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MIL wants to do lovely days out but wants us to pay for everything

271 replies

BadgerSetGo · 20/03/2023 12:44

Background is MIL claims to not have a lot but has paid off her mortgage, works part time and lives what I think of as a very nice lifestyle. Lots of restaurants, nails done, gym memberships etc. she does claim to struggle but she spends a lot of luxuries. She is on her own.

She wants to meet us for various days out which she suggests- fancy things like kids theatre days or theme parks but thinks it's categorically wrong for her to pay anything towards this. I'm talking about paying her own way not paying for us or DC. She won't even pay for a drink when out with us, she acts like another child who doesn't have access to any money.

There is a huge backstory to this and her believing DH should provide for her. She says all her friends have lovely sons who book all kinds of activities for them to do with their grandchildren and she always makes sure to tell us that the grandparents are never expected to pay a penny!

My parents are the opposite and want to treat us all the time. How do we navigate all these treat days MIL wants to do without burning bridges and being rude or coming across as mean? Or is it normal to pay for a grandparent every time for things like this?

OP posts:
MeridianB · 20/03/2023 13:42

She won't come to our house for lunch or to play with DC, she only wants to meet for days out. There's an open invitation for her to come for Sunday lunch and she hasn't been at all yet this year. She says she can't afford the petrol!

What?! So she's actively choosing not to bother seeing her GC for weeks/months at a time. And then expects big days out. She sounds very strange.

TuesdayJulyNever · 20/03/2023 13:42

We aren’t even handed with grandparents - we have very different money cultures. My pils value expensive things (although they pretend not to) and my df would be appalled at us wasting money on him, and shocked we weren’t putting it in a savings account for the dc’s education.

Both those attitudes create issues for us. But we agree together on what we do, and what our budget permits. We don’t spend more than we want to and can afford.

It is weird when our Christmas budget for pils is literally ten times what we spend on my dps.

My mil also has a weird competitive dynamic with her siblings. Whose offspring has the swankiest house, drives the flashiest car, takes the longest skiing holidays. It’s very tiresome and funnily enough my df actually brings a necessary counterbalance for dh because he really values steadiness.

I think the key is being able to talk about these things without making each other feel wrong, and reach decisions together.

ÉireannachÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ · 20/03/2023 13:42

There is a huge backstory to this and her believing DH should provide for her.

So what is the backstory then? It isn't culturally normal for a white British mother to behave in this manner. The backstory obviously explains it. Why does she feel entitled to be treated this way? She must feel your husband owes her. I suspect the backstory would explain it.
Furthermore, in the future, if you don't want to pay, can't afford it or otherwise, you or your husband have to tell her. By agreeing to her plans she is assuming you are happy to pay and happy to spend your time that way. Being honest and open with her does not make you rude.

Highdaysandholidays1 · 20/03/2023 13:43

I wouldn't make her pay though for going to the theatre or begrudge her a drink when you are out- only go to things you can afford. you won't change her in this regard, all you can do is rein in your own spending to what you think is appropriate.

Soontobe60 · 20/03/2023 13:43

I’d say the only way this was ok would be if she looks after your dc for free at least a day a week.

headingtosun · 20/03/2023 13:43

My DM is exactly the same, actually my DF is as well.
There is an undercurrent of resentment with DM and total oblivion with DF.

We only go places with either of my parents ( they aren't together) where we are okay with covering the bill for all of them and mother's DP.

We don't see them that often and it isn't a hill I'm prepared to die on.

BadgerSetGo · 20/03/2023 13:44

@Soontobe60 no childcare is provided but that's because we don't need it. We haven't asked her to and she's said no for example

OP posts:
MoltenLasagne · 20/03/2023 13:44

Her refusing to come to dinner because she wants to be treated is just plain rude. Is it actually about the petrol money or is it an excuse not to come? I'm wondering if you offered to pick her up would she come?

It's difficult though if she's seeing you live what appears to be a lavish lifestyle but doesn't appreciate the costs. We've got family who earn less than us, before kids when we went out we'd make sure to buy an extra round of drinks. Thing is, now we've got 2 in nursery and their outgoings haven't increased, but they seem to think we're being stingy because they see us as better off still.

5128gap · 20/03/2023 13:45

Kennykenkencat · 20/03/2023 13:29


It is laughable to think that the Dh is in for some big payday if he spends money on his mum now,

Neither Dh or I were left anything in parents wills. I knew I wasn’t getting anything from being a child. Everything was going to be divided between my cousins.

DH was told he was getting 40% of his parents 7 figure estate. His single brother no children was getting 40% and 10% was to be divided between dc

Fil died and mil inherited everything. Then mil died and he found out he got £0. His brother was sole heir.

The vast majority of parents don't overlook their children in favour of cousins and siblings for inheritance though, do they? So your unfortunate situation is probably unlikely to be of relevance to the OPs husband's prospects.

BadgerSetGo · 20/03/2023 13:46

@headingtosun that sums it up - an undercurrent of resentment. And almost as if this behaviour is taking back what's owed and also I believe feeling entitled to a portion of DH's success as she raised him and made (all the normal) sacrifices as parents all do.

OP posts:
Highdaysandholidays1 · 20/03/2023 13:46

It is odd and I wouldn't say typical in British culture. In my husband's culture, my father-in-law would rather cut his hands off than let us pay for everything, parents pay for everything especially the man and you would be insulting him by refusing. I haven't ever paid for one thing the entire decades I've known him. It is a very loaded issue in all ways (I'm not complaining, I appreciate their generosity and now don't reach for my wallet as I know he finds that insulting).

Imelda03 · 20/03/2023 13:48

BadgerSetGo · 20/03/2023 13:40

She also tells DH constantly that she's terribly worried about money so makes the narrative that she's a poor pensioner on her own which makes it jarring for him to ask her to pay her way, as only a few minutes earlier she would have been pleading poverty, but her lifestyle is evidence to the contrary.

You say she has assumed via your lifestyle that you have more money than you have, but your comment above suggests you are doing the same.

Maybe your husband needs to sit down with her and talk this through because clearly she doesn’t feel she has money to spare and nor do you. Everyone want the same thing and therefore just all need to be clear about it.

qwertykeyboards · 20/03/2023 13:48

I always pay for DC’s grandparents to come on days out BUT those are days out I’ve suggested and planned. It’s not something they expect though and they always offer to pay for food or contribute in some way.

BadgerSetGo · 20/03/2023 13:49

My parents aren't wealthy but they would never let us pay for anything and treat us wherever they can so this is alien to me. However I've been dealing with it off an on for years.

I am a bit weary of it and don't want the drama around it and that's why I've been too passive, plus she isn't my mother so I don't want to be the evil DIL either. DH is tired of it but she's his only parent and he feels guilty as she does get emotional. I don't want to put him in an awkward situation where he feels torn so I bite my tongue a lot but deep down I'm very resentful of her and see the manipulation.

I think the best advice is to avoid all the expensive days out and make excuses and keep the invites to simple and normal things.

OP posts:
user1492757084 · 20/03/2023 13:49

It seems that your parents do pay for some outings meaning that you are saved some money so can afford to pay for MIL sometimes.
Keep paying because it makes her happy and it is just one extra person. Just don't go at all if you can't afford to and say so.
Ideas ...
On simple picnic outings suggest that MIL bring a home cooked cake.
On the odd occasion say you can't afford to go but if MIL would like to just take DC1 on her own you are sure DC1 would love that. Who ever pays - it is less expensive.
Be on the lookout for low cost or free arty, cultural type events that you can invite MIL along to without breaking the bank.

WestwardHo1 · 20/03/2023 13:49

Well just don't then!

What is it about men and saying "no" when their mums are being unreasonable? My ExH was impossible for it. She walked all over him.

cocksstrideintheevening · 20/03/2023 13:50

If I've suggested and planned then I pay. If she's suggesting it then she should pay. My mum is skint and I have to fight her to keep her money in her purse, mil is not skint and is always trying to give us cash. Neither would dream of suggesting an expensive day out and them being paid for.

FirstnameSuesecondnamePerb · 20/03/2023 13:51

I must admit that when ours were small, we did invite and pay for my mum after my dad died. Mum had more money than us I guess but it just seemed a nice thing to do.
If your mum and dad pay for everything, surely it evens out?

InSpainTheRain · 20/03/2023 13:51

I understand OP because we have this too, although now after DH spoke to MIL she says she'll pay but never does. So I've started asking for money upfront for her ticket - so be aware of that trick too. Makes it really awkward to be honest! I have started messaging with something like the following (in case this helps you)

"Hi MIL, I've seen a play on at X on Y or Y date that we are considering going to, If you'd like to come please can you transfer £amount for ticket by Z date?"

It was hard to stop my parents paying for all of us! But she is something else. Don't get me wrong I really don't mind treating her but when it's every time it's not on (she even asked me to pick up a bottle of gin for someone's birthday but has never paid me for it and I don't even know the woman it was for!!)

Saschka · 20/03/2023 13:52

I suspect it’s because she is on her own. Some women expect their partner to pamper them/take care of them, and when they are single they transfer that desire to be looked after, inappropriately, onto their kids.

(Not all mothers, obviously - just princessy ones. DM is a widow and is nothing like that)

BeachBlondey · 20/03/2023 13:53

How old is she? I mean, if she's in her 80's, I would most definitely be treating her all the time. If she's 60, maybe not.

I'm 53, DH is 50 and our kids are 26 & 24 with good jobs. We still pay for meals when we go out, because we are better off financially.

Coffeellama · 20/03/2023 13:53

I think the best advice is to avoid all the expensive days out and make excuses and keep the invites to simple and normal things.

Well yeah you’ve said it yourself OP, you don’t want to pay for her so don’t take her expensive places, problem solved!

LikeTearsInRain · 20/03/2023 13:54

Yep best to just turn down suggestions of grand days out and instead invite her to come along to cheap/free places like soft play, country parks etc where at most you might have to buy her a coffee or cheap lunch.

Rinse and repeat.

user1492757084 · 20/03/2023 13:54

There might also be some charity events that kids and MIL can do together. Knitting scarves. Weeding a public park. Reading to people in hospital. Cooking pancakes on Shrove Tuesday at local church etc. etc.
Start taking more control of the kind of outing MIL takes DC on.

allfurcoatnoknickers · 20/03/2023 13:55

My "D"M does this. Insists on picking the restaurant/activity and then insists that we pay. Sometimes she even says she wants to "take us out" and then when the bill comes stick us with it.

I actually don't mind paying, but if I'm paying, I want to pick where we go!

We've solved it by living 3000 miles away and not visiting, but I know that's not really feasible for most people.

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