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MIL is going downhill and DS is starting to notice

(16 Posts)
randomtask Mon 27-Jul-09 11:46:31

I put on here last week about MIL's relationship with DS after she decided to sleep on the sofa with him which seemed a little, well, odd.

The history is, DS was just before DH's brother died. Then DS's Mummy got ill, she died when DS was 3. DH moved home to give DS a 'family life'. MIL took over and was a very involved in DS's life, DH felt undermined and like less of a Dad. We got married last year, MIL didn't cope with DS not being hers. She still picks him up from school and he stays there every Friday night (for continuity) which causes us problems as he always stays up late, then comes home grumpy and tired. It takes 3 days for him to catch up.

DS has just become 8 and MIL seems to be struggling. She's been getting out the old toys, encouraging him to behave like a toddler, and of course the sofa incident. Over the weekend, she told my Mum about sleeping on the sofa, I think she was hoping I'd react (I didn't). DH had already told her that DS came back very tired and that it hadn't been a good idea. She didn't cope well with his 'party' on Friday (with adults), she got a bit 'funny' when I was arranging a day out for DS with my nieces (DH said she wanted to do a train journey with DS that would have been dull and with 'oldies') and my Mum said later that she thought MIL had been getting upset but she wasn't sure why.

Yesterday we went to MIL's for 'tea' as her cousin was staying. They told DS to bring the present they'd bought him as they'd like to see it properly. MIL barely took any notice, FIL just carried on looking at his camera and 'hmm'd'. MIL also made a comment about 'Daddy telling me off more than the other way around these days'. There was a bit of an atmosphere but we tried to ignore that. DS got bored and on the way home asked if we could 'have a conversation' as no-one talked to him at Nanny's.

This morning DS told me Nanny tells him off if his clothes don't match (thus he needed to change). I told him to politely ignore her. Then he told us that he likes it when he's with DH and I as it's fun, not like Nanny's house where it's boring and they're not happy. DH has just texted and said her cousin told him she'd been speaking about her Mum's second husband who wasn't very nice, so it's not just DS that's bothering her now.

My concern is that DS is starting to not enjoy being at Nanny's house and over the weekend has not been himself which means it's bothering him. The last thing MIL and FIL want is DS to not want to see them, at the moment, I can see that happening by next week. We want them to have a good relationship with DS but we don't want him being affected by MIL's moods. FIL looked tired and fed up yesterday and DH is now starting to not sleep very well as he's fed up with having to treat his mother like a child.

Has anyone got any ideas of how to deal with it? In the past we've tried to get her involved in things that didn't include DS to give her more to think about, but now it seems her depression is taking over everything, not just him. DH regularly 'talks to her' but that seems to have a short term affect then she goes back to normal. I'm wondering if I should join DH in the next 'talk' but don't want her to feel 'ganged up on'. I'm also wondering if DH should talk to FIL as that was meant to happen last week then MIL turned up.

Help!

BonsoirAnna Mon 27-Jul-09 11:53:01

I think that the time has come for your DS (as I understand it, he is actually your DSS, right?) to stop systematically spending every Friday night at his grandparents' house.

FWIW, my DSSs always used to spend Saturday night at DP's parents' house ie their paternal grandparents, as well as a month of the summer holidays at DP's parents' seaside home. This all came to an end when the DSSs were 8 and 10 and, to be very honest, it was all incredibly overdue: DP's parents couldn't cope anymore and the DSSs were very bored, much as they love their GPs. It was difficult for it all to be ended without the GPs getting distressed, but they do get over it in the end.

TwoHot Mon 27-Jul-09 12:07:26

I agree with Anna, I wish my parents had called a halt to my weekend visits to grand parents.

Try and find a speical thing they can do together to replace it. Once a month visit to the cinema followed by meal out? Membership to English Heritage for days out? Umm. Playing golf with FiL.

The good thing is you are aware of the problem and can manage it early.

BonsoirAnna Mon 27-Jul-09 12:11:07

I agree with TwoHot, try to orientate DS's GPs towards different, more age-appropriate activities with him.

randomtask Mon 27-Jul-09 12:13:08

TBH, since last year I've been wanting to stop the Friday nights. It was Wednesday, but he was then tired at school. We told the IL's that we'd like it to be Friday so we got more 'family time' in the week. MIL thought it was because we wanted Friday nights and it ended with her phoning DH at work in tears, him having to go home and deal with her for 3 hours. DH and I said at the time, if that didn't work we'd stop the weekday nights (didn't tell them). We agreed (before the sofa incident) that we'd talk to them about the late nights and change it so they get one night a week in school holidays but not during term time. That hasn't been mentioned to them yet at MIL's apparent breakdown has taken over and I think DH is concerned it'll push her over the edge. DS still (sort of) enjoys it but he's going on Friday and we'll see what he says then.

I definitely want that stopped at the very least!

LuluMaman Mon 27-Jul-09 12:14:40

if he is not enjoying it then it should not be a weekly thing

what about something like they take him to the cinema? or to a play place?

i think there are lots of complicated issues that we touched on on your other thread, especially hard for MIL to let go, as it were, of being hte mother figure.

randomtask Mon 27-Jul-09 12:15:31

They took him to a Castle recently and made an effort, I think it's just at home they don't. Friday nights are normally 'film nights' now but it just means he's up later and is manic on Saturday morning. sad

BonsoirAnna Mon 27-Jul-09 12:16:22

Can't they see him during the day rather than overnight?

coymistress Mon 27-Jul-09 12:19:18

Do I take it that your DH's brother died just before your DS was born? I wonder if somehow the two events have become terribly confused for your MIL esp. as she was looking after DS exclusively and maybe in her eyes has 'lost' her son/DS again. Is it possible she would benefit from some support or bereavement counselling?

randomtask Mon 27-Jul-09 12:22:37

I agree Lulumaman. I thought (until this weekend) that it was just her issues with DS but it's becoming apparent her depression is now covering every aspect of her life. DH said yesterday he could hear her having a go at FIL whilst in the kitchen. If she's now telling her cousin things, she's really got to the point of no return. She also forgot to give her cousin lunch yesterday-poor bloke could hardly stand by the time we arrived!

I think she's now decided she can't be bothered to make an effort with anything which has always been her way, but before, she's been concerned about her image and more importantly, DS. Now she doesn't seem to be doing that either sad.

randomtask Mon 27-Jul-09 12:26:29

coymistress-her son died 3 weeks after DS was born. She admitted when we got married that it felt like she'd lost DH's brother again when DS left. Her doctor tried to get her to have counselling but she refused. She had anti-depressants for a while then stopped those too. I know her doctor often asks her how she's doing so I think they're still concerned. I'm tempted to talk to her doctor if we don't get anywhere.

BonsoirAnna-they already see him every day after school for an hour or two until DH picks him up. They also see him at church on Sunday morning. Our only 'family time' is Saturday and Sunday afternoon, often wasted because DS is tired. They often see him more than I do and get more of his 'good time'.

BonsoirAnna Mon 27-Jul-09 12:29:45

OMG! They see him every day after school?!

Definitely, definitely stop the overnight stays. It is not good for DS or MIL for him to be filling in for her lost son like this.

FWIW, DP's younger brother died a year before DSS1 was born, and there was a definitely a thing going on where MIL got to see her grandsons "more" as a sort of compensation for losing her child. Understandable, but it really sounds as if it is going way too far here.

LuluMaman Mon 27-Jul-09 12:31:24

the everyday thing is too much
especially if she is depressed

i thikn as a family you need to support her and help her , and encourage her to tackle it

criticising and sniping won't help

she has lost a son and a daughter in law and her role as mother to your DSS has been totally changed, no wonder she is falling aprat

randomtask Mon 27-Jul-09 12:50:30

Most days after school yes. I work full time and DH has just qualified as a teacher. Unfortunately DS goes to a village school which is a 10 minute drive from where we live and they don't have any child minders in the village. We looked into this before the wedding and MIL got offended that we'd look elsewhere. DH has a two week timetable in his new job so we're hoping he can get him a day or two every fortnight (but he has a tutor group so it may not be possible). It's a nightmare but there doesn't seem to be another option. My parents work full time too and none of the Mums at the school have a lot of time either. I'm going to look again at after school clubs but, it'd mean we have to get him transported to them and he's too young to have a taxi on his own.

I don't know how we help and support her. Dh has tried talking to her and she just gets defensive and tells you you don't know what it's like for her. DH has agreed with her on that and said he'd like to help, but she won't accept it. As I said on my other post, she tells you that she's doing things her way now and doesn't care if it bothers other people, so it's difficult to persuade her there's a problem as as far as she's concerned, it's not a problem for her. She has girl friends she talks to but we don't know if they realise she's depressed. We have considered asking one of them if they think MIL is 'okay' but I'm worried she'd think we'd gone behind her back (which of course we would have).

ilovemydogandmrobama Mon 27-Jul-09 12:54:14

Is she ill? I mean physically.

randomtask Mon 27-Jul-09 13:00:23

No she's not ill physically.

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