How do I ignore my MIL's criticism? UPDATE: I settled on a decision

Discussion in 'Baby Club' started by CloudyDay, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. CloudyDay

    CloudyDay Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, this is kinda long... but I'm reaching the end of my rope!:growlmad:

    When I gave birth to my baby, I made MIL a grandma for the first time. My baby is also her ONLY grandchild. From the moment my baby was born, MIL has been super obsessed with him so she’s always casting a critical eye on my parenting skills.

    I was born in Canada but MIL was not so she holds strongly to many of her “Old World” ways. As a result, we often clash in our approaches to parenting my little guy.

    MIL was a true MIL from hell during the first month or two after I gave birth. She annoyed me to no end with a number of her behaviours. For instance, she was strangely competitive towards me in gaining my baby’s love so she often made remarks about how much he liked her and the special behaviours that he did “just for her” (no, I don’t think he cooed just for you… it was just a random coo). She would also make critical comments about my parenting but she did it “in disguise” by talking cutely to my baby: “Your mama is so silly. Why did she put so many clothes on you? She made you so hot!” It sounds kind of amusing as I read this now but in reality, her behaviour stressed me out so much that it brought me to a nervous breakdown at one point.

    3 months after my baby was born, I lost my job and was going through a rough time. She’s not an evil person, so she had heart and held back a little with her behaviour. I’m now at a good new job so she’s getting right back into it again and I really don’t know how to tolerate it this time around!!

    There are several issues that make this dynamic very challenging. First, MIL is extremely volatile. At her core, she is a very sweet, generous, kind, caring person. However, she also has this other side that refuses to even listen to any criticism directed at her and will lash back with extreme words and actions if she feels she’s been offended. (e.g. DH once declined her request for him to take her shopping. She was PISSED and spewed a long rant about how she would never cook for him again and don’t you ever come over to my house again!)

    The other thing that makes this situation extremely difficult to work around is that I need her help to care for my baby, especially now that I’m back at work. We cannot afford to hire a nanny or put little guy in daycare and I have no family on my side who has the time to help in the childcare. I’m relying on her so I have no choice but to tolerate her.

    After many years of living with his mother, my DH has learned that the best approach with MIL is to just nod and agree with her but just keep doing things how I want. I agree that this is the best way but I just can’t swallow it when she makes those damn comments!! What do I do??
     
  2. mommyof3co

    mommyof3co Mommy of 4 amazing boys!

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    I personally wouldn't be able to just keep my mouth shut, my MIL sometimes does that and I'll immediately say something. I'm not rude but I'll do the same thing she's doing, "your mommy is blah blah blah" and I'll say "well it's cause your mommy thinks this" letting her know I have my reasons for doing something and making it clear it will be my way but not just jumping down her throat about it. I try and ignore some of it but stuff that's important to me that I want her to know it is and needs to be done my way i will say something
     
  3. better2gether

    better2gether Ladybug's Mommy!

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    It seems like "damned if you do, damned if you don't" whenever it comes to MILs. I also have a REALLY hard time keeping my mouth shut when it comes to other people criticizing my birthing plan, etc. And guess who is criticizing? MIL of course. Who else? Maybe I'm a bitch, but my patience is already running thin... I can only imagine what it will be like when the baby is here. People DON'T care that pregnancy and birth are hard. They just don't. They want to run their mouth. I'm all for putting them in their place. You have to do it in a firm and polite manner. Blah, blah, blah. :p She sounds a bit bipolar to be honest and I wouldn't know how to deal with that. But if you let these emotions bottle up, you either end up quietly resenting her more and that only gives you unhealthy stress. If you contront her, it is all out in the open. She could pout, blow up, blackmail, etc. I just hope things work out for you. Sorry I can't be of better help!
     
  4. tasha41

    tasha41 Mum & Dad + 1

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    My dad sounds like your MIL a lot.. only he is uber Canadian.. like his family came over in the late 1600s from France :lol:

    I live with my parents so also kind of HAVE to deal with it somehow, so normally I either pretend I'm listening and kinda nod, and carry on doing things my own way anyhow. But when I strongly disagree I tell him that she's my daughter etc. he gets upset and has words for me usually but he's my own parent so I am more comfortable telling him where to go basically lol.

    <3 Sorry you have to deal with this, I find it's easier if I try ignore the little things- ie: comments about overdressing baby, and then with other stuff (my dad suggested I start putting Elyse on milk and taking her off formula, she's 9 months old FFS, but when I was a baby and he had little babies of his own to take care of we were on milk by then apparently).. I try to remind myself he is from a different generation and I reiterate guidelines about weaning and all that stuff. And then of course "She's my daughter, so it's up to me to make these choices"... usuallyyy my mom backs me up fortunately, not sure if your OH or someone would back you up or take your "side"?
     
  5. lyre

    lyre Well-Known Member

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    sounds a bit like both my parents..........have no idea why, think its cos they want to feel useful and close to their grandchild. or maybe they miss having babies themselves. anyway, i really think its best not to rock the boat, just rise above it unless she is doing something that is not good for you lo xxx:hugs:
     
  6. AP

    AP Well-Known Member
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    wooooooah I completely agree on a personal level there :rofl:

    I dont understand inlaws. They had their time bringing up children so dunno why they insist on making some of us miserable by interfering :shrug:
     
  7. Lunaty

    Lunaty Well-Known Member

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    Jikes, i also have to bite my lip..

    Since LO is born my MIl drops by every day (yesterday she had a freaking cold)!!! Picks him up without asking and makes those comments..

    And hen he cries she has the nerve to say ahh he wants his cow!!!!

    I mean, yes she may mean it in a nice way but it just raises my hair, im not his Cow im his MUM!

    If she could at least call befoe she comes to see if he is awake (instead of secretly poking him when he s asleep when she arrives) it would make it a bit more bearable..

    I already told hubby we should get busy :sex: around that time and give her a scare to not drop by unannounced again LOL :rofl:
     
  8. CloudyDay

    CloudyDay Well-Known Member

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    Girls, I'm sorry but this is going to be another long one. I haven't talked to anyone about my MIL problems since they began so this is like a huge tangled ball of yarn that's been bouncing around in my head for months... and I need to get it unravelled now before I go insane.

    Thanks so much for helping me through this... I don't really have anyone else to talk to about this, as I'm still trying to maintain some level of civility and not "tarnish" MIL's reputation to the family and friends I'd desperately like to talk to about this.

    lyre, MIL is ramping up her behaviour again so she's making it very hard to take the high road. I'm dreading the holidays because her behaviour becomes more exaggerated when we spend time w/ family and friends who don't normally see DS. It's almost like she wants to mark her territory and feels threatened by others taking DS's attention away from her. If I give her the benefit of the doubt, it's because she's proud of him and wants to show him off... but I don't like how she snatches him from me to show him around, does not let anyone else hold him, and acts as if she knows him better than me, his own mother!!

    tasha, I SOOO wish it was my parents who were behaving this way so that I could comfortably disagree with them and tell them off if needed to. I know that there is this invisible "line" that should not be crossed between DILs and MILs but despite MY best efforts, MIL keeps overstepping HER bounds as a grandmother and MIL, putting me in a very awkward position.

    I want to take your approach, mommyof3co. In fact, if I was dealing w/ a rational, sane MIL, how I'd fix this situation is to sit down and have a mature, adult talk with her, telling her honestly what bothered me and asking her to please change her behaviour as it is causing me a lot of stress. Frustratingly, she is very "bipolar", as better2gether so aptly noticed. She also seems to thrive on conflict (arguing w/ family members is almost like a hobby to her) so her default reaction to most conversations is to take the defensive and immediately become hostile. Add to the mix that her English isn't very good. If I were to try to talk things out with her, she'd be IMMEDIATELY offended and just create her own completely inaccurate understanding of what I was trying to say (she's already done this to me many times, in reaction to more mundane conversations). I'm sure she'd think I was being extremely disrespectful and ungrateful for the help she's given me.

    better2gether: sorry to hear you're already experiencing MIL issues in pregnancy! Sheesh! You hit the nail on the head, what you said about bottling things up. I HAVE been bottling things up since she started up again because I've been trying to stick to the high road for my DH's sake (he asked me to try it "his way" for a while). But I was telling DH last night how this is creating lots of pent up resentment and anger. I admitted to him that I've been indirectly "punishing" MIL because she makes me dislike her so much. I've been very resistant to including her in special occasions like taking my DS to see X-Mas lights. I refuse to let her do his bedtime routine as I cherish that quiet, precious time w/ him. I make excuses to not go to dinners/lunches w/ her. I don't bring him over to her place to visit. If she wants to see him, she comes over here... but that brings me to another thing that pisses me off.

    Lunaty: She just did the EXACT same thing to me yesterday!! She's done this since the birth... just shows up when she pleases... AT THE DOOR. No phone call, no making prior arrangements to come. She just SHOWS UP. To make things worse, she has a key so even if I don't answer the door, she still comes right in. In the early days, she often came in calling LOUDLY for me as she came in while I was desperately trying to squeeze in a nap for myself as DS napped. :growlmad: I was FUMING last night as I tossed and turned in bed, thinking about it!

    ARGH!!! I want to go on and on and get this all out but this is getting too long. Gals, if you can give me any support, I'm all ears... I do not want to end up in another nervous breakdown.
     
  9. lyre

    lyre Well-Known Member

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    can you discuss the situation openly with your oh without offending him irrevocably? :hugs:

    its very very tricky as your mil seems volatile, i know its really getting to you but you need to think really hard about any potential outcome, which could be hard to fix and end up giving you more stress in the long run.

    do you think it will ease off as your lo grows up? sounds like may be she means well but just has no understanding that she is wrong.

    her having a key to your house is annoying, as a last resort is there any way you could move house and put distance between you so that she would turn up unannounced less often? but i guess if she is looking after your lo while you work this is not an option.

    i dont honestly know what to suggest, its a very hard thing you are going through. i hope it improves for you soon x

    :hugs:
     
  10. better2gether

    better2gether Ladybug's Mommy!

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    What was your OH's response to what you said? You've tried "his way" for awhile and it obviously isn't working. You definitely deserve credit for compromising and trying. I think he should help you with setting boundaries for her.
     
  11. lindypops

    lindypops Lin, Si and Eve

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    Will your MIL be looking after LO in your house or her own? Id her own, can't you swallow your anger a bit and go to see her there - making it clear that your visits there are the only time (unless a special reason for going over to yours) that she sees him.

    She would then see him on her 'turf', which might stop her coming unannounced to yours. Yes, it's a power thing, but you need her. And you can go home when you like :)

    I think the 'LO's smiling for me' is normal, unfortunately - my MIL does it too. I take a selfish satisfaction in the fact that whenever she holds Eve, she stares at me all the time, to reassure herself that I'm there! MIL says 'it's cos you're sitting next to the light and it's attracting her'. No it's not - it's cos I'm her mum!

    Having said that, my MIL is lovely - I think tension exists whatever the MIL is like :(
     
  12. Janidog

    Janidog Well-Known Member

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    I think you need to start putting your foot down with her. It may get worse as your DS grows up and he will start picking up on her negativity towards you, especially with her constant criticism about how you are bring you ds up.

    It is a shame that you can not put your son in to nursery while you're at work, as allowing her to look after your son is giving her lots of power, as she knows without her help you won't be able to work.
     
  13. Armywife

    Armywife Mummy to 2 beauties

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    Hi honey, i have more than a little sympathy for you, my MIL began that sort of behaviour when we got married, with the 'He doesn't like his shirts ironed that way' or 'Lamb isn't his favourite chicken is!' or my personal favourite 'You need to learn to be a proper army wife' (she isn't one so how would she know?!)

    Anyway, we addressed the problem together and she did as you suspect your MIL would and twisted it all around pretending she didn't understand the problem. As it happened things got so bad my husband no longer speaks to his family at all and despite several attempts on our part to make peace she hasn't met Poppy and probably never will. In some ways i am glad, unlike your MIL she wasn't nice, even deep down and i dread to think of the comments i'd have had over my mothering skills. On the other hand i feel for Poppy as she is missing out and hubby as he doesn't speak to his family, although ultimately that was his decision. I never once tried to make him choose or told him not to speak to them.

    I suppose what i'm trying to say is that in my opinion there is no happy medium when you come accross a MIL with those kinds of control issues. I hate to say it and i know it doesn't help your situation but i think your husband is probably right, just nod and smile then get on with doing it how you want. I know some might say you need to express your feelings instead of keeping them in but in this situation there is a lot to lose and its not likely you'll be able to have a rational discussion with her.

    Whatever you decide i really wish you all the luck in the world xxx
     
  14. lalitas charm

    lalitas charm Mummy to Bethan & Piplet

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    Awww hun what a complete nightmare. :hugs: I think that you have been a virtual saint coping with her. I really dont know what advise to give you about how to deal with her. The only thing that I can suggest is try to talk to her and say something along the lines of " I appreciate your advise and thank you for giving it to me. We have made the parenting decisions the we have due to careful considerations of what is best of us and for our baby and would like you to respect them.

    I'm so lucky that my MIL lives in Scotland so i dont really have to deal with her. She was supposed to stay with us for a weekend when Bethan was 3 weeks old to meet her and in the end stayed in a hotel with her new BF (who she didn't even tell us about until 5 days before and even then told us and him a whole heap of lies - another story) and spent 45 mins with Bethan in which time managed to pass comment on Bethan having a sticky eye (as if I didn't know this), claimed that bethan was mimicking her (which she wasn't), when Bethan filled her nappy practically threw her at me shouting ooohhh she stinks (which she didn't), oh and commenting that I am too selfish to be a mum as if I wasn't then I would give up working and my horses to stay at home with Bethan.....

    MILs are a strange species and they seem to be designed to be annoying.
     
  15. lyre

    lyre Well-Known Member

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    its so funny to think we will probably be someones mil one day!:wacko:
     
  16. lalitas charm

    lalitas charm Mummy to Bethan & Piplet

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    LOL, I was thinking that myself you know. I'm hoping that I'll remember how annoying I found my MIL and avoid being like that myself.......
     
  17. CloudyDay

    CloudyDay Well-Known Member

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    Ahh! It's so hard to get on to reply to all of your wonderful posts when I'm in a completely opposite time zone! First, I have to give :hug: all around!

    It's helped so much to talk this out w/ all of your support and advice. I've calmed down considerably since I first started ranting. I'm trying to go about this now from a more objective, neutral stance. Don't know how successful I'll be but I'll do my darndest.
    :muaha:

    That's how I'm feeling about myself right now... do I listen to my angelic side or my devilish side? MIL is SOOO volatile, it looks like there are only two choices for me:

    CHOICE ONE :finger:
    I sit her down for a serious, honest talk, asking her to change because if she doesn't, she will drive me to another nervous breakdown. If she takes it the wrong way or starts getting hostile, I'll just let it all out... no going back after that!! This choice would certainly make me feel better in the short term as I'll get to unload on her and tell her "where to go"! But as some of you caution, there could be... actually, there WILL BE serious longterm consequences. I'm sure it would play out exactly the same way it did for you, armywife (I'm so sorry to hear how badly this tore your DH's family apart :()

    CHOICE TWO :angel:
    I swallow my anger, hope that she will only behave this way while DS is little, and do what I can to just keep the peace because I am relying on her. I know this is ultimately the best choice for everyone... everyone but me. It's good for DH, DS, MIL, and all my in-laws because it means that we can still be "one big happy family". The sacrifice here is that I will never be completely happy... and it's JUST NOT FAIR that I'm the one who has to change, not HER even though she's the one who's acting unreasonably.

    DH is willing to talk about this w/ me and he is in complete agreement that his mom is totally :wacko:. But no matter how psycho she gets, she's still his mom and he'll always care enough about her to prefer to maintain good relations than to "stir the pot". He supports whatever choice I make but he fears that if I go w/ choice #1, MIL will just shun me from her family but keep demanding to see DH and DS.

    ARGH... this is NOT an easy decision. It's hard enough just having to care for a little one... why does MIL have to ADD unnecessary stress to my life?? I will be sure to be a wonderful MIL too when it's my turn!! Funny I should say that, actually... MIL always rants about her own MIL for being really rude, critical, etc. to her!! What a hypocrite.

    Anyway, thanks so much, girls. I'm gonna sit on this for a while longer. When I come to a decision, I'll let you know what I choose.

    :hug:
     
  18. lyre

    lyre Well-Known Member

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    glad you're feeling better, sitting on it for a while longer sounds like a good plan x:hugs:
     
  19. CloudyDay

    CloudyDay Well-Known Member

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    MIL was amazingly restrained over the holidays. I was actually a tad too frosty to her during various engagements. :blush: She has continued to be tolerable and even very nice to be w/, even w/ LO in both of our presence! So... I have decided to continue to be civil and as diplomatic as possible for the timebeing. When her ugly side rears its head again, you can be sure I'll be back on, asking for your help!!

    Thanks gals!

    :hug:
     
  20. lyre

    lyre Well-Known Member

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    great news, glad your holidays were good x
     

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