DH and I plus DS (3) have just spent 2 days at in-laws'. MIL has form for histrionics when she feels slighted, FIL enables this and turns it on us. He also makes us feel unwelcome.
DS was eating toast at breakfast when MIL took it off him and started dipping it for him - he shouted 'NO!' and got upset. I got him to thank MIL for lovely breakfast and took him next door to defuse the situation. Cue hysterical wailing from MIL about how we should have told DS not to speak to Grandma like that, and FIL roaring at DH about how she's got 12 months to live (irrelevant and not factual - she's refusing to take meds after radiotherapy).
My position is this: DS is allowed to say no if someone invades his space and upsets him. DH agrees. PIL think he's feral, clearly (he was fantastic the whole visit, no tantrums, super behaviour).
Where do we go from here? I know they're toxic, co-dependant etc. but DH wants to see his mum and is crushed by their behaviour. me, not so much, I've seen it before and I'll see it again (unless we go NC).
If you were staying in guessing they live far away? If that's the case I'd just ignore the behaviour and minimise their contact with your DS, when she recovers from the treatment and is still behaving the same way I'd shut her down, your DS can't be guilt tripped by them ffs
Thank you Dartmoor, I think low contact is the way forward. DH and I have talked about day trips rather than staying. They are just incredibly authoritarian and I think they interpret our way of parenting as an insult to their way, just because it's different.
YANBU. I would've been pretty pissed off if I was eating a piece of toast and someone took it off me to dip. I would be asking her why she thought it an ok thing to do when she wouldn't expect someone to do the same to her. I don't understand some people - just because it's a child, doesn't mean you shouldn't respect their boundaries. Children have feelings too and appreciate boundaries / personal space respected.
Coconut I feel the same - some people just can't put themselves in a toddler's shoes. DS is actually pretty even tempered (even for a threenager!) so I think she was shocked when he stood his ground...
I totally get what you mean re the different way of parenting, my MIL (who is lovely) is soft as anything and let's my DS get away with murder so he acts up when she's here, my DM adores him but seems to have forgotten how old he is and expects more grown up behaviour from him. Parents! I'm lucky as I'm quite strong willed so I just over rule them both - politely! Solves the whole"what to do dilemma" in any case!
There was a thread a few days ago it could have been weeks I have lost all sense of time about a similar thing with PILS taking food off a toddlers plate and getting the hump when they were challenged.
Some people just do not accept boundaries around food, and it's absolutely correct for DS, and his parents, to challenge this infringement. How would MIL or PIL react if you took food off their plate and started playing with it?
Agree with PP, LC is the way to go.
If it makes you feel any better OP, when DS was about 3 he told MIL her spag bol was "disgusting!" It was, but it caused WW3
He had some HP sauce on his plate - MIL grabbed the toast off him and tried to show him how to dip it (he didn't want to). He shouted 'no!', welled up and I said 'thank Grandma for the lovely toast' (which he did, very nicely), then I took him into the living room. Cue wailing from grandma.
I don't know why people can't just leave kids alone and allow their parents to get on with the business of actually parenting them! Your ils sound like a pita - low contact and day visits are definitely the way to go!
You're all lovely, and DH and I will probably reduce contact/avoid staying (doubt we're welcome anymore, anyway). I just feel sorry for DH, his parents were really awful to him this morning and have left him crushed, he's very dutiful and a lovely man (he's an only child and has no-one to talk to about this).
if she is really that ill i would just avoid mealtimes and other stress points when visiting
FIL needs to be told to fuck off shouting in front of children and behaving like an arsehole he also needs to have it made clear if mil goes in the next 12 months he will be alone for next year and might wish to rethink his mouth and manners
The visit to his parents should never have taken place.
Your boundaries re these people are way too low and need to be raised; by going there at all their behaviour has been condoned by the two of you. These people are really lousy hosts to say the very least. Emotionally healthy people as well do not behave as they do.
If DH wants to see his parents it does not follow that your son and you have to do so as well.
Low contact as well is something that can be tried and it can also lead to ultimately no contact.
I would suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" by Susan Forward and he reads Toxic Parents by the same author. He also needs to find a therapist that has NO (repeat NO) bias about keeping families together despite the presence of ill treatment.
DS was eating toast with one hand and using the index finger of the other hand to feed himself HP sauce: clearly a no-no chez PIL. So MIL grabbed toast and showed DS how to dip it in the sauce (he knows how to do this obviously but he was happy doing it his way). She interferes with what he's doing all the time, it's exhausting and pointless.
Hi Attila I've read Toxic Inlaws and it was really helpful. I did consider suggesting therapy. I've repeated over and over the mantra that DH is not responsible for his parents' frankly insane behaviour and reactions to situations. They were from toxic families themselves but instead of stopping the cycle of abuse, they've continued it.
MIL has been sending little notes through the post and trying to act all 'doting'. I don't buy it, because it's only a matter of time before the next 'woe is me' histrionics episode.
DH, on the other hand, thinks that this is an olive branch and has started talking about how 'difficult' it will be to manage day visits only arrangement.
What do I say to DH so that I don't look bitter and twisted? I work full time, have DS (3) and am 5 months pregnant: I don't have time/space for visits to toxic PILs. I still believe that if they're not capable of an adult relationship with DH, then they don't deserve a moment of anyone's time.
Well, with mil being unwell, it maybe isn't appropriate to tire her out too much with prolonged visits. Although I'm sure she'd love to see you for extended periods of time, she has shown that she gets incredibly stressed and you don't want to contribute to that stress.
They have proved that they are unable to cope with extended visits, so it would be kinder by far to limit contact to day visits.
You really must be quite insistent that this is the only trouble you'll consider putting hem to - she is unwell, after all......
How often do you see each other? If it's monthly, can you stretch the visit out to every six weeKs instead? Then you can extend it to every half term and then reduce it to termly visits, it would make it slouch easier for you. As other posters have suggested, meet up at a public place so there's less chance of dramatic scenes. Or could you do Skype calls and drop a visit in between, that way you have control over the length of the call.