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What do you do to facilitate in-laws relationship with your children?

(14 Posts)
thedevilsinthedogstail Fri 01-Jul-11 09:34:43

I ask the question on the back of a recent visit from in-laws and a mighty row with husband after it. There has been a lot of water under bridge and fault on both sides but in my own defence I have had pnd and have 2 children 15 months apart overseas.

So I think again - why do I organise Skype once a week when they don't speak to me when we are on the call. I phone them at least once during the week for the children to speak to them. I have in the past been the one who has organised their trips over here.

When they are here - I get called "she" - everyone else gets their name but not me. I know they are here primarily to see the children and their son and I guess I find it upsetting to spend time with people who I feel don't care about me.

I don't want to be spiteful - they love their grandchildren - however they are not my family (don't have any of my own so that compounds it) so why do these things? Should I rise above it - or leave it to husband?

Obviously if I were say sending photos of the children to people - I would send them to them as well - but should I go out of my way to do things? Do I do it for the sake of the children and try to disentangle my feelings towards them?

matana Fri 01-Jul-11 10:11:32

Hmmm.... your post has hit a nerve with me and i empathise with you.

I guess the question really should be what do they do to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren. It sounds like you do an awful lot to ensure they stay in touch, but from bitter experience there has to come a point where you ask yourself whether the effort you're putting in is really worth it.

Every weekend we get my stepdaughters to call their grandparents who live a 4 hour drive away. I can count on one hand the times they've called us to speak to them. We now have an 8 month old DS and whilst in the past we have been prepared to traipse to the other side of the country so they can see their grandchildren, it's not quite as easy now with all the stuff we need to take for a baby and fitting in time as we only have my DSDs on a Sunday or for one weekend in three (they're older now so have their friends and parties/ sleepovers to go to). Additionally, we have never really felt welcome staying there. My MIL is very highly strung and finds everything stressful when putting us up. My in laws are retired and wealthy, so they have both the time and the financial means to come visit us. Instead they've seen our DS just once since he was born. I have put in a great deal of effort trying to foster a good relationship with them and, actually, it is my DH they have a problem with rather than me. I have never met a mother who can be so utterly awful about their own son. My DH is a lovely, thoughtful man and a fantastic father but all he has ever been told by her is that everything he does is wrong. He left home at 17 to join the RAF and she still treats him like that child rather than a responsible 42 year old father of three.

It all kicked off recently and we continue to make the effort to try to re-build bridges and continue to get knocked back. The way i feel at the moment, my DS doesn't know any different, so if they can't be bothered to put aside their pride and petty arguments to see their grandson and grandaughters, then should we really feel obliged to keep flogging the dead horse? We have our family right here and have nothing to lose. They have.

I don't say this lightly as i believe all relationships need working at. It just isn't healthy to have stuff like this hanging over you. But really, there is only so much you can do.

This has turned into a really self indulgent whinge - sorry! But it has been very therapeutic!

Basically, i think if your DP knows how you feel you should expect a bit more support from him - it's his parents after all. The childish side of me would be tempted not to put in quite so much effort in future - they'll soon notice and your DP might be forced to take some responsibility himself. I really think you need to get the issues out in the open once and for all. But don't lose your LOs as a weapon against them. Merely point out all you do to ensure they see their grandchildren and suggest they may like to make more effort with the mother of their grandchildren.

Flyonthewindscreen Fri 01-Jul-11 10:25:42

Why isn't your DH organising the skype. etc? I get on well with my ILs but think of it primarily as my DH's duty to maintain the relationship.

ShatnersBassoon Fri 01-Jul-11 10:29:55

I don't do anything. I don't see my in-laws as part of my family, so I don't care a great deal about them. If DH wants his family to have more contact with the children, he can sort it out.

emjanedel Fri 01-Jul-11 12:42:51

We see my parents once or twice a week - they live 10 minutes away. We only see inlaws high days and holidays if you get my drift. They also live 10 minutes away. I have given up. His family are so vile to me that i leave in tears every time. therefor i do not go. If they really want to see their granddaughter then we haven't moved in the 15 months since they came last time. Let them do some of the work.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Fri 01-Jul-11 12:47:12

My husband is responsible for calling his own parents and talking to them or ensuring that they talk to DD. They are responsible for being nice enough to us, including me, to make him want to continue to make that effort.

I would think it absolutely bonkers if he was arranging times to Skype my Mum, and ringing her to give her chance to talk to her granddaughter. Bonkers! Why would he do that? It's MY Mum.

bran Fri 01-Jul-11 12:49:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DrGoogle Fri 01-Jul-11 13:06:25

I do nothing, if they call I chat etc and pass the phone over to my DC, but I don't actually do anything iyswim. I would never do anything to get in the way of them having a relationship with DC, but they don't really do much to maintain it, and neither does DH, so I stopped making the effort as it seemed that I was the only one that was bothered.

TheSugarPlumFairy Fri 01-Jul-11 13:23:40

We dont actually speak to my inlaws. It is a complicated and frankly quite ridiculous situation but it is not going to change until the two protagonists (My H and his mother) grow up a bit and learn to play nice with others. THat said, i do make sure DSD (8) calls grandma each sunday that we have her. We include DD(1) in that call though she is too young to really participate.

Inlaws live in Oz. I went out recently to take DD to meet my family (who are also in oz) and to give MIL a chance to meet her too. My family were all over DD like a rash. MIL invited us over once in the two weeks we were there and showed no interest in joining us for any of the activities we got up to despite invitations from me. DD didnt care, she had more than enough love coming from my side of the family but i have to admit that MILs reaction has put me off going to any effort to facilitate her relationship with either DD or DSD in the future. Problem is that if i dont do it, I know H wont. It is not that he doesnt want the girls to know their grandma, he just doesnt want to deal with his mothers never ending drama.

So no advice i guess, just commiseration.

naturalbaby Fri 01-Jul-11 14:10:03

my husband makes arrangements to see and speak to his family.
i make arrangements to see and speak to my family.

FairyArmadillo Fri 01-Jul-11 14:15:24

Gosh. They don't sound nice. Leave it do DH and save your efforts for other things. Ex DP's mother is horrible and made my life hell after the baby was born. She puts on a nice front these days as she knows she won't see DS otherwise. She still sees DS but usually on the back of a visit with ex, who I get on with. I don't make any effort for her. If I got on with her like some of my other ex's lovely mums who I miss as much and in one occasion more than their sons, I would make an effort.

Davsmum Fri 01-Jul-11 14:56:26

Just leave any arrangements, calls and sending of photos etc to your husband as people have suggested. As for referring to you as 'she' when they are in your home - put a stop to that. Tell them you have a name and you would appreciate it if they were polite enought to use it.
If you cannot deal with them ask your husband to have a word and to say that HE as well as you is offended by their ignorant way of treating you.

swash Fri 01-Jul-11 17:38:49

I don't understand why you are putting your energy into facilitating this relationship tbh. It's far more important that your dcs have a happy mum imo. If the ILS want to skype at regular times, fine, but I wouldn't be arranging it myself. Nor would I be organising their trips.

thedevilsinthedogstail Fri 01-Jul-11 18:48:03

thank you for your posts. There is a long history - in many respects we used to get on quite well - even holidayed together but since getting married and certainly since having children the relationship has deteriorated and was for a time truely awful - but I think my pnd greatly affected how I was able to deal with things.

because of my own family circumstances (severed all contact with my family over 10 yrs ago and before that minimal contact since I was about 20) I wanted/needed a surrogate family and I'm afraid they have been a disappointment to me and the feeling is no doubt mutual. I have one close friend who I feel truely cares about me but otherwise my husband & children are the people I have.

On the recent visit I talked to my MIL about things that bothered me (a friend who had made no effort to see/send cards etc for my daughter) and things that made me happy (my close friend offering to help us when we move from one european country to another in 2 weeks time). His mother made no comment about either of those things and then agreed with/told my husband that why should I need help to move, I should manage by myself etc etc.

So I felt she took 2 things that were important to me and either ignored them or rubbished them. And then I think - how sad am I that I have so few people to talk to that I even want to share these things with her. And yet at other times she has referred to feeling like she would have a nervous breakdown when she had 3 children under 5 overseas.

I think everyone is right in that if I stop trying to invest so much maybe I will stop being so angry with them. The only thing I feel it is right I continue to do is getting the children to speak to them once during the week - as we are overseas we have a call thing that gives us free calls in the evenings so I can resume that when we have moved and settled in and maybe they have visited us in the new place.

But birthday cards, skype, asking them to visit etc etc I will stop.

thank you again for listening

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