Mother in law issues!

Charity - posted on 08/06/2012 ( 19 moms have responded )

283

1

59

So I have a wonderful mother in law that helps out and is generous. I am pretty lucky to have a great mother in law. Besides some annoying comments and suggestions about parenting that annoyed me in the past we have had a good relationship until she got a new boyfriend. She is divorced twice already and started dating this guy and soon after he moved in with her. After being together for just over a year or so and I only interacted with him a hand full of times he began to call himself "Grandpa" And it continued and I became very upset because just because you date Grandma does not make you grandpa!! I talked to her about how It made me uncomfortable and it was rude and brazen for him to continue calling himself grandpa especially without asking. I hinted and talked with him nicely and he continued to do it and finally I discussed how upset I was with my sister in law and although she did not share my ideas on boyfriend grandpa it stopped after that, I think they both got the point. My mother inlaw I believe was upset and hurt by it but I felt it so disrespectful that an almost stranger was calling himself grandpa to MY children and what happens when he is gone? I have to tell my kids. She has continued to act "weird" like you can sesnse something is wrong in the air when I am around her and I am hoping to talk to her and ask what is wrong and talk about it so we can maybe clear the air but I sense that it may not be that easy and that she is verry hurt that I don't "love " her boyfriend and want him to be "grandpa" yet. Anyone experienced this before? Any thoughts or advice?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Denise - posted on 08/08/2012

6

9

0

Wow, what a storm in a teacup. Charity, how old are the children and are they of an age that they can distinguish relationships? Where is the actual "blood" grandpa and is he a part of their lives? (You don't really have to tell me.) I married a man who had two young boys (6 and 7). During the course of our relationship prior to marriage, the boys would come and stay with us. One day their dad was at work and they cornered me. They asked me if I was going to be with their dad did that mean they had to call me mom. It didn't take me but a second to understand what they were asking. My response was simple..I told them they already had a mom and I certainly didn't want to take her place. I explained that I loved them, that they were just like my own and as much as I would like to be, I wasn't their mom. I explained that if they let me, I would be their friend. Someone they could count on to be there if the going got tough or if they needed help. I knew that while I wasn't a blood relative, I truly did and do love them. I also made it clear the our relationship was two ways. Imagine my surprise when several years later, the oldest was playing football and the coach came over after the game and said "You must be the stepmother" and our boy responded "She isn't a step anything, She's my other mom."

The bottom line is this, it is up to you if you want this guy to be addressed as "Grandpa", but if you aren't comfortable with it be honest with yourself and your MIL as to why you aren't comfortable with it. Love is unconditional and should never hurt. Do the children understand what's going on? Are they comfortable calling this man "Grandpa"? You had such a great relationship with your MIL, it is a shame to let a courtesy title drive a wedge between you. There has to be a compromise that would make all of you (you, MIL, the children, MIL's BF and the family) comfortable. In the grand scheme of things, it's up to you to be clear and honest with your children and explain to them (if possible) the relationship. (Do you have any friends that they call Aunt Lisa, when Lisa isn't really their Aunt?) If this man is good to them and loves them a courtesy title would be appropriate if the real one doesn't suit (Pappy Joe or Grampa Bill)? Think about the children now...is there really such a thing as too much love that you should turn someone away?

Jill - posted on 08/08/2012

101

1

20

I'm not saying that the boyfriend should be "grandpa". I don't have enough information to determine if you're being overly reactive about it or not.

What I want to say is don't limit your family to "blood". Family is not about genetics, but about love. You can't help who gave birth to you, but as adults we get to choose our family members. Blood doesn't mean a thing.

Heather - posted on 08/10/2012

41

41

3

I have had 2 step grandparents in my life, my step grandpa that I lost when I was 18 and them my step grandma that I only see every few years when her and my grandpa are here. My grandma tried to force my and my brother to call our step grandpa, grandpa when they were married but it didn't feel right so my mom talked to her about it and we just called him by is first name and in time it became grandpa. He was a great male role model in my life that I miss daily and wish he was here to meet my daughter. He has been gone 14 years in Dec and I still cry the day we lost him. It was the same when I meet my step grandma, caller her by her first name until it felt right to call her grandma and now when I see her and my grandpa or talk to them I call her GG for great grandma for my daughter. Just because I didnt call these two great people grandma and grandpa when they came in my life didnt mean that I loved them any less I just did when I felt that it was right. Let your kids make the choice they know what they want.

Tina - posted on 08/10/2012

1,314

28

301

I'd say in the meantime trust your instinct. I know relatives that have gotten involved with people. The same as you I kept my concerns to myself. Something didn't feel right. A lot of the time it has been for a good reason. Those people did eventually show their true colours. Like an Aunty of mine. She's been with a couple of guys. I try to show that I'm happy for her and show support but one of them I was concerned about got her pregnant them left her. Next guy seemed nice enough. The same I had reservations. He did like his alcohol. He ended up getting stuck into her pretty bad one night. She lived a fair distance away at that stage she managed to get her son and herself out. She had no money but she got out of their and stayed with some family for a while. They're just a couple of examples. But sometimes you have to trust your gut. I think you already know that. You are doing the right thing. If down the track you and your children are comfortable with calling this man grandpa that is your choice. No one should be making that choice for you.

Sue - posted on 08/08/2012

3

17

0

I believe that the kids will pick their own title to call the adults in their life. As far as you discussing this with your mother in law you should have left it up to your husband to talk to his mother about the grandpa bit. If you want to continue to be close to MIL then you need to be more understanding about her feelings. I'm sure she cares deeply for this man and probably feels you are trying to exclude him from the family. Alot of times non blood family is kinder and more forgiving than blood family. Tread carefully with this grandpa thing. It's just a name. Is it worth the hurt feelings this can cause?

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

19 Comments

View replies by

Frené - posted on 08/10/2012

44

3

0

Hi Charity

I can somehow relate to your concern, as I too am dealing with something similar. I am also of the opinion that BLOOD relatives, regardless of what role they play in a child/grand child's life, is called by the title, as described in a dictionary, and the way I was raised. I don't believe a title is just a title, it has a specific meaning. However, I don't like the words 'ex', 'step...', 'half...', so when my child's father remarried, I spoke of my 'ex' as my child's father, and I spoke of the 'stepmom' as my child's father's (new) wife. My son calls the new wife by her first name, and her children call the new husband by his first name (this is something I am not comfortable with for my own reasons, but it's something the 'new' family decided on). My son and his new sister call their father dad, and she calls her mother mom, so sometimes it's quite confusing. My son has 2 grandfathers and 2 grandmothers. Speaking a non English language at home, when speaking about them they are called in our mother tongue the equivalent of grandfather/mother and first name. The new wife is from a different culture and her parents are called by their culture's BLOOD grand parents' titles. For other family members and partners, some are called by their first names and some by their nicknames and some have names/titles made up by the various children. I think all-in-all, it will be nice if all the family members and partners can get together and maybe have a discussion and mutually agree on titles without offending/hurting anyone. If that means that your husband has to do the talking, at least the two of you must agree beforehand. Best of luck, I know it's not easy and can be hurtful!

Charity - posted on 08/09/2012

283

1

59

Also I must add that before they were an item they were aquantances and about a year before they got together I first heard his name in a conversation about what a messed up DRUNK he was and this was from my MIL mouth after she saw he got a DUI in the paper (they live in a small community) She bad talked him and it was a shock to find out they were dating and when she told me they were dating she said it's OK he said he won't drink if he is with me. He appears to treat her well and I have not personally witnessed any negative behavior from him. I know GOOD people make mistakes and GOOD people have problems but it is hard to erase that first impression from my mind and it makes it harder to trust him and I feel as if somehow I am protecting my children from someone I am unsure of yet I currently do not trust him and maybe time will change that. It may stem from my own issues of bad experiences from males in my childhood that hurt me and I certainly don't want that. This man may be a great guy but I have not come to that conclusion yet and until I do trust him with my children he will not be Grandpa! This may be very hurtful if my MIL heard this but I think it is a big piece of why I feel so strongly about it.

Corrie - posted on 08/08/2012

23

19

1

My kids have several 'grandpas' that are not blood related, but are such close friends, that they are like extended family. I call them uncle, and they call them 'grandpa' plus last name. My kids also have 'aunts' and 'uncles' that are not blood related. I myself grew up being much closer to 'aunts' and 'uncles' that were not blood related, than my own relatives, so I find it a beautiful thing to have a large extended family, if you are in contact with these people.

Kristen - posted on 08/08/2012

26

8

0

I agree with some of the posts that say to ask her just how serious the relationship is. Also if you have not told her that your concern is if they ever break up, you should. One idea if all are comforable with it is to use his real name as well, like "Grandpa Charlie", or to use a word for grandpa that your children don't know or associate with grandpa, like papa or opa or make something up! Two or more years would be a better amount of time to wait, in my opinion. My MIL was dating as well and my children ever called him grandpa, which is good because it only lasted a year! At the end of the day your MIL needs to respect your wishes, regardless of how she feels. My husband still likes to throw the words "aunt" and "uncle" around as well, in use for his friends, which have changed over the years, and it drives me nuts!

Katie - posted on 08/08/2012

1

24

0

I have a step mother who entered my kids lives when they were toddlers. There is no way I will ever let my kids call her Grandma. They call her by her first name. That's it. She is a lovely woman but blood is blood and to be a Grandparent is an honor you earn by raising your kids to be responsible and loving parents. Maybe "Uncle" would be a nice compromise?? Hold your ground. Good luck!!

Charity - posted on 08/08/2012

283

1

59

I do understand that many blood relatives don't deserve the term but realize I do not feel that not wanting him to be grandpa is excluding him from the family. He is becoming part of the family and we are now just getting to know him. Maybe in the future I will feel different. I do think if My MIL and him asked us or consulted with us on what to call him maybe I wouldn't be so upset. I really am an easy going person so it was even a bit of a shock how I become upset about it and I tried to let it go and get used to it but it was making me resent him and I had to speak up and let them know how I felt. I appreciate all perspectives @ carol I am sure you love your grandkids and I am in no way trying to make it difficult for Grandma's boyfriend but I cannot change how I feel, maybe in the future when I feel comfortable with the guy or they choose to get married.

Deanna - posted on 08/08/2012

280

32

0

She can't expect you to let him call him Grandpa to your kids. They have one already. That is a title that is earned. But, I think you need to get to know him. If he means to stay for the long run, he just might finally be the one for her. And if he is, he CAN be Grandpa. I call my Grandpa's 3rd wife Grandma Carol because I got to know her. And my Grandma is fine with it. Because I waited.

Corinne - posted on 08/08/2012

1,288

14

116

Hi there. My kids have several Grandparents who are related by blood but do not deserve the title. My Dad has seen my daughter 4 times, my son he has seen once; he is not their Grandfather. My M.I.L has decided to cut us off as we will not play in her dramas. Unfortunately the kids know her as Grandma, but she does not deserve the title. There are others on this side of the family who have simply dropped contact with us over these dramas, they too deserve no place or title within our family. My Mums partner is known by his english first name (he's Malaysian), he has been in the kids' life since birth. This is what we are comfortable with, as if he left my mum I very much doubt he would keep in contact (he doesn't even know if his mum, dad and siblings are alive, as he's had no contact with them since he moved here 30yrs ago).
I would talk to your M.I.L and explain what you feel and why. Tell her you are upset that he has been the one to decide who and what he is to YOUR children, it is not his or her place to decide that. Tell her you are happy for her and that you do 'love' and value her partner, but you feel this has over stepped the mark. Bring up her 'weirdness' towards you, ask her why she's making you feel bad for standing up for what you believe in.

Tina - posted on 08/08/2012

1,314

28

301

When you do talk to her. Just say it's not that you don't like or respect him. You are happy for her. But you would like it to be up to you and your kids when and if he gets called grandpa. In my opinion it's just a name. I respect relatives who aren't relatives who aren't actually blood as much as I do some of my own. But I don't have to start calling them Aunt uncle and grandpa. They generally respect that. Just as mum is just a name. People can have a bad relationship with a parent and still call them mum or dad. There's no disrespect in calling someone by their name. Maybe you should also ask if your MIL is ok. Just to make sure he's being nice to her at home. sometimes men show their true colours when things start to get serious. Not saying that is the case. But it might just be nice to ask her.

[deleted account]

I don't really have advice for the OP, but if she doesn't want her kids to call this man Grandpa, then isn't that her right? My kids have two step grandparents. One they call "Pop", he is a Pop to them in every way and we are comfortable for them to call him Pop. He has been in their lives since the day they were born and so fits the title perfectly. The other they call by his first name. They don't have much contact with him as he lives far away, but they still love him as he loves them and we are all quite comfortable for him to be called by his name instead of Grandpa or whatever...
That's all I have to say.

Carol - posted on 08/07/2012

75

0

10

Listen to yourelf, you are saying no matter what he does because he is not blood he cannot be a grandfather. I pray you will have non blood relatives that you learn are even more prescious because they are family of choice. Not everyone related by blood deserves the honrific titles either.

Carol - posted on 08/07/2012

75

0

10

I am a step grandmother, I love my step grandbabies as much as their blood grandmother. Here is what I know. If my husband died I would never see those grandchildren again. That is the other perspective. Grandpa is not that cherished a name that it should not belong to someone your MIL loves.

Charity - posted on 08/07/2012

283

1

59

I really appreciate hearing other perspectives and insight on this. I do let him interact with my children and have never excluded him from activities with us or my children. I just feel very strongly that the title Grandpa should be designated for those that are blood relatives and not every male that dates Grandma. It may be in the future we can choose an endearing name to call him as he is a positive part of my childrens life. In another aspect of this I know if they broke up he would not make an effort to visit my children nor would we visit him. I know if my mom or dad broke up we would continue to see them both that is another factor in using the title. I realze just because he is not a blood relative he can still be a positive male figure in my children's life but the actual title should be reserved for those who actually are.

Carol - posted on 08/07/2012

75

0

10

She is desperatly trying to live her own life and be in love. A little patience and sympathy for her here too. He is not a stranger to her, she cares deeply about him, most likely loves him and he shares her life and her home. You don't want her to direct you don't try to assume who this guy is to her. Ask her if the relationship is serious and if she feels OK with this man becoming a Grandfather figure to your child. If she does, go with it. It will not be the end of the world if the guy your child called Grandpa goes away. You can deal with that. After all some Grandpa's die and that is much harder to explain. If she does not feel it is time to make him Grandpa, ask her to explain to her boyfriend. A year is a long time when you don't know how much time you have left and you are an adult. Please treat her and this relationship with respect.

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms