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How do I handle my mother-in-law? Advice please!

(36 Posts)
campergirl30 Mon 03-Aug-09 21:52:48

I have been with my partner for almost 10 years and have very recently had our first child (he's 7 weeks old). I have always had a reasonable relationship with my in-laws even though there are certain things that I dont like (always correcting other people's grammer, very bitchy about other people, blah blah) but we've got on. Things have changed since I had my baby. My mother-in-law in particular is just too over-bearing for me. She wants to see the baby all the time and texts me asking to come around. The fact is, I dont really want her to. I understand that she wants to see her grandchild but I don't like her coming around, offering 'advice', and bitching about everyone (including my own mum who she's met twice!) - especially when my dp isn't even around to share the experience! She has just text me saying shes bought a cot and when can our baby sleep over? Well the way I'm feeling never! How do I handle this? My partner tells me I should be honest with her and tell her I don't want her to come around when she texts and asks to pop over but I don't think that will help family relations at all. I'm torn because I want my baby to have a good realtionship with his grandparents (and I dont want to slag off dp's mum to him too much - it is his mum after all) but equally I want to be left alone to enjoy my time with my baby with the friends and family I like before having to go back to work. Sorry if this sounds a whiney post - lack of sleep isn't helping!
Hope someone out there can offer me a way out of this peacefully

Slambang Mon 03-Aug-09 22:01:14

You tell her politely when its not convenient for her to visit. (A white lie such as baby clinic or old friend visiting).


you grin and bear it with a friendly smile when she does come round which should be often.

She is a new gran and almost as excited and delighted as you are. Let the poor woman take some delight in her dgc and appreciate her gifts.

The advice is her well meaning enthusiasm and it is your tiredness and hormones which make it feel like criticism.

BettySwollux Mon 03-Aug-09 22:02:20

First of all,congrats on your new baby.
MIL may not realise she is being a bit over bearing, but it is your DH job to put her straight re her 'advice'.
At least she texts to check if ok to pop over,the amount of posts Ive seen here suggest you should count yourself lucky.
You know she wants to babysit,and this is great,although obv too soon for you ATM.

You are wrapped up in your LO (and prob dealing with hormones settling,finding your routine,and as you said, lack of sleep)but she is likely feeling just as excited - is it her first GC?

You say you usually get on.
Try and take a deep breath and see her god points (not always easy with MILs I know),but its better to have her on your side than not.

dizzydixies Mon 03-Aug-09 22:03:55

she'll calm down and when she does you'll be grateful of the help

tell your DP to ask her to back off a bit and give you time together as a family for a wee while

Mybox Mon 03-Aug-09 22:05:29

Why not invite her round & sometime into her extended visit explain you're going to be having some days just you & your baby - a babymoon. You'll txt her & send her pics but you just need sometime with your dp & baby alone as a family unit. Say that when you've had sometime it will be great to see her & that your mum, as a new gran, needs time to see her granchild as well.

campergirl30 Mon 03-Aug-09 22:21:33

Thankyou everyone for your advice so far. I know what you all say is true - she is entitled to be excited and want to see him - thats why I want to sort this out. I think if I'm honest with myself I just can't stand seeing her! I know this sounds really awful. Im usually a nice person and very tolerant but I cant stand her at the moment. I dont know if this is a hormonal thing - its not entirely irrational - Im sure my DP would be the first to say shes very overbearing and quite nasty about other people. I hate being around someone who slags off everyone all the time - even though I lknow my baby can't understand a word of it! I know in my head I should just be able to smile and bear her visits but I really dont feel like I can. Arghhhhh. Oh, and just to answer some questions:
No, this isn't her first grandchild
If I dont respond to her texts within an hour or so, she comes over anyway - I have been known to hide upstairs (the shame)

dizzydixies Mon 03-Aug-09 22:24:13

hide away, he's 7wks for god sake, you should be mooning about in your dressing gown and napping when he does grin

twigsblankets Wed 05-Aug-09 22:00:55

Wow, is yr MIL and my X MIL the same woman?

My X MIL used to be very very overbearing. It wasn't too bad during my pg, but she wanted to be at the fanjo end for the birth, she bought tons of baby stuff so my baby could sleep over, and wouldn't need anything while we were over with baby. She would not take hints at all.

Yes,she was excited, but it really started to feel (in my hormonal state) that she was almost wanting my baby to be her baby IYSWIM.

X DP and I both said that if we went to see her, we'd have no excuse to leave (baby tired etc) because X MIL had everything. Moses basket/steriliser/toys/changing mat/nappies everything.

She also slagged off everyone behind their backs, so I suspect she was doing the same to me too. sad

I didn't really enjoy going to hers, but I grinned and beared it, because under no circumstances did I want her at my house and be unable to get rid of her.

It was my XP who stood up to her. He was the one who said No repeatedly, or 'We don't want to' until it started to sink in, and my baby was her 1st grandchild. She adores kids, but when we split, she never bothered, not once!!
That was 6 months ago now, and not once has she phoned me to ask how baby is, nor texted me, nor come over. In this way, I don't feel so sorry for her now. I have to take my DD to hers so DD can see her paternal family.

They all have transport, but claim they are too busy. For 6 months shock

Sooooooooooo, can you not ask yr DP to let her know where she stands nicely?
It may need to be repeated a few times, but eventually, it will sink in.

HarryB Sun 09-Aug-09 09:11:28

Campergirl This is for your DP to sort I'm afraid. He needs to tell her to back off - in the nicest possible way of course. I had much of the same when DS was born, except MiL never text when she was coming round, she just turned up. Alot. I remember her sitting here with DH and I when the midwife was round to check my CS scar - she didn't even give me privacy by leaving the room. We had to lie to her about numbers of birth partners so she wasn't around when I gave birth. In addition to all her "advice", she'd grab DS off us and not give him back, even when he was crying (that hurt more than anything, I felt physical pain when she did that). For the record, my DH did f*ck all and I considered leaving. 7 months on, I can barely be in the same room as her, and we have now decided to move so we aren't so close to her. Like you, she was fine with me pre-baby.

I would ask DP to say something now as it's a downwood slide to shitesville when things are left unsaid. In the meantime, ignore her texts - you are busy with a 7 week old. As another poster said, you should be in your PJs, resting (and eating copious amounts of cake for the energy you'll need to get through the day wink )

Congratulations btw.

cocolepew Sun 09-Aug-09 09:30:22

Respond to her texts straight away with a no it's not convenient, don't lie elaborate unless asked. You are luckey the your DP knows what she is like. You have to take a stand now and stick to your guns, it's your house and your baby so you make the decisions.

Congratulations on your new baby smile

parsley3 Sun 09-Aug-09 16:06:13

Congratulations on your new baby ( Harry B - I had exactly the same experience with my over-bearing MIL snatching and not giving back my crying DS1,made me feel sick to the stomach too. Could write a book on how much she wound me up in that first year!) Of course the MIL wants to see her new GC and should but don't be railroaded into doing anything you feel uncomfortable with,or endless visits. My MIL would have liked my DCs to sleep over as babies but I never felt confident that she would call me if there was a problem. (sleepover at 7 weeks old IMO just not on!- plenty of time for that when baby is older).

JustWannaSay Sun 09-Aug-09 16:15:41

She's excited, but you are the baby's mom, so stick to your guns, but do it politely. Take any advice you think is useful and ignore the rest with a smile. Have a helpful phrase up your sleave like 'Oh yes, a friend of mine did it that way, but we just seem to be getting on fine like this'. Translation - there are 20 ways to skin a cat, grandma!

Don't feel pressured by her at all - he is your baby, not hers.

If it gets too much, ask you DP to say something when the time is right - after all, she is his mother, not yours. He really ought to be the one to say something as the one in the middle (IMO).

In my experience, it might change as the baby get's older and she see's that you are doing a fine job, and as they get older, there will be more opportunities for her to have her own input as a gran - taking him out for the day or playing special games or doing special things that he only does with her - things that will cause no harm or friction but that she can have a little bit of 'ownership' of without you feeling like she is trying to take over. As babies, there is little she can take on (feeding, etc is all owned by you) but as they get older, there are more activities she can take on. And it will give you a break, so don't burn the bridge at this early stage, just remember you are the mom and what you say goes. Just say it politely! wink

blahdiblahblah Sun 09-Aug-09 20:34:06

I had a similar situation which escalated and got out of hand to the point which we how no longer speak to MIL.
In retrospect, what I wish I had done is stand up to her consistantly and politely ie: when she slags someone off, say something like "it makes me uncomfortable when you speak about X like that." Let her know that what she is saying is not acceptable to you.
with regards the baby cot maybe say "I appreciate your enthusiasm and it is great to know that when the time is right for us DS can stay over" - not saying yes or no, keeping it emotive so she can't tell you you are wrong.

We didn't do that and her behaviour became more and more extreme - I think our silence was in some way condoning her behaviour

and - yes - you and DH need to be a united front with this

Dawnybabe Sun 09-Aug-09 20:51:32

God this thread is so familiar. I get on fairly well most of the time with my mil but sometimes she gets on a rant and makes me feel like a child. She tells me in no uncertain terms that my 2.8yo dd1 should be out of nappies when she's not interested in a potty and isn't ready for it yet. She tells me to stop 'nursing' my 10wo dd2 when we're having a cuddle to bring her wind up, and that I feed her too much. I just resent being 'told'. I'm 33, I have 2 children so I equal her on the baby front and I'm not an idiot. But like the other mils, she adores her grandchildren and is great with them so I do try to grin and bear it. Are we going to be like that? Do you morph into another creature as you get older?

NanaNina Mon 10-Aug-09 20:03:26

Dear All - I am a MIL and have found this thread very interesting. Going back in time I can remember being pissed off with my MIL and hating watching her feeding my baby. She used to keep saying that he didn't take a bottle quickly enough. BUT I loved having my own mom around.

Now I'm a MIL andhave 4 grandchildren (a 6 year old girl and 3 year old boy) with one son and DIL, a 5yr old girl with another son and dil. Have just had a new granddaughter with another son and DIL. I have always tried never to interfere or offer any advice about baby rearing. I have not forgotten how irritated I was by by MIL all those years ago. I still remember some of the words and phrases she used to use - 40 years on!

I am very lucky as I have a really good r/ship with 2 dils and a reasomably good one with the other one but I have to be a bit more careful with her. I am excited at this new grand daughter and yes there is a tendency to want to be there and be part of it all. It takes youback to when your own babies were tiny BUT you must remember this is NOT your baby.

What more can I say - remember you will be a MIL yourself one day!!

glitterkitty Mon 10-Aug-09 21:25:46

Hi campergirl, and congrats! remember 8 wks is toughtest point of having a new baby and each week now things will get easier!

I had just the same thing, my advice is keep breastfeeding! Cast iron excuse not to let ds out of your sight. grin

Had the holding while crying thing too- think it was trying to prove she could soothe him just the same as I could? Very hard to take. Just ASK for him back, thanking her.

My ds is 2 and a quarter and thank god all is well now, she realised that I could cope perfectly well and has backed off. MIL can come whenever she likes and spend time- especiaaly when I'm at work smile but I'm his mum. Once you get that clear all is well- think it just takes time to sink in as MIL's get v excited!

My DEEPEST sympathy- good luck xxx

Dawnybabe Mon 10-Aug-09 23:17:59

Just going with the asking for him back thing - I did that with my dd1 once when she was really upset with colic and the MIL had automatically picked her up. I was just so upset at seeing her in that state that no-one was going to come between me and my baby! She obviously knew I meant it and didn't even try and argue. You gotta blag your way through it. Just be confident and act as though no-one is ever going to contradict you and you'll be fine. Works on most things!

HarryB Tue 11-Aug-09 07:21:30

NanaNina, can you be my MiL please smile. My one can see that I am coping perfectly well (without her help), so has now started on personal attacks, about my hair: "it's a bit long and nothing" and if I miss a day at the gym, she goes into some kind of shocked state like the world might end. She's not nice.

saggyjuju Tue 11-Aug-09 08:31:35

the only advice i can give you from the experiences i have had is always be upfront from the beginning and dont be emotionally swayed it only gets harder as the time goes on if you dont,set the boundaries now,yes you my have an upset within the family but only short lived. we werent that focused and were emotionaly swayed and didnt take control and as i type this i feel i may be breaking beyond repair and am about to get up and make an appointment to see the dr and ask for counselling because our family has just about destroyed all of us in essence by just being uncontrollably interfering and our children will be the ones who suffer in the longtermsad

spongebrainmaternitypants Tue 11-Aug-09 08:50:49

saggy - so sorry to hear you're suffering so much

NanaNina, can you please talk to my MIL?! smile

Another one here with an overbearing and interfering MIL, albeit one who lives 2 hours drive away so reduced time we spend with her. She has been very difficult since DS was born (appeared in the hospital five hours after his birth and didn't go home for 24 hrs angry, while my own mother waited until Day 4 to give dh and I some time on our own), she has snatched my DS from me, interfered about our lack of routine in the early days (wanted to know why he wasn't sleeping through at 3 weeks shock), took great pleasure in rubbing my nose in it that bf didn't work out then insisted on always giving him his bottle, even though she had no idea how to feed a baby . . . I could go on.

DS2 is due soon and we will be doing things very differently.

MrsDmamee Tue 11-Aug-09 10:23:08

oh you poor thing campergirl30...congrats on your beautiful baby.
sounds as though your MIL thinks this baby is hers, she needs to be gently reminded that your the mommy!!!
fortunately my MIL is lovely, im closer to her than my own mum, but she only ever visits when we invite her.
you need to work out lines in your head even write them down, when she rings to visit just rhyme off your line " very busy, not today, baby clinic etc..." and as for when he can stay over....omg a 7 week old what is she like!shock " oh he's too young he needs his mommy, but thank you so much"

NanaNina Tue 11-Aug-09 13:26:46

Thanks for the compliments SBMpants and Harry B! I have to say I am surprised at the behaviour of some of these MILS you describe. I had thought the dragon MIL was something of a myth I must confess, and I am left wondering what is behind their behaviour.

It can be tricky sometimes especially if you are a MIL to a son's partner or wife and it calls for tact and sensitivity. I think it also depends on the MILS own position. If she doesn not work/andor have many friends and not much going on in her life, maybe she is more likely to be overbearing.

Some of my friends are grandparents now and do sometimes have a moan about DILS and we can discuss things and point out when there is an overreaction etc and then we have a laugh and it all feels much better.

The other thing is, the birth of a baby is the most significant/important/joyous thing in a woman's life and when a grnadchild arrives, the memories of our own babies re-emerge with great clarity. This is unexpected and creates a "maternal like" need to re-live it all and I suspect this is what is behind the MILS who try to take over. I honestly don't think they are aware of what they are doing and how hurtful/annoying it is to the new mother. I think they are following some sort of instinct.

I have felt these things myself but am fortunately aware enough to know that you have to take a back seat this time around, though I have to confess that I do like to buy a lot of clothes etc for my grandchildren and that somehow works it out of my system!

BUT how to deal with it.............hmm....strong emotions are involved in all this and new mothers have too much on their plate to be worrying about the MILS position I know.

There is a very interesting book called "Birth of a Mother" maybe I need to write something called "Birth of a grandmother" which you could give for a present to her!!

If I have any bright ideas about dealing with the situationI will return but to be honest I think it is a fraught situation that will possibly (in the less extreme cases) improve with time.

woozlet Tue 11-Aug-09 16:17:06

Nananina - that is very interesting, especially the "maternal like" need to re-live it all. I will try to remember that.

I also hope I am like you, and can remember what it's like to be a dil when I become a mil!!

The dragon mil - here's my theory - the mil is jealous of the dil cos she finds it hard to see another woman being the 'number 1' in her son's life. And she is desperately wanting to interfere as she thinks she knows her son best. Then when grandchildren appear the urge perhaps gets too much and the real interfering starts!!

Campergirl - you have my sympathy, I know what it's like except for we get unannounced visits. I just try to be out at around the time they usually like to come!!

SwannMum Tue 11-Aug-09 18:45:23

Usually mother-in-law stereotype is the mother of the woman so I'm pleased to see it's not just me who has had problems. This may make you feel better Campergirl!

After I had my baby I used to dread the dreaded family gatherings. I sort of wanted to retreat for a few weeks after the birth, just wanted it to be me, my (ex) partner and our baby. However there was a lot of pressure to attend lengthy family barbeques (his family)which would go on for hours while they all got hammered. I used to pretend our son needed feeding and would retreat to a bedroom just to get some breathing space.

My (ex as I've since broken up with her son) MIL's gift to me in hospital was a book entitled "How to Lose Weight while Breast Feeding", which was a nice touch. Can anyone beat that?!!

'Ownership' of the baby was a real problem for me and there were a few tussles right from the word go. He's my first baby and I reckon I needed time to acclimatise... just getting to know him really. His mother always wanted to drag him everywhere... to visit someone in hospital (when he was a week old) which I didn't like... being a bit paranoid about germs and stuff. However, she couldn't accept that and had to phone the hospital up to check it would be OK. The thing is, I was happy for them to see him... he's their first grandson but I felt like I had no control at first.

Unfortunately my story didn't have a happy ending. I called her an 'arsehole' (definitely wouldn't advise that) after one crappy comment too many (i.e. "You don't expect B. NOT to go to Glastonbury... all his friends are EXPECTING him" (The ex had secretly booked a trip there for four days when our son was nine weeks old and I'd just gone back to work and didn't feel I'd be able to cope) "You CAN'T tell him not to run the marathan. That's been booked for TWO YEARS" (Well yes, but our son was just over a week old and I was recovering from a caesarian. Didn't say he "couldn't" go, but perhaps he could just stay over for one night rather than having to get inebriated and stay over for two). Etc. Etc. In the end she called me 'evil'.

So my advice would be to try and establish some parameters maybe through your partner if he's reasonable. Try and discuss things calmly before it gets to "arsehole" proportions.

Twigsblanket... "fanjo".. brilliant! I've not heard that one before but I shall use it to enhance my repertoire!

Woozlet, I agree with your theory. There's definitely a control thing which goes on. There are no easy answers I don't think. Just don't call her an "arsehole" (although, I did use it in a fairly frank way, "Well there is no point in trying to talk to you becasue you're quite obviously an arsehole")

NanaNina you sound like a nice MIL. I would love it if mine even bought our baby anything. The only thing she has donated was that book to me and a second hand bear from Oxfam... it still had the 50p label on it. Thanks for that!! (God I probably am ungrateful but the stinginess is pretty diabolical I think)

bluebump Tue 11-Aug-09 18:56:15

My MIL can be a bit overbearing, it's odd, I never ever had a problem with her until my DS was born.

I try not to say anything to DP now as they have eased off on the visiting all the time now he is one (only twice this week so far hmm!)

I tend to sound completely ungrateful when I talk about my MIL, I recently wanted to get a stroller for our holiday and had seen one I wanted to buy, she offered to buy it which gratefully we agreed BUT when we went to the store to buy it she completely bullied me into buying a different (more expensive!) one that I didn't want.

I hope like me though it improves in time!

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