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to be cross with MIL for not including DS1 in our family?

(97 Posts)
branstonsandcheese Wed 22-Jun-11 14:17:06

Am properly gutted about this.

DH and I got together when DS1 was just a few months old - we'd been friends for years before that. DH's family were very welcoming - his mother was a single parent back in the 70s (DH and BIL have different dads and FIL is their stepfather, no kids with MIL), and went overboard buying DS presents etc. He was always included. His bio father isn't around - DH is daddy, MIL and FIL are granny and grandpa. DH considers DS1 his and will say he has 3 kids without hesitation.

DS1 is now 10. DH and I subsequently had two more DCs who are much younger (4 and 3). We noticed that DH's extended family (his uncle, his grandma), treated the younger DCs differently. For example, they send the younger DCs xmas and birthday cards but not DS1. Last year, DH's grandma sent the younger DCs xmas presents and left DS1 out. Our family xmas card was 'to Mr and Mrs DH (not my surname), DC2 and 3' - no mention of DS1.

Now that really upset me, actually, but I made allowances - DH's grandma is elderly and I'm sure things were different In Her Day. We see DH's uncle rarely enough that "my first great-nephew" comments can go overlooked. If DS1 has noticed that his siblings get much better/more presents from these people than he does he hasn't said anything (bless him).

MIL and FIL have always, I thought, made an effort to treat them equally. But things did change when the younger DCs were born. DC2 looks a lot like DH did when he was a baby and MIL made a huge deal about that to her long-term friends. I can understand that and it was an uncanny likeness.

MIL and FIL also told DS1 off quite a lot when he was being rambunctious around the younger ones when they were babies - but I could never be sure if it was unnecessarily so or I was being paranoid.

MIL works in Japan a lot and has made some friends there. A couple of these friends are in the UK at the moment and we went to meet them for lunch on Monday - they are staying with MIL and FIL down the road from us. MIL said (DH has some Japanese), that 'DH's oldest son looks just like he did when he was a baby', and DH interjected with 'no, my oldest son looks just like branston, DC2 looks like I did' - this caused some awkwardness as the guests had brought presents (as is the custom), but only for the family members they knew about. MIL was furious at DH for making her friend feel awkward, though that wasn't his intention and she hadn't told us she'd left DS1 out of her family.

DH and I talked about it later and he said that he'd previously heard MIL referring to DS1 as 'branston's child from a previous relationship' and 'my step-grandchild' - I feel so sad for DS1 because he considers himself to be their equal grandchild and, after all, has known them for much longer than the younger DCs have.


StayingDavidTennantsGirl Wed 22-Jun-11 14:21:11

That sounds heartbreaking, branston - I would be furious about this. Can you sit down with your mil and tell her how unkind and unfair this is, and tell her to treat all the children the same, or would she react badly?

Flisspaps Wed 22-Jun-11 14:22:29

YANBU, and well done DH for correcting MIL there and then smile

deepfriedcupcake Wed 22-Jun-11 14:23:17

Sounds like your DH considers DS1 as his son, so YANBU. Sounds really inconsiderate of your MIL.

Could DH point out to her that DS1 is an equal member of the family and can he be treated as such?

cerealqueen Wed 22-Jun-11 14:23:21

YANBU - feel very sorry for your DC1, what a disgraceful way for your MIL to behave. You and your DH should have a talk to her about it.

mumblebum Wed 22-Jun-11 14:27:03

I think your DH needs to talk to them and spell it out that as far as he is concerned DS1 is his son and that he (DH) finds it hurtful when his family treat him (DS1) otherwise. I'm afraid it just wouldn't be the same coming from you in the circumstances. How very sad for your DC1 that they are behaving this way, but how lovely that your DH has taken him on as his own so completely. It sounds like he will stick up for him as he should.

charliejosh Wed 22-Jun-11 14:30:10

No, YANBU but i think you need to tell them how you feel

IgnoringTheChildren Wed 22-Jun-11 14:30:26

sad YANBU and I hope that you find some way to resolve this with your MIL (and others in your DH's family) before your DS1 starts to realise he's viewed differently. Has your DH adopted DS1? If not is that something you would consider or would make a difference to his family?

DogsBestFriend Wed 22-Jun-11 14:30:30

Nasty, nasty behaviour. I'd pull the bloody lot about it with one simple message - if you ever want to see the younger two children again you'll ensure that from now on the elder lad is treated equally. If you can't do that, fuck off and never come near my family or my home again.

There would be absolutely no compromise on my part and IMHO I think you've been FAR too tolerant and have put up with this dreadful behaviour for FAR too long.

potoftea Wed 22-Jun-11 14:33:14

I'd have some sympathy with MIL referring to ds1 as a child from previous relationship, as this is true, and she obviously does see this difference. I'm sorry for your ds as he doesn't feel different, but she isn't "wrong" to feel this.

However actions can be controlled even when feelings can't. All children in a family must be treated equally for presents, etc.. And as for a christmas card not including his name shock. Even an aupair living with you would be wished a happy christmas, let alone a child who is part of your home forever.

So I guess I think you should have a word with MIL and explain that you as a family are all equal and demand to be treated as such, regardless of how she feels about each individual child.

branstonsandcheese Wed 22-Jun-11 14:35:39

Phew I'm glad it's not just me who thinks what MIL did/has done is out of order. I'm so, so sad about it (got that sick feeling, you know) - she's known these Japanese friends/colleagues for a good few years and they had never even heard about DS1, though they knew everything else about the family (including what months the younger DCs were born in, my birthday etc).

I suppose I can cope with MIL thinking differently of DS1 than her genetic grandchildren, just about, though I think she's a massive hypocrite considering the way she insists FIL's family include DH and BIL in their own rollcalls of family. She's often spoken about how hurtful her own mother's attitude to her having 2 kids out of wedlock was so you'd think she'd be more sensititve sad She certainly doesn't refer to BIL and DH as half-brothers!

I'm concerned that this is the tip of the iceburg and more stuff is going to come out - there's a huge party for MIL and FIL's 20-year anniversary coming up with everyone they know invited, including loads of kids, and I'm so worried that nobody will know who DS1 is when he's so excited to be celebrating with his grandparents. Ugh ugh ugh.

DS1 does know that DH isn't his bio father but it's just not an issue for him - for either of them - he's thrilled that Daddy loved him so much when he was born that he wanted to be his daddy forever and he talks with real pride of his uncle (DH's brother), and his grandparents. He has DH's surname and DH has PR. Not adopted as he's in sporadic contact with his bio-grandparents and his bio-father would object I suspect. Plus it never seemed necessary sad

We do have to talk about it but I suspect MIL will get defensive or cross. I'm just not sure what we should say - we can't make her think of DS1 as an equal grandchild if she doesn't but there just can't be any outward sign of it, it's completely unacceptable to me that he be treated differently.

I'm worried this has been happening for a while and we've put it down to the age gap or whatever... bugger, bugger, bugger.

millie30 Wed 22-Jun-11 14:41:36

YANBU, and it's good that your DH is sticking up for DS1. My mother died when I was a baby and I was raised by my dad and stepmum from the age of 2. When my younger sister came along, my step grandparents and my maternal grandparents always treated all of us the same, with regards to attention, affection, presents etc. Whether they felt the same way about us or not, they recognised that we were all siblings and treated us as such. Your ILs should be ashamed of themselves.

ChaoticAngelinLimbo Wed 22-Jun-11 14:41:38

"I suppose I can cope with MIL thinking differently of DS1 than her genetic grandchildren, just about, though I think she's a massive hypocrite considering the way she insists FIL's family include DH and BIL in their own rollcalls of family. She's often spoken about how hurtful her own mother's attitude to her having 2 kids out of wedlock was so you'd think she'd be more sensititve sad She certainly doesn't refer to BIL and DH as half-brothers!"

YANBU Maybe you could approach it from this angle. Ask her how she felt about her own mother's attitude and then point out that that is how you feel when she excludes DS1. It might just make her think.

Al1son Wed 22-Jun-11 14:44:37

Absolutely agree with previous posters. Your son deserves better and if anyone in your family is not willing to treat him with respect you need to deal with it.

I think you and your DH need to tell your MIL that her behaviour will not be tolerated and if she wishes to remain a part of your family's lives she needs to change her tune immediately. Also say that if you ever have cause to worry that DS1 feels excluded you will cut ties with her there and then. If you say it together she will see that you are presenting a united front.

I'm seeing the fallout from mis-handling a situation like this amongst my DH's family and the 'child' concerned is in his 40s and very resentful. How you handle this now will affect your DS's self esteem for life so I think you need to take a very firm line and put a stop to this unfairness.

MumblingRagDoll Wed 22-Jun-11 14:45:00

I would refuse ANY cards or presents unless the older child was also included. It's bloody awful what they are doing and you sound very patient.

WhoAteMySnickers Wed 22-Jun-11 14:46:47

As far as your MIL is concerned your DS2 is your DH's oldest son, and in actual fact that is true.

The Christmas card and presents issue is not an issue with your MIL and FIL, it's an issue with your DH's grandparents and Uncle. Take it up with them. I don't think you've described anything wildly out of order on the part of your MIL and FIL really, sorry.

I think it's possibly a mix of inconsideration on the part of your MIL with regards to the Japanese friends and a bit of oversensitivity on your part.

I think it's wonderful that your DH has accepted DS1 as his own, however your MIL and FIL don't have that same bond, and that is something you just have to accept.

I don't think any of you ABU here. I can understand that you feel bad for your DS1 but I can also see that it's not for your IL's to 'make up' for the lack of contact with your DS1's biological extended family.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Wed 22-Jun-11 14:50:37

I'd be furious too. I can't imagine why your MIL is behaving this way. I think if it were me, I'd adopt an 'all or nothing' approach, with DH's agreement - either the whole family is accepted by MIL or she will not see any of the grandchildren at all.

Horrible woman... not nice to be so obvious that a child becomes aware of it. sad

FriskyMare Wed 22-Jun-11 14:52:35

What fantastic loving family you are! I have tears in my eyes from reading your last post about your DH loving him so much he wanted to be his daddy forever. You are very lucky! smile

revolutionscoop Wed 22-Jun-11 14:55:23

MIL sounds like a dreadful hypocrite! Have you tried sitting her down and talking to her face to face about some of the things you've mentioned here?

lateatwork Wed 22-Jun-11 14:55:53

I can see where you are coming from... particularly as they made such a fuss of DS1 when you guys first got together- and now it has changed...

My DD is completely ostracised by my MIL in favour of DSS (older, looks like DP etc). MIL does not send presents, cards, call, no contact at all- in fact DD does not even exist in MIL eyes. DSS gets presents, calls, skype, visits etc Its not for want of trying on DP and my part. She simply prefers and favours DSS. Its a killer for me. DD (2.5) too young to notice.

So, it can happen whether biological or not. Sometimes, grandparents arent perfect and do favour some children over others. We have given up trying to force the issue. But all very sad.

Oh and my MIL was a single mum too- DP is her only child. I think, in a way, she resents the fact that DP and I are together in a more traditional family situation and she therefore pities DSS and has a closer bond with him as she sees DP in him... mind you i would like to add, DSS mum is also in another relationship and she left DP- I am not the other woman!!!

branstonsandcheese Wed 22-Jun-11 14:57:16

Snickers well we've not made an issue of the cards/presents thing because it seemed pointless to potentially upset an elderly lady and DH's uncle is a bit of a twonk anyway and we barely see him once a year. I have been upset by DH's grandma's attitude in particular (the card seemed... pointed, which incensed me as DS1 is a lovely, lovely boy and calls her great-grannie and spends ages writing HER xmas card). But I can overlook that for the sake of family harmony, and there aren't masses of relatives on either side tbh.

But MIL's always said she considers DS1 her grandchild - for the six years before DC2 was born he was in fact their only grandchild and was treated as such (so far as I know - no other GCs to compare with). When DH and I got together she went totally overboard demonstrating how she felt about it. As I've said, I can appreciate she may feel closer to the other DCs she does have a genetic link to, but she 'took DS1 on' herself - insisted he call her and FIL granny and grandpa (and FIL isn't related to any of the DCs at all), made a huge fuss of him at every present-giving opportunity, had pics of him in her house, babysat for him. But since the younger DCs were born there has been a subtle shift in attitude - maybe not so subtle, actually, after this - and to be honest I think having been his grandma for so long she should keep it up wholeheartedly and keep any difference in how she feels about the DCs to herself.

metalelephant Wed 22-Jun-11 15:07:26

As your DH considers your eldest to be his son, then your MIL can't disagree, especially as he became part of her family when he was a baby - he knows who his daddy is and this can't just change because there are more children in the picture now.

Have a calm chat with MIL and draw the parallels between her own experiences and yours. Let her know that at the anniversary party you will expect all of DH's children to be acknowledged as such, maybe "rehearse" the chat with DH but be involved personally in delivering it cause it may make her feel cornered if you do it together. Or he could speak to her instead and ensure she's on board.

Good for you and your DH to stick up for your boy!

fedupofnamechanging Wed 22-Jun-11 15:08:38

I agree that the children should all be treated equally and your DH should sit with his mother and tell her everything you've put here.

Just wanted to add, that although you think your son's biological dad would object to your son being adopted by your DH, he a)might not be able to if your DH already has PR for your son and b)might be amenable to it if you explained that you were wanting this so that he would be legally equal to the other DC and that you would not cut off his or his families access to your DS.

It might make the point succinctly to your IL's if your DH formally adopted your DS.

branstonsandcheese Wed 22-Jun-11 15:12:02

lateatwork that is absolutely awful shock - your poor DD! I can understand GPs having favourites up to a point - older children might be easier to cope with, strong family resemblances etc - but showing it is so unfair sad

MIL is obsessed with babies and fertility (caught her telling some poor recently-divorced woman at a friend's wedding that she should hurry up and get pregnant despite being single as "fertility falls off a cliff after 35" - woman was in tears! - and she took my multiple m/cs and DH's subsequent vasectomy very personally indeed, she wanted a granddaughter), I've probably let too much weirdness slide but can't let anything else happen which might affect DS1. Poor DS1. Okay he's not as cute as chubby smiley little-DCs but he's amazing just the same.

Am feeling less weepy and more cross now, which is a good thing I think!

exoticfruits Wed 22-Jun-11 15:32:22

YANBU. I think you need to sit PIL down with DH and he needs to do the talking. He tells them he has three DC and they are equal and you are not putting up with favouritism. The DC that looks like him is his 2nd DC.

I am in the same situation, but PIL have never made a difference. I feel so strongly that I wouldn't be accepting presents etc for my youngest if my eldest wasn't treated equally.I would also cut visits. You can't treat one DC as a second class member of the family.

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