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post-birth visit from MIL - bad idea in context of messed-up parents?(31 Posts)
First pregnancy recently announced. PIL are well-adjusted, sensible and kind people who read social cues well. They are absolutely delighted about the pregnancy, and will come to visit the new grandchild briefly after the birth. They have said they'll definitely stay in a hotel, turn up, say the grandkid is wonderful and parents are doing brilliantly, bring cake/ takeaway/ nappies/ whatever, cook a meal if we want it, and not outstay their welcome. MIL has offered to stay for a week longer "to provide female support" and to cook meals/ help round the house. Sounds great to us - she is generally kind and helpful, knows when to offer advice and when to shut up, etc.
So far so good.
My parents are generally messed-up, selfish, angry, petulant and vicious. My mother can read social cues enough to know how to put on a "nice" social manner when required - terribly polite, fulfilling all the requirements of a perfect 1950s hostess, but full of barbed, bitchy comments and attempts at triangulation. Her level of social insight is not particularly high. My father is frankly just boorish, arrogant and rude. He can read social cues fine when he wants, but is almost always too selfish to give a shit about them.
They have made it clear over the years that my mother never wanted me, they both hated the experience of having a second child, and that that was my fault because I am an embarrassment to them because I'm "weird" and "retarded", "have no taste", "can't run my life like a normal person", etc. They think "people like me" shouldn't be allowed to have children, and should have them taken away. My mother's evident PND and inability to ever bond with me is all apparently my fault.
Since I announced I was pregnant a few weeks ago, they have only said congratulations once, gracelessly, when in the company of other people - and the three attempts I've made to discuss things like visits with them have been met with very rude "we'll do what we want, when we want, and you aren't going to tell us what to do, and we're not going to discuss it with you, you're incompetent and embarrassing" responses.
Well, OK, they're not going to be involved grandparents...
However, i know my mother well enough that as soon as she realises that MIL is going to be over here providing support, all hell is going to break loose about why mother was not invited instead, and why we say "no thanks, we do not need you to come and stay". My mother has talked to PIL and played the interaction well enough that PIL currently think the only issue is my father being boorish about it all. PIL do not understand just how bad the relationship is with my parents, and aren't going to respond well if we tell them (PIL are big on mutual respect and politeness - generally great- but that extends to being unable to cope with people who have poor relationships with parents).
How on earth do we deal with all this, in a way that minimizes the stress and maximizes the benefits of good relationships with nice people?
To be really frank I would guard against allowing your parents anywhere near you at a vulnerable time. I know it's easy to think they "deserve" access to their grandchild, but as someone who has survived an emotionally abusive childhood at the hands of a similarly nasty "d"m I can guarantee you that it won't end well when your own DC are born. I also have fantastic, well adjusted PIL who don't understand why I'm now NC with my parents (it causes them acute social embarrassment) but this alone isn't a reason to continue giving access to your parents when you know each interaction just causes you immense emotional pain.
I've found a huge amount of support on the "but we took you to stately homes" thread on here, and from the website "out of the FOG" in helping me understand I didn't have to tolerate contact with "D"M just for the sake of social niceties. Ultimately it's your decision to make regarding contact and as someone who suffered severe PND as a result of contact with my mother following my DCs birth that included covert and overt criticism, emotional blackmail and worse I realised I owe it to my
DC not to allow them in my life any more.
It's hard and it hurts but you're not alone.
thanks the3amclub - I will do what I can to guard DC from contact with "D"M - both in the context of stress hormones from me, and being piggy in the middle of my parents vs me, later on. I'm as low contact as I currently dare be. I've just no idea how to manage the PIL-parents interaction - obviously i can't really, it's all up to them, but doing nothing isn't likely to end well. I am just unsure about whether doing anything else (such as talking to PIL about it) might end slightly better. Possibly not.
You get on well with you PILs; why not say look - between us - I have a strained relationship with my parents. I don't want to go into details about it, but can you be vague with them about your post birth visiting plans...
Over time presumably the PIL will observe the bad behaviour of your folks..
Until then ask them to respect your wishes.
I've found that the more I try to explain the situation to others / justify the level of contact the more I seem to draw attention to it. Lately we've taken the approach of saying "we don't tend to see them very often" and move the conversation on. I've found that repeating in my head "yes it's awkward and embarrassing that we're estranged but that's just the way it is" helps to remind me that it's not a crime to remove abusive people from my life.
That and seeing a counsellor, who has reminded me that I am not responsible for other people's reactions to my decisions. If I say "no" and they flip out, that's still their problem. It's taken me a long time to work this one out. I'm a grade A people pleaser and have lots of issues with worrying about letting people down / angering them (all stemming from my mother).
I realise this is my story not yours but hope it might provide you with another perspective.
Check out the charity stand alone too.
How close, geographically speaking are all of these people to you and each other? Is it possible/likely your DM will just 'turn up' if she realises? As that will obviously make things more difficult (especially if you are like me, and fall deeply into guilt!)
And how likely are they to speak to each other outside of your company? As again, this could determine how you can steer a conversation.
Anyway, my parents were dreadful after my son's birth and pushed me to the brink of PND, it was horrible and I haven't forgiven them and they will be suitably 'managed' when DC2 is born (hopefully next week...). I now realise just how much more important my health is than their desires (or selfishness...) and I will seek to protect that at all costs. It is you (and I) who will be responsible for this new life, that is a very hard job, believe me!! Interference of a negative nature is absolutely not what you need (and I can tell you now, that your body and mind, immediately post birth, are not your own, so proper support is essential)
That charity is very useful - thanks for the perspectives.
DH is on board with all this too, so I do have good support here. Just musing in terms of how to navigate it all... dealing with PIL & DH's sibling's family is just so lovely because it reminds me of the possibility of a happy, loving, respectful family. Noone has to get on with everyone all the time, strong wills are fine (DH's family certainly has a few of those) but it's so good to see people owning their own decisions/choices and actively working on being happy, productive and good people. (cue pregnancy hormones making me burst into tears at this point...)
luckystar1 - first - good luck for your DC2!
Parents and PIL are geographically close enough (and are rich enough) that it's possible my mother may well decide to come over and be difficult, with help on the boorish aggression front from my father. That was why I'd attempted to open a dialogue with them about when it would be best to visit. If they do just turn up, and it's too close to the birth, DH will be on board in getting rid of them - but we don't want to have to unleash the dogs of war if we can avoid it.
PIL talk to parents reasonably frequently on the phone and meet up socially maybe once a year - we have never really discouraged this, as we think PIL are capable of working out that my parents are a bit bonkers. This is the first time in 10+ years that it's really been a major problem though.
Just try & relax about it for now, if you can. I can relate & for me it was about trying to control the things I could not.
Remember you don't have to tell your mum when you go into labour or any information you acquire at the last stages if the due date becomes an induction date or C-section date.
Play it all vague & have a few sentences in your head ready to reply when asked about the due date & visiting such as: oh there is a long way to go & who knows how long I will be in for etc, let's just wait & see nearer the time.
Or of course I want you to come & give the baby a cuddle & bringing a hot meal for us would be a fantastic way of showing your support.
It is up to you how much or little information you give anyone & just because one set of parents know something, you don't have to tell your parents.
Congratulations on your pregnancy, mindfulness apps & the pregnancy hypnobirthing CD helped me sleep/cope with anxiety, which may be worth trying.
Can you maybe adopt a 'MIL offered first approach' and reiterate this to both sides, and say that your mother can
@$#€ off help later. 'Isn't it lovely to have so many offers and I want you MIL to feel just as welcome to help as my parents.' Also 'lovely for MIL to be around when dh still on paternity leave.' I wouldn't worry too much about managing your parents expectations as nothing will be good enough.
Op that's a bit annoying that they're (geographically) close! Mine aren't so that at least allows some arms length to things!! Although neither are the in laws and I wouldn't want them here either do I don't have that additional difficulty!
I do agree with pp who mentions keeping info vague. We haven't told my parents my due date this time, and we didn't tell anyone until DS was born. I also don't mention any appointments etc to them as I just get phone calls asking 'exactly' what was said (we are not that close for this info to be given!).
You don't need to be all guns blazing, in fact you don't need to tell anyone anything if you don't want to. In fact, I tend to go on the premise of 'need to know' (a tactic employed with my mother for many, many years!).
As yet, you haven't actually decided that MIL will stay etc, it for how long etc so there's no info to give. If, post birth (and, personally, I'd suggest leaving any decision until after then!) you do want your MIL there, well then that can be relayed after the event if necessary (and downplayed).
Most of all, remember that people tend to go a bit bonkers were babies are concerned. This could include your PIL too (it may not of course!!) so don't make any definite plans until you know for certain how you are post birth.
I think I'd let pil know the full extent of your parents' abusive personalities, without gory details, just so they don't mention going to stay with you. Don't tell your parents anything more than bare essentials, no need for them to know your mil will be staying. Congrats on your DC!
My dh took on the task of explaining my mum to my mil.
That helped her understand that the situation was real and that our decision to have little to do with her wasn't easy but justified. I guess she knew her son and knew he wouldn't go down that route lightly.
So my mil is polite but that about it.
Maybe try that. Get your dh to explain it to her and then tell them how much information you want your pils to pass on. If she is as lovely as you say, then hopefully they will support that
you need to stop telling your parents so much about your personal life. Manage them, decide when you tell them that you have had your baby, decide to tell them when you are home etc etc
I'd agree with reducing the amount of info you feel you need to share with them (although this is hard when it's the first GC and everyone goes a bit mad wanting all the details). But it is so hard when you feel you can't have the support of the people you love because the other side are "owed" their fair share. In my case, information about the birth and subsequent health probs managed to find its way across to my mother that DH had explicitly asked his parents to keep private. Turns out she was pumping them for info and they were too polite to deny her. So I do get your quandary. I think it's partly a generational thing - they really value the appearance of good relationships over authenticity. Drives me nuts, especially when DH has told them in great detail about the abusive childhood stuff.
^^ completely agree with the need for a visable 'relationship' rather than one on reality.
If you went to my parent's house (or hear other people telling me things they've said) you'd swear they were grandparents (and parents) of the year....
We invited both sets of parents to come round for an hour on the day home from hospital. Then my parents felt they'd got in early with a 'first visit'. Then had MIL round loads after that but my mother wasn't too bothered - I think because she's got the 'seen her on first day home' badge she then wasn't interested until her first birthday.
Yes, the visible "relationship" where they're parent/grandparent/friend of the year (and bloody awful in reality) rather than anything based on authenticity is sadly familiar. The utter two-facedness of it really gets to me - I loathe people who make no effort to own their own decisions and lead good lives.
I share very little with my parents these days. After years of abuse when skyping/ seeing them on my own, I now refuse to skype or see them without DH being present (he is great at taking up most of the conversation).
We will be extremely vague about anything to do with due dates, mode of delivery, etc. - and we have now explicitly asked MIL to not pass on some info that she already knows. We have also said to MIL that my parents seem unlikely to offer much interest or support. Unfortunately I suspect my mother will probably pump MIL for information and MIL will politely acquiesce while wondering if we aren't treating my poor mother a bit badly.
Nanny0gg - because in general it's less effort than the nuclear option of no contact at all. We would like to maintain relationships with other family members who won't understand NC.
However, we will be watching closely as to how things go once the child is here, and we may end up going NC.
PIL talk to parents reasonably frequently on the phone
CuboidalSlipshoddy: they talk socially on the phone. With a very large dose of keeping up the appearance of a good social relationship between MIL and mother, with MIL at least realising that this doesn't really match reality (i.e. she has the phone conversations out of politeness). Within their demographic, this apparently makes sense... I would see it as kinder all round to make less of an effort...
Good luck OP, it sounds like we're in very similar situations. Sadly we have had to go NC with mine and it has, as predicted, swept my relationships with siblings with it. It is the nuclear option and my DH has had to be very strong in supporting me, but I still find it very difficult. Let us know how you get on & feel free to PM me if you need somewhere to vent.
we'll do what we want, when we want, and you aren't going to tell us what to do, and we're not going to discuss it with you, you're incompetent and embarrassing
Oh good grief. That's appalling. I know you say you don't want to have to go NC, but really the only possible answer to that is "Bye then, have a nice life."
Your PiL are part of a reciprocal, warm and rewarding relationship, you both want to be around each other and they treat you nicely, with respect, the same way you treat them. I would not limit contact with them and deny all the mutual benefits of them being with you after the baby is born purely to keep the toxic dump to (possibly) more bearable limits... you're about to have a child witnessing mummy being treated like this!
Really, it's time to give NC a very serious look and see how it can be made to work. You don't need people in your life who treat you like that.
Update: my parents have continued in the same vein.
Both of them completely refuse to discuss anything whatsoever to do with the pregnancy or the impending grandchild. Mentioning it is a surefire way to completely stop any form of communication for a week or two.
DH is visiting their hometown this week - we have asked several times if it would be convenient for him to call by my parents' house and pick up a few bits and pieces of mine that are stored in their roof - they refuse to answer.
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