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Surviving a family Christmas when there is already tension.

(177 Posts)
DowntonTrout Sat 07-Dec-13 08:33:52

DD1, her DH and their baby are coming to stay over Christmas. For a week to 10 days. Our relationship is very difficult, their relationship is turbulent.

We also have DD2 (11) and older DS who has left home but will be here as his DP is working. DD1 is prone to dramatics and attention seeking. She is already sulking that I will not babysit on NYE. This is because we have been invited somewhere with DD1. We have had DCs for 25 years and have only ever been to house parties at NY with other friends, or we stay in. Isn't that what most people with DCs have to do? Apparently her MIL will babysit but DD says its not worth it as she will have to get up with the baby the next morning, when she is rough.

Another flash point is Christmas morning. DD1 wants to be there to see her DSIS (DD2) open her presents. She has already asked what DD2 is getting and proclaims that she would have liked that same thing( this is not possible.) DD2 is still at a stage where she gets lots of presents, half believes in Santa ( not really but not sure enough to say she doesn't) and loves the magic of Christmas.

As DS grew up and left home we have bought him less for Christmas. Not necessarily monetary wise but say a Barbour jacket and some aftershave- that's £150 without stocking fillers. DS is more than happy. dD2s main present is around that but she gets more as she gets clothes, toiletries and other bits, just because she's still a child, at home and the other two had all their stuff over the years when they were younger. I know DD1 will be expecting as much as she used to get, she has not spent Christmas with us since she was 17 (20 now). Perhaps we spoilt her/them but she has form for selling her laptop, one years present, and iPhone, another year, to cash converters.

Oh, this is so long, sorry. The point, should I reign in DD2s presents so as not to offend DD1? Should I buy more for DD1 and so, in turn, DS, to make it equal, even though they're adults? Should DD1 just have to accept that she's an adult and therefore doesn't get the same anymore? My GS is only 6 months old and will only get a few clothes and a couple of toys plus some money for his bank account as heis too little to know what is going on.

bunchoffives Sat 07-Dec-13 08:43:15

I think you know the answers really to your questions don't you?

Sorry to say but she does sound a bit spoilt and still very childish in spite of being a mum herself. I think she has to accept with good grace that you won't be spending as much on her now she is grown up and there is a partner and baby to buy for too. Perhaps have a word before Christmas so she can adjust her expectations.

Is 10 days a bit too long? And stand firm woman re NYE. You are a person too entitled to some pleasure. Why should you give up your evening? Afterall, she could go to her MIL and get up in the morning (boohoo!)

Hissy Sat 07-Dec-13 08:47:14

Why on earth did you agree to up to 10 days?

That's tough even when you get on with someone!

I don't know the answer, but she sounds like hard work, so therefore you need to keep visits short and sweet.

She does sound hideously entitled, and I think a bit of calm non-indulging for the next few years might go some way to address it.

20yos can be right tits, hopefully she'll grow out of it, but stropping at you, tantrumming and making everyone else uncomfortable isn't acceptable.

JeanSeberg Sat 07-Dec-13 08:47:39

How far away do they live that they have to come for 7-10 days?

DowntonTrout Sat 07-Dec-13 08:57:46

Yes I do know the answers already. sad

DD1 puts an enormous amount of emotional pressure on me though. I know she will sit there seething and spoil it for everyone. The length of time she wants to stay is too long but they have to drive 8 hours to get here. This is half the reason we want to go to our friends at new year.

DD and her DH will not lift a finger while they are here. I will be doing their washing, helping with baby, not to mention the expense of shopping, cooking their meals etc. DD will expect to come everywhere with us and again this won't be possible. Our other close friends who we generally see a lot of over Christmas ( neither of us have other family around) have already said that while it will be lovely to pop in and see DD and the baby they don't really want a baby around at theirs when we are all sitting and having a few drinks. Their DCs are older teens and doing their own thing. I don't blame them.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 07-Dec-13 09:01:08

I think you need to stand up to your DD and learn to assert yourself. Means saying 'no' to the NYE expectations and a big fat 'grow up' if she gets annoyed about relative cost of presents. It's no business of hers what you give or do not give to anyone. I'd also question why you've invited them for over a week. Who was it who said that visitors, like fish, go off after three days.... ?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 07-Dec-13 09:03:05

On the finger-lifting business I think you should set the expectations early and tell her that she'll have to do her own washing, look after the baby and you'd like a contribution to the food budget etc. You may find that reduces the time she wants to spend with you all by itself

Why are you so scared of her? What does she have over you?

nkf Sat 07-Dec-13 09:05:54

I would think about not buying so many presents for everyone. And think of things to do that might make people feel closer and less competitive with each other. Aside from New Year's Eve (and there she is being absurd) your post is all about buying and selling and money and resentfulness and how to be fair or reasonable financially. If you took the money out of the equation, what would be there? Would you all still enjoy being together? If you have to stop to think, then that's what you could start working on.

DowntonTrout Sat 07-Dec-13 09:10:34

I haven't invited them. She has invited herself. Initially for a week to be split between us and her DHs parents, then 10 days, now two weeks! Except she can't stand sitting in their house, she says.

She's also putting pressure on about Xmas lunch. We go with the flow. Open presents, late brunch. Couple of glasses of champagne at friends then lunch/ dinner is when it happens. Could be 4pm, could be 6pm. No one cares. But his parents eat at 2pm. He wants to go there. Fine. But she doesn't, so she suggested he goes and she stays at ours, he might come back- what time will it be? Or maybe they will both eat there and then eat again with us? WTF? It's their first christmas with the baby- surely they want to be together.

myBOYSareBONKERS Sat 07-Dec-13 09:14:09

Are the Inlaws nearby - Can't they go and stay with them for a few days?

I really think you need to reasses the length they are staying. Sounds to me that she is coming to you for a 5* holiday i.e Board, Food, Entertainment and Staff (YOU!!) on tap to do everything

DowntonTrout Sat 07-Dec-13 09:22:38

nfk a few things there.

It's not about money, except in DDs eyes.we have never set budgets to spend exactly the same on the DCs. They have always got what was appropriate at the time. Because they are so different in age it has never been a problem.

Why should DD2 miss out when the other two all had their years of PS, bikes, Xbox or other big ticket gifts? Although I did sit DD2 down and say there might not be as many presents as usual - she knows the score and that it's about DD1. This made me feel like such a twat. Why should I be explaining this to an 11yo? It's not fair.

If we took the money out of the equation there are so many issues I don't even know where to start. That's the crux of it. I am struggling to form an emotional bond with my GS because DD1 uses him as a carrot or stick, depending on how you look at it. Yes, she scares me.

Doshusallie Sat 07-Dec-13 09:24:02

No you should not buy less for dd2...dd1 needs to grow up.

Wtf turning down mil offer to babysit on nye!! I assume she wants you to because she could have a lie in if you do NOT back down on this.

Get them both to pull their bloody weight!! Does your dh not get involved here?

DowntonTrout Sat 07-Dec-13 09:33:31

DH says we have had DCs for 25 years, since before we married. We have never had time alone without DCs. We have had to stay in NY, anniversaries, birthdays because we didn't have babysitters. DD2 is 11, we are beginning to have a little bit of freedom but still only do most things if we can take her along. This is not a problem at all. But why should we now be looking after our GS on his first Xmas just so that they can go out?

The NY thing us an invitation to stay for 2/3 nights, big party, 200 miles away. Oh yes please.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 07-Dec-13 09:35:54

At some point you're going to have to man up & set the score straight with DD1. The way things are, you're going to say nothing at all and still be complaining come mid January. Futile. Practice saying things like 'I've changed my mind and it's not going to work for me having you all to stay for a fortnight....' and have the courage to say it out loud.

Your DD sounds like a bully holding you and the rest of the family to ransom. Why you tolerate it I can't quite fathom. What does your DH/DP (her Dad?) say about this?

MistAllChuckingFrighty Sat 07-Dec-13 09:42:54

I remember your old threads about your eldest daughter. It really does come across as you are scared of her, and I understand why as she has bullied and emotionally blackmailed you for years. She is still doing it, and you are letting her.

You know it is crazy to allow the manipulative behaviour of your 20yo dd who has a child of her own to influence what you do with your 11yo who is practically still a baby herself. Please stop this, it isn't fair on dd2

Easy to say of course, but you virtually being used as a domestic slave by your dd when she visits should not happen. I t takes time and pleasure not just from you but from your other DC, but this is how it's been for some time isn't it? Time to stop, I say.

LucyLasticKnickers Sat 07-Dec-13 09:43:05

but you dc are all your dc.
i would have thought you should spend the same. but actually i cant decide

HoneyandRum Sat 07-Dec-13 09:45:29

It seems clear that you need to set boundaries. You are feeling very anxious as you are letting your DD1 set all the expectations and it seems like you are assuming you have to go along with it. How can they both take 1 or 2 weeks at Christmas? Don't they work? For a start you need to calmly explain that just like her brother she is now an adult and your expectations will be in line with that. She will be responsible for her child at all times and her own cleaning and laundry, if she is planning to stay longer than two days then you will be writing up a meal rota and her and her DP will be responsible for cooking some meals. Any longer than two days and she also needs to chip in something reasonable for the food budget.

Also, lower her expectations for presents. Tell her what her brother gets now he is an adult and that she will receive similar. If she gets irate and slams the phone down put it in a kind but firm email to both her and her DP.

If she flounces and only comes for a few days or refuses to come then so be it. I have three, much younger than yours and although naturally I dearly love her, my eldest, who is only 13, has a tendency to try and guilt me to get her way with anger and tears. If I know I am being reasonable I stand firm, but it's hard even at such a young age!

If you wouldn't let any other adult treat you in this manner do not let your DD do it! It will be hard for a while but she must make the transition to being responsible for herself. You are not expected to intensely parent her any more now she is 20.

Do not let her emotionally bully you! You may have helped create this situation so have some courage to change the status quo for both your sakes.

DowntonTrout Sat 07-Dec-13 09:45:33

Why are you so scared of her? What does she have over you?

At the risk of drip feeding. There is a huge backstory. Some of you may remember that she ran off with a drug dealer, was pregnant, wasn't pregnant, started a private college course, left after 3 months leaving us to pay £1000s in fees and a 12 month lease on a house. Got married after knowing DH 3 months, took an overdose when he was working abroad, the list goes on.

They argue all the time, she wants to come home, can't possibly leave him, dumps on me emotionally. I am at the end of my tether. I dread the phone ringing. I suspect a personality disorder, I have concerns about Munchausen by proxy. Shall I carry on?

MistAllChuckingFrighty Sat 07-Dec-13 09:46:35

Cross posted. I find it extremely telling [and very sad] that your 11yo passively conceded that it's all about dd1

Says it all really, doesn't it ?

MistAllChuckingFrighty Sat 07-Dec-13 09:48:38

Yes, I had remembered all of that but didn't want to bring it up if you didn't sad

LucyLasticKnickers Sat 07-Dec-13 09:50:07

gosh op. sad
the picture is bigger. bigger than presents . wishing you strength

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 07-Dec-13 09:51:22

The money is a red herring Lucylasticknickers. The DD is a very unpleasant. selfish creature if she uses access to the GCs to manipulate the OP.... and that's a window on the rest of her personality. The OP (and probably others) only exists to do DD's bidding in a world where DD's wishes are all that matters. Anything the OP does or doesn't do will be twisted around and interpreted as why she is a rotten mother. Damned if she does and damned if she doesn't - no win.

When you can't please someone, regardless of what you do, the only solution left is to please yourself. But that won't happen here because the OP will feel she has to swallow all the crap for fear of never seeing her GCs again...

LucyLasticKnickers Sat 07-Dec-13 09:53:21

you go out for new year op.
and look after the 11 year old and all the family that are being civil.

cozietoesie Sat 07-Dec-13 09:54:45

Yes - you have to gather your courage and come out with it. But here's a thing. In my experience (although other posters may have different ones) it becomes significantly easier once you've actually done it for the first time - although you'll need to discipline yourself into not letting that glorious feeling of freedom go to your head and splurging out things that might be better left unsaid at the time.

I'd discuss it with your DH and then broach things with your DD before she comes at Xmas - eg now. (Any good intentions would likely wither away once she's in front of you with the baby if you haven't dealt with things beforehand, Xmas being Xmas.) Cogito's post above (on setting the expectations) is a very useful starting point and I'd write all the things you want to say down on a piece of paper before you speak to her so that you have them in black and white before you as an aide memoire.

Keep thinking of yourself and the rest of the family and be strong. Try it this weekend.

FreddieStarrAteMyHamster Sat 07-Dec-13 09:54:53

I think for the sake of your sanity and setting positive examples to your younger DD you need to detach a little from DD1 and her dramas. She will not grow up while you enable her to behave irresponsibly and without consequence.

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