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Family christening, DM, lots of anger about her old divorce with DF. Argh!

(9 Posts)
unicornfairylights Sun 26-Feb-17 14:26:07


First post under this name, have posted before. Hopefully this isn't too contentious.

My DM and DF split very acrimoniously when I was a young teen. He left her for OW. She took it really really badly and me and DB were her sounding board for how awful he was, how awful OW was, how she'd been suicidal etc. It was pretty grim and we were put under huge pressure to be 'on her side' and tell DF we didn't want to see him, to shun OW, to make demands on her behalf when we went to see him.

In the end I developed a ED, ended up in hospital and when I came out went to live with DF and DSM. This was, according to DM, a horrible betrayal and she said a lot of awful things to me which our relationship has never recovered from. Looking back, I suspect her relationship with DF was abusive - she used threats to control him, used to break his things if he disobeyed, stuff like that.

It's now many years later and my relationship with DM has remained fragile. I've just had my first DC and my lovely OH and I want to have a proper christening. However, I'm very certain that DM is about to kick off about this. She has refused to be in the same place as DF and DSM for the past 20 years, and has frequently made dramatic threats about what she'd do if she did see them. She will go ballistic if she's not invited, but I can't bear the thought of DD's christening being some bloody awful Eastenders/Jeremy Kyle showdown. I also don't want to invite her and not DSM and DF as they are the people who actually raised me, and have been there for me, and I have a very good relationship with.

Help! Has anyone dealt with a situation like this before? Does anyone have any advice?

CMOTDibbler Sun 26-Feb-17 14:35:17

Tell her straight that she is invited, and that you'd love her to be there but you are inviting your dad and his wife. She either comes and behaves herself, or doesn't come - no negotiation, and all you want to hear is I'm coming/ I'm not coming.
Then don't take any nonsense - pick a phrase and stick to it 'I'm sorry you chose not to come, but that's your decision' or 'You have the choice, but I'm not discussing it'. And either way, brief a trusted friend or relative who is good at being firm so that they can keep an eye out on the day and intervene if required.
A friend is getting married this year, and there are difficult family members on both sides, and DH is in charge of removing anyone who kicks off grin

holeinmyheart Sun 26-Feb-17 14:43:15

Good grief, you have my sympathy. We have had this situation for 40 years. We invited both sides to everything. We told them we were inviting all the protagonists and then they had a choice. Come and behave or bugger off. No discussion, as it is not a problem of our making.
Stick to your guns and refuse to be made guilty.
Best of luck as it is a shite situation with few winners. Not that you are trying to win, anyway, just to get some peace from warring relatives who behave like 2 year olds. cmotdibbler's advice is spot on.

unicornfairylights Sun 26-Feb-17 15:56:12

No discussion is a fairly good bit of advice that I'm awful at taking.

Invitation sent, let her know both sides are coming and she can decide if she wants to come or not. And hopefully we can shove them on opposite sides of the church, far far apart.

rumblingDMexploitingbstds Sun 26-Feb-17 16:56:37

Agree with Dibbler , plan your bouncers, choose reliable ones and brief them well. A sibling did this successfully with a wedding as my DF and DM and partners don't really do being in the same room together. Sibling allocated one family member and their partner who are close to DF to meet, hang around with and manage him, and me to bring and keep DM company, and between us we discreetly ensured they were kept apart, family was circulated around them both and they both had a good time, and that included a rigidly prepared seating plan with the bouncers at the church and at the reception to keep them well apart.

DM and DF had no idea it was as highly planned as it was, but the bouncers and all of us did! It was managed. I won't say it wasn't stressful for all of us and sibling afterwards did wonder if he'd have done better to have just eloped, but it was managed with no actual meltdowns and the two of them barely aware the other one was there, although DM had a bit of a cry afterwards alone with me and the whole thing was a bit of an ordeal for both her and DF which was impossible for us not to pick up on. sad

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Sun 26-Feb-17 17:13:02

Really good advice here. It is hard not to get drawn into the drama but stick to your guns. I've heard it described as the Jeremy Paxman or the broken record but whatever excuse, whinge, demand for exceptions are brought up you stand your ground. Good luck. If the christening is in the main church service it can be easier to police rather than a private service but please warn the vicar. We have seen it all but it helps to know the score.

unicornfairylights Sun 26-Feb-17 18:06:51

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts - the vicar is, thank god, my OH's uncle, so should be pretty easy for OH to have a chat with.

I am also trying to work out how to say anything to DM.

Currently I'm thinking of dropping her an email to say something like:


Hope you're well. Just wanted to let you know that DD's christening will be at XX/XX/XXXX at St Mumnet's Church. Hope you can make it. DF and DSM will be there too, which I know will be a bit awkward but am hoping we can all pull together for DD's special day, and make it a happy one. Lots of love. Unicornfairylights.

Does that sound OK? I am pretty sure I'll get it in the neck, but I want to know I've tried to be as reasonable as possible.

Normandy Sun 26-Feb-17 18:26:28

Skip "I'm hoping" and replace with "I expect"

Don't tap dance and top toe around your mother, this only allows her to continue to try to control all the things with her dramatics.

Don't envy you OP!

Normandy Sun 26-Feb-17 18:26:41

*tip toe

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