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MIL missing out on her granddaughter

(30 Posts)
MrsOlaf78 Thu 25-Feb-16 20:58:45

DD is 4 and SIL (DH's sister) has a daughter the same age - I'll call her Milly and also another younger daughter who I'll call Sophie. MIL looks after Milly and Sophie quite a lot during the week while SIL and her husband are at work. This has been the case since Milly was a baby and consequently MIL has a very close bond with Milly - she talks about her as if she's her own daughter.

The trouble is that for years we have felt that DD is consequently neglected by MIL. MIL is so busy being there for SIL's needs, she very rarely comes to visit DD. She doesn't even seem particularly interested in her. There is a sharp contrast with how she is with DD and how she is with Milly, even when they're all together and it is heartbreaking. She hugs and kisses Milly while DD looks on and she knows every detail of Milly's life but DD is like a stranger.

This has been going on for ages. DH is upset about it too We aren't asking much - just for MIL to redress the balance a bit and spend time with DD but she just doesn't seem interested. I find myself bigging up my own daughter to her - showing her certificates and preschool reports, almost like I'm trying to "sell" her to her own grandma! I get very little reaction. Whereas my mum just dotes on DD and can't see enough of her and consequently they have a lovely bond.

MIL has had a hard time lately with her sister being seriously ill in hospital but instead of getting a childminder SIL still expects her to run around taking Milly and Sophie here there and everywhere and looking after them at least twice a week. MIL does so without question and if we say anything she defends SIL and doesn't see anything remotely unreasonable in SIL's expectations and constantly makes excuses for her.

Yesterday it all came to a head, DH had previously talked to MIL about this and she'd agreed to come visit DD today but turned up very late because SIL needed her to babysit last minute. She didn't even apologise for being late. It was nearly DD's bedtime so she was tired and grumpy and had got upset earlier because grandma didn't turn up when she was going to and she'd painted a picture for her too. DH was fuming and had a go at MIL saying she spends too much time with Milly and DD is always getting fobbed off. MIL just said that she has to help if she's needed and acted as though we were being unreasonable! She doesn't seem to see what she's doing at al.

We hate being like this with MIL when she's going through a tough time, it feels horrible but at the same time it's so upsetting seeing DD getting treated like this all the time. It's sad that DD doesn't have that bond with her paternal grandma but trying to force the issue with MIL doesn't seem to work. SIL's needs will always be the priority. I just feel so low about it all, I had a great relationship with my grandparents and I just want DD to have the same and for her grandma to see how wonderful she is. Listening to her today, not caring at all how much she'd upset her granddaughter just broke my heart.

FrancisdeSales Thu 25-Feb-16 21:23:37

Almost certainly this reflects the dynamic of your DHs family and SIL has always been the favoured child over DH. Now it is showing up in the next generation.

Just stop forcing the issue. Drop the whole thing entirely - you can't change MILs behaviour. Let dd continue the fabulous relationship with your mum. I'm sorry you did not create this situation so just don't keep putting your dd in a position where she will get hurt (again).

Starface Thu 25-Feb-16 21:25:11

That's really sad. I have something similar with my DD. We live further from my parents than my brother and his two. We make all the effort to visit my parents - they come here once a year tops. My DD loves my mother especially and when we are there wants to follow her around. She is always asking to go to their house.

But it's also the same with my relationship with them. It is always me calling them. They only ever call with dramatic bad news. So I am always alarmed if I see a missed call from them.

They talk about my brothers kids all the time, and spend loads more time with them. Some of that is living closer. Some of it is imo caring more. They give my DD gifts, but they are sometimes based on what my brothers kids like rather than her interests. My dm confessed she didn't feel she knew her well and found it hard to buy for her. She could improve that by building a greater phone/Skype relationship but doesn't. My DD is fab, it's their loss if they can't figure out how to or make time to build a stronger relationship with her.

It used to break my heart a lot to see. It was also hard growing up when I didn't feel I got as much attention from them as I wanted and needed. But I learned to get my needs met elsewhere. And have learned to accept the good bits of these relationships for what they are, and try not to let the less good bits bother me too much. Our children can only make the relationships with the real people, warts and all. You can't make it into your idealised relationship. As it bothers DD, if it does, we can talk about it. I don't pretend everything is ok, and if they say they wish they saw her more, I reply that they can always visit. I do what I can to support the relationship - like I said we are almost always the ones to visit. But ultimately I am not responsible for it. In the long run it is between them.

HeddaGarbled Thu 25-Feb-16 21:56:55

Your daughter has one loving grandmother and one not so much. I would stop expecting anything of your MIL, don't plead with her to see your D, don't go out of your way to make arrangements. Let your D spend more time with the grandmother with whom she has the lovely bond.

If your MIL does ask to see you, it might be better if it's arranged for a time when the other grandchildren aren't there so that your D isn't being exposed to the difference in the way she is treated compared to her cousin. Also, don't big it up to your D as an important occasion that warrants picture making etc. If your MIL chooses to act as a not particularly close relation, then she should be treated as such.

I'm worried about poor Sophie!

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Thu 25-Feb-16 22:00:35

Why are you facilitating her hurting your dd like this? I'm sorry, this is going to sound harsh but you are totally putting her in the firing line for this. Withdraw. If she can't treat your dd equally with the other gd she will hurt her, you know that. And she clearly can't and won't. So you need to stop putting your dd up to get shot down.

No more painting a lovely picture because granny is coming.

No more granny is fucking coming if granny can't be nice.

These are not the acts of a loving gp. You have raised it and she clearly does not give a shiny shit. You now need to do what you must to stop her from damaging your dd's self esteem.

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Thu 25-Feb-16 22:03:51

Even your thread title is about granny not your dd.

FrancisdeSales Thu 25-Feb-16 22:20:52

My guess is the OP had been completely confused by MIL'S behaviour as she has not realised that her ILS are quite dysfunctional and probably MIL and SIL are codependent. So she has beenbeen PP trying to coax a relation that MIL clearly does not want. If you are used to normal, loving behaviour where everyone in a family is treated equally it can be disorientation and hard to believe when grownups behave this way.

Sorry OP stop making any extra effort with MIL and focus on healthy family and friends.

FrancisdeSales Thu 25-Feb-16 22:22:20

Excuse all my typos! Standing in line for my Pho soup!

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Thu 25-Feb-16 22:28:15

Yes I get that but it's time to wake up and smell the pho - for op's Dh as well. wink

Ledkr Thu 25-Feb-16 22:37:33

I have this with my parents and in laws!
Fuck em! Their loss.
Mil and fil cannot open their mouths without saying the other grand childs name. Even on Dds birthday she was showing them her presents and each one they said "other Gd has that" poor dd. As soon as I see her being aware of it I'll pull out for good.

MissBeaHaving Thu 25-Feb-16 22:39:16

I feel for you Op,we are in exactly the same situation.
We've decided it would be easier if we distanced ourselves for the sake of our children & the rest of the family as we don't know what else we can do.

It hurts so much as both I & Dp remember our siblings being favoured,we would rather our DC be happy & content than be constantly wondering why their cousins are favoured over them.

MrsOlaf78 Thu 25-Feb-16 23:02:19

Ledkr God that is so true for us too!! Mil can't compliment dd without mentioning Milly. "You're funny - just like Milly" "Mll knows two plus two - can you do maths yet?" Dd excitedly told Mil she was going to be four and mil replied "you're catching Milly up!" Aargh!

MrsOlaf78 Thu 25-Feb-16 23:06:02

Hedda that is really good advice thank you. I will be adopting that approach from now on.

Ledkr Fri 26-Feb-16 15:18:09

Mrs Olaf.
We live miles away and it's a big trek to visit them.
Last time we went the other gd was there staying the night and needed a whole room to herself while 4 of us squashed into a tiny room (dd1 is 14 so not really great)
The next time she was there again.
When we went in half term we'd been there 5 mins and she coaxed dd2 into saying she wanted to see other gd then kept on and on
"She can't wait to see other gd," so dd believed she did grin
They accidentally undid dds seat belt holding in her car seat. I pointed it out as we'd driven a fair way. Fil laughed so I said "good job it wasnt other gd car seat" but he didn't respond.
When they visit us it can be months since they saw us but will instantly get out phones or cameras to show us pics of the other gc.
It's crazy but I almost dislike the other gd now which I know is ridiculous and unfair!

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Fri 26-Feb-16 15:21:47

Place marking! I feel your pain

Homemadeapplepie Fri 26-Feb-16 16:55:07

We have this too, it's heart-breaking but there's nothing you can do about it, except make sure your kids know you love them and they are the most important thing in your lives. Concentrate on having fun in your own family unit and with those people for whom you are not second best, certainly don't beg the mil to visit, she's not worth the effort and the pity is that it's her loss. I'm sure your dd is a wonderful little girl, make sure she knows she is.

Cabrinha Fri 26-Feb-16 17:46:57

Can I just throw a spanner in, to consider?

How involved a son has your husband been, compared to how involved a daughter his sister has been? Before kids I mean, too.

I have a friend who struggles with this situation too, but honestly in their case, the SIL has always made the effort with her mum. It was SIL who bothered to organise birthday meals, SIL who ran around getting shopping when her mum was ill, etc.
So now she reaps those rewards of family bonds and her brother (my friend's husband) doesn't.

So yes perhaps it's favouritism playing out down the next generation. Or perhaps your SIL has put more time and effort into familial bond?

defineme Fri 26-Feb-16 17:57:08

Cabrinha -that's similar to my family. My dbro has not made much effort with our dm and it's a one way relationship with loans of money etc. I have a much more equal relationship with dm and support her lots. She has a great relationship with my kids, she adores my dbro's dd but I think her resentment of his lack of effort etc bleeds into her attitude towards visiting him and I end up nagging her to go because I feel sorry for dniece.

AnnieOnnieMouse Fri 26-Feb-16 18:34:14

Yeah, we had this, too. Admittedly MIL lived close to SIL, so could babysit while SIL worked, etc, but MIL wouldn't even come to visit when our babies were born; we had to take them to present to her. They never had any proper grandparents (my parents were long dead)

shitwithsugaron Fri 26-Feb-16 18:41:08

I could have written this, OP! It's always been a bug bear of mine how my DH is treated by his family but since DD came along 13 weeks ago my in laws (who I genuinely like and get on with) have seen her a grand total of 6 times. It grates on me no end. At first I'd say 'DH don't you think we should take DD to see your parents' now I'm already at the end of my tether and don't say a word about them not seeing her. We have a newborn (ish) baby, they can come to us!
Whereas our DNiece is worshipped as the first grandchild, she's obviously a child genius etc etc.
I won't force my child on anyone if she's not good enough for them to make an effort then fuck em!

Cabrinha Fri 26-Feb-16 19:08:47

See, I think 6 time in 13 weeks - pretty much once a fortnight then - is fine!

grubblyplank Fri 26-Feb-16 20:15:12

I actually don't think it matters how much time the children have put in-the grandchildren should all be treated equally regardless. By that logic, my children would be favoured ones because of the time and effort DH and I have put in over the years In lieu of SIL.

I'm in a similar position to OP - my ILs worship the ground their other grandchildren walk on but can't be bothered to take the time to get to know mine. This is despite us being 10 minutes away when SIL is 300 miles away.

I've removed myself from the situation now and let DH sort out visits with his parents and SIL as I'm sick of it. To everyone else they are doting grandparents, but their behaviour leaves a lot to be desired!

My family on the other hand have a very close relationship with my dcs and my dm treats all of her gc equally without exception.

I feel for you OP, but it's their loss and I would try not to upset yourself over it.

CrossfireHurricane Fri 26-Feb-16 20:27:44

Our dd's have been the unfavourable ones.
They are both older,at university in fact.
GP's have absolutely no idea what they are up too.How sad.
They called in unexpectedly during the summer and both girls were busy.
Dd's said hello and had a small chat but then carried on getting ready to go out etc etc.
IL's were put out that life didn't grind to a halt for their rare visit but our children are so used to the dis interest that they are now completely dis interested in spending time with them.
It's sad all round but you reap what you sow.
Op I feel for you and your dc.It's so upsetting but you do get used to it.

elQuintoConyo Fri 26-Feb-16 20:37:34

My Dsis' 2 children are favoured by my mother. When she sees DS they are all she talks about and he is ignored. Well, actually she doesn't ignore him, she sits next to him on the sofa and pokes him, even when DS tells her to stop.

I have cut back on contact. Although DS is still v young, I don't want that kind of shit around him. There is more, but it isn't my thread.

flowers for you OP

CPtart Fri 26-Feb-16 20:44:50

Our DS are the unflavoured ones. SIL/BIL and PIL live next door to each other an hour away from us, so imagine the disparities there. My nephews have always had bigger and better presents, and far far more time and attention than our boys. Try telling PIL about their achievements and all they say is "ooh X and Y that". They even referred to SIL DC as "ours" when they were younger. There is also a lot of favouritism of SIL over DH in general but that's another story.

I think it's more common than you think.

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