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Old 02-27-2010, 07:53 AM   #1
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Default mother in law who doesn't know her place

I know we all or most of us have a mother in law who gives us problems at times. Some more than others. I just don't know what to do with or about mine... I've had issues with her since my oldest son was born 7 years ago. It's lots of little stuff that she does and the fact that it seems like she just doesn't care. She watches my kids while I work and seems to keep stepping over the parent/grandparent boundry. This year alone she has replaced a perfectly good backpack for my preschooler just because she didn't like the one that we bought(my son even picked it out), made up christmas party favors for him to take to school for the party without consulting me, and the lastest she got my daughter's hair trimmed...for the first time. This is just stuff from this year. I have a list that could go a mile long with similiar "little" stuff and don't know what else to do or say to her to make her understand. I'm really upset about this lastest thing because she cut my daughters hair for the first time. She is only two and did NOT need one nor did i want her to have one. I'm not planning on having bangs on her and that is what she had "trimmed" up.

I'm just so frustrated and guess I needed to vent to somebody other than my husband, who just doesn't see a problem with anything his mother does. I just want to be the parent and get to do the parent stuff without worrying about doing it before my mother in law gets a chance....
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Old 02-27-2010, 08:18 AM   #2
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oh, Ugh. that really sucks. I would be livid about the haircut in particular. Before I finished reading your post, my first thought was that you need to get your husband to talk to her. It's hard if your husband isn't on the same page as you when it comes to this stuff. Unless it's something that absolutely needs to be "corrected" in the moment and I'm the only one there, my husband brings up any issues we may have with his family members. So I guess my first suggestion would be to work on getting your husband to understand why these little things matter to you so much (for the record, I don't think they're little things at all).

I also totally understand how difficult it is to bring up criticisms in a situation like this, especially where she's doing you guys a favour by watching your daughter while you work. My MIL also used to watch my kids while I worked, before I was able to stay at home full time. It's hard to find that balance, sometimes.

So, I really understand why you feel the way you do, and I think your feelings are totally valid. I hope you're able to work it out.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:00 AM   #3
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I adore my mil. She really is a 3rd parents for my kiddos and I trust her implicitly. We couldn't make it without her!!

I had to laugh a little about the haircut--I know how you feel! My fil gave my littlest one his first haircut without asking me. I was so mad!! Argh! But, I actually remember his first haircut now, cause of the circumstances.

My guess is that she thinks she's being helpful. You could have a heart to heart with her, but I would also recommend a big breath and letting things go....if the kids are happy (was your son sad about the backpack thing?) and well-taken care of, then that is great. The problem with drawing a line between parent and grandparent issues is that there really isn't a rule that applies to all families and all situations. What she may think is helpful and appropriate, you might interpret as her taking over your mom duties. It's hard to combine parenting and working outside the home. If you do talk to her about it, I would recommend being ready to let things go after the talk. She may feel like she needs to second guess what she does and if she does accidently step on your toes, I think it would be important to not take it personally or think she did it on purpose.

I love that my mil loves and cares for my kids without restraint or filtering it through trying to figure out what I want her to do or not want her to do. I know I'm pretty lucky though.

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Old 02-27-2010, 11:06 AM   #4
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My sister and mother face this same issue. I'm rather biased on the subject, because I hear both of them gripe about the insensitivity and unreasonableness of the other (mostly legitimate complaints, but they should be telling each other, not me).

I would suggest, as I repeatedly suggest to my mom and sister, that you and your husband sit down with your MIL and write up a contract, just as you would with anyone else watching your children. What your expectations and responsibilities are for the other.

I will say that it's unreasonable to expect anyone to "know their place" without negotiation. Generically, no matter what we do someone is going to judge our behavior as inappropriate. Specifically as it relates to childcare, I've seen that issue arise over and over with caretakers and parents who are NOT relatives (I have my master's degree in developmental psychology and have worked in and with a lot of daycare situations, directly and indirectly).

There's no way around this without communication. I would be careful about approaching the subject with anger or reproach, because your MIL will probably have a few beefs of her own (which you'll have to accept and acknowledge if you want her to respond in kind. She won't be receptive to your feelings, if you're not receptive to hers). Above all, you don't want to get into a blame throwing contest about now inconsiderate and unreasonable the other is.

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Last edited by kaplods; 02-27-2010 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:09 AM   #5
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This is the problem when you work outside the home, whether it is MIL or a babysitter they often see themselves as the parent as they spend so much time with them. `Your MIL actions upset me and I don't know any of you personally. My friend solved the problem this way, she and her husband needed the income that she would get by working but she also wanted to raise her children herself, so she got a child care license and she can stay home and earn money, too by looking after someone elses children.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:23 AM   #6
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Boy do I understand what you mean! MILs can really be a trying ordeal when your hubby doesn't get what it is that is bothering you. wish I had some words of wisdom but I am in the same boat and I can't really deal anymore. I sat down to have a heart to heart and we talked it out but at the end she was like" you didn't take care of my son properly and he got sick from eating unhealthy food and you put all your effort into your daughter, so I can never forgive you!" what is the point of trying to work things out? Excuse me if I was unable to take care of your son while my daughter almost died in the hospital and has severe Cerebral Palsy now! Yeah she needs me to work hard and try and get her as mobile as possible and its all time sensitive,while the brain is developing. You son is 31 years old and he is my HUSBAND and he accepts responsibilty for his own health! Sorry I am ranting too
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:42 AM   #7
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I'm the MIL, LOL! I offered to keep my DGD full time after she was born. I'm retired early, so have the time and live very nearby. Also, I adore the baby of course. However, DH and I do like to travel a lot and that would have had to be put on hold. My step daughter is a wise and beautiful person. She suggested that we keep the baby only 2 days a week and the other 3 she goes to a sitter. That arrangement has been very satisfying for all. Whenever we want to take off on a trip for a few days the sitter keeps the baby. I agree that your MIL is out of line. I bend over backwards not to cross the grandparent line. Of course she is only 6 mos. old now, but I can see potential problems in the future. I've always had a close relationship with my step-daughter (she calls me Mom # 2). Before we began babysitting, we agreed to keep the lines of communication very open in order to head off any problems such as you are experiencing. So far, so good!

I like to watch Dr. Phil and he had a show on this very topic this week. The parents are about to get a divorce over it! He basically told the DH to stand by his wife's side and to handle problems with the MIL. The MIL he basically told to butt out of their business. You need to take a firm stand with your MIL when you are calm and explain to her that while you appreciate her help, all decisions are to be made by you and if she can't accept that then you have no choice but to place the baby with a sitter.

My own mother cared for my niece until she went to school and just could not stop interfering. It caused endless problems with the entire family. I vowed I would NEVER be like that.

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Old 02-27-2010, 11:44 AM   #8
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I hear you! My MIL was the worst. She hated me and let everyone know it. At social gatherings, she would talk me down so much, that people actully thought she was rude. My dh is a mommas boy, so there was no talking to him about it. Everything I did was wrong in her eyes. Talk about stress, she is stress.
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Old 02-27-2010, 12:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Janis427 View Post
I hear you! My MIL was the worst. She hated me and let everyone know it. At social gatherings, she would talk me down so much, that people actully thought she was rude. My dh is a mommas boy, so there was no talking to him about it. Everything I did was wrong in her eyes. Talk about stress, she is stress.
Time to start treating her like a dottering old fool in these social situations. When she says something inappropriate, pat her arm, laugh, and say "oh, Mary" while rolling your eyes as you look at your friends. Like "can you believe this crazy old woman?" Speak slowly, a little louder and be overly solicitous. Start treating her like a crazy old broad who needs extra help and people will realize she is a crazy old broad.
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Old 02-27-2010, 12:40 PM   #10
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What about putting the kids in daycare, or hiring a babysitter? Starting a day a week at first and moving up?

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Old 02-27-2010, 12:40 PM   #11
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Assuming you work 8 hour days and leave the home close to an hour before work and arrive an hour or so after work, with travel, errands, etc. I guess your mil would spend at least 50 hours a week with the smallest child. I think this amount of time certainly adds to the issues of concern of yours. These things are going to happen from time to time...if a common ground cannot be found I suggest you change the situation or it will most certainly get worse.

My first wife went back to work against my wishes, and yes we had agreed she would be a stay at home mom, when we had children, BEFORE we got married. Sometimes life gets in the way of planning. I was fortunate to have a great mom and sister that stepped in with day care and knew their place. My ex and I have been divorced for 20 years now but she has always been part of our family (like a sister to all of us) and best friends with my sister.

Family peace is much better than "cheaper" day care.

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Old 02-27-2010, 01:24 PM   #12
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Thank you so much for all your words of encouragment and advice. I want nothing more than to be thankful and not have a strained relationship with my MIL. I really feel like the more I think about it that it would really be beneficial to put the kids in daycare 1 or 2 days a week. Thanks for letting me vent and knowing that i'm not the only one that deals with these kind of issues...
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Old 02-28-2010, 03:04 AM   #13
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Seems VERY frustrating. My advice would be to talk to her because before long it is all going to add up and you are going to have a major blow up on her! Things always work themselves out
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Old 02-28-2010, 06:40 PM   #14
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I had to laugh (in sympathy) about the haircut too. My BIL is not generally sensitive about these things, and even *he* knew baby's first hair cut was a big deal and *not* happening until momma was ready.
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Old 03-01-2010, 01:54 PM   #15
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I have to laugh about this thread, because shortly before I married into the family, I was warned by my sister-in-law that if my DH and I have kids, to move FAR FAR AWAY. MIL LOVES babies, but insists that everything is done her way. I know myself well enough to know that this wouldn't exactly fly with me.

DH and I are still undecided about children. We know that at least for the next 4 years, we're not having any(Mirena). We'll see after that.
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