Getting PiL involved with DC

(30 Posts)
Babybrainiac Thu 15-Apr-21 10:20:05

NC for this as outing. Sorry this post is long as I don’t want to drip feed. Everything after the first paragraph below is just background.

I am looking for some ideas to help PiL get/feel more involved with my DC (six months). I’ve included specifics of our situation below but I’m really just looking for general advice rather than specific advice on my particular PiL. DH would be very uncomfortable with any “have it out with them” type conversations - they aren’t really a “let’s talk about our feelings” kind of family!

I have never had a great relationship with PiL (mostly MiL as always!) but we can chat perfectly happily and we don’t argue at all. When I was first with DH I wanted to be closer but they didn’t really approve of me and we just didn’t click - not a massive issue, I’m a grown up and not looking for surrogate parents. Now I’m happy with the status quo between us - friendly but not close works fine for me.

However, I don’t want DD to miss out on a good relationship with her grandparents because I’m not close to them. It’s really important to me that they have a good relationship as I want DD to have the most people caring about her possible.

There are a couple of particular points of tension:

1. We see my parents a lot more than PiL. PiL have made it very clear that they resent this. We have stayed with my parents about one week a month since we were allowed to form a support bubble with them. I have been struggling with PND (I am largely recovered now) and having my parents’ support has been really amazing. They are also happy to look after DC while DH and I go out for a walk/have a lie in etc. so being there is a real lifesaver. My parents also work flexibly so are available to help during the day. I can see why PiL would feel a bit left out by this but I really don’t want to reduce the time I spend with my parents to placate them. PiL don’t know about the PND - MiL has made comments about people making too much of mental health issues these days so I don’t think she’d be very sympathetic.

2. PiL visiting - I am aware that PiL shouldn’t be visiting due to COVID restrictions. However, they are both vaccinated and isolated and other than seeing them we are following the restrictions completely so the risk is minimal. I would say they have seen DD around 5/6 times since she was born. They are frequently late, just sit and drink tea and occasionally hold DD and leave quickly. I suspect they don’t want to be pushy but are taking it too far. They often announce that they want to visit the next day, twice we have said no (once because we already had plans and once because MiL had a cold) and MiL has snapped and sulked for days on both occasions.

I definitely don’t claim to be the perfect DiL - I’m polite and make an effort when talking to them but I don’t really think about them when they aren’t right in front of me. I still hold a bit of a grudge about them not being welcoming when I first met them so I’m not very sympathetic to them though I am 100% never rude. I’m sure they always feel welcome when they are here but I don’t think to specifically invite them as it doesn’t occur to me and when it does I see that as DH’s responsibility. However, when they are here I always encourage them to come round any time whether DH is at work or not, just let me know when they are thinking of coming - I’m desperate for company and help with the baby!

Basically just don’t want DD to miss out on them if I can help it. They are hard work but they love their family and it would be good for DD to be close to them.

OP’s posts: |
Aprilshowersandhail Thu 15-Apr-21 10:22:47

Why would it be good for dd to be close to people who would rather sit and drink tea? And personally I would leave the management of any relationship to dh to sort out.

RebelByLight Thu 15-Apr-21 10:25:52

when they are here I always encourage them to come round any time whether DH is at work or not, just let me know when they are thinking of coming
This might be the issue if they know you’re not 100% at ease with them. I think you might have more success with an “I’m taking baby to the park tomorrow, do you want to meet there?” type of invitation.

Morred Thu 15-Apr-21 10:28:22

At six months your baby won't know either way, so there's plenty of time. If they just sit and drink tea awkwardly, can you invite them out more, now things are opening up? A walk in the park, a trip to a playground with baby swings, feeding the ducks? Or a pub/cafe lunch outside with your DD in the pram?

It might be less awkward for you and there's a chance it creates a difference between 'doing nice things together' grandparents and 'just popping round/being helpful' grandparents, which might help with PIL comparing themselves to your parents. (I think it's perfectly normal to have the ones you're most comfortable with around more, but if you want a quiet life this way might help!)

Spied Thu 15-Apr-21 10:35:51

First off- are you sure you want them more involved?
Their resentment of your family and other issues will be magnified once they are more actively involved in your life.
It will be very difficult to separate your dd's relationship with them from your relationship with them.

RubyFakeLips Thu 15-Apr-21 11:00:11

I think you're doing the right thing. Most relationships with inlaws take a bit of cultivation. Your DD will always see them as secondary to your parents if they're treated as that, so seems like you've had a good idea.

Either consider arranging a regular time for them to come round, or start specifically inviting them at regular intervals until they get the hint. When they're round, ask them for some help or ask them to take your DD out in the pram for a walk while you get on with something else. I always think doing some caring will build bonds. It will be easier as she gets older as more to do but get them playing with her or if they come round more evening time bath and dressing her.

dogmandu Thu 15-Apr-21 11:10:51

Grandparents are very important in a child's life and I think you are doing exactly the right thing in wanting them more involved.

I don't agree at all with the 'just keep your distance' advice here.

From your description it sounds like they would want to be more involved with your family. When they feel more at home and at ease in your house they may well do more than drink tea.They are probably scared to get up and do things to help in case they make the situation worse. Maybe try relating to them with the same friendliness as you do with your own parents (however hard this may be). It will be worth it in the long run.

It sounds like you assess the situation clearly so I think you will find a way forward.

GrumpyHoonMain Thu 15-Apr-21 11:12:11

Seems like so far it’s all about you so far and what’s easiest for you - and I get this. I had pna and so for a long time DH and I were only thinking about how I felt about things, but I do think if you feel like you’re in a better place now you and especially your DH probably start to make more of an effort with them. Can your DH start to take them to theirs (supervised by him) a similar amount of time that your parents have?

My brother used to take his sons to mum and dad’s one day a week from 5 months (they are premies so it wasn’t safe) and sil would take them to her mum 1 day a week. Then they’d visit each side together alternate sundays.

Freddiefox Thu 15-Apr-21 11:30:02

I think it’s lovely that you are trying to make better relationships, I barely have a relationship with my dads mum and I do blame
my parents at bit, but I wished they’d made more of an effort.

Babybrainiac Thu 15-Apr-21 11:43:58

To those suggesting we might be better with a more distant relationship- I can see where you’re coming from and if not for DD I wouldn’t have any desire to see them more than we do. But it makes me sad to think DD won’t be close to them, particularly if BiL starts having kids and they are closer. They are a pain but they haven’t done anything bad enough to make me think we should be NC.

@GrumpyHoonMain I think you’re right that part of the problem is that we expect things to be on our terms at the moment as we have a young baby and they expect things to be on their terms always because they are DH’s parents, they are quite traditional like that. So there’s not been enough compromise on both sides. As you say I’ve also been a bit absorbed in dealing with the PND until the last month. I think partly it’s a lack of communication - they don’t ever call or message me directly (I have tried to fix this recently by setting up a WhatsApp group to send them pics and info about DD), they always go through DH. DH is lovely but he works very long hours and is busy whereas I am free and with DD all the time - I’m sure he passes on particular messages like “can we come round/would you like to come round at 10am on Saturday” but generic “we’d like to see you” type things probably don’t ever get to me so I can’t accept them/suggest a time.

I think the suggestion of having a set time where we do something every week or fortnight might work well, I will suggest it to DH.

OP’s posts: |
GrumpyHoonMain Thu 15-Apr-21 12:01:55

That’s good. In terms of getting the requests to could always start suggesting things / meet ups on the group? For example if the weather’s nice you could suggest the zoo or a park. Once they see you being more proactive they may start asking you instead of your DH

Porcupineintherough Thu 15-Apr-21 12:09:18

Well you could invite them to visit you, stay with you (when it's allowed) or join you for days out. That would give you more control about when you saw them and for how long, and would show you want to spend time with them.

I'd also point out that PiL are in many ways damned whatever they do- like deciding to communicate via your husband rather than you. Or being hands off rather than hands on. Sometimes they just cant win.

Creepygnochi Thu 15-Apr-21 13:09:01

The problem is that sometimes I think parents get caught up thinking they have more control than they do. Thankfully I am close to all of my grandchildren, but tbh, if I had a DIL who was resistant, I wouldn't chase them because at the end of the day I am not the one missing out. I have other grandchildren to spoil whose parents are receptive of it and seek it out. I think if you have been the one pushing them out, the ball is now in your court to work actively to engage them. You can't expect them to jump just because you've clicked your fingers and declared that you are ready for them to be involved now.

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Thu 15-Apr-21 13:17:20

What about suggesting that on their next visit they take DD out for a walk in her stroller then come for a cup of tea after it. You can tag along ti the first walk then let them crack on after that.

Maybe they arent very sociable so find sitting in your house awkward?

Billandben444 Thu 15-Apr-21 14:18:07

Could your DH take DD to visit them on a regular basis and hand her over for a cuddle? If they become hands on in their own home they should relate to her more. As to the sitting drinking tea, most of us MILs do that if DIL isn't very welcoming as we hate to tread on toes - we're damned if we offer to wash up and damned if we don't! If you're not bothered about getting to know them better (and they will be aware of that), then your DH needs to step up to get them involved - after a couple of visits he could leave her with them for an hour while he pops out.

Babybrainiac Thu 15-Apr-21 14:24:52

@Creepygnochi I certainly don’t think I’ve been pushing them out, we’ve only said no to them seeing DD twice in 6 months, but it’s probably true that we’ve not been actively pulling them in as much as we should.

I’ve also not snapped my fingers and expected interest - I haven’t asked them to do anything. I don’t expect them to suddenly provide childcare I’d just like to encourage them to be interested in and have a relationship with DD. I recognise that at least some of that effort has to come from me and DH which is why I’m asking for advice on how to go about it.

Surely both the grandchildren and you would be missing out in that scenario - it’s surely the grandparents and the grandchildren that benefit from a good relationship? Just because you have other grandchildren to spoil doesn’t mean that you’re not missing out on the relationship with that particular grandchild.

OP’s posts: |
Babybrainiac Thu 15-Apr-21 14:29:07

@Billandben444 @Porcupineintherough I think you both have a good point about PiL being damned if they do/damned if they don’t/not wanting to tread on toes. It’s difficult to get the balance between helping out and just being in the way right. To be honest I’d be fine if they just sat and played with DD and drank tea more often - I don’t want them in cooking or cleaning up!

OP’s posts: |
Babybrainiac Thu 15-Apr-21 14:37:24

Thanks everyone - I have suggested they come round on Sunday and will see how that goes. I’ll try to talk to them while they are here about making it a more regular thing.

Totally agree with those who’ve said doing some of the caring will improve their bond so will try to get them to take DD to the park or similar soon.

OP’s posts: |
Milkshake7489 Thu 15-Apr-21 14:39:04

There's nothing magical about grandparents that automatically make them good for children to have a relationship with.

Involved grandparents that want to love and support both their grandchildren and their parents are great....

One's that occasionally pop in when it suits them, sit drinking tea, and ignore the children's mum are of no real benefit (or even detrimental if your child picks up on them snubbing you!).

Leave the door open but concentrate on the relationship between your baby and your own parents. You have been through enough with PND without having this on your shoulders too flowers.

Congratulations on your baby smile.

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Thu 15-Apr-21 15:31:21

Changing your own mindset will help you too.

My own parents differ wildly in how they are with my kids. My mum would give her last breath for them, wants to spend as much time as she can with them, will do anything for them (and as a result me if it benefits them). My dad (my parents are together), sees them as and when our paths happen to cross, gives them a playful bop on their shoulder, cracks a joke and presses a quid in their palm. Then it might be months before he sees them again.

They each have their own individual relationship with the DC. My only job is making sure whatever the relationship is, its positive.

nicknamehelp Thu 15-Apr-21 15:34:43

If they really want a close relationship with dd it's up to them to put the effort in and spend time with her. Perhaps suggest they take her for a walk to the park but not up to you to force a relationship

Horehound Thu 15-Apr-21 15:42:07

We I don't see why the op is being told do it more and change her mindset.
She is the one who has given birth recently, she is adapting to a new role, she has had PND. Now she feels better she is actually asking to I crease contact and being told off for not doing enough sooner. Very strange. At least she's making the effort now and it's doesn't seem like the DH is doing anything at all. And for grandparents to be huffy that the grandchild has spent more time with the other set of grandparents it frankly pathetic imo!

Triffid1 Thu 15-Apr-21 15:44:08

If you have a slightly tricky relationship, they may feel uncomfortable just playing and being with the baby. Especially as a lot of people arne'y brilliant with babies at the best of times. Have you tried a breezy, "Ooh, dd, here's granny and grandpa - you have a cuddle and a play while I go make the tea" then hand her over and disappear into the kitchen? It sounds like they are keen but not comfortable actively stepping up which may be because of your relationship with them or could just be the nature of their personalities.

I would definitely agree with others that if you feel you're around a lot, then a good option is to suggest stuff with them. Doesn't have to be a lot but even just, while they're at yours sitting drinking tea, you commit in your own head to making a specific plan for the next time. So, for example, you could say something like, "I was thinking of taking DD and going for a walk at [insert park/local national trust/other as appropriate] next week. DH is working, but would you like to come with us? There's a lovely cafe there as well so we could get a cup of tea too?" Then you don't have to keep them in mind all the time but just get into the habit of when you see them, making the plan for the next time you see them (I speak as someone who also tends to forget my ILs exist when I'm not with them but who is quite happy to see them/hang out so when MIL is in town I do tend to make an active effort and diarise things at the beginning as otherwise her visit will come to an end and I've done nothing with her!)

Creepygnochi Thu 15-Apr-21 16:12:06


We I don't see why the op is being told do it more and change her mindset.
She is the one who has given birth recently, she is adapting to a new role, she has had PND. Now she feels better she is actually asking to I crease contact and being told off for not doing enough sooner. Very strange. At least she's making the effort now and it's doesn't seem like the DH is doing anything at all. And for grandparents to be huffy that the grandchild has spent more time with the other set of grandparents it frankly pathetic imo!

Because she is the one who put up the barriers. Which is perfectly fine, but you cannot expect people to hang around waiting to be allowed in. People with half an ounce of dignity will shrug their shoulders, respect the boundries that YOU put up, and get on with their own lives. If you then decide hang on, this actually isn't working for me, that's also perfectly fine, but it then falls on you to do the leg work of removing the barrier.

Horehound Thu 15-Apr-21 16:39:14

@Creepygnochi yeh and she knows that which is why she's asking for tips. Jeez

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