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AIBU, and if not, how do I handle these people?

(58 Posts)
LokiBear Sun 12-Jul-15 08:21:10

My DD is 4 in a couple of weeks. We are having a party for her little friends. We have invited her nursery friends and her cousins. It is a soft play type thing. We have not invited grandparents and this has clearly irked mil. However, rather than address her annoyance directly, she is being passive aggressive. To avoid drip feeding, the reasons we haven't invited adult family members (including my parents) are: The last time we had a party we did invite the whole family, but FIL carried dd around for the whole party and she didn't get to play with anyone. This upset me and even dh, who is usually oblivious to these things. DH tried to get his dad to leave her alone so that she could play but he wouldn't listen. Secondly, we have been to lots of other parties that have only been for nursery friends and no extended family - surely it is the 'done thing to just have little kids at the party? Thirdly, if we invite one set of grandparents, my parents will want to come. DH'S aunties and uncle's will want to come. That's a lot of adults to cater for. Lastly, there are 24 kids coming - there will not be space for lots of adults.
Anyway, last night MIL suckered me into a conversation about DD's birthday by saying that dd had told her that she was having a party 'just for her friends' and 'how funny that she had obviously got it wrong". I side stepped by saying that the party was just for her friends but on her actual birthday we would like them and the rest of dh's family to come for an evening BBQ. I then went on to tell her that we would be having an early lunch with my parents at their house so thst dd could celebrate with my grandma who is over from France for the first time since DD's birth.(my parents are both on holiday because grandma is over - basically my family is free in the day but DH'S are not as they are working, so I've organised DD's birthday around all of them to ensure they get to see her. MIL responded by saying 'how annoying, it is a good job you told me because I'd booked the day off of work, I will have to cancel it now". I pointed out that she hadn't told us that she had done that and that she never usually books DD's birthday off of work which is why we had planned an evening activity. She then went on to say that, this year, she is unable to take DH'S birthday off so she was going to take DD's instead and 'gatecrash whatever day out we were planning' angry. Obviously, she can't gatecrash lunch with my grandma so now she is pissed off. All because I don't want to invite lots of adults to a child's party. We do lots of days out with them. They get to have dd to stay over whenever they want (I hate dd staying away from me but step back because she enjoys being with her grandparents and I want them to have time with her) but, occasionally, I want some time to have dd to ourselves or to do our own thing. If we had planned a day out for the three of us then mil would have just turned up and insisted on coming along. How do you handle someone so bloody underhand? It's not like I keep dd away. The whole thing is exhausting and I know that, once DD's birthday is out of the way, the same issues will occur over Christmas as they do every year. MIL will want us to spend Christmas eve, Christmas day and boxing day with them and will start bring passive aggressive and manipulative. I will try and fend them off in order to try and get some time to ourselves and with my own family but will still end up feeling like a bitch when mil gets upset because I say no. I'm fed up. I don't know how much longer I can go on like this but I don't know how to handle it because MIL is so clever in the way she does things. Thanks for reading, I know this is long. I don't want to spoil our holiday by moaning to dh.

Nolim Sun 12-Jul-15 08:24:38

Yanbu. What does your dh say? He should be dealing with his mother.

Tooooooohot Sun 12-Jul-15 08:25:25

Start by being cleverer, and not sharing so many details, give false places then say you changed your mind at last minute, arrange things via email so it is clear that did party with family is x date. Get it sorted now and start being firm otherwise she'll walk all over you for next ten years!

honeysucklejasmine Sun 12-Jul-15 08:27:11

Eugh. What are these people on? I just don't understand all these IL threads and how the ILs can be so bloody oblivious to common decency and manners.

YANBU! 100%!

For Christmas I would suggest Xmas eve with one set of grandparents, Xmas day at home, just you guys, and boxing day with the others. And only for as many hours as you want, no all day marathons unless you want one.

DameMargaretOfChalfont Sun 12-Jul-15 08:29:54

MIL's behaviour needs nipping in the bud right now - otherwise it will escalate.

When she starts whinging simply state that you've made your plans which you are more than happy with. Don't get drawn into discussions about time off work/access to DD etc. The simple answer is that MIL is invited to the BBQ, would she like to attend?

Deflect any digs or complaints that will be thrown your way - you need to set a precedent now about standing up to MIL before her behaviour escalates.

I think your plans sound very fair to all concerned - just be careful about giving away the time and location of the softplay party - IL's may gatecrash this as it's in a public building.

FarFromAnyRoad Sun 12-Jul-15 08:33:51

It might help if you have a firm plan in your own mind - DH's too. Write down where you intend to be, when and with whom. Times, logistics, what to take, what needs bringing etc etc. Present that as a fait accompli to MIL saying that it has taken a lot of working out and that you and DH regard it as fair to everyone whilst allowing your small family to have the special time together that you want and need. If you dither she'll see the hole in your plans and move in. If it's presented as a done deal that will be way more difficult for her. You don't need to be nasty - present it all with a huge smile and a "We're all so much looking forward to this - DH and I have planned meticulously!" - smile, smile and smile some more!

LokiBear Sun 12-Jul-15 08:36:39

Thanks all. DH is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He loves his parents but hus mum emotionally manipulates him. She gets upset and he feels bad. Or she does things like invites us to a really fun family activity but refuses to be flexible on the date. For example, booking the snow dome on Christmas eve when we had said, since we were spending Christmas day with them we wanted Christmas eve to ourselves. Refused to go on any other day except Christmas eve. The whole family goes and I feel bad for sticking to my guns and insisting we go to the panto as originally planned. I don't feel I ever know dh's true feelings as he just tries to keep everyone happy. He infuriates me, but I feel sorry for him. She has emotionally manipulated him since he was a child.

catzpyjamas Sun 12-Jul-15 08:39:06

YANBU
I think you have planned your DDs birthday really well actually and it sounds like you are trying to accommodate everyone.
Maybe you need to get your DH to deal with his DM? He needs to present any plans as a done deal - this is what we've decided, would be lovely if that suits you but a shame if it doesn't (but that still won't make us do it any differently).
honeysuckle's suggestion for Christmas sounds good. Tell everyone well in advance and then there's no confusion nearer the time. I'd text or email so I had proof!

Tooooooohot Sun 12-Jul-15 08:39:19

You should have had Christmas Day to yourselves then. Don't pander to her.

catzpyjamas Sun 12-Jul-15 08:41:09

Cross posted with FarFromAnyRoad. I type too slowly...

DoreenLethal Sun 12-Jul-15 08:41:24

I side stepped by saying that the party was just for her friends but on her actual birthday we would like them and the rest of dh's family to come for an evening BBQ.

And there is where you should have stopped. The more you tell her, the more holes she can find.

how annoying, it is a good job you told me because I'd booked the day off of work, I will have to cancel it now". 'MIl it might be an idea in future to not book days off hoping to gatecrash stuff. Because booking days off and gatecrashing stuff is quite irritating and we won't be able to tell you things in future if you are planning on behaving like this'.

LokiBear Sun 12-Jul-15 08:41:56

Part of the problem is that I have stood up to her and said no. She is stepping up her game, so to speak. She wasn't going to tell us she'd booked DD's birthday off. She was just going to turn up on her birthday. This is new. Previously she would have told us that she was booking DD's birthday off especially in the hope that we would feel guilty and invite her. She knows that won't work anymore. I hate this. I don't want my family to be a battle ground. It's worse for dh. I can dig my heels in and not care, he wants to keep them happy.

DoreenLethal Sun 12-Jul-15 08:43:01

For example, booking the snow dome on Christmas eve when we had said, since we were spending Christmas day with them we wanted Christmas eve to ourselves. Refused to go on any other day except Christmas eve.

'Oh thanks MIL, that means we will see you then so no need to come Christmas Day. Excellent, we can spend the day at our home. Brill.'

LokiBear Sun 12-Jul-15 08:43:57

Doreen I so wish I'd said that!

Tooooooohot Sun 12-Jul-15 08:44:27

Sorry but you need to grow a backbone and have some balls.

IhateMagic Sun 12-Jul-15 08:46:04

Leave the country for Christmas. Do not tell anyone. Refuse to commit to plans as you are having 'a quiet family Christmas alone' and then go.
Then make this your tradition, but make sure you never let on the location!

SavoyCabbage Sun 12-Jul-15 08:46:30

It's crushingly claustrophobic. She takes your dh's birthday off work??? I've never heard the like!

If I were you I'd start establishing your own traditions right now. For your own little family. I would go nowhere at all on Christmas Day and have nobody over.

LokiBear Sun 12-Jul-15 08:48:14

This year we have invited them for Christmas day dinner. However, they want us to come to theirs for the whole day. I said I'd compromise and go to theirs for dinner only. Either way, all they are getting is dinner. DH is upset because he wants to cook for them but they 'aren't ready' to do Christmas differently.

DoreenLethal Sun 12-Jul-15 08:48:43

You still can. Make it so. This is your ship, and you can steer it the way you want it.

I'd take the bull by the horns now, and say it. But your husband has to be 100% in line with your thinking. Decide between you and NO going back. If it works for your family then do it. If not, then don't.

You need to call her on it. 'MIL, stop trying to emotionally blackmail us. We are parents now and we are making the decisions about our kids, the way you made decisions about yours.'

TestingTestingWonTooFree Sun 12-Jul-15 08:49:11

YANBU. I think it might make sense to plan Christmas earlier so that you don't have to worry about it. Can you work things out with your family so that you can offer mil either CE or BD this year. I'd say you're having CD at home just the 3 of you. If she tries to whine I think I'd say that she's being rude. Putting pressure on you means you're not enjoying her company, makes you want to see her less, rather than more.

DoreenLethal Sun 12-Jul-15 08:50:23

DH is upset because he wants to cook for them but they 'aren't ready' to do Christmas differently.

So, invite them and if they don't want to 'do Christmas differently' they can come to yours when they are ready. In the meantime, he gets to cook for his family at home.

Tooooooohot Sun 12-Jul-15 08:52:06

Your dh needs some balls too....

capsium Sun 12-Jul-15 08:57:02

I thino you are handling them beautifully. You have been kind and accommodating whilst still arranging your own events for your own little family.

What you need to do now is stop worrying about other people's tantrums and attempts at manipulation. Your effort needs to be put into putting them right out of your mind. If they start behaving badly in your presence you take the appropriate action there and then but beyond that don't waste precious time thinking about it. Otherwise they have got to you and their plans begin to work.

It might help if you avoid conversations about making plans and just announce the events you have invited them to. Only have discussions when you want their input. When they want to discuss something that you don't, close the discussion down, make your excuses and leave if you have to.

wafflyversatile Sun 12-Jul-15 08:57:19

Well done on sticking to your guns re Xmas eve panto.

As said don't tell her details or lie about times so her surprising you won't work.

Other than that you just have to say no and stick to it. Set boundaries, lay out consequences for certain behaviour and stick to it. She needs to learn that she will get the best outcome by respecting your boundaries not by trying to manipulate her way around them.

youarekiddingme Sun 12-Jul-15 08:59:19

YANBU. Most parents only suffer soft play hell for sake of their children so why extended family would want to go is beyond me!
You've arranged something for family for DD birthday. Ultimately you are under no obligation to do this. Them asking to come round and checking a time to pop in is more than enough.

I hate all this expected to be entertained on a child's birthday - as if you don't have enough to do.

What I've found has worked for me in the past in texting/telling friends and family I'll be hosting between x and y time and they can pop in when suits. Usually between 2-6pm. I then have nibbles etc out if people are hungry and everyone knows in my house they can make their own tea/coffee or I'll make it when I'm free.

It's very relaxed!

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