Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
How to deal with difficult inlaws and them visiting(42 Posts)
I’ve been lurking on here for ages and I’m finally positing to see if you wise ladies can please help me.
I had a good relationship with my inlaws until DC1 arrived and they changed massively. It became apparent that they wanted us to do everything their way. I found my pregnancy and DC1s younger days very overwhelming. I was only 23 and found that people tried to take advantage of my non confrontational nature.
There is so much to this story but I’ll try to keep it to what’s going on at the moment.
FIL & MIL are both retired now. The one saving grace has always been that we’ve stayed in a different country from them but now they are planning visits every couple of months and I just can’t cope. Put it this way, they haven’t liked me for the last few years because I grew a backbone and stood up to their demands. I know they don’t like me and they know the feeling is mutual. When they visit us, they literally shower the kids in attention. It doesn’t matter if the kids are being well behaved or misbehaving, they’ll be laughing & joking the whole time. If I dare try to give the kids in trouble for anything, they’ll be tutting, shaking their heads & rolling their eyes. It’s basically like they see me as the devil & their darling grandchildren can do no wrong. Now, i love my kids and think they’re great fun 95% of the time but all kids need the odd chat about behaviour now & again. Also, MIL sort of micromanages my parenting. I’ll be giving DD lunch and she’ll say “will she not get a little yoghurt with that?” Or “won’t she need that sandwich cut up smaller?” Or she’ll ask me things like “will I get a snack for DD” and I’ll say, no thanks, she’ll be having dinner in 10 minutes. Then she’ll say “what about some grapes?” I’ll say “again, she’ll be fine she’s about to have dinner thanks, then again she’ll say “I could just give her a few grapes though?” And keep going on about it until DD picks up on it and starts crying for grapes. We went out for a meal recently and I have DD a bowl full of food, she wasn’t eating much as she was teething. Mil said “can the wee one not have some Yorkshire pudding?” I said, no thanks. She’s got a plate of food there so if she’s not eating that I’d rather not give her anything else”. Then she turns to DH and says “son, can I give DD some Yorkshire pudding?” I’m just sick of being undermined. We call them out on it but it doesn’t stop them doing it time & time again.
There have been a long long line of problems with my inlaws, they have tried to force me to put my finger into a glass of wine and then into DD’s mouth when she was a little grumpy one day. They have taken her out of my arms when she was a newborn. They are people who believe they do no wrong and I just can’t stomach the thought of spending time with them anymore. So much has happened and I just don’t like or respect them as people anymore and I just can’t bear spending time with them. They haven’t done enough to warrant going NC and I do want my children to have a relationship with them as despite the fact they don’t respect me, they think the kids and DH are literally the salt of the earth. You could say they’re actually a little obsessed with them. I’m from a large family myself so I find the whole thing way too intense. What do I do. How do I find a way to cope with this. It genuinely makes me ill with stress before, during and after their visits. Please help!
Your husband needs to deal with it and he needs to deal with it very assertively and make it clear that they can't do this.
Thanks ginslinger we have tried this. We confronted together them but they took no responsibility for any wrongdoing. I suppose the only way things would improve is if they were different people. I sort of don’t believe they have the ability in them to change, sadly.
I'm sorry you have to deal with that. Micromanaging grandparents suck. What does your DH do in these situations?
If he sticks up for you and agrees with how you feel then I would get him to have a chat with them.
I honestly wouldn't allow visits to be that often if they do nothing but undermine you and if it came to it they would be told the honest truth.
If they can't follow your rules then they can't stay with you. They stay at a hotel and can visit for a few hours which your husband must be home and you can get on with things and basically ignore them.
Grandparents can spoil kids with love and a few gifts but they should never over step into parenting and they need to be told about it before it's too late.
If your DH is on board then you are in a good position to stand your ground and say they can't come unless they accept your way of doing things.
I remember with my DS once we were at my mils house a d my 18 month old saw a bag of Haribo on the side and wanted one. I said no and he started crying. She said "oh mummy won't be happy with me" as she gave him a chocolate biscuit instead. It was 7am!
DH was dispatched and dealt with her. No problems again!
You have my sympathies - they sound a lot like my ex MIL. Strong opinions about everything - could never be in the wrong. Overbearing and in your face all the time, hugely critical - ugh. It was horrendous having her visit. I used to dread it.
Unfortunately my ex-husband was rubbish at standing up to her - although he got a little better as the years went on.
What does your husband say? How does he react when they undermine you? Does he call them out?
To cope I used to go out when she visited. For instance, if she was coming for a long weekend I would break it up by organising a girls night out with friends that 'had been in the diary for ages' and couldn't be changed.I wouldn't change my plans and continued going to the gym etc. I made sure her and her DS had plenty of quality time together!
Getting out of the house and leaving him to it helped breaking up the intensity of it. Could you escape part of the time?
Don't let them visit every couple of months. Are they staying with you?
We don’t have a big house so we’ve told them they need to stay in a hotel but they end up being in our house from about 7am to 9pm so I don’t get much of a break from them. DH tried to step in but often stuff goes over his head and he doesn’t even know it has happened until afterward when I tell him which is very frustrating. I suppose he’s very used to their ways so also sometimes doesn’t realise how wrong things are until I explain to him later. He does fight my corner when he does pick up on something though. What reason can we give them for not being able to come? If we give them an ultimatum, the relationship will be completely over. MIL has just been diagnosed with a lung condition too so I sort of wouldn’t want it to come to that.
Say the date they offer is not convenient and brightly suggest a date six weeks later.
There may be some fall out and you may decide it is not worth it. But nothing is going to change unless you change something.
I actually doubt that you had anything like a good relationship with these people before DC came into being; you did not see them very often and they continue to take advantage of your non confrontational nature. However, you did go onto develop a backbone and you need to employ that further now.
Why do you think they have not done enough to warrant you going no contact?. There is a contradiction here because you cannot abide them nor any longer want to spend time with them. Simply put you cannot manage such people nor should you have to do so. You would not be friends with a person who did this to and with your children, they are no different. Your children need positive life affirming role models, not those who actively seek to undermine their son and DILs parenting at every turn.
It is not your fault they are like this (their own families of origin did this to them) but you will never receive an apology nor them taking responsibility for their actions.
You likely come from an emotionally healthy family unit where boundaries are accepted, your DH was not so lucky. How does he feel about his parents now and their undermining of you all as a family unit?.
Where are your boundaries here with regards to these people; they are still too low and these need to be urgently raised. Obsessive and thus toxic people like you describe are not good people anyway to be around, let alone with your children who they allow to act as they please in their presence.
You need to continue to put mental distance between you and they and keep your children well away from them as well. It will do them no favours to see their paternal grandparents because his parents have no boundaries and hate you as their mother. You have your own parenting micromanaged and undermined by these people.
These people were not good parents to your H and they are not good grandparent figures to be around at all now. You have tried telling them and not surprisingly it has made no difference, all you can both do now is completely withdraw from them.
I agree with pp when they suggest a date push it back a few weeks.
When they do come make sure you have an appointment or two that take up a few mornings so they can't come til the afternoon.
Before they come tell them you are try xyz with dcs if they wouldn't following your lead as it's important they have a consistent routine across the board. But do some day trips somewhere where they can be over the top which might draw a line between your rules at home and their trips out
"What reason can we give them for not being able to come? If we give them an ultimatum, the relationship will be completely over. MIL has just been diagnosed with a lung condition too so I sort of wouldn’t want it to come to that"
Give them an ultimatum and be done with. Would it be so bad if the relationship was completely over?. Presumably you have been told about MILs lung condition; I do not doubt that she has such a thing but some toxic people can and do use health conditions for their own ends.
Do not invite them into your home; who let these people in through the front door in the first place?. I would also think you run around after them whilst they continue to freeload off you as well.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
Ps you leave them all to it and go to the spa for an afternoon when they visit. Your oh can manage the kids and them!
OK - you've accepted they're not going to change. How about regarding their visits as a holiday from normal routine? Try not to make everything a battle. It's not personal. They're not setting out to undermine you or disrespect your authority. They don't see dd v often and want her to like them. As so often, in these situations, love is expressed through food and treats. Let her give dd a couple of grapes, or a chocolate biscuit. Whether MiL is doing this as a power struggle, or just spoiling her gc, don't engage. You don't have to prove yourself. It's not a competition. You're the mum. You'll always be the winner. Things will be back to normal as soon as they leave.
And, as others have said, look on it as an opportunity to do your own thing. Get out of the house and leave them to it.
Some really helpful advice thank you. Their visits are always 4/5 days. We’re only an hours flight away or a 6/7 hour drive. Do you think there’s anything I can do to limit their visits to Friday afternoon/Saturday/Sunday? As I find it absolutely horrendous when DH isn’t here (he works full time and I’m a SAHM).
Do you think the next time they’re coming, DH could say “we’ll need to keep it to the weekend only as DW (me) finds it too much when I’m back at work”. They could question why it’s too much but he could just say she doesn’t like entertaining while taking care of the kids. Or is that too brutal?
Do they really come for 4-5 every couple of months? I couldn't cope with that! I'd suggest keeping it to the weekends too when your dh will be there
What you say is ok Firefly but they will not accept this boundary you state and will push to stay at your home again. Also the word no could be your friend here.
His parents make everything harder than it should be because such obsessed people only care about their own selves. They regard everyone else and you in particular as insignificant and they want their own way re your children. When they go home you are the one clearing up their messes.
dementedpixie they haven’t in the past but they’ve just visited us and they said they’re coming just after Xmas and then March as well. The thought of it is stressing me out so much it’s not true.
Thanks Attila you seem like a bit of an expert with the psychology here. The family on my inlaws side seems to be a bit of a hierarchy. FIL pleases himself with trips to the pub while mil takes care of the house. FIL can be quite domineering in some respects but something they feel strongly about is that no one should ever question MIL. Her say is very much final. Now I’ve come along and I won’t have her have this authority over my family and she hates this. She’s good at cutting ties with family when they don’t show her the respect she thinks she deserves. The only reason she can’t cut me out is because of her grandchildren.
DH could say “we’ll need to keep it to the weekend only as DW (me) finds it too much when I’m back at work”
DH could also say "we'll need to keep it to the weekend only" and leave it at that. You and he don't need to explain yourselves to anyone, certainly not to people who invade your home and undermine you constantly.
"No" is a complete sentence. It can be used to shut down all sorts, and when DD starts asking for something Grandma suggested smile and say "silly Grandma is wrong, it's not time for grapes til after supper, you'd think she'd know that by now" and let your DC know that Grandma doesn't get to dictate.
I love my MIL, she's fabulous, but when DS2 was born she suddenly took over and questioned everything. The only way our relationship has survived was by me saying "nope, that doesn't work for me" repeatedly til she got over her need to undermine me. It's fine to stand up for yourselves.
Tell them it is not convenient; both of you need to put on a united front with regards to his parents. Also no this does not work for us is a complete sentence, repeat that as and when necessary. You as a couple and in turn your children are being harmed by such people.
I would also suggest you read Toxic Inlaws written by Susan Forward to further understand the power and control dynamics that they are using here.
Some exaggerating and projection going on here. Nothing at all suggests they 'hate you as the kids mother', 'regard everyone else as insignificant and you in particular' and there's no reason to doubt you had a good relationship with them before, you're more capable than anyone here of judging that. And yes it probably would be 'so bad if the relationship was completely over' for their son and grandchildren especially.
OP, they sound terribly annoying and overbearing but probably not intentionally cruel from what you've said. Could you (or preferably DH) maybe ask MIL if she wants to give them their tea or snacks they'd be having anyway? Some people see food as loving/nurturing children and yes, she probably does do it as she wants them to like her. Very frustrating and undermining for you, but I'd hesitate to describe it as a toxic power and control dynamic. I would certainly make sure they're only there when DH is there, less frequently than you have them currently, and let him be in charge of feeding the kids for that time and he can delegate as he sees fit while you just let it wash over you.
Join the discussion
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.