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Mother In Law Trouble

(24 Posts)
rodentia Mon 11-Apr-05 09:22:13

Okay I have changed my name for this, because I don't really want my little girl being able to do a search on my usual name and finding this in years to come. And I never thought I would be posting a message like this.

It is about my MIL. I don't know whether I am making a mountain out of a mole hill or over or under reacting. The incident that has made me really worried and upset happened last week. My MIL looked after my daughter for half a day while I was at work. I got home and everything seemed alright-ish. Then it was decided dd needed a bath, so she stripped off in the living room as a joke and ran around naked. All completely normal behaviour for her! But MIL grabbed her, pulled her towards her and slapped her bare bottom. And I mean a real, thumping slap. Dd burst into tears and came to me. I saw all this by the way. I comforted dd. Her bum was bright red, with MIL's handprint on it in white. There was a bruise there afterwards so there is no doubting the hardness of the slap.

As I was looking after dd I told MIL that what she had done was completely out of order. MIL refused to accept the fact that she had hurt dd, in spite of the evidence, she said she had done it as a joke. She told me that dd was playing us off against each other, and that she was fine. I was calm(ish) and polite(ish) but refused to accept it. As MIL left the room she told dd "well done for getting me into trouble". Dd by the way has never been slapped or smacked before as far as I know.

Later in the day MIL apologised to my dh for what she had done, she said it was an accident. She never apologised to dd though.

All this has left me with a really uneasy feeling about my MIL. I don't know if she is the type of person who should be looking after dd. She babysits usually about once a month. Dd is 7 years old so she is of the age when she can tell if me if anything bad happens but that isn't the point. I am really aware that if I had seen almost anyone else do this to dd I would never let them near her again.

There are other instances too which now looking back on them I wonder if I have been blinkered about my MIL's true character. She was not a good parent to my husband, she allowed him to be abused by her partner for a very long time. I have put that down to the fact that she too was a victim. She wasn't particularly nice to me until I became pregnant. She is racist - although she would deny the fact. My husband and I have had to tell her to keep her opinions to herself on more than one occasion. I have caught her lying about the food she was giving my dd - she was basically feeding her complete crap and telling me that she had given her fruit and vegetables when that wasn't the case. And a few years ago when my dd was very young she told me that "granny had pinched me" but MIL just laughed and said "of course I didn't"……..

I don't want to talk to my dh about this at the moment, he seems to have put down the slapping incident as an accident, and I am not at all sure what I would say to him.

But I feel as thought a rug has been pulled from under me. Am I right to have these nagging doubts? What should I do next?

nailpolish Mon 11-Apr-05 09:27:34

poor you and dd

well done for staying calm and polite, i would have been raging if someone did that to my dd.

i think you should speak to her, and be firm, would dh be there by your side to talk to MIL?

how can smacking a little girl that hard be an accident?

fuzzywuzzy Mon 11-Apr-05 09:31:40

How on earth does one accidentally slap a child let alone do it so hard as to cause a bruise??? You need to speak to your dh and get him on side, I wouldn't leave my dd alone with such a person in future.....

tigermoth Mon 11-Apr-05 09:36:13

No wonder you have doubts. Seeing an adult slap your child right in front of you is defintely not on. First thing I'd do is talk to your dd, get the facts straight from her angle, and see how she feels about your MIL.

It sounds like your MIL is more stressed than she admits when it comes to caring for your dd. Also, it is really inexcusable that she is not following your requests and lying to you about how she cares for her. One way or another this has to stop. Anyway, your dd is now at an age where she can tell you herself what happens, so your MIL's lying days are over. That's if your dd will speak up.

From what you've said, I think you are very right to question whether your MIL should be looking after your dd. Before making a final decision, I think you need to talk to your dd first.

fairycakes Mon 11-Apr-05 09:37:34

you are defnitely right to have doubts about leaving your dd with her, i woudl feel exactly the same, and well done for staying calm, i would have gone off on one and made matters worse!!

you definitely need to speak to your dh about it, when you feel the time is right,

i would talk to MIL too and tell her how you feel, and tell her she owes your dd an apology - how does your dd feel about it, has she mentioned in since? it might make her dislike her granny, and ask not to be babysat by her anymore, which may make your dh understand the true extent of the slap?

hotmama Mon 11-Apr-05 09:43:13

Rodentia - you know the answer!

If you are uncomfortable as a parent then the behaviour is wrong - doesn't make any difference what your mil thinks. As you said her parenting skills are a bit questionable.

I agree with nailpolish that perhaps you would have a word with your mil with dh present and taking part - so you have an united front - and she can't play you against each other.

Since when does slapping a child and leaving a mark equal fun? Perhaps she uses a belt when she gets angry? Your mil may not have meant to be so hard handed but that's not the point is it? There are boundaries and a mil is not the mother - so she should respect your views whether or not she agrees.

If it's not too much of an inconvenience e.g. you can still get by without her babysitting etc - I would be inclined not to leave your dd with the mil by herself as you can't trust your mil to be at the very least truthful.

Lies about what she has given your dd to eat

Reading between the lines - you may have a rough time explining this to your mil as you said her parenting of dh leaves something to be desired - and your mil probably won't accept your points.

At the end of the day - sod your mil - the wellbeing of your dd is your priority.

rodentia Mon 11-Apr-05 09:47:51

My dd has spoken about the slap since. And she told me she didn't really enjoy the time she spent with her granny last week although she didn't say why. For a few years dd really was mad about my MIL. She (dd) used to ask my dh and I to go out when MIL came round so she and MIL could have the run of the house for their games. But now she doesn't. I have put this down to her getting older.

Tigermoth, I think you may be right about MIL finding it more difficult to look after dd than she lets on. MIL does have health problems and isn't sleeping very well and I wonder if this all took it's toll last week.

I think I need to speak to dd again and then to dh. We are busy for the 4 weeks or so at the weekend so we won't be seeing MIL for a while anyway. Which is a good thing I think.

I have also assumed that dd will tell me if she has a problem with anyone, but I guess I shouldn't be taking that for granted either.

pinkroses Mon 11-Apr-05 15:39:09

The main fact is nobody should touch your dd. I would speak to your dh about your feelings and how dd has reacted...if only to make him aware of the situation.

The next thing to do is not allow your MIL to mind dd. If your dd seems different around her, then you have to pay attention to this.

oh, by the way, what a wierd woman for telling your dd about getting her into trouble. That comment has alarm bells ringing.

Freckle Mon 11-Apr-05 17:26:34

I had a similar situation a few years ago. DS1 was about 4 (very newly four) and MIL and her partner came to babysit. MIL's partner was playing with DS1 and rather winding him up (i.e. getting him excited and boisterous). All of a sudden I saw the partner punch (and I really mean punch) DS1 in the chest. Turned out that the partner had his glasses on a chain around his neck and was worried that DS1 was going to damage them - apparently another pair had previous been damaged in this way. The partner didn't realise that I'd seen what had happened, but obviously had to offer some sort of explanation as to why DS1 was suddenly crying and rushing to me completely truamatised.

What was worse was that MIL tried to make excuses for her partner, citing the fact that this had happened before. Well, I'm sorry, but if it had happened before, why the f*ck didn't he put his glasses somewhere safe, what the f*ck did he mean by punching a small child and why the f*ck did MIL think this was acceptable???

The man has never set foot in my house since. I haven't ever offered any explanation, which tends to indicate that MIL knows exactly why as she has never asked why. To this day, MIL only ever babysits during the week as she always comes alone. If we need a b/sitter at the weekend, we just don't ask her as she will bring him and I cannot now trust her to defend my children against him should he feel it is OK to assault them. My children are older now (DS1 is now 11), but I still won't have that man near them.

Your situation is slightly different, but I doubt that I'd ever leave my child with my MIL alone again.

dyzzidi Mon 11-Apr-05 17:47:12

That is disgusting I do not have children but would be horrified to see MIL smack any child.

I would not allow my child to be alone with MIL but then I would have probably said to her if you hit my child ever again I will personally hit you so you know what it feels like to be bullied.

And as for telling your DD thanks for getting me into trouble I think it is disgusting it is not your DD fault she was hit so hard you could see the bruise and if you were in the room when it happened how did Dd get her into trouble.

Stupid woman

FIMAC1 Mon 11-Apr-05 19:42:40

c&p from your msg:

"She (dd) used to ask my dh and I to go out when MIL came round so she and MIL could have the run of the house for their games. But now she doesn't. I have put this down to her getting older".

And whats all this about then? I would very seriously consider whether you leave the two of them alone together again - as you say your dd is now of an age that she hopefully would tell you if she was worried about the relationship with mil (which she has done) it is all very sad for you all but I would not entrust my dd's care to this woman!

hugs {{{{{{ }}}}}}} to you all

LGJ Mon 11-Apr-05 20:01:24

I wouldn't let that woman within an asses roar or my child.

rodentia Tue 12-Apr-05 16:14:44

Thank you again for everyone who has posted.

I have spoken to my dd who has said granny has never hit her before, and I believe her. But I think perhaps that MIL's health and general attitude is no longer appropriate for her to carry on looking after dd alone.

I need to speak to dh about it again, we only discussed it briefly to be honest, and then MIL came in with her apology. But I need to pick my time carefully for this. I think this incident has removed the blinkers from eyes concerning MIL and that is probably a very good thing, although a bad thing to have happened at all.

I am also concerned as MIL looks after my little niece quite a lot. My niece is a very active and lively 18 month old. Now, with MIL's health, I wouldn't have believed she could or should look after my niece at all anyway but my BIL seems perfectly satisfied that she can - for up to 10 hours at a time. I don't know whether I should say something to him as well. If I do I will be invoking a family war, I know I will, and we have just got over another one from when MIL and BIL had the most awful fall out.

mum2max Fri 22-Apr-05 23:10:08

I need some advice and have never started my own thread (can't find the link to do this!!!)So thought I'd tag on the end of this as it's sort of related.

My own mum is a raging alcoholic and used to beat me as a child. She is still as bad as ever with drinking. e.g. she came to stay at easter and started on the vodka at 9am . She is desperate for ds to stay with her, but because of my own experience with her I can never trust her alone with him. even if he was in bed for the night. When she stays with us she tells us to go out to the pub for a night out, but i tell dh that i don't want to cos she's p**sed by lunchtime!!! How can i trust this woman to ever bathe ds/ read to him before bed/ feed him/ be patient with him etc. I've talked to her about her drinking on MANY occasions and all she says is "what do you know" (I'm now 30 yrs old and only have memories of a drunken mum!)
I'm stuck for a way of letting her down gently with regards holidays with ds etc. I do have scruples and don't want to upset her as it might make her drinking even worse, she is still my mum afterall...

Caligula Fri 22-Apr-05 23:27:57

Mum2Max - tell her in no uncertain terms that there's no way you'd leave your child with an alcoholic. Don't worry about letting her down gently, she's really not that interested - she values drinking more than she values you and your child. Call Al-Anon and get some advice from them - they have a website. al-anon

Rodentia I really think you're not overreacting, it's not just the smack, it's all the other stuff around your MIL and it's the fact that you don't feel comfortable with her as a carer.

Chandra Fri 22-Apr-05 23:55:45

MY only question is... if you have seen your childmminder, some member of the nursery staff or her teacher doing that... would you allow them to be alone with your daughter???
You can mention casualy to the mother of your niece about the incident, she then may decide what is the best route to take. There's no denial that she smacked your daughter, just tell her the facts and let her make her mind about it.


MeerkatsUnite Sat 23-Apr-05 07:59:10


Have cut and pasted the following from your original message:-

"She was not a good parent to my husband, she allowed him to be abused by her partner for a very long time. I have put that down to the fact that she too was a victim".

That brings the red flags up all over the place.

Abuse of whatever form it takes can and does leave a damaging legacy and perhaps you are seeing this now in the MIL. She could well be repeating her past all over again.

There is no way I would leave your daughter alone in this woman's company. This could so easily escalate into something far worse than what has already happened (and a smacked bottom where a bruise has been left is bad enough). You have a get out clause here you can use - her general health problems.

As for this (hopefully now an ex) partner of MIL's, I do hope the authorities dealt with him severely for what he did.

MeerkatsUnite Sat 23-Apr-05 08:09:46


I would fully concur with Caligula's comments along with her suggestion also to contact Al-anon as they do sterling work with families.

Your mum's primary relationship in life is with drink - nothing else matters period. The drink comes first with her and unless she herself wants to seek help to stop drinking for good, no-one will be able to help her.

It's not your "fault" that she is like this - this is her issue to deal with. Her alcoholism or the roots of same started long before you came into being.

I would also suggest you read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward as this has a section on relationships with alcoholic parents as well.

saadia Sat 23-Apr-05 08:56:13

I would also just like to say that I agree with everyone else's comments - that was just wrong.

I don't think you're over-reacting at all, and in fact if you have a bad feeling about her generally you should definitely trust your instincts.

mum2max Sun 24-Apr-05 20:11:34

thank you for all your comments. At least I now know I'm not over-reacting! It's a good job I moved 6 hours drive away from her. Thank you again, no doubt I'll need more advice soon

WideWebWitch Sun 24-Apr-05 20:22:48

Rodentia, I'm so sorry, this woman sounds bloody awful and sorry, but I wouldn't ever leave my child alone with her again. Find another babysitter, tell her why if you want to (or not if you don't want to) but she just sounds horrible. Interesting the bit Fimac cut and pasted too, I'd ask dd a bit more, reassure her that it's completely, absolutely ok to tell you the truth and that there will be NO comeback on her (what sort of woman says "well done for getting me into trouble" to a 7yo when THEY hit the 7yo in question? I mean, what sort of warped world does she live in?) I would tell BIL that you don't think she should be looking after the 18mo too, I'm the mother of one and I'd want to know for sure if my MIL was like this. Can you tell SIL? Just realised your thread was started a while back but I've typed this so might as well post it, if you're a regular I assume you'll see it.

Mum2max, I completely agree with Caligula on this.

Blu Sun 24-Apr-05 22:17:59

My post would be a 100% 'ditto'of WWW's, and Meerkats.
Nagging doubts? No, full volume eeby jeebies!

I realise this must be v v difficult - and v hard for your dh to acknowledge that his mother is repeating a pattern of bad care. he may find it much easier to brush it off as a one-off 'accident.

I think you need to be very sure that the situation no longer arises that she is left in charge. And I wouldn't be so sure that a 7 year old would always tell - it's v hard to say something horrid about your granny - and from her comment, she sounds capable of being v manipulative.

So sorry you are having to deal with this. Your poor DH, too.

milcrisis Wed 26-Aug-09 21:55:17


I'm new to mumsnet and am seriously thinking of cutting my mother in law off. She's so rude to me and the other daughters' in law. She has no regard or respect for us but her sons are so precious that nobody can even make a light joke about them without her taking offence.

I really do cherish parents and I have tried to ignore her but after 5 years I've had enough. I also absolutely killed myself in the first 4 years of marriage to ensure that my husband and my son saw her as much as I saw my parents and sister but the bottom line is that she can't share and she throws a tantrum if she hears that my husband and son are spending time with my family. It makes no differnece if they both see each other once a week. The fact that any time is being spent with my family sends her over the edge.

We have all been helping out recently as she has not been well but still there is no let up. I will help until she is better and try to ignore it but it's causing me so much stress.

Her sons always get worried about her as she's got weak lungs and is prone to colds/infections etc. The last time my husband spoke to her about sharing with my family, she got ill he got so worried that she was going to die! So basically she gets away with her rudeness/nonsense cos nobody says anything to her.

Cutting her off seems to be the only way to control the situation.
Sorry for the long message but has anybody ever done this and does it work or does it ruin the marriage? My husband and I get on well. The only thing we ever argue about is her!

2rebecca Thu 27-Aug-09 10:22:34

Why have you tagged this on the end of a 4 year old thread rather than starting your own? There's no poi9nt having people read through a load of irrelevent stuff and then feeling pissed off as I did when you find 1 post at the boottom 4 years after the others and unconnected. I presumed it was an update or something.

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