Grandparents Bad Habits Influencing Childrens' Attitudes

(10 Posts)
LastDadStanding Tue 05-Feb-13 23:14:07

My wife and I have 2 DS. DS1 is now coming up to 4 and listens and takes in everything.

My FIL can be a fairly unpleasant man to have visiting. He is a bully and misogynist. He regularly (I mean several times a day) insults his wife, mainly commenting on how fat or stupid she is. The tone he uses when saying these things is almost the worst part. I’ve never understood how my wife can let this pass, but she hardly bats an eyelid when it happens. He will also not think twice before making racist comments, although weirdly my wife has taken him to task on that. They both undoubtedly love the boys and like visiting as often as they can.

I am becoming more and more preoccupied with the effect my FIL may have on the boys, I don’t want them ever to think it’s acceptable to speak to a woman like that and I don’t want them to hear any racist comments and see us let them pass and think it’s ok to repeat them. If he did we would be furious and that wouldn’t be fair on him.

This has become a major issue in our relationship. I regularly bring up my concerns with my wife but she doesn’t want to discuss it. I know she finds it difficult to deal with him and finds him intimidating (she barely makes eye contact with him when he visits), but I feel that we have to make it explicitly clear what type of behaviour isn’t acceptable in front of our sons.

Sometimes I feel that my wife thinks I’m unreasonable for trying to prevent them from visiting more often but she will not address it. What worries me most is that when I have to deal with it, she will not back me up.

My son is 4 and the way adults in his life behave will give him the yardstick for what is acceptable behaviour.

I’d like a reality check please.

sannaville Wed 06-Feb-13 06:47:12

Next time they visit I'd take him.to task yourself , if he makes a racist comment say " sorry no comments like that in the house because ds1 is starting to repeat now"

ohfunnyhoneyface Wed 06-Feb-13 06:59:33

What is your wife's relationship with her mother like? It sounds like the one with her father isn't great.

LastDadStanding Wed 06-Feb-13 08:29:31

We have both takled the racist comments before and so far he hasn't said anything in front of the kids (can't vouch for when we're not in the room tho), just waits til they've gone to bed.

It the way he treats/speaks to my MIL that worries me. That's the bit I can't get my wife to address or support me while I address.

My wife has a good relationship with her mum, but hasn't brought this up with her yet.

Hullygully Wed 06-Feb-13 08:32:59

When he makes remarks why not just laugh and say, "steady on there, that's not very nice/kind etc" until he gets the hint. Just don't be narky about it.

Your dc are going to be exposed to millions of different people, they'll make theri own judgments anyway.

expatinscotland Wed 06-Feb-13 08:38:00

Then you do the same thing with the misogynist comments and bullying. 'We don't tolerate speaking to people in that tone here.' 'We don't accommodate bullying behaviour in our home.'

You tell your wife before he comes in that you won't countenance this behaviour in front of your kids.

ohfunnyhoneyface Wed 06-Feb-13 09:17:29

Have you asked her how she feels about her dad making those sorts of comments?

It sounds like a very sad and complicated situation.

FlatsInDagenham Wed 06-Feb-13 09:25:41

I think I would tackle it the same way you tackled the racist comments. Of course, the problem with that approach is that, unlike the racist comments, his mysoginistic comments are directed at someone who is in the room, which makes it very awkward and difficult for everyone.

What is your relationship with Fil like? Could you have a quiet word with him on his own?

TheMightyLois Wed 06-Feb-13 09:33:49

We've had a similar situation with DS and my Dad. Dad is racist and speaks to people like crap (usually people when we're out and about - he's a charming bloke hmm )

If DS does hear any of this we ask him what he thinks about it, whether he thinks it's acceptable etc. Usually these days he's the one telling Grandad not to be so rude to people.

I appreciate this isn't quite the same situation, but have you spoken to your DS about it, and what he thinks about it?

Obviously in an ideal world you'd speak to FIL and tell him to stop being a dick, and stop going around there until his attitude changes, but that's not going to happen is it.

LastDadStanding Wed 06-Feb-13 22:54:04

Wow. Thank you for the comments. Hullygully you make a good point, my sons are going have to face all sorts of strange people as they grow, but they'll learn how to react to them by watching how we react. If we ignore cruelty or inconsiderate behaviour what are we teaching them? I'll try and get DW to agree to challenge politely.

I'm willing to have a word but I know this will upset him, and probably my MIL (who suffers enough). Doing this without being confident of my partners support is a fear. How can I threaten consequences (i.e. not leaving them alone with the boys because we can't trust him, not allowing him to visit if the behavior continues) when my wife won't let this happen. How do I do this without also punishing the MIL who has done nothing wrong?

Thanks again.

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