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What do you make of this thing that MiL said?

(29 Posts)
NoRoomForALittleOne Sat 20-Dec-14 16:34:49

MiL came and stayed for a few days. I find her a very difficult woman as she can be very unpleasant to me when DH isn't around. She also is very manipulative of our children. She ended up looking after our two eldest for 1.5 hours whilst I had a hospital appointment against my better judgement. When I got back the children were not well behaved and she made a comment to them of 'remember what I said to you'. It turns out that she said that they could have fun while mummy wasn't there but they had to behave when I got home otherwise She wouldn't be allowed to look after them again! But that wasn't the weirdest thing she said.

DD1 (7) was being particularly vile towards me. It was the last day of term and she had lost her teddy the night before. We turned the room upside-down that she said she had lost teddy in and looked throughout the house but were unable to find teddy. For the first time in her life she slept without her teddy and so was tired the next day. She was angry with me for not finding teddy (believe me, I tried!) and even more angry when I didn't let her have a day off of school (she said that she had a tummy ache but managed to eat her breakfast fine and had no other symptoms). After I returned from the hospital appointment, I had a chat with DD1 and says that she faked the tummy ache to try and get a day off so I explained this wasn't acceptable. By now teddy had been found.

I made a comment to MiL that DD1 kept on giving me vile looks whenever she looked at me even though teddy had now been found and that DD1 must be exhausted if she is still in that much of a foul mood with me. To which MiL responds that DD1 has ALWAYS given me horrible looks whenever she looks at me. What?! No, she hasn't! I can't help but wonder what else she may have been telling DD1 and DD2 in my absence.

ILoveLenor Sat 20-Dec-14 16:38:51

She sounds like a witch and a shit stirrer. I'd have as little to do with her as possible

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 20-Dec-14 16:52:07

How does your DH get along with his mother these days?. Does he back you up here re his mother or does he say something inane like, "well you know what she is like" or some other spineless witticism. He may well be as much of a problem really as his mother if he is both unable and unwilling to stand up to her. A lifetime of conditioning at her hands is very hard to undo and he may well be in FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) with regards to her.

He may well want to keep a relationship going with her but that does not follow that you or the children automatically have to. You would not have tolerated any of her behaviour from a friend, his mother is no different.

Your boundaries re she are also far too low and need to be raised; there should be no more visits by her to your house and she should in no way be left alone with your children as of yesterday.

Your children as well as yourself need to stay well away from his mother because she is really a toxic influence and is unduly influencing your children to their detriment. They do not realise that they are really being manipulated here by their nan. They also need positive and life affirming role models, not a woman who drips poison into their ears re their own mother and she teaching them to disrespect you to boot. That is all from her.

I would suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward so you can further under the power and control dynamics that are really being played out here.

NoRoomForALittleOne Sat 20-Dec-14 17:27:09

DH finds his mother difficult and spends as little time with her as he can but he doesn't often stand up to her. He tends to think that saying nothing 'keeps the peace'. This stems from the time when his mum and dad divorced. She moved him 300+ miles away from his dad which was a massive mistake for him. He adores his dad and would rather have stayed with his dad. MiL didn't treat DH and SiL the same as she had her own issues being treated differently to her brother as a child. She says that her own mother was toxic but everything her mum did, MiL did in turn to DH (for example smacking him with a hairbrush so that she could hit him harder because it wouldn't hurt her hand). MiL was also not happy that DH continued contact with his dad and still does today. SiL doesn't have any contact with FiL anymore because of all the things that MiL told her about FiL (seemingly untrue but hard to know as there's always two sides to a story).

MiL has also told me horrific things about FiL but said not to tell DH. I haven't told him because I don't know that they are true and I'm not going to ruin his relationship with his dad.

Vivacia Sat 20-Dec-14 18:09:31

Why do you leave your children with this woman?

Humansatnav Sat 20-Dec-14 18:16:40

Very helpful Vivacia hmm

LittleDonkeyLeftie Sat 20-Dec-14 18:22:59

No, Vivacia makes a good point. Would you willingly leave your children with a child abuser then? smacking him with a hairbrush so that she could hit him harder because it wouldn't hurt her hand

I would not have this woman in my home.

DingDongMerrilyOnSherry Sat 20-Dec-14 18:25:29

Don't let her stay. If DH only has contact with her when it actually you not him that has the contact, well then he and she can shove it! If he cares about seeing her, he can visit her without you.

Sounds like your MIL told DD that you had hidden the teddy on purpose. Or made up other lies.

MIL seems to have form for lying about people and relying on everyone else not sharing stories, so she gets away with it. You really need to start being open with each other about the shit she spreads. Start with the DD.

Hissy Sat 20-Dec-14 18:32:46

it's a fair point. she abused her own child, you think she'd stop at that? not hurt your children when she hates you? dislikes her own son?

learn fast. this woman will fuck up your family.

stop fostering any formm of relationship with her, don't allow her in your home alone with you, no more staying over.

GilbertBlytheWouldGiftIt Sat 20-Dec-14 18:40:34

Your 7 year old is old enough to have a proper chat on her own level, about Granny and how sometimes people say mean things about others.

Sympathies, I've had to teach my DD that sometimes Granny says things that are "silly".

Don't probe her, but leave the chat open if she wants to ask you for reassurance about anything that your MIL may have said.

Fuckmath Sat 20-Dec-14 18:40:37

Wouldn't leave her with my kids

Sorry she is such a shit

Meerka Sat 20-Dec-14 19:12:47

Is there a pattern that when your children spend time with MIL that they come back behaving badly?

She does sound like a witch.

It really sounds like it'd be wiser next time follow your better judgement and find alternative childcare.

Vivacia Sat 20-Dec-14 19:19:40

Why did you find that unhelpful satnav?

OP I understand why you left your children with her, given the emergency nature of your hospital visit. But I mean in general, why would you give her access to your children?

NoRoomForALittleOne Sat 20-Dec-14 20:03:43

It was her last chance. I didn't want to but DH did. I made it clear that I don't trust her (although I think that she would never hurt them physically as she worships them but she does manipulate them) and am quite pleased that she now lives a lot further from us so it is rare that she could be with them. She doesn't like spending time with them when we are around but loves it when she has them 'all to herself'. She doesn't like our rules and thinks that we are too strict (my parents think the opposite but that's another story). I begrudgingly agreed to it because it was only our 7 and 5 year old who will tell me what's happened afterwards rather than our youngest two as well.

Yes to the question do they always behave worse after she has spent time with them. I'm not totally convinced that she is saying loads of stuff that she shouldn't but just enough to be 'fun granny' vs 'horrible parents'. She has no boundaries and our DC know that they can run amok with MiL in charge but we expect them to think about others, be polite etc. she has this thing about being allowed to break all the rules as a grandparent because grandparents are fun but then uses that to undermine us as parents. She does also have this weird thing about trying to change the way that we do things so that we have more of her influence in our lives. It's hard to explain because it is usually small things but the way she does it is really frustrating!

I think that she has some mental health issues and has significant unmet emotional needs through her own upbringing and two failed marriages. She turns the need for love in to a competition. I feel quite sorry for her really but her behaviour has got to stop!

Someone said that she has form for lying. Yes she does. Lots. Although interestingly we have seen how she chooses to remember things differently when circumstances change eg when SiL was happy in her first marriage then her SiL's XH was wonderful all the time but when she got divorced, it was all 'I told you not to marry him'. Incidentally MiL did tell DH in front of me the night before our wedding that it wasn't too late to back out and was shocked when he said that he wanted to marry me!

Right, I have to go and get some work done now before DD3 inevitably wakes up when her temperature next spikes. I will be back later to check on the thread.

TrippleBlessed Sat 20-Dec-14 20:26:14

Do you find her at all helpful? Do you gain anything from having her in your lives?

Even though she sounds quite unpleasant, I really do believe there are always good and bad in people, so perhaps look for what's good so it can make the limited time you have together bearable...thats what i have to do when i 'need' to visit my inlaws.

Its unfortunate that she has some negative qualities about her, perhaps you could talk to her about them to improve relations? He is your hubby's mum after all, and your childrens gran.

All the best

Nanny0gg Sun 21-Dec-14 00:29:18

Some negative qualities?

Have you read the thread?

The woman sounds dreadful and I would consider not having her near my children again.

Meerka Sun 21-Dec-14 04:46:12

It sounds as if mainly that she should only be allowed to see the grandchildren when you are around.

It isn't what she wants but sadly experience has repeatedly shown that it's not a constructive experience when she has them.

So, seeing them when you are around does seem a reasonable compromise. She gets to see them, you can keep an eye on what's going on. Physical abuse is awful, but manipulation can be as bad. And I'm sure you don't need to be told this but definitely withstand her efforts to ensure she has more influence in your lives! smile

Bearleigh Sun 21-Dec-14 10:48:19

I wonder if she had something to do with teddy's disappearance...

NoRoomForALittleOne Sun 21-Dec-14 15:00:26

Thanks for all of your responses. It is clear that she needs to be 'supervised' when having contact with the grandchildren.

Interestingly a lovely friend who has known the difficulties that I've had with MiL over the years but recognised that she is getting worse and suggested looking in to early onset dementia. DH and I have been chatting about whether MiL is getting worse recently especially with her reducing tact, worsening in social situations and vagueness about having to fully retire as she kept on missing/neglecting things at work (she was a midwife). I do wonder if how she is isn't entirely personality. I'm sure some of it is a symptom of some emotional traumas surrounding her adoption that counselling doesn't seem to have helped. Some of it is just that she is a difficult woman!

NanaNina Sun 21-Dec-14 15:27:08

Your MIL sounds like she has is very emotionally confused about relationships on all levels. She has suffered a traumatic childhood herself (and you mentioned in your last post "her adoption") so that adds another layer to the past trauma. It sounds like she was treated differently (worse) than her brother and then unsurprisingly repeated this pattern with her own children. We mostly parent our children in the way we were parented, though they are always exceptions but children who were abused in childhood (as your MIL was) only really have one "model" of parenting. This is not to say all children who were abused will go on to be abusive parents.

She has 2 failed marriages and is presumably now on her own. To be honest I can't see why the way she is with your children is such a big problem. She's over indulging them (as many GPs do) and is maybe trying to be a "loving granny" because she couldn't be a loving mother. She sounds confused about her r/ship with you though - and it was a very odd comment to say that your DD always looks angrily at you. Maybe you are reading too much into this - could just be a silly thing that came into her mind, it's difficult to know. Did you ask her what she meant by this?

I'm glad you are considering that your MIL may have some mental health problem, rather than thinking she is just being nasty. She sounds like she has some very unmet emotional needs of her own stemming from her past and this causes confusion for her in her relationships. I'm still struggling to see why she has to be "supervised" when looking after the kids, unless she really is starting to be very impaired cognitively. Is she still working - she's obviously held down a responsible professional job.

I see all the "usual suspects" are on the thread denigrating your MIL but then that's what always happens on MIL threads. I find it so distasteful.

TrippleBlessed Sun 21-Dec-14 16:53:37

NanaNina - I think you have put that really well.

My DC's - age 6, 2 and spend time with their gran every weekend. I do have some issues with my MIL but I feel she is still their grandmother and she loves them dearly, I don't want them to miss out on her love. There may be some things she does that I don't approve of, but I try to look beyond that and try to see things from her point of view. If certain things are said to my older DS, then I try to set it right with him, so he can learn. This is part of life.

OP - as NanaNina put it - the 'usual suspects' are denigrating your MIL. Please do sit down with DH and discuss any issues about her and see if you can get her some help. If someone's had a tough life, the least we can do is help that person, and not turn our backs on them. Like I said before there is always good and bad in people. Wishing you all the best.

NoRoomForALittleOne Sun 21-Dec-14 20:05:49

To answer the question about is she still working - no. She is currently not allowed to practice because of the number of omissions and oversights she made in the last couple of months of working. She has been disciplined several times including one occasion when I believe her own poorly handled adoption clouded her judgement. She still does not see that she did anything wrong even though it is very clear that her oversights put a newborn at risk. So, yes, the job she held carried great responsibility but she did not manage it well.

As for why she has to be supervised... It has become apparent even more so today that she has been saying things to the children to manipulate them. Also, I'm not convinced that she is entirely capable of putting their needs above her own desires and impulses. If she is struggling with her mental health and/or starting to develop dementia then it is unfair on both the children and her to expect her to provide a suitable level of care. She is welcome to spend time with them as they are her grandchildren and for all her faults she does clearly love them. Despite my (and DH's) difficulty with her, at this point I think that the children still gain from having a relationship with her. I am not willing to make this a battle for their affections though nor am I happy for MiL to undermine us as parents. It is all very well spending a few hours with them 'without the rules' but we all know that she couldn't possibly sustain that and it be healthy for them. She generally has an issue with boundaries and I think that it would be wrong to teach our children that it is acceptable to have no boundaries. And, as much as anything else, it is the way that she does it that is a problem. That is hard to describe on here but it is an important factor in the situation as that probably would describe her behaviour better than what she has done IYSWIM?

The main thing that I came on here to ask was about the particularly strange comment that she made. There is something about it that makes me feel more uncomfortable than normal and she did seem to really believe it at the time then almost seemed to 'snap out of it'. I can't work out if she was being particularly horrible or if there is something more going on hence why it was important to give some backstory. Obviously I can't fill you in on the whole 12 years that I have known her so maybe it is silly to ask about it. There was just something so strange about it.

Hissy Sun 21-Dec-14 21:56:23

ignore your instincts at your peril.

Meerka Sun 21-Dec-14 22:17:36

The comment taken on its own is slightly odd, but not that weird.

But context is everything. You know that, we can't, though you've been clear there is a longrunning pattern of manipulation which is unsettling.

It's clear you are deeply uneasy about her and your children being left alone for long. As hissy says, follow your instincts.

Would your MIL consider going to the doctors to see if there really might be some medical cause for her worsening sense of how to handle things?

NoRoomForALittleOne Mon 22-Dec-14 07:04:46

She might go but I think that we would have to phone the GP to explain her symptoms about her personality (we live three hours drive away so I hope that a GP would take a phone call about it). I think that she would go and discuss her memory although it doesn't seem that bad to those around her. Having said that if she says the it is getting worse then maybe it is harder for her to recall things at the moment but not so hard that it's obvious.

Her late adoptive mother developed dementia quite suddenly and quickly. I think that has left MiL scared of developing it having seen it first hand.

Of course, this could all just be how she is and not dementia at all. I was talking to DH about it last night. When we were discussing some of her symptoms, he laughed and said that she's been like that since her 30's. He agreed that it's hard to tell if she is getting worse or just having a bad spell.

Whilst it is clear that she isn't able to work at the moment, I do think that she is missing the people contact and mental stimulation of working.

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