To think Sil's behaviour is astonishing(63 Posts)
My fil is terminally ill and mil has to take care of him as he's very poorly - dh and I help her as much as we can. But her daughter, my sil, still makes quite a lot of demands on her. She and her dh expect mil to come and take care of their children two days a week while she's a work (so fil is left alone all day in the house) and often calls mil at very short notice asking her to come over and look after her children.
A typical example was on Friday - my dh was at mil's house repairing her washing machine for her as fil isn't well enough to do these things anymore. Sil suddenly rang saying she had to go and pick her four year old from preschool but her one year old was asleep and she didn't want to wake her youngest so she asked mil to come over and look after the little one. So mil had to drop everything, drive twenty minutes to babysit and leave fil. Luckily dh was there to keep an eye on him.
It's so hard to watch mil being taken advantage of, we've stood by for a long time and watched it go on but recently as fil has deteriorated, we have gently suggested to mil that maybe she is doing quite a lot for sil but she gets very defensive and sticks up for her and acts like we are the ones being unreasonable. She won't listen to anything remotely negative about sil. Dh gets very upset about it and I must admit I find it staggeringly selfish but if Mil is seemingly happy to do it, I don't know what we can do. I think it's just the dynamics of their relationship - sil is overly dependent on mil and mil has always facilitated this so the pattern is too established. I need my mum lots too but I would like to think that I would know when to back off and sort things out myself. AIBU to be astonished that she can't do this even when her father is so ill.
sorry third line should read while THEY'RE at work
God she's AWFUL.
But not your business.
Maybe your DH can have a word with his sister?
Yanbu, but mil needs to be the one to start saying no. Or maybe your dh could have a quiet word.
My brother and sil take the expect out of my mum and can see she's very tired. Either they can't see it or don't want to. but either way they obviously feel entitled to the free childcare or are to selfish to care
Unfortunately as your MIL is happy to be put upon there's not much you can do. It will have happened all of SIL's life where her parents drop everything for her so there's little chance it will change as neither party sees it as a problem.
Anything you say will come across as sour grapes as SIL will say you're jealous totalling ignoring/not even realising the real reason.
YANBU but your MIL has made it clear she's not interested in your concerns and is apparently happy to continue to help out SIL. Not much else you can do I'm afraid as it's their business.
I fear that if you interfere in the relationship between your MIL and her daughter, you will live to regret it. Your MIL may feel happier thinking that she's needed by her daughter. You really don't know the dynamics. If it's actually affecting your life, I can understand that you might want DH to say something, but otherwise keep out. It's not your concern to reshape someone else's relationship.
FWIW, yes, the SIL sounds pretty awful. But I had no parental help at all with my DS because my parents were too elderly. Tends to affect my view of things like this.
Its really hard to watch others those you love being taken advantage of, especially if they appear to be unable to say 'no' . If I were you, I would keep shtum but get your DH to have a stern word with his sister...
There is something else to consider though.
Nursing ones dying loved one, is immensely emotionally draining and exhausting. Your MIL may be more than happy to 'escape' from this very pressured situation little and often, she may find the frequent company of her daughter and/or grandchildren a really pleasant diversion from her difficult life at the moment.
Yes it is their business - I do worry about fil being left on his own continuously though, if he had a fall or anything or needed help in any way there's nobody there. He hasn't got much longer left, he deserves to be a priority now. You're all right though, there's nothing we can do about it - sil would never understand her behaviour is wrong.
You need to back off. Don't go there it will not end well.
MiL likes the dynamic and has created it so leave it well alone.
Maybe your mil needs a break away from caring for her husband and gets joy from babysitting her grandchildren. It does sound like she has a lot to deal with but if she's happy to help out her daughter then there's nothing you can do. The only person who can lose in this situation is you, you'll be seen as jealous or interfering no matter how good your intentions are.
Dolores - it does sometimes impact on our lives - our dd very rarely sees my mil as she is always looking after the other children. Consequently she doesn't have a great relationship with her paternal grandma. We have addressed this issue directly with mil and there's been a little improvement but I think we have to accept that that this is the way it is. Sil's needs will always come first.
Perhaps you could be pro-actively helpful OP and suggest she call you to come and mind FIL if she is called to help sil. That way, you are taking some of the pressure off MIL and ensuring FIL safety..without interfering between mil/sil (which would never end well)
Maybe mil likes it, as she gets to escape. Your dh should check mil is ok with it and remind her she can say no.
Then monitor but keep out of it.
You can't say anything. They are mother and daughter and you are the 'outsider', for want of a better word. It will bite you in the arse if you interfere because it's their family and not really yours. That said, if sil's behaviour is putting additional pressure on your dh, then he should definitely raise it with her. Long term, a brother and sister will get over any arguments amongst themselves but if you do it, they will hold it against you, even though you are right.
Durham and Marilyn - I think you're spot on, no good can come of saying anything. People tend to do what suits them best and maybe mil does need the distraction although she often has to cancel her own social arrangements for them and they get very annoyed with her if she accidently double books.
Marilyn I agree about the pleasant distraction. I imagine mil needs a break and children can be the perfect therapeutic change of scene.
Could you take over some of her responsibilities at home?
If I were behaving like that, my brother would have a serious word with me. Can't your dh go straight to sil and tell her exactly what she is being like? Isn't that one of the things siblings are for - keeping your feet on the ground?
I was thinking the same as durham maybe mil enjoys getting out from looking after her ill husband and spending some time with her grandchildren. It may give her some relief, sense of normality.
I would support mil and fil as much as possible and stay out of the situation with SIL. I would hazard a guess that SIL and mil have spoken about it and mil may have said its fine, I'm happy to do it, I enjoy being with the grandchildren. I know that's what my mum would say if we were in that position.
Durham that was my thinking too. Maybe MIL looks forward to a bit of normality every now and then. There is nothing more life affirming than a hug from a grandchild
OP, your last post explains why you feel this so much. If SIL has always been the golden child and your DH the 'doer' then this really is going to hurt you on his behalf, MIL/FILs behalf.
I say this as the wife of just such a DH, stop thinking about it and concentrate on supporting your DH through this. Focussing on behaviours you don't understand only hurts you and, possibly your DH.
Basically, sod 'em. Do what is best for your DH
Realistically, your MIL will be desperate to devote herself to SIL and family once your FIL dies, because that will dull the pain a bit and give her something to focus on. Now is not the time to suggest a change in that relationship, however exploitative it is on your SILs behalf.
Keep your powder dry. If you stay on good terms then MIL will be able to come to you and DH for her light grumbles about SIL in future. She won't have FIL to vent at so she will need someone. You guys can fill that role for her, which might not be the relationship you want but it will help her a bit I think.
I'm sorry about your FIL
My dm lookes after my stepdad while he was terminally ill. She loved getting away from it all. And as ill as your fil is if he is well enough to be left for a day. He will deteriorate over time I imagine but for now your mil feels able to leave him.
If you are going to do anything I would maybe gently suggest to sil that she has a plan b for when fil becomes too ill to be left. But that's all.
Thanks guys - fabulous advice. Yes I tell DH to let it go and focus on helping his mum as I don't want him getting even more upset than he already is but deep down I think it's crazy - a woman of nearly forty behaving like an entitled child! Still you've all given me a much needed perspective on this - mil probably needs to focus on her grandmother role and although sil is taking advantage, this is how their relationship is and it must be benefitting mil on some level. No-one wants to cause any friction in a family that is already grieving and I have taken your comments on board and will continue to keep it buttoned and remember the things you've said. Thanks all x
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.