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How should I handle this BS this Christmas?(29 Posts)
My MiL has form for getting very upset when she doesn't get her own way and dealing out punishments to DH and I as a result e.g. you don't get a birthday/ Christmas card or present, don't get invited to things and she won't answer the phone to you for 3 weeks. She also ropes in her middle age daughter to do similar things although I am not sure if she is doing it because she is ordered to or she gets in a mood with us after listening to MIL rant on and agrees that DH and I are upsetting her. These punishments are as a result of things like not going to MIL's for Easter, not inviting her on your weekends away and having friends that you do things with and not making her family your only priority. Basically she thinks she should be consulted on and included in everything.
Anyway, we are seeing them over Christmas. We were supposed to spend Christmas all together this year but they don't want to (another punishment) so we are seeing them another day. From the outside you would think there wasn't anything wrong because they are very good at playing happy families and will be all smiley nice when we see them, but then she won't send us a card or get us a gift because we don't deserve it.
I'd really love my DH to tell his mum to grow up but he won't and he just sucks it up. As for me, on one hand I don't care if she doesn't get me anything but my blood is boiling that they (mostly SIL) take it out on my DC. I think that is really bad.
Not sure how to handle it when we see them. On one hand my blood pressure may just explode if they start playing happy families whilst snubbing my DC and think it may be a good idea to let rip. On the other I think maybe I should play them at their own game and be all smiley nice, totally ignore any snubs coming from their side and be all gushy about how I'm looking forward to Christmas and drop in all the great things I've booked for us. I know that sounds equally as childish but MIL always looks for a reaction to her nastiness and I want her to know that our world keeps turning despite her efforts to knock my family off its axis.
How would you handle this Christmas BS?
Honestly? I wouldnt bother with them. Protect your dc. Be unavailable.
I'd be tempted to play her at your own game, tbh. Be nice but make it clear your life is going swimmingly despite her punishments.
Bawling her out would be more straightforwardly honest but would likely just give her the ammunition she's after.
I'd be relieved to be off the hook tbh. Don't give them the time of day. Now you can make plans to spend it with people who aren't so fucking childish and vindictive.
I've not spoke to my mum since March and no plans to see them at Christmas. Though dp is assuming I will back down and go running cos he thinks it's not fair on our ds not seeing them
Cancel the visit, do not subject yourselves to this further from his mother. They cannot play the game if you do not pick up the rope they hold out to you.
His sister is being used by her mum as the flying monkey sent into do her dirty work for her. She should be roundly ignored by you. The dynamics of his family of origin certainly predate your arrival and go back generations.
What if anything do you know about her childhood, that often gives clues. It seems that his sister is generally more favoured (the golden child) and your H is the scapegoat for their inherent ills, a role that has been passed onto his family unit consisting of you people as well.
Your DHs own inertia when it comes to his mother is simply hurting him as well as you. Unfortunately after a lifetime of such conditioning at his mother's hands he is mired in his own FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) and would perhaps rather incur your wrath than hers so his own family unit i.e. you people suffer. He is still on some level seeking her approval, approval that she will never give him. He may never be able to assert his own self here so you will have to seize the mantle here and not allow yourselves to be subjected to all this from his family any longer. Your own boundaries at the very least need to be raised a lot higher than they have been to date.
You would not have tolerated this from a friend, his mother is no different. I would suggest you read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward to further understand the dynamics.
Sounds like a relief not to see them, not a punishment. Why do you continue to see her? If dh wants to continue a relationship with her, let him do it on his own. She sounds toxic. You don't need that kind of negativity and neither do the children. My mil was very similar, as a result we cut off all ties for years and life was much better and healthier all round.
Smile and be nice. It will drive her crazy
I wouldn't handle it! I would refuse to see them, at all. Ever. Why on earth would you want to continue engaging with such thoroughly toxic people?
And you DC are better off without them too - you say they drag unsuspecting children into their nasty little power games too - that's just totally unacceptable and the children shouldn't be subject to it.
If your DH wishes to continue such a dysfunctional relationship then leave him to it, but refuse to visit and refuse to allow the children to visit.
It will mean massive tantrums, but what can they actually DO to you if you refuse to see them? Absolutely nothing!
I wouldn't see them over xmas if they're going to be snubbing your DC.
Your DC are children who need protecting from this shit not exposing to it. They should not be lead to believe that your in-laws behaviour is normal or should be tolerated by adults or kids.
not acknowledging this punishment will drive Mil crazy that would be my preference.
As for dc I would just tell them 'gran sometimes gets a bit huffy let's try and cheer her up' If you think the children will be really hurt then don't go.
If you must see them then pretend like you haven't noticed you are being punished.
Frankly their punishments sound shit anyway. Horrible people not coming for Christmas, not talking to you for 3 weeks, not sending you a birthday card. That's kind of hilarious. It reminds me of the kind of daft threats children make.
However if they are being cocks, why are you spending time with them at all? Why are you chasing them with phone calls to even know they aren't picking up? Why are you offering a different meet up date if they've cancelled the original Christmas plans without good reason?
Block her/ their number, let dh totally deal with her /them, say he is welcome to see them of course but neither you nor dc will be party to the madness.
And sit back and enjoy Christmas and peace throughout forever!!
I absolutely agree with Rather. Do not engage with this kind of behaviour. It is nasty, controlling and abusive.
Stay at home, enjoy Christmas your way, with your friends and family and do not play games with MIL. If your Husband wants to visit, that's his business, but you don't have to and neither do your children.
snubbing my DC
If there is even a RISK of that happening, cancel the whole thing and have a quiet time with the family you DO want to spend time with
they only carry on with this crap if you allow them to.
i would cancel the christmas get together if you think she's going to take it out on your kids. be ill or some drama means you can't go unfortunately.. then put it off until the kids won't associate seeing your MIL with christmas.
she sounds absolutely awful.
I wouldn't see them over xmas if they're going to be snubbing your DC
This. And tell them this.
Sounds utterly pathetic. Enjoy your BS-free Christmas!
Don't go and see them on the other date then. Let DH go alone if he wants. Book to do something else with your girls - panto or ice skating or meeting friends at soft play. And don't buy presents for them if they're not buying for you. Again, your DH can take this on if he wants but you detach.
Absolutely skip it if they are going to ignore the DC. Are they yours and not DH's? Not that it should matter.
Also don't go saying what you have planned, you might find they turn up
When you mention the DC, does that mean they also don't get them a gift as punishment to you?
If that's the case i'd tell her she's a stupid nasty cow and never speak to her again. If she wants a reaction i'd give it to her, then go NC. If they were still fine with the kids but just passive aggressive to me (do they really say 'you don't deserve it' ?) then i 'd laugh in their face and tell them they were childish but their antics were having my friends and family in stitches.
What was your misdemeanour to warrant the punishment of not getting together at Christmas?
How do they take it out on your DC?
But agree with PP. Protect your DC from this BS so they don't end up in the FOG along with your DH.
If they punish you for not putting them first as a family, punish them back by withdrawing all contact. If that behaviour is good enough for them, it's good enough for you.
If you suddenly come into money this Christmas, go abroad or to a lovely cottage far away from phone reception, just you, DH and the kids. Do not ever let her put your kids in the middle of this - they have no say in this and need protecting from her.
Tell them why - put it in the Christmas card if you need to, to get the message through, but you're not meeting if there are strings attached. Take the kids out of the house for the day without DH if you have to, but just refuse to engage.
They don’t want to see you Christmas Day? Result. My mother did this to our family when dd was very little. Dh and I invited her and her now late dh to visit for a few days to arrive on Xmas day. It was agreed. Then her golden child son invited her and she ditched us for them.
Looking back it may have also been a punishment because we weren’t talking to my brother and his wife at the time as they’d been complete arseholes to me when their dog bit dd on the face at 15 months. Thinking about it, mother did this twice to us during the time when we weren’t talking to brother and sil. We are now permanently NC with brother and his wife for another reason btw.
I’ve had a lot of therapy. I really would recommend therapy. And distance. And don’t play a game, any game. They’re experts at every conceivable game. Believe me, you will loose. Every time. You’re set up for failure. Even if you comply because they’ll simply change the rules if you start to win.
Get on with your lives. See them if you want to see them. Don’t if you don’t. Stop letting them call all the shots. That only gives you a headache as you contort yourselves into all manner of positions to oblige only to once again be criticised and fail in their eyes. And if it you change your mind over seeing them, be unavailable. Make up d&v if you must and have a bloody good family time without them.
I think you have to have a serious discussion with your DH, appeal to his love for his children and try to get him to acknowledge the hurt this will be causing your DC.
Little ones take being ignored so personally and end up incredibly hurt. They don't know or understand the disfunctional family history and (quite frankly, messed up by the sounds of it) adult feelings behind it.
You must protect them and yourself. It must hurt you immensely to see your babies treated as pawns in MIL's little power games.
Never underestimate the damage that someone like your MIL can do. Get the book recommended, look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder online and educate yourselves in order to find a way to deal with her and protect your DC. Have a frank discussion with DH about how he can protect himself emotionally. I think that his going to see his mother and sister by himself will not be good, as they will just treat him badly, and will almost certainly bad mouth you for not going too, crying or getting angry at him for not ‘making’ you and the DC come to see her.
You may have to stand up to MIL with him, it’s hard when he’s been the less favoured child and always incurs the wrath of MIL if he steps out of line. Ultimately the best way to move forward is to make yourselves unavailable, don’t keep them informed of any events in your lives, be non committal.
Be glad that you aren’t having Christmas with them. Next Christmas you can start a new tradition of doing anything but.
They only have as much power as you afford them. If there is so much of a hint, that their behaviour will impact negatively on your children, I wouldn’t go.
Stop colluding with your adult H by letting you and your children be his buffer. If you don’t like the game (and it is a game), don’t participate.
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