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To not know how (or whether) to reply to this letter from stbx's mother

(59 Posts)
woundedplacerias Wed 28-Dec-16 19:57:18

The dc have been at her's since Boxing Day and got back earlier today. They brought with them a card for me which had a letter inside it. Having read it I don't know what to make of it and would appreciate some opinions. Before I outline it, the backstory is ex and I separated in 2014 after he told me of his long term infidelity with a mutual friend. Divorce proceedings are now underway and custody is shared about 60/40 to me.

Mil begins the letter by outlining to me observations she has made of the dc's behaviour. They are 9 & 7 and she mentions how she ds2 winds up ds1 frequently, and says that ds1 needs help handling this. She then goes on to talk approvingly of ds1's love of a particular sport and comments negatively on ds2's craze on a particular age appropriate character, saying she hopes it will end soon as it is so shallow. This may explain her gift to them both of the charity goat things, if anyone saw that thread a couple of weeks ago. None of what she says is news to me, and I am obviously trying to deal with the issues as best I can, though I have no clue how ex feels about it all and they spend nearly as much time with him as me - probably more since I work longer hours and have to use childcare more than he does. She doesn't mention whether she raised these issues with him and, tbh, it reads like a massive criticism of my parenting.

She ends the letter by saying she is aware that I have not responded to her various attempts to stay in touch. She and sil have sent me vouchers for birthdays and Christmas since the split, though this Christmas have not done so, to my relief. I never knew how to respond and want no relationship with them. They've done nothing wrong (aside from being annoying in the way in-laws can be) but they are ex's family and I can't have a weird sort of relationship with them in which we never mention what an utter shit their son/brother is. Mil especially pissed me off at the time of the split by telling me how she has been on both sides of an affair and that ex 'would have been controlled by his hormones.' Yes, for 3 years I suppose hmm. Anyway, he's her son, I get that, but I don't want anything to do with her after her comments. I think things will be even worse this year as the divorce progresses and ex seems like he is gearing up to fight me for more access to the dc and a mesher order. I can't possibly maintain some sort of bland relationship with them with all that going on.

But the letter is so long (she has form for strangely long and over-involved letters). Do I just ignore it? Or write back? In fairness she ends quite nicely by saying she hopes I'll go to her if I ever need help, but I do need to help now, but since the source of my problems is her son, it's hardly appropriate I go to her is it? WWYD?

Gazelda Wed 28-Dec-16 20:02:19

Can you send her a NY card, with a short message inside thanking her for her letter and how pleased you are that she and the DC have such a lovely relationship despite the difficult circumstances. Thank her for her advice and offers of help but say that it wouldn't be fair to potentially put her in an awkward position since the legal side of the divorce is ramping up this year. Wish her well.

ToadsforJustice Wed 28-Dec-16 20:03:15

I would ignore her and the letter.

Whatsername17 Wed 28-Dec-16 20:03:20

I would write back thinking her for her letter, advising her that you have kept a respectful distance so as not to impose on her relationship with her son and that you hope your children always have a loving and forfilling relationship with their grandparents. Id then leave it at that.

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Wed 28-Dec-16 20:03:28

I would probably just write a polite letter back saying 'thank you for your letter and for your continued concern and interest in the children, I'm glad you want to make sure you stay part of their lives. As you know your son and I are no longer together so it is now his responsibility to maintain their contact with you and the rest of his side of their family now, so please refer all matters like this to him directly in future. Best wishes, Wounded'
Important to be clear about whose job it is IMO.

BillSykesDog Wed 28-Dec-16 20:04:53

She probably means more practical help than offering to help with the marriage ending. Like, needing childcare or someone to water your plants while you're away. It sounds tactless but not unpleasant. Sort of like she's trying to be chatty in the letter. It could be a lot worse, she doesn't sound at all like she is hostile towards you. More like she is trying to tread a delicate path.

BillSykesDog Wed 28-Dec-16 20:05:50

Gazelda and Whatsername have given good answers.

Lilacpink40 Wed 28-Dec-16 20:06:09

I wouldn't write back and would have no contact in the future. She is your exes DM and not related to you. You say you "want no relationship with them", so don't have one.

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Wed 28-Dec-16 20:06:38

I agree she may be trying to tread a delicate path, but in my experience one of the few upsides of divorce is not having to put up with in-laws any longer grin

donajimena Wed 28-Dec-16 20:07:29

All good replies but I especially like slightlys

pombal Wed 28-Dec-16 20:07:32

Ignore it - there really is nothing else you can do.

What's the alternative- you have to start defending your parenting, keep in contact with them while you divorce her son.

I worry that if she draws you into talking about the DCs behaviour it could somehow be used by stbx however benign MIL's motives.

RaptorInaFestiveFez Wed 28-Dec-16 20:07:40

I'd probably file it away somewhere but not reply until the divorce has finalised (not wanting to put anything in writing - I'm a suspicious sort). Unless you want to just send a bland 'Happy new year, the children had a lovely time' type note that is.

See how the land lies after all the dust has settled later on.

Rainydayspending Wed 28-Dec-16 20:14:52

Definitely leave it for now. Getting into any sort of discussion with divorce looming I'd be suspicious of.
Verbally send thanks through ex and "check" he knows her concerns. Leave them to it.
Definitely not a conversation you need to have direct.

pklme Wed 28-Dec-16 20:19:35

I like Gazelda's answer, but add your own last sentence to it- that it's tricky because you see her son as the source of most of the problems, so don't think she can help.

woundedplacerias Wed 28-Dec-16 20:21:44

Thank you - I want to ignore it but was worried it was overly hostile - feel a bit vindicated now. I just don't know why she felt the need to point out all the things that are wrong with my children to me in that way.

AmeliaJack Wed 28-Dec-16 20:22:31

I would write back very briefly thanking for having the children to stay and wishing her a good new year.

I'd politely ignore everything else.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Wed 28-Dec-16 20:22:41

I think both gazelda and whats have written dry wise and mature answers and listen to them !!!!

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Wed 28-Dec-16 20:26:30

It probably is a bit hostile, unfortunately you probably need to prepare for some of this over the next year or two as it's quite possible your stbxh will be justifying his behaviour and the court proceedings to her by twisting things in his favour (e.g. Focusing on all the things about you she doesn't like). Thinking about it you maybe need to show this to your solicitor and see what they recommend in terms of a response in case she is trying to help her son build evidence for a custody hearing.

ChuckSnowballs Wed 28-Dec-16 20:27:07

I would love to write back and ask what her son said when she pointed out the behaviour to them.

But I'd probably just light the fire with it.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Wed 28-Dec-16 20:27:33

Was she just trying to chat about them ? Your kids are the same age as mine and they are tricky at this age - maybe she wanted to clumsily discuss them rather than slag your parenting off ?? Hopeful

bowchikkawowwow Wed 28-Dec-16 20:27:45

'Dear STBXMIL

Ya batshit crazy

happy new year

wounded xxxx'

FatalKittehCharms Wed 28-Dec-16 20:28:23

I would ignore it but if you do respond, I would go with slightlyperturbed 's as it squarely refers stbxmil to stbx.

Frouby Wed 28-Dec-16 20:32:43

I would send a short note back wishing her a happy new year and say that for the sake of your relationship any 'issues' she has with the dcs should probably be raised with her son.

RichardBucket Wed 28-Dec-16 20:32:48

I know what I'd WANT to do but I think the best course of action would be to ignore it.

Is there enough unavoidable contact that she could ask you face-to-face if she got the letter?

RichardBucket Wed 28-Dec-16 20:32:58

*If YOU got the letter

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