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I need help coping with the stress of my ILs

(16 Posts)
FrancisdeSales Tue 09-Feb-16 17:11:54

By nature I consider myself calm and reasonable and our immediate family life (DH and kids) is pretty happy, relaxed and uneventful - i.e. low drama. I have been on here before trying to cope when around my ILs however. We live a long way from them through choice. Originally it was DH who insisted he did not want to be in the same city, after 20 years I am of the same opinion.

We are going to visit them for a weekend in a couple of weeks and in fact will not be around them very much because the Saturday we will be with his cousin. But already I am starting to feel anxious.

PILS are divorced and MIL likes to try and make her two children parent her. She is in an almost constant state of chaos and drama. If DH does not do what she wants it is naturally my fault as he is her Golden Boy. My FIL refused to acknowledge my existence for at least the first 6 years of our marriage. Now I do not bother to contact them and keep everything to a bare minimum and let DH deal. They have never attempted to get to know me, my family or background it's as if I just dropped from the sky and everyone just carried on.

After all this time I wish I knew how to handle the situation better but if I could I would never see them at all.

If you have any thoughts and advice please go ahead.

RandomMess Tue 09-Feb-16 17:13:48

How old are the DC? I'd be tempted to send DH on his own with them...

ImperialBlether Tue 09-Feb-16 17:15:03

I'd go shopping all day. Or stay at home. I'd be damned if I'd spend any time with them.

MoominPie22 Tue 09-Feb-16 17:22:04

So why have anything to do with them if it´s so awful and you´re actually starting to get anxious about it now?

I´m just at a loss to understand why you would do that and why your husband would put you through that, knowing how unhappy and stressful it makes you.

Life is too short to waste it around arseholes surely? confused

FrancisdeSales Tue 09-Feb-16 17:22:11

Well we really have to go because we have just moved back to the same country (not UK) after living abroad for many years. Not going would just cause more drama and my kids would be pretty unhappy with me not there (ages 9-15). I am flying on early on Sunday evening with my eldest and the two other kids are staying another day with their dad.

The situation is that of course to maintain family cohesion I am the problem (as is anyone else who marries into the family)
If I am lucky they will ignore me as usual. A new drama has of course just blown up in the past week.

RandomMess Tue 09-Feb-16 17:24:45

I think you are suddenly going to be far too ill to go...

Cleensheetsandbedding Tue 09-Feb-16 17:25:02

Can you not come down with terrible D&V?

I really don't see the point in making other people happy at the expense of your own happiness. I really wouldn't go.

I have got the MIL from hell who I avoid like the plague!

FrancisdeSales Tue 09-Feb-16 17:33:39

I just really don't want the kids alone without me as I can't be sure DH would walk out if something kicked off as his boundaries are vaguer than mine being brought up in this environment.

Also he does love his family very much (mostly mum and sister) and I know he really wants me at his side. His mum is 72 and having serious health problems and so I don't want to be making this about me. I just want to somehow grin and bear it and get through it. I will definitely be encouraging him to go without me for any other visits for the rest of the year once I have done my duty.

FrancisdeSales Tue 09-Feb-16 17:42:32

I still feel shit though.

whitecloud Tue 09-Feb-16 18:18:27

I sympathise, FrancisdeSales. It is hard when you feel so anxious and you've been ignored. IME if you grit your teeth and endure it for the sake of your dcs they really appreciate it and you are doing it to protect them. When they get older you can opt out more and just do the duty family occasions. If you tell them the truth about the situation when they are grown up and why you have a problem with your in laws they will understand. However children do not thank you from taking them away from their grandparents. If you can possibly manage it, I would go and behave coolly and politely.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 09-Feb-16 18:32:12

Who arranged this visit in the first place?.

Gritting your teeth for so called family harmony is not the way to go here. No to duty visits either, again you would not tolerate this from a friend and family are no different.

I would now cancel the visit, no good will come of this whatsoever for any of you and you all as a family will continue to be scapegoated. You live miles away from them for very good reason.

Moving back after many years away is really no good reason at all to be seeing such people now. These people are not and will never be nice and or reasonable; this is how they are and it is not your fault they are like this. You did not make them this way (their own families of origin did that lot of damage to them).

What you describe re your ILs is all very typical of what happens in families that are narcissistic in structure.

Family are not binding, you are really protecting your children here from Bad Things. Self preservation from you all is needed here, you need to protect yourselves a lot more.

I would respectfully disagree with this comment made by whitecloud:-

"If you tell them the truth about the situation when they are grown up and why you have a problem with your in laws they will understand. However children do not thank you from taking them away from their grandparents"

By not seeing these people you will be protecting them from emotional harm and bad things. Again family are not binding.

It will be too late when these children are adults, they need to be given the age appropriate truth now re their grandparents. Not all grandparents are nice and kind, infact some of them are out and out abusive like what is being described. These people will damage your children similarly to how your own DH has been harmed by them. It does children no favours at all to see you as their parents be so disrespected and denigrated by their grandparents; it sends them a terrible message.

You would not have and would not tolerate any of this from a friend, family are no different.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 09-Feb-16 18:36:03

This excerpt may also help you Francis.

"The actual mechanics of how the NPD grandparent will misuse their relationship to their grandchildren will vary. Generally, they will either over-value or under-value the grandchild as a means to get to you. Often, when they over-value, it is the objective of the narcissistic grandparent to steal the child from you. I mean that in both senses, physically and emotionally. Ngrandparents are known for so much trash-talking against you behind your back to your own child or children that they want to go live with grandma or grandpa, or the Ngrandparents simply inspire rebellion of the child against you. They steal the hearts of the grandchildren. Sometimes, they will battle for physical custody of a grandchild after their slander campaign against you has won them powerful allies. Many times the Ngrandparent has a lot of extra cash to throw around since they are done raising a family. They may successfully exploit the natural selfishness of the child by using cash or toys to lure them. They can even steal your children's hearts from you when the children near adulthood with promises of money, houses, cars, college tuition, etc. as bait.

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. Your child 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".

Olddear Tue 09-Feb-16 18:52:33

My ILS don't like me. They do enough to be polite for the first few minutes and then I'm largely ignored. Happily they live abroad and if he visits (very rarely!) he goes alone.
They can say all they like about it (I know they do) but I don't care! I refuse to be looked down on by anyone.

littleleftie Tue 09-Feb-16 19:14:12

I agree with PP - let DH go on his own. If you don't trust him to keep the DC safe from PIL drama then he will have to go completely alone.

If you go you will get sucked back into the crazy.

FrancisdeSales Tue 09-Feb-16 19:52:54

I am probably making it sound worse than it is - the only Scapegoat is me. DH can do no wrong in his mother's eyes and she literally worships him. After reading up on her behaviour it is closers to Borderline than NPD I really don't know but it does seem to be a PD of some sort. She very much has black and white thinking and she is very emotionally immature.

I like his dad's new wife so sit and talk with her if we go round there.

A ray of hope is if we are going down to see them they are not visiting us!

They all demand "When can I come and visit?" they never ask if it is convenient etc. I was such a great hostess for a long time but I am not prepared to do that anymore.

For a long time I didn't quite understand what was going on in terms of family dynamics - just that it was very stressful. You will be glad to hear I put my foot down and refused to spend Christmas with MIL and SIL and kids in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. I never want to sleep under the same roof ever again. They want me and DH to be the rescuers and parents. It's weird and sad.

The latest is a family member aged 21 who has no job and is not studying and likes to frequently get stoned, is pregnant. She doesn't know who the dad is as she has 4 boyfriends. The family's solution was to send her to us! We declined.

FrancisdeSales Tue 16-Feb-16 22:57:08

I'm back - the trip is this weekend and I am so dreading it. But trying to get my head around it.

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