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I'd post in AIBU, but I'm feeling too delicate for there tonight so please be gentle (although am open to being told I am being!)
It's MIL. She means well, but OMG she always, always undermines our parenting.
Random examples of stuff done in the past-
If we say no biscuits as it's 10 minutes before dinner, she'll offer a biscuit anyway and claim she didn't hear me.
I've cooked something for dinner, and she says we can go out for dinner if we like, and I said "sorry, I've cooked tonight, we can go out next week instead."
"Oh, it'll keep."
"No as I've already cooked it, but we can do it next time."
Child comes into room, not heard previous conversation. - "Oh, I was going to take you to Pizza Hut, but Mummy won't let me."
Cue tears and me looking like the bad guy. Why? Why would you do that?
Buying stuff in every single shop we go in so that child expects something every time we go to the shop. Be it sweets, toys, etc.
I've had years of it now and I hate confrontation so have usually just let her get away with it.
Past year or two though I've tried to put some boundaries in place as it's causing serious tension within the family, as we're always getting shouted down and our opinions pooh poohed when it comes to raising our own kids.
If I tell child off, for example, it's met with a stony silence or a "aw, it doesn't matter really, does it" or a "don't tell off".
How is that helpful?
It's been kicking off lately though as I just find myself completely unable to put up with it anymore as it just causes so much trouble - kids just don't see you as an authority figure as MIL will make you out to be the bad guy - we're to be ignored and unreasonable, right?!
Latest saga - going out for dinner today. Kids start fighting in the back seat, crying and arguing over something stupidly trivial. Barely even set off. So I said "if you don't stop, we're pulling over and going home."
Eldest - "fine!" tries to open car door when moving. Youngest still yelling his head off.
So I said "OK, we're not doing it today then, you were told to behave. We'll do it another time."
MIL not saying a word, says she's still going for her dinner though. OK, fair enough. We won't be today though. See you tomorrow."
Slight tantrum from both, but playing happily with games 10 minutes later and all forgotten.
Half an hour later, phone rings,eldest gets to it before I do. It's MIL - "I've got you your dinner as a takeaway, I'll bring it round."
Eldest - "Oh, OK!" smug smile.
(Which totally to me came across as "see, we still get it anyway!")
So when she came back with the takeaway, I've gone from us all being calm and smiley again to being cross again and pre-empted the situation by intercepting the car as no, they're not having it. They were told no, not this time.
To get "Oh, don't be so ridiculous!" She's driven off with the food though thank goodness as I would have been annoyed if they had got it, but why am I the bad guy AGAIN?! Why bring them it after no?
It's so wearing. The above stuff sound so petty written down, but when you're caught in it it's crap.
You must live close to her.. Could you distance yourself from her? Yes she sounds kind but it is misplaced and over rules your behavioural strategies and undermines.
Nothing nice about her dismissing your home cooked meal for a 'grannys treat' regardless if the behaviour is good or bad
'Oh, how lovely of you, but seeing as we're eating at home tonight, we'll have it tomorrow, as long as he children are behaving.'
Do it every single time. She needs to learn to stop - and you need words with DH too.
WHy do you see her so much? Is your DH there?
She needs to learn to stop - and you need words with DH too.
That's the thing, though - he's exactly the same as me as in we're both non confrontational and hate stuff like this!
The only reason it's kicking off so much lately is because it must come with age and intolerance or something as I just cannot be doing with it anymore. I'm shaking inside as I stand up for myself, it's just not a natural state for me!
He needs to learn to do the same but not quite there yet. Would rather ignore her. Hope he does sort out some stand up confidence soon!
WHy do you see her so much?
She lives 10 minutes away. We have a good relationship in other aspects, but for God's sake, please let us parent and stop treating us like kids in general.
Doesn't sound petty to me just very wearing.
I'd distance myself from her, but why isn't your DH stepping up and telling his mother to butt out?
but why isn't your DH stepping up and telling his mother to butt out?
He's tried, but when he has he gets talked over/not listened to or she goes silent and storms out of the house and goes home.
Think he's taken the "fuck it" stance now.
Don't blame him but it doesn't help matters, I agree.
She doesn't sound well meaning or nice at all. That all sounds very deliberate and nasty. Keep saying no. If necessary so no and we won't see you for a week if you try to undermine me.
I think you're going to stop being so nice. Every time she does something like this you need to both (so your dh too) say "please don't undermine our parenting". If it still carries on you will have to say what the consequences will be eg less visits etc. She'd drive me mad.
*He's tried, but when he has he gets talked over/not listened to or she goes silent and storms out of the house and goes home.
Think he's taken the "fuck it" stance now*
This is how these controlling people get to have everything their own way....they threaten a tantrum - no wonder both of you fear confrontation as you are scared 24/7 of her erupting.
But you need to weather the storm - anticipate the rage - but let it wash over you and keep repeating what you want calmly.
you need to put in a consequence - ie if you do x again - then y happens.
She's not kind at all, she's bullying and undermining you.
I'd have scraped the takeaway into the bin.
Do you see her everyday? If so I'd cut that right down, be busy, get the kids involved in activities that she can't be part of.
If she gives the dc a biscuit, take it off them. If you're disciplining them and she interferes give her the death stare and say "I've got this". Brook no argument.
Id start looking for a new house. I could never stand this level of interference. And the takeaway would be in the freezer to be eaten when I am good and ready.
But you need to weather the storm - anticipate the rage - but let it wash over you and keep repeating what you want calmly.
That's what I've recently started doing which is why it keeps blowing up, I think!
I can let it go over my head, and all the constant negativity not penetrate me as I'm a naturally positive person, but fk me, it's hard even for me.
I'm naturally shy and non confrontational though so it doesn't come easy. Which is why I think it's starting to become an issue now as I'm starting to stand up for myself.
Always politely. I don't do rude.
It's hard when they seem so "kind" but it's basically bullying and you need to put your foot down. Something similar in my family (not the same) but talking reasonably has sod all effect so you just have to be consistent with blocking her and showing her consequences and wear her down and also make you all less available. If moving house isn't an option then just go out more so she can't interfere so much. It might be easier to keep reminding yourself that dc's need to be shown a good example not this one. X
If moving house isn't an option then just go out more so she can't interfere so much.
Moving house not an option due to finances. Have taken to being out more and not seeing so much, but this doesn't feel right to me either as I've always grown up with knowing all grandparents, all family together, supporting etc, and I've never come across anyone ever behaving like this. It's all alien to me.
When you get when you do ring (once a week) ""you never ring, I could have dropped dead" you feel like saying we used to ring several times a week but it just became not worth the hassle as you always had a go about something, oh and we still ring you once a week so what are you on about!"
Oh dear! Sounds super annoying and is quite out of line. I guess she is trying to help?! Keep doing what you're doing. You seem to be getting more confident with approaching the subject.
You'll have to get DH on your side more as she may take it more seriously coming from him too. Could you and/or DH not speak over a coffee (at home) without kids around to let MIL know your feelings? I did this with my DH and despite it being very awkward...it worked. I still feel awkward sometimes now but SO much better than before, knowing that she knows how we feel about certain things.
I know you are both not confrontational but think of it this way..it might be easier to plan it rather than let it explode one day! Arguing with MIL is worse (speaking from experience) plus puts you in a sticky situation with DH. Being nice and subtle doesn't always work though.
Good luck getting it sorted. You need to! I would be fuming if I were you and it was ongoing for so long!
She is not well-meaning or kind at all. She is manipulative and abusive and you must deal with this now.
You and your husband should talk to her, just once. Tell her you've had enough of her undermining your authority with your children, and you are not going to tolerate it anymore. That if she continues to do it you're going to take a break from seeing her, until she lets you know she realises what she did and promises not to do it again.
Don't let this turn into a discussion. Tell her, preferably at her house--not yours--and then leave. Keep it brief and concise.
She will do it again. You then point out to her what she's done, and immediately leave. If she's at your house, tell her to leave. If she won't, then you leave the room with your children. Or leave the house, again, with your children!
And then don't see her or phone her until she contacts you and apologises. She will bluster and object but stick to your guns.
She's going to destroy your relationship with your children and your husband if she carries on like this. Are they old enough for you to point out what she's doing, and why it's wrong?
I'd be fuming too! You'll have to start putting your foot down every single time she undermines you, it's the only way to make her realise you've had enough of her interference.
Tell your DC too that you, their mother, decides what goes on in your family, not their Grandmother. That way they'll be looking at you for the final decision next time she tries to take over.
What OnTheRise wrote.
re your comment:-
"I've always grown up with knowing all grandparents, all family together, supporting etc, and I've never come across anyone ever behaving like this. It's all alien to me".
Thought you came from a nice emotionally healthy family; unfortunately your DH has not been so fortunate. Its not his fault or yours that his mother is the ways she is; you did not make her that way (her own family of origin did that to her). Your H has his own issues re her; he has grown up with her and basically regards this as "normal". He has his own FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) re her.
His mother is not nice or well meaning at all (you would not have tolerated this from a friend either) but passive aggressive, manipulative and emotionally abusive. Her actions are deliberate and set out to undermine the two of you as parents to your children. This type of dysfunction will and is already harming your family as a unit.
You both need boundaries and higher ones at that; there have to be real consequences for her actions now like not seeing her regularly if at all. Both of you dislike confrontation and are non aggressive; exactly the type of people ideal for disordered of thinking people like his mother. She is a toxic influence on your family unit as a whole and both of you need higher boundaries. I would not reward her behaviour at all with any visits and you need to stay away from her.
You do not mention your FIL in all this; is he still around?.
BTW such people like his mother never apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions. She will likely tantrum or turn on the tears next if you object in any way and you've seen that already from her.
I would suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" by Susan Forward as a starting point. Your H should read Toxic Parents by the same author.
In no way is she being kind. Her motivation is purely selfish. She doesn't even care about the DCs. She's happy to try and turn them into brats (I'm not saying she's succeeded, just that she doesn't care about the consequences of her actions on their general behaviour inside and outside the home) as long as she gets what she wants, i.e. To undermine you and gain the DCs affection and loyalty by bribery.
i know it's difficult if it goes against your nature to be confrontational but your DC need you to do this for them.
She is being highly manipulative
Unfortunately you are going to have to get your boundaries in place and be confrontational if necessary. And if she sulks and fusses? Tough shit.
I would move.
If that really is impossible, you will have to find other ways of putting distance between you. Why is it you ringing them? Let DH do it and you can be busy in the bath/garden/whatever.
If they call just let it go to answerphone and get DH to call them back.
Don't make plans to see them so often - cut it right back, and don't tell them anything personal about your life, it's just ammunition to MIL. If she complains just say the DC are getting older and you are really busy. Broken record technique.
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