, static and enshrining her DH's memory as an impossible ideal for any man or DS to match. Otoh she could have already moved away and been a lone parent well beyond her in-laws' reach.

If, as several suggested, she bears a grudge or actively dislikes her MIL then she's hardly the first woman to come onto MN with that kind of baggage is she.

Good luck HMTQ.

Flatbread Sat 19-Jan-13 17:33:17

If, as several suggested, she bears a grudge or actively dislikes her MIL then she's hardly the first woman to come onto MN with that kind of baggage is she

Yes, but in most cases there is a dh to act as a counterbalance, understand the pil perspective and maintain a strong bond with mil.

Here, it is even more important to keep the ties, for the little boy's sake. Mil is his biological family, the current dp is not. Mil will put the boy first, the dp probably will not (although he may be a perfectly nice bloke)

It should really not be an ultimatum to mil to accept wholehearted dp and his children, or lose the relationship with her own dgs. The child is not the personal property of anyone, and should not be used as a negotiating tool. He has a right to form a relationship with his father's family, irrespective of his mum's life and decisions.

DoctorAnge Sat 19-Jan-13 18:51:24

Late to this but want to add that whilst you sound like a good person OP this isn't all about you. Your DS and his Grandmother have a very, very special bond and it is vital that it is kept, well sacred really and I don't use that term lightly.
I see no reason why she should be called Grandmother by other children when a name basis would serve just as well. I also think you have bonded very quickly with the new set up but it is understandable that she is going to find things harder and slower. It hasn't been much time at all!
I feel for her so, so much. You sound quite callas toward her on here and the comments about attention seeking are quite cruel really. She has lost her son and your DS his son is going to represent something very special to her. She has apologised, the poor Woman sounds desperate that you could and have threatened to cut her out.
I am really sorry but you don't come accross well on here.

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