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To not promise my MIL set "visiting rights" to my baby?

(249 Posts)
Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 01:51:35

I had my first baby ten months ago and I've just gone back to work two days a week for now. I'm really lucky that my mum is happy to look after my ds and I'm comfortable with that arrangement both because I'm close to my mum and have a good relationship with her where we can talk things over re childcare issues and she is non-pushy about things, and also because DS is very happy with her.

My MIL lives two hours away and I don't know her very well partly because I'd only been with DP for a year when I unexpectedly fell pregnant. I find her quite difficult to relax around for various reasons but I do want her to feel involved as well. Just to give an idea of how the background, since ds was born we've visited them twice including over his first Christmas, been for a weeks' holiday to Scotland at the end of June. She/they have visited us on a number of other occasions too and overall we've probably seen them once a month or maybe a bit less. The reason I'm being so specific about that is that she is currently demanding that she can visit every four weeks. Obviously with the distance that means her staying in our flat and being there for several days at a time. We've arranged for her to come three weeks running in August (something she is happy to do) and look after my ds while I'm working.

I'm fine with her coming and staying, the problem is that I'm finding her general approach unacceptably pushy. She said to my DP that she wants to make sure she sees her grandson once a month so I called her to talk about it, and said we were looking forward to seeing her but could we keep the arrangement flexible, and make plans when we see her next. She just kept saying that she wanted to be sure to visit every four weeks and do the childcare and she felt that was a "reasonable expectation", so I felt backed into a corner. Eventually said that I didn't want to be pushed into committing to that and I "hoped that didn't sound horrible". She said she thought that was horrible, and we then had a stilted conversation about the weather and hung up.

I'm honestly not trying to stop her from seeing my ds but this has really put my back up, on top of the fact that she invites herself to stay and generally doesn't give me much choice about things (at least not without being rude myself). Recently I had plans with my family and she rang up on the tuesday of that week saying she wanted to come that weekend and it was just a really awkward position to be put in. And now of course I'm the bad guy for not agreeing to the once a month thing but I just don't want to set up that expectation as I feel we should be allowed to live our own lives and she should wait for an invitation. In practise we will see her more than once a month at times but other times it will be less and I don't see why I should be made to feel guilty about it.

Or am I being unreasonable? Should I just say yes?

WinkyWinkola Sun 14-Jul-13 02:03:52

Blimey. She's being very pushy. hmmAnd unreasonable. Nobody should have to commit to that level of arrangement.

I would just say that doesn't work for me and we can arrange mutually convenient visits as and when.

Be firm and don't let her bully you. I would be very uncomfortable with someone behaving like this because I would feel pushed into something. Quite unreasonable of your mil.

Expect her to rage a d cry about it but stand your ground.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Sun 14-Jul-13 02:10:41

Gosh, how bizarre! It's nice that she wants to be involved, but this is extreme! She needs to remember that this is your baby, you're in charge and you'll do things your way. And you need to remember not to feel guilty about making your own choices - or saying no to her crazy requests.

Let her scream and shout about things - it certainly won't result in more time with your baby, will it?

AgentZigzag Sun 14-Jul-13 02:12:00

You're wrong that you don't have any choice, of course you do, you can say no.

She's trying to have more control than she should have, you don't have to let her.

Feeling the bad guy or guilty is in your head, just because she says jump doesn't mean you're being unreasonable if you don't. Feeling guilty should be for when you've hurt someone on purpose, all you're doing by saying no is not pandering to her rude abruptness in barking orders at you.

Even if she's giving you free childcare, that doesn't give her any authority over calling the shots on what you do with your time/who you have in your house.

Are they orders you have to obey?


Is it reasonable to say you have a right to say if you don't want to follow them?

Of course.

If she decides to kick off, that's her business, leave her with it and don't engage.

Treat her as you would a tantruming toddler and don't give her any attention for being a rude, obnoxious manipulator (borderline cute in a toddler, shameful in an adult).

ihearsounds Sun 14-Jul-13 02:13:15

What does your dp think? This isn't just about you. Maybe he wants his mum to have regular contact, considering your mum will be seeing lo twice a week. Maybe he, and even his mum is thinking that both grandparents should have regular set contact.

AgentZigzag Sun 14-Jul-13 02:13:34

You're right Winky, she's a bully.

MidniteScribbler Sun 14-Jul-13 02:26:37

I wonder if it's fear of being pushed out? You're obviously very close and involved with your side of the family and maybe she is feeling ad that she doesn't have the same relationship. Do you ever go and visit her, just for say lunch or an afternoon? Two hours isn't a long trip, it's doable in the day. If she sees you more often, just on a casual basi, she may not be so desperate to stay overnight. . Would overnight once a month really be so bad to allow your child to have a relationship with his grandmother?

Somethingyesterday Sun 14-Jul-13 02:27:37

I cannot say whether YABU or not but it does seem that you are not finding it easy to see things from your DP's mother's point of view.

Remember that SHE is a mother too. You don't say if she has other grandchildren or not - but from the moment she became mother to your DP she has been waiting for this grandchild. And she almost certainly loves your son as much as your own mother does.

You have the whole of your life in front of you So does she, but it's probably a considerably shorter amount of time. She doesn't live round the corner, but she's close enough to see you quite often and how can she be certain that you and DP and her DGS might not move to the other side of the world in a year?

Certainly she seems to have put her wishes rather clumsily - perhaps she also feels ill at ease with a fairly new DIL. I suspect that if she had more confidence in your valuing her input she might not feel she had to be so specific....

You say that you're happy for her to stay for a longer period - in order to be of use to you. So you obviously don't feel there is anything inherently harmful in her contact with your DS? It would be a shame if at this early stage the seeds of estrangement were sown for no good reason. You may have a good reason - but it isn't apparent in your OP.

RealAleandOpenFires Sun 14-Jul-13 02:31:47

The baby IS yours & DPs not your mil.

AgentZigzag Sun 14-Jul-13 02:33:15

But she doesn't have any parental rights to the OPs DC though Somethingyesterday.

She's got so used to being 'The Mother' that she expects to be able to call the shots.

Best to make it clear early on that that's not the case.

I wouldn't value anyone's opinion if it was given to me as fact and I was expected to obey.

HappyAsASandboy Sun 14-Jul-13 02:46:17

That's really tough. On the one hand it is lovely that she wants to be involved and see your baby regularly, but on the other she really is pushy to expect you to commit to dates (I.e. potentially miss out on other things/decide you want a weekend at home as a family).

One thing that struck me from your post was that two hours journey "obviously" means she must stay for several nights when she comes. That seems odd. My PIL are just about 2.5 hours away and we very rarely stay overnight, whether the visit is them coming here or is going there. It's a 'get up and go' morning so you're there by 10am ish, and a late ish return home at 8pm/9pm ish, but that allows a whole day, much and dinner etc without impinging on the other day of the weekend and nobody staying over.

I would agree that it would be lovely to see more of your MIL, but that its really not possible to set a regular date pattern in stone. Perhaps consider visiting her (for day trips or staying) more often than you normally would for a while so that she doesn't come to you and get in a pattern?

As for insisting on doing the childcare once a month, I think that's up to you. But you might have to accept that she won't do emergency cover if you've turned down her offer of regular care. Whichever option you'd prefer, you need to either accept the offer of the care (and the resulting monthly midweek(?) visit, or graciously thank her and turn her offer down.

Somethingyesterday Sun 14-Jul-13 02:56:52

There's a good deal of MIL bashing on Mnet - and I'm sure at least half of it is thoroughly justified. We've all had experience of being shockingly ill treated by a DP's mother.

But in this instance it is rather hard to see exactly what 'wrong' has been done. The OP did not say that her MIL was screaming and shouting, or barking demands, or any of the things that subsequent posters have ascribed to her. She did say that, in practice, they might well see her more often than every four weeks.....

Here is someone who loves the OP's DS and is happy and willing to make an effort to keep up regular contact and in the OP's own words "do the childcare." She wants to HELP. She wants to cuddle her DGS. She wants him to grow up knowing her as a close member of his family, rather than a distant, once a year visitor. And for that she's being called a "bully" who "wants to call the shots".

Perhaps she's perfectly horrible. But the OP hasn't said so.

Justfornowitwilldo Sun 14-Jul-13 03:09:46

No. She's said that she sees her more than once a month most of the time anyway (sometimes more, sometimes less, but it averages out at at least that). She's said that her MIL lives 2 hours away and so stays at their flat for several days on these visits. She's said that she doesn't want to be tied to a set schedule or, as has happened recently, have her MIL announce that she's visiting ie coming to stay uninvited when the OP already had plans.

Justfornowitwilldo Sun 14-Jul-13 03:11:16

'she invites herself to stay and generally doesn't give me much choice about things (at least not without being rude myself). Recently I had plans with my family and she rang up on the tuesday of that week saying she wanted to come that weekend and it was just a really awkward position to be put in'

JessMcL Sun 14-Jul-13 03:14:49

Somethingyesterday- it isn't unreasonable for a grandparent to frequently see her grandchild- but because of the distance it would mean her staying several days so what seems like a short trip actually isn't. I know I wouldn't be happy with that every month..

Justfornowitwilldo Sun 14-Jul-13 03:24:24

The thing is, the OP is actually ok with that!!! She's said she is fine with her MIL staying around once a month for several days at a time. What she's not fine with is having those dates decided by her MIL with no notice or flexibility.

Somethingyesterday Sun 14-Jul-13 03:42:01

It's late....

The OP has asked for opinions - it would be helpful to know exactly how her DP feels about the situation. Does he find the OP's DM "unacceptably pushy"? Does he want to continue a happy relationship with his side of the family? If the OP should find herself, at any stage in the future, incapacitated by work, distance, illness etc - isn't it likely that her DP would turn first to his own DM for help? Unless she is indeed utterly hateful.

I would be surprised if the MIL had intended her visits to be inflexibly timetabled. Once a month might be an aim rather than a command. And I am sure she is quite capable of finding a hotel if the OP does not feel able to have her to stay.

helebear Sun 14-Jul-13 03:43:02

OP, i think what you're saying is that you don't want to be to be held ransom to agreeing certain set monthly dates so if you are happy for her to see your Ds then I'd take control of the situation and once you've both had time to cool off from your recent conversation call her and suggest a date for you to visit or her to visit, preferably for the day or just overnight and maintain a pattern of doing this so that you've always got a mutually convenient date in the diary a couple of weeks agead. Hopefully she'd then have a date to look forwards to and feel assured that she's involved and seeing her gc regularly and won't feel the need to swoop in and announce that she's visiting when you already have plans. You might only need to keep that up for a few months to sort of set the tone and then you might be able to be a bit more vague once a pattern of regular visits develops and she sees that she does see him monthly or more.

McGeeDiNozzo Sun 14-Jul-13 03:55:23

Hmmm. Let me tell you a story.

I live 2,000 miles away from MIL. I find her quite difficult to relax around for various reasons but I do want her to feel involved as well. Originally we were living with ILs, but when DD was six weeks old we had to up and leave and move to where we currently are, for work reasons.

MIL suggested that she rent a flat near us so she could come up for months at a time. Given that where she's from, the weather is pleasantly hot all the time, even in winter mostly, and where we live it's beyond freezing cold in winter and crazily hot and humid in summer, and she has medical issues with body temperature regulation about which she loudly complains all the time...

...and is the sort of person who wants to spend all day, every day with you, and if you say you want to be by yourself, will say 'You don't love me and you never have!'...

...we told her no, thanks. We had the ILs over for a weekend in May and DP is going over (with the baby) to visit MIL (as FIL will be on holiday) for two weeks at the end of August. (I may join DP for part of it but am not able to do the full fortnight). This amount of contact is fine.

Give the woman short shrift!

Mutley77 Sun 14-Jul-13 04:56:43

You need to nip this in the bud now. My mil is like this (with additional issues) and I have just told Dh what I can and can't cope with. I'm leave the communication to him as she rides roughshod over me and doesn't give me a chance to say no. Dh gets the tears and guilt but, to be honest, that's his issue as her son not mine.

Compromises could include her staying elsewhere eg a hotel and Dh taking dc to visit on his own, although personally I am not overly keen on being separated from my kids for more than a day and a night so the distance in our case doesn't make the latter option particularly feasible.

To make sure she doesn't put me on the spot I am sadly at the point now of ignoring her calls.

wafflingworrier Sun 14-Jul-13 07:09:56

it's not an easy decision for you, but I hope you manage to work things out. please remember that she loves your baby, however hard things are/get. also, be kind to yourself. don't take on more than you should just because you feel pressured. I hope going back to work goes well

WinkyWinkola Sun 14-Jul-13 07:17:43

Really? When women have a baby do they start thinking about and longing for grandchildren? Why do I seriously doubt that.

It sounds like lots of people are used to getting their own way (controlling) and start to try and dictate to others how things are going to be.

Op, it's wrong to feel obliged to change plans to accommodate her visiting whims and to feel you have to commit to lengthy visiting schedules. It's tosh.

Saying no is fine. You just have to say no sometimes a d that includes to your dcs too. Think of saying no to your mil as practise for your dcs! grin

Pickle131 Sun 14-Jul-13 07:18:08

In a similar situation I got my husband to speak to his dad and say they needed to wait to be invited. Hid parents, his call to make. To be fair, they have done so ever since. We try to make sure whenever we see them that we're quick to get the next date in the diary so they aren't left wondering when they'll see their son and grandson next.

FrauMoose Sun 14-Jul-13 07:18:35

I think the wish to visit babies often is that small babies change very fast. Also if the babies frequent contact with a grandparent they are likely to form a trusting relationship with that grandparent - rather than wailing when some strange person picks them up! Most grandparents to be are really excited and do want to think about how often they are going to see their new grandchild. (Especially if they don't live in the neighbourhood.)

What often seems to complicate the issue is when a grandparent is also going to be (at least some of the time) a provider of childcare. Essentially they are going a massive favour by providing a service that would otherwise be quite costly. I think if a parent is going to accept this offered help, one of the things that comes with it is that they then 'owe' that person more consideration. If they really don't want to give that person additional consideration, maybe they need to look at alternative sources of childcare provision - and accept that they will have to make economies as a result.

Cravingdairy Sun 14-Jul-13 07:25:01

I personally would expect my husband to have any difficult conversations with my MIL, and vice versa with my family.

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