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MIL favouring DSSs - again!!!

(21 Posts)
allnewtaketwo Wed 06-Jul-11 09:14:18

I have posted about this in the past. Brief (as poss) back story:

DSSs 15 and 12 with us every other weekend. We alse have 3yo DS. At the beginning of last year, it became obvious that MIL was treating DSSs differently to DS. She would hand them money and give nothing to DS. Repeatedly - every time we saw her. Then when we went to visit, this came to a bit of a head when she actually gave them drinks and sweets and totally left DS out. Literally, when we arrived, the other 2 were each offererd a drink and DS nothing. Then later the other 2 were sitting at the table eating chocolate bars while DS was asking me why he didn't have any, and could he share DSSs. DH (after I'd said to him) asked his mother not to do this.

She ignored him, and then on DS's birthday last year, MIL actually handed money to the DSSs and specifically said something along the lines of "and this is because it's not your birthday" - WTF? .

At that time, DH and I had a huge row because I was getting really angry about her deliberately making such a difference between them. DH said it didn't matter and that DS wouldn't notice. Also that MIL was doing this because he felt 'sorry' for DSSs. I said I didn't understand why an adult would deliberately disadvantage one grandchild over 2 others, out of some misplaced sense of loyalty. DS was starting to notice. Also it really is difficult enough in a blended family, without someone basically sabotaging all efforts to make sure the children are growing up without a clear difference being made between them. DH (somewhat reluctantly) pointed this out to his mother.

It appeared to have stopped. But, lo and behold, it was DS's birthday last week. All DH's family were at our house (including FIL - who is divorced from MIL). Everybody having lovely time. Then MIL, out of the blue, publicly hands £30 each to each of the DSSs for their holiday. Saying "DS will get money for his holiday if he goes on holiday at that age". WTF? DS then asked me why DSSs were getting money to go on holiday, and was he not allowed to go on holiday. He was basically very confused and I had to spend all evening answering questions.

When I posted about this last year on another part of MN, the overwhelming response was that DH needed to step up and tell her it wasn't acceptable. He reluctantly did this, like I said. People were of the opinion that this is likely to cause problems between DSSs and DS, certainly into the future, and that it should be stopped now.

I am so annoyed that this has happened again.

I think a mixture of shock, it being to public and it being a happy family occasion, that I didn't say anything. I could kick myself. The next morning when I woke up, I said to DH where is the money MIL gave to DSSs. (thinking we would either give it back to her and explain why, or just split it 3 ways like she should have done in the first place). But DH said he had already sent it home with DSSs

He then had a go at me for bringing it up.

Thing is, he gives his mother a fool's pardon. She has always treated BIL differently (constantly giving him cash, "poor xxx", etc etc) from DH and DH justs accepts this is the way she is. I think fine, but when that negatively impacts on my child, it shouldn't be tolerated.


Bonsoir Wed 06-Jul-11 09:18:10

My MOL died this February, but we had exactly the same issue with her lavishing money and attention on the DSSs (15 and 13 when she died) and bypassing DD (6). She did outrageous things like arrange with the DSSs to take them out for the day when they were with us during the holidays, neither checking with me and DP whether we agreed and not even suggesting taking DD along (or offering her an alternative treat).

DP did have a go at her on a few occasions and, to be fair, I don't think MOL had noticed she was doing this.

What other grandparents does your DS have? It mattered less to me for DD as my mother lavishes her with attention and kindness in a way the DSSs' maternal grandmother doesn't lavish them with attention.

allnewtaketwo Wed 06-Jul-11 09:23:55

My DS also has my parents who live abroad. They have 5 GCs and always treat them all the same.

With MIL, I've come to realise that most of what she does is for show. So for example the £60 last week was done fully in view of everyone else at the party, with quite a loud announcement on her part. My own mum is of the view that MIL is actually trying to make a point to me.

Thing is - doting grandmother she is not. She actually never takes the DSSs anywhere, despite having been offered the opportunity on many occasions by DH. She actually forgets her own son's birthday pretty much every year and is the most distant 'mother' figure emotionally that I've encountered.

Bonsoir Wed 06-Jul-11 09:42:37

My parents also live abroad, whereas MOL used to live ten minutes' drive away.

Honestly, I think it isn't a battle worth fighting! My DP used to get a lot more upset than I did, and I used to get very cross when MOL bypassed me and DP and made arrangements directly with the DSSs without consulting the adults in charge. But DD was better off keeping her distance, as I was!

allnewtaketwo Wed 06-Jul-11 10:10:10

Yes, I guess it will become pretty obvious to DS as he grows up that she's not really worth bothering about. Luckily DH's father is much better. Hands on and definitely more interested

chelen Wed 06-Jul-11 11:20:36

Hi, I really hate this, sadly it happens a bit here but with my own mother (which at least means its a little easier to deal with as I stand up to her).

I see it as unhelpful to BOTH sets of children - children should be treated fairly by family & other important adults. Life is not fair, and kids have to deal with being cleverer/less clever, faster/less fast, rich/poor whatever - but they shouldn't have to deal with blatantly unfair or unequal treatment from close people. The ones getting the extra feel happy about the presents but I think it makes them insecure because they don't have a solid reason for getting that stuff - so why are people doing it? What if I do something wrong and it doesn't happen any more? What if I don't stay favourite? Kids like stability, predictability and fairness, its secure.

I have a prob with my mum and sis who basically make a weird, patronising fuss of my SS. My SS finds it weird and gets quite cross if people don't get a gift for his brother when they do for him.

Unfortunately I come from a family that doesn't like to discuss feelings but pretends an extra mars bar will make up for having divorced parents/dead pets/crap day at school/whatever. I deal with this irritation over unfair treatment by no longer inviting my folks to birthday parties at home. I have also been pretty direct. Things have improved in this area (altho my mum is what I would call generally challenging so if its not one thing its another!)

If it was me, I'd either limit contact, get my partner to sort it (sledge hammer, not softly softly) or else buy a present for the left out child and say very loudly 'and this one is for you, because in our family we make sure everyone is treated fairly' and hopefully make her feel embarrassed. To be honest though, if it happened as blatantly as you describe, I'd end up making a scene and chuck her out at the time.

Wow, when I read that back I can see why my partner says I'm too confrontational....!! But you know what, its really hard trying to kee things harmonious in a blended family and this kind of passive aggressive/weird/unhelpful rubbish doesn't help one bit.

allnewtaketwo Wed 06-Jul-11 11:32:31

Chelen - I also think that treating children differently doesn't do them any favours in the long run.

In terms of what to do - yes if it was up to me, I would definitely limit contact. i.e. she has been asked, several times, to stop this behaviour, and she has effectively ignored our wishes as parents. DH is very different from me though. He's much more of a 'keep the peace' person (although clearly not keeping peace with me over the issue as I am furious! grin).

If I could wind back time I would definitely have said something there and then (something which would have wound her up, such as "Don't worry DS, your other grandparents are giving you and your cousins money for your holiday, as they don't like to treat their grandchildren differently").

Next time I will be on my watch

brdgrl Wed 06-Jul-11 19:12:16

I can see that this is how it is going to be with my family, too. My baby (with DH) is only 1, but DH's dad completely ignored her at birthday and Christmas this year, whereas DSS and DSD (13 and 16) are given money every holiday and every visit. DH's dad's wife doesn't approve of DH having remarried, I suspect, and that may be behind it. I haven't a clue how I will deal with it if and when it comes up once DD is old enough to be aware of it...

It makes me really cross, especially as my own parents have welcomed DSS and DSD as warmly as they possibly can; they put up pictures of them, send presents, include them when asked how many grandchildren they have.

Anyway, sorry - no advice, just commiseration. I'd probably confront the witch.

allnewtaketwo Wed 06-Jul-11 20:11:04

sorry to hear that brdgrl sad. How anyone can behave like that is beyond my comprehension!

brdgrl Wed 06-Jul-11 20:46:34

thanks. i don't get it either.

lateatwork Thu 07-Jul-11 13:20:36

gosh and there I was thinking I was the only one who had a MIL like this.... hmmm

MIL completely ignores DD and lavishes gifts and attention on DSS. I find it pathetic really. But she has always done this... DD is 2.5 and has been up til now too young to notice. MIL only sends things to DSS mother's place.

It winds me up no end. I have put it down to two things- one she hates me (and no I am not 'the other one who destroyed DSS life' but I am with her son...) and 2. DSS is a BOY who looks like his dad and she can relate better to him.

Either way, the way we have dealt is total alienation. In my eyes, DD only has one grandma- my mum. MIL does not exist. I am pregnant with twins and as far as I am concerned she will not see them. I have given her many many chances, sent photos and letters and nothing back in return. I wont put myself or DD through it anymore.

allnewtaketwo Thu 07-Jul-11 13:26:04

lateatwork - that's awful. You're totally justified in ignoring her imo

How worrying there seem to be a number of these women shock

lateatwork Thu 07-Jul-11 13:56:04

allnewtaketwo- yes! i thought it was just my MIL being vile... but what gets into these people? what are children from second families not worthy of being grandchildren? Seems like some sort of trend.

Just fyi, MIL was a single mum in the 70s in Ireland. DP is her only child and she has never had a relationship since DP's birth. So, she is pretty 'unorthodox' for her time and you would think that would make her more accepting rather than less.

It pisses me off. But cutting her out was somehow liberating.

Anushka11 Thu 07-Jul-11 20:46:10

hi, LAW- is your MIL strict catholic? That would explain a lot!
My ExP mother never had another relationship after divorce, as divorce does not exist for RC- so she was "married", in her eyes. Very strict RC.
Must have been soooo frustrating!!!

RhiRhi123 Tue 12-Jul-11 19:19:27

Hi I read this thread with interest as my MIL favours my DSS enormously over mine and Dh's DD our DD is 8 weeks old and she has seen her twice yet she sees DSS at least 2wice a week giving him presents etc whenever she sees him. It's not that i want her to give DD presents as i don't believe that spoiling kids like that is good in the long run as they become unappreciative as DSS is its the fact that she NEVER wants to see her.

Anushka u mentioning catholic has twigged with me that she is catholic although she doesn;t practise this her husband died 11 years ago and she has never had a new partner and it makes u wonder (even though my DH and his ex were never married) if she thinks that my DH has almost 'sinned' for starting a new family as she doesn't seem overly keen on me. my DH was bought up loosly catholic and his ds is catholica lthough not practising however we have decided to have our DD christened as i was maybe this is an issue for her. However I want to nip this in the bud before DD starts notice it as it upsets me. The first time she saw her she said to me 'she doesn't feel like my granddaughter' and also said 'she looks like u she's got ur nose, it's really wide'! I was so shocked i didn't reply!

Anushka11 Tue 12-Jul-11 19:43:22

RhiRhi- yes, I do think the "sin" bit comes into it- even if you're not married. Mind you, not RC myself, but I guess it's along the lines of you stick with the first one, or it's sin.
MY current DP is half Irish, RC (non practicing) and says this is WAY complex, lots of sin and guilt and stuff- having baby out of wedlock is sin, so then having new family would be another sin, etc.OTOH, can't get divorced even if legally divorced, church says still married- so generally bad news there, and second wife/ husband would not be accepted, as living in sin- and all that follows from there.
(apologies, I do not want to offend any RC posters on here! I know not everyone is like that, DP for once)

RhiRhi123 Tue 12-Jul-11 20:02:47

I can understand if it's her belief to an extent but i dont know how she can be like that towards her own granddaughter shes a little baby. I know im completely different but i don't know how she can not want to see her own flesh and blood and how she can treat the 2 so differently.

lateatwork- what you say rings true as well DSS is a boy that looks the spit of his dad where as dd is a girl and looks like me.

She always says ' o i wish i's had a different career and worked with troubled young boys' Dss is certainly that so i think she has spent so much time trying to 'fix' him she has put him up on a pedestall. She has caused so many rows within our family as my DH will say for eg no DSS cannot have those sweets b4 dinner etc and she'll say u can have what ever u want coz ur at nannys' :O right in front of my Dh how disrespectful! it's outrageous! whereas i think because my Dh and i our a team she know's she won't get away with behaviour like that with our DD so she has gone completely the other way and doesnt bother at all.

Allnew i think 'grannys' seem to think that the kids from the first relationship have 'been through so much' they often molly coddle them so they don't feel 'left out' when in actual fact by doing this they are leaving out their other GC maybe they don't do it on 'purpose' however i do think thats when our disney dads should step up and say its not acceptable! but then they don't like to rock the boat!

CrapolaDeVille Tue 12-Jul-11 20:49:46

Could it be that she is trying to compensate for the fact that they don;t live with their father and so she's trying to let them know how much she cares, self interest and good for them, and letting them know that they are part of the family still?

In addition she knows that your ds have their Mummy and Daddy taking care of them, she may feel sorry for the Dss.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 13-Jul-11 15:05:13

There is a very highly recommended book - Stepmonster' - that explains why 'second wives' and their children are invariably given a different status in the eyes of family and friends.

I'm really fortunate, as DPs parents have accepted me and DD - in contrast, my parents still have a close relationship with my exH and have never spoken to DP sad

brdgrl Thu 14-Jul-11 11:10:14

I will look for that book, thanks notadisneymum.

In my case, my husband's dad is i think following the lead of his wife. She was close to First Wife, so maybe it is some kind of 'loyalty' thing. I've considered the idea that she might also be judging me because I had DD before we were married. That kinda makes me laugh, because she was "the Other Woman" when DH's dad was married to someone else, so she has been in the line of fire with people judging herself, and I wouldn't have expected her to pull that. Who knows.

lateatwork Thu 14-Jul-11 12:30:44

RhiRhi123.. my MIL is Catholic- but non practising.... and was never married in the first place. I admit it must not have been easy being a single mum in the 70's. She worked hard to bring up DP. But her attitude sucks with regard to DD.

and yes, part of the reason is also because she sees DSS as needing extra attention and help as he comes from a broken home- whereas DD does not. Of course its great that she has such a strong relationship with DSS- that is not something I would want to discourage in anyway. Its just sad that she seems to be showing that she doesnt have the capacity to love more than one grandchild and she has made her choice.

DD is not wanting for granny substitutes though! MIL own sister takes an active role in her life, as does my friend's mother. So am sure she doesnt feel at this stage in her life like she is missing out. Its just going to be a tricky convo when DD is older when DSS gets stuff from MIL and she does not.

MIL is poison to be honest and I just feel so much lighter without having to deal with her.

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