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What to do? Thoughts please (MiL / FiL / SiL arghhh)!

(11 Posts)
Angel786 Thu 07-Jul-11 11:09:07

So per my previous thread a few days ago had a fab relationship with in laws pre baby but very strained since. MiL does a LOT of things which really annoy me (some to me, some to baby). All came to a head this weekend at a wedding. MiL gave me back handed compliments about my weight (for the second time), having already explained to her (not that it's her bloody business) that I have lost all weight and weigh less than pre pregnancy(!) she decided to "compliment" me on fitting in pre baby clothes and act completely horrified / shocked that they fit (and not in a nice way), although English is not her first language. Even if she didn't mean it to come out as nasty, it did - and other people sat nearby were shocked.

I then got incredibly annoyed and pretty much ignored her as couldn't bring myself to talk to her. I said FiL could push baby around the park (they're always itching to get their hands on her - even wake her up when she's sleeping) but that I didn't want MiL to push the pram (partly because I was fuming and also because she has been reckless before).

Baby and I then got sick so left the wedding early, didn't want to create a scene and spoil the couple's big day so sneaked out quietly. DH then spoke to his parents the next day to say I need some space and FiL was incensed, telling my DH he wouldn't ever speak to him again (drama queen)! I felt bad as DH was upset so sent an apology to MIL and FiL (including SiL) although I didn't really mean it but for DH's sake thought I would just make peace and also tell them I will take a little break from everything.

FiL has replied - mainly a nice reply but a few digs in there... He was upset about the pram stuff, do I reply and state my case i.e. MiL is not safe which is why I asked him (she previously had the pram on the road when a car was coming - kept herself nice and safe on the pavement! FiL had to jump in front of the pram and the car had to drive around it!) or do I just leave things be but end up more annoyed myself??

SiL also involved as they all tell me I am part of the family - a daughter / sister etc. and actually used to have a better relationship with them than my own family. However, it is clear I am not as when SiL moans about MiL it is fine, yet if I say anything (like MiL was out of order waking baby up) it is not acceptable and I am being overly dramatic / protective.

Any advice welcome please, I can't talk to DH about this as I don't want him to get more upset.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 07-Jul-11 12:09:23

You and DH should probably opt to give all the ILs a wide berth for a while. Life's very busy with a new baby and presumably you have friends, jobs and other interests to be getting along with besides? Give yourselves time to calm down, put a little distance between you, FIL and MIL, and to rehearse a few withering put-downs next time you have to spend time with them. Adopt an approach of being ultra polite but remain very firm about anything to do with either you (body-shape, habits, etc) or your baby. Treat them as slightly awkward strangers. Never apologise, ever.

NB... Re SIL. it is always OK to insult your own mother/father/child/partner/pet but to get upset if someone else does it. That's pretty normal, you'll find.

plupervert Thu 07-Jul-11 12:11:01

It sounds as though you have to take a step back from these people.

Re: SIL: if it is okay for her to moan about MIL, but not for you, just refuse to listen to it when she has a moan. Say, "Sorry, it's nothing to do with me, and I can't take sides. I can;t ask you to take sides, so best we just stop discussing this sort of thing."

Re: FIL: It was a bit unfair to say he could take your DC out in the pram, but make a big point that MIL couldn't. That just seems provocative. Meanwhile, if he is letting her get away with letting the pram stand in the road, he is pretty irresponsible as well, so why not just refuse to let either of them have her. It;s easier to make an excuse to two people than have a go at one person (which makes both of them defensive),

Re: MIL's insensitive remarks: The Mumsnet favourite of "Did you mean that to sound so rude?" should do nicely. It covers you for language difficulties and also for deliberate malice on her part.

Re: the wedding: your DH should not have made an issue out of your leaving; he should only have brought it up if anyone asked. Your original plan to leave quietly was best. Is DH itching for a fight with them, too?

As for things like preventing anyone from waking your baby up, you are definitely right in that, and don't stop! It's up to you to protect your child, and it sounds as though there is rather a lot for you to protect against. However, this protection is best applied from a greater distance than you have now. If your DC is old enough, it's time to start going to baby groups and getting a social life as a buffer against this rather pressurising family life! (DH could make some dad-friends, too, and share info on how to deal with families and in-laws!)

plupervert Thu 07-Jul-11 12:11:52

x post! Very sensible advice from CogitoErgoSometimes, and a bit shorter!

Angel786 Thu 07-Jul-11 13:05:16

Thanks both, completely agree re the SiL point but wish they wouldn't keep saying i am a daughter / sister when imnot!

So for the time being, I should let FiL's email go and not respond?

fedupofnamechanging Thu 07-Jul-11 13:31:47

I don't think that you should have apologised. I know you did it for your DH, but it just reinforces to them the idea that they are right. only apologise if you genuinely believe you were wrong.

Re the pram. I had to stop my MIL from looking after my DS 14 years ago because she would push the pram up the middle of the road, so I completely know where you are coming from. I think it is too serious a thing to ignore, so I think you do have to say something. If you are ever going to leave your child with them, then you need to be sure he will be safe and that they will respect your wishes.

Possibly, she doesn't mean to insult you when she makes comments about your appearance and talks to you the way she would her own daughter. But, what she is saying is hurting you and so in your place I would email back or telephone if you think it is best and tell her that you are hurt and why. I'd discuss the pram thing and try to get it all out in the open and clear the air.

After that, they will know your position on things and there will be no scope for them to misunderstand, deliberately or otherwise. If they carry on, then you know it's on purpose and can deal with it more bluntly.

Be calm and polite when you speak to them, but be firm. You do have everyright not to leave your baby with them unless you have every faith in their ability to care for him properly.

KatieWatie Thu 07-Jul-11 13:51:35

I can see why you are upset about the weight thing, and don't want MiL to be in charge of the pram so fundamentally YANBU there, but maybe you're not being tactful enough about it? If you're outright saying "yes FiL you can push the pram but do not under ANY circumstances let HER [pointing crooked finger] near it" then your MiL is bound to feel hurt.

The other posts are right - you are not allowed to criticise MiL, but SiL is. That's how it is. I openly criticise my MiL to my DH, and to SiL's husband (as we are both in the same boat so to speak), but NEVER to SiL!

It sounds like you've all got a bit too close and a bit of space from each other would do you good.

takethisonehereforastart Thu 07-Jul-11 15:13:15

Longish post just vanished. Gah! Will try again.

Your situation with your PILs sounds very similar to mine (there's a long thread somewhere in AIBU with all the details).

But in short, after 8 years of marriage, during which time we did have our disagreements and I found them to be quite hard work to get along with at times, our relationship took a turn for the worse when they made some nasty comments about our stillborn son and premature daughter who died and started to tell lies about me and their other DIL to various family members. This started just 3 days after our son died and came to a head when our third baby, now two years old, was about 8 weeks old.

They said something so awful that I couldn't face seeing them anymore and asked DH to quietly explain to them why I was keeping my distance and tell them to just give me the space and peace I needed to come to terms with things and calm down.

Instead they effectively stalked me with phone calls, letters, visits, followed me home from the shops, parked outside the house and stared at it, tricked me into telling them when I would be out alone so MIL could invite herself into the house without having to put up with me.

They spread lies about me to other members of the family and put pressure on DH to make me see them. Every effort I made to slowly rebuild our relationship was met with further bullying, presssure or bad behaviour and just made the situation worse.

It really was one step forward and three steps back, every single time I tried to make things work.

In the end, after they had disowned DH at Christmas because they didn't like the presents we gave them and because we went for tea at SILs house when they were not invited, there was a massive row over the phone, during which they told me that I would do as they told me to do, that I shouldn't have everything my own way, that they had some things I wanted and that I couldn't have them back until I did as I was told and that I was a bitch and they wished DH had never married me.

Their eldest son then got involved, making late night phone calls to abuse DH and finally sending a text that called me a "fucking evil mad bitch who had split up his family by lying about his mum." He also disowned DH.

It really was the final straw and the effects of that argument led to me being diagnosed with panic attacks and grief related depression brought on by stress.

Even DH, who had wanted to resolve things with them, has started to ignore their calls and messages and last week said that he didn't want to speak to his mother as she isn't capable of having a normal or happy conversation and he just can't deal with her misery and guilt trips any more.

I'd hate to think that you were coming to that place with your PILs but I will say that until I stood up to them nobody else in the family had ever done so. When DH and his siblings were small they were all told that if they upset MIL they would be responsible for her mental breakdown. So even though they have had their rows in the past, everyone always does what you have done and apologises to MIL to keep the peace.

So she has spent years being allowed to say and do the most offensive things and wondering why most of her friends just seem to disappear.

I've just finished reading Caitlin Moran's book How To Be A Woman (and I'd really recommend it) and she has some good advice. She is giving an example of how to deal with sexism but I think it would work in your situation.

She says that if a woman starts shouting "sexism" then she is likely to be ignored and accused of not having a sense of humour. But if she says "rudeness" instead of "sexism" people are likely to feel that they have done something wrong and apologise.

So perhaps you could try her line "I'm don't know if you realise but what you just said/did is coming across as very rude" it might work with your MIL.

Or perhaps even "You've mentioned my weight on several occasions now and it is coming across as very rude. I'm sure you don't mean to be so just what is it you are trying to say?"

I hope things work out for you and I hope your DH is supportive of you. Our relationship has been much better since mine realised just how awful his mother's behaviour appears to outsiders who aren't 'used' to it and therefore see it as normal or not that bad.

takethisonehereforastart Thu 07-Jul-11 15:18:52

I forgot, it's 2 years now since I stood up for myself and my babies and it's been over those 2 years that they have pushed so hard that I feel our relationship is over for good now.

Never say never, but at the moment I can't even think about speaking to them by text without wanting to be sick and having a small panic attack. If DH says they have been in touch I can hardly breathe with the stress of it all.

If they had been able to offer an apology and stop the nasty comments then I honestly believe things would be better by now. Instead they have made things so unbearable that I don't think I will set foot in the same room as them intentionally ever again.

BUt I still think it is worth standing up to them because I have also felt a sense of peace with my decision, after eight years of just putting up with things and ignoring things to keep the peace, and two more years of feeling like a prisoner in my own home because of their incessant pushing, I feel like a weight has been lifted now.

Angel786 Thu 07-Jul-11 15:23:03

Takethisone- so sorry to hear you've had such an awful time with the in laws and condolences for your son. Luckily things haven't quite reached those levels here yet, but MiL does turn up uninvited e.g if SiL is heading over she just tags along at the last minute... The book sounds like a great recommendation, I'm going to look it up now, thanks!

Katie- spot on, all far too close and we've been behaving like a family rather than in laws so all the lines have become blurred. I def need distance but in laws want to brush all under the carpet and get back to 'normal' which will just upset me...

Karma- have taken your advice and trying to get it all outvin the open. I didn't mind making an empty apology but thought the cheek of the FiL digs afterward was out of order, a gracious acceptance would have done. Now I feel like they should bloody apologize to me!


DuelingFanjo Thu 07-Jul-11 16:16:10

could you just send a one liner back to your FIL saying that you are glad that they have accepted your apology and that you and your DH will be spending some time concentrating on being a family and will be in touch in the future?

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