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Is this gaslighting?

67 replies

Orangeblossom78 · 15/12/2019 04:36

We had a stressful family evening and not sure on this if I am being overdramatic or not. I don't think so. I am quite hormonal though (perimenopause). I also have anxiety so unsure if that skews my perspective at times.

We have some family on DH's side who tend to turn up and go off out shopping / pub. This has only started since they had DC. We have older DC but theirs are little. (two under 5)

This time we had his other extended family (about 12 in total) coming around in the evening to eat so i was quite stressed getting ready etc. usually DH joins in preparing etc but had been away abroad all week and only just got back.

So, his sister and BIL turned up in the PM and after a few minutes it became clear she was going shopping (arranging to meet his niece in town) and BIL and DH were going to the pub. Leaving me with the DC to look after at the same time as prepping this huge meal.

So, I didn't handle this well and just stood up saying What about the DC who is going to look after them? and went off upstairs leaving them all to sort that out. No-one had asked if I would.

So then the sister went out and DH and BIL kind of grumpily lurking round with the DC, (DH was fine playing with them etc but BIL sulky)

I went into the kitchen and tried to make polite chat about the journey etc but got quiet replies, asked if their DC would like a snack etc.

After about an hour SIL gets back and keeps apologising for going out, then they (BIL and DH) go off out to the pub. It's a weird atmosphere all evening.

The odd thing is, I had some funny comments this evening "Are you ok, this time of year tries the sanity doesn't it?" this kind of thing! Feels a bit like gas lighting. And no apology at just kind of trying to take my babysitting duties for granted.

Also was i being OTT? I mean mine are older and don't really need so much attention but I don't know theirs very well and felt it would have been too much to mind them and also try and cook at the same time.

Left feeling like some kind of drama queen. I didn't do this when ours were all though, unless we e.g. all got a grandparent to babysit and we all went out.

I did mention to SIL was BIL Ok as he seemed quiet and sulky earlier and she just said he isn't very 'good with childcare' something like that.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

Orangeblossom78 · 15/12/2019 04:38

Sorry the second line should read "We have some family on DH's side who tend to turn up and go off out shopping / pub, leaving the DC here"

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Pinkbonbon · 15/12/2019 04:41

Hard to say without being there.
But gaslighting is a pretty serious act that leaves you doubting your own sanity. It tends to go on over a long period of time, in various ways.

So I would have to say that one one off comment, isn't gaslighting no. It's just trying to pass the blame for who act the worst in a situation.


FudgeBrownie2019 · 15/12/2019 04:42

I don't know about gaslighting but it's shitty and well done you for standing up for yourself and pointing out to them they were being arses about it. Who just turns up and dumps their DC somewhere without formally asking "would you be able to watch them please"?

Your DH should have nipped the whole thing in the bud. I think I'd be most cross about that and the sulking, to be honest. I can't abide adults who snipe. They need to grow up and say "this is my problem, I'm cross about x".

Remind your DH that you're not there to entertain his family or offer free babysitting. Remind him also that if his family want to visit and be welcomed that he either chips in or tells them to piss off; coming back from work trips is no excuse for not being part of your team.


Pinkbonbon · 15/12/2019 04:43



Orangeblossom78 · 15/12/2019 04:44

I think next time I might just make plans with a friend and go out, leave him to deal with it.

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Ponoka7 · 15/12/2019 04:45

It isn't gaslighting. Gaslighting would be one of them saying that you'd agreed to babysit and you'd forgotten.

Are you sure your DH didn't volunteer you?

They just took for granted that you could manage everything while they did the pre 1990's thing of the men getting out of the way by going to the pub. You're DH had also made that assumption.


cultmaskid · 15/12/2019 04:48

I don't feel that this is gaslighting
Do they have support with their kids? It's rude of them to be so presumptuous that you would cook and look after their children while they enjoyed themselves but did you have to stay in anyway with your kids? Are their kids hard work?

Have you finished hosting now? I'm sorry you feel that they made you feel a bit used and uncomfortable.


Orangeblossom78 · 15/12/2019 04:49

Yes the kids are pretty hard work. They fight a lot.

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Orangeblossom78 · 15/12/2019 04:50

Are you sure your DH didn't volunteer you?

No he didn't however i did volunteer to babysit once in the past and think they now think this is every time

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Orangeblossom78 · 15/12/2019 04:51

Do they have support with their kids?

Yes they also have DH's other sister and family nearby as well as his parents too

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AloneLonelyLoner · 15/12/2019 05:00

They were bloody rude for sure and condescending asking you about your stress and commenting about the time of year etc. Not gaslighting strictly speaking but that's not the point. Next time just piss off out and leave them to it.


Comps83 · 15/12/2019 05:11

Not gaslighting . But cheeky AF!!!!!!


MakeItRain · 15/12/2019 05:15

I'd agree, not gaslighting but very rude, especially in having the nerve to suggest you are stressed! I hope you said something like "I wasn't stressed, just really shocked I was expected to look after the children at the same time as cooking for 12 people. I'm not Superwoman." The whole situation would have infuriated me. Well done for refusing to do it.


Orangeblossom78 · 15/12/2019 05:19

Yes it definitely felt as if they felt I was being a bit pathetic / not 'coping' or something. But then I am maybe a bit sensitive. I'm not really, I used to work with kids and these are a real handful.

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ElluesPichulobu · 15/12/2019 05:23

it's not gaslighting but they are being totally unreasonable.

you haven't been mad or hormonal you have just been assertive and they aren't used to their door mat answering back.

they will get used to it. in future the bit about going off upstairs will be unnecessary - it doesn't have to be an emotionally charged conversation each time. set the ground rule that if you are cooking then you have no childcare responsibilities. and also when is it your turn to go off shopping while one of them cooks a nice meal for you to come back to?


GiveHerHellFromUs · 15/12/2019 05:27

Not gaslighting but you should have just called them out on it when they asked. Cheeky fuckers.


Harriedharriet · 15/12/2019 05:27

It may not have been gaslighting but it was totally out of order. Very presumptuous of them to ASSUME they could come, dump everything on you and run off to do things. Disgraceful behavior. The sulking is a demonstration that they did not like being snookered on their wonderful plan! Well done you OP. You nipped it in the bud and I should think you will not see that kind of behavior from them again! Happy Christmas!


Orangeblossom78 · 15/12/2019 05:29

Well, we have been to stay with them in the past and our DC were young (they didn't seem to want to escape to the pub then) and they cooked for us then. But I didn't expect them to care for our DC at the same time!

I wish I had not offered in the past to babysit once. But it shouldn't be expected every time. Also they had other family around as well.

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Orangeblossom78 · 15/12/2019 05:33

the pre 1990's thing of the men getting out of the way by going to the pub

I didn't realise this was a 'thing'

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MakeItRain · 15/12/2019 05:35

You'll just have to be really clear from now on, before they arrive, that you'll be unable to babysit at certain times. Or else ask them if there are any times they think they might need a babysitter as you won't always be able to help out and they'll need to arrange something.

They were really rude, and you weren't being "hormonal" you were justifiably cross at their complete cheek.


Henrysmycat · 15/12/2019 05:38

Gaslighting is used for more serious situations but I see where you coming from.
I’d be furious too. You were assertive but you kinda didn’t follow through. You did stand up but then doubted yourself (asking if they were ok) hence opening the door for “time of the year” comments.
From now on be clear; you’re not on-tap childcare.
And as a footnote, I hate nothing else but women excusing misogyny by “he’s not good with childcare?” If he’s not, then he shouldn’t have fathered children unless he’s just a DP and not their father. Gtfo.


aquashiv · 15/12/2019 05:47

I think it sounds like gas lighting..almost pushing you to react and then inferring through behaviour you have the problem for reacting. Calling you to question yourself.
No way would I be doing all this alone.
Next year you go to the Spa when they arrive


Howlovely · 15/12/2019 05:50

It sounds a bit like they are almost trying to embarrass or shame you for not agreeing to have their difficult kids dumped onto you while you're also trying to cook a meal for 12 people with their comments. Makeitrain's response is, I think, perfect:
I wasn't stressed, just really shocked I was expected to look after the children at the same time as cooking for 12 people. I'm not Superwoman.
They are the ones who should be having barbed comments made to them and should be feeling embarrassed and ashamed. Your husband needs to understand too that if he expects to invite guests around then he needs to bloody well help and not just bugger off to the pub, leaving you with everything to do and expect to come home to a nicely presented home and a meal cooked. He needs to be reminded we are not in the 1950s now.


AllideasAndNoAction · 15/12/2019 05:54

Not gaslighting, no. But still completely unreasonable, entitled behaviour from them.

They think as parents of young kids they deserve a break, whereas you, as the parent of older kids, must have loads of free time on your hands and why would you possibly object? Hmm

Obviously when you snapped 'Who is going to look after the children?' before flouncing off upstairs it shocked them all because they didn't expect it. They took you for granted. Good for you, you were absolutely right to stand up for yourself.

However, I wonder if your DH had given them to think it would be fine to leave the kids with you, without discussing it with you first?


Orangeblossom78 · 15/12/2019 05:58

No they just texted and arranged a time to come that was it, I know as Dh was discussing it with me. That was it. Nothing about babysitting or whatever

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