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Why doesn't my MIL love her GC (my DD)? - long, sorry

(45 Posts)
wellieboots Fri 15-Feb-13 08:49:23

Sorry this is long but I don't want to drip feed.

Background - I am from UK (Scotland) and moved to Sydney with DH (who is from here) a couple of years ago. DH has one DSis, but she lives in London, so PILs are our only family here and we live about 10 minutes drive from them. DD was born in November last year and is an absolute joy but very full on and has reflux which makes things even more challenging.

MIL had said to DH and SIL for many years that she didn't want to be "Grandma every Wednesday" (ie provide regular childcare if SIL or I were back at work after kids). This is totally fine and I have been aware of it before we even got married. She goes on quite a lot about how hard it was for her bringing up DH and SIL and that she never got any help etc, and I think she resents the fact that she gave up her career to have kids and still seems to have quite a chip on her shoulder about it. The "Grandma every Wednesday" comment was apparently made in the context of no-one looked after my kids so that I could get back to work, so I'm not going to do it for anyone else.

SIL has a DS (3.7) and DD (13 months) but they are in London so PILs see them rarely, and our DD is therefore the first GC who has been "accessible" so it's new to everyone. SIL and family have come out here twice on holiday, once when DNephew was 7 months and once in August last year (so when DNiece was about the same age). PILs have visited them twice - once when DNephew was 1 and SIL had to return to work full time for a few weeks before dropping to 3 days, in order to keep her maternity pay. MIL came to UK for 4 or 5 weeks, and looked after DNephew full time for 2 or 3 weeks in that time. The most recent time was Jan last year when DNiece was born and MIL flew over to help out (apparently wasn't much use but that's another story!) So it's not that she's never looked after GC but she hasn't had much chance.

Since DD was born (she's 14 wks today), PILs have visited twice on the weekend and MIL has visited 3 times on her own during the week as she's retired. 2 of these visits were when my DM was here on holiday when DD was really little and one was about 6 weeks ago. We have assumed that PILs would like to see DD, and have been visiting them most weekends and some of those visits have been successful, others less so.

Last weekend we visited and they asked if DD was still sleeeping thorugh the night (she does this very occasionally and we must have told them once ). On the Sat night, she had been up once (which I still think is great for 3 months) and so I said no, she woke once last night at about 3am. She then asked whether we attend to her or just leave her to scream shock. I tried to be polite and keep it lighthearted and just said - she woke because she was hungry, I fed her, she went back to sleep, if she's hungry I have to feed her! I then added (maybe this was the mistake) you can't leave babies her age to cry because they don't understand and they're hungry. I was then laughed at and got 20 million defensive comments - yes you can, we did, blah blah. I knew that they used to hear SIL crying, set the alarm for an hour's time, go back to sleep and then if she was still crying when the alarm went off an hour later, go and see what was wrong. I had heard this and always thought it was a bit shock but I had assumed that SIL was older at the time!

We then ended up in a huge bunfight - DH tried to defend me but I think they felt criticised about their own parenting, which wasn't my intention and let rip a whole load of stuff. The outcome was that they said we may as well move to the moon [sceptical], they are not interested in having a relationship with DD, we are selfish because we asked them to wash up the dishes (when they came and visited and asked if they could do anything to help....), all of her friends agree with her (not sure what about...). At one point she let rip that she doesn't like me and that she's sorry she's DH's mum sad.

No idea what to do from here - if I had known this is how they felt, I wouldn't have started my family thousands of miles from my own family and friends. I don't want to come back to the UK at this point particularly, but I do feel very alone and isolated. I have a relatively new bub, my first, who is very hard work although of course I've never loved anyone more in my life, life feels very relentless and this is just such a kick in the teeth. I am so sad and angry for DH as he is just so hurt. And I don't want to sound pfb, but I just can't understand why they don't want a relationship with DD, she is amazing - some rubbish about her grandparents not spending time with her - well sorry but that was a long time ago, how about moving on?! If she means that she doesn't know how to be a grandparent, then how about trying it and seeing how she goes? I've never been a mummy before, and I've just had to figure it out!!

I just wish that if they weren't interested, they had told us that years ago! There is a huge difference between I don't want to do regular childcare and I don't want to cuddle my GC! Is she crazy and toxic and we're better off without her in DD's life, or should we try and reason with her?

Thanks for reading if you've made it this far and if I have missed anything (unlikely smile ) let me know

kerala Fri 15-Feb-13 18:56:11

Bless you really feel for you. We had the same with dh parents but not so pronounced as you as they lived 3 hours drive away. Like you I was baffled that they were not more interested in their (first) granddaughter and tied myself in knots over it. The only advice I can give is you cannot change what other people feel or do just how you respond to it. Try to detach and not care hard but all you can do.

Mils classic was announcing they were emigrating as " nothing to keep us in england". DD was 1 at the time. They've gone now funnily enough we have not visited. DD aged 5 was writing about her extended family and carefully wrote about my parents both my sisters and their husbands. No mention of ILs. Their choice their loss.

kerala Fri 15-Feb-13 18:56:33

Bless you really feel for you. We had the same with dh parents but not so pronounced as you as they lived 3 hours drive away. Like you I was baffled that they were not more interested in their (first) granddaughter and tied myself in knots over it. The only advice I can give is you cannot change what other people feel or do just how you respond to it. Try to detach and not care hard but all you can do.

Mils classic was announcing they were emigrating as " nothing to keep us in england". DD was 1 at the time. They've gone now funnily enough we have not visited. DD aged 5 was writing about her extended family and carefully wrote about my parents both my sisters and their husbands. No mention of ILs. Their choice their loss.

wellieboots Sat 16-Feb-13 02:31:44

How was FIL? Silent as usual, yes, she wears the pants!

As for having a relationship beforehand, well yes, of course I tried to do my best to build a relationship with her - she is DH's mum! And as I"ve already said, we didn't just move to Oz because she was here, we did it because we wanted to try the place out. It seems a bit of an assumption to say you live near her so you must have had a good relationship - until we came here, I saw her once or twice a year so I hasn't had much chance to have a relationship! I just feel hurt and disappointed as she made me feel so useless for taking ages to TTC - and before you say I shouldn't have told her, we didn't - we had an mmc after trying for 6 months, and found out at 12 week scan, so since then (nearly 2 years before DD was born) they have known because it was pretty obvious, and so I would have thought that if they were so obsessed with how long it was taking me to produce them a GC, they might actually have been interested in DD at the end of the day! [hmmm]

And yes in response to other posters - sympathies, they have occasionally called DD the wrong name and MIL insisted that DM must come away with her for a day trip while she was here (DM politely declined) because DM "doesn't want to come all the way to Australia for nothing"

Mimishimi Sat 16-Feb-13 02:49:53

Ahhh... Sounds like she has the 'little Aussie battler' mentality. Noone's had it as tough as her, she had to do everything herself, they survived on flour, tea sugar and the odd bit of mutton for years and, by gum, there's no way she's going to lift a finger for her over privileged kids and their spouses who just don't understand how difficult it all was for her.

thelittlestkiwi Sat 16-Feb-13 04:45:55

She sounds awful. Things don't go from a disagreement over crying in the night to 'I wish I'd never had a DS' very easily with reasonable people. I really feel for your DH as that is such a horribly hurtful thing to say.

I don't think your DD will miss out. I was pretty tough with my DC as a baby but I would never leave mine to cry for an hour. I wouldn't be leaving my DC with anyone who thought that was acceptable.

I'm overseas too and it can be hard not having family around to help. But you've made it through the hardest bit. I found that doing it on my own from the start mean't I grew to have confidence that I could manage. Plus GP can be quite disruptive

wombatinwaiting Sun 17-Feb-13 17:29:04

Hugs wellie -this sounds really tough, especially being so far from home. I don't have much else to add to what has already been said here, other than echoing about managing expectations. This (and so many other things) will get easier as DD gets older - they are still all-encompassing at her age. If you can hit the pause button on thinking about your relationship with PILS for a few weeks, you may find that you can look at it with a bit more distance and work out what is best for you, DD and DH (who is an absolute superstar by the way).

On a practical note, are there any people in your community / neighbourhood etc. who you like who may have GCs who they miss dearly who are far away within Oz or abroad? A service was set-up here in Dubai a while ago to match families up who were missing their grandparents / granchildren. It is apparently quite successful. Just a thought if you felt you or your DD were missing out.

P.S. Am impressed and envious of DD sleeping through, even if only a couple of times. DS still to do that at 14 months!

ImperialBlether Sun 17-Feb-13 17:39:51

She sounds horrible. I would love it if my child and partner came to live near me with a baby! (Well, when they're older!)

Is your DH particularly attached to staying in Australia? I'd be tempted to get on the first plane back. It would be nice for your child to grow up with lovely relatives, rather than ones like this.

wellieboots Mon 18-Feb-13 09:21:49

No we're not definitely going to stay permanently, but at the moment I would prefer not to move back to the UK because Oz is working for us in other ways and I do have some supportive friends and a bit of a network. Also, even my own family don't recommend that we move back at the moment because of the financial climate.

I would prefer to stay here, but we might move a bit further away from ILs at some point I think - might make it not quite so frustrating. They've been supposed to be moving for about the last 3 years, but it doesn't seem to be happening so maybe we need to take some affirmative action!

RivalSibling Mon 18-Feb-13 11:08:47

Personally I would stop pressing them for a relationship and initiating visits. Say you'd love to see than when its convenient for them and leave it at that. Let her say how often she wants to see baby.

I do feel for you but it is early days.

kerala Mon 18-Feb-13 15:03:53

Dont make an effort and try not to care.

I suggested we spend a week at Easter with the ILs they have turned us down. They have just got back from a month long worldwide cruise so its not money/not wanting to travel hmm. Still thats fine I have covered myself made an effort now dont have to ask again for another year hurray! Bet you don't enjoy their company so actually its a good thing they have rejected you you dont have to spend time with them.

wellieboots Tue 19-Feb-13 04:02:03

Yeah, I think maybe we've been trying too hard and making assumptions - although I still think it's not exactly an unreasonable assumption that a DGM would want a cuddle with her granddaughter every couple of weeks.

This weekend we had a day out to the harbour and just chilled out just the three of us - it was great fun and we weren't trying to stand on ceremony, walk on eggshells or justify why DD was crying - not that she cried much smile It was really relaxed and just what we needed.

Maybe we all just need a bit of a break...

Iheartpasties Tue 19-Feb-13 04:44:19

Just saw this thread. Sorry to hear about it all Wellies! I personally wouldn't bother with the PIL's any more! no need for you to feel embaressed about the situation at all. I wouldn't give her the oppertunity to say anything nasty to you all again. You made the effort, no one can say you didn't but now you need only nice people in your lives and niceness and to be able to enjoy your LO while she is so tiny and scrummy. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip around circular quay. I feel awful for your DH as well.

Iheartpasties Tue 19-Feb-13 05:02:13

anyway (just put dd down for a nap) yes - give yourself and your family a break from the (dreaded) PIL's and really concentrate on enjoying yourselves. My mums group was an absolute god's send for me with dd1, we're all still pretty close now and I get together with them still (nearly 2 years down the track).

Snowfedup Tue 19-Feb-13 06:03:44

Hi you have my sympathies my mil is not anywhere as bad as yours sounds but she is very self centred and having had the privilege of also knowing her mother I see a pattern, her mum treated her like crap a lot of the time and she is repeating the pattern, my mil was never a huggy child loving type person and my dh was quite unused to physical affection (still never hugs or kisses his parents but is great with our ds's !)

I also get get the little jibes about "I didn't get any help with my children "

wellieboots Fri 01-Mar-13 06:50:05

DH has finally admitted last night that FIL spoke to him last week about the situation. He is suggesting a chat at a neutral venueblush and made some weird comment that MILs bowling chums have told her that these young people will take a mile if you give them an inch, I guess some of them maybe feel taken for granted or something. Hardly applies in this case though, surely?!

There was also some random comment that I don't do things by myself blush(the basis for said comment being that before I met DH, they know that I came to Oz to meet up with a friend who was out here for 2 years and travelled with her, and that I went on a holiday in Europe the following year, where I met DH, with another friend).

So in my single 20s I went on holidays with a couple of friends - as far as I'm aware that's a pretty normal thing to do and I fail to see how it means that I am incapable of looking after DD by myself and that if she helps once, she will be here every day (this is what MIL is afraid of apparently).

The woman is clearly a nutter - not that it's any of her business but for her information, I have been on holiday alone a couple of times and lived and studied in Europe for a year at uni, I have lived out of home since I was 17. And quite apart from anything else, DD is 16 weeks today and she is beautiful healthy and happy and gaining weight - rather than being incapable of looking after her, I happen to think I am doing a pretty good job! I value my space and she is the last person on earth I would want to see every day!

DH admits we need to deal with it at some point, but I just don't have the energy - especially if the chat revolves around who I went on holiday with 7 years ago! Am I the only one who doesn't see what that has to do with anything?! And one would imagine, if she really thinks I'm an incapable parent, she should be here every 5 mins to make sure DD survives my shit parenting, hardly a reason to stay away wink

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 01-Mar-13 07:21:11


Now its further becoming about power and control.

Best thing you can do with regards to this toxic twosome (toxic women like your MIL always but always need a willing enabler to help them, this is where FIL comes in) is to detach and ignore them. Do not engage in the game playing. FIL is also playing a role in this overall dysfunction; he like many men in such act of out self preservation and want of a quiet life. He is only glad that you and his son are copping her barbs instead of him.

They are both toxic and therefore not nice people to be around. You would not tolerate this from a friend, family are really no different. "Normal" rules of familial relations go out the window when dealing with such toxic rellies.

Note too that neither she or he for that matter have apologised or accepted any responsibility for their actions.

I also note that it was he rather than his mother who spoke to your DH about this proposed meeting. It won't go well and will likely descend quickly into complete anarchy. Do not accept their invitation uner any circumstances, infact this sounds more like a summons to attend than anything else. You need to remember that such disordered people like MIL and your FIL cannot be at all reasoned with. Ignore too all mad comments made re her friends at the bowls club; I can tell you now that never occured either in the way they said it did and such toxic people will always but always try to put their own selves in a positive light. Also such people can and do tell complete whoppers to their friends (not that these people have any real friends, they are users of people instead and regard them as less than worthy than they).

Unfortunately your DH may never be able to fully accept that his parents who raised him (and thus conditioned him so, this is perhaps why he has not been able to fully defend himself and by turn yourselves to them) are actually both toxic and emotionally unhealthy. He may well be still in FOG with regards to his mother in particular - fear, obligation, guilt.

None of what has happened or is happening now are the actions of emotionally healthy and balanced people, these are actions of emotionally inept and dysfunctional people. Also she has also told your DH that she is does not like you and is sorry that she is DHs mum. Those facts alone are enough to cut all contact over, also such people more often than not make out to become toxic grandparents as well. It is not your fault they are this way; their families themselves did that lot of damage.

Do read Toxic Inlaws; would think that it is available in Australia.

HecateWhoopass Fri 01-Mar-13 07:27:37

I would do exactly what she has requested and drop out of her life.

I did this 20 years ago with my father's family when my father's mother screamed down the phone "don't go getting clucky X (her husband) We want nothing more to do with her"

That was because I didn't want to go and stay with them, aged 16 and just out of hospital.

I gave them exactly what they wanted. They asked for it, I obliged. Their relatives all decided that they were the victims so I binned them too.

I do not believe that dna is any reason to keep arseholes in your life.

I would seriously suggest that you just get on with your life without them.

PrinceRogersNelson Fri 01-Mar-13 07:35:27

OP I have an Aussie MIL and I had DS there. My MIL was never unkind and she was besotted with DS, but she didn't really help or support. She kept saying how easy DS was and how we didn't have a clue!

She raised her kids young and had it tough and I certainly feel that she doesn't 'help' as she thinks I am privileged and spoilt.

It is very hard, but I now accept that she gives what she can and try not to let her barbed comments hurt.

We moved back to the UK.

Icantstopeatinglol Fri 01-Mar-13 07:42:28

Wellie I'm in a similar situation and my mil has taken to blaming other people for basically her lack of maternal instinct! She doesn't bother and never has, even before the kids were born.
I would try your best to put her to the back of your mind for now, enjoy your precious bundle and ignore any excuses that come out of her mouth cos that's all they are. After years of going through this I know we're not missing out, mil is and that's upto her to deal with!
I can't bear to be in the same room as my mil at the minute (not that it's an issue as we never see her ha!) and my dc are gorgeous, happy, healthy kids! What more could I ask for?! smile

quietlysuggests Fri 01-Mar-13 16:37:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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