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MIL vs SS where do I stand?

(28 Posts)
Stepmum123 Sun 06-Nov-16 21:38:39

I have been in my SS's life since he was 14 months old (he's now 3) my DH and I have worked hard to establish routine and rules for SS who falls apart withiut clear boundaries (DH has had SS on his own since day 1 and SS's birth mother isnt in the picture).

Lately my MIL has been visiting a LOT. she has always spoiled SS and being a smart child he has worked out that if things aren't going his way when she's around he just screams like hes being murdered and she will do whatever he wants. Now in her house she is welcome to do whatever she likes, grandparents are there for spoiling however in our house where SS is fully aware of the rules she undermines us and SS now turns from angel to demon the second she turns up.

He makes her carry him everywhere, feed him and help him to the toilet and screams at us if we go near him. We have tried repeatedly to stand firm with our rules but she continues to say oh no don't be so harsh on him hes so upset. He got so angry around her the other day that he punched her in the face. Of course I immediately put him on the naughty chair for his allotted 3 mins explaining that its horrible to hurt people even if you're angry. She knows the rules and went and cuddled him whilst he was still in time out!! SS's behaviour is getting worse and worse and DH has spoken to her 4 times about this but it continues, what do I do? How can I approach this? Where do I stand as I'm not birth mother!

Evilstepmum01 Sun 06-Nov-16 22:36:36

If DH and you have spoken to her about it and shes not respecting your rules, then I suggest you and DH have a serious chat with her. Along the lines of 'we'd hate to stop you coming round but youre not helping his development by ignoring our boundaries and riding roughshod over our wishes'.

If you have your DH's support, do it.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Mon 07-Nov-16 02:02:17

Perhaps two options -

- gradually reduce her visits with excuses 'sorry can you back later... excuse' but suggest a regular time she can see him, maybe to do something specific.
- be totally straight. I imagine that this may be a bit of jostling for mum status on her part. Make it clear he has two parents , you and DP.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Mon 07-Nov-16 02:03:12

P.s. I do think you are the mother here...

FabFiveFreddie Mon 07-Nov-16 02:20:58

Bottom line, whatever your status vis-a-vis SS and MIL, what's she's doing is not in the boy's best interests. It needs to stop. I agree grandparents are there for spoiling, but not to the extent it does actually stop them.

SmallBee Mon 07-Nov-16 03:46:11

Can your film SS doing the things he usually does when your MIL isn't there? Then she can really see the difference in behaviour and it might help her realise just how bad she is making things.
I'd couple that with Evil's suggestion of do it your way or don't come over and take it from there.

Stepmum123 Mon 07-Nov-16 07:36:34

DH isn't keen to push it too far as MIL has depression but when her behaviour is affecting SS so I'm thinking it must be pushed. Problem is she helps us out a lot in terms of watching him for date nights and getting him from nursery on the days both of us are working yet we resent her that time as it's affecting him!! Thank you for your support mumsnetters!!

Thinkingblonde Mon 07-Nov-16 07:54:37

Your DH really needs to lay it on the line for her, she's causing problems and it needs to stop. She should adhere to your rules, if she can't, then reduce the time she spends with him. Tell her firmly to stop interfering the next time she undermines you in front of him. Easier said than done I know but it needs to be done. Re after nursery childcare could you look for an alternative.

Stepmum123 Mon 07-Nov-16 08:36:42

We can't afford to pay anyone and the rest of our family and friends work so childcare is super hard to find but i agree something needs to be done I guess I'm looking for reassurance that I'm not being a snotty arse and it would be okay to confront her (respectfully) about it

BertieBotts Mon 07-Nov-16 08:43:21

Yes confront her.

It's OK for her to cuddle him but not while he's being disciplined. That's just confusing and totally undermines your methods. She can give him a cuddle after he's finished the time out.

Some of this is just normal 3yo stuff and will improve as he gets older, BTW.

I think you're right to take the approach that she can do what she wants in her own house, but she needs to respect boundaries at yours. She might not mind being punched by a three year old (!) but point out to her that she wouldn't like it if he was still doing that when he was thirteen, and that you're being cruel to be kind, if you like, by dealing with it in a relatively painless way now rather than him never learning boundaries and ending up in some serious trouble when he's older.

LineyReborn Mon 07-Nov-16 08:45:00

Did she spend a lot of time with your SS when he was a baby, before you came on the scene? Just wondering what the previous arrangements were.

My DP has a similar thing going on in his family, and it's causing major problems as the little boy grows older.

Thinkingblonde Mon 07-Nov-16 08:57:15

I am a grandma who provided childcare for my grandson when his mum was working. I also have him and his baby sister on a regular basis. I take the view that as my DD is their mother, I respect any rules and requests she and her DP make regarding their children. Their children, their rules. I've been present when grandson has been sent to his room/time out/told off and have kept my gob shut.

madgingermunchkin Mon 07-Nov-16 09:10:14

I personally would ban her from the house. If she can't respect your rules, she doesn't get to come in. (Yes, I know it's difficult because she does child care, but talking to her obviously doesn't work. She needs a shock)

And you are his mother. You are the only mother this little boy has known.

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if that's part of the issue. I imagine that MIL is feeling "usurped" as the main mother figure in his life.

Your husband really needs to sack up here and make it clear that she needs to respect your (as in his and yours) rules.

mummyto2monkeys Mon 07-Nov-16 10:00:52

Does your mil see you as your step sons Mother? Would it help to remove the step and say 'I am his Mummy, he is my son!'. You are his Mother, there is a huge difference between a step-son who spend 50% of the time with his Mum and 50% of the time with his Dad and your Ss who now has a Mummy and a Daddy. Have you adopted your Ss? I imagine as the only other women in your dh's life, MIL felt like Mummy to your Ss for those first fourteen months. In fact it seems to me that she is slipping right back into the Mummy role, which she can do as long as you identify as step mother. Where as if you claim the role of Mummy there is no need for another Mummy.

I imagine her depression masks her disappointment that she is being placed into the Granny role (justifiably). I imagine she never thought your dh would find a wife within fourteen months.

Could your dh have a word? Something along the lines of 'Mum it is really important for ds to know his boundaries, this works for us here and we need you to be on board. D's has attachment issues because of birth Mum and he really needs boundaries, structure and consistency to feel safe. Without them he is not a happy child and we really need you on board to support us. '

Involve her and have him reassure her that he is not questioning her methods, he is doing his best to support a very confused little boy.
I would also look into attachment disorders/ issues as whilst your Ss has had his Daddy from the start, he will still feel the loss of his birth Mother. My Father was adopted by my Gran when he was eighteen months old and she married my grandfather (biological father). My Dads birth Mother was a waste of space, who spent all her time drinking whilst leaving my infant father at home in a cot soaked with urine. My Gran was always my Dads Mother, never stepmother and she was a fantastic Mother and they had a wonderful bond.

There is not room for two Mummies in your ss's life, he needs to know that you are Mummy and that Granny is Granny. You need to be able to bond with your Ss, without interruption from Granny, would she cope if say you had a month of just the three of you? Your dh can obviously contact her by phone, would you be able to fit your hours around your ds's nursery? I just think that as long as Granny Mummy is visiting your house, your D's will be reverting to how things were before you arrived on the scene.
I would honestly treat this situation as though your ds has been adopted. Imagine you had adopted Ss and yet his foster parents (who had him from birth) were continuing to visit regularly. As a result your D's was regressing and he was not bonding with you as his adoptive Mother. I would say stop her visiting the house for as long as possible, then slowly reintegrate her back into his life in the role of Granny, where you visit her house. You might need to spend six months or a year doing this, once your D's feels more securely attached to you, your MIL should be able to visit without the regression.

Stepmum123 Mon 07-Nov-16 12:52:08

MIL had actually said to me that she thinks of me as SS's mother as if he were adopted (which he isn't for complex reasons) I hadn't thought of it in terms of her feeling unwanted or SS in mourning but happy to know it can work out!! It's upsetting as a slightly insecure person (about my role as step mum) to have SS scream at me for coming near him when MIL is around.

Is it wrong for me to talk to her about it or does it need to come from my DH? Or both of us? He wants change but dislikes confrontation, it may be easier for me to do it sympathetically as he might not but is that crossing the like for me as a step parent? I love him like I would my own child and care for him that way too but we're not blood relations so is it really my place? ...struggling witht this aspect in terms of MIL

madgingermunchkin Mon 07-Nov-16 13:15:49

It really needs to come from your DH tbh. He needs to learn to sack up and defend his DW and DS. It's not going to be the last time this happens.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Mon 07-Nov-16 13:21:35

I think you need to do this yourself, woman to woman as it were.

Just start some conversations, but also let her know how much you value her too. Sounds like she actually does a lot, but there is a bottom line. Don't pick up on everything, just the main behaviour issues.

Stepmum123 Mon 07-Nov-16 13:40:34

LineyReborn: she has only really been around since I have been on the scene, my DH lived much further away from MIL until recently, after we were married we decided to relocate closer to family so that we would have them nearby if needed while we are both working work and so that SS can properly know his cousins, aunties and uncles.... Don't we regret it now!!

Thinkingblonde: you sound like an amazing grandmother you should run grandmother courses!! smile

Wdigin2this Mon 07-Nov-16 22:13:46

She's got to be told, if this child's DF wants a normal development path, then he's got to sit her down and explain the rules......emphasising how important it is that they're followed. If this doesn't stop her...you'll have to think about your lives in terms of managing without her help.....difficult I know, but not as difficult as your lives will become if this continues!

Wdigin2this Mon 07-Nov-16 22:19:50

I agree with Thinkingblonde I am a grandmother and a step-grandmother, and whatever rules the parents impose...I accept and implement them as far as possible!
However, my DH having always been a Disney Dad, is a nightmare with the grandkids, he just cannot say no to them, which he knows is not good for them....but allegedly, he cant help it !!!!!

Stepmum123 Mon 07-Nov-16 23:06:05

I am honestly getting to the point where I would rather reduce my working hours and struggle to make ends meet than rely on her just to save the stress for DSS who gets so worked up over nothing when she is around. He screamed for an hour this afternoon because she physically couldn't pick him up as her shoulder was hurting. The only thing that stopped the screaming was sheer exhaustion and a sore throat on his part and he was in a foul mood on and off the naughty chair for the rest of the day.

If a frank discussion is going to make any difference I am more than up for it. Does anyone have experience of these sorts of discussions/interventions actually working and making a more stress free life for everyone?

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 08-Nov-16 13:29:27

Yes. But be prepared for mil to fall out with you, it could happen. So try to be respectful but clear.

Wdigin2this Tue 08-Nov-16 21:16:22

If you go for a full on discussion, you'll need to keep reassuring her that you value her help, and love for her grandchild. Big up the good stuff she does, but be clear about the problems you are experiencing, and how you intend to tackle them. Advise her that, you need her assistance in this, and hope that she'll be fully on board with you!
Two things to consider, a) this needs to be led by your DH, her son and the child's father but he must also emphasie that you two are a team and fully agreed on the plan of action, and b) leave her in no doubt, that this is how it's going to be, whether she agrees or not!
If she expresses disapproval or disagreement, then that is the time for your DH, to be absolutely firm about whose child this is, and who is actually in charge!
But be gentle with her as well, I know what it's like to see a grandchild chastised, when all you want to do is cuddle them....but that's not a grandparent's place, and she needs to understand that!
By the way, you are his DM, and good luck to you!

Thinkingblonde Tue 08-Nov-16 21:32:38

Stepm123: Thank you for your kind words. My grandson is 6 and his sister is 16 months old. I waited years for GC so I ain't going to do anything to rock the boat.
Children of all ages need clear boundaries and consistency from the adults in their lives. If they don't have that it causes them confusion and anxiety. What MIL is doing is giving out mixed messages to the little chap.
I think you and DH should talk to her together. It might help to look for some books on children's behaviour and development and the importance of boundaries for her to read.

HamletsSister Tue 08-Nov-16 21:41:54

As an aside, with a kid having a tantrum, I had the best ever tip for stopping it from a primary teacher, and mother. Show the tantrumming child themselves in a mirror. Don't have toddlers to try it on any more, but worth a go.

She needs pulling up. Your house, your rules.

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