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to be fed up with my MIL's bossiness

(23 Posts)
NigellaTufnel Sun 07-Jun-09 22:47:07

I get on fine with my MIL but today I have just had enough of her bossiness in my house.
I think that she may be passive aggressive in the extreme; I will be washing up, she will come behind me and shout say: 'Stop doing that! I'll do it!' or I'll be in the middle of making a cup of tea and it's 'You sit down, I'll do it.'
I know that it sounds benign but when you feel that you can't do anything in your own home without getting shouted at, you get a bit worn down. I know that she means well.

When coming to stay she will phone up to ask if they should bring their own bedding, towels, and food, despite the fact we live in a nice flat with all our own furniture, crockery, bedding etc etc, and within walking distance to a Tesco.

I am a relatively well educated and competant woman. I can make a cup of tea in my own house!

garciasangria Sun 07-Jun-09 22:52:13

Honestly, I think she sounds lovely, and the bringing her own stuff is probably her way of not wanting to put you out.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 07-Jun-09 22:54:30

*checks forum*


Are you pregnant?

Trikken Sun 07-Jun-09 22:55:15

she does sound well meaning. she probably doesnt realise she's offending you by wanting to do things for you. At least she wants to help out, id give anything for someone to offer to make me a cup of tea!

I'm sure this is really irritating for you and I know many people (particularly women and particularly mil's, it has to be said!) can use such subtle manipulation as to drive you mad yet give you no solid reason for complaint, so I do understand where you're coming from, and I don't think your feelings are unreasonable as you can't help them!

However, it's possible that it is her way of being nice, considerate and thoughtful, and she may actually be trying to ingratiate herself with you. I know when I go to my sisters house for tea I often ask if she needs us to bring any food, or say "sit down, I'll make the drinks" if she's looking tired or stressed.

dorisbonkers Sun 07-Jun-09 22:56:06

She can come round my place anytime

PrammyMammy Sun 07-Jun-09 22:59:55

I wish my MIL was bossy like yours!
If she offered to make the drinks i don't know what i would say. Her usual first words are 'get the kettle on for a cuppa'.
Really, she sounds great.

We live in a small flat and when people stay over, it takes ages to get all the towels and bedding dry the next day if we don't have sun.

IneedacleanerIamalazyslattern Sun 07-Jun-09 23:03:26

YABU sorry. I am apologising because my own mother is like that and it drives me up the wall as well but I know she has good intentions and her heart is in the right place. It sounds like she is actually trying to make having them there as easy as possible for you and not put you out in any way.

On the flip side of my coin my ex mother in law is like this and for some really random reason it doesn't bother me in the slightest (fickle me?????) we had her here staying this weekend to see the dc's and I actually just relaxed and enjoyed it this time.

NigellaTufnel Sun 07-Jun-09 23:03:53

Fair enough!

It's just that if you've made a big effort to prepare a nice meal for your guests it might be a little bit annoying if your guest suggests that we leave the kitchen so she can rustle us up something else.

I am regressing to my teenage state!

Still, not the end of the world.

wonderingwondering Sun 07-Jun-09 23:05:01

My MIL does that, all very well meaning and most of the time it is fine, but if it goes too far I say 'no, you sit down, you're the guest, put your feet up/ play with the children' - all quite friendly and playing the host but it makes the point that this is my house and I can run it quite well!

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 07-Jun-09 23:05:47

AIBU by stealth? You said nothing about a meal in your OP, OP.

NigellaTufnel Sun 07-Jun-09 23:09:07

Hope not!

To be fair, we had not said: We've made a big effort', we just did, because that's what you do with guests.

But yes, I think I may BU.

Mumsnet is great, it supports me when I'm panicking about DC's temperature, and gently tells me to get a sense of proportion with this kind of thing.

Well, it does sound like she's undermining you, and even if she's doing it to be nice, it's very irritating. maybe she regards you and your dp/dh as "the kids" and is used to being in charge. If it really irritates you, perhaps you should have a friendly but firm word about needing to feel like the head of your own house.

But first, why not try giving her a job to do? I know when I go to my mil's I twiddle fmy thumbs for something to do, so I go deadheading her flowers etc. Why not get her to help you make dinner, or ask her if she wouldn't mind running the hoover round/minding the kids while you do something else? that way she might feel useful while you feel more in control?

onthepier Mon 08-Jun-09 11:30:00

Although YANBU to feel bossed around Nigella, I do feel your MIL is trying to make things easy for you, albeit in a rather forceful way!

I had similar with my MIL when our children were young. She'd come and stay, and if I was up first making the children's breakfast, she'd tell me to go back to bed in no uncertain terms!

If I was pottering around upstairs and could hear dd calling me to come and look at her lego model she'd made, for instance, I could hear MIL saying, "No, leave Mummy now, she's upstairs. I'll look at it!" Of course I would come and tend to my dd anyway, with MIL pursing her lips. In the end I got dh to have a word with her, which he did. Her response was that she visited to give us a complete break from the children, she was quite upset I'd taken offence.

Well, I've always enjoyed being with my dc's and unlike some mums, haven't found it a chore! My dh and I explained that to her and she did (reluctantly!) back off! I think you need to have a word, or would it be better coming from your dh?

LittleOneMum Mon 08-Jun-09 13:02:41

Oh Nigella, I think she's my MIL as well. Mine comes down in her car laden with food bags (er, I live in central London, we do have shops and delivered shopping too) and towels and sheets and things and I know she's just trying to be helpful (and she is) but frankly, it drives me up the wall too. But she's so nice that I bite my lip every time. Especially as she always does a shop for me before she leaves... wink

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 08-Jun-09 13:40:12

See, this is the kind of thing I'd do, were I to have a DIL with children to visit. (My DIL-ish is still pregnant and lives with her mum, so I don't visit there since she's here half the week anyway iyswim. And she only lives five miles up the road, so no overnight visits.)

If she had young children and was washing up or whatever, I'd tell her to sit down and put her feet up while she could - and I'd never have thought it might be intrusive, bossy or whatever. blush I'd probably also bring towels and sleeping bags to save on her having to do loads of laundry when I left!

I suppose the answer is that MILs should ask what they/we can do to help? Or will someone else see that as stupid in some way?

(Genuine question btw)

BonsoirAnna Mon 08-Jun-09 13:42:59

You have to manage your MIL in your own house by giving her firmer instructions about how you expect her to behave.

Eg my MOL always used to march into the kitchen to wash her hands upon arrival. I hated it. Over time, I have taught her the way to the loo.

wonderingwondering Mon 08-Jun-09 17:09:49

Oldlady - I think if someone is ill, or just had a baby, telling them to sit down is fine. But if they are a fit, healthy mother of a couple of children, who is managing quite well, it can be a bit patronising.

For example, how would you, as a grown mother who has raised a family and run a home, feel if a visitor came round and got the hoover out? Fine if you've just come out of hospital or are unwell, but otherwise it can be seen an an implied criticism of your ability to cope.

I think that asking for a job is different to telling your DIL what you are going to do. In my MIL's house, I always say 'shall I wash these pots' if she's cooking, rather than just marching in and taking action because the kitchen in upside-down and I'm sure she'd be grateful for a hand.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 08-Jun-09 17:26:08

Thanks, wonderingwondering, I was kind of thinking "immediately after a birth" rather than once los are running around, and I see entirely that there may be a perceived criticism in just taking over.

I'm better IRL, honest! grin

Oldladyknowsnothing, I'm sure that most mil's and mums who offer to bring food etc are doing so to be kind and thoughtful not to imply they wouldn't be fed. But I think sometimes when people (anyone really, as I have this issue with my big sister more than my mil) insist on helping it can be misconstrued by the new mum as an attempt to take over because she perceives that her parenting or housekeeping skills are in question. I think most of us seek approval from our elders that we're doing a good job raising their grandchild and running a nice home so it makes us a bit touchy on the subject.

I think perhaps a general "Please make use of me while I'm here, I'd like to help and give you a break" would be better than insisting on helping, as in the op.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 08-Jun-09 17:36:35

Duly noted.

[nervous granny-to-be emoticon]

Oh, xposts. Sorry, bloody toddler covering everything in egg mayonnaise midway through my post!

wonderingwondering Mon 08-Jun-09 17:56:47

Oldlady, you sound very considerate and thoughtful, no criticism intended!!

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