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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?

NanaNina Thu 18-Jul-13 00:44:18

SueDoko hello! I really enjoyed your post (and not simply because you're a MIL) I think you are absolutely right and in most cases I think a daughter will turn to her own mother first (I know I did when I was a young mum). My MIL was always giving me advice that I didn't need because being the youngest of 5 girls and all of us have children (one sister had twins) I had all the help and support I needed from my sisters and my mum but I just "rode it out" nodded and smiled at MILs advice Looking back she probably felt a bit left out with so many of us with young children and almost always meeting up at my parent's home several times a week.

Interestingly my PILs expected us to visit them on a regular basis but even though about 20 mins car ride away, they very rarely visited us, and I think this is how it had been for them when their kids were young, and they had always visited their parents, and so to them it seemed the natural thing to do.

I was not fortunate enough to have a daughter and while I love my sons unconditionally I still regret not having a daughter. When my first grandchild was born, my son and DIL had a gathering of all the relatives (DIL has a large extended family) and the newborn (a few days old) was outside in the pram in just a babygro and a thin blanket over her. I thought she needed more clothes on as it was quite a windy day even though it was Spring, and my sister who also came over thought the same, but there was no way I was going to tell DIL what I thought. Fortunately DIL's sister arrived and immediately said "That baby needs more clothes on and a warmer blanket........" and my DIL took notice as her sister was already a mother of 3 by that time and because they are very close anyway. I feel sure if it had been my daughter's baby I would have been able to say what I felt.

Ah well I suppose this long standing "issue" between MILs and DILs will continue to be debated as the tensions still exist and probably always will. I think things do become exacerbated once a grandchild arrives and as someone said "puts all the dynamics of relationships under a microscope."

There has been lots of talk of "rights" on here about visiting etc, but I still think that it is the child who has the rights to grow up feeling loved and cared for by his/her parents, GPs and other members of the extended family, so long as these people understand children and can communicate with them and show an interest in them.

Frustratedartist Wed 17-Jul-13 22:50:30

My MIL was pushy and controlling when our kids were young. She lived a distance away and came to stay for days and at that time dominated out household. I was too young and eager to please to realise what was going on & take charge.

Having said that I also realised the importance of grandparents and wanted to include both sides.

There have been blow outs - where I've been pushed too far by her. She made rude comments about us having a 4th child & I blew up at her.

Now I realise I'm in the position of strength & I endeavour to calmly & pleasantly include her - but on my terms. She's still pretty horrible at times. But she's an old woman & she's just sad and lonely.

Ohhelpohnoitsa Wed 17-Jul-13 21:09:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Beastofburden Wed 17-Jul-13 16:54:32

sorry "she was just used to being the mother"- spare "not"

Beastofburden Wed 17-Jul-13 16:53:38

I had this when first married. DS is now 21. My MIL was very nervous and overcontrolling because she had no idea what to expect from me. I felt she was pushy, bossy, possessive of her son, resentful of our marriage, and disrespectful of my own parents. In fact, I don't think she was. She was just not used to being the mother in every situation, making plans and getting things set up. And she did have a big adjustment to make, having seen so much of her son up till then.

I expect you are worried that it will get worse unless you show her who is boss now- actually, it will get better as she learns to trust you. I expect she is jealous of your mother having such a close relationship with you and the child.

In your shoes I would make the most of the bonding time over the summer, so she trusts you. In the meantime I would explain politely when a date doesn't suit, but offer alternatives, just as you would with any other adult arrangement.

Exude utter and sublime self-confidence and self-esteem. If a date gets moved, compensate with planning a nice event for when she does come.

As your DS grows, he may become very fond of her, which will be annoying if you dont like her. But by teenage years, he will make up his own mind, based on how well everyone behaves. Time is absolutely on your side in this one.

AnotherStitchInTime Wed 17-Jul-13 16:43:30

Mrs Oakenshield your MIL sounds like mine. 5 kids, 3 DIL's, 14 grandkids.

I lived in her house for 2 years. Family and friends were always popping in.

She was at the birth of my dd1, my mum lives too far away and couldn't get there in time.

She passed away two years ago, so sad she will never get to meet dd2 and our expected baby.

Hope you manage to work it out with your MIL OP.

WinkyWinkola Wed 17-Jul-13 15:08:17

Mrs Oakenshield, what an amazing mil you have. She sounds like a thoroughly lovely woman. Little wonder you all cherish her. I love her from here! wink

Not everybody is lucky like that though. Some people just don't respond to "talking it through."

MrsOakenshield Wed 17-Jul-13 14:40:22

Again, my experience is very different. MiL has 3 Dils, one SiL. One of her DiLs actually lived with her for a while, whilst she was having a hard time at work and needed a break (she's from abroad). She stayed there without her DH and had a very good time, and when they returned to her home country would often ring MiL for a chat.

I didn't see as much of MiL as I could have when DD was little, and I really wish I had when I had the chance - DD adores her. Adores her. Sees less of her than she does my mum (distance and difficulty of journey mainly) but has a far better relationship with her (MiL loves children and really understands them - she used to be a children's nurse back in the day). I would rather have MiL babysit that my mum, and she jumps at the chance. I am more than happy to swan off leaving DD with MiL - with my mum I would be a little more anxious (probably not founded).

MiL is very easy company, very chatty, very supportive (she was able to give me practical bf support, for example, which my mum couldn't). If I'd wanted to, and had made the effort to do so, I could easily have lounged around at hers, drinking tea, chatting and bfing.

DH says that he had an ideal childhood and I believe that was very much down to MiL. (When he split up with his ex-gf, she said she would miss his family the most!) She created a very secure home for them, with an open house policy for all their friends, and well into his 20s would send DH £20 for the train fare home. At that time he probably went back home (200 miles) every couple of weeks, which is far more than most people I knew did. But she also produced 4 very independent children who now live scattered all over the place.

If she lived round the corner I'd be over all the time, and would invite her over. She's bloody lovely!

Back to the OP - I do think the best thing would be to sit down, talk it through, and come up with a workable solution for all concerned. You could read the OP in different ways - some see a pushy, interfering MiL, others see a MiL anxious to be involved and worried that she won't be unless she gets it cast in stone.

This thread has inspired me to do more to ensure we, but mainly DD, get to see MiL more often!

Bonsoir Wed 17-Jul-13 13:10:48

SueDoku - it is interesting to read your very good post about the difference between a DGC born to a DS and a DGC born to a DD.

My mother was incredibly supportive at the births of all four of her DGC. She only has DDs and we all instinctively wanted to spend a lot of time together. Indeed, my sister and I, who both gave birth in 2004, spent masses of time together at my parents' house in 2004 and 2005 - lots of sitting around on sofas breastfeeding and chatting and just general hanging out among three generations. My sister and I could never have had that relationship with our MILs. I don't think there is such a thing as "equality" among grandmothers when it comes to small DGC.

SueDoku Wed 17-Jul-13 12:03:35

I'm another MIL on this thread Nana and I'm impressed by the quality of the discussion and the obvious thought that has gone into many people's posts. I have a DS/DDIL/DGC who live 3 hours drive away, and a DD/DDP/DGC who live nearer to me. My DDILs DM lives much nearer to her, and sees them several times a week, whereas I see them about 4-6 weekly (sometimes I go there for a few days, sometimes they come here for the weekend).
My DSs child obviously has a much closer bond with DDILs DM, who has helped with childcare since DDIL went back to work - does this make me sad? Slightly, but it's natural, and I know that DGC loves me and enjoys seeing me - also I have been told by both DS and DDIL that I am welcome at their house at any time, which has had the result of making me aware that they lead busy lives and that I need to check with them before visiting and compromise if necessary.
When DD had her first child, I was astonished at the difference in the way that I felt - not about DGC, both of whom I love very much - but about the fact that I felt 'trusted' to care for the baby (just as DDILs Mother had been) in a quite different way, and that I felt much more relaxed about suggesting things to DD (who would soon have told me if she didn't agree!) in a way that is impossible with DDIL (who is lovely, and who has asked my opinion at times, but naturally looked to her own Mum as her main source of support).
As someone who has always believed in equality, and who ensured that both my DC could care for themselves (cooking, ironing etc.) and did not need to be 'looked after' I really found it strange to find myself falling into the 'stereotypical' DM/DMIL role with the two women in my life - and yet I can quite see how and why it happened.
It's a balancing act, and I'm hoping that I can keep on the tightrope for many years to come, as I would hate to become seen as a 'pushy Grandma' but want to offer as much help as possible to both couples. Wish me luck..! smile

DuelingFanjo Wed 17-Jul-13 11:18:21

"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"

this is not a resaonable respnse to the OPs phone call.

A reasonable person would say 'ok, yes - let's talk about it when I see you in August' A reasonable person would not be insisting that they 'do the childcare'.

ZingWidge Wed 17-Jul-13 11:07:16

MIL offering help - great
MIL wanting to see gc - lovely

OP trying to accommodate MIL as often as possible - very nice, especially that it is also more work for OP as MIL stays over everytime!

Anyone making OP feel guilty about her choices - bad form

OP wanting to decide what suits her - normal

SJisontheway Wed 17-Jul-13 10:50:38

"If you read the OP you can clearly see that the grandmother is being pushy"
I don't see that at all. I see some one who clearly loves their granchild and wants to contribute in a positve way. I see someone who is feeling vulnerable and is afraid of being pushed out.
On this thread I have heard that short notice visits are out of the question. To some it is a crime for it even to be suggested. Scheduled visits are also out of the question. Too rigid. What i'm hearing from a lot of posters is that gp's should sit patiently by the phone and wait for an invite, without any input to the schedule. And be grateful - it's not your child.
I suggest there is a middle ground. And finding that middle ground is good for everyone, especially the child stuck in the middle.

DuelingFanjo Wed 17-Jul-13 10:23:25

"So when a poster talks of difficulties with her mil, and the majority pile in and tell her to stand her ground it could be really beneficial to stand back and try and see it from the mil's point of view."

If you read the OP you can clearly see that the grandmother is being pushy. I think most posters take each thread like this on their own merits, reading what the op has written and then giving responses based upon whatever info was put in the first posts.

"Surely having contributors like nananina allow for a more balanced discussion."

As far as i can see it was a balanced discussion.

NanaNina stated in her first post that she hadn't read all of the responses up to that point, which is maybe why she hadn't seen that several posts had already been made in defence of the MIL. She also finished her first post with "Finally remember all you MIL bashers..." which was a little inflamatory don't you think, given that several people had not been bashing anyone at all?

Also - the old 'you will all most probably be MILs yourself some day and if you have sons you will also have a DIL' stuff is just so tired. it's really horrible actually, this need to tell mothers of sons that they will one day be in the same position so they had better watch out. Yuk.

SJisontheway Wed 17-Jul-13 09:17:38

Worry, I think you make a strong arguement for why we should all consider nananina's thoughts carefully. Of course there are two sides to every story. So when a poster talks of difficulties with her mil, and the majority pile in and tell her to stand her ground (often projecting from their own situation) it could be really beneficial to stand back and try and see it from the mil's point of view. Surely having contributors like nananina allow for a more balanced discussion.

WorrySighWorrySigh Wed 17-Jul-13 07:20:10

I wonder if some of the problem is in the naming of roles: mother/father in law and daughter/son in law.

My DH's parents are not my parents. I am not their daughter.

In times past more people grew up and lived in the same community. This may have created a sense of parental relationship. Where couples meet and set up home away from parents the whole in-law relationship can feel anachronistic.

Interesting post NanaNina. However I think you have to accept that there can be different views on the same situation. "she is very controlling by nature" could also mean "she doesnt do things my way and wont change".

I dont think anyone can ever truly understand another person's relationships. That "quiet reserved character" could be a frustrating and infuriating passive aggressive manipulator to the person on the receiving end of the quiet reservation.

NanaNina Wed 17-Jul-13 00:42:58

Well that's told me Fabergee (!) I was fascinated by your attempts to describe my temperament and disposition. However along with your criticism, I do apparently have flashes of insight - wow I must be grateful for small mercies. Just for the record I have never used the phrase "poor old MILs/nasty old DILs" so if you are going to quote me I think you should quote me accurately rather than your own interpretation of the points that I raise. Of course I realise that it is all dependent on the individuals concerned and there will be faults in both the DIL and the MIL.

Could you be a tad over sensitive to the brief comments I made about my r/ship with my DILs. Again you have distorted what I said. At no time did I mention that I was a reasonable MIL and quite how you interpret the brief comments that I made as "making it sound like the DILs need to stop being precious and suck it up for everyone else's sake"

Your 2nd para contains an important few words "I and others have gone to some trouble to show you that DILs have their hearts in the right place. This is not only patronising but it demonstrates to me that you feel the need to have your views bolstered by others in your attempts to criticise me. Many MNers have made positive comments about my posts but I don't feel the need to remind you of that. I feel confident in expressing my views and of course some will agree and others won't - is this any different from any other debate on MN?

Of course I am aware about the upheaval both practically and emotionally that a new baby brings and does as you say "put relationships under a microscope. You then tell me that I "need to think carefully about sleep deprivation and hormonal changes" - phew how patronising is that. I come from a family of 5 girls and we all supported each other with our newborns as we were fortunate enough to live relatively close and have good r/ships. Hope that is ok for me to mention that! SO yes I do actually know about sleep deprivation and hormonal changes. IF we can get back to the OP the baby in question was 10 months old, so the parents may well be sleep deprived but will have got over those early horrendously tiring weeks. I have a grand-daughter who is almost 4 and still doesn't sleep through the night.

You are obviously "rattled" by my posts and I can't actually remember any of them unless I go back and look. I think one of the problems is that on these kind of threads (which I usually avoid) I am almost always the only MIL and that puts me at a disadvantage as I think that for DILs who don't for whatever reason have a good r/ship with their MILs/FILs I am an easy target. Fortunately that doesn't bother me, but it would be nice to hear from other MILs.

Oh yes someone called Winkywonky or something like that thought Gransnet was for talking about nasty DILs. Of course I have no intention of starting such a thread - it was just a throwaway comment.

Finally you take issue with a comment I made about women friends who I have known for 40 years in some cases who are upset by their DILs. I know the DIL in question with one of my friends and she is very controlling by nature and she is often very impatient with the children which upsets my friend, but she dare not say anything for fear of upsetting DIL. I know that DIL did not have very caring parents herself and that she is parenting in the way that she was parented (I think this is true for many parents) and that she is insecure, which is the reason that she is sometimes controlling. My friend is a quiet reserved character and really is afraid of upsetting her DIL, but then she doesn't like upsetting anyone. Her son is somewhat dominated by his partner too, and that is another problem.

I have another friend who interestingly has a problem with her Son-In-Law (which makes a change) as he is the dominant partner and she only gets to see her daughter and the grandchildren on his terms. Her daughter seems unable to stand up to him and so in effect he "rules the roost" so to speak.

Ah well it's well past midnight and time for bed.

ZingWidge Tue 16-Jul-13 21:55:46


I'd not agree to a "visiting schedule" like that, unless it suited me.

fabergeegg Tue 16-Jul-13 21:48:18

NanaNina I also agree with Sleep, who makes the point that even the nicest and most socially adept women can have blind spots when it comes to their adult children. You cannot say, in effect, that it must be the DIL's fault because your friends would never be demanding and unreasonable. My MIL is incredibly demanding - legendarily so. On one occasion, I was trying to help her see how a very selfish act was hurtful. She commented that she'd been talking to her friends, who had been telling her how unreasonable some MILs were, and how she would never behave like them. In fact, all she'd do was try to apologise...utter rot.

fabergeegg Tue 16-Jul-13 21:42:01

NanaNina There is a middle ground that you're not acknowledging at the moment in relation to this issue. Starting an opposite thread would only polarise the debate - as I'm sure you're aware! I have a problem with aspects of what you're saying, because you sound both authoritative and deliberately mild ('I can't help but think...etc). This adds up to an image of a very kind, very wise older figure. No doubt you have had a great deal more experience of the MIL/DIL dynamic than many here. However, speaking personally, I don't think there is a truly balanced, insightful content running through your posts - flashes of insight, yes, but then a lot of 'poor old MILs/nasty old DILs' talk that doesn't address the issues many here are facing. When DILs are discussing the problems they encounter - real and often very difficult - it isn't particularly helpful to know about about how reasonable you are as an MIL and how manageable the relationships with your DILs has been. It makes it sound as though you think DILs just need to stop being precious and suck it up for the benefit of everyone else. If only it were that simple!

I, and others, have gone to some trouble to try and show you that DILs often have their hearts in the right place. But the arrival of a child can put all family relationships under a microscope, highlighting differences that were insignificant before. Whether or not it's your personal experience, it can happen! I also think you need to think carefully about the sleep deprivation, stress and hormonal changes that may affect a new mother hell bent on meeting her baby's needs. There is room for compromise, but not a lot. If PIL don't show themselves supportive to the mother and baby unit at this stage, they've done the whole family a disservice, as the welfare of the baby is deeply impacted by the well-being of the mother. This is incomparably more crucial and significant than changes taking place in grandmothers, useful though that theory is. If DIL and MIL had not been in the habit of spending long periods of time together each week or even each month, they're hardly likely to be able to slip seamlessly into it post pregnancy and it's unrealistic to expect that to happen. And I strongly do not agree with any suggestion that grandparents have any right whatsoever to have the children on their own. It's not necessary for the child.

I'm sorry if I offended you by suggesting you were ignoring posts when, in reality, you were helping others. I was referring to your long post in which specific points made to you were not mentioned.

AaDB Tue 16-Jul-13 21:38:20

Sorry for the errors, my phone autocorrects.

Both sets of gps talk a good game but are abstract. Photographs galore but no real memories being made. With my parents, I feel like we are in limbo for a time when ds is grown up enough for them. As adults, they have some responsibility to build a foundation. I know they find me difficult because I won't fit in with their formal view of visiting. This is more how they were expected to engage with my great grandparents. My stayed overnight with his GPs several times a week. I went to mine every day after school. It's their loss. If they want to visit, it had to be on terms that suit my family. If they were prepared to help, I'd have more time, energy and money to make more of an effort.

WorrySighWorrySigh Tue 16-Jul-13 21:20:22

I dont disagree with you AaDB. If there isnt an element of support from GPs then what is the relationship between ILs supposed to be?

My own relationship with PiL is tangential. The touching point is the children. GPs made it very clear that they would not be doing childcare though they said they would help out in an emergency. We moved abroad when DCs were small. This completely changed the dynamic. By the time we moved back the children were older so the need for help of any sort was gone.

I have few shared experiences with PiL.

Quite honestly for me the PiL are a couple of old people DH & the DCs know. I feel no connection.

AaDB Tue 16-Jul-13 20:21:21

I think that rights go hand in hand with responsibilities. I hold an unpopular view for MN in that I think GPs SHOULD help out if they are able. Both sets of our parents had on tap babysitting for nights out. Both DMs were Sahp. Neither set of parents help with us with childcare. They have never helped with a school pick up or attended nativity/sports day; our GPs did.

Both sets of parents expect to be provided with an opportunity to visit at their convenience and expect a red carpet treatment. I have a desire to provide my ds with the widest community of support possible. However, it isn't always convenient, especially atweekends. We have clubs, parties and an endless to do list of jobs. Their aren't enough hours in the day. In contrast, both sets are young retirees with very old fashioned and rigid timetables and views. They aren't very flexible with their visit requests. Recently, ds had been ill all week and we were all very tired. I didn't 'fancy making a roast so we can visit between 2/8 on Sun'. My DPs don't want to visit to spend time with ds. I don't want to park ds in front of the TV for hours so they can have grown up chats. Any sort of request for specific and practical help, is met with a raincheck for when we have more time for a proper visit. At least with my own DPs, I can say what I mean. Even if I do cause offense, it is easily sorted out.

My ils rules of engagement are baffling to me. I also hold an unpopular view that the main point of liaison for my ils us their ds (not me).

Sleep404 Tue 16-Jul-13 20:16:26

Nana, that doesn't mean they don't exist, or that all DiLs are nice. There will obviously be varying degrees of controlling MiLs and overly sensitive DiLs.

Mine, drives me crazy, but she loves my DC so I suck it up and try to ignore all. Similar to the OP, she and FiL want to come over a lot amongst other things. Last week they rang to ask us out. It wasn't convenient and DH said so. They said ok and then turned up anyway, stayed all afternoon, so our plans went out the window. Now if you spoke to any of MiL friends, they'd never believe that of her. Nor would she see it herself. She is forever telling me how interfering her own MiL was. The irony seems to be lost on her.

WinkyWinkola Tue 16-Jul-13 19:36:25

Isn't that what Gransnet is for? To spout off about all these hateful dils?

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