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Is it unfair of me to be a bit suspicious of MIL?

(23 Posts)
BucketFullOfDinosaurs Tue 17-May-16 14:30:23

Right, I'm not sure whether I'm being unfair on her, but recently I've started to be a bit suspicious of her and how she treats her grandchildren. The crux of it is something that has happened recently.

MIL has always looked after her 2 oldest GCs (I'll call them A & B), who are now both at school - she has them after school until their mum (her DD) picks them up. This DD is MIL's favourite of her children, and that has always been obvious. DH says the rest of the siblings have been aware of the favouritism basically since they were all children.

One of DH's sisters used to live quite far away, but recently moved with her DH and DD to be closer to PILs. Her DD (I'll call her C) was very settled with a lovely childminder, who she adored, but is now being minded by MIL every day.

It has been obvious from the start that MIL was much less fond of C than she was of her other GCs. She's always complaining about C's behaviour (C is only 3, and is a lovely, bubbly, polite child). She has been known to complain in front of C, or while C is listening. Any time anything happens between C and A or B, C gets the blame (although the other 2 are a few years older, and much less well behaved in general - I've seen them pick on C, push her, and refuse to share with her). There have been times that the 3 of them are playing, and C does something rough, copying the other 2, and C is hauled out and shouted at while A & B watch on and laugh.

After C moved house, she became very unsettled and her behaviour deteriorated a little bit - nothing serious, just a bit more tantrum-y, pushing the others a bit, that sort of thing. From my pov, it seems that it's just her reaction to having moved house and being taken away from her childminder. MIL announced that C needed "a good smack" and said that that's what she planned to do if there were any more tantrums. C's mum said that she didn't want MIL to smack C, and suggested some alternative strategies that have worked for her in the past.

Of course, C threw another tantrum, and MIL smacked her. She then started boasting to other people that she had done this (my mum has a friend who knows MIL from an organisation they both go to, who told mum this), and that her DD (C's mum) could either put up with it or find another childminder; she didn't care what happened as she was sick of C's behaviour and of her being such a spoiled brat. I thought it was awful that she seemed to be prepared to go against her daughter's wishes and not even try the other strategies suggested, and that she is so quick to bad-mouth her granddaughter, and has such clear favourites.

I've largely stayed out of all this as I don't think it's my business, but it makes me nervous about having MIL look after my DCs. She doesn't mind them regularly, but from time to time if I have something on, she might take them for the day, or after school for the afternoon. I can't stand the thought of them being treated differently to the other GC, or of MIL deciding they "needed a smack" for something, or of MIL going round telling her friends that my children are nasty, spoilt or unpleasant.

Am I being unfair on her? DH thinks there's no problem with her looking after them, as it's only for short times, but I'm uneasy about it.

BucketFullOfDinosaurs Tue 17-May-16 14:42:27

Incidentally, there is another set of GC (DH's brother's DCs) who live quite far away, so MIL rarely sees them. She basically acts as if they don't exist at all, unless they come to stay, at which point there are photos all over Facebook of her and the pile of presents she has bought for them. She never visits them or anything, and if they're brought up in conversation she'll just snap something like "Well, I wouldn't know what they're like; it's not like I ever see them!". She could go to see them (they're not THAT far away; it would be a few hours by train), but she doesn't. She also gets huffy if they don't come to her for Christmas (usually because they've gone to their mum's mum instead).

MrsBertBibby Tue 17-May-16 14:48:28

I wouldn't leave my child with her, she sounds absolutely vile.

Indeed, I don't leave my son with my mother, because she sounds similar.

If you let her at your kids, she will smack them. It sounds like she enjoys smacking kids, like it's a two fingered salute to the nasty PC anti smackers.

OnTheRise Tue 17-May-16 14:58:33

I agree with MrsBibby. I would not leave my children with her. She's not safe.

Tiggywinkler Tue 17-May-16 14:59:52

No, you're not being unfair on her. She's being abusive to poor C.

Can you talk to Cs Mum, as it sounds like she'd be far better off with a childminder?

I wouldn't leave my children with anyone who thought it was OK to hit them.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-May-16 15:09:27

"DH says the rest of the siblings have been aware of the favouritism basically since they were all children".

That is basically it in a nutshell; his family of origin are very dysfunctional indeed. That is also I would think why DHs brother and his children you go onto mention do not see their mother very much if at all. He did well to get his children away from her malign influences.

His mother is simply continuing the favouritism now with her grandchildren in particular with A and to a lesser extent B. A and B are the "golden children". She gave her own now adult children an assigned role long ago of either golden child or scapegoat. C and her child are certainly still being scapegoated.

As for your own self I would stay well away from your MIL. Your own DHs template is somewhat warped because he grew up within this and thus sees this as "normal". I would not leave your child in her "care" either because it is really anything but.

Didactylos Tue 17-May-16 15:09:51

I wouldn't leave my children with her
and Id be having a bit of a chat with Cs mother as well - poor little mite

BucketFullOfDinosaurs Tue 17-May-16 15:18:10

I did try to talk to C's mum, but she basically just said "Well, my mum thinks it's best, so there's not much I can do". She had previously said that she wasn't happy about it, but doesn't seem to be prepared to do anything.

I'm fairly sure that DH's brother and his wife moved at least partly to escape MIL. They went just shortly before the first DC was born. His wife had said a few things to me which implied that she was pretty fed up of MIL attempting to interfere. Again, MIL talks quite negatively about them if they're mentioned - that they're lazy and spend too much money, that sort of thing. DH and I go to see them from time to time and get on fine with them, but DH won't really talk about them in front of MIL as she'd start listing their faults (we've never seen any evidence that they're lazy or overspending, by the way).

goddessofsmallthings Tue 17-May-16 15:20:34

I hope you're doing everything in your power to persuade C's mum to remove her from this vile woman's care asap.

I suggest you make other arrangements for those occasions when your dc need childcare and if mil should ask why you don't leave them with her, simply say that she's got her hands full looking after her favourite little pets other dgc and you don't want to burden her further.

BucketFullOfDinosaurs Tue 17-May-16 15:26:14

goddess, I am trying to persuade her, but she doesn't seem to see that there's an alternative. I have tried to have C to come and play with my DCs a few times, but I can't do it all the time as I often mind my sister's DD and can't cope with all of them (plus I don't have enough room for that many car seats!). I make sure I let C's mum know every time I see something that seems inappropriate, so that she's aware of it all.

Tiggywinkler Tue 17-May-16 15:28:25

Poor C. If her Mum isn't willing to go to bat for what's best for her, then she's got a difficult few years ahead of her.

Just be there for her - she's likely going to need emotional support as she gets older.

Mishaps Tue 17-May-16 15:36:14

I would not leave a child with someone who did not like her and smacked her - no way. If her mother is happy to do this, then she is failing to protect her own child and needs a good talking to at the very least.

MadamDeathstare Tue 17-May-16 15:46:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chlobee87 Tue 17-May-16 15:54:06

There is absolutely no way on earth I would leave my children with her. Your DC are far too precious to be smacked, badmouthed, made to feel like second best and told that they are naughty/troublemakers etc. by somebody who should cherish them as much as you and your DH do. I'm afraid I would override DH on this one. Your DC come first. If he would like them to spend time alone with his mother then he needs to have serious discussions with her and she needs to change her behaviour.

One PP suggested that if she asks why you no longer leave them with her, you should say that you don't want to burden her. I think I would actually consider being honest and calling her out. Say that the reason you don't leave them with her is that your parenting styles are very different - not just a little bit different, but completely incompatible - and that you've seen her blatant disregard for her own DD's very reasonable requests, and also the inequality in the way that she treats her GC so are no longer comfortable with leaving your DC with her. Obviously that would open a whole can of worms so a white lie might be best. This sort of thing just makes my blood boil so I'm maybe sounding a bit militant.

As far as C goes, it's a terrible shame but you can't carry the burden of guilt for her treatment. You have done as much as you can by informing her mother of the way she is treated. It's now her responsibility to protect her own DD. You've done (and continue to do) your best for her but you can't let it dominate your thoughts because you aren't in a position to effect any change. Obviously if the situation escalates and you feel that C is in real danger then you would have a responsibility to contact the relevant authorities.

goddessofsmallthings Tue 17-May-16 16:00:17

I have zero tolerance for child abuse of any kind and, if I were you, I'd have no compunction about calling the NSPCC's helpline anonymously (there's no obligation to give a name) claiming to be a neighbour of mil who is concerned about the welfare of the 3yo dgc she looks after as mil has told numerous people that she smacks the child, and it seems that she favours the other dgc she looks after over this one who doesn't appear to be entirely happy in her care, particularly as the older dgc seem to pick on her.

NSPCC will ask the relevant SS department to pay a call on mil and, while it's highly unlikely that any action will be taken against her, this may serve to give her pause for thought about ill-treating C again.

In order not to fracture already strained relations, I'd equally have no compunction about lying if asked if I had any idea who might have reported mil to SS but if you can't bring yourself to do it, and don't have a good friend who is as opposed to child abuse as I am, I'll gladly volunteer to do the deed.

BucketFullOfDinosaurs Tue 17-May-16 19:16:57

MIL hasn't actually done anything illegal, though, has she? And she's quite manipulative, so I think if SS did call, she'd easily be able to hide everything, and then would go APESHIT. I think Atilla had it right earlier about SIL trying very hard to get MIL to like her, and that's why she's not dealing with this. I think I'll try to talk with her again and see whether I can encourage her to do something by way of finding a new childminder of something like that. I don't think she thinks she's allowed to move her DS out of MIL's care.

Tiggywinkler Tue 17-May-16 20:04:10

I think your idea of approaching her Mum again is definitely worth a go. She might need encouragement/support to stand up to her DM.

It is illegal for "child care workers" to smack someone else's child - something to consider as your MIL certainly doesn't seem to be acting as a loving Grandparent while providing this care, even if she's not being paid.

Zaurak Tue 17-May-16 20:34:19

Where I live (Sweden) it IS illegal to hit or smack children and ss would become involved. Every year there's a report in the paper of adults being prosecuted for it.

She sounds vile. I'd be trying my best to convince cs mum to move her. Failing that, keep close to c so that she knows she at least has one adult on her side.

And under no circumstances let her mind your kids! If she asks, tell her straight - you won't leave them with someone three times their size who will hit them. Because that's what smacking is - hitting little children.

springydaffs Tue 17-May-16 22:52:42

Really quite upset to hear what is happening to C.

This woman is toxic. Perhaps get a copy of Toxic Parents (and also Toxic In-Laws) by Susan Forward.

It sounds like DH's brother and wife have sussed what this woman is about.

coco1810 Tue 17-May-16 23:40:42

My mil has always picked favourites over my DP (43) and bil (46). She picks favourites between bil DC. She tried to pick favourites between my DC. She doesn't see my DC at all because I won't allow it. Please warn C's mom.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Wed 18-May-16 11:36:33

So your SIL is prepared to put up with her child being abused in exchange for free childcare.

The question is, are you?

Greengager Wed 18-May-16 12:17:39

My cousin and I were looked after by my Gran who blatantly favoured me over her. 30 years later it still causes upset and has effected my cousin considerably. I feel guilt as its only looking back that I realise what was happening. If there is anything you can do to talk to the mum again I would try.

Greengager Wed 18-May-16 12:18:02


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