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To set boundaries with Mother now or wait till DC(30 Posts)
AIBU to set boundaries with overbearing mother now or wait till D.C. is born?
For background, I have a difficult relationship with my mother; controlling behaviour, emotional abuse etc. Years of work to build a functional relationship. She was not willing to accept her behaviour and refused to make changes, so this has been about me managing her behaviour and keeping boundaries.
On average I visit her 4 times a year. She usually visits me & DH twice a year for an afternoon / go for a meal. We exchange messages in a family group chat every few weeks, no one to one messages. This has worked well and we haven’t had a disagreement nor has she been verbally abusive towards me in 6 years. I also managed to get engaged, plan a wedding, get married etc without any fallouts, which would have previously been impossible.
I am 14 weeks pregnant and after an early scan at 11 weeks I told her. I would have preferred to wait longer but DH wanted to tell his parents and I felt it fair to tell her on the same day. I knew she would be excited, however this will be her third grandchild (brother has 2x DD) so I wasn’t expecting such a strong reaction.
Although DH and I are happy for her to have a relationship with baby, we made it clear we would not depend on her for childcare or other “help”. Despite this she began listing plans for her being there for childcare, travelling to us to do housework, cooking meals as she believes I am not eating properly (she didn’t ask, just assumed), asked for dates and times of appointments, wants a list of supplements I’m taking, and made it clear she feels both our kitchen and bathroom need renovating immediately. She has since text me at least 3 times per day with questions and unsolicited advice. She has text to say she is very upset that I am not telling other members of the family and wider friends until after next scan, despite my explanation regarding concerns of MC etc. She is also unhappy I am accepting second hand items (buggy, car seat etc) from friends instead of buying new, and disagrees with our plans to make our spare room a nursery as she feels the baby won’t need a nursery for the first year.
Its stressful to have this level of attention and questioning when I am so used to less contact, and it seems like immediately all the boundaries that took so long for her to respect have just disappeared. I’m trying to leave it a day before I respond to texts, being polite but firm etc, but already I have had a message saying I am causing distress by not replying fast enough and how important it is for her to be updated with info - and this, I feel, could be the start of her returning to abusive behaviour if I don’t respond the way she wants.
DH’s parents were delighted and have sent a few texts since, I was hoping for this reaction from my own side.
My question is AIBU to ask her to back off and reimplement boundaries now, so that the expectations will be clear by the time baby arrives? I have already said we will not need her for childcare when I return to work, however she has dismissed this as she looks after my nieces when they are not at nursery, so presumes we will need the same (even though we live 80 miles away). She also text to say she is coming next weekend to to clean our house - had to respond to say no thank you, (our house is always clean, we are both very clean / tidy people however this is something she fixates on and frequently comments on us needing a cleaner for a “professional finish”).
Or, am I overreacting? Do I just wait it out, hope that the dust settles and things will return to normal and revisit boundaries when baby arrives?
Any advice from people with a similar family dynamic would be appreciated
Now now now. You have no idea how you will feel postpartum and reestablishing boundaries/dealing with that is the last thing you want with a newborn.
Be clear now.
It will will be much harder when recovering from birth, night feeds etc.
Set boundaries NOW. Today. Don't wait another minute because you will bitterly regret it.
We ended up cutting MIL out of our lives completely when our son was one week old and have no regrets. Boundaries are important.
I’m going to be really honest and say that I’d really like to hear your mother’s side.
I am in no way ‘dissing’ what you have said, but there seems to be a back story that might help folk to be honest with you.
On the face of it, I’d say set boundaries now.
I agree set boundaries now because once baby is here you will be much more vulnerable and exhausted and hormonal and you deserve to enjoy that time with your baby and not deal with someone who from the sounds of it would pitch up at the hospital and try and takeover straight away. Pregnancy is tiring and stressful. Get her to back off so you can get the peace you need.
You need to deal with this now-on a text by text basis.
If she says she will be doing childcare, say no thank you-you will be using a nursery.
If she says she wants a list of your supplements-reply saying you are perfectly capable of feeding yourself.
Don’t tell her you’re buying stuff second hand. I’d really limit what I told her altogether as it doesn’t sound like she’s using this information in a healthy way.
I would suggest setting boundaries now. Use the time to read up, become strong and make sure your partner is fully on board. Lay the groundwork now and prepare yourself for what is to come.
Don't wait. It needs to be done asap because she won't accept it so you'll need this time to explain boundaries and consequences!
Crack down hard now.
Not least because while I hope everything will go smoothly, it may not, and even if it does, you may not have the capacity to deal with your mother just after giving birth, and while coping with a newborn.
Some things - like a car seat or crib mattress - you should buy new, not second hand
Oh my God.
You realise that your choice really is a massive step back right now or she will ruin your birth and newborn days.
You are underreacting if anything. Really you needed to strike while the iron was hot and once the texting and dictating started, remind her that you were perfectly happy with the more distant arrangement you'd had over recent years: that this would NOT be changing, you do NOT want and will not accept text after text trying to take over with your life: you would like a return to texts on the joint group only starting right now. And then not reply to anything not on the joint group.
You need to do similar now really. There will probably be an almighty fall out but tbh the sooner the better. She needs to be kept at a massive arms' length from now, so by the time your baby is here it will have settled down. And you are clearly going to have to get a lot more ruthless about boundaries - not an inch over them. Or she will ruin your baby's childhood and your experience of it.
One tip: if you've told her your due date, amend it to later after it actually is 'Oh they were ten days out! New date is x (ten days safely after your due date).
It will scupper any plans she might have to travel to you and park up around the due date - you'll have the baby before she expects you to.
To be honest, reading the way you write, your boundaries are already not great. already I have had a message saying I am causing distress by not replying fast enough and how important it is for her to be updated with info - and this, I feel, could be the start of her returning to abusive behaviour if I don’t respond the way she wants. - WTF, you mean to say your response to that wasn't -
'What on earth do you mean? No, I will NOT be jumping to reply to text after text, I certainly will not be telling you or any other family member any information I don't wish to share and it is NOT important that you be 'kept updated' - my personal life and pregnancy are my concern only. I have no intention of anyone other than DH being privy to presonal information. You need to stop with this very inappropriate pushy behaviour and constant texting or we will have to have some serious distance from one another.'
You need to be there (above). Really. She's going to cause major problems otherwise. Fall out now, let her stew, then reinstate the VERY limited contact. And definitely, false due date!
Absolutely do it now. You might feel weak post partum and not have the strength for it and she will just take over . Good luck.
I agree with PPs that this is better dealt with now than when the baby arrives.
Is there any possibility that you will want more help and support from her once baby arrives? Or is your relationship such that this is zero probability? Obviously we don't know the full back story of your relationship, but DH and I did find family support invaluable when my DS arrived - it would be a shame to burn bridges completely if there's any chance you'd like her to be around more than as an occasional visitor.
Clear boundaries now, it will be easier than letting her continue the way she's going and then (in her view) "changing your mind" about her involvement.
Yes, do it now, and seek to make sure your DP ‘gets it’ and supports your boundaries.
Would also not let her have any unsupervised contact with your DC.
Definitely now or you'll have another six months of this before the baby is born.
Once the baby is here you'll be hormonal, knackered and pre occupied, you won't want to be dealing with "what the hell is my mother going to do next?"
Your house and your baby, you and DH are in charge, you decide where, when and how things will be done.
I'm in a similar situation although my mum is very nice and well meaning she's totally ruled by her anxiety that something bad will happen and treats me like an idiotic child. Initially she was really helpful but now I'm 26 weeks I've felt the over bearing-ness more and more. She's currently trying to pressure me into promising I'll breastfeed, dismissing anything I say I've decided to do that hasn't come as a direct tip from her and planning to do childcare in our home when I go back to work as I'm in and out all day being home based so I'll be able to spend time with the baby as well as work apparently
I can only see this getting worse knowing our dynamic and how she is so I'm planning a conversation where I remind her that this is my child and I am an adult who will do what I want and that it isn't fair for her to be pressuring and guilt tripping me. She will of course brush that off and carry on, and I'll have to start withdrawing from her which is sad.
I think what works in your favour is you already have that degree of separation so I would try and pull it back to that, can you stop replying to messages or send replies like 'thank you, but that won't be necessary' and not respond to anything further? I would definitely address it now and keep on reminding as long as it takes for her to back off.
Do it now as most of it sounds like overstepping the mark but she’s right about a second hand car seat, those should definitely be new, you don’t know if they’ve already had a minor knock and forgot about it but the seats already taken an impact. As past poster said a crib mattress should also be new although the crib itself need not be.
I went to try to respond and then realised @FizzyGreenWater was here. Do as she (he?) says. You need to head this off before you have a newborn.
Time to get that patio built, OP!
And congratulations on your pregnancy, hope all goes well.
Dear MIL, it’s so great that you are excited about the baby and want to be so involved. I am sure you remember back to having your first child and the joy of navigating everything with your partner. OH and I are really looking forward to working things out as a couple but if we need any advice we will be sure to reach out. As for now, we are perfectly happy with out plans to have the items we have picked, childcare we have selected etc and I wouldn’t want there to be any tension when you see us making our own choices for our baby. I am sure you will understand. We will share updates with you of course but we are confident that we are making decisions that work for us. 💐
I agree with now. When you set boundaries was she aware of this or was it just a gradual thing (therefore her still not accepting she was previously in the wrong)? I would not give her information even if she asks, just ask vague, be polite and if she gives opinions say you and DH are happy to make decisions together. Keep policing rejecting help and keep to the arrangement of 4 times per year. When the baby is born make the effort to go to her so she can't pass comments on your set up at home
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