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MIL is a narcissist, what on earth do I do?

(5 Posts)
MamaLaMoo Fri 01-Jul-11 09:23:48

My MIL is a very difficult person, DH agrees and we have spent a lot of time over the last year talking about tackling it, talking you understand not doing.

She doesn't respect our parental authority and deliberately does the opposite of what we ask wrt our DD, she talks about herself all the time, she brags constantly, is verbally rude and dismissive, talks down to people, according to her every waiter she meets or man she has worked with fancies her, anything that goes wrong in her life is someone else's fault, she does nothing to help us even with DH recovering from mild pneumonia she hasn't visited or called once - he rings her, she never praises or complements anyone and appears to have no empathy, all social interactions involve rote small talk before moving straight back to discussing her life. She even comes out with absurd grandiose statements like saying she knows where Madeline McCann is FFS.

So far we have looked at individual behaviours like not respecting our authority in isolation but I realise now we have been managing (or talking about managing) each symptom as it appears not seeing the big picture, the diagnosis if you will. I thought maybe she was autistic for the first couple of years I knew her as she was so unempathic and socially odd then I realised she could be manipulative and therefore had a good working model of others' minds, I changed my mind and decided she was being a self absorbed bitch.

Having come across an interesting link on another thread that referred to a book "Children of the self absorbed" I went and read it on google books. This is her to a T, absolutely. Sadder still is the description of children raised by people like this, it matches my DH behaviour. He gets overwhelmed by others emotions and takes them on himself, takes on responsibility for the others feelings, doesn't recognise when his reasonable boundaries are breached, is very wary of conflict and anger in others etc etc. So self absorbed bitch = good working definition of narcissist.

I read more, Wikipedia on narcissistic personality disorder, some articles by psychologists and it merely confirms my first impression, she is like this in almost every way. And the behaviour of both her children exactly matches being the child of a narcissist.

How do I broach this with DH? It is one thing to discuss a difficult conversation we've had with MIL, another to suggest she has a personality disorder.

I instinctively feel this woman is a threat to my DD and the baby due on 6 weeks, she is a threat to me and my DH too emotionally and psychologically. I want to protect DD from her influence, she is already using her for her own ends and putting her in unsafe situations by ignoring our instructions for looking after her, because she thinks she knows better. DD is 2 1/2.

Several "advice" pages suggest being ever so polite and nicey nicey while maintaining your boundaries with such a person. I actually want to tell her NO! very firmly and be a lot more assertive than that. I would rather poke my eyeballs out than be deferential to her.

Any advice anyone? I am considering contacting a professional to talk this through.

Playdohinthewashingmachine Fri 01-Jul-11 11:02:22

Would you let a childminder look after your dd if they didn't keep her safe? Your first duty is to your dd, not to your MIL's feelings.

Stop letting her look after your dd. Don't make a thing of it, just don't ask her to do it. If she offers, say no thankyou. If she asks to haver dd, say it's not convenient. Brief, non-committal, but don't justify yourself.

Back off a lot - call less, visit less, make visits shorter.

Would your dh read that book? Or have a look through this site - www.lightshouse.org ?

It is actually easier to think that your mum has a personality disorder than that she is a bitch. It's easier to realise that the reason your mum doesn't love you and is awful to you is because she has a disorder, rather than because you are unlovable and deserve it.

HansieMom Fri 01-Jul-11 12:16:42

How about letting your DH read this? Done! Presto!

MamaLaMoo Fri 01-Jul-11 14:11:20

Playdough you are right I would NOT leave DD with a childminder who didn't keep DD safe, I have broached this subject with DH but he thinks stopping MIL from spending time with DD by herself is over the top as a reaction - I think this is just further evidence of how far his "trigger point" of inappropriate behaviour has been shifted by her actions.

I take your point about it being easier to believe that your mother is suffering from a disorder rather than just being a horrible person, I had not thought of it like that, thank you.

Fluter Fri 01-Jul-11 15:49:36

Hi there. My MIL does have a problem, which she will not accept, despite having had a doctor (who she normally trusts) and family tell her so, and having displayed some very strange behaviour. (Very, very strange - out of respect for DH, I'm not going to relate it here, but trust me on this...)

My B&SIL will not longer allow her to be alone with their children (2.5 & 5) unsupervised - slightly barmy having to supervise the GP rather than the children, but there you go, and even so, one of the things she seems incapable of is deciding which is appropriate conversation to have with a child and what isn't, so even this contact is slowly disappearing - for the children's safety, rather than anything else.

Where I'm coming to, is that whatever the cause of the MIL's behaviour, you may simply have to walk away with DCs until a crisis of some sort happens. The other thing is that yes, you can simply think she's a bitch, but it could be an undiagnosed personality disorder that she's actually suffered from for a very long time, and there could be some underlying cause that is particularly triggering it. Or a mixture of both?

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