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Confused about toxic PILS and need advice!

(27 Posts)
Pengyquin Sun 07-Dec-14 12:43:28

Ok..have posted before, but will try make this easy to follow...just need some opinions.

Basically, I have had no contact at all with MIL since 2 weeks after our wedding when she screamed down the phone at me that she didn't consider me part of her family. This was the last straw for me after 12 months of being nasty when we were planning our wedding and then deliberately trying to ruin our actual wedding day! (and our honeymoon).

So, I haven't spoken to her for over 14 months now.

DH has 3 times now tried to bring it up with FIL and MIL and said he believes they owe me an apology but each time the phone conversation ended in either screaming (on their side) or just plainly refusing to listen to what he had to say.

In the meantime, we have had another child. DS is now 7 months old. They have never met him.

However, our DD turned 2 recently (they've only met her 3 times due to all the nastiness etc, the last time being at our wedding, when she was still a baby) and a huge box of gifts arrived for her at my parents house. (I might add my parents don't want anything to do with all this and would rather not be involved, so found the whole thing very awkward)

Fast forward a few months...DH's siblings are now refusing to talk to him, although one of them did respond but was openly rude and refused to say why they weren't talking to him. PILS have now not contacted DH at all for nearly 5 months.

I firmly believe that the story MIL told about the wedding and everything leading up to it, and after it is very very different to the actual truth. DH's grandparents (on one side) have not sent birthday cards etc since it happened. Mind you, MIL didnt' acknowledge DH's birthday either this year (not even a card)

So...Christmas is round the corner, and again PIL's have turned up with a box of presents for our kids to my parents house. This time I just told my mum to open everything. Lovely present from DH's other grandparents (for both the kids and ourselves) but not even a card from PIL for us. A present for both children and a card saying how much they love them hmm

DH spend last night in tears that his family have seemingly cut him off but still want to play happy families with our kids. His family have never been one for actually talking to each other but basically, since the whole wedding fiasco, DH has been the one making all the effort and when he stopped, they just never contacted him again.

What should we do? Frankly, I feel like sending a card/letter saying that unless they're willing to have a relationship with at least their son (even if they hate me, their DIL) they should stop sending gifts to grandchildren they don't even know. How can they say they love them when they don't even know them?! Actions speaking louder than words etc.

The best bit of all of this is that they are very religious, attend church every Sunday! Surely they should be looking at their own behaviour!

I can't see at the minute how this is going to get resolved. DH doesn't know why they've totally cut him off, I've quite enjoyed not having to deal with PILS but worry now how this will pan out over the coming years if we don't do something now. Kids are getting older and will start asking questions. Also, I hate how they've involving my parents by dropping stuff round at their house!

Any ideas?

capsium Sun 07-Dec-14 12:56:33

Personally, I would pass the presents and letters (unless they are offensive) on and not say much about them. I would not even spend too much time thinking about it. Then I would send a thank you note from the children.

If your DH wants to talk about what is happening I would support him but I wouldn't bring the conversation up. I would be thankful you don't have the drama of them in your (immediate) lives. If they do make contact I would be civil but try not to get too involved.

capsium Sun 07-Dec-14 12:59:32

If the kids ask questions I would just say they don't like visiting very much and argue a lot with you and DH so it is better to not see them very often.

Pengyquin Sun 07-Dec-14 13:03:05

I did send a thank you card for my daughter's birthday presents.

Civil but not get involved...that's how I've tried to be for the last 5 years in total..leading right up to the blow out about the wedding when i thought, life is too short, enough is enough!

Question is, can we really just continue along with these huge elephants in the room so to speak as the kids get older and start asking questions about why they don't see DH's side of the family at all?

It's weird to me personally. If I had had issues with my family, we would have just had a massive argument, got it all out in the open and got it sorted one way or the other!

HamPortCourt Sun 07-Dec-14 13:03:09

Please do not reply to them at all. Any response, even if it is a scribbled thanks on a post it note will drag you right back where you don't want to be.

From your post it is DH who is struggling with this, understandably the new status quo is great for you. Has he read any books about toxic parents? Would he consider counselling?

There is no way I would let my DC anywhere near these people - you do realise they are quite capable of turning your own DC against you don't you?

It is up to your parents how they deal with the dropping off. If they don't want it then they don't answer the door to PILS or refuse to accept the pressies.

Ignore ignore ignore.

Don't let them ruin your Christmas thanks

Pengyquin Sun 07-Dec-14 13:08:14

Ham That's precisely why in a way I've been loving having no contact. I really don't want them anywhere near our kids. I find their behaviour confusing and bizarre - so certainly wouldn't want to expose small children to it.

MIL in particular I find very 'dangerous' The smiling assassin as you were! Very active in the local church community, seems all lovely, but my god, have I seen plenty of evidence to the contrary.

The reason they don't send the gifts here is because we have just moved house and I haven't told them where to.

I sent a card for the birthday presents to say thank you, but now that it seems they have now turned DH's siblings against him too, and there's no card for us for Christmas (not that I particularly wanted one!) I don't feel like sending a thank you. I'd rather they left us alone, as clearly they don't like me, and have willingly cut DH off too.

I have read Toxic Inlaws, and tried to get DH to read it but he won't I think he would benefit from counselling though...

capsium Sun 07-Dec-14 13:08:22

I just think there will be 'elephants in the room' if there is unresolved business. People obviously can be quite flawed. If the children ask, I would be quite brief but as truthful as possible without going into too much detail. I don't think they need the whole gory details though, because it could be quite unnecessarily burdensome for them. It is realistic that they will learn at some point that not everybody is very nice and there are some complex characters about in this world.

Pengyquin Sun 07-Dec-14 13:26:58

It's just a shame it's their grandparents sad

What about cards etc that they're sending though? Obviously neither can read at the minute so it's not an issue. But I think I would have found it beyond weird as a child to have received a birthday card with 'We love you so much etc' all inside it - off someone who doesn't speak to my mum and dad (and who I hadn't even met as a child!)

SusanIvanova Sun 07-Dec-14 13:32:26

Send the presents back unopened. No notes. Until they can speak to your DH they shouldn't have any access to your children.

capsium Sun 07-Dec-14 13:34:15

I'd try not to worry too much and take it as it comes. Explain simply when they ask. Loads of this happens within families, it is not unusual, sadly. Your children can still have a happy home and childhood, which is the main thing.

Fingeronthebutton Sun 07-Dec-14 13:40:12

Your children will just accept the situation as it is. My Fathers family didn't like my Mother, he was my Grandmothers 'last baby'
For years my Sister and I visited my Grandmother and Aunts alone and never thought anything of it. I suppose this was made easier because neither side ever made referance to the other.
As for the 'elephant in the room' the longer it goes on, the 'elephant' will leave.

Hissy Sun 07-Dec-14 13:41:29

do not allow these 'gifts'

a gift is not a gift if it's coming with a pointed message.

they are attempting to undermine your family, your relationship with your H and with your children here.

no contact means no contact.

return the gifts. or take them to the charity shop.

what other people beleive is their business. the truth is yours.

you're dealing with narcissists here, you can't have proper/normal/safe relationships with them.

if your parents want to tell them not to leave gifts, let them. it's not ffair or right for them to be caught in the middle.

Hissy Sun 07-Dec-14 13:42:24

never ever acknowledge the gifts either, no thank you's, nothing! this is vital.

disavow all knowledge of them.

Pengyquin Sun 07-Dec-14 14:09:26

You see...I'm normally such a traditional person, send thank you's etc..but in this instance, I do feel the gifts are not genuine. More with something attached!

As Hissy says, coming with a pointed message.

I've already told my mum to send my daughter's christmas present to the charity shop (totally unsuitable for a 2 yr old).

I like how you've said what other people believe is their business, the truth is yours. I'm going to tell my DH this. and try to remember it myself!

At times I feel like shouting off a cliff to all DH's relatives MIL IS A NUTTER!!! They seriously don't know the half of it, and probably think it's us who have been in the wrong/unreasonable.

Badvocinapeartree Sun 07-Dec-14 14:15:04

Send them back, unopened.
End of.

Hissy Sun 07-Dec-14 14:20:56

we discuss this every year on the stately homes thread.

refusing the gifts is the only option you have. doing so keeps them out of your lives, and keeps the poison away from you.

hesterton Sun 07-Dec-14 14:21:06

It sounds like his siblings growing hostility towards him has been a trigger for your dh. Was that relationship ok before? Could he possibly arrange to meet his siblings somewhere neutral and talk to them about what has really been happening?

Ohfourfoxache Sun 07-Dec-14 15:09:51

Agree with pp - send them back unopened.

Keep doing this, every single time.

And your parents, given hat they don't want to get involved, really should feel able to refuse to take the gifts in. It opens the possibility that they will keep doing it and the pils will think that this is acceptable.

Meerka Sun 07-Dec-14 15:18:47

pengy i think you need to keep talking to your DH here because of how much he's hurting. Slowly and gradually refer to the concepts in Toxic Parents. Why won't he read it? doesn't think it applies or is he actually afraid deep down?

I think that if he can talk, it will help - as long as you can remain calm and neutral about it all (a bloody tall order I know, but if you get emotional then it risks becoming a problem between you two since all that hurt has to go somewhere, and it might be easy for some to slip into blame/anger/other nasty feelings).

Agreed - keep the presents well away from your children. These are powerful people if they can turn the entire family, who after all have known him all his life, against him so utterly.

TinyWishes Sun 07-Dec-14 15:24:43

Send the gifts back. They are acting out of their guilty concience and keeping up appearances whilst making you look the bad guy.

Bogeyface Sun 07-Dec-14 15:28:24

We have to do this with MIL.

Every year she sends a card and every year it has more and more money in it for H and DD (nothing for me or the other kids, we are not family hmm)

I think she thinks that eventually if she sends enough cash it will buy back the control contact that she wants. We put them in an envelope and send them back recorded. She keeps trying and of course by sending back the "gifts" we are confirming to the rest of the bitches family how unreasonable we are but to hell with it.

Actually, they dont believe that H is behind it, they all blame me 100% which is incredibly insulting to H, implying that he cant think for himself and is so cowed by me that he would cut off his family to keep me happy!

Bogeyface Sun 07-Dec-14 15:30:12

I should add that sending the gifts to a charity shop doesnt work as well because as far as they are concerned you have kept them. It opens up new accusations "Oh they are happy to accept the presents but still wont talk to us!". Sending them back sends the clear message that you dont want them.

Also, I would be inclined to ask your parents to send them a letter saying that they dont want to be involved with this falling out and as such will not be acting as go betweens anymore.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 07-Dec-14 15:55:49

I would be handing your DH a copy of "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward to now read. It is not his fault or yours that his parents are so bloody awful; their own families of origin did that. You may well want to read "Toxic Inlaws" by the same author.

His parents have done the divide and conquer strategy by getting his siblings to side against him as well. Unfortunately that often happens as well, his siblings would rather see your H in the firing line than them. His siblings are weak people and easily influenced by their parents. It may well be that your DH is really the scapegoat for all their inherent ills, people from dysfunctional families end up playing roles.

Would you DH consider seeing a counsellor?. He really needs to see someone who has no bias about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment.

I would also suggest you post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread to receive further counsel re your ILs.

No acknowledgement at all must be made of these "gifts" which have always been sent with a ton of obligation attached to them. Charity shop them instead, they will not know that you've done this. Sending them back makes them aware that you have indeed reacted so they will use that as a green light to bother you even more!!. Radio silence from you therefore must be maintained, no contact is precisely that.

Do not operate from a fearful mindset.

If you have another set of grandparents in the picture then focus on them. It is rare that both sets of grandparents are nasty. Emphasize to your children how much we enjoy being around grandma and grandpa so-and-so (the decent and loving grandparents). Cultivate your children's relationship with the decent, loving grandparents. Teach your children to be grateful for the decent, loving grandparents. Gratitude is a highly effective antidote to loss. Focus them on what they have, not what they don't have. Model that attitude of gratitude.

You will find that the children will eventually stop mentioning the loss of the grandparent if you are not bringing it up. If you are talking about these people in the hearing of your children then you are inviting them to keep talking about it, too. I can not over-emphasize the need for your explanation to a younger child to be calm, pragmatic, measured and short. Long explanations make you look defensive which will tend to peak the interest of the child and prompt him to push the issue. You can gauge what is appropriate information depending on the age of the child. If the child is older and has experienced or witnessed the grandparent's nastiness in action then you can say more.

Young children are not known for their long attention spans. This works in your favor. With younger children you have the advantage of distraction. It is easy enough to get the child's mind off onto another track. Every parent has done the distraction routine at one time or another. "Mommy, I want to see NastyGram today!" "Honey, we aren't going to see NastyGram today because we get to go to the park and eat ice cream." (Make up fun time on the spot if necessary for this distraction.) "Yay!!" sez the kid and off we go. Subject changed, kid distracted. In time, NastyGram will fade from memory. Any bonding that may have occurred will dissipate in the process of time.

Remember, you are the parent. You're older and therefore more experienced which is the point of being the parent. The child is dependent on your good sense and protective wisdom. You're smarter than your child; use that to your advantage (such as using the distraction method). You are the final authority. This is not a negotiable issue. Kidlet doesn't get to decide on this one because they lack the understanding, wisdom, experience and good sense that, hopefully, you have. So don't look like you're unsure or open to quibble. You'll undermine yourself if you look anything but firm and resolved on it. Use your advantages as parent to smooth the effects of the cut-off. Over time this will all quiet down. Kids tend to accept what is. It will happen more quickly if you follow the above advice.

Most of all, do not operate from a fearful mindset. Don't be afraid of your children's possible, or actual, reactions. Don't be afraid that you are depriving them of something important by cutting off a set of grandparents. You are only "depriving" them of bad things. Reassure yourself with that truth. Family is not everything. Blood is not binding. You are escaping the Mob Family. What should connect us is how we treat each other with love and respect. This is always a good lesson to teach our little ones. If any part of you is unsure of your decision then, for Pete's sake, don't show it. Your resoluteness will go a long way toward reassuring your children that you are acting in everyone's best interest. If your children know that you love them, they are going to feel reassured that this decision is also based in your love for them. They will find an added sense of security to know that you, as their parent, are willing to protect them even at the cost of your relationship with your own parent(s). Rather than being fearful, see the plentiful opportunities in this. You are protecting your children from someone whom you've experienced as being abusive; you are reassuring your children that you are in charge and are watchful for their best interests (creates deep sense of security); you can teach healthy family values which include that family doesn't get a pass for abusive behaviour; you can strengthen and reinforce the healthy relationships in your extended family. Kids are less likely to feel like there is a void in their life if you fill it with good things.

Model how you want them to respond and it is likely they will imitate. Don't be afraid of their questions. Kids are amazingly resilient and well-equipped to handle truth. Parents are supposed to protect their progeny. If your child doesn't agree with how you go about that don't worry. They will often disagree with your decisions for their best interests. Nothing new there. It is your job as parent to make the tough decisions. If you know it is the right decision then proceed with confidence. Showing confidence is a quality of leadership. As a parent you are supposed to be a leader. Lead...and they will likely follow.

Meerka Sun 07-Dec-14 16:17:32

Actually, they dont believe that H is behind it, they all blame me 100% which is incredibly insulting to H, implying that he cant think for himself and is so cowed by me that he would cut off his family to keep me happy!

People who are very controlling can't stand the thought that someone in their family might actually disagree with the way they do things

JammyGeorge Sun 07-Dec-14 16:26:07

First - accept a huge virtual bear hug! Pil & family issues like this are so stressful. And it's often a wedding that's the final straw.

One thing I will say which is a general observation, if people are knobheads those around them know that. DH's whole family have blanked him at times but they have all come round as deep down they know what mil is like. Also, if you don't feed the monster she needs attention elsewhere! Once we went NC she fell out with her sister and now things aren't exactly rosy with DH's brother.

At one point DH's brother had been that wound up by mil that he ended up saying to DH you need to make jammy go and see pil, if it was my wife I'd make her say sorry even though she's not done anything just to keep the peace. DH stood his ground, 5 years later things are still difficult with his brother and always will be but DH's brother is certainly changing his opinion of his mother.

I also think you and your DH need to have a long talk about what contact you do or don't want to have. I'm not a fan of pil's maintaining relationships with DH and gc's and excluding their DIL. Lots of people function like that mind.

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