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what to do about FIL(54 Posts)
FIL is a bully. When my DH & his DB were growing up he was emotionally & physically abusive.
MIL has told me a few stories over the years about how she would have to climb out of windows to escape him.
I think that DH & BIL have blocked out most of their childhood in order to protect themselves.
They seem to crave their fathers approval and he is never pulled up on his nasty comments.
FIL & MIL are quite elderly and tend to rub each other up the wrong way. She will answer him back now, but this is mostly said under her breath.
FIL has been particularly rude & nasty to me over the years but this has always been brushed off with 'oh you know what he is like'.
Two things have happened recently & I now do not know how do deal with it so would be grateful for some advice.
Firstly, FIL has started saying some nasty little snips to my children. They unsurprisingly are not keen on him but adore their nan.
Secondly, MIL has been quite ill recently due to stress. It has come to light that around 1 month ago FIL physically attacked her with her having to kick him to get him off.
BIL was aware of this and went round to their house and threatened to ' break FIL'S legs' if he ever laid another hand on his DM.
When BIL told my DH he was physically shocked and I don't think he knows how to handle this. All the childhood memories have resurfaced and he is also incredibly embarrassed at his father's behaviour.
However, the general consensus is that we should brush this under the carpet so as not to upset MIL.
I have only had a brief chat with her. I told her to divorce him & that it was not too late to have a few years of happiness without having to put up with his behaviour.
DH thinks that if she were to divorce him it would kill her.
The big problem is that I do not want anything to do with him. I could just about stand his bullying behaviour but now he is starting on my children.
I do not want him in my house, I do not want to be in his company. This kind of behaviour is so alien to me. I think he is getting worse. DH & BIL seem to think that he will never change but I think that he has never really been pulled up on his behaviour.
If I say anything to him I think it will cause catastrophic arguments. Maybe, I should keep out of it but it doesn't help that I don't want anything more to do with it.
They have a family member staying with them at the moment so everything is being brushed under the carpet until he has gone.
FIL is also very wealthy nut uses his money to manipulate his sons. He is actually not very generous but produces the carrot and stick all the time.
DH isn't money mad so I don't understand how he let's him manipulate him so much. I guess it is just another form of bullying?
Any advice would be gratefully received. I have managed to stay away from him but the thought of being in his company makes me feel physically sick.
I know this is the thing to do. However, it will cause huge problems.
I spite of his behaviour we were quote a close family. Meals together BIL & Sil and outings etc.
Also how would I explain NC with grandad to my children?
Do I let DH take the children to see him?
If I were to go NC I think FIL would take it out on my lovely MIL
My FIL was a complete arse; probably not as bad as your's, but nasty, racist, homophobic; loved playing his children off against eachother. I put up with it for years, because I loved my husband and didn't want to upset the apple cart. The best advice I was given is to detatch detatch detatch and look bored when they start. Worked for me.
When he started on my DD, I told him he wouldn't see her again until he cut it out, and I stuck to my word. I remember feeling very calm while all the drama raged around me; MIL sobbing hysterically on the phone; DH alternatively raging and pleading, everyone telling me my DD would hate me. (She didn't)
DH organised a meeting here we could all 'talk it out' and FIL started again almost immediately - so I got up and walked. They were getting nothing back at all from me - not anger or rage or anything to fuel the drama. So eventually it all petered out. We're never going to be friends, but it was worth it to stop him chipping away at DD self esteem.
Don't know if that is helpful - but just remember these are not YOUR parents, so you don't need to take their crap!
Good luck with it anyway!
And you don't need to explain anything to your children; if they ask (which mine never did) you just say, 'We just haven't seen them for a while, we'll get round to it!'
Thank you Puella
To be honest I am desperate and I know if I go NC I will see the same behaviour that you have experienced.
I haven't really discussed this at length with DH as waiting for family member to leave.
I know that he is disgusted & embarrassed by his father . But I think he will want to carry on as normal for a quite life.
It's making me feel ill just thinking it over & I can't dicuss it in real life as don't want to embarrass my DH any further
I appreciate your advice though.
My guess is that your FIL regularly attacks his wife and the cumulative effect has.now come out. It wasn't a one off and will resume again once the visitor leaves. Your BILs threat, whilst understandable, is unlikely to work because your MIL will try to hide it again. I don't know what to suggest but iif your DH brushes it under the carpet it isn't to stop his MIL being upset but because everyone is scared of FIL.
You can't keep out of it re your children, they either do not see him or you challenge him every time he is snide. I'm not sure what to do but you are the only one who can protect them, your DH just isn't there yet.
I'm sorry you and your family are in this position, it isn't easy and whatever you do it's going to be rough for a while. Good luck.
Thank you TheForger it really is a mess. I feel like I am sitting on a time bomb
If you let DH take the children to see him without you they will have no one to protect them when he starts on them. As no one else will challenge him.
As sad as this is for your MIL, you need to protect your children first and foremost, sometimes you have to push the angst and drama to the side and look at the situation objectively.
Would you advise a friend to let their children be around an abusive grandfather?
I know you are right and I don't believe this is a one off incident.
Bil & sil have suggested that once family member has gone the four of us sit down to discuss & firm a plan of action.
I think that DH & BIL are desensitised (sp?) To his behaviour.
I really want to use this time to explain my feelings but in a calm non dramatic way.
The things he says to my children are said with a smile & laugh (like he is having a joke). I know he is being nasty.
"FIL has started saying some nasty little snips to my children"
"Do I let DH take the children to see him?"
NO! This man is emotionally and physically abusive. You have witnessed his abuse towards your children. PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN. Do not let them have contact with this man. By all means take them to visit their grandmother if he isn't there - but DO NOT let your husband take them to see their grandparents. He is still stuck in FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) when it comes to his father.
Honestly, the best thing you can do is go NC - for you and the children, you can't stop your DH seeing his father - and support your DH as best you can. Do you think he would be open to reading the "Toxic Parents" book? Therapy to discuss the issues?
AnotherEmma thank you.
My husband is the complete opposite to his father.
To be honest I don't think he would have therapy because most of his memories are locked away.
I could discuss it with him. Yes I agree that my children's emotional welfare is the most important thing and I will not put up with this behaviour towards them.
I think if I voice this to DH & BIL they will view it that I am in some way causing trouble, if that makes sense?
You're not causing trouble, you're protecting your children. But they would think that, because they're afraid of their father, and find it extremely difficult to stand up to him. You need to be calm but firm on this. You might not be able to persuade them but that doesn't matter.
Yes it does, the whole family have unconsciously colluded in their fathers behaviour. I'm not blaming them, as children what could they do? This behaviour has continued as adults as it is ingrained. They all want it to go back to the way it was, you don't and would be voicing your concerns. It is easier to blame you as the messenger than their father who scares them.
If you know he is being nasty, so do your kids. You either call him on it every time, using exactly the same tone you would to a toddler ('please don't say things like that, it's very rude.... funny? Reallly? Well, I don't think being cruel is funny, so if you I would prefer it if you did not speak to us like that' -with as much boredom as you can manage.) or you leave.
Your MIL is an adult. Tell her you will help her get away from this horrible man, but then it's up to her. Your children need you to stand up to them and show then that emotional blackmail is wrong and shouldn't be given in to!
What can your FIL actually do? It's only sound and fury, and if you're not there, you don't even have to listen!
Don't risk your children's emotional and physical wellbeing on the alter of 'keeping up appearances'. Fear and self preservation were probably the rationale for why MIL didn't protect her sons and your H appears to have adopted the same reasoning to avoid acknowledging the dangers to his children.
Thankfully you weren't born and raised in such a dysfunctional family and you recognise the dangers of contact with such a toxic bully. Don't let the wants of adults be used as an argument to justify exposing your children to such toxicity.
We had a similar situation with the fortunate exception that MIL & FIL were ling divorced so when he started on our dc, DH saw the light and after the ensuing fall out and glorious NC, the relationship with MIL was unaffected.
As far as explanation to the dc went, we explained that FIL had been very badly behaved and made everybody feel bad. DH had asked him to apologise but he wouldn't and so we had to wait until he did say sorry. It had little impact on their life and we have never had any doubt.
I don't suppose you can see MIL without him? I guess she'd be punished for that somehow or just not allowed.
I had toxic grandparents - my mother was desperate to go no contact, my dad always refused (they were his parents). It eventually blighted my parent's marriage and had really awful effects on my brother and me (manipulated by grandparents, told my mother was rubbish etc).
I would advise no contact for your children, limited contact for you ending in full no contact and eventual no contact of the two sons.
Sadly a child, even in adulthood, is incredibly resistant to acknowledging that a parent is abusive: my father was 86 before he admitted his mother was a vicious sadist. He had been so conditioned by her.
Your husband and his brother need a lot of support to realise what their father is. And that their mother chose not to protect them - this is so painful that most children block it out, and it isn't until they marry and an outsider comes in and sees the family dynamic that they even gain any insight into their abusive childhood.
Thank you all for your replies. Yes, I need to address this, I will not have this man thinking he can walk over me & my children's emotions.
How old are the ILs?
My first thought if they're elderly is dementia- is this a possibility? (not an excuse).
Is it possible that MiL can move in with either of you? She clearly needs to get away from him.
And his sons need to protect her and their families from him.
Mil 79 FIL 80.
Yes sil suggested dementia, but he has history of this behaviour. Maybe th 'funny' comments could be put down to this.
I really don't think MIL would leave him. She knows we would look after her & the offer is always there.
If she were to divorce him she would be financially very well off. I think he controls her with money too. But how realistic this would be at 79 I just don't know.
Have the courage of your convictions, OP, because you're right, it is vital your protect your DC, and yourself, from this man.
Sadly you're also right that your DH and BIL may well make you out to be a trouble maker. That's the way it usually works in families ruled by a bully. The bully is always placated and appeased, while the one who tries to stand up to the bully is designated as the "problem".
So brace yourself... You could have a fight on your hands. If you do, keep remembering, you are not the problem, FIL is. And keep repeating that ad infinitum to your DH if necessary.
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