Dealing with disapproving MIL

Grace - posted on 04/21/2010 ( 21 moms have responded )

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I have an overly critical MIL who thinks only her ideas are the best. She thinks whatever I say, want, do, like or dislike is irrelevant. The only good thing is that I don't live with her - in fact, she's in a different country altogether. But we've stayed together on a few occasions and each time she drives me not only mad, but depressed, and now that I'm heavily pregnant with the second child, being hormonal and sensitive, I feel even more disgusted with her.

She's never taken care of my firstborn even though she loves her. She just wants to bask in the "special feeling" (her words) of being a grandma without doing the childcare tasks. Meaning, she wants a clean, well-fed, happy grandchild to play with. That's all fine - but she will have so many 'better' ideas how to raise my child, because she negates everything I say. Even when I give up and say 'I don't know' that offends her. A simple thing like my preference not to use the stroller for a walk in a park that's not far from home which I say 'I don't know' because I really don't want to use the stroller causes her to huff and puff and say sarcastically, "Oh! She DOESN'T KNOW!"

Now I'm almost due in a few weeks' time and my spouse just told her my name choice. Of course she has her own name choices which are common names and I prefer something slightly different. My husband said MIL thinks its too long! Who the hell does she think she is? It's MY child. I'm going through 9+ months for this baby. I never asked her for her opinion! It depresses me a lot to know I'll never get any support from this person.

My husband tries to stay on the fence but the weird thing is that he doesn't get along with his own mom. But because she's his mom, and he respects her and loves her, he will not dismiss her and refuses to be on my side. She's the most arrogant, snobbish person I have ever met who thinks she's the most kind and easy-going person. I have since met my husband's cousin who knows my MIL since she was born and she agrees with me totally - that MIL is a mediocre, unhappy snob who just drives anyone insane. Fact is that MIL lives in her own world and being divorced and never remarried (still trapped in her old world where she still can't get over divorcing her husband. In fact she keeps anything sentimental from the past dating back to her childhood! Toys and clothes and shoes still in mint condition from 50 years ago!) I think she resents my marriage and doesn't accept me into her circle of trust.

All I know is that I can't stand her and I'm honest with that. But my hubby and HER thinks that I'm creating the friction and the weirdness, and that oh she loves me plenty and is always kind to me and showing me love where I show only aloofness. She always sends fake happy emails and pleasant phone calls either directly or indirectly to me (since we don't live together) but I know she thinks lowly of me, that I'm inferior to her, so I don't feel like pretending otherwise. I used to send her pictures of the family, lovely greetings and presents but that stopped when I decided she would always be disapproving of what I do.

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Lisa - posted on 04/23/2010

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It's a delicate trick, but you've got to learn to push back without losing your cool. Otherwise, she'll take every opportunity to show everyone else how "mean" you are to her when you lose your temper.

Spend a little time thinking of the kind of scolding comebacks you would give a child. The next time she does something outrageous, whip one out with a big smile on your face.

For example, in the expample you cite with the stroller in the park. Try this, "(Insert her name here - with a big smile)! Didn't your mother ever tell you not to harrass pregnant ladies? Shame on you! Silly Grandma!"

Then turn around and head out of the room before she can recover from the shock!

If you want to get her to help you more. Stop asking for any help at all. Then publicly say things (don't forget that big smile, now) like, "Oh honey, I just couldn't let you take the baby. I know how hard it is for you to handle her! Don't worry. I'm just fine!"

Finally, never, never, NEVER allow yourself to be in a situation where you are relying on her good behavior. If you plan to visit her, get a hotel. Don't ever go without hubby again. And if she wants to come visit you, suggest a reasonable hotel nearby because you would just feel oh, so guilty if the children 24/7 were too stressful to handle and she couldn't get her rest.

Just keep smiling.

Louise - posted on 04/23/2010

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Try to relax you do not have to suffer this woman on a daily basis as she lives far enough away. Just ignore her and she will get the message. Don't contact her by e-mail or phone. She does nothing but rub you up the wrong way so what have you got to loose. Your husband needs to grow some balls and stand up for his wife. He is married to you and should support you. I know it's his mother so he can go visit with the kids and take the flack whilst you have some rest time at home in the peace and quiet. Life is to short to suffer people like this if she is willing to change then fine give it another go, but until then you do not need the agro.

Brennis - posted on 04/23/2010

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I also disagree, that grandma knows best. I have two of those type of MIL. One of them told my SIL that her child didn't poop enough.... hows that for advice? They tell you each child is different, and thats true, so then the person who knows best will be the person who spends the most time with the child.

Actually my family is similar, my hubby doesn't really get along with his mom, but for some reason i'm suppose to. I found that instead of saying "I don't know" say something like "this is how I feel" emphasize the "I". Then if she is trying to be the "good guy" and make you the "bad guy". She can't really say anything.

Try asking your hubby for advice on names, raising tech., pretty much everything. Then if the mom has a problem you can say this is what WE decided. This helps make your hubby feel like hes not cornered, and you talked about it BEFORE grandma brought it up, so he should back you up.

I agree that this is your baby name it what you want. I wanted to name my daughter something else but chose the name she has because my family said they wouldn't call her that, they would use her middle name. That hurt a lot. I will name my next child what i want.

You can point out, if you are inclined, that if she wants a clean and happy baby SHE CAN HELP. On the other hand you might get more "help" then you want. For instance we decided not to feed our daughter meat until she was at least 1. We had to send her to her grandparents due to my being hospitalized, and we mentioned not to feed her any new food. We sent plenty, when we went to get her, they where feeding her new foods, plenty that we hadn't feed her, and some meat. Really glad she didn't have an allergic reaction.

Otherwise, the best i can tell you is try to deal the best you can when you are around her. She probably doesn't get to see the child, children much. Then when you get home treat yourself to anything relaxing.

Jess - posted on 04/22/2010

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ahh honey. i'm sorry for you. i have a mil from hell and feel your pain. this is gonna get me shot on this board, but from past and current experience, the only way to deal with the woman is to channel your inner bitch and stand up to her. it isn't gonna be easy, especially if hubby is on the fence (mine was for a while before he saw the light, now he stands up with me), but you have to do it. I wish i could tell you that grandma is looking out for the kids or your hubby or whatever, but she isn't. its about control, pure and simple. its your life, your children, your marriage. please note the use of the word YOUR, not hers. i'm here to listen and am sending lots of hugs your way..u need them.

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Lisa - posted on 04/26/2010

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I feel ya! My MIL has now said that if my husband stays married to me that his family wants nothing more to do with him or me or our kids. So my husband told her oh well then they are to have nothing to do with us. He said in God's eyes when you marry you leave your parents and become one with your wife and that is what he is doing and she should be happy for him not causing us heartache.

Whitney - posted on 04/26/2010

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I have been married for 6 yrs and just a few yrs ago did my hubby really "understand." He needs to know that when everything gets ugly that you are the one that he needs to protect. It doesn't matter if your wrong or who it is. He left his mother when he said "i do" and if he doesn't get that then there will always be that hole in ur marriage. It's not your place to say something it's his and every time that you open ur month she will be after you. Not sure if you are religion or not but you should pray for understanding and even yokes for you and your husband.

Stacey - posted on 04/26/2010

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Why are MIL's like this? Why do they always have to take over everything and treat us like we are useless? I really don't understand them at all! Well all I can say is at least we will out live them!!!

Rebecca - posted on 04/24/2010

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OH MY GOSH!!!! you completely just described my life. only my mother-in-law acts like she is my childs parent and like we are COMPLETELY incompetant!!!!!!! i am so sorry, i just had my second child and when i was pregnant with him i would get so mad about my MIL that I would lose sleep and cry all the time just thinking about her. i'm still having this problem and we are getting ready to move CLOSER to her. I am with you, if you find a solution PLEASE let me know. i wish you SOOOOOOOOOO much luck. i'm your sister in this war and if you ever need anything just let me know :)

Grace - posted on 04/24/2010

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Stacey, I sooo feel for you too. It's usually about the men who are afraid of their moms, isn't it? Maybe that's why we feel like we are drowning.

Just had to relate another incident. When she stayed with us for 6 weeks while my child was 9 months old, she came to me and started a fight. To be fair, I was trying to pass messages to my husband to tell her about certain things I wanted or didn't want in my house, because I DID sit down with her and talked about this, which she agreed in theory, but would still do her own way. Finally she snapped, all because my silly husband said something nasty to her, that I SAID Grandma (MIL's mom) would do this better than her. Don't know why hubby lied but i never met Grandma coz she passed away years ago. So MIL snapped and came charging at me, berating me about how she hates people who can't be straight and direct and confront her. I said I tried telling her diplomatically but she disregarded it. anyway, cut the long story short, that very day, she threatened to leave, hubby had to cool her down, she was sobbing tears of self-pity, then because of her aggravation, had her stomach acid flare up, which "caused" her to have bed rest for the next several days. Meaning I had to take care of my 9 month old baby plus nurse a mean MIL pretending to be VERY sick. MIL then started making requests for a special diet because she couldn't eat anything oily or salty at all. Basically she turned the tables and became the poor victim and I the aggressor. Such a manipulator, this woman.

Stacey - posted on 04/24/2010

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I soooo sympathize with you! My MIL was an absolute nightmare and control freak while I was pregnant with my 1st and 100 times worse after she was born (she would come over our house every single day, uninvited, never spoke to me, and literally snatch her off me even if I was feeding her! To mention one of many things!) and my husband didnt stand up for me at all (he was scared of her). I ended up having PND because of her. I only got over it when I realised no matter what I would always be my kids mother and she would only ever be the grandmother and I was more important than her and more in control of the situation than she ever could be! That thought gave me the strength to stand up to her (and force my husband to do the same!) and go on to have another baby and my MIL hasnt been so bad after that.

Grace - posted on 04/24/2010

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Tracie, you got it spot on. I didn't realise my "issues" were my guilt. I don't start out wanting to isolate this person. Actually I think most of us women want to have a good relationship with the MIL - but if it sours, it does create guilt, I mean, she is the mother of my beloved. Yeah, if I didn't care at all, I wouldn't think about it so much. I don't mind her spending time with my child and hubby (in fact, he spent 2 weeks alone with her when I was back in my own home country. Whee!! I asked him, how was it? Hubby didn't say anything, or in the line of, it's OK. I know that means she's the same critical mom but he loves her and appreciates spending some time with her but he's not exactly happy about it.

Lea, MIL never had her own MIL. Her ex-husband's mom passed away when he was a child so that's why when my husband was growing up, meals were prepared either by the grandma (MIL's own mom) or dad. My MIL never had to lift a finger in the kitchen. I think she rationalises that she's a feminist and the kitchen is for other women....until her own elderly mom died then she had to cook to survive. BUT when MIL told me that she didn't have her own MIL, she said that if she did, she would get along great with one. Yeah right!!! How does one respond to that?

Tracie - posted on 04/24/2010

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Don't feel guilty at all Grace, I'm sure this is just the most common problem in the world! I am also at the 'no longer bothering' stage with the wicked witch who knows best & it feels great (hubby can't stand her back-stabbing,and the, it's all about me and how smart I am ways, either!) Let him hang out with her when she visit's and you can be 'busy' out with friends! Good luck

Lea - posted on 04/23/2010

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*HUGS*!!!!! I feel ya. Its hard for me to get along with my MIL too. She makes an effort though - she told me she remembers how she was treated by her MIL. Maybe you could get her to relate like that?

Jenna - posted on 04/23/2010

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Your husband is your partner and that relationship must come first. I would seriously consider some marriage counseling, if you need it, to get the serious talk going with the hubby. As long as the MIL can geet his side she will not back off. Good luck hun.

April - posted on 04/23/2010

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First of all, your Mother in Law has no business naming your child. My husband and I named our children and we didn't allow ANYONE to have a say. If anyone gave me name suggestions, I told them, "Thanks, I'll write that on my list of names that we are considering."

It's hard to stand firm against In-laws and other family members, so the best thing to do when they give you suggestions is to say, "Thanks, We'll take that into consideration." And then don't let them know what you decide. It's none of their business.

Your husband needs to learn not to get his Mother so involved.

ADRIENNE - posted on 04/23/2010

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My husband and I have been married for 8 and half years. (We are separated now). From the time I met my MIL I always felt that she didn't like me. My MIL has said some not so nice things about me but, I got the point where I didn't care what she thought. I always wanted her to see me as a good wife and a good mother but no matter what I did it wasn't good enough. In the end you can't please everyone. I say don't worry about trying to please your MIL you have enough going in life with the second baby coming.

Grace - posted on 04/23/2010

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Jess, thanks for the support. I just needed to know Im not crazy. I channeled my inner bitch when I visited her home with my child (husband came a week later - I dont know why I thought things would be ok. Im too naive) and after 2 days, I told her off. AND she said why dont I go and stay somewhere else!! And this is in a foreign country, foreign language, and Im pregnant with a toddler! I can't stand up to her because she is such a domineering control freak. Even when she was the one who started the fight in my home when she stayed for 6 weeks I didnt ask her to leave.

So now it's just passive resistance. And no contact unless its for special occasions....

Kelina - posted on 04/22/2010

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SO I gotta say this first off, Nadine wasn't saying that you're MIL knows best she was saying that in some cultures that's whats accepted. Some cultures respect their parents and grandparents without question, it's not like it is here, even if they are the biggest bitches in history! It is stupid being competitive. Do you think maybe she is jealous of your relationship with her son? I know for a long time i couldn't figure out why my step mom hated me. I was 4 when she met my dad, and it wasn't for a long time that I realized she was jealous of my relationship with my dad. She could be having a hard time letting go which would explain the jealousy if not make it any better. Also If you are a different ethnicity from your husband it could be a cultural thing. And Jess Lee, I absolutely agree with you but i think that doing that might end up ending her marriage as her husband seems to be on his mothers side rather than hers. Otherwaise I'd say go for it! Good luck with your birth Grace, I hope it goes well and remember, sometimes it's ok for us to act like two year old and throw temper tantrums when no one else is home!

Grace - posted on 04/22/2010

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Nadine, I absolutely disagree. Grandma doesn't always knows best. She was never a stay at home mom and went to work right after her maternity leave finished. She never cooked a meal for her child because her own mom would do it. In fact, she said it herself. She said she was completely lost when she brought her 2 year old child and her husband on holiday and he wouldn't eat what she made, so she travelled many miles to buy cans and jars of baby food. IN FACT, she only started cooking when her own mother passed away about 10 years ago - she started using her own kitchen in her 50s!!! Before that, she would depend on her own mother to raise her own child. So she knows nothing about raising children! So she has absolutely no right and no clue how I should raise mine - because I chose to stay at home, give up my own career, to look after mine. If I had a MIL who was critical but willing to help me look after my kid, her own grandchild, I wouldn't be so sour. When my husband visits her (with us), she is constantly following him around the house and criticising him about something. During 2 weeks of our visit, our normally articulate child started stuttering. Hubby asked why. I told him our child is nervous. Sure enough, when we left her house, within days, our child stopped stuttering. Even a child can feel enough tension in a family environment to know what's healthy and what's not healthy. Obviously there are many incidents that happened that I can't relate her. A simple example is when I was in my first trimester with this pregnancy and I was afraid of having gestational diabetes again (had it with the first and it was horrible) so I didn't want sweet stuff. She offered me chocolate and I said maybe later. Because I wasn't grateful to her offering me something sweet (I told her Im pregnant and watching a special diet) she was sooo angry she threw the chocolate against the window in front of my toddler which shocked us both. Then she said I'm offending her because even if I dont want it, I should accept it gracefully with a smile. ??!?!?!?!? It was the same when she offered me a dairy product prepared from the supermarket (not from the factory but made by local people) and I was afraid of listeria or food poisoning (which I had before pregnancy and was sick for a week). I didnt want to try it just in case and that offended her too! It's my pregnancy and obviously she doesnt care if I miscarriage! She also offered me some wasabe nuts from Thailand (she's actually European who thinks she likes world/ethnic culture but is actually very Eurocentric) and I didnt want it which offended her. Same goes for herbal teas which I didnt know what they were. She didnt know what was in the herbal tea herself. She only knew it was from the mountains. So I didnt want it. Then she went and bought me some other teas which the pharmacist says was safe for pregnancy. But I was in my first trimester and I just wanted to eat things that I know are 100% safe because I knew many people who miscarriaged, esp since Im in my 30s and it's a risky age.

Kelina, thanks for your moral support. I know she is jealous but I don't know why she should be. It's stupid being competitive when she should be nurturing.

And no, pregnancy hormones or not, my MIL is the way she is.

Nadine - posted on 04/22/2010

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Pregnancy hormones made me crazy, I if I disliked someone during pregnancy, I devoloped a pure hate for them. Try to relax. Don't forget that this is your husbands mother. it is very difficult position he is in. She is the person who gave him life and raised him. YOu say that she lives in a different country. Think of also cultural differences. Grandma always knows best, in some places. Remember is far awy. Put a smile on your face and tell her what she wants to hear and do what you want. Ask her for some advice sometimes. I use to ask my MIL how to cook something, eventhough I already knew how to do it. She passed away now, but always made her so happy. MIL want to teach. Let her, tell her ok and do what you want.

Kelina - posted on 04/21/2010

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It sounds like you've done everything you can think of. Having a husband on the fence is difficult. I know this is going to sound even more depressing but unless you're the kind of person who would do what I did and threaten to leave your husband becasue of it then there's not much you can do. Thankfully my mil is really supportive she just had a few issues cutting the apron strings. It was really frustrating when he'd jump when she called cause she couldn't get the tv to work. I think that you're right and she's probably jealous, I know my mom was and she reacted the same way. I would recommend keeping sending her the pictures etc and whatever you were doing before. Don't bother getting into arguments with her or rising to her stupid little annoying comments becasue it's what she wants and she'll use it as proof that you are the one causing friction. Continue being nice and keep talking to your husband about how her comments hurt and frustrate you. Use examples, from when he was there. If you use example from when he wasn't and he really doesn't believe you right now, he might think that you're lying and that wouldn't be good. If you do talk to him, make sure you don't sound accusing. Let him know that you're feeling hurt. Other than That I can't think of anything, I hope it helps. I really do know what you're going through, unfortunately my mother was the same way, and it really hurt and my husband wouldn't stand up for me to either of my parents(they both liked him a lot more than they liked me). Good luck!

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