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To dread becoming a M-I-L

(319 Posts)
Partridge Thu 11-Oct-12 07:17:17

I'm sure this has been done to death, but as the mother of 3 ds I feel incredibly disheartened (and sad) about the utter intolerance shown towards MIL on mn.

I adore my boys (hopefully not smotheringly) and try to teach them to be compassionate, gentle and to look after themselves. I aim not to spoil them and to teach them how to be wonderful husbands and fathers. The majority of mil threads on mn are very negative and many are spiteful and generic about evil mil.

The only time I have felt sad about not having a daughter is when I read how little mil seem able to be involved in the lives of their ds and gc - do these posts come from mums of girls? Do these (often harsh) rules extend to their own mothers?

In this time of equality it seems wrong that the mil seems often to be required to be a doormat to be allowed access to her family. (By that I mean accept being merely "tolerated" by her DIL).

Obviously there are exceptions to this - and clearly there are some monstrous mil out there - but the prevailing theme is of total disdain and inequality towards mil. Please tell me I am being totally over sensitive and ridiculous. I really feel very sad at the thought of being "the enemy" by virtue of having 3ds.

LillianGish Thu 11-Oct-12 09:38:18

MIL are just people - and so are DIL! Some are nice some are horrid. My MIL was absolutely lovely - BIL's wife was always a complete cow to her (enabled by BIL in my opinion, who never stood up for her). She died a couple of months ago - I miss her a lot. Interestingly BIL was almost inconsolable - normally at this time of year we'd be having the conversation about who she would spend Christmas with (always us!). I feel happy now that we had all those Christmases together (and will have lots of MIL traditions to remember her by) - he feels sad because he'll never have another chance. Not sure what that proves really. Just wanted to get it off my chest. Thanks.

Baaartimaeus Thu 11-Oct-12 09:45:55

I think a lot of it comes down to personality - on both sides (MIL and DIL).

My mum and my SIL aren't particularly close. Sometimes we worry about this because my mum and I are really close and we're afraid she feels left out. But it's hard because SIL isn't very chatty, and when she visits she spends a lot of time in the bedroom rather than in the lounge chatting with us.

My mum makes a huge effort and after about 10 years (!) it did start to get easier and SIL chats a bit more to her. Funnily enough she's a lot more relaxed and open when my DB isn't there (e.g. on the phone) than when there's a group of us.

I like my MIL but have absolutely nothing in common with her, apart from both of us loving DH! We have a 44 year age gap and a huge cultural gap but we still manage to chat whenever we see each other.

When I was pregnant I was very conscious of the fact that I would rattle off loads of detail to my mum but that MIL wasn't getting the same from DH ('cos he's not very chatty). MIL doesn't have a daughter so I made a real effort to include her in my pregnancy as much as she wanted...which was quite a bit. It made me uncomfortable sometimes as she would ring me after every appointment and ask some very personal stuff (she used to be a midwife) but it came from a good place - namely her wanting to know that I was ok and unborn DS was ok.

She still rings me now after Drs appointments for DS, even though I tell DH and he tells her. I think she just wants to make sure everything is ok and I can't begrudge her that.

My reflex is still to tell my mum stuff but not MIL. But as DH rings his mum every day for a quick chat I figure he can update her smile

Bluegrass Thu 11-Oct-12 09:47:45

When I read MIL threads I do sometimes wonder where all the "controlling" men suddenly disappear to, as you do often get the impression that it is the DIL who controls the shots. The DH's relationship with his MIL (yes, there are two MILs!) barely seems to register. Whether he gets on with her or not almost seems an irrelevance, all the focus is on the DIL/MIL relationship.

Presumably this must come down to DIL acting as "gatekeeper" to the GCs, otherwise why would there be this difference? Any ideas?

Partridge Thu 11-Oct-12 09:48:31

But this is kind of my point fruitsalad - your mil sounds like a normal, fallible human being and yet she is being excluded for making a few mistakes. Any relationships take work and settling in to and yet it seems that if the mil infringes the rules (maybe she was having an off day) she is punished for it by being excluded. I can't see this happening to the mother of the daughter.

I am very heartened to see that this is not alway the case, but it doe seem to be the prevailing attitude. sad

APipkinOfPepper Thu 11-Oct-12 09:49:08

I think it also depends on the relationship between the MIL and her DS.

My DH doesn't have the easiest relationship with his mother, and most visits involve some kind of disagreement between DH and MIL - that wasn't too bad when we saw them once every few months, but now there are grandchildren, visits are much more frequent. I have tried to get on with my MIL but we are very different kinds of people, and it is hard to see DH get hurt by some of the things she says, so I can't see us ever being close.

panicnotanymore Thu 11-Oct-12 09:49:35

My MIL is an angel. I am not what she'd want as a DIL, but she is kind to me and treats me like a daughter. I love her to bits.

I was so glad when her other son married a laura ashley mumsy type, who is MIL's dream DIL. She now has someone just like her to cook sunday roasts and drink tea with in front of the fire (whilst the anti social types like myself go hiking up mountains in the rain and generally act in an inexplicably unfeminine fashion).

I get that my MIL might complain about me to her friends as I am not interested in family xmas, family holidays, all of that in each other's pockets kind of thing that she wants. I see them a few times a year, and that will never change. She is kind enough not to complain to me or H about it though, and that's the answer. MILs and DILs need to understand that although connected they are not related, and the bond is not the same as that between M and D. They are likely to have very different personalities, lifestyles, and ideas about life. I love my MIL because she accepts that. If she nagged on at me to be something I'm not I'd be on here complaining about her!

Jins Thu 11-Oct-12 09:49:54

My MIL comes from a large family that was controlled by her grandmother. She has determined that she should now fill this role. She refuses to accept that we are adults and capable of making our own choices. She is divisive and constantly praises the achievements of my Nephews whilst putting down my DSs achievements. She has been publically rude to me throughout the 24 years I've known her.

Last night I was treated to half an hour of outrage and aggression because I'm taking DS2 away at half term and will miss her birthday. Once she accepted that I wasn't cancelling I was given an itinerary for my holiday and instructions as to what souvenir/gift to buy her on top of her birthday gift.

My mother had a similarly controlling MIL and learned from it. She supports without interfering and DH and the boys adore her.

MIL has chosen her path. It must frustrate her greatly that I never follow instructions. DH and I are approaching out half century and wonder how old we have to be before she'll recognise that we are adults.

Nobody wants to dislike their MIL I'm sure. It's a complex relationship that involves compromise on both sides. The new couple/family must be allowed to find their own way and make their own traditions with love and support.

Narked Thu 11-Oct-12 09:56:49

Marshmallowpies, why not tell your Mum?

Baaartimaeus Thu 11-Oct-12 10:03:52

It's true that MN is very MIL /DIL focused rather than MIL / SonIL but that's probably a) because it's mostly women on here and b) you'd be better off comparing FIL / SonIL relationships as an equivalent...

I think it's also linked to the fact that it's a relationship between two mothers. And as a quick glance on MN shows, no two mothers have the same opinion about every subject so it's bound to be a bit contentious from time to time, unless one mother stands back and lets the other mother choose. In this case, it should be the DIL choosing for her child, rather than the MIL choosing for her GC IYSWIM.

I'm very lucky that MIL respects our parenting choices even though they're very different to hers. But she also points out that DS is very different to DH as a child so it's normal to treat them differently. (e.g. DH was left to CIO because he was perfectly happy and never cried more than a minute whereas DS could scream for an hour if I let him, which I don't).

My DH really likes my mum. Though he is sometimes a bit nonplussed as she is totally different from his mum. MIL is very calm, quiet and steady. My mum is hyperactive and could talk for England. My family also makes a lot of jokes all the time which DH took some getting used to, especially as English isn't his mothertongue.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 11-Oct-12 10:04:47

I take your point Partridge, but I think it's unfair to say my MIL is being excluded. I don't ever stand in the way of DH inviting her, I do my best to accommodate her visits and go to her when we are invited.

It's taken years for us to get to this point. For a long time I made much more effort.

I can't imagine my own mother acting towards my SIL as my MIL does towards me. Perhaps that colours my view.

Anyway, I will never stand in the way of her relationship with my husband or my dd's. I'm just saying that we could have all been so much closer if she was able to treat me (and DH as well, incidentally) as a competent adult.

I don't quite get this (and I have seen the sentiment expressed on MN a lot) - my MIL winds me up, but in the end a lot less than my own DM and it'S MIL (and FIL) I trust to have the kids over night, MIL (and FIL) we live closer to... DH isn't remarkably close to his parents but he phones them because he wants to talk to them whereas I phone mine because its my duty grin (I think you do get the duty calls less with grown up sons - they stay in touch because they want to, but if they don't want to they don't feel obliged to phone weekly).

I have 1 DD and 2 DS and don't think there is any special reason to think I will be any closer to any particular one as an adult based on gender, and I never really give much thought to being a MIL grin Who knows how that will work out, maybe they'll all stay single... (though I doubt it smile )

marshmallowpies Thu 11-Oct-12 10:17:00

Narked I have tried, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. I always try to defend my SIL to them - at least try to justify her actions even if I don't always agree with them - but I just get the sense my parents say 'yes yes dear' but then go back to thinking about SIL the way they did before.

CatsRule Thu 11-Oct-12 10:17:06

My mil sadly is a nightmare...and my dh has more to say about her bad behaviour than I ever have!

Our rules with regards to our ds applies to mum, mil and all. The only difference between my mum and mil is that we both already had a good relationship with my mum prior to ds and she also respects us as his however does not. Mil even admits this...admits she only wants to know our ds and not us, not even her own son!

The one thing my mil has taught me is about how I don't want to parent and about the kind of mil I will strive not to be.

I know people with great mil's and I wish our relationships with dh's family were different.

Baaaa you make a good point "I think it's also linked to the fact that it's a relationship between two mothers. And as a quick glance on MN shows, no two mothers have the same opinion about every subject so it's bound to be a bit contentious from time to time, unless one mother stands back and lets the other mother choose. In this case, it should be the DIL choosing for her child, rather than the MIL choosing for her GC IYSWIM."

Quadrangle Thu 11-Oct-12 10:24:07

I don't think you are being over sensitive and ridiculous. I think you are right. It would be an interesting subject for someone to write a Psychology dissertation on. ie. Why it is.

Narked Thu 11-Oct-12 10:24:10

That's sad Marshmallowpies.

freddiefrog Thu 11-Oct-12 10:28:48

My MiL is a nightmare too, but my kids adore her so I tend to put up and shut up unless she's being really out of order (and she has been really out of order to me in the past)

I have as little to do with her as I can get away with but I do encourage a my kids and DH's relationship with her (despite what she's done to me, she's fab with my girls and they adore her) and never stand in the way or stop them seeing each other (well, it's mostly Skype these days as we're 200 miles away).

It's always me reminding DH to ring her or organising birthday cards and visits but she thinks I'm an evil bitch who is stopping contact with her son

gasguzzler Thu 11-Oct-12 10:29:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jins Thu 11-Oct-12 10:43:52

What gasguzzler said.


Do not announce at the first ever family meal that you have no intention of paying for FDIL

Do not ask you friend to ring your son to check that he really wants to get married and tell him that he can say no at any time.

Try to find something to admire in your DIL.

Try to remember what she does for a living. (I am not and have never been an architect nor do I work for the council).

Do not deliberately construct an entire buffet around the one item your DIL cannot eat.

Try to forget that your grandchildren share genetic material with your DIL and love them anyway

Remember that you do not own other people.

IneedAsockamnesty Thu 11-Oct-12 10:45:08

its a weird one and as a mum of many sons i think about rather a lot.

my own mum is a wonderful mil to her dil thats to be expected because she actually picked her for my brother,shes also a great gp to my nephews( db's and sisters dc's) and to my eldest child. how ever she struggles with me and my other dc's. but as much as i love her dearly we have always struggled to have a decent relationship and out of my dc's the only one who isant really a carbon copy of me is my eldest who was also the first gc. she does try really hard with my other dc's but its blatently obvious to everyone that its hard work for her, if she goes through one of her phases where she is unkind or oversteps with me or my kids i have no problems telling her to fuck the fuck off to the far side of fuck and only stop fucking off when she has decided to behave like a reasonable human being. it works for us and as a result we all maintain a fairly decent relationship.

over the years ive had several different types of mil one i really liked but she thinks i took advantage of her wonderful can do no wrong son despite the fact that i was 15 and he was 31 she hasnt even spoken to me in the 18 years since her son dumped me his latest wife activly dislikes her and im not sure why.

one who very much treated me like second wife second best,falling overherself to treat first wife very well (never caused an issue for me as first wife was lovely and is still a friend) but practicly ignored me and will have no comunication with me refuses to even let first wife give me her phone number and also wont see any of my kids her gc's i think its because shes still shuffering from dh's death and belive that i stole him off first wife i didnt there were 2 years between the divorce that first wife instigated due to her meeting someone else and him meeting me.

ive also had one who stalked me after i broke up with her son (who was violent) she knew he was violent to me but decided to help and show her support by refusing to comunicate with him or let him darken her doorstep thus leaving him with no where else to go and then guilting me into letting him stay longer,she was a nightmare one who thankfully i no longer have to deal with ever again as i now have a indefinainte junction against her.

i do know that when my own ds's have kids i will never behave like that i will do my best to never offer advice re kids/marrige/politics unless im asked and remember that my children are mine but my childrens children are theres i had my turn to decide how to parent and how involved i wanted gp's to be when my children have there own children it becomes there turn to be incharge and thats how it should be.i will be as involved as they wish me to be and supportive of there decisions no matter what

CatsRule Thu 11-Oct-12 10:45:51

Gasguzzler...if my mil had another son I'd we could share a mil!!

Dogsmom Thu 11-Oct-12 10:46:12

I think there's a lot of truth in the saying 'you have a son until he finds a wife but you have a daughter for the rest of your life'.

Biologically we are different, I know we go on about equality but personally I like being a woman and although I am no less equal I am different.

If I think about every man I know be it my Dad, husband, brother or male friends all of them see less of their parents than the females I know, it's just the way they are, they all concentrate on their own day to day life and the people in it which are usually the wife and children.

My husband is a very loving man, the kindest man I know however it's always me who pushes him to ring his partents or to go and see them so maybe in their eyes I am the DIL who took their son away when in fact it's me making the effort to keep in touch.

He has a son from a previous marriage who he adores and smothers but I can already see his son, who is 10, starting to drift towards his own interests and my husband regularly has phonecalls to say to turn up later or not at all because his son has made other plans whereas a friend of our with 3 daughters is never postponed as the girls always want to see their Dad above any other plans.

I know all men aren't the same and there will be some who do maintain regular contact off their own backs but I do believe they are the minority and inevitably there will be inlaws who wrongly assume it's the woman in his life who is making him lessen contact.

Tanith Thu 11-Oct-12 11:06:08

Do you plan to gossip spitefully behind your DIL's back?
Will you undermine your sons' marriages at every chance you get, try to drive a wedge between them because you don't approve of their choice of partner?
Will you accuse your DIL of being an evil bitch and say hurtful thing to her and about her?
Will you ride roughshod over her parenting style, insisting you know best?
Are you planning to dismiss her methods and ignore her wishes, doing things your way, whether in front of her or behind her back?
Will you expect visits, holidays and anniversaries to be on your terms and your son and DIL have to fall in with your plans or you'll throw a strop?
Do you expect continual, unlimited access to your grandchildren and will you tantrum if you don't get it?

If you read the above list in horror, vowing never to do any of it, you'll be one of those lovely, considerate MILs that are so much appreciated by their DILs and you have no need to worry smile

Bluegrass Thu 11-Oct-12 11:08:58

Dogsmom - personally I wouldn't put that down to biology. Families are structured differently all around the world, and expectations are also different. I think what you are describing is a Western cultural phenomenon.

I suspect that men also don't contact their parents quite as much as there is more if an expectation that men are supposed to sort out problems on their own, and so any sign of reliance on their parents (particularly on their mothers) may be interpreted as a sign of weakness or a failing (which is a shame but even on here people are sometimes suspicious of men seeking advice from their mothers). Contacting their fathers to discuss specific issues like DIY or trouble with the computer is IME exempt from this!

flyoverthegoldenhill Thu 11-Oct-12 11:10:58

Bluegrass you left out sport !

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