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AIBU about the way MIL speaks to my nephew? I might be...

(52 Posts)
TheHouseOnTheLane Tue 13-Oct-15 05:09:39

Firstly, I will say that I accept if I AM BU because I do tend to be very sensitive at times...and especially to language and the way it's used.

Ok. MIL speaks to her 2 year old grandson (SILS child) in a very specific way...she does not and has never said these things or similar to my two girls (who she has also adored) my girls are 7 and 11.

She will say to my little nephew the following when she's looking after him

"Oh he likes to be in charge...are you supervising the girls?"

"Here he is...look at him, managing things!"

"Oh he's such a little man! Isn't he? He's SUCH a man."

For eg. he will run off with a tool or something and she says "He;ll give it back when he is ready to...he's just letting us know whose in charge."


The constant references to him being in charge, managing, supervising etc are REALLY getting my goat and I think there's an ingrained sexism to it.


Today she said something along these lines and I couldn't help myself...she always says it in front of my girls and I don't want them thinking this crap is I said "You might find that telling him he's in charge so much comes back to haunt you when he's 6 and isn't so pliable"

I said it in a light fashion.

She didn't say anything. But I'm right...I think.

Sansoora Tue 13-Oct-15 05:24:53

How did your partner turn out?

YakTriangle Tue 13-Oct-15 05:29:20

That would annoy me too TBH. I would probably just politely and innocently ask why she feels the need to constantly say how 'male' he is, and what has made her think that he's 'in charge' of two older children on the grounds that he has a penis. But that might not be received very well.

TheHouseOnTheLane Tue 13-Oct-15 05:31:39

Sansoora that's a good question and if I'm honest, not without some issues.

He had a problem with drinking and also....yes...was very bossy. He's worked on himself a LOT over our years together though.

Yak yes...I could do that but she's pretty defensive of him.

InternationalEspionage Tue 13-Oct-15 05:36:56

Yanbu. Stuff like that makes me cringe. Her communication may be intended for the boy but it is being received loud and clear by both everyone present in the room.

You could also tell him to have fun emptying all of her cupboards onto the floor because he's the BOSS at her house and she'll get the message soon enough grin

TheHouseOnTheLane Tue 13-Oct-15 05:39:57

Oh that wouldn't; work Espionage because she does in fact let him do what he wants. hmm

SlaggyIsland Tue 13-Oct-15 05:41:38

That would really really bother me.
Both for the horrible sexist message being received by all children, and the fact that she's training the child to be a brat.
No wonder people think girls are easier or naturally better behaved, and that boys are more headstrong - they get trained up for these roles from an early age.

Homebird8 Tue 13-Oct-15 05:57:07


Could you perhaps reply something along the lines of "Well, he's certainly in charge of you." And then if it's ok to make such comments in front of everybody, ask your DDs what they think. Do they think it's sensible for such a little child (not mentioning DN's sex) to think they are in charge? Does it make the child safe? Is the child wise enough?

I doubt you'll change your MIL's ingrained thinking but you might get her to be less vocal and give your DDs the opportunity to feel their opinions are valued.

TheHouseOnTheLane Tue 13-Oct-15 05:59:28

Slaggy I've never actually seen such a scorching case of it before!

Home that's a bloody good one! I could say it with a wry laugh to make it clear that whilst I'm not telling her what to do I am pointing out that he's not actually in charge at all....because he's a baby!

FinallyHere Tue 13-Oct-15 06:02:45

Oh yes Home, thank you, that does sound a promising way forward. Thank you.

Pseudo341 Tue 13-Oct-15 06:24:00

YADNBU i think you do need to say something to, it's not good for any of the children to be having such ideas drummed into them. I think I'd go for pretending she's joking and keep contradicting her. "isn't Grandma silly? as if boys should be in charge, what nonsense, ha ha ha" All said in a very friendly jokey tone. I suspect you're going to fall out with your MIL over this but I think something has to be said.

FrancesNiadova Tue 13-Oct-15 06:33:37

Or how about,
"Back in Grandma's day, boys were in charge. Today, we don't think like that and we have equal opportunities, which is much better."

Mydearchild Tue 13-Oct-15 06:40:24

Yanbu that would grate me too. Does sil notice this and what are her opinions? I think you were right to say something too.

BondJayneBond Tue 13-Oct-15 06:44:07

YANBU. That would really annoy me too.

SlaggyIsland Tue 13-Oct-15 06:46:26

What does your DH think, does he agree with you? Would he be prepared to speak to her about it?

StickyProblem Tue 13-Oct-15 06:49:31

I'd say to all the DC: "Of course he's not in charge, he's far too little. And even if you were all the same age, he wouldn't be in charge because you are all equal."

Yanbu Op, that would drive me insane.

pluck Tue 13-Oct-15 06:52:09

I would hate this, too. MIL has somewhat traditional views of boys and girls, but she really loves them both (I have one of each), and that really comes through, whereas your MIL is coming across as putting your DDs down.

If you want to say something about it to her, try framing it as favouritism, because that will allow you to be strong and not feel obliged to worry about hurting her feelings. Even if she cries, what are a grown woman's tears and "hurt feelings" compared to those of your children? Point out to her that the girls think - or will think - that their DGM has got no more use for them now that the Infant King has been born. You've also already made an excellent point about spoiling him only when he's small. Have the girls fallen out of favour with their DGM because they're older and can think and rebel?

What does SIL think about her own son potentially being turned into a brat? I wouldn't be happy if my child were being encouraged to behave in a way others would end up finding hateful!

iwannadancewithsomebody Tue 13-Oct-15 06:57:01

Is his dad around or work away?

I've had came across a similar situation where the dad was away from home a lot and it was a case of "daddy is going away to work now, will you be in charge and look after mummy?" It kinda diverted the attention away from that daddy wasn't going to be home for a while but there was an understanding that mummy was really in charge

sparkleup Tue 13-Oct-15 07:21:18

My DF does this to a certain extend, but I tend to bat him down.

'when DS is older I bet he will be really into sports, you will take him won't you'
'yes DF, if he's into something we will take him. As with DD, if she is into sports'
'oh, yeah DD too'

'why do you let DS dress up in Princess dresses and play with dolls, he supposed to be a man'
'because he's a toddler and has years to decide what sort of man he wants to be, plus he just wants to do what his elder sister does!'

Must be harder when its your MIL though. Just try to make sure your DDs know this is outdated views and not right.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Tue 13-Oct-15 07:31:52

I used to say to my son at that age 'but you're not in charge.' And he would cry and say he was!

LumpySpacedPrincess Tue 13-Oct-15 07:34:24

It's horrible, and very sexist. Damaging for everyone who hears that crap, challenge it every time, same as you would racism, it's the only way this rubbish will ever stop.

Youarentkiddingme Tue 13-Oct-15 07:41:14

Ghoul grin

I agree it's damaging. He's only a toddler now but in 5/10 years time if he's been led to believe he's in charge of your girls family get together will be a nightmare. They will be of an age when they want to sit and chat etc and there is a risk they will be dong his bidding instead. Not fair or reasonable.

It's just as bad as my hated expression - you are the eldest you should know better. That also leads to the problem that younger ones never have to or take responsibility for their own behaviour.

I agree that they are equal. They are all people in their own right.

diddl Tue 13-Oct-15 08:21:03

I don't like the sound of of it!

What are his parents like with him & how often does MIL see him?

Perhaps it's not enough to have a lasting effect?

TheHouseOnTheLane Tue 13-Oct-15 09:01:15

diddl his Dad isn't on the scene. His Mum panders to his every whim basically.

If I said something like "Of course he's not in charge just because he's a boy" in a jokey tone, MIL would immediately say she never said he was in charge because he's a boy. She'd defend it as "He's a BABY!" as she did when DH challenged this once.

I am seriously unhappy about it really but struggling. At least I said something this morning though.

I might say breezily "Oh you're all in charge aren't you girls? As much as kids can be anyway."

What about that?

KurriKurri Tue 13-Oct-15 09:38:42

I might put it to her as being a rather unkind thing to do to him. 'If you keep telling him he's in charge, he's going to get a real shock when he starts school/playgroup and finds he's not, he's just the same as everyone else. If you teach him and encourage him to be bossy and selfish, he'll find it hard to make friends and be unhappy.'
That type of thing. It is quite a mean thing to do. Apart from the reasons given above it is already making people see this little boy as a bit brattish, when it's not his fault his granny is a loon.

And also it is defining him in terms of his gender, so that anything that doesn't fit in with her stereotype of what boys are like is going to be condemned even f it is something he wants to do, she;s not allowing him to develop as an individual, she wants him to be her stereotype of a 'boy'.

I would always challenge it though in the various ways described above with a laugh and 'children aren't in charge, they are too little' and I would correct him if he is bossy 'DD's turn now, you've had yours' emphasise learning to share and take turns.

I wouldn't worry to much that your girls will take it to heart, they will soon start correcting her because their role model will be you and your attitude, they will come across all sorts of odd attitudes in life, what you teach and model to them is what will stick. smile

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