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SIL very down on my DD - am I being PFB?

(52 Posts)
GentlyDidIt Mon 15-Jun-09 09:48:14

DD is 6, and her next cousin by age is nearly 3 (then 5 more the same age or younger). Family get-togethers happen quite often.

DD is constantly being told off by everyone (including me!) Nothing major, just little things like all the kids running around the garden and getting a bit hyper - DD is the one told to set an example, "old enough to know better", etc. Or if a cake comes out, DD has to wait until last for similar reasons.

Broadly I don't mind, as she does need to learn consideration & care for younger ones (esp as we have another baby on the way )

However my SIL can be quite cruel in her discipline at times, particularly if she feels her DCs (2, and 9 months) have been unfairly treated. It's not "Don't do that please..." to DD, it's always "For God's sake!" If the kids are running around and they all fall over in a pile, it's always DD's fault. She does things like handing out packets of sweets for her DC in front of DD and then rolling her eyes saying "Oh dear, I SUPPOSE we ought to give some to GentlyDD, look at her grumpy face." when actually DD is just watching quietly.

This week all the little ones were telling "stories" around the table and when her DC1 told his very cute story, DD giggled a bit and SIL snapped "Don't be horrible, he's trying his best." DD wasn't being mean, she just found it cute.

I feel like yelling "My DD is 6 not 14!" DD gets quite withdrawn when SIL is around as she senses a dislike coming from her (as do I). It seems to me that what is actually a bit of age-appropriate immaturity from DD is being interpreted as deliberate malice. DD has never so much as pushed in front of her cousins, let alone hurt them or called them names.

SIL get on famously apart from this and it's getting to a point where I want to ask her what's going on.

I suspect this problem is as old as the hills. Anyone with more experience tell me whether I'm BU and how to handle it?

MuppetsMuggle Mon 15-Jun-09 09:53:37

Maybe have a word with your SIL - explaining that your DD is only 6 and yes is older but still a child and shouldn't have to always be the one to set and example or be last, she needs to experience her childhood and not be treated like a teen.

Doodle2u Mon 15-Jun-09 09:54:07

It's not you being precious!

Do you stand up for her? Did you jump in when her child told the story and say "DD was gigling because she thought his story was cute!"

Have you said "Cut her some slack, she is only 6!"

She needs someone fighting her corner until she's old enough to do it herself.

I would ask her what's going on but then, that's just me.

helsbels4 Mon 15-Jun-09 09:54:21

Blimey, she sounds like a right old hag! (sil that is, not dd!) Personally, I woldn't be able to keep quiet and would have to take her aside and mention it to her.

My mil is a bit like this towards my ds (9) when my dd (4) is around. She'll give things to dd or she'll ask her lots of questions and if ds answers for her, she throws him a catty remark. Whenever I hear her do it, I usually throw an equally catty remark right back. Usually does the trick wink

Does your sil have daughters? I wonder if she's a tad jealous of your dd?

theyoungvisiter Mon 15-Jun-09 09:56:40

I would say something. Not in a "WTF?" manner but next time your SIL does something specific take her aside and say in a friendly way "look, I think you're being a little hard on DD" and explain her behaviour is age appropriate and without malice.

By the sounds of it your SIL isn't very used to 6 yos?

GentlyDidIt Mon 15-Jun-09 09:58:28

Oh phew always a relief not to be blasted off the planet straight away on AIBU.

MuppetsMuggle and Doodle2u you could be right, perhaps I need to stand up more for DD. Being the eldest of 10+ cousins myself perhaps I'm a bit too groomed for the idea of elder ones setting an example.

helsbels4 your last statement is very perceptive and something I've wondered myself... would it really manifest like that, though?

talbot Mon 15-Jun-09 10:00:55

We had a similar experience as our child was 3 or so years older than all our friends. It is very very hard. I would definitely be direct about it.

Maveta Mon 15-Jun-09 10:01:03

Do you stand up for your dd?? My mum's sister has always picked on my little sister and it is obvious to the entire world. My mum never has and never would stand up for my sister although in private she says my sister should stand up for herself, tell aunt to f off, etc etc.

I think it's pretty poor that she's never stood up for her, I would if it were me. So I think that is a pretty important point as your dd is no doubt wondering why you don't (if you don't).

helsbels4 Mon 15-Jun-09 10:03:01

Everyone is different, so if your sil is feeling jealous of your dd ( maybe subconsciously) then perhaps it would show itself in this way.

What is sil like with all the other children? Is she a naturally maternal type of woman? If she's not particularly maternal then maybe she just hasn't got any idea of how a 6 year old should behave.

I agree that you need to be in dd's corner on this one and stand up for her, otherwise she's going to start dreading these get-togethers and that isn't fair on her.

Qally Mon 15-Jun-09 10:03:35

I have no advice, but it sounds horrible. YANBU, and good luck with trying to address it.

bigchris Mon 15-Jun-09 10:03:35

I would get her on her own and say 'look SIL, do you know that my dd worships the gorund you walk on but she is worried you don't like her any more because of the constant snidey remarks you make, she's only 6, can you go a bit more gently on her?'

Morloth Mon 15-Jun-09 10:04:02

You need to say something when it happens. SIL might not even realise she is doing it and your DD needs to see that it isn't OK and that you will stick up for her.

I will say something to an adult if I think they are being unfair/unkind to my DS.

theyoungvisiter Mon 15-Jun-09 10:04:15

BTW regarding what others have said I personally wouldn't jump in in front of your DD unless it's with a very light-hearted comment or unless it's something that absolutely can't be ignored - it will make your SIL defensive and may reinforce in your DD's mind that your SIL dislikes her.

I would take it up with SIL afterwards, in private, where you can actually explain the situation in detail, and if your DD seems at all upset I would reassure her in private yourself that you know she was not being naughty. But if she doesn't notice then better to let it go as far as your DD is concerned - there's nothing worse than feeling an adult dislikes you, much better if you can brush over the fact and encourage SIl to behave more appropriately.

mollythetortoise Mon 15-Jun-09 10:04:39

poor dd. I do think that people woth yonger dc's tend to think of older kids as more mature than they are. Once their own dc's are 5 or 6 , they will realise it is still a very young age (but of course, your dd will be 8 or 9 so still the oldest ). Your dd does need you to stick up for her a bit more though, it sounds like she is getting a bit bullied by your SIL which is not fair. My nephew gets this a bit as he is older by two years plus all the younger ones are girls ( 5 of them!) and I do feel sorry for him as he is still young (8)but expected to be the most grown up. I would never dream of telling him off in the circumstances you describe, if anything he gets overwhelmed by screaming girls. he is my sister's child though and I think that might make adifference. Is your SIL related to your dd by blood or marriage as I think sometimes with marriage relations, the bond between aunt/uncle and nephew/neice is less (IMO).

GentlyDidIt Mon 15-Jun-09 10:04:39

Thanks Maveta. That's my main concern really, that DD's self esteem is going to be affected if this goes unchecked.

I had thought of this - next time DD is called "horrible" or "grumpy", saying loudly, "Don't worry, DD, no-one here really thinks that you are horrible." Is that a bit mincey, though?

What I don't want is for it to descend into a PFB competition and I suspect it has the potential to. Then again, maybe DD would benefit a lot from hearing me shout her corner a bit...

MuppetsMuggle Mon 15-Jun-09 10:04:56

You do need to fight your DD corner as at 6yrs she can't do it for herself.

My sister doesn't want anything to do with us, which tbh is fine by me as shes a selfish and self centred bitch (another story) she couldn't even take an hour out of her week off last week to spend with her niece, she wanted to go and spend it with other people and their children angry my DD aged 4 was so upset but i just told my mum I don't want anything to with her as I don't want her hurting DD anymore, by saying she will see her and then blowing her off.

theyoungvisiter Mon 15-Jun-09 10:06:49

btw I agree that you should stand up for your DD but personally I can't imagine anything worse as a child than two adults having a barney over my behaviour. It would have made me extremely upset.

It's also possible that your SIL will go further in an attempt to justify her behaviour and say things that you wouldn't want your DD to hear.

Your DD needs to be reassured that you are dealing with the situation and understand her feelings, but that doesn't necessarily mean having the whole discussion in public.

kittywise Mon 15-Jun-09 10:08:53

I would never expect anyone tell off my dc's in front of me. It's a crap thing to do. You should be doing the disciplining.
You should stand up for your poor DD. It sounds very much as if you sil doesn't actually like her.sad

Jux Mon 15-Jun-09 10:09:00

It's fair enough for older ones to set an example, but you cannot expect adult behaviour from a child. Your SIL needs to be put in order. If I were you, I would challenge her when she does it as Doodle2u said. You might not have to have a talk with her at all if you do that; she may just get the message anyway, and that would render it unnecessary.

It does sound a bit like jealousy tbh.

theyoungvisiter Mon 15-Jun-09 10:09:37

"I had thought of this - next time DD is called "horrible" or "grumpy", saying loudly, "Don't worry, DD, no-one here really thinks that you are horrible." Is that a bit mincey, though?"

I think it wouldn't hurt to say that, but I would also spell it out a bit more later in private.

Take your SIL aside and say "how do you think that makes DD feel? Would you like to hear your children publicly humiliated? Please think about what these comments do to her self-esteem.

edam Mon 15-Jun-09 10:10:10

Next time SIL has a go, just say something very firmly but calmly. "Actually SIL, dd was sitting quietly and waiting." Or "I think you are forgetting dd is only six." Or, if SIL swears: "Please don't be rude to dd, it's setting a bad example."

You need to pick her up every single time, in a polite but firm manner. She probably hasn't realised she is even doing it and equally probably is suffering from parent of a smaller child goggles - thinking bigger kids are boisterous, clumsy monsters who will damage their precious tiny one given half a chance.

mollythetortoise Mon 15-Jun-09 10:13:01

I would say loudly, "well, I don't think your'e being grumpy/ horrible, come and tell me what happened" and take her away briefly.

Perhaps also give her ways of dealing with younger cousins who can be PITAs when you are older. Have a chat before the event about her younger cousins and how hard it is to be 6 and the oldest to be the grown up one so she knows you understand.

you could teach her strategies eg.her walking away from them, if they are getting over excited or whatever..

I can't believe she gets called "horrible", by your SIL. that is a terrible thing to say to a 6 year old.

wilbur Mon 15-Jun-09 10:13:35

We have a very similar situation in that ds1 is the eldest of my in-laws grandchildren (there are 7 in total, and he is 2 years older than the next one down). He is a very normal 8 yr old boy and in-laws are brilliant with him and utterly adore him, so that's fine. However, I know that a couple of dh's brothers think that ds1 is a bit too boisterous (he can be a bit more demanding than usual when his grandparents are around so uncles dont see him at his best, which is a shame), they have forgotten what being a small boy is like, and they only have toddlers and babies themselves and have no idea what it is like to parent an older child. There are times when I get upset by it (it is not overt comments, just a general attitude) but on the whole I try to rise above it. It is hard though, and you have my sympathies. I would def say something to SIL though, she may not realise what she is doing in snapping at your dd - remind her that a six year old is still a little girl and only a short distance from her own toddlers.

brokenspacebar Mon 15-Jun-09 10:13:57

I have to admit your sil sounds really hard on your dd, I think you have had good advice here, wrt reassuring your dd and having a word with sil in the diplomatic way bigchris put it.

I think children can be easy targets for bullying relations.... I hope you can resolve it.

wilbur Mon 15-Jun-09 10:15:45

I'm liking the phrase "parent of smaller child goggles" grin. A lot of my friends wear those...

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