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MIL Question - Help PLEASE
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Ok so if you've read my MIL posts in the past you know that I have issues with her. Something has come up (yet again) and I don't know how to deal with it. I see I have a handful of options.

Here is the situation. She emailed me just now saying (among other things) the following: "I'm thinking of taking the girls Sat. afternoon for dress shopping. It will all depend on work schedule." (Now as a reminder this dress shopping experience is a result of the gift certificate she gave my 4 year old and 2 year old for Christmas "dress shopping with her"). I guess in her passive agressive way she is asking me if she can. I would like to be asked, directly. Asking in this way, makes it seem as if, again, I'm the bad guy if I say no. It irritates me that she assumes she can have them whenever she wants. I replied to her email and didn't address this statement she made as she had also asked other things I could respond to. So, just a few minutes ago, I received this: "If I don't work, and the weather permits, can I still take the girls to shop?" - "CAN I STILL" how do I even respond to this. Taking my girls is so beside the point. I'm so beyond her little ways of manipulation. My husbands ENTIRE family works like this. Rather than being direct, everything is always so backwards, hush-hush, don't tell the entire story, etc., etc., and I need to gain some boundaries so that they realize we will not engage in that type of craziness.

This may seem petty to some, and in a way I guess it is, but when you are dealing with this kind of garbage day-in-and-day-out it gets to be a bit much. So my options:

1. Do nothing and just answer her question. "Yes/No you can take the girls"
2. Answer her question & also tell her it would be nice to be asked (the wording in doing this option has me tripped up; I would want to be direct but very respectful.)
3. Ignore the email all together. Which solves nothing.

What the heck do I do?

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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4. breathe in/out a few times, realize that everybody communicates in a different way, and from now on not focus anymore on how things are said, vs what the things actually are.

I am sorry to say but your behaviour reminds me a lot of my mum's, and I do think she'd have lived a much happier life had she not focused so much on how people talked to her and how they 'should have' instead. These are your in-laws, and unless you plan to completely cut contacts with them forever and ever, you need to learn to let the small things go and focus on the important ones (which in this case is your MIL actually wanting to spend time with your kids and treat them to something)


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A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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My vote:

First do #4
Then do #1





Come crawling faster
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [Marco in BC] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
you need to learn to let the small things go and focus on the important ones (which in this case is your MIL actually wanting to spend time with your kids and treat them to something)

"Learn" how do you do that when you don't trust her (explaining this one would just take way to much time)?

If I could snap my fingers and just let it all go, believe me I would. I hate feeling this way.

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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Why even engage in any conflict with her? Family cultures are all different. I think you said the whole family talks that way? You aren't going to change them. A therapist I really love once told me that everytime something seemed wrong or truly bizarre from a family members mouth, I should stop and say to myself, "Isn't it interesting that's Joe's reality?" It sounded so silly and yet it worked so well. More importantly, do your girls enjoy spending time with her? Try to look at the big picture and feel peace about what seems to be fairly constant stuff that bothers you. I know that's easier said than done, but you probably won't change the way she operates so why stress? My mother in law is dead. She was what we fondly called "the steel magnolia". Although she was abrasive to me many times, I wish I could sit down and have a cup of tea with her again. My mom did tell me once when I complained about the MIL, "she did raise the man you love." Good luck.
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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Marco made an excellent point, but as someone who gets caught in these things from time-to-time on both sides of the coin, I understand where you're coming from as well.

You might reply, after taking aforementioned deep breaths, that "Since we don't have plans, it's ok for the girls to go shopping" or something along those lines. Or if there are some types of plans or if you just want to set some boundaries, you can designate a time, like "We don't have plans, so if you don't work they could go shopping in the afternoon from noon to four but I would like for them to be home for dinner."

I'm reaching here, but it's an idea to try to get your point across in a subtle manner. Maybe.....

AW
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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Not trusting her opens up a whole new bag of worms. We are only operating and giving our advice on the limited information we have. If you don't think the girls are safe with her, that's completely different. Have you ever talked to a professional about this situation? Something to think about, especially if you think she might be bad for the girls. Obviously, your number one priority is the emotional, physical and mental health of the girls.
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [diva] [ In reply to ]
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Yes, if you could elaborate a little more on the not trusting aspect, that would help a lot. Because then the answer is pretty much, "never"!

example - My MIL has some kind of transient seizure or blackout disorder. She will not seek help for this. It has never actually happened to her while driving a car, but in any case, the mere possiblity of an unmedicated situation like this, there is no negotiation, she NEVER was to be alone with our kids when they were too little to help themselves.

So, are we talking about that level of not trusting? Or, are we talking about , she'll buy them sodas at breakfast time and be an hour late getting home. I do understand how frustrating IL's can be, esp indirect communicators. Your kids are still little so keep talking and maybe as a group effort we can help you set some boundaries that work for everyone. It's kind of heartening that she actually wants to spend time with your kids, isn't it?
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [WeRide] [ In reply to ]
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Ok so not trusting her involves a variety of areas. A couple off the top of my head....
  1. One time my daughter came home and told me that her Grammie lost her sister at the park. I had to ask the MIL about it (dayslater - after waiting for her to say something) and sure enough she did lose her but not for that long. Not telling me pisses me off. Everyone can make mistakes but seriously at least tell me...
  2. Prior to having children I would be at the MIL's house when her other set of grandkids would be over there. She would tell them "it's ok if you do 'x' or 'y' at my house, we won't tell your mom". Now some things like extra pop, or a piece of candy, fine...but fundamental core values (which "x" and "y" were, at least for me), no way. I would have problems with someone telling my child to keep a secret from me. Granted I have NO evidence this has ever happened with my children, but people tend to repeat cycles.
  3. She NEVER ever wants to spend time with the children if we are around. She ALWAYS wants them alone, with her. This, I just don't understand and considering their behavior (my girls) when I get them back, I wonder what in the world is going on.
  4. My brother-in-law is faced with felony charges for the intent to have sex with an 11 year old. My MIL knows that if she has them at her house and he happens to stop by she is to call us. I'm not 100% confident this will happen because she thinks the man was "joking" about having sex with said child. "Joking!?" WTF - it is this warped mentality to make things the way she wants to see them that scares me deeply.

These things (and believe me others) are just the mere surface. I trust my children with her, I don't believe that they will endure physical harm. What I'm more interested in is their emotional health. They do like to be around her, but after the visit it is absolutely apparant she had them as their behavior is more whiny, agressive. It takes me at least 2-3 days to get their behavior back in check.

None of these things are 'deal breakers' for me (except Number 4), but they are things, that cause me concern. I don't want my children believing that they can have two separate value systems. I do want them to spend time with her, yet at the same time I need her to know that we have boundaries, values, and she has got to accept those.

My husband ignores it. He tells me his mom is nuts and has learned to ignore the behavior. He lives in a very simple world and doesn't understand/realize/whatever that what happens today absolutely has an effect on tomorrow. His stance, "it will all work out". Whereas I'm more type A and tend to do everything I can to avoid repeating past mistakes, etc. We have talked to our counselor about this at length (and will do so again tonight) and she (the counselor) is in agreement that we need to set boundaries with his Mom. I just don't know how to do that without causing strife in our relationship.

I am frustrated by her, she does piss me off a lot, but I also tend to let it go. When it comes to my girls though I get "Mamma Bear" very quickly.

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
  1. One time my daughter came home and told me that her Grammie lost her sister at the park. I had to ask the MIL about it (dayslater - after waiting for her to say something) and sure enough she did lose her but not for that long. Not telling me pisses me off. Everyone can make mistakes but seriously at least tell me...
  2. Prior to having children I would be at the MIL's house when her other set of grandkids would be over there. She would tell them "it's ok if you do 'x' or 'y' at my house, we won't tell your mom". Now some things like extra pop, or a piece of candy, fine...but fundamental core values (which "x" and "y" were, at least for me), no way. I would have problems with someone telling my child to keep a secret from me. Granted I have NO evidence this has ever happened with my children, but people tend to repeat cycles.
  3. She NEVER ever wants to spend time with the children if we are around. She ALWAYS wants them alone, with her. This, I just don't understand and considering their behavior (my girls) when I get them back, I wonder what in the world is going on.
  4. My brother-in-law is faced with felony charges for the intent to have sex with an 11 year old. My MIL knows that if she has them at her house and he happens to stop by she is to call us. I'm not 100% confident this will happen because she thinks the man was "joking" about having sex with said child. "Joking!?" WTF - it is this warped mentality to make things the way she wants to see them that scares me deeply.

1. anybody can 'lose' a child for a small amount of time, it happens, I was 'lost' when I was a kid once that I remember, and my mum is probably among the most hyperprotective mothers you can think of. Possibly given your previous reactions to things she thought that if she told you you'd fly off the handle and so preferred to not rock the boat.

2. you say you have no evidence, and yet you use this as a way to validate your mistrust of her: maybe she was just trying to be funny, you never know, if after all these years you have zero evidence of anything like this happening I would let it go

3. possibly because when you all spend time together she feels like you second guess everything she does? Given how you come across in these posts it wouldn't surprise me, you say 'mamma bear' and I read 'helicopter parent', hope this doesn't offend you.

4. 'you are not 100% confident this will happen' and again you use possibilities to validate your mistrust about her, without her actually having done anything.

If all your concerns are along these lines to me it sounds like your situation boils down to 'I don't like my MIL because she is not like me, and therefore I don't want my kids to be around her'. If this is really what it is, well, I am really not sure you can find a way forward unless you decide to change your attitude towards her. Fact is when you marry somebody and have kids, you also marry their family, unless you want your kids to grow up without grandparents of course, so I think you need to again let the small things go and focus on the big issues, of which I didn't see any in your list really.

What is going to happen when your kids go to school and are exposed to teachers and other people that have different value systems than yours? Are you going to 'protect' them even then? Wouldn't it be better if now you created a positive atmosphere in your house where they can be exposed to your (very different) MIL and then talk about things later with you in a relaxed way without feeling that you hate it when they spend time with her? (kids are not stupid, and they can be quite perceptive of non-verbal communication, the type of vibes I am sure you give out when your MIL comes over etc.)


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A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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What about going with?

When it comes down to it, you are their mother. If she doesn't want you with, there's a big problem. If she changes her mind cause you're going to be with them, call her on it.

I've been the monkey in the middle before and one of these days your husband is going to have to wake up and realize he needs to support you or at least be responsively actionable. Putting his head in the sand is only going to make things worse for everyone. By the time he pulls his head out of the sand, he could be very much alone.

I picked my side. Called my mom on all of her BS and didn't talk to her for three years (which is how look it took her to seek help for her many issues).

I'm not meaning to be harsh here, but it looks like you're putting all your emphasis on treating a symptom instead of going for a solution.

Good luck!

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [Marco in BC] [ In reply to ]
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Marco in BC you have given me some things to thing about. There were many assumptions you drew; however, which are furthest from reality. Thanks for your feedback though.

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [140pt6] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
I picked my side.

This is exactly what we are going to talk about tonight at our counselor. We've spent way to much time allowing his mom to manipulate us into doing what she wants, living our life around her plans, her agenda.

Thanks everyone for your ideas and thoughts. I won't get into anything further because I'm not interested in being raked over the coals regarding how we parent, what pisses us off, etc., etc. Until you walk a mile in our shoes....well you can have your opinion, but it doesn't mean its correct. Thanks again to everyone (if I agreed with you or not).

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [LovePugs] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
My vote:

First do #4
Then do #1
ditto that.


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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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I agree with a lot of the comments here but would suggest #2 with a side of "Sure, I'd like to come along as I need a new dress too... we can all meet you at the shop and maybe get lunch - all four of us... won't that be nice!"

I used to have issues with my (now former) MIL and we got through them by forcing ourselves to actually spend time together (without the mens around). Once we did, and realized just how actually interesting the other person was, it was a complete breakthrough and we became reasonably good friends (in fact I still miss her, now that her son and I are divorced - she was one of the few things I "lost" in the divorce that I regret/miss).

You need to loosen up in some areas, but in others I would agree with you. Example: I tell my DD that we do not keep secrets from each other. I tell her often that she can tell me anything, ANYTHING and I will always still love her no matter what. She knows, even at 4yo, to tell other adults that she doesn't keep secrets from her mother (I've even overheard this and was so happy to hear it!). So I appreciate the situation you describe. But you can't change your MIL, all you have control over is yourself and the messages you give to your girls. Lead by example.

AP

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
Marco in BC you have given me some things to thing about. There were many assumptions you drew; however, which are furthest from reality. Thanks for your feedback though.

me not knowing you or her and just hearing your side of the story on this msg board obviously lends me (and others) to make assumptions. This said good luck.


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A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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Why don't you just be nice to your MIL and buy her a 2 week vacation to the Gaza Strip?
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [AndyPants] [ In reply to ]
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AndyPants you couldn't be more right on the money in all areas.
  1. I can't change her.
  2. Spending time with her could be a solution.
  3. I need to lighten up.

Deep Breaths. Sigh.....
Thanks!

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [Marco in BC] [ In reply to ]
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Yep, totally understandable. Thanks for the well wishes!! I know it will all work out. I just need to (like AndyPants said) LIGHTEN UP, and work at a solution rather than manage symptoms, and above all else continue to develop a bond with my girls that regardless of what type of person they encounter, they'll hold firm to what they hold as their truth/values, be open and honest with me (and I think lightening up will help this too) and be respectful to everyone. That said, I do need to lead by example and bashing my MIL on this forum isn't a very good start for me. Perhaps this should be one of the things I work on in 2009. :)

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [leslieW] [ In reply to ]
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Tell her that all of you should go shopping together. Even if you despise her, let your kids grow up to make their own opinions, and by alienating them from her you are imposing your opinion on them. At some point your kids will figure out she's crazy on their own, but will probably appreciate being able to spend time with their grandmother. It might be very painful for you to go with her (and from what it sounds like she won't accept it), but you're setting boundaries that she has to accept if she wants to spend time with them.
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [Marco in BC] [ In reply to ]
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Evidence is one thing, but going with someone's gut is another. You have some valid points but leslieW has some bad gut feelings about her MIL and in this case, I would advice to follow them. Evidence is something that you need after something bad has happened whereas a gut feeling is something that you can use to prevent something bad from happening.

And with her point of her girls' behavior after they get back from Grandma's house, that should be enough right there.

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [erichollins] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
And with her point of her girls' behavior after they get back from Grandma's house, that should be enough right there.

Leaving aside the specifics of this situation, in general what is going to happen when kids go to school and come home behaving completely differently due to teachers/classmates/classmates' families/...? In my opinion kids need to be exposed to as many different behaviors as possible and then you talk with them and explain to them why the behaviors you'd like them to have are the best ones: having kids live in a bubble is not helping them at all become well adjusted adults. I know for sure if my parents (especially my mother) hadn't been so overly protective I'd have likely grown up with a much higher social-IQ


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A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [Marco in BC] [ In reply to ]
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There's a huge difference between exposing the children to different types of behaviors from people and actively preventing them from being influenced by a negative role model, the MIL.

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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [AndyPants] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
"Sure, I'd like to come along as I need a new dress too...

Pffft - you don't own a dress!


To the OP - sorry about that. :p In the vein of being helpful, I'd suggest what a lot of others already have. A few deep breaths, strongly suggesting that you go along with them so that you spend some time together and maybe get to know her a bit better, or at least see (partially) how your kids interact with her, and continue to trust your gut re: her and your BIL. I'm all for focusing on the message rather than the way in which it was delivered, but any instincts you may have regarding the well being of your children far and away override any desire you may have to develop a better relationship with your MIL. She may or may not be completely nuts, but if her blind love for her son interferes with her ability to protect your children while they are in her care, that is a critical failure and one that cannot be tolerated.


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Re: MIL Question - Help PLEASE [erichollins] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
There's a huge difference between exposing the children to different types of behaviors from people and actively preventing them from being influenced by a negative role model, the MIL.

how are you going to prevent them from being 'influenced' once they go to school and they see how some of their peers behave? or some of their parents? or what the TV commercials say? Preventing contact is treating the symptom, to treat the root cause you need to make them not as easily influenceable, which is done by exposing them to other things/behaviors and teaching them to think critically about them.


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