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Why doesn't my MIL love her GC (my DD)? - long, sorry

(45 Posts)
wellieboots Fri 15-Feb-13 08:49:23

Sorry this is long but I don't want to drip feed.

Background - I am from UK (Scotland) and moved to Sydney with DH (who is from here) a couple of years ago. DH has one DSis, but she lives in London, so PILs are our only family here and we live about 10 minutes drive from them. DD was born in November last year and is an absolute joy but very full on and has reflux which makes things even more challenging.

MIL had said to DH and SIL for many years that she didn't want to be "Grandma every Wednesday" (ie provide regular childcare if SIL or I were back at work after kids). This is totally fine and I have been aware of it before we even got married. She goes on quite a lot about how hard it was for her bringing up DH and SIL and that she never got any help etc, and I think she resents the fact that she gave up her career to have kids and still seems to have quite a chip on her shoulder about it. The "Grandma every Wednesday" comment was apparently made in the context of no-one looked after my kids so that I could get back to work, so I'm not going to do it for anyone else.

SIL has a DS (3.7) and DD (13 months) but they are in London so PILs see them rarely, and our DD is therefore the first GC who has been "accessible" so it's new to everyone. SIL and family have come out here twice on holiday, once when DNephew was 7 months and once in August last year (so when DNiece was about the same age). PILs have visited them twice - once when DNephew was 1 and SIL had to return to work full time for a few weeks before dropping to 3 days, in order to keep her maternity pay. MIL came to UK for 4 or 5 weeks, and looked after DNephew full time for 2 or 3 weeks in that time. The most recent time was Jan last year when DNiece was born and MIL flew over to help out (apparently wasn't much use but that's another story!) So it's not that she's never looked after GC but she hasn't had much chance.

Since DD was born (she's 14 wks today), PILs have visited twice on the weekend and MIL has visited 3 times on her own during the week as she's retired. 2 of these visits were when my DM was here on holiday when DD was really little and one was about 6 weeks ago. We have assumed that PILs would like to see DD, and have been visiting them most weekends and some of those visits have been successful, others less so.

Last weekend we visited and they asked if DD was still sleeeping thorugh the night (she does this very occasionally and we must have told them once ). On the Sat night, she had been up once (which I still think is great for 3 months) and so I said no, she woke once last night at about 3am. She then asked whether we attend to her or just leave her to scream shock. I tried to be polite and keep it lighthearted and just said - she woke because she was hungry, I fed her, she went back to sleep, if she's hungry I have to feed her! I then added (maybe this was the mistake) you can't leave babies her age to cry because they don't understand and they're hungry. I was then laughed at and got 20 million defensive comments - yes you can, we did, blah blah. I knew that they used to hear SIL crying, set the alarm for an hour's time, go back to sleep and then if she was still crying when the alarm went off an hour later, go and see what was wrong. I had heard this and always thought it was a bit shock but I had assumed that SIL was older at the time!

We then ended up in a huge bunfight - DH tried to defend me but I think they felt criticised about their own parenting, which wasn't my intention and let rip a whole load of stuff. The outcome was that they said we may as well move to the moon [sceptical], they are not interested in having a relationship with DD, we are selfish because we asked them to wash up the dishes (when they came and visited and asked if they could do anything to help....), all of her friends agree with her (not sure what about...). At one point she let rip that she doesn't like me and that she's sorry she's DH's mum sad.

No idea what to do from here - if I had known this is how they felt, I wouldn't have started my family thousands of miles from my own family and friends. I don't want to come back to the UK at this point particularly, but I do feel very alone and isolated. I have a relatively new bub, my first, who is very hard work although of course I've never loved anyone more in my life, life feels very relentless and this is just such a kick in the teeth. I am so sad and angry for DH as he is just so hurt. And I don't want to sound pfb, but I just can't understand why they don't want a relationship with DD, she is amazing - some rubbish about her grandparents not spending time with her - well sorry but that was a long time ago, how about moving on?! If she means that she doesn't know how to be a grandparent, then how about trying it and seeing how she goes? I've never been a mummy before, and I've just had to figure it out!!

I just wish that if they weren't interested, they had told us that years ago! There is a huge difference between I don't want to do regular childcare and I don't want to cuddle my GC! Is she crazy and toxic and we're better off without her in DD's life, or should we try and reason with her?

Thanks for reading if you've made it this far and if I have missed anything (unlikely smile ) let me know

4TheLoveOfBob Fri 15-Feb-13 08:55:07

She sounds like a bitter, jealous, poisonous witch! Emphasis on the JEALOUS.

I have no idea how to advise you, but just wanted to send you hugs and say it sounds like a difficult situation and I hope you and your DH can provide some comfort for each other...

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Fri 15-Feb-13 08:55:26

She sounds crazy and toxic. Don't do anything. Focus on your baby. If she had announced she was relocating would you feel like you and your family couldn't be happynliving where you do, I mean are you only living there for her?

She sounds like she was a pretty grim mum and she will be a pretty grim granny. Do not engage. She wants you to flap around her. None of this is about you.

What she said about not liking you & being sorry she is your husband's mum is not normal. That is not a disagreement about child rearing that is horrible. Best thing you can do is keep away.

ScottyDoc Fri 15-Feb-13 09:06:40

A nasty piece of work just about sums the woman up. Mils shouldn't ever interfere or comment on a dils parenting unless a concern for safety, because it just causes angst. I'm sorry you feel so bad about it, I was in a similar type of situation with my mil a few years ago when we had a few disagreements and it just made things so awkward. I had also moved far away from family and had no friends to talk to or to offload to which was awful, so I fully sympathise. My Advice is to carry on as you were, things with the kids WILL get easier believe me, and best thing is is to chuck yourself into it all fully and just sidestep the mil. She has obvious jealousy issues alongside some other insecurities and her comments were completely horrible and out of order. I found avoiding my mil for a bit and being very very firm on my parenting helped her understand I wasn't budging, and that I was not to be treated like an amateur. Her lack of interest in her gkids is her massive loss. My grandmothers were never interested in me or my siblings and they have paid the price for it dearly, because we have no interest let alone live or respect for them. Don't pay it another thought. Get on with raising your lovely family OP

HotDAMNlifeisgood Fri 15-Feb-13 09:18:07

She's toxic.

The issue isn't that she doesn't love your DD. The issue is that she doesn't love anybody (even herself). In her limited worldview, others are just there to make her feel better about herself: you are all pawns to her, there to either praise her, placate her, or be the butt of nasty comments and manipulation so that she can feel she has power over you. She is self-serving, bitter, bullying, nasty, blinkered... all because of her own issues.

There's nothing you can do: this is just who she is. All you can do is decide how much contact you are willing to have with her, and on what terms, and stick to your guns.

I recommend you read "Toxic In-Laws" by Susan Forward.

All the best.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 15-Feb-13 09:23:20

Would not try and reason with your MIL as such emotionally damaged people are impossible to be reasoned with.

My ILs particularly FIL are not interested in anyone else anyway. This is because they are self absorbed and narcissistic in nature. Its not you therefore, its them.

Would second the recommendation to read "Toxic Inlaws" written by Susan Forward.

Littleturkish Fri 15-Feb-13 09:26:26

She sounds spectacularly fucked up and bitter about motherhood.

What happened with SIL? Do you get on with her? Could you ask her?

bigbadbarry Fri 15-Feb-13 09:32:18

Poor you. And poor her, too, what an utterly miserable life she must have. I would cut all ties and focus on building a support network that doesn't involve family sad

FirstTimeForEverything Fri 15-Feb-13 09:35:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Fri 15-Feb-13 09:39:46

Funny how when you are just going through the most special time of your life, someone who should be very close and protective comes along and pisses on your chips. What a nasty piece of work. She certainly knows where to put the knife. I don't think there is anything more crushing, then to say they are not interested in seeing their own DGD. Where you go from here and recover from that, I just don't know.

They need to come to you and really apologise, but mean and bitter people rarely do.

gardenpixie32 Fri 15-Feb-13 10:09:42

Gosh, you expect better from a grown woman and grandmother. I have no advice but to say I am in a similar position to you.

DP's mother lives 1.8 miles down the road and has only see our 20 week old twins 5 times. She hasn't even held one of them confused

I think you have to accept that this is the type of woman she is and forget about getting any help from her. You don't need her to love your DD, you and your partner will give her all the love she needs.

Locketjuice Fri 15-Feb-13 10:16:24

She sounds awful! confusedI wouldn't want her in my child's life!

Wormshuffler Fri 15-Feb-13 10:26:49

I agree with everything hotdamn said, she sounds awful, its her loss . Are there any groups you could go to, to get you out and about? don't let the evil witch sour your first years with your baby. Xx

StuntNun Fri 15-Feb-13 10:29:43

That's such a shame. I suppose the only thing you can do is build up your own network of friends and fellow parents and not rely on your ILs for anything. In your position I wouldn't go out of my way to see them but wouldn't go out of my way to avoid them either IYSWIM.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 15-Feb-13 10:33:15

She sounds fucking horrible sad

Makes you think about why SIL is in London!

wellieboots Fri 15-Feb-13 11:29:30

Thanks all for the support.

Yes, my BFF has said on more than one occasion in the last couple of years that there is a reason DSIL lives the other side of the planet from her mother!

Are we only living here for her? No not really, although it is a bit awkward when friends at home say - oh, your family must be so excited that you came back to Oz, then, oh they must be excited about the baby, etc. Kinda hard to say well no, actually they couldn't care less. Kinda embarrassing. We do have a small network of friends, I have joined a mothers group and am getting on with life but it is still very sad. Even the network of friends we have assume that we have some support from PILs and it's been strange having to explain to them this week that actually no, we have even less support than we thought we did.

Yes it is her loss, but I do feel sad for DD. Get on OK with SIL, on most things she encourages us to placate MIL and make her feel important etc, but on this she agrees that she has gone too far. MIL encouraged both DH and SIL to move to the UK, but I think she was a bit upset when they both stayed longer than maybe she had planned, and both married British people. DH said to me on Sunday that he didn't think either me or BIL ever stood a chance as we are too different to PILs. Tbh, I think everyone on the planet is very different to my PILs grin. SIL will never move back here, she has now been in the UK for 9 years, is now married with 2 kids and bought a house a couple of years ago. She wouldn't take BIL away from his family for the sake of her crazy one!

It is embarrassing, it has been so hard this week trying to explain to people who are supporting us, giving us gifts, lending us baby stuff, cooking us meals, that MIL has done none of those things and has

- said in front of my DM that she would come over the day after my DM left (so the first day I was on my own with DD) so that my DM would think I had support, then didn't come

- said that she would like to come over and come for a walk with me and DD one afternoon, I asked her to call on the day to arrange a time as DD isn't in a routine so I never know until the day what times will work for feeds, sleeps, outings, whatever. I came home from spending most of the day with my BFF and once again, waited for the call....

- asked what she could do while I was in hospital after DD was born - yes, we did ask her to wash dishes, there had been a load of dishes which I had put in the sink while I was in labour and then never got back to - then didn't do it

- came over one Saturday when DH and I had had a night of practically no sleep as DD was quite unsettled at about 4 weeks, laughed at DH falling asleep on the sofa, stayed for hours when I was desperate to get out for a walk and DD wouldn't settle, spun her around in circles because "she's got wind" - now that I know more, I think she was just overtired! and just sat there and repeatedly said she's not happy, you're not meeting her needs!

Basically it seems that I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't! In pushing things last week, I think DH was hoping they were going to do more, and it's ended up going the other way...

koolforcats Fri 15-Feb-13 12:44:13

Hello lovely, what sad news to hear, especially when you're so kind and thoughtful. I guess as much as we all tell you that it's her loss, the fact of the matter is that it's just terribly sad for you and your DH. She's obviously not a happy person which is sad in itself but she's meant to be an adult. She's not acting like one. I'm sure you know but it's her problem. As it stands, your baby will not be missing out by not having a relationship with her. I'm extremely lucky to have both sets of wonderful grandparents for DS and I know I'd be at a loss without them. But if she's only going to bring negativity and criticism, then that's not healthy for anyone.

Please don't feel embarrassed or the need to hide it from your friends - I think they'd be pleased you told them and can support you. I felt really sad when I read about her not calling you when she said she would in front of your mum, thats especially mean. You must feel a long way from home right now but your DH sounds lovely and it's good that you have a support network there. Not to mention your adorable DD. Focus all your energies on her, goodness knows it's hard enough with a newborn anyway. It sounds as though you're doing an amazing job with her.

I'd like to think that she should feel embarrassed about her behaviour but it doesn't sound as though it's in her nature to be.

I hope that today is a better day smile

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Fri 15-Feb-13 12:52:19

OP... In 14 weeks, your in-laws have visited five times. You've also been there most weekends yourself. That's quite a lot of access really, isn't it?

I think sometimes it is a question of expectations... people expect different things from others and the problems occur when the communication isn't there.

What your MIL said about you and your husband was very unkind, it sounds like lashing out to me. You have to decide - or your husband does separately - whether you/he will have a relationnship with them or not. If you decide that you will, then you need to find some common ground. I don't like the use of 'toxic' as an adjective for every person that displeases. You must have had some relationship in the past to have moved near them before having your child. I think you'll need to be pragmatic - but definite - on what you want to happen in the future and then have that conversation with your in-laws.

yellowtomato Fri 15-Feb-13 18:04:27

wellie just popped in to ((((((hugs)))))))

So sorry to hear about this situation, i can totally imagine how angry and sad you must both be feeling. I tend to think that she is unlikely to change which is very sad for everyone involved.

Has your DH ever had any heart to hearts with her, is there any chance that he can try and have a calm chat with her and explain how he is feeling?

If so it might be worth one last try but if not then you are going to have to totally realign your expectations, hopes etc as thats the only thing you have control over.

Im so sorry that you're feeling so isolated but it sounds like you are doing the right thing with the mothers groups.

I know it's really tough but i think you have to try and emotionally distance yourself and not take responsibility for her behaviour, it doesn't reflect on you and you shouldn't feel embarrased, it's really not your fault.

Have to get on with bathtime now but will check-in later/ tomorrow

Big hugs and ill be thinking of you

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 15-Feb-13 18:20:22

Think you drew the short straw when it came to MILs, I hope she feels better after getting that off her chest. Now you can ignore and detach.

Btw how was FIL during this tirade? She wears the trousers in that relationship?

You must have had some relationship in the past to have moved near them before having your child yes and look where it got her. Phoney offers of help and criticism. SIL who lives in London(!) encourages us to placate MIL and make her feel important etc, have to say pandering and placating is not really working is it.

Courage, OP, you have your own little family now. DH can see his parents whenever he wants but let MIL carry on without you and pfb trying to dance to her tune and don't let her put a downer on your life.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 15-Feb-13 18:23:00

You likely come from a family unit where this type of familial dysfunction is thankfully unknown so this is even more difficult to deal with or even get your head properly around.

This lack of interest from gps is not about expectations (I think most people would think they would have some sort of relationship with the ILs in the role of grandparents) or even communication difficulties. You want to communicate and be reasonable but MIL is at heart totally unreasonable from what you have written about her. This also happens because people like your MIL are inherently selfish and self absorbed. Your MIL has a real chip on her shoulder and probably feels like she wants her life back (my mother certainly did). She probably resents her own life and how it turned out for her.

Think the first red flag of many appeared when MIL stated that she did not want to be a Wednesday only granny. Not altogether surprised to see either that her DD moved to the other side of the world. She has also stated that she is sorry that she is your DHs mother!. A vile comment indeed.

You have not mentioned FIL: is he still around?.

It is not your fault at all that your MIL is this way inclined; my parents are actually not too dissimilar re lack of interest shown to their grandchild. I am a few years down the line from you and I can state that my child has not really missed out re his grandparents lack of interest; the key is to show your child other positive role models in life.

Floralnomad Fri 15-Feb-13 18:32:53

I think you need to OT worry about it and move on . They've made their position clear , I hope your husband is not too upset as ultimately he has been the one rejected most IYSWIM. Enjoy your little family unit and busy yourself with friends , it is their loss. Your daughter will not miss what she has never had.

UnlikelyAmazonian Fri 15-Feb-13 18:38:20

What everyone else has said below. My horrible MIL kept calling my baby by the wrong name when she came to visit in hospital on the day he was born - she seemed to think it was funny. I did not. Silly childish nasty old bat.

Then when her perfect son did a bunk to Thailand leaving me holding her 6 month old GC, she cut all contact. She never wanted to know my son.

Her loss as he is a triumph and a lush gorgeous thing! and she cannot take an ounce of credit for that!

I rang her a couple of times - the last time, when I asked rather despairingly if she wanted to know him, she said "life is too complicated and right now I am going to be selfish and concentrate on myself"

Well, she never said a truer word. Lol. Stupid, stupid self-obsessed woman. Your MIL is just the same - toxic, self-obsessed, self-pitying and, most importantly of all - as someone else on your thread has so rightly said - she was a crap mother and would be an even crapper grandmother.

Stay away. Don't give her another thought. Buy a potato and push cocktail sticks into it if you're feeling particularly sad, betrayed and let down. Then move on.

Am so happy for you that your DH stuck up for you! Good on him.

You sound lovely.

And am well-jell that you're living in Sydney!! envy How wonderful. I lived there for a while and totally LOVED it!

poozlepants Fri 15-Feb-13 18:41:44

You have my deepest sympathies I have a MIL who doesn't do help and made clear they wouldn't be 'hands on' grandparents. She criticised our parenting because it made them feel good. She is only interested in her daughters children because SIL controls her with her tantrums. She feels nothing for my Ds and isn't interested. I feel annoyed, sad for DH, angry etc tried to make it better but after 4 years it is as bad as ever so I have decided just to totally disengage.
However if my MIL ever said any of the things yours said to you I wouldn't speak to her again for a very long time and I wouldn't let her anywhere near my child unless she apologised unreservedly and wholeheartedly.
They are too toxic to live near- if you don't want to move to the UK look to moving away from your PIL somewhere in Australia.

Mumsyblouse Fri 15-Feb-13 18:45:56

I'm so sorry, it's horrible when the loving relationship you perhaps had with your own grandparent turns out not to be what your children are getting, but it it suprisingly common. It took me and my DH a lot longer to work out that his mother was never going to be a good granny (she was a bad mum too but we thought it might be different with a different generation) as we lived abroad and it 'hid' this until more recently when we found more time to go there and discovered that a lot of their 'oh, I miss my grandchildren so much, I love them so much' was really for display purposes!

I think now is the time to let go of the ideal, and work with what you have, which is a lovely supportive DH and the makings of a friendship group. Perhaps if they apologise you might be able to have some contact but I bet you never enjoy this again, and I wouldn't pin your hopes on them ever helping out/being great grandparents.

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