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Is it possible to go NC with MIL and not FIL/SIL?(15 Posts)
I am at the end of my tether and have been so upset today.
Quite literally years of MIL undermining my parenting at every conceivable turn (I have endless threads about her).
She is toxic, manipulative, undermining and so insulting in the way she expects the children to withhold secrets from me...
The only reason we still see her is so that the children don't miss out on the relationship, but also because FIL and SIL (single, unmarried, adores the children and lovely) are great.
But there are no boundaries with this woman. If I said I wanted my children to be vegetarian, she would honestly feed them steak to spite me (and then ask the children to keep it secret).
This has gone on for years.
How can we limit contact with her, without "punishing" FIL/SIL and let the message hit home that she is a nutter (FIL/SIL at her countless extreme moments just say, "but she is such an old, sweet granny, who just wants to see more of the GC". They forget all her toxic behaviour, it never gets discussed and everyone moves on like it has never happened). DH completely supports me, stands up to his Mum (much to her horror) but still enables this access.
Can I do anything? It consumes so much of my energy and I want rid of it all.
You cut off MIL. You tell FIL and SIL that they are welcome to visit. If they do, they do. If they don't, they don't.
I think you are falling into the trap of thinking the bully's enablers are lovely people. They aren't. They choose to pander to it. They choose not to stand up to her. Your SIL chooses to hang her DB out to dry. So does DH's own father. Chances are they will choose to cut you off rather than stand up to MIL. That's because they are selfish people who won't ever stand up for what is right if it makes their lives difficult.
Can you tell I have no time for enablers? I honestly believe if all the enablers stopped enabling, all the bullies would change tactics or get help. The bullies can only bully because the enablers enable them.
Therefore, I'd advise you tell FIL and SIL the door is still open to them and see whether they choose to walk through it.
FIL & SIL enable her behaviour. DH needs to explain that they are welcome to visit but MIL is no longer welcome. Its then up to them to make a decision.
I know they enable. But it gets complicated because DH and SIL are twins (both 45+). DH is married (happily!) with kids, SIL is single, always has been and has a life limiting disease (diagnosed 3 years ago). She is very conditioned to MIL behaviour (DH has seen through it as I have shown him...it has taken time). She also needs MIL to "care" for her, so can't/won't burn bridges.
Can't work out FIL - very Christian (with genuine values to boot) but does not like MIL. Over their 50 years together, the things she has done to him and his family are so cruel. Yet he stands by her. I can only assume she has threatened an extreme ultimatum such as suicide if he doesn't stand by her. He is the worst enabler of all but I can't get through to him (heated conversation had about 2 months ago when MIL had a tantrum and he said he just wouldn't split "the family". I pointed out it was already pretty broken).
I keep thinking that I am the one who is being ridiculous and unreasonable. But after much consultation from friends/family, I really don't think I am....I hate disliking someone - it really isn't in my nature. And I hate that my sweet children are torn - they know what she has done this weekend is wrong (keeping secrets etc) but they are upset that I will be cross with her. Which I am, but have obviously told them that I won't be.
The only reason we still see her is so that the children don't miss out on the relationship"
What relationship?. Better to not be involved at all with such toxic people like this in the first place. That has been your mistake here.
You probably come from an emotionally healthy family yourself to think such but your DH was not so lucky. The rulebook governing familial relations goes completely out of the window when it comes to toxic families because they never play by the rules.
The above is actually a very bad reason to maintain contact with your MIL. She was and is a poor parent to your DH and she undermines you at every opportunity. She is also encouraging your children to keep secrets.
It sends the children very mixed messages; they should not have to put up with her either now. You're basically showing them that it is ok for her as their nan to completely undermine your whole authority as parents
FIL and your sister in law are just as bad; they have continued to excuse and enable to their own detriment as well. You should really not have contact with them either because they will not change and they are not going to listen to you.
Your FIL gets what he wants out of the relationship with MIL and such weak men are more happy than not to be bystanders. They also act out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. I would not let him off the hook either because he has patently failed to protect his children from his wife's excesses of behaviour. He is really her hatchet man here and cannot be at all relied upon; in a straight fight he would choose his wife over his now adult children. Such weak men also need someone to idolise. FIL and SIL are well under MILs thumb but you can give them the opportunity to visit you. I doubt very much they would do that however.
If you have never read it I would suggest you read Toxic Inlaws by Susan Forward to further understand the dynamics (which in your case precede your own arrival into this family I would think by some decades).
I change my opinion; I would not encourage FIL or SIL to visit.
Also you would not have tolerated any of this from a friend, your MIL is truly no different.
You all need to stay away from his parents and his sister.
Why are you pretending to your DC that you are not cross with a person they know has done wrong? That's weird. It is not "obvious" at all. It must be awfully confusing for them.
It is fine for you to be cross with MIL. It is fine for DC to be upset that you are cross with their DGM. She has behaved badly.
This is how you teach your children not to be enablers. How to not pretend everything is OK when it isn't. How we can be cross with people who are close to us. It does make one feel torn, but, ultimately as good moral people, we choose to make a stand for what is right not what is temporarily easy.
The reasons why SIL and FIL have chosen to be enablers don't matter. You choose not to be. Your DH chooses not to be. You cut off MIL and leave the door open to the others. If they care about contact enough, they'll make contact.
Btw, when they do come running to you (they will) make it a rule that you don't discuss MIL. That will make it easier for all of you.
A heartfelt thank you for taking the time to respond - I am so grateful.
You are right - I come from a very "normal" family (they drive me bonkers but in a lovely, family way! We all have a healthy relationship and the correct boundaries are in place), so I find it really hard to watch this car crash around me and hate seeing my children torn.
All the things she does on their own seem little and seemingly "innocent", that I keep thinking that I am trying to make trouble. But I always concede and give "access" as I feel sorry for them (their life is their GC - overwhelmingly so - and they are devastated and not coming to terms with SIL's diagnosis).
DH does not like his mother but couldn't cut ties with his sister or dad. He sees all their faults. But in his opinion - he has SO much: lovely wife (!!), kids, successful career, friends, financial security etc, etc. Mil/FIL/SIL have none of this. It breaks his heart and his overwhelming kindness won't let him walk away (especially from his twin).
Rock and hard place.
Thank you for listening xx
Your FIL and SIL can still come and visit, or meet with you away from MIL- it's their choice.
MIL's behaviour will never change because you keep capitulating and reinstating contact.
You are right rabbit, but the two oldest are 7 & 5, and I asked them what she had said/done at the weekend (we were out), and insisted that there could be no secrets etc. When they told me what she had done, they burst into tears and said, "but please don't be cross with her". After a long day at school, I couldn't see them cry - I wanted to know the truth. I want them to know that they can always tell me anything and I won't be angry (at first!!). They know what she did was wrong and we will continue to discuss. It is hard seeing young children so torn.
Been there, tried this. The flying monkeys were thick and fast. Fil and SIL will stand on mil's side, sorry. They've done this for years. They will not be strong enough to break away from her and she will just throw tantrums about them trying to visit without her. I feel for you, op, but I say LC as opposed to NC with her or I fear you will see none of them.
It is horrible to teach children to keep secrets. I live in Mexico and there was a really good TV campaign many years ago telling children that if someone asked them to keep a secret, they should run a tell the nearest responsible adult.
re your comment:-
"You are right rabbit, but the two oldest are 7 & 5, and I asked them what she had said/done at the weekend (we were out), and insisted that there could be no secrets etc. When they told me what she had done, they burst into tears and said, "but please don't be cross with her"
Your children are being manipulated here as well as you as parents by a master manipulator in the shape of your MIL. They are not emotionally mature enough to realise this and they really do need to stay the hell away from her. They thought they were going to get her and their own selves into trouble.
MIL will not change, your children will be further manipulated and her H and your SIL will maintain the same roles as her enablers. People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles, your H continues to play the role that was assigned to him in that family of origin many years ago.
People from emotionally healthy families do find it very difficult to comprehend that some families do act like this at all but your children need to be protected here. She is a malign presence in their lives. You feel sorry for the FIL and SIL as well because you are nice and kind, your own niceness here will be your undoing because these people are not nice and never have been. They will remain her enablers and bystanders.
Do read the book I recommended.
Blimey. This woman is grooming your children. Asking kids to keep secrets is bang out of order, they shouldn't be asked to keep secrets from mummy and daddy. Whatever next 🙄
Your husband needs to step up and put firm boundaries in place ASAP. I don't think you should have your kids round this monster and her toxic behaviour. It doesn't matter that she's mummy it granny or whatever, in fact hat makes it worse. Keep yourself and the kids away and look after your own happiness and needs first, not hers.
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