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MIL's relationship with DS. Is it weird?

(13 Posts)
randomtask Mon 20-Jul-09 11:21:54

I'm not sure if DH and I are being paranoid.

DH's first wife died when DS was 3. DH moved back with his parents (from 300 miles away) to be supported and also to give DS a 'normal family life'. MIL took over a bit, I think from concern for both her DS and her DGS.

By the time I met them 2.5 ish years ago, DH felt like he wasn't a proper parent as he was often undermined and DS was very clearly 'the boy who's Mum died'. He also was used to being the person in the centre of everything and didn't understand certain things (if he broke something he didn't feel bad as 'someone' will sort it and tell him it didn't matter). All fair enough and understandable, but DS told us he wanted to have a 'normal family with a Mummy and do food shopping' (he thought his is what normal people do at weekends)!

We've now been married for a year and we've had problems all along with MIL. She didn't cope with DS having moved out (DH often talks about 'when she was my Mum' which makes me really sad). We kept him staying there once a week (so make it easier for IL's and DS) but had to change the night to Friday as he was always up so late that he was tired at school-MIL also picks him up from school. Now he's always tired all weekend. Last weekend when they took him out for the day, they put him to bed on time. We were annoyed and DH said he'd talk to FIL and hope he'd pass it on (DH and MIL's talks often have an effect for a fortnight at most).

This weekend, DS was really tired (pale, shadows under the eyes, walking into things etc) and he then told us he'd slept on the sofa with Nanny. DH and I (a lot thinner than Nanny) barely fit on it together and DS moves loads in his sleep. She's also started getting out his toddler toys and wanting him to play with them. I think she's worried he's getting older.

So what I'm asking is, is it odd for a grandmother to sleep on the sofa with their grandson who is nearly 8? Also, would it bother you if he was kept up late every weekend or are we being unreasonable expecting her to respect our 'rules' and DS's routine?

GooseyLoosey Mon 20-Jul-09 11:26:57

Gosh - not an easy situation. How long did he live with MIL and what is his relationship with you like?

LuluMaman Mon 20-Jul-09 11:32:36

i think it must be such a difficult time for MIL, to accept that her role as mum to DS is now second to your role

she has to be grandma, not mummy

maybe that is why she is sleeping next to him and wanting him to play with his toddler toys, to try and keep him at the younger age he was when she was mum.

i think that she has been through a big emotional upheaval, and rather than getting angry and confrontational, you need a big family discussion

the dynamics for DS must be so strange too

in the circumstances, i don't think it is odd, i think it's a woman trying to adapt to being a grandma again and a MIL to someone new

cut her some slack, i think

fortyplus Mon 20-Jul-09 11:36:08

I wouldn't worry about them sleeping together. My 2 often slept with my mum and dad if they were staying over, and from memory it stopped naturally at about age 8.

My mum is besotted with her DGCs, especially DS1. She finds it traumatic when we go on holiday and she doesn't see hin for a couple of weeks.

So no - your situation isn't 'normal' but it's understandable.

Tell MIL what his usual bedtime is, but say that as a treat he can stay up an hour later on Fri or Sat at her house.

Be careful not to alienate her.

fortyplus Mon 20-Jul-09 11:37:07

Very sensible post from LuluMaman

AitchTwoOh Mon 20-Jul-09 11:39:20

oh the poor, poor woman. how devastating to have a child that was 'yours' taken away, even if it's for completely and utterly the right reason. i can hardly bear to think of it, tbh.

i don't think it's odd for them to snuggle on the sofa, not at all, but judging by his tiredness it wasn't a great idea in retrospect. how do you two get on, it probably all hinges on that unfortunately, as your dh couldn't control her before you came along.

TheCrackFox Mon 20-Jul-09 11:48:17

Not at all odd that MIL and DS snuggled up on the sofa.

I have an 8 yr old son and it seems a strange age - still a bit of a baby some days and some days so grown up.

It is a big adjustment period for both of them. They love each other dearly so cut them both some slack.

Grandmas do get to spoil the DCs so maybe this is a sign that she is trying to change?

randomtask Mon 20-Jul-09 11:52:21

That's the thing we don't want to upset her as we understand how difficult it is for her. DS was born 3 weeks before DH's brother died so she put all her grief into DS (he's often told about his Uncle he doesn't know). They lived with IL's for 3.5 years. She apparently was always trying to behave like he was 'hers' before his Mummy died so DH says he should have seen it coming.

DS's relationship with me is good. I'm in the process of adopting him but as far as he's concerned, I'm Mummy. We struggled at the beginning as I told him to put his shoes away and will tell him off if he's lying (Nanny just laughs and generally encourages it) but he seems to depend on me almost because I'm stable even in my tellings off! Nanny is a very 'up and down' lady so he struggles when she's not right. Often DS struggles to sleep/wake up if Nanny is depressed and we think it's worry. sad

DH spoke to MIL a few months ago (took an afternoon of her crying) and explained that she will always be important to DS but that we need to be a family. He also explained that as a grandmother she got the fun bits. She said she was trying but she's now obviously panicking. I spoke to my 'pretend Mum' at work (my parents are away) and she said she thinks MIL is close to a breakdown. sad

She's been getting much higher on her highs and stranger on her lows. I got my hair cut at the weekend and she spent 20 mins almost shouting about how nice it it hmm. I'm sure she wants DS to regress (she even congratulates him when he blows his nose well) but it's starting to affect DS and we're worried about that. DH thinks if we all 'talk' then she'll feel she's picked on. She's very much a victim and has told DH that she's done her bit and now doesn't want to worry about other people's feelings angry. I don't think she's even concerned that if affects DS sad. DS has always got into bed with them in the morning but the sofa thing seems odd.

MIL knows DS's routine, she just doesn't want to stick to it. angry She also has a problem with 'rules' to the point she won't recycle as it's 'being told what to do'...

We've spent a year being understanding and it seems to be getting worse. We're also worried that DS will start thinking Nanny is nuts as he's getting older and we don't want that.

LuluMaman Mon 20-Jul-09 11:54:52

it sounds like she has some problems, possibly depression that need addressing. was there any counselling after she lost a son and then a duaghter in law?

no wonder she sounds close to a breakdown

AitchTwoOh Mon 20-Jul-09 11:55:04

ah, so she's a bit nuts anyway. tricky. best thing you could so would be to move a bit further away, probably... wink

randomtask Mon 20-Jul-09 12:06:39

After her son died, I don't know if she had counselling (think she did) and she ended up on anti-depressants. She had a 'difficult relationship' with him and he drank lots which is what killed him sad. Her first DIL didn't like her and thought she was 'interfering' so I think she's always been a bit like that but it's been made worse by their deaths. I don't know what we do to help her. I know her doctor asks her 'how are you doing' when she sees her but I also know they told her to lose weight or take colesterol(sp?) pills and she's now on the pills. I'm tempted to see her doctor and ask if they can 'talk to' her but I don't know if she'll be angry we've got involved. Think we need to talk to FIL first and that's difficult as they're rarely apart, plus he's quiet and rarely stands up to her. He's been looking a bit shifty recently though so he knows there are problems.

DH moved hundreds of miles away but sadly now we don't want to move DS's school as it's been stability for him. Otherwise, we'd be in France (we decided that ages ago)!

LuluMaman Mon 20-Jul-09 12:10:08

i don;t thikn it should be about standing up to her, but about sympathetically speaking with her, to enable you all to gel together better as a family

it is really hard, and she is obviously feeling very upset and trying hard to retain her relationship with ds as it was before

i think you and DH need to tackle this together

randomtask Mon 20-Jul-09 12:19:54

We tend to discuss it between us and then DH 'goes in'. The problem is, she always thinks you're having a go if you say anything negative. When DH spoke to her and said sometimes he feels undermined, she immediately jumped back with 'when have I done that!' When DH gave her an example, she then didn't say anything (apart from a few tears). She tends to react like DS when he's cornered on being naughty.

All I want is for her to be happy and for her to not have a negative effect on DS or our family life. Just don't see how we'll get there sad. Even if she knows something is causing us a problem, she doesn't stop. If she does improve, it lasts 2 weeks.

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