Big row between DH and my DM. AIBU or is he?(161 Posts)
Namechanged as this may out me to friends. Will try and keep this short but not end up dripfeeding!
Background is my mum is a bit of a PITA. Narc tendancies definitely - she's pretty self-absorbed, super defensive when criticised, thinks she is right and everyone else is wrong etc etc. But she's not THAT bad, certainly not as bad as some of the descriptions of narcs I have read on here. I didn't get on well with her as a teen but nowadays we get on fine - speak at least once a week and she is generally supportive and a decent listener. Sometimes she is judgemental and I can't tell her everything, e.g. she is v critical of anyone on anti-ds, so I never discuss things like that. But I do talk to her more often than friends. She is my mum after all and a mum will always care more about little things than friends will.
She loves my 2 DDs and they love seeing her too. However she is not exactly brilliant with them. She's not great at playing, tires easily and after a while they always end up in front of the TV. She also clearly favours DD1 - not to the extent she doesn't love DD2, but DD2 does end up being told off more often (despite the fact DD1 is much more challenging! so it's not about good behaviour), and for example while out with both of them may say things like "DD1, look at that swan!". DD2 is only 3 and doesn't seem to have noticed yet, but she will.
Long story short, DH has put up with her for 13 years, but on a recent holiday they had a barney. It was over something minor, but was clearly his pent up frustration about her having to be right about everything. Since then, she has ignored it and has indicated she will pretend it never happened. DH however has decided he doesn't want to see her again, and ideally doesn't want the DDs to either. Of course he won't tell her that though, so it would be up to me to tell her and deal with the consequences (which we all know will be a narcisstic rage). Plus she'd be understandably upset if we took away contact with her only DGCs.
I have considered NC before, but decided against it, partly because our relationship isn't all bad and on balance I feel it is positive. That, and I don't want to destroy relationship with my DF. Or my DDs relationship with their DGPs. My gran clearly favoured a cousin of mine, and also wasn't the easiest woman, but I'm still glad that I had her in my life, so I'm not convinced that stopping contact is the best thing for the girls either.
Any advice? I feel like DH needs to suck it up, accept that you don't always get on with family members, and go back to our previous way of existing. After all MIL is no picnic but I put up with her! Is DH being U or even childish for refusing to see his MIL, and by assuming there will be no fallout, or more likely just leaving me to deal with it? Or AIBU for forcing him to see someone he really dislikes, or forcing him to have the confrontation himself?
Either way I feel like it will be horrible. DM is pretty blind to these things and doesn't seem to have noticed he is avoiding her, but DF has and has been asking me about it. It's going to start being obvious soon and I don't know what to do... TIA
No of course your DH you mother seems toxic and I am sorry but I think your husband is right.
You need to deal with the favouritism now before your DD2 notices because that could in danger there relationship with each other quite badly
If dh doesn't want to see her then fair enough I suppose, he could keep it pretty minimal but asking you and dc to go nc with her is very U, that's your decision to make and it looks like you've weighed that up already. I don't think he should push that. You should probably start to work on the favouritism with her so she treats the dds equally, if that continues, but don't think it needs to be as drastic as stopping contact?
She can be toxic, agreed. She can also be great, sometimes. And she is the only mum I have!
The point is that DH doesn't want to deal with the issue, he just wants to avoid it. I did tell DF that I thought the favouritism was having an impact, though I don't know how much good that will do tbh.
This is my take - others will have different ones
My MIL sounds similar to yours - my DH sees it as abut of a quirk and like you thinks she is "not that bad" this is probably because he grew up thinking this type of behaviour is normal and unchallengeable he had a tendency to refuse to stand up to her indulges her and excuse her poor behaviour as one of those things etc
I am not trying to make this about me - we have resolved things it's fine for us but I mention it as I have a similar experience - I can empathise with some of the frustration that your DH may be feeling and perhaps you need to also consider his feelings in this - like you say he has done 13 years already and perhaps he is also becoming irritated at the favouring of one DD and not wanting this to be considered ok? and maybe he is frustrated that you are not supporting him etc
Practically I think one sensible option is to give your DH a free pass for when your mother visits - can he go to the pub go for a run or whatever and just reduce the level of contact between the two of them?
Personally I do think it's ok for him to say enough is enough he doesn't want to spend his time with her - but it's not ok to make the decision on behalf of the children
He can't stop you seeing her and you can't force him to see her.
The children are more tricky though, it's awful that she favouritises your eldest, it's not clear if you've addressed that or not with her?
If you have it's not worked and that would make me agree that she's too toxic to be around them, if she can't moderate her behaviour for the sake of the wellbeing of her grand children I agree with your DH and she shouldn't see them.
Re-read your post, you're a textbook example of a child of a narc parent. Making excuses for her ("she's not THAT bad") and wanting things to just be smoothed over without confrontation ("go back to our previous way of existing") - oh, and notice any parallels with "she has ignored it and has indicated she will pretend it never happened".
Your DH is trying to protect your daughter. Back him up.
Xposted with firawla
Thanks, yes I agree that is my decision to make about the dcs. It will be awkward though as DM keeps asking to see us and there are only so many times I can make excuses for him not being there, and what happens when we get to xmas etc? Feel like he is hiding from it and letting me deal with it all alone
Also you say your DH is avoiding the situation but it comes across as if it is you who is avoiding acknowledging that your DM is a difficult individual and that your DH has been very accommodating of her in the past
I'm with your husband on this one. From what you say about her, I think you are so used to her behaviour that you minimise her poor behaviour and negativity. Your DH was prepared to put up with (or ignore) her behaviour but can now see that is is going to impact your DDs. I don't think he can unilaterally decide that your DDs can't see their GM but you do need to tackle her behaviour towards them before it becomes more obvious. What kind of message will you be giving to DD2 (and indeed DD1) when they start to notice the favouritism?
No your dh needs to accept that he doesnt get to decide whether you or your dd have a relationship with your mum. Most peoples relatives can be a pain in the arse at times but if you love and value your mum and she brings some positives to you and your dd lives then he should shut up. He can be low contact quite easily without making a big deal out of it but I would mot accept him forcing you to choose.
Trying to keep up!
Should have made it clearer, I absolutely do support him and agree with him, she can be an absolute nightmare. I just don't see it as black or white as he does, and have weighed up that she is not bad enough for me to want to do NC, or to not see DF ever, or to essentially break up whole family.
I should also mention (sorry, dripfeeding! not intentional) I am an only child, so would be removing basically her entire family.
Also, they live a few hours away, so visits are for days not hours, DH can't just disappear to the pub...
Narcs can be lovely at times but the fact that she's your Mum ( the only have) doesn't excuse her behaviour.
You are seriously minimising how damaging she is and while that's up to you it's unfair to expose your dc to it. She is doing the classic trick of treating one gc as the golden child and you are allowing/facilitating it. I agree totally with your DH, unfortunately you have been so conditioned by your mother that you can't see it
IMO on the basis of the info you've provided here your DM should not have unsupervised contact with your DC, eg due to her favouritism and risk that she will behave in ways that are upsetting or even damaging to your DC.
Not sure why people keep saying I can't see it, I started a thread about it!!
I have had counselling for how she is over the years, I know exactly what she is like and so does DF. I am not perfect myself but wouldn't expect everyone who finds me a bit challenging to go NC, especially if they are direct family.
On the favouritism thing, yes it is a problem and I am not denying that. I have a feeling it is because we suspect DD1 may have some issues and she feels overprotective so overcompensates iyswim.
But honest question.... would everyone with a DP who shows favouritism to one DGC over another go NC? Maybe because my grandparents were like that I just assumed it was normal!! Really, honest question...
No your dh needs to accept that he doesnt get to decide whether you or your dd have a relationship with your mum
Obviously regarding OP he doesnt but since the DDs are 50% he does have a say. I wouldnt want any child of mine growing up with this woman in their lives, Gran or no Gran. And I would reckon the OP has spent her whole life thinking a lot of her Mums behaviour is normal and just "her" and therefore unable to understand how bad it probably actually is.
Loopy I agree - DH and I have agreed she shouldn't have unsupervised contact with dcs. E.g. we let them stay for a day with MIL but not my DPs. They only spent a few hours with her at the weekend while I had a migraine.
Well of course YOU don't see it as that big of a deal. She's been brainwashing you into thinking her behaviour isn't THAT bad. It is.
You're an adult, you can choose for yourself. But you shouldn't expose your children to it.
Your H is not at all U about wanting NC for himself and to limit contact for the DC. He can't, of course, decide for you and you as co parent get equal say re the nature of DCs' contact.
If he doesn't wish her to visit your home you might need to visit her, for example.
Your father's decisions are up to him.
Ok again similar ish situation to us here are a few things we did
1. DH takes DC to MIL to give me a break for a few days this favour is returned by me having them for a weekend for him to do something he likes
2. When MIL does come we have a plan to go out and about to stuff kids like placing emphasis on her joining things they like rather than everything being centred solely on her - obviously within reason of what is appropriate - I dip in and out of these weekends and do have contact with her but not 24/7
My MIL is a good granny and not playing favourites - but I wonder does your DH perhaps hold a frustration with you that you have not or he thinks you are not prepared to tackle the issue of DDs being told off differently you cannot stop people having favourites but if she is telling one off more than the other in your own home I think you can and should say something.
I feel like DH needs to suck it up
But actually, why should he? This is an abusive person he's having to deal with - and whether she is your mum or not, she is abusive.
Maybe your H isn't just sick of having to see her himself, maybe he's also worried about the effect her narc grandparenting style is having on his children. And he would have every right to, imo.
I know it's hard, but I think you need to re-think you whole 'acceptance' of her behaviour.
Thanks Lymmmummy that is helpful.
This weekend we did exactly that - I took DDs to visit my DPs, DH stayed at home. Does your MIL know there is a problem, has it ever been aired? What do you do about xmas, birthdays etc?
DH and I are very open with each other so if he is frustrated, he tells me. I am more prepared to tackle the issue than he is! I did have a word with DF and will confront DM if she continues. I am just frustrated with DH saying he will avoid the issue altogether, and hasn't thought through logistics of how we can reduce contact.
I think that if you want to maintain contact (and as an only child myself I know that can be tricky), then it has to be just you, visiting them. My DH doesn't ever visit my mum: it's not that he doesn't like her, he just finds it intolerably boring. It is, as well, although having been brought up in a stultifying household, I can put up with it a bit more. I did have to explain it and didn't quite come clean.
With your DDs: I wouldn't take them unless you've spelled it all out to your mum, and be prepared to pack up and go if she starts playing up. Tough, I know, but not fair on either of them otherwise.
Does it really have to be all or nothing? Could you not find some middle ground here where you cut down on contact, but without actually breaking it off? Then you can reassess the situation in a year or two when your DD2 is older and see if it is necessary to make a complete break or not.
My gran clearly favoured a cousin of mine, and also wasn't the easiest woman, but I'm still glad that I had her in my life, so I'm not convinced that stopping contact is the best thing for the girls either.
But did you know that narcissistic behaviour tends to be passed down (unintentionally) in families because it becomes the 'normal' family dynamic? Maybe it's time for you to break the cycle, for the sake of your DC.
You say you don't want to have to confront her because she will have a 'narcissistic rage' - so basically you are acknowledging that you have to behave the way she wants you to, and put up with whatever she does, because she will rage at you if you ever dare to disagree.
How is that a healthy, positive person to have around your DC, under any circumstances?
I've been there btw - so I do understand how hard it all is
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