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Toxic MIL, next step when Grandchildren involved?

(16 Posts)
mrsvilliers Thu 08-Jan-15 15:39:42

Looking for validation and advice really. Bit of background-both DH and I are in our late thirties with two under fives. I've always had MIL issues, prompted by her quite franlly being awful during my first pregnancy and first year with my DS. I have generally just put it down to her being a nasty piece of work and got on with things but things reached a head over Christmas and even DH has had it with her. (They had a massive fight prompted by us not leaving the house quickly enough on Boxing Day, the main points as I saw them were 37 yo DH accused of using the house like a hotel; being a disgrace for not getting himself/children dressed for breakfast and causing MIL a vast amount of work by coming to visit with his family). In retrospect I can see that a lot of her comments to me in the past (which I took as somewhat bitchy and ignored) were actually intended to put me down. Obviously being a reasonably well adjusted woman in her thirties I can ignore these, but I have a couple of questions if anyone can help? NC is not an option.
1. What do I do if I see DH is planning something (nice) that will cause them to moan, roll their eyes and hold it against us for ever after? Stop it or just let him get on with it and adopt a 'Not my circus not my monkeys attitude'?
2. It has been made very clear to me that MIL will not be helping with the children. Should I worry about her influence on them? As of yet she doesn't seem bothered by them (although very concerned DH will stop her seeing them) but she has already made a couple of odd comments wrt DC1. Are there signs to look out for?

Fwiw my parents are divorced and I get on very well with both of them as does my DH. The above isn't normal, is it?

mix56 Thu 08-Jan-15 15:48:46

Avoid them. she doesn't like you, don't go for Xmas again, if she wants to see DCs she can come on an occasional visit to your house, preferably when you are out. OH can deal with them
I would tell her straight the reasons, life's too short......Cow

MimiSunshine Thu 08-Jan-15 16:30:07

1) Why stop him doing something nice just to avoid them being upset, unless its intentionally horrible to them then its their choice to be upset. He knows what they're like, leave him to it.

2) Surely she wont have much influence if she isn't doing any childcare. She is horrible to you, so stop inviting her over. Again leave it to your DH to have a relationship with her and the DC.

Above all stop trying to solutionise or manage the relationships, you chose your DH, you didn't choose her so as she is rude and bitchy to you, therefore you can absolve yourself of anything more than politely indifference

mrsvilliers Thu 08-Jan-15 16:49:30

Thanks both, I don't have any contact with her outside of my DH, I don't even speak to her on the phone, she was so awful during my first pregnancy I have never really got past that. But me not seeing her is not an option (I can just imagine the vitriol she will direct at DH if I do this). As far as I am concerned DH is very good to them (he helps them out whenever they need him) so I was very taken aback at what happened over Christmas. Your first point is a good one though Mimi thanks. And you have both reassured me it is not normal behaviour!

Bogeyface Thu 08-Jan-15 16:57:21

Why is NC not an option? No one can force you to see anyone, and perhaps you putting your foot down will give your DH the impetus to do the same.

I dont see my MIL, H doesnt like it but he understands my reasons and accepts it (for the most part). There was one major row when he go upset about it and said that I should be the bigger person. I went into orbit. I had tried many many times to be the bigger person only to have it thrown in my face and exactly how "big" did I have to be when I was treated as if I was invisible by her at best and a vile enemy to be destroyed at worst?

He hardly sees her now himself as he can see just how toxic she is. Sadly the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) wont let him cut her off completely but as long as he doesnt expect me or DD to be involved, thats up to him.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 08-Jan-15 17:06:10

No it is not normal but dysfunctional.

You likely have come from a family of origin where thankfully this sort of dysfunction his parents are showing you is completely unknown.

What does your DH think of his parents now, particularly his mother?. Does he want a relationship with either of them now?.

If both your parents are nice then keep up the relationship with them. Your children will also thank you for doing so as well.

They're his parents so its basically down to him to deal with them. If he cannot or will not do this then your problem also lies with your DH as much as them. Some men who have been under the conditioning of overbearing and or controlling mothers their whole lives (or with an enabler or bystander of a father to boot) do find it very difficult to actually break away from this and be their own person. Fear, obligation and guilt are but three of many damaging legacies such emotionally harmful people leave to their now adult offspring and he may well be in FOG with them.

He may well continue to maintain some sort of relationship with his parents but he may well not and it does not follow that you or by turn your children at all have to do so. Your boundaries re them need to be a lot higher than they have been to date; emotionally unhealthy people like these take full advantage of nice people like you who are unsure about rocking the boat. You would not have tolerated any of this from a friend, his family are no different really.

Why do you write that NC is not an option?.

Forget the "not my circus, not my monkeys" attitude as well, it will not help you here. Both of you need to adopt a clear and consistent approach to them, anything less than that will not work. You both have to support each other equally and stop worrying about him potentially denying her access.

Who made it clear to you that MIL will not be helping with the children?. Sounds like a good thing really given her own awful behaviours towards her son and by turn his own family unit. She has really done you a favour by not "helping" out.

Why are you concerned that your DH would stop her seeing them?. You cannot and must not apply the "normal" rules of familial interaction to such people like his parents, the rule book goes out the window when it comes to dysfunctional families. These people certainly do not play by "normal" rules. Grandparents in this country have no automatic right to see their grandchildren anyway.

These people like his parents were likely also rotten as parents and are not up to much as grandparent figures either. Your children need positive role models instead, not some grandmother who is already making odd comments already with regards to your first child (this may be favouritism on her part).

Why would he be wanting to plan anything nice at all for them given what happened over the Christmas period?.

There is no law to say that you have to at all continue seeing people at all who treat you like rubbish. Also seeing them also allows them to continue treating you like rubbish and it also sends mixed messages to your children. Some families are just not very nice, it is not your fault his mother is the way she is. Her own family of origin likely inflicted that damage and some people never seek the necessary help they need.

I would suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward to further understand the dynamics of power and control that are really going on here.

mrsvilliers Thu 08-Jan-15 17:09:34

That's really interesting and sounds familiar Bogey thanks for sharing. I think I might be at the beginning of that process if that makes sense, I certainly won't be staying there again. Funnily enough I was ok when it was just directed at me, I have a very supportive family that I was then venting to, but it really disturbed me how she went at DH.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 08-Jan-15 17:12:05

"But me not seeing her is not an option (I can just imagine the vitriol she will direct at DH if I do this)".

No, you've got this all wrong here with regards to that comment above.

She will be vitriolic regardless of whether you all see her or not. That is the way she is and you did not make her that way What's the worst she could do anyway if you were to both cut her off?. Both of you need to present a united front; if he were to decide not to continue with a relationship with either of his parents then you need to and must support him in this.

If she hurts you both as parents emotionally she hurts your children as well. They will wonder why their mum and dad are being treated like this and on a wider level why they keep putting themselves in front of such emotional abusers as well. Such people like his mother never apologise (you have never had any real apology from her have you?) nor ever accept any responsibility for their actions.

Such awful women like his mother use control methods to get their own way; she could well threaten to disinherit him or some such nonsense. Some such women as well are not also above pulling a previously unknown health scare on their offspring as well.

Joysmum Thu 08-Jan-15 17:22:17

She will be vitriolic regardless of whether you all see her or not


I would not put my DH through anything that guests him, why should your DH expect you to continue with something that hurts you?

Tell him you never want to see her again but completely understand that he wants to continue with her and you'd never dictate otherwise.

mrsvilliers Thu 08-Jan-15 18:10:55

Atilla thank you so much for both your posts, they're really helpful. The FOG is exactly right, they have hammered it into him that he was some awful teenager (he wasn't, just normal, no convictions, no drugs no pregnancies etc) and this is still going on. It is MIL who made it clear she wouldn't be helping (lots of 'I would help but... comments followed by nonsense reasons, which you are right is a good thing) but it is MIL who is worried DH will stop her seeing her GC, presumably to set off the FOG as to what an awful person he used to be? You are right about the apologies too, I keep expecting one especially after I sent a thank you card for the kids' presents but not even an acknowledgement. The comments to my DC1 were not favouritism, he beat way I can explain it is she was planting an idea in his head but in a way that he would then do it and get in trouble for if that makes sense?

My parents are lovely thank goodness and see a lot of their grandchildren, so the children are getting a positive grandparent experience too. I think the oddest thing is I always assumed that as a child of divorced parents we were top of the dysfunctional chain but clearly not!

Thank you for the book recommendation, I will read that. I think I still need to process it all and DH is definitely not emotionally ready to go NC (although I would support). She is also awful to BIL too, but he has the measure of the situation and lives a 12 hour flight away. And FIL is a bystander/enabler, his reaction was 'you've upset your mother' rather than aren't you being a bit irrational.

Bogeyface Thu 08-Jan-15 18:24:02

he beat way I can explain it is she was planting an idea in his head but in a way that he would then do it and get in trouble for if that makes sense?

Woah, so she is planting ideas in a childs head that she knows would get him into trouble?! Keep this woman as far away from your child as possible, she is deliberately setting him up to fail.

Her comments about your DHs teenage years suddenly make a lot of sense. Sounds like she did the same to him to, and no matter what he did he would have been in the wrong and she would be justified in her martyrish "Arent I amazing even though I have a troublesome teen (grandchild)? Look how well I cope and just how much I have to deal with".

She is fucked up, she tried to fuck your husband up (with some success it has to be said) and is now trying the same trick on your child.

For the kids sake, keep them away.

mrsvilliers Thu 08-Jan-15 18:32:50

It is fucked up isn't it? (Excuse the language). I can't stop thinking about it. I was in a bit of a haze after DC1 was born so I think the true awfulness of what she did then is only really kicking in now. What I thought was quite interesting was after i told my mum about it all, she said she thought she came across as very cold. And my mum has only met her on a handful of occasions when she was on her best behaviour.

mrsvilliers Thu 08-Jan-15 18:42:48

I think the problem with DH is that this is normal to him, so he needs to get his head around the fact that it is not normal before he can decide anything.

Meerka Thu 08-Jan-15 18:45:00

But me not seeing her is not an option (I can just imagine the vitriol she will direct at DH if I do this).

Im afraid that that actually, you should bite the bullet and not see her. I also think you need to ask - to insist - your husband reads Toxic Parents by Susan Forward as atilla says. It's very hard to break away from the

The comments to my DC1 were not favouritism, he beat way I can explain it is she was planting an idea in his head but in a way that he would then do it and get in trouble for if that makes sense?


This is the start of a vicious process. This is wrong, malicious and I could honestly put it more strongly than that.

It's also subtle enough that no way would your grandchild know or understand what was going on. She or he is clay in her hands.

I'd venture a guess that the reason she is so very, very concerned about access to her grandchildren is so that she -can- poison them.

What you've said paints a picture of a very unpleasant woman who is deliberately destructive towards you, your husband and your children.

Please listen to atilla.

Vivacia Thu 08-Jan-15 19:04:03

Your suggestions all seem to be abandoning your husband. You should be together on this.

I also don't understand why reduced contact is not an option. I bet it is.

Meerka Thu 08-Jan-15 19:22:23

Agreed it would be much better to be encouraging your husband to see less of her.

It goes against the grain to ease someone away from their parent but this woman is - well, she's a bad woman.

Again though - yes you should be very much concerned about her and your children.

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