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AIBU to feel supremely frustrated by partner's overbearing family?

(104 Posts)
OutsiderInTheGarden Mon 20-Jun-16 01:54:46

Sorry, long post, really need to vent. I've name changed for this thread.

OH and I have been together 8 years, have a 1 yr old child, and expecting a second. His family is huge, gregarious, loud, and they tend to do things en masse. Mine is much smaller, quieter, we tend to each do our own things, and so social events are much more low key. I have always struggled with them, and I feel like a bit of an alien. OH can't always see my point, but tries to remain supportive and sensitive, and sometimes sees that they can be overbearing.

We just celebrated our child's birthday at my parent's home, which is more convenient for them to travel to than our own. My mum is not in the best health but spent ages prepping, cleaning and cooking an incredible feast. My parents also covered the whole cost, which wasn't insignificant, as we're a bit skint and it was about 30 people.

On the day of the party my OHs family turned up 2 hours late, even though they were staying in accommodation 10 mins drive away. The birthday child was actually napping when they arrived! Some guests did not even say hello to my mum (the hostess) when they arrived and not one single person brought a small gift for the hostess. Personally I think it's the done thing to take a bottle of wine, box of chocolates, bunch of flowers, or something for the hostess.

When my father arrived much later (he had to work and couldn't get out of it) nobody acknowledged him or spoke to him for quite some time. He felt like a stranger in his own home. When they left, they took back all the remaining drinks they had brought with them (we had provided drinks). I know it's a small thing, but I think it's so rude.

This has just left me so, so pissed off. But I recognise that it comes after 8 years of feeling completely out of place with them, and frustrated by how domineering they can be. I can't put it into words very well, but they are like a clan. And I do not like the culture of this clan. My OH knows this, and he is quite different to them on a day-to-day basis, but loves spending time with them. I feel like they want to 'claim' our child for their clan, despite it being obvious that I am very different. They insist he will do certain things as he gets older (things which other young children in their family do) but they aren't things I particularly want him doing, and I have no faith that they will ever ask for my opinion, nor respect it when it's given (I usually make my feelings clear). There are lots of things which are normal in their family which I do not want in a million years becoming the norm for our children.

I am becoming increasingly aware of, and anxious about, the huge difference between the culture of our two families, especially as we are now parents. WIBU to feel so pissed off about the birthday party? AIBU to worry so much about the different family cultures? Any advice on how to manage a scenario like this one?

WickedLazy Mon 20-Jun-16 02:04:30

"When my father arrived much later (he had to work and couldn't get out of it) nobody acknowledged him or spoke to him for quite some time. He felt like a stranger in his own home."

That's so rude!

I would have called mil on this. "My dad didn't enjoy the party, everyone left him out."

I would let dp and dc socialise with them without you. Have some you time when he sees them. Start putting your foot down and saying no. If you say no thank you regarding dc, and they go against that, then dp can go on his own to see them. Dp has to back you up on this though. Mil raised dp her way, you'll raise your dc your way. She has to respect that.

2nds Mon 20-Jun-16 02:08:14

Why would they all be expected to bring your mum gifts when it's a child's 1st birthday party as Its not an adults dinner party?
Your dad was very late and that was acceptable but them being late was awful. Was the party taking part on a day that was inconvenient for everyone apart from yourself and your mother?

I'd die if my fiance regarded my family as a clan and said that he didn't like the 'culture of this clan', in fact I'd probably disown him.

WickedLazy Mon 20-Jun-16 02:19:33

I think the op is feeling really bitter atm, and is being harsh, yes, but I can see why.

Overbearing people can be hard to deal with it. But you need to deal with it before you go batshit crazy over something stupid and make yourself look like a loon. What sort of stuff do they disagree with you about?

WickedLazy Mon 20-Jun-16 02:20:13

to deal with it? confused

Somerville Mon 20-Jun-16 02:30:33

If they brought your child birthday presents then you shouldn't expect them to also bring something for the hosts. (Don't get me wrong, lots of people would. But I don't think it's rude not to.)

Listen, it's good that your partner is supportive about your feelings here. That's important. I future, don't have big occasions with both families. His is never going to change enough to be inclusive to yours. See his family on their own. Let them do their own celebration for your child's second birthday. They'll all love it! And your child will get twice as much attention and all spread out, which is less oberwhelming. Then do a second party with your family. Invite friends to that one, since your parents are more welcoming hosts. And then be careful what gets posted on FB, so no one takes offence that they weren't invited to the 'real' event.

I would try really hard on viewing your partner's family as having a different culture/traditions to yours, rather than a 'wrong' one. And keep your families separate, and when it can't be avoided two to have the occasion take place on neutral territory, where any breaches of the other family's etiquette will be less obvious.

Rainbowqueeen Mon 20-Jun-16 04:15:03

Honestly it sounds like your in- laws made a huge effort to get to the party, you mention that they were staying in accommodation close by so presumably paying for this???

In these circumstances I don't see the need for a hostess gift.

I agree with Somerville, keep your families separate in future, but also try to see his families good points, it will help keep you sane!! Lots of families would not have travelled and shelled out for accommodation for a one year olds party.

OutsiderInTheGarden Mon 20-Jun-16 05:55:13

Sorry, but I do think it's very different to be 2 hours late for a party when you are staying 10 mins away but just couldn't organise yourselves, and 3 hours late for a party because you have to work. There were other guests (OHs family) who arrived several hours because they had another event to attend in the morning; we had no problem with this! It's fine. But just rocking up 2 hours late for no real reason is just a bit rubbish. They'd been down from the afternoon before, and the party was on a day that people had said was convenient, at a completely reasonable time. Nobody (apart from my dad and the couple with the other event) had said anything about the day/time being in any way inconvenient, or we could and would have done something about that.
Yes, most people were staying in nearby accommodation, at their own expense. There is not room to accommodate them at my parent's house. They could have stayed with their own family a little further away, but chose to book the accommodation so that lots of people could stay all together in the same place. Of course we didn't expect anyone to do this. We couldn't afford to pay for their accommodation, but we also told everyone that we didn't expect them to travel to a child's birthday party at all, especially when he's so young.

OutsiderInTheGarden Mon 20-Jun-16 06:07:24

I should have made it clear that my other half and I have spoken about the differences between our families many times before. We know that every family has its own culture and traditions, unwritten rules, etc. 'Clan' was actually his word, and it's not intended in a horrible way, but it does describe them quite well because they're a huge family that tends to have to certain things because 'it's always been that way', and things tend to be dominated by a few of the central, most naturally dominating characters. I know full well that my family has flaws and my OH and I have spoken about them in detail, at length, many times. So I do know it's not a case of my family being the Waltons and his being a nightmare.

DeathStare Mon 20-Jun-16 06:15:48

I think you are being fairly harsh here and for the most part this is just about different ways of doing things and you not liking it rather than them being wrong.

I wouldn't expect guests to bring a gift for the owner of the venue where a child's birthday party took place.

I can't see a problem with taking home undrunk drinks they had brought. Some people would leave them, some would take them back. No big deal.

I think the arriving late issue depends on how the invitation was worded. If you said "the party will be from 1pm to 3.30pm" and they arrived at 3pm, that's fairly rude. But if either there was just a start time given ( eg. "from 1pm") or the party was over several hours or they knew different people were coming at different times, then this was acceptable.

Not talking to your dad - Did they actually blank him/ignore him when he spoke? If so that is rude. However if the issue was that he wasn't actively part of a very chatty group then I think that's as much his fault as theirs. When you say they to a while acknowledge him that suggests that they did acknowledge him but not as quickly as you wanted. Did he acknowledge them? We're they engrossed in other things happening?

I also think the fact that they were prepared to travel and pay for accommodation for a child's birthday party shows how much they care for your DC and us an effort that should be appreciated.

These are not bad people (at least not from what you mention here). They are just people with a different way of doing things than you. Your way is no more right than theirs.

MurphysChild Mon 20-Jun-16 06:22:10

I don't think mine and DH family have been at a shared event since DS was 1 twenty years ago. They live three miles apart. Simply no common ground between them, no bad feelings it's just too different a mix. When they come across each other they are friendly and social but a few hours together in one room? Nah.

Don't do it again.

Creampastry Mon 20-Jun-16 06:27:15

Don't do joint family events, simple.

OutsiderInTheGarden Mon 20-Jun-16 06:42:10

Murphys can I ask how this worked with your DS when he was young? Did you just do things like birthdays completely seperately? My family would be happy to do this; not that they have any particular problem with my OHs family, but they recognise that there is very little common ground. But I don't think my OHs family would want this; they think it's brilliant when everyone gets together and don't seem to notice when people feel quite uncomfortable (apart from me, sometimes).

puglife15 Mon 20-Jun-16 06:43:00

Agree - don't do joint family parties when your families are so different - that way madness lies. The only one we have done is our wedding. There are times I think DC1 would like both sets of his cousins there but he gets more quality time with them separately.

Their behaviour was a bit rude but strikes me as more of an etiquette thing than outright rudeness, with the exception of being 2 hours late.

greenfolder Mon 20-Jun-16 06:48:09

That sounds exactly like my Dhs family. Thank god the kids are older and my ils are no longer with us so it doesn't happen. Example of final straw. My youngest is the youngest by far of the clan. Her 6th birthday. Invited everyone to her party for one o,clock. I planned for food at 2 knowing what they were like. They arrived at 4 " because the Grand Prix was on". That was the last time I bothered. By the time they had arrived my mum and sister and family had been waiting 3 hours as had the birthday child. They brought no presents either. When their kids were young I never misses a card present or birthday.

puglife15 Mon 20-Jun-16 06:51:09

DS had his birthday with DH family, his second with my DPs there. By 3 he had his own little friends so invited them and their parents, no family were present. Family aren't nearby however which makes it a little easier.

branofthemist Mon 20-Jun-16 06:57:00

I get they are frustrating to you. But I really think you need to look at the important issues.

Not bringing your mum a gift, isn't a big issue. They travelled and paid for hotel to attend your child's birthday party, that you planned away from where you live to make it easier on your mum. And they gave gifts to your Dd.

Being late (assuming there was a set time for the party to start rather than 'just come in the afternoon) and ignoring your parents is not ok.

Do they feel you favour your parents?

Not saying this is ok but has it become awkward between them all?

A relative of mine is a mil and bends over backwards for her son and sil. Always there to help whenever they need, in an emergency or just to help out as requested like having the kids so they can do the supermarket shopping. She never imposes on them, asks if she can visit etc.

However they clearly favour the sils parents, even though they can never be relied on to help them out or give them any support. To the point when their son had an operation they told my relative only parents were allowed to visit. My relative then found out that wasn't true and her sils mum had visited. It's causing a lot of tension in the family and tension between my relative and sils mum.

JudyCoolibar Mon 20-Jun-16 07:01:30

I'm surprised people don't see a problem with taking undrunk drink home. When you've turned up and happily stuffed your face with food and drink provided by your hosts, it is rude to take what you brought home again. It's also rude to turn up so late.

I agree with others, don't bother to do joint things again for anything other than things like christenings.

OutsiderInTheGarden Mon 20-Jun-16 07:17:54

From the responses I can see that I am out of step on the matter of hostess gifts. I would never dream of going to any event at someone's home without taking a token gift to the home owner. My mum has since had a huge bunch of flowers from the birthday boy smile
My dad was completely ignored whdn he arrived. It definately wasn't the case that he wasn't noticed. People actually looked around at him, then just turned back to their conversations without as much as a wave or quick hello. He came over to a large table where my mum and lots of people were sat. He said hello and was met with silent looks. This is very strange, because as I said they are very sociable people (more so than my family) but sometimes their social graces are, well, a bit rubbish confused.

OutsiderInTheGarden Mon 20-Jun-16 07:23:14

Sorry, bran maybe I haven't explained myself very well. We had the party at my parents home because it is at least 3 hours closer for people to get to. We live very remotely. Out of all the family houses it is the most central, making the journey shorter for the greatest number of people, and it is the only one big enough for such a gathering. Obviously that was also very convenient for my parents, but that wasn't the reason for it.

Ledkr Mon 20-Jun-16 07:28:08

IT might just be me but that seems an awful fuss for a one year olds birthday.
In a few years he will just want a few friends a pepper pig cake and a few balloons anyway. I'd keep it simple next year if I was you.

junebirthdaygirl Mon 20-Jun-16 07:33:21

As well as staying over night and said birthday present they also brought drink and you are complaining. The late thing l would hate. But they made huge effort. Prepare yourself for your ds loving this rowdy boisterous family where there is always fun and laughter. Also if you mean they love rugby and you dream of cricket with no contact then prepare yourself for him deciding for himself and with that blood in him you best be ready. Its best to just accept people as they are and take the good. They made effort to come. They love ds. They love dh. You have a good family of your own. Decide to accept them. Except the lateness. Your ds will grow up with fond memories of this gang. It will be good for his social skills!!

WanHeda Mon 20-Jun-16 07:37:30

What a load of fuss and bother for a party for a kid who wont remember it and had no clue what it was even for!

Dozer Mon 20-Jun-16 07:43:14

YABU for mixing your/his relatives and making baby's first bday a huge deal and family affair when the families have little in common and then wondering why it didn't work out! D'uh!

mummytime Mon 20-Jun-16 07:43:51

The event went on too long if it was for a 1 year olds birthday!
2 hours is enough for any child's birthday.

No present for the hostess sounds okay if it was a child's birthday party and there were presents for them. But if it was a family do, then it sounds rude. Not speaking to your father sounds rude too.

I'd go for separate dos if everyone is so different.

But I think you and OH need to talk about how you are going to bring up your DC and come up with compromises. Or this is not going going to work.

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