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To talk to FIL about his partner not being our DS's Granny....

(271 Posts)
Writerwannabe83 Mon 06-Mar-17 18:21:13

Almost three years ago my MIL died very unexpectedly when DS was 4 months old. Throughout the pregnancy she had been so excited as she so desperately wanted a grandchild but due to her being unwell she only ever got to hold him once before she died. DH understandably took her death very badly and I know it breaks his heart that she never got to be in DS's life and it kills him that DS will grow up never knowing who his Grandma was (he's now almost three).

About four months after MIL had died our FIL came round and announced that he had met someone - my DH was very upset about this as it felt as though hardly any time had passed since his mother's death and he actually walked out of the room because he didn't know what to do or say.

My FIL has now been with this woman for 2.5 years and my DH has only met her once (and even that occasion was an accident) and he does not wish to get to know her. I think the fact she came on the scene so close to his mother's death has caused him to put up a brick wall and I think he's angry with his dad and deflects this on to the woman. I have met her plenty of times and she seems very pleasant but DH and I never really talk about her, she just generally isn't mentioned. FIL never makes reference to her when my DH is around.

Anyhow - yesterday my FIL looked after DS for me for a few hours and his partner was there too which is obviously fine. However, when DS came back he started referring to FIL's partner as 'Granny' and when he did it for the first time it really stung DH. DH later said to me that the woman isn't DS's Granny and he was really upset to hear it come out of DS's mouth.

We don't know whether FIL is referring to this woman as being our DS's Granny, or whether the woman herself is doing it, but either way my DH is finding it hard to make sense of. He's adamant his dad would never allow another woman to refer to herself as 'granny' (out of loyalty to his past wife) but I'm not so sure.

DH has said that if DS is being told by either FIL or the other woman that she is 'granny' then that's it, he won't let FIL look after DS anymore. He said he won't have DS growing up thinking FIL's partner is his Granny as his mum will always have that title. I think DH feels like his mum's role is trying to replaced as that's how he felt when FIL started dating again so soon.

I feel like I need to say something to FIL because it's really upsetting DH but I don't know what? I can just see this snowballing and I don't want it to create even more family division.

Trifleorbust Mon 06-Mar-17 18:23:05

I really sympathise with your DH. BUT this is between him and your FIL, surely?

waterrat Mon 06-Mar-17 18:26:25

This sounds very painful but it's so normal nowadays for children to have step grandparents who they think of as grandparents.

I think your dh and his father need to have a heart to heart. But it might help if you tried to get your partner to calm down and see things from your FIL Point of view as well.

It wpuld be terrible if your husband allowed this to poison otherwise happy relations.

And you husband maybe cpuld ve helped to see past his anger ?

BertrandRussell Mon 06-Mar-17 18:27:13

Ask FIL if she can be grandma [whatever her name is] Tell him that your dh wants to save granny for his mother.

PNGirl Mon 06-Mar-17 18:27:49

I sympathise too but i think your husband needs to phone his dad and calmly ask that his partner is referred to by her name. I grew up with a "grandma" (dad's mum) and a "grandad and Betty" (mum's dad and his wife - never met my mum's mum).

waterrat Mon 06-Mar-17 18:27:55

Not being dismissive of your husband pain but it's very sad that your FIL can't be open about his long term partner.

Can't you try and encourage a bit more acceptance from your DH?

Lules Mon 06-Mar-17 18:28:08

I do see that this is hard, although I don't think it's anything you can sort out. However, just because she's called Granny doesn't mean she's replaced your MIL. My DH's mother died and my niece knows that she has Granny X who is grandad's wife and Granny Y that was her mum's mum. My DS is a bit too young to understand yet but we'll tell him the same.

LoupGarou Mon 06-Mar-17 18:28:35

I can see why its upsetting flowers.

Could you speak to FIL and tell him your DS came home referring to his partner as "granny" and does he know why that is? See what he says.

Chasingsquirrels Mon 06-Mar-17 18:29:38

Oh dear OP.
Your DH is obviously really struggling with this. Is there any way he would be prepared to accept help in coming to terms with things in order to help heal the fractures in his family?
It's very sad that MIL died, of course it is. And the death of a spouse must be a different thing to deal with to the death of a parent (I've yet to go through either). But as you seem to recognise your FIL has found new happiness.
It seems such a shame that your DH isn't able to expand the circle of love and care that could encircle your DS.

Questioningeverything Mon 06-Mar-17 18:30:13

I'd have a gentle word in fils ear and ask where 'granny' came from. Explain that dh doesn't approve and out of respect for him, you'll be correcting ds when he calls Jane granny, because in your hearts, granny will always be dhs mum.
While she may be special, and ds have a relationship with her, a grandparent title to someone who doesn't even know the father is inappropriate. I'd say so and tbh I'd feel the same as your dh

ApocalypseNowt Mon 06-Mar-17 18:31:08

This is your DH's problem. I think he's deflecting his anger and grief at his mother's death onto this poor woman.

There's no set time on when it's acceptable to meet and be with someone else upon the death of a spouse. That's up to your FIL and given that they've now been together 2.5yrs I think we can safely say it's not a 'fling'.

You say she seems nice and she's clearly making your FIL happy. Your DH is in danger of ruining the chance of your DS having a relationship with any grandparents on his side. Fwiw I don't see anything wrong with this woman being called Granny but I don't think that's really the issue here.

originalbiglymavis Mon 06-Mar-17 18:31:19

Oh dear. Are you on good terms with your father in law?

Ideally your husband needs to meet him face to face and sort out his feelings about his father taking a new wife so quickly. If course he is upset! I'd be raging.

Otherwise, you might need to agree a name for this lady - is there another word or nsns you can use? Nanny, mam, Nana, Brenda etc and start correcting your child.

In the meantime tell your father in law that you want this term used as your husband still feels very distressed about his mother's death and it really hurts him when his stepmum is called granny.

I'm sure she is a nice woman and your father in law had chosen to make a life with her, do I'm sure she will understand. I'm assuming that because if her age she is a widow or divorced herself so will understand blended family dynamics.

LindyHemming Mon 06-Mar-17 18:31:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WallisFrizz Mon 06-Mar-17 18:33:17

It could hopefully be relatively simple, have a quick word with FIL and say that you would prefer for your DS to refer to his gf as her name or another agreed upon pet name.

I agree, she is not his Grandma but hopefully will come to have a positive role in his life.

olderthanyouthink Mon 06-Mar-17 18:33:45

I used to call my nans partner uncle <insert name> When I was little. I remember being told off a bit when I wrote it in a card but calling him just his name felt wrong and he's not my grandad.

Now I just use my grandparents partners/spouses names but maybe that's a solution. Auntie in the sense that she is an elder family member.

Tiptoethr0ughthetulips Mon 06-Mar-17 18:33:53

Leave this as difficult as it is to your husband to discuss with his dad.

MetalMidget Mon 06-Mar-17 18:34:51

My granddad on my mom's side was my nan's second husband - my biological grandfather passed away when my mom was in her early 20s, years before I was born. He was a wonderful man.

It seems a bit cruel to deny your son a granny and granddad because your husband can't accept his father's second wife - it's cruel to them too.

PNGirl Mon 06-Mar-17 18:34:55

I agree the DH needs to accept the new partner but given the back story about his own mum holding her longed-for grandchild once I don't think this needs to extend to "granny".

Trifleorbust Mon 06-Mar-17 18:35:00

I think the OP's DH could and should accept his father's new partner (their relationship is several years old!) but that doesn't mean his son needs to call her 'Granny'. That's his mum to him and that is fair enough.

sofato5miles Mon 06-Mar-17 18:35:35

I have seen this exact same scenario a couple of times. Adult children really struggle with the new dynamics if their widowed parent meets someone quickly after the death of a parent as they still feel like a parent has been replaced almost like an OW situation. They can only see the old family dynamic changing and not the bereaved parent as a person in their own right.
Your DH is being unreasonable, to not even meet her is a very syrong stance.
He needs to work through his grief and how he sees his father and his father's life and try to find some peace.

justinelibertine Mon 06-Mar-17 18:35:38

We had this sort of thing. DH's mum is dead but he has an auntie. She wanted to be called Grandma, so we had to gently say that we wanted Grandma to be in heaven, my mum is Granny and auntie could be called Nanny insert name. Is working well, she does buy cards with granddaughter on which hurts DH but you got to choose your battles and we always refer to her as Nanny.

Leanin15yearsmaybe Mon 06-Mar-17 18:36:19

I can understand you dh's perspective, he is still grieving. I think talking to both your dh and fil and encouranging them to speak about it may be the way forward, perhaps suggesting an alternative name for his partner that isn't granny?

EpoxyResin Mon 06-Mar-17 18:37:07

Gosh, how very difficult for your DJ; having lost my mum (albeit long before ds came along) I can begin to sympathise. I can also see why it would be in your best interests - well, everyone's really! - if this could be contained.

I think you need to tackle this from the angle of what would be best for your child. For your dh obviously there are complex emotional issues attached to hearing your ds call someone he doesn't accept "granny", but for your ds would he really understand NOT calling the woman who lives with grandad "granny"? Even if it didn't come from him, surely your fil and his partner are just using the terms that a child would understand as applying to them?

Even if that's not the case perhaps your dh would accept it as true that it would be very confusing for your ds to not be allowed to think of this woman in terms of granny as he's still so young. Of course with the proviso that as he grows up you will be digging out the photo albums and teaching him all about his "real" granny (or "other" granny - a different sort of granny - a very special sort) at an age appropriate time, so dh's mother certainly won't be forgotten or replaced in ds's life!

Crumbs1 Mon 06-Mar-17 18:37:24

I think our husband is being a bit mean and unkind. Of course he's sad his mother died but does he not want his father to be happy? A new partner doesn't replace or invalidate the prior marriage, it simply stops the loneliness and makes the grief more bearable. Your husband's sulking isn't going to bring his mother back but he perhaps needs to ask whether she would want her husband to be unhappy. How long is long no enough?
The child has lost time and the valuable relationship with his grandfather (and a probably lovely granny figure). What does it matter what she is called - to the child she is a granny, or would be if allowed.
It's three years now and he needs to stop behaving like a child. He might be happier too if he could share memories of his mother with the other person who shared her life, his father who must be so,saddened by the loss of his son and grandson.

Isitjustmeorisiteveryoneelse Mon 06-Mar-17 18:37:35

My step mum is the Granny my children have ever know, and thank god for her because she's been an amazing Mum to me and an amazing Granny to them, I don't know how I would have coped, through various challenging situations, without her tbh. I understand your DH is still grieving, and I don't want to be harsh but he is being vile. If she was an awful woman that had done A,B and C then maybe but you've said she's perfectly nice. I think you should ask your DH if behaving in this way, avoiding her two plus years later, threatening to not let your DC go there, damaging his relationship with his DF etc is actually making him feel better. Because if it isn't, and I really doubt it is, he needs to take a step back and reevaluate his relationship with his DF and step mum. He needs to find a way forward for his own sake let alone everyone else's.

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