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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?

nicelyneurotic Sun 14-Jul-13 07:29:42

Say she can visit roughly every 4 weeks as you want to be flexible but she can't stay over - what an intrusion! I hate people staying over as it's a lot of stress and extra cleaning/washing/cooking.

It needs to be flexible as what if you have other plans - family birthdays, weddings, trips of your own to make. What if you are ill and don't fancy a visitor? What if you want some alone time with your OH?

She sounds like an absolute nightmare to be honest. Stick to your guns or you'll be stuck in this set up for years. When I went to pre-marriage classes they advised us to never get stuck in these kind of arrangements with parents (like going for Christmas every year and then not being able to get out of it) as they cause massive resentment down the line.

ChunkyPickle Sun 14-Jul-13 07:30:33

What WinkyWinkola said.

With either my mother or my MIL if I already had something booked for a weekend, or we just wanted a quiet one I would feel no embarrassment or awkwardness turning down a visit - and either of them would do the same in return, and everyone would be fine about it because we all have our own lives.

You need to get the confidence to just say no, that you have other plans and your DP needs to talk to her to make sure that she understands this is nothing against her, just that you actually have other plans.

On the other hand, I too don't quite understand why a 2 hour journey necessitates a stay of a few days (if that's part of the problem, perhaps it's not) - we don't even bother to overnight when visiting my parents who are 2 hours away - just go down early and come back lateish just like HappyAsASandboy. Even if you're using public transport surely the most you'd need is an overnighter so you can hit convenient buses/coaches/trains?

ChasedByBees Sun 14-Jul-13 07:31:04

I think she's been unreasonable about the way she's gone about this but I do think that it would be nice to facilitate frequent contact.

I also don't think you need to have her to stay for the whole weekend. My in-laws are a 2.5 hr drive away and I often go down for the day. Like someone else said, set off at 8am, have the whole day of ether and head home at DC's bed time and they sleep all the way home.

I think little and often helps to forge a relationship.

ChasedByBees Sun 14-Jul-13 07:31:34

of ether = there. Thanks iPhone.

Inertia Sun 14-Jul-13 08:08:22

You don't have to give in to demands - everyone is on the same side, you all want a good family relationship to grow, but MIL doesn't get to override plans you have already made.

One way forward could be a sort of rolling system where you decide each visit when the next will be, rather than a rigid routine. You could also consider meeting in the middle for days out or visiting her ao you have control over the length of the visit.

daftdame Sun 14-Jul-13 08:16:24

If she pushes you again I would say that generally you will see her if you are free, you enjoy seeing her yada yada, however you won't plan family holidays round this expectation (of hers) and as your child gets older you want to be able to be sociable with other parents with children of similar ages so your child can build friendships.

WinkyWinkola Sun 14-Jul-13 08:23:26

And I wouldn't use her for childcare. She sounds like she might hold that against you even though her doing you this favour brings her great happiness.

lurcherlover Sun 14-Jul-13 08:26:14

She's phrased it very awkwardly, but try and see her pov. She knows you need childcare, and you have a regular arrangement with your mum, so she doesn't see why you can't have a regular arrangement with her too. She shouldn't "demand" it, but that's probably more insecurity/being uncomfortable raising the topic than anything else.

I feel sorry for mils - they want to be just as involved with their grandchildren as women's own mums, but often get pushed out. Op, you have a DS and will probably be a mil one day - if you knew your dil was happy to commit to a childcare setup with her own mum but not with you, that would hurt, no?

Should add my own mil can be extremely overbearing, and my reaction with dc1 was to push her away. It caused a lot of stress and tension. With dc2 I'm being much more welcoming and making more effort to see her. It's actually more pleasant, and the more she sees of my parenting the more she seems to accept that I am actually a good mother to her grandchildren!

diddl Sun 14-Jul-13 08:26:16

I don't think that once a month is unreasonable.

If I'm ever a GM, I'm sure I'll want to move in indefinitelyblush

However, if she needs to stay with you, then it's obviously your call as to whether it's convenient.

diddl Sun 14-Jul-13 08:30:16

I understand that she would like to do childcare, but again, if it involves overnight with you, then it doesn't really work that easily, does it?

GC aren't possessions to be passed around equally between adults so that one doesn't feel left out.

Bonsoir Sun 14-Jul-13 08:31:49

She is being fantastically pushy and entitled. She has no rights at all to your family and must learn to wait for an invitation.

Bonsoir Sun 14-Jul-13 08:35:35

It is important to remember that the only adults with rights towards a baby or child are parents.

thegreylady Sun 14-Jul-13 08:42:04

Its a bit sad really. She knows she wants to see your ds at least every 4 weeks and she lives a bit far away for a 'pop-in'. She would rather have a set schedule so she (and you) know when she is coming and can work around that. As the mother of a son she is worried because she knows that your mum will inevitably have more and closer contact with the baby so she just wants some reassurance of her welcome. I'd think again and suggest something like the first weekend of every month unless one of you has something special to do.
I have never forgotten when dd's baby was born her mil said to me,"Of course I know you will always be number one Granny." It sounded so sad. I replied,"No we'll be first equal I hope". It turns out that I do regular childcare and she does lots of day trips and weekends at her seaside caravan. Everyone is happy. Just try to give a little-you have hurt her, try to make things right.

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Sun 14-Jul-13 08:47:45

I don't think it's reasonable to expect someone to make a set weekend each month, indefinitely for them.

It's unrealistic and unfair, even if the sentiment is good. (Which, obviously it is and I do get where she is coming from.)

Thinking OP is horrible for not setting a firm, unbreakable, indefinite timetable was VU of her.

formicadinosaur Sun 14-Jul-13 08:49:35

Obviously her visits need to fit round your diary. Also if you become locked into a specific routine it will be an issue if you have other commitments and can't meet her monthly demands.

I agree she needs to stay one or two nights with a two hour drive.

My MIL once failed to visit my new born for 8 months because I was busy on three lots of dates she wanted to stay. Her loss.

pigletmania Sun 14-Jul-13 08:54:25

Yanbu at all, it's understandable she wants to be involved and you are giving her plenty of opportunities to do so. You have a life too, it does not revolve around her, your dh really needs to talk to his mother, it's not on!

Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 08:56:07

I do understand that she wants to be involved and to build a relationship with my ds and I do very much appreciate the offer of helping with childcare. I'm supportive of all of that and I have specifically said those things to her but I've asked for flexibility about it. It's uncomfortable to be put in the position of having to commit to a rigid arrangement when I feel that I've been good about visits etc and yet she is trying to dictate to me. And it's upsetting that she has called what I said "horrible".

I think with her other grandchildren she was used to being 'granny number one' but the thing is that although I don't want to push her out I also don't want to be in each others' pockets and just prefer to let things develop in a natural way. She is coming to stay for several days at a time for three weeks in a row in August and I asked that we arrange the next time when we see her and take it as it comes and that was not acceptable - why not? Why should I be pushed into promising more?

The fact is that I am closer to my mum both geographically and emotionally and my mum is ten years younger and I'm just happy with the arrangement, do grandparents have some god-given right to demand to provide childcare? And yes it is a big favour but it just feels like it comes with strings attached as she wants to control everything but this is my baby, my new family, my home etc. And she is part of our lives but she can't call the shots in that way.

She moved to be near her other grandchildren (her daughter's children) and is now talking about doing the same with us. Unfortunately her daughter and family moved to New Zealand and she is very angry about that even five years later. I understand that must have hurt a lot but to say that she will "never forgive" her daughter for doing so, it just seems she hasn't dealt with it and her attitude towards me is off kilter and I am feeling really edgy about taking on those kinds of issues. If I say once a month then that is going to be set in stone and it just feels invasive and demanding.

fairylightsinthespring Sun 14-Jul-13 08:56:36

I really think that your DH should be having these conversations with his mother actually. DH's parents (divorced, so two "sets") live 4 hrs away. We visit them about 4 times a year for a week to ten days (we teach so have the time). MIL then comes to us for 3-4 days in between those visits. I insist that DH sorts this out and if MIL does ring me I tend to deflect her to him, particularly as we have to co-ordinate with the other set of GPs. I think the only real issue for you OP is the flexibility element. Your DH should ring her, specifically to talk about this and just say very clearly, that thus far, she has seen the GC on average of once a month and that will continue, but you simply can't be nailed down to a fixed date as it is too restrictive. You can plan them 2-3 months ahead if necessary, but it won't always be the first weekend on the month or whatever. You say that she put you in a difficult position when she asked to come on a particular weekend but why is it difficult to say, oh so sorry MIL but we already have plans for this weekend. How about next? She is not being unreasonable to want to see her GC 12 times a year and she probably is worried about being on the periphery.

Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:01:03

My big issue is flexibility really and not being dictated to. The more I think about it the more upset I am that she thinks I am horrible for saying so and that I'm somehow under suspicion (trying to keep her at arms length etc) when that is not what is happening and I have given her assurances about that. She is the kind of person who is used to being in charge and things will get set in stone when in reality life is a bit more fluid than that and I don't want to feel I am breaking some sacred promise if that is the case. Sometimes it will be less, sometimes more. i know she would like more but it doesn't give her the right to be pushy.

MrsMook Sun 14-Jul-13 09:01:32

Decline the schedule. It would give her more control and chance for guilting. If you agree that every xth weekend of the month is for a visit, how will she react when you have a holiday/ wedding/insert other social opportunity of choice that falls on that weekend. It could be the start of other demands that you are uncomfortable with.

I don't understand why 2hrs means a weekend or longer period of time for a visit. I have family members that far away, and a day trip is fine. My mother day-trips and that's 200miles/ 4hrs min.

Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:03:07

My DP doesn't want to get involved really and I think he thinks I'm being mean for not saying yes definitely every four weeks.

Moominmamma86 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:05:32

I'd feel mean asking a seventy-odd year old woman to drive both ways and look after a ten month old in the space of two days. Anyway i dont mind her staying, it's not as relaxing as having the flat to ourselves but she is family, that's ok. Again it's just the controlling thing that's totally put my back up and is making me want to keep more of a distance tbh.

KatieLily12 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:08:56

No you are not at all

I have a similar situation where my mum is doing a little childcare now and MIL wants in but she's not very good and it stresses both me and DD out. I still want their relationship to grow though.

I know FIL was v pushy initially but we remained firm but fair and eventually he realised pushing us just made us back off. We were a united front though- how are you and DP?

I'm trying the firm but fair with MIL and I wish you luck!

claudedebussy Sun 14-Jul-13 09:13:02

stick to your guns.

MrsMook Sun 14-Jul-13 09:14:16

So she's deflecting her issues with her DD and GC onto you. Very caring.

Point out that she will see DC more often under your system as if another commitment occurs, you could see her after 5, 6, 7 wks. Under her's she'll have to skip a month so it ould be 8/9 wks.

We arrange BiL when we see eachother. Because of holidays and commitments on both sides, it will be Sept first. There's no broken arrangement or guilt like that.

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