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How to deal with inlaws and their attitude to dh, children...

(26 Posts)
threeinone Wed 07-Nov-12 15:04:34

anyone got any ideas? In brief dh, though entirely lovely, is the less favoured sibling. This dates back to childhood, his dad with very strong ideas on everything and his mum with depression issues. They don't love me but make an effort of sorts. We call plenty, visit often (but never enough or for long enough...) they rarely visit and call infrequently.

We long ago agreed to do what we were happy with, to behave well and to try and build on the good stuff. The inlaws are unhappy, damaged but not horrid. They can be kind and generous but can't communicate at all. Any minor effort to see if there is a problem means no calls or visits for months. There are generations of issues that have been ignored this way.

We have new baby number four, they have visited once in three weeks and not called since. In this time they have been frequently with their other son and grandchild. Dh is upset at the preference they have for our eldest over our others and more so again at the lack of contact after the birth of this baby. I hoped their enthusiasm for babies would compensate for their lack of interest/help in the difficult pregnancy. Annoyingly they talk help and enthusiasm to everyone but us, any offers are withdrawn or forgotten. I feel angry that they just don't seem to love dh that much and don't know where to go next. It feels like it will drift without huge effort from us, they haven't replied to emailed photos. I calked last and invited them back up, travel is no issue and we have school runs etc.

Are we doing too much or not enough?

ShamyFarrahCooper Wed 07-Nov-12 15:15:36

You are doing too much if it is emotionally draining but ultimately only your DH can decide if he wants to cut contact. I'm sorry they treat him this way, it's horrible.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 07-Nov-12 15:21:36

I think the only think you're doing too much of is 'hoping'. For enthusiasm about the DCs, for even treatment with DH's DB, for them to be better communicators etc. If people are a particular way then it's a vain hope that anything you do or don't do is going to change them. Take them on face value therefore, don't make a big effort, don't expect anything and get on with creating your newer, better family where they are bit players from time to time.

drizzlecake Wed 07-Nov-12 16:13:05

They are just repeating their behaviour of favouring one child so you don't really want your DCs treated like your DH with one being favoured over the others.
Cogito is right in saying they should be 'bit players from time to time'.

My grown up DCs had no GPs around due to distance and other things and don't seem to have missed out or feel that they missed out at all.

threeinone Wed 07-Nov-12 19:01:24

It is horrid. I suppose we know that dh doesn't want to cut contact and he wouldn't feel better for doing so. Because they are dysfunctional they are both bad and good pretty equally. They would love us to live very near, to leave the kids endlessly, to turn up for big lunches, to let them buy our phones, cars and take us shopping. Then because we live away and manage fine by ourselves they can't (get control) find another role so have non. Dh feels for mil who essentially is a shadow of herself and is weirdly passive and also for his self-defeating dad.

Yeah guess you are right cogito and that's what we do usually but I suppose a new baby normally gives us all a boost whereas Christmas is always no good for our relationship as we don't visit them on Christmas day itself. It was the hope that was the mistake!

ladythatlunches Wed 07-Nov-12 21:00:37


I have no words of wisdom but am in same boat, my poor dh always has for pushed to the side and same for out children.

They were poorly when born and we never has a phone call at all, Infact out baby was in hospital few months ago? They were aware and still didn't call!!

What bothers me is that they they don't care enough to even put on a front, if that makes sense!!

It is so frustrating but after years or arguments and all sorts we let them get on with it now, we like you tried very hard but don't anymore, dh will do his routine call every month to see how everyone is and that's it.

threeinone Wed 07-Nov-12 22:32:07

Daft buggers aren't they, what a lot they miss out on. Amazing our dhs are normal.

Supertex79 Wed 07-Nov-12 22:35:31

I have no advice to add only empathy for you OP. We are in the same situation, DH has always been pushed to one side as are our 4 DC's in favour of dh's siblings and their children. Like ladythatlunches one of our dc's in hospital a few months ago, no concern nothing. We have sadly come to expect it now.

It is very hard to not let it affect your own little family and relationship, but the best thing I have found is to get on with living your lives well. Leave any visiting arrangements to your DH to arrange. My DH does a routine call, he visibly is unhappy doing this, and I feel so sorry for him. I can't imagine what it must feel like for him, as I am fortunate not to have this with my parents.

We are lucky that my parents are still around and adore the children and vice-versa. Yours IL's will reap what they sow, when MIL appeared after a 6 month absence (their choice) youngest DC was called to greet "Nanna", to which he replied your "who are you? I want my real Nanna!" Out of the mouth of babes...well 4 year olds!

ladythatlunches Thu 08-Nov-12 09:08:39

I find that brilliant that supertex you dc said that!!! Dh's parent always refer to them as grandad and nanny and my older kids have none of it and will refer to them by there names, like I do.

Jellybelly12 Thu 08-Nov-12 10:20:35

Mines are the same. Birthday visits have even been cancelled in favour of the other grandchildren. Even though there are weekly visits between MIL and other DGC's and weekends away. Ours get a few hours every few months. My eldest has noted and commented and has started to detach himself even though only 4. I think he must have heard MIL talking about trips with the other DGC'S while visiting us. I have decided to put less effort in and allow things to dwindle. I think if we don't make the effort that is what will happen and I won't feel so bad for DC's and DH if I can't see it happening all the time. I'm hoping it will work. She wouldn't even push our DC's buggy when they were little, yet regularly has the others for days out on their own, although that wouldn't be an option with ours realistically now anyway as they don't know her.

Declutterbug Thu 08-Nov-12 10:26:38

We have similar issues, and I can't add to what everyone else says. The hard part I find is that I also want to set my dcs a good example for when we are older. I worry how we might get treated if they think GPS are people you only see v infrequently sad. It's hard trying to make sure HDTV and I never discuss out frustrations in front of the dcs, especially as they get older.

Declutterbug Thu 08-Nov-12 10:27:17

HDTV =dh hmm odd spellchecker!

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Thu 08-Nov-12 10:40:12

It's almost made me cry reading all of your posts because our situation is exactly the same and unfortunately my ilaws are the only grandparents left.

Are there any grandmothers or grandads reading this, that can be honest enough and explain how they can possibly do that to THEIR OWN innocent grandchildren?

Jellybelly12 Thu 08-Nov-12 10:49:58

I think that's really sad KeepCool, my own family is large and are really involved with the DC's so I don't feel their missing out on not having DH's family around.

Jellybelly12 Thu 08-Nov-12 11:06:50

The only thing I think is sad is when the DC see the favouritism first hand, if we go to visit IL's everyone gets together. It's been noticeable since the eldest DGC's were newborn ours were never cradled like the others, they still don't get the affectionate hair tousling or cuddles the others do. By the way ours are nice kids and they don't smell or anything wink I suppose it might mean we have to start avoiding these visits as that's part of the comment DS1 made about MIL. To be honest though it feels like the whole family only bother with them out of obligation.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Thu 08-Nov-12 11:13:30

Thanks Jellybelly.
I am pleased that your own family are good people x

PS: Out of interest, why do you think your MIL talks about trips etc in front of your son? Do you think she is unaware of how hurtful that is because she never does it with him?

Jellybelly12 Thu 08-Nov-12 11:21:19

I honestly think she doesn't realise how much he understands. He's quite different to the her other DGC's. DS1 has asked her directly himself about relationship with other DGC's which was heartbreaking to witness, but she either didn't hear or pretended not to hear. It's a tactic she uses frequently with me too when I try to make conversation. DS1 has asked me in the past but I've tried to make excuses, clearly I haven't done a great job. sad

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Thu 08-Nov-12 12:18:15

She doesn't deserve your DS does she.
I use distance as an excuse (it's actually not) - they live 2 hours away - suppose I am lucky they are not aound the corner because it would be exactly the same.
All the best to you x

Jellybelly12 Thu 08-Nov-12 12:26:19

We do have distance grin but my family are further and visit more often and for much longer. But you right gives us an excuse. All the best to you too and everyone else with the same problems! thanks

EldritchCleavage Thu 08-Nov-12 12:28:25

My DH came to terms with not being the favourite child, but is completely unable to accept FIL's lack of interest in his children.

We know full well that if SIL had kids FIL would dote on them. MIL did dote on DS, but died a couple of years ago. I am sad she never met DD.

DH has just let contact with his father lapse, because being confronted with FIL's selfishness and indifference every time they speak on the phone (FIL lives abroad) is just too painful. He did get a birthday card from him, which surprised us. But he also got a treacly sentimental text from FIL's new partner about the importance of family, which we both thought was really off. Since FIL's partner has 4 grown-up children and umpteen grandchildren she appears not to have contact with, the ironies were just dizzying.

We've concluded they both want the appearance of happy families and the status of being paterfamilias, matriarch etc without any intention of putting the work in or even being emotionally available.

Since we think having no paternal grandparents is probably better for our children than having crap, manipulative, inconsistent games-playing paternal grandparents, we're not engaging with that.

ladythatlunches Thu 08-Nov-12 14:02:31

It's so hurtful isn't it!! I have put up with it for nearly 10 years now, trust me arguing about it doesn't work ! Thru went 5 years without seeing ours it was only dh that made first contact!

My dc notice at Xmas when they bought them (first time in years they got anything) a £2.99 stencil toy, which they were happy with untill the other grandchild thank them for there £100 they gave them!!!

We have very odd unlaws who go on holiday with dh's ex and her children (me and dh been together for 14 years) she has pictures of her children up in her house but none of ours!!

Jellybelly12 Thu 08-Nov-12 14:56:23

I've just been thinking about this agaiin and I'm sure you'll all agree when I say I can't imagine ever making one of my children feel so unvalued. I don't understand how a mother could not realise this was what she was doing. Do any of you think your MIL's are unaware of the disparity of treatment?

ladythatlunches Thu 08-Nov-12 15:20:36

Mine is, I have told her dh has told her!!!

Even FIL apparently told her, mind you he is no better!!!

Jellybelly12 Thu 08-Nov-12 15:27:03

I pointed out my observations to mine too. She just made it out to be my problem hmm

EclecticWorkInProgress Thu 08-Nov-12 16:22:38

Thanks for this thread threeinone. It isn't you, it's them. From your posts, I get the feeling you know that. So make your choices; put up with what you will put up with, and ditch the rest. You can view contact as a certain kind of process that has a beginning/middle/end and then leave it until next time (like going to the dentist). It certainly is not worth any anxiety/brain space/loss of sleep, is it? You can teach your lo to be polite in the face of rudeness (politely detaching) which is an important life skill. "I don't deserve to be treated this way" is something even a 4yo can understand and act on.

Same here. Although dh was/is (even at 50+yrs old) the "favorite" child, I guess I was devil incarnate for marrying him. We have a 500+ mile buffer though, which I am thankful for.

My dm died when I was 18 and I thanked God for the second chance to have a mother. Such irony. Such a fool I was. Knowing I had precious little help (father and sister- not local), she visited for 3 hours 5 months after my first child was born. Didn't bother with the second.

Whenever I called to try to have a connection with her, she'd answer the phone with, "Oh, it's you".

<<heavily edited for length>> wink V hmm grin

Anyway, I came to the policy of letting dh manage all contact/arrangements with them. As the ils are getting old/infirm, I have to go for a week later this month for (our) Thanksgiving...(I will get alot of x-stitch done and be entertained by our sarcastic teen who sees the dynamics clearly and won't be cowed into silence! grin) It is temporary, and my counsellor (counselling does help!) says the visit will be what I make of it: ie my attitude is my responsibility. So I will also tour the lovely parks in their area and get my walking in without fail.

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