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Problem Solving => Daughter in Laws and/or Son in Laws => Topic started by: stilltrying2010 on December 15, 2011, 08:10:37 AM

Title: i am lost...
Post by: stilltrying2010 on December 15, 2011, 08:10:37 AM
i am feeling so lost recently... I am unsure where to go from here.  I am feeling so very sad.  I know that my DH family could give or take me.  I feel I am nothing unless they need something my DH isn't doing (info, to twist his arm, etc).  MIL openly speaks poorly about other DIL & all her brother's wives... if you didn't know better you would think these non-bio family members didn't exist. 

I could go on and on about petty twists, digs, thoughtlessness but it seems just that so petty.  I am trying to take the high road but it seems that this means I am left out of the loop when it comes to our DD.  I extend an olive branch & MIL takes the whole tree.  I am trying to cope with not having control but as her parent, shouldn't I have some control?  I am feeling incredible sad & selfish like I am putting my hurt feelings above my daughters relationship with my husbands family.  Although I am sure they love her in their family's way, they make no contact with her throughout the year except at gift giving / holiday time.  We dint want her to associate relatives with presents.  My husband has a strained relationship with his mom and virtually none with his sister (who is the favorite).  So when they (in MY opinion) overstep their bounds, take liberties without consulting us (the parents) I am filled with anger. 

SO between thanksgiving & Christmas there have been numerous incidents but the holiday season will culminate with us visiting (over new years).  I need a mantra to repeat over to calm myself and refocus - I need to accept that nothing they do physically harms my child (there is some emotional baggage, favoritism that deeply bothers me coming from MIL) but I am not sure what to do.  Currently I am infuriated, vent to my DH, and them swallow it.  Its not working for me!!!

I am so sad and tired of this.  I know that *I* have to change. I want to. I want to release this burden... I cant handle feeling this way and yet so far I have not been able to let it go.  I understand the concept but cant seem to put it into practice...     
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: pam1 on December 15, 2011, 08:16:24 AM
Big Hugs, StillTrying.  I think a lot of us struggle with similar feelings here, no matter what side of the fence we're on.  It stinks.  The things that help me are to take my mind off of it, watch funny things, read books.  I love youtube, so many funny videos there.

On another note, as a parent you and DH do have the right to determine what is acceptable to bring into your daughters life.  From what I gather, you do not find it acceptable.  IMO, you have every right to change the dynamic to protect yourself and family.  Whatever it takes, peace is underrated.
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Scoop on December 15, 2011, 08:40:33 AM
I understand the "death by a thousand papercuts" aspect.  I know that my MIL is an expert at skirting "the line", she would never cross it to an extent that she would warrant a cut-off and thus *I* have to put up with her.

You and DH are the final authority over your child.  If you don't like something, then remove yourself and your child from the situation.  Say "no" and mean it.  Be prepared to leave if things go south.  (That means that you have to have a PLAN, so, make sure you have keys and cash and you don't spread your stuff out to much when you're there.)  Be prepared to leave ON YOUR OWN if your DH doesn't want to.  In fact, I would recommend having a code word that means that YOUR personal comfort zone has been breached beyond measure and he'd better hop up and start packing because YOU and DD are leaving.

What particularly are you worried about?  If you give us examples, we can give you suggestions on ways to 'manage' the particular situation.

Other than that, you'll have to detach.  So they become "holiday" GP's. So what?  If that's all they want, that's all they'll get, and they will be the ones missing out, because that's not how meaningful relationships are forged.
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Doe on December 15, 2011, 08:42:48 AM
Hi Stilltrying -

This may seem counterintuitive but maybe the MIL isn't the problem.  Have you considered starting over, and working from the inside out?

Simple things, like eating well, taking care of you body, getting out into the sunlight (especially this time of year), going for walks and keeping a look out for beauty and kindness can have a profound effect on a life.  I have a feeling this thing with your MIL is more a matter of perspective than anything else.
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: luise.volta on December 15, 2011, 08:53:09 AM
For me, it's focus. Where I put it is where my life plays out. It's pretty much what others have said here. We all have things and people that don't work for us. Things and people we don't like. There's no way around it…and if we focus there, we make things worse and add to our unhappiness. Not a good plan. Sending love...
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: stilltrying2010 on December 15, 2011, 09:26:37 AM
pam1 I really needed to hear
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you have every right to change the dynamic to protect yourself and family.  Whatever it takes, peace is underrated
Scoop I literally just called a friend and unsed the EXACT phrase Death by a thousand papercuts... funny. Specifically for the upcoming visit MIL will exclude stepsiblings/their kids (who she raised & who she calls her grandchildren and maintain a relationship with us).  Her fav grandson(10) will be at all times pushed with our DD (6).  SHe will encourage them to play together & pump in only about these grandkids into my DDs head (Are you still taking dance? Well Jane takes dance blahblahblah about Jane, only asking my DD to introduce the topic but never TALKING getting to KNOW our DD.  Negative comments/comparisons about other grandkids in front of our DD.  Having cousins spend the night (last time wanted our DD then 4 1/2 to share bed with 8yrd old boy cousin, umm NO, she doesnt know him, opposite sex, not happening). Not having our kids all over their FB pages.

I guess I have no experience with "holiday GPs" (never thought of it like that, a helpful perspective).  I feel like we perpetuate a facade that its a close family when really talking only at holidays is not close.  It angers me that instead of trying to know our kids she would, imo, fake it; shower them with gifts, feed them favorite junk foods but that is all

Doe - You are SPOT ON with your suggestion.  And I actually agree that this thing with MIL is a matter of perspective. After years of experience I no longer wait to be sucked into her negative orbit I throw myself in!  I feel as though I am desperately trying to get her to like/accept/acknowledge me thus bending over backwards, trying to anticipate & account for her feelings only to get nothing in return.   I have to stop trying to get these from her as she is never going to give them.  I understand that she is indifferent towards me unless she needs something from me.  I can't just offer up my children to someone who disregards me...  is this selfish?  I give her consideration yet she offers none of the same courtesy... I don't want to punish her by withholding our kids but I don't want her to hurt them either.  I know I can't protect our kids from life's hurts but I don't want to subject intentionally them to them either... 

Thank you all so much for replying - I have gone from crying to thinking...
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: stilltrying2010 on December 15, 2011, 09:29:44 AM
Just saw your post Luise & that grabs me - I am focusing there. Hmmm..
carry off holidays with them without focusing there.

Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Pooh on December 15, 2011, 09:44:27 AM
My question would be why are you going to visit this holiday?  Is it because DH wants to see his M and family?  Is it because you want DD to see them?  Or is it because you want to pacify MIL?  I think knowing why you are going with everything you shared, DH's strained relationship, how she makes you feel and how she treats DD, would help me understand why you are even going?
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Doe on December 15, 2011, 09:48:47 AM
You know, my mom died when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. My DH only had his mom left and she was lost to dementia not long after #2 was born so my dad was the only GP that my kids had.

I was in an alternating state of fury and hurt as I saw him ignore my kids and fly over me to visit my sister and her son.  But every year, I drove 1000+ miles to see him because I wanted them to have had a GP experience.  I finally had my epiphany that helped me give it up (the fury/hurt) and just accept the situation for what it was.   He did come through with BD and Xmas gifts for them.

I'm telling you this because my sons are grown and they haven't suffered from the lack of an involved GP.  They write to him about once/yr.  DS invited him to a wedding (which he didn't go to, but then went to the cousin's wedding).  They found other adults in their lives besides DH and me who loved them and thought they were wonderful.

What I'm trying to say is that  all  this matters but it also doesn't have to matter.  If you can concentrate on making each day happy for yourself and DD and DH, you'll look back on a life well lived.  If you pour your attention into this bollix with your inlaws, I think you'll be more and more miserable. 
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: stilltrying2010 on December 15, 2011, 09:56:05 AM
I actually asked DH to go to their area.  We live far away from both FOOs but they live an hour apart so when we go we see both.  I have 3 grandparents (95, 86 & 85) that we havnt seen in almost 2 yrs & we have a 6 mos old baby (who is taking a nap now).  We always split the time btwn both sides. 

THank you DOe for sharing that... I am still caught up inthe hurt.  We have lots of non-family invovled withour kids.  I almost wish they would be in or out versus just trying to take center stage at holidays/events.  That is the crux of my anger.  Nothing from them but then BAM Oh we love you then nothing... 
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Pooh on December 15, 2011, 10:49:55 AM
I always drew the line where my kids were involved.  That's a biggie for me.  I didn't like my MIL, she didn't like me, but yet...she was good to my kids, so I took them all the time to see her.  I learned to let go of her drama and just nod alot.  If she was saying hurtful things in front of the kids or ignoring them when we were there, I wouldn't have went and told my DH he could go see her but we were going somewhere else. 

I respect the fact you are trying to keep DD in contact with her.  This doesn't have anything to do with a title to me.  If anyone was rude or hurtful to my kids, they wouldn't be around them.  What's the old saying, "I can say what I want about my kids, you can say what you want about me, but you don't get to say anything about my kids?"
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Sassy on December 15, 2011, 11:02:46 AM
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I guess I have no experience with "holiday GPs" (never thought of it like that, a helpful perspective).  I feel like we perpetuate a facade that its a close family when really talking only at holidays is not close.  It angers me that instead of trying to know our kids she would, imo, fake it; shower them with gifts, feed them favorite junk foods but that is all

I almost wish they would be in or out versus just trying to take center stage at holidays/events.  That is the crux of my anger.  Nothing from them but then BAM Oh we love you then nothing... 


People give what they have to give.  It seems to me that your MIL gives your child exactly what it is she has to give her.  I know you want more from MIL for your DD, but as I see it, MIL doesn't have it to give.   

It sure would be handy at times, if we could determine how much other people should give, what they should talk about, how much affection they express, when they express it.  But I think life would also get boring fast, if we were supposed to give other people scripts and just have them follow it.   

I like the term "holiday grandparents" for perspective, too.  And you know what else?  I don't think it's bad for DD to have holiday grandparents.  I think it's just fine.  Her grandparents live far away.  DD doesn't miss what she never had with them. Holiday grandparents create fun memories, too.  Different than the kind of memories your FOO create with her, but with the cousins around and presents, I would bet just about anything that they're still good memories for her.

I also don't think you're putting on the facade of a close family.  I think you're partaking in exactly the kind of family holiday celebration DH's FOO has.  It is what it is. A holiday celebration with family. It's not a facade of something else.

Just offering some perspective, in the spirit of support.  Acceptance of what is, and not comparing what is to what I wish it was, has helped me tremendously.
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Scoop on December 15, 2011, 11:15:08 AM
Sassy - I was going to say the same thing, that MIL doesn't have it IN her to give.  But then I realized, she DOES have it in her to give to SIL's kids.  It's not obvious to DD now, but it may become obvious that the OTHER cousins are the favourites.

StillTrying -  if you can't confront MIL about this, then you might have to put more distance between you.

I can also relate the fact that YOU're making an effort to visit them, when you could be spending that time with your loving, extended family, that you don't get to see very often, AND they're jerks.

Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Sassy on December 15, 2011, 01:54:22 PM
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Sassy - I was going to say the same thing, that MIL doesn't have it IN her to give.  But then I realized, she DOES have it in her to give to SIL's kids.  It's not obvious to DD now, but it may become obvious that the OTHER cousins are the favourites.

But it's still not in MIL to give.  For whatever the reason.  If MIL is closer to SIL than she is to DH, that would make a lot of sense why she has it in her to give more to them.  If the cousins live closer than DD, that would make sense, too.  I'm thinking MIL probably knows the cousins a lot better than she knows DD. 

I really do understand your concern about DD observing the others are "favorites."  It is certainly possible that DD may observe that others get more attention from one person during the once a year holiday party.  She may possibly observe that others get less attention than her (the stepchildren).  Will she care?  What do you imagine DD will actually want from that lady that she sees about once a year in a busy group setting.  Close conversation?  Lots of attention from some lady? I'm thinking DD will hope for presents, food, and not to be held up too long answering rote questions to keep her from playing with her cousins. 

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We don't want her to associate relatives with presents .

DD won't associate all relatives with presents.  There's lots of other people in her life to balance that picture out.  She will associate the holiday lady who all she gives is presents, with presents. 

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They make no contact with her throughout the year except at gift giving / holiday time. 


Will someone at this level of noninvolvement in DD's life cause damage or suffering to DD?  I trying to think of ways this could harm DD, and I am at a loss. 

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I am feeling incredible sad & selfish like I am putting my hurt feelings above my daughters relationship with my husbands family.

Maybe there's some wisdom in this.  Maybe the hurt feelings you do have, you think DD will have?  Despite the high probablity that DD's expectations for the "holiday grandparent" are not going to be anywhere close to what your expectations are for "loving and attentive grandmother".

I love Doe's story.  It's very sad for her.   But it is also one of acceptance and peace. And it shows how our own pain can become sort of projected by our fears for someone else's pain.  Her children did not suffer what she did.  She suffered for her children as a way of suffering for herself.  But her boys did not suffer.

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My husband has a strained relationship with his mom and virtually none with his sister (who is the favorite). 


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I actually asked DH to go to their area.

I think this explains a lot of the problems with MIL:  DH has a strained relationship with his mom.  I don't think you having a better relationship with his parents than he has seems likely.  There's nothing solid for you to build on as a DIL.  DH doesn't initiate visits with his parents.  Maybe following his cues would be helpful for you.

 

Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Sassy on December 15, 2011, 02:24:27 PM
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I extend an olive branch & MIL takes the whole tree.

I am trying to cope with not having control but as her parent, shouldn't I have some control?

So when they (in MY opinion) overstep their bounds, take liberties without consulting us (the parents) I am filled with anger.

I am not trying to parse the post, as this is not what this site is about.  But there's a few different things going on, in a few different posts, so I'm using what was said to show where I'm coming from.

I'm not clear what other liberties, or whole trees, MIL's tried to take.  But I do know the few I saw mentioned, have opportunities where limits can be set so they're simply not taken.   That might help in feeling more secure.  And way less angry.

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Not having our kids all over their FB pages.

Nicely ask them to remove them and not put them up in the future.  If they won't remove them, upon request FB will remove photos of minors posted without their parents permission.

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Having cousins spend the night (last time wanted our DD then 4 1/2 to share bed with 8yrd old boy cousin, umm NO, she doesnt know him, opposite sex, not happening)

As a guest at someone's house, if she want to host other guests while you're planning to stay there too, this gets tricky.  To tell a host who else she may or may not have overnight, is not a guests place.  However, your place is to choose where you and your DD sleep.  So if you had accepted an invitation to stay overnight at MIL's, and later learned the accomodations are no longer what you thought they were, (no private beds, for example) then you may cheerfully give up your bed for her other guests, and brightly let them know you're staying at a local hotel instead.  Ask MIL if she'd like to join you for breakfast, upon which she may invite you to join her breakfast at her house instead.   

Perhaps there's a fear to set these kinds of limits, because by doing so, MIL will be even less pleased.   But...you are in control.  You do have a choice, and it's all yours to make. You can choose to maintain your limits, with kindness and dignity.  Or you can choose to bend or break some of them, as you wish. Perhaps in the hopes of gaining a bit more of MIL's ever-elusive approval?  But it's important not to lose sight of the simple fact that you do have total and complete control over what you choose

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I feel as though I am desperately trying to get her to like/accept/acknowledge me thus bending over backwards, trying to anticipate & account for her feelings only to get nothing in return.

I heard a therapist say this last night on a reality show and I wrote it down: People have control over you, when you crave a response from them.
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: sesamejane on December 15, 2011, 03:31:36 PM
hi stilltrying,

Everyone has met the challenge I  think in giving advice.  Lots of good stuff here. 

I would just like to add that it sounds as if MIL is predictable.  Given this, as someone said, make plans a, b, and c for possible contingencies.  I would include considering making different plans next year if you get unsatisfactory results this year.  In other words, it may be worth having a different sort of holiday season next year  that do not include, or include minimally, MIL, et al.  Radical...

But don't forget to breathe and bask in the sunshine as suggested.  Very important for  a young mother.  Good wishes, SJ

Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: pam1 on December 15, 2011, 04:48:14 PM

I think this explains a lot of the problems with MIL:  DH has a strained relationship with his mom.  I don't think you having a better relationship with his parents than he has seems likely.  There's nothing solid for you to build on as a DIL.  DH doesn't initiate visits with his parents.  Maybe following his cues would be helpful for you.

 

Very, very good point.  There's probably a very good reason why DH does not have an ideal relationship with his Mom, trust him and his however many years of dealing with her. 
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: stilltrying2010 on December 19, 2011, 07:02:49 AM
Just wanted to thank you all for responding/sharing.  Some were difficult to read & I initially wanted to defend my point of view and not see the message as helping me to see the otherside.  It really helped me to better examine MY ROLE in this.   I have heard "let it go" a thousand times before and always said I want to but I just can't seem to do it... I have felt lighter in spirits and as though I have reached a new level of understanding, that all my thoughts & suppositions are just that, mine.  Let it go and just focus on us.  At this moment it seems ridiculously easy...
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Doe on December 19, 2011, 07:43:03 AM
ST2010-

Glad to hear your spirits are higher. 

I just re-read your original post where you said something like the non-bio family members were treated as if they didn't exist.

My FOO didn't accept the first few spouses of my siblings - none of them.   When I married, I had already moved far away so our rare visits seemed to be appreciated.  My DF didn't accept DH really but my DH just recognized the situation for what it was.  He was always polite to my dad and handed the phone over to me for conversations.  He didn't really bother with it but when he did, he seemed faintly amused by the whole situation.  He was too busy creating our happy family and a little business to support us. Things seemed to change when my mom died and DF went searching for happiness with other wives.

Anyway, just another anecdote to reinforce that it's really about how you choose to deal with the situation.
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: luise.volta on December 19, 2011, 01:09:02 PM
That's because you're really StillTrying! Good for you!
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: JudyJudyJudy on December 30, 2011, 10:31:04 PM
StillTrying,

My daughter and I have problems getting along and she will not allow me to see my grandson because I do not like her.  She's not a nice person but I do love my grandson.  So, now she is acting like "well, if you don't put up with my so-called abuse, then you cannot see your grandson either" so my grandson cannot be with someone he loves dearly and who loves him dearly in return.  So, I as her mother expect her to get over herself and think about what is best for her child but that does not seem to be happening.  As a result of her using my grandson as hostage, I like her even less.

Not every situation is the same, but this is how I feel about not being able to see someone I love because there are problems with other family members that have nothing to do with me and the baby.  Also, if I do not see my grandson while he is still young, then one day when he is grown I probably will see him again.  Then, when he gets to know me, he will probably not think much of his mother either for not allowing me to be part of his life.
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: luise.volta on December 31, 2011, 10:51:12 AM
We can have expectations. I doubt if there is one of us who doesn't. The hard thing is to get that they are ours. Sending love...
Title: Re: i am lost...
Post by: Beth 2011 on December 31, 2011, 02:56:05 PM
Dear I am lost,

Too bad you didn't meet up with my DS....wish I could see my GC all through the year....every week..... whenever possible.... for no other reason than the fact that he is my GC.  I wish you peace and happiness with your family and MIL.  Ms. Luise has created a wonderful place for everyone to gather and learn from each other.  Just hang in there.