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MIL & newborn advice(12 Posts)
Hi, posting here hoping to find some good advice.
I'm 6 months pregnant and am slowly beginning to realise there may actually be a baby coming! Anyway, I'm daring to think about those first few weeks and wondering how I can be as reasonable as possible with my MIL (I don't feel like being v reasonable, hence the good advice is needed to help me get over myself!)
MIL is difficult, rude and sometimes quite EA to DH. However, we have been managing this quite well for the last few years and manage to keep her at arm's length (we see her once a month, sometimes less if we're busy and she's particularly difficult). She wasn't happy when we told her about the pregnancy, but DH says she's started to come around and has been quite forceful in talking about how this is her first grandchild and is obviously expecting a lot of contact.
This makes me a bit nervous, as DH is normally so down and nervous before and after we see her that I don't want that negative energy around me when the baby is here.
She's already told people I'll probably miscarry and that I can't "carry a baby to term" but I know she'll be very excited and forceful when the baby is here.
I don't want to be mean and deny her of getting to know her grandchild and having a good relationship, but I do feel that I need to lay down down ground rules over the next couple of months.
Is it okay to not tell her about the (fingers crossed) arrival of the baby until at least a few hours later, and then ask that she waits a few days to visit? She makes me and DH feel uneasy and I don't want to feel vulnerable. She's not completely terrible, but she's nowhere near lovely either.
I just don't want to be too harsh, but I don't want to feel unhappy either. What would you do?
Sorry for the long post, I guess I feel a little more anxious about it than I realised.
Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy.
I had a mil similar to yours and looking back I wish I had said and done things that made me happy instead of trying to please everyone.
I wouldnt tell her baby has arrived until well after they are born and I would also lie and say you were still in hospital to put her off visiting for afew days.
You do whatever you want.
In your position I would not be in touch with her until you feel good and ready, and if that is 2 or 3 weeks (or longer) after the birth then so be it.
You will never have this time again, it is very precious, don't let anything or anyone spoil it for you.
Bearing in mind that you say she is EA to your DH, do you really want her to have a relationship with your child?
Thanks both. It is tempting to lie about our whereabouts after the birth!
Re: the EA, it's been hard getting DH to realise that her behaviour isn't normal. She's really good at playing the victim and sometimes even has me second guessing myself, which is why I'm doubting my feelings of wanting to keep her away. DH says he doesn't love her, which is really sad. She can be vile and they don't speak for a few weeks, then she'll be lovely the next time he sees her, making him feel like he's harsh. She uses his dad as a weapon too, saying FIL is sad because DH doesn't see him enough, but DH has never actually said "it's because of you".
I come from a loving and open family, so the difficulty in communication is strange to me. I just don't want to become the unreasonable one.
You are not unreasonable here and she has also said vile things about you already.
Thought you came from a family that is emotionally healthy hence your conflict as well. However, you are already seeing his mother is a completely different kettle of fish and I think your lives with regards to her will become a lot harder when your child is born. You simply cannot apply the "normal" rules of familial relations to such dysfunctional people.
It is not your fault she is this way and her husband is her own enabler in this overall dysfunction. He is just as bad as she is because he is a bystander and has failed to protect his now adult son from her.
Bearing in mind too what she has already said, I would completely limit all contact and have as little to do with her as possible as of now. She will not change; all you can do is change how you react to her. Your own boundaries re her to date now need to be reset and raised an awful lot higher than they already are.
Your DH is in what is known as FOG with regards to his mother; fear, obligation and guilt and perhaps does not think she is all that bad really. But she really is.
I would suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward so you can further understand the dynamics of what is really going on here. This is all about power and control really; she wants absolute over you and expects the two of you to roll over.
If she is this awful to you now, it will get worse when your child is born. I would keep your child away from these people because she will start on you both via your child given any time and opportunity.
Some people really should not be allowed any access to their grandchildren; these two should not have access. If she cannot behave decently she gets to see none of you.
This following excerpt is for you:-
A percentage of the general population is dysfunctional and/or abusive. That percentage, like everyone else, has children. Then those children grow and have children of their own. The not-so-loving grandparents expect to have a relationship with their grandchildren. The only problem is, they’re not good grandparents.
Many adult children of toxic parents feel torn between their parents’ (and society’s) expectation that grandparents will have access to their grandkids, and their own unfortunate first hand knowledge that their parents are emotionally/physically/sexually abusive, or just plain too difficult to have any kind of healthy relationship with.
The children’s parents may allow the grandparents to begin a relationship with their children, hoping that things will be different this time, that their parents have really changed, and that their children will be emotionally and physically safer than they themselves were.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, because most abusive people have mental disorders of one kind or another, and many of these disorders are lifelong and not highly treatable. (Others are lifelong and treatable; however, many people never seek the necessary help.)
The well-intentioned parent ends up feeling mortified for having done more harm than good by hoping things would somehow be different — instead of having a child who simply never knew their grandparents and who was never mistreated, they have an abused child who is now also being torn apart by the grief involved in having to sever a lifelong relationship with the unhealthy people they are very attached to.
Do not be that well intentioned parent!.
(for your DH specifically)
If your parents were not good parents and you are considering whether or not to allow a relationship with your children, consider the following factors, as well as others, before deciding:
•Have they fully addressed their issues in SKILLED long-term therapy? (A few weeks or months is nowhere near adequate if your parents regularly mistreated you).
•Have they been treated for all the root causes of their dysfunction or abuse?
•Have they sincerely apologized and made amends for the hurtful things they did? Not just said, “I’m sorry”, but really talked it all through with you over many hours’ time?
•Are they very different people to you from the ones you remember?
•Do you currently have a healthy, functional and stable relationship with them?
•Do they respect your choices and boundaries as a parent? Do they follow your requests about how you want your children to be treated and to behave?
•Would you recommend your parents to your best friend as babysitters without any hesitation or worry, and feel comfortable giving your word that they’d never harm your friend’s child, without any doubt?
•Have you worked through all of your feelings about the mistreatment you experienced through your parents?
These are just a few of the important questions to answer. The best plan is to work through the matter with a therapist of your own, who has no bias toward trying to “keep families together” despite the presence of mistreatment.
If you are “no contact” with your parents, it is important to keep in mind that if they are too toxic for you, they are FAR too toxic for your vulnerable and defenseless children.
Grandparents have no automatic rights of access to their grandchildren.
Lay the ground rules now, harshly if need be!!
My husband wanted to do this with his mother who is a total control freak and oblivious to boundaries etc. I insisted on being kind, not upsetting things, avoiding stress while pregnant so we tried to make our points about boundaries etc softly and gently. She took no notice, was the only negative thing in our life in the weeks and months after our baby came.
Eventually it got so bad we had a big falling out, tried a few months later to repair it but failed and now have no contact with them.
The amount of stress and misery theyve inflicted on our lives in the last few years is huge and I'm sure theyd feel the same about us. I dont know if we'll ever be able to fully forgive her for 'ruining' our precious first year with our first child.
We should have been blunt from the start and maybe (although I think minor problems were always inevitable) we wouldnt have found ourselves "cutting them out". It has to come from your husband though, she won't take any notice of you!
I think the secret is ....that's it's ok to engineer it so that she doesn't come and maybe for her to know that...... But even if she doesn't realise, make sure you do it and it is ok. It really is, you don't have to be around people who make you feel this way x
Congratulations. Enjoy the first few hours without telling her. Then let her know you'll be around to visit her as soon as possible in a couple of weeks.
Can I suggest a shift of language (and thereby thought) OP? You don't 'ask' her not to visit (bearing in mind she knows the due date and will doubtless be pestering you/DH daily at that time, 'has the baby come' ) - you tell her you will let her know when a visit is OK, and you have a plan for what to do as and when she turns up uninvited - bear in mind, as Attila says, that normal social niceties will not apply, and hints will not be taken. Good luck with your new baby!
Congratulations as others have said, enjoy the first few days because you'll never get them back... Be selfish!!!
I agree that you need a hange in language, tell her! When you do decide to tell her your DC has arrived, quickly say, you can visit on 'x' day, tell her!
Attila thank you for that, makes for very interesting and enlightening reading. Will be showing to DH when he gets home. It's just all so sad. You're right about the level of contact we have now... I guess I know it really but hearing someone else say it makes a difference. I think, to the people we know, if just sounds like the cliche MIL. Thank you for your post, I really appreciate the time you've taken to reply.
better that sounds awful, I'm sorry you had that experience it's just shit isn't it.
I think it's DH who needs to lay down the law. She doesn't give a shit about what I say, and I can't be the one to say it anyway.
Thank you everyone, feeling much more certain of myself after reading this
Congrats on your preg
I think like everyone else you need to lay the law down straight. Absoutely tell her what she can and can't do, no 'asking'.
It would also be wise to keep encouraging DH to see where she is being emotionally abusive and in fact if he wishes to let contact peter out ... respect his wishes.
When you come from a normal family, it takes time to see what's wrong with a non-normal family, and it takes even longer to really see the full effect of toxic people. Don't underestimate it.
And if your baby does not come to know their grandmother - you know, it could very well be better that way. It will be difficult given your own family is much nicer, but trust the people who speak from experience here, a toxic person almost always stays toxic no matter who they are intereacting with, no matter how young your child is. very very rarely things change, but you'd be better off expecting your baby to be born with teeth.
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