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Is it acceptable/normal to expect people to 'dance attendance' on you?

(40 Posts)
YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:02:33

I'll describe the situation, then if anyone can share their thoughts of be grateful!

It was DS2's 'welcoming meal' at the weekend (we don't do christenings). My parents, PILs, my DB+SIL, three friends - deliberately small.

PILs got there first, sat in middle of the long table. MIL spent the whole meal colouring in a child's menu both on her own and with DS1. FIL sat opposite DH only speaking when spoken to. My DM and DF conversed with everyone and chatted to PIL, who asked zero questions about them and had faces like smacked arses the whole time.

It didn't spoil things exactly, but we hadn't wanted to do the meal at all, because MIL has form for expecting to be the centre of attention, having to control situations etc.

What can be done about this kind of behaviour? or do we just put up with it? They're 70 so unlikely to change their ways. It seems unfair that everyone else has to do the hard work in this situation.

NettleTea Tue 31-Jan-17 13:05:16

There is nothing much you can do about it, apart from not engaging. Just leave them to it and tell people not to pander / to ignore it. Remember that they are not a reflection on you, just on themselves. Noone will judge you by their awful behaviour.

And no, wanting to be centre of attention all the time shrieks narcissist at me. Its not normal

Skooba Tue 31-Jan-17 13:13:28

You need to learn to distance yourself from the behaviour of the ILs and also from the effects you are worried about, or embarrassed about, it having on others.

This is not something I have mastered myself grin - I cringe and seethe at others bad behaviour. But it is something it would be a real asset to be able to control ( ie your feelings about their behaviour, not their rude behaviour).

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:14:09

Nettle I could give you lots of examples of MIL's narcissistic behaviour, she's a pro! grin I think you're right, I'll just have to carry on not engaging and pretend it's not happening.

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:15:11

Thanks scooba I shall try to distance myself!

NettleTea Tue 31-Jan-17 13:15:25

most people find No Contact the best form of dealing with it

heateallthebuns Tue 31-Jan-17 13:15:43

Sit them at the end of the table like children and enjoy yourself with everyone else next time!

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:18:17

We did low contact last year after a particularly spectacularly dramatic scene but the problem with that is as soon as things 'improve', DH insists on things being back to normal regarding visits etc.

Saxa Tue 31-Jan-17 13:20:11

Am I missing something or is there a reason it's a bad thing that MIL spent most of her time with your DS1 colouring in and keeping him amused?

Obviously there isn't alot of context here but what you've put doesn't sound awful. I was out with a group the other day and only really made conversation when spoken to first, sometimes people find it hard to strike up conversation.

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:24:40

saxa that was definitely a silver lining - although we were all happy to chat to DS1 - the entire time MIL only chatted to him and ignored everyone else!

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:26:52

I suppose I just found it incredibly petty that she didn't see fit to ask anyone else how they were, or deign to chat to them, yet found her 'controlling' space at the table by telling DS1 how to colour in! It's par for the course with her, unfortunately.

OlennasWimple Tue 31-Jan-17 13:27:23

Not normal, no, but it's their problem not yours. I know it's easier said than done, but the best way to deal with it in these circumstances is not engage and carry on regardless.

(I thought by "dance attendance" you meant that they were expecting to be waited on, and have things brought to them and be the complete centre of attention - that's much harder to ignore)

BantyCustards Tue 31-Jan-17 13:30:25

Was she loudly 'showing' DS1 house to colour? As in - Behold!! Take note and learn from my super-human levels of grand parenting patience and care!

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:30:26

PILs are only like this when it's not 'their' thing. They're perfectly sociable and outgoing when they choose to be.

Huldra Tue 31-Jan-17 13:31:29

You can do nothing but ignore and carry on. I guess there must be a back story but in this instance one was entertaining a child, the other not talkative. Neither of which are tribe offences. If they are usually attention seeking and this was done in a passive aggresive way, then still ignoring is the best.

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:31:39

banty yeah grin at one point I congratulated DS1 on his pen-hold and she went 'that was GRANDMA'.

Huldra Tue 31-Jan-17 13:33:26

Terrible not tribe.

BantyCustards Tue 31-Jan-17 13:35:16


Whilst I personally would want to engage (and smack her one for stealing DS1's achievement) the absoliure best thing you can do is treat her like a 3 year old displaying undesirable behaviour: take on the air of a grey rock.

Better still insist on NC but I do appreciate that can be hard with a DH who is less than supportive of refusing to indulge such self-centred behaviour.

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:36:29

banty <practises grey rock stance> <falls over>

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:37:42

NC is just a bit of a drama in itself, though. We don't see a lot of them; I suppose I should just get good at rising above the weirdness.

BantyCustards Tue 31-Jan-17 13:38:53


I said 'grey rock' not 'mountain pose'

(Looks frantically for online indemnity insurance)


Huldra Tue 31-Jan-17 13:43:35

Yoko, yes if you don't see much if them anyway it's probably best to laugh about it and rise above. It's different if you have more regular conact with someone.

I know someone who shows disaproval with adults by not talking to them but at the same time gets stuck in with the children. There's often a show about how they have improved kids manners, counting, tidying up blah blah blah

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:45:53

huldra then you are definitely acquainted with MIL grin no doubt about it. It's a strange kind-of controlling behaviour.

YokoUhOh Tue 31-Jan-17 13:48:30

MIL spends her life 'teaching' hectoring DS1 to tell the time (he's just 4). She then claims he can read because 'his dad was like that at that age' (I've only got a degree from Oxford so have no claim on the family brains hmm )

Greebosmum Tue 31-Jan-17 13:53:36

I don't know if this could be the case.

I am quite old enough to be good at social situations, but I am not. I hate it. I would never take credit for DGCs achievements, even if I had taught them something, because they are wonderful and I want everyone else to know it.

HOWEVER, I would be totally unable to engage with people who were strangers or who I rarely saw. Not because I am rude (not intentionally anyway) but because I just find it impossible to think of anything to say. If someone spoke to me and seemed interested I could chat and appear to be more sociable, but no way on earth could I make the first move. At my grand daughter's second birthday party I just sat on the sofa waiting until I could go home I was so uncomfortable. I am sure people thought I was awful.

Could it possibly be something like that with your PIL? ( clutches at straws)

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