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5 Weeks and counting..

Started by Sun_is_still_shining, May 09, 2011, 09:06:20 pm

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I'm happy to say things have been pretty good, with two half decent visits in the books for Easter and mother's day (both something that happened at my suggestion to DH.. I'm trying) I'm still having a hard time dealing with MIL's "yes to everything" type of grandparenting but DD doesn't see them much so I bit my tongue and let them put her in front of the babysitter (TV) like they do the second she comes in the door. I have issues with too much TV time and children. DD actually associates movies and MIL's house. Communication between MIL and I has been dismal.

I have been keeping in alot of mixed emotions about the visits and the upcoming birth since DH has been stressed out lately and I've decided to keep the in law venting to a minimum... I can't help but worry that something is going to happen in the next few weeks with the coming of the new baby.. there seems to be a trend towards crazy behaviour and important events with his DM and sisters.

Any recommendation on a good book or articles about coping with excessive family drama??  I feel like I continuously dig my own grave no matter what I do. MIL manages to turn the whole family (except FIL) agianst us (mostly me) no matter what happens, even tho it has nothing to do with SIL's at all.

Oh and is it wrong to just invite grandparents and a few young ones to a 4 year old's B-day?? I don't want to hurt any feelings but I don't see the point of inviting the SIL's, BIL's and total of 9 nieces and nephews (10+ in age) now that she's old enough to have friends at her party. and Given that I've catered to everyone for the last 3 b-days I think I should be given some slack this time around with a new baby going to be in the picture.


Sun, check out the Karpman Drama Triangle.  It helped me a lot to withdraw from the drama. 

What about coming up with a birthing plan now? 

As about the birthday, I feel ya there!  I also felt this year was a little much for the entire extended family and other children.  But, that's how they have always done things.  So I was willing to give on this -- but they shot themselves in the foot and won't be able to make it. 

I think when change happens sometimes people that are a little more emotional have a lot of trouble coping.  A lot more than normal people can understand.  That's what I get from my MIL/SIL.  It's very hard for them to accept change at face value -- it must be b/c someone hates them or that someone is a hateful person.  At the end of the day it's not about you or I at all, it's them.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


At 4 years old, DD was in JK and had her first "friends" party.  The rule of thumb is to have as many kids as the child's age, depending how ambitious you are, you can include the birthday girl in the number or not.

A craft, a couple of games, lunch / snack / cake, presents and then send them home.  The usual amount of time here is 2 hours.  Everyone will understand if pregnant-you serves store bought cake, and a fruit / veggie tray from the grocery store.

If you're feeling generous, invite the IL's for DD's actual birthday-day dinner.  If not, you have permission to beg-off this year, because of your pregnancy.

Have you read "Toxic In Laws", it's pretty good about triangulating and also with the idea of not emoting for your DH.  I also have nothing but praise for "The Dance of Anger" by Harriet Lerner.  Because the only person you can change is yourself and how you react to them.

Can I offer a suggestion?  Stop venting to DH.  Just stop it.  If you rag on the IL's to him, he will feel honour-bound to defend them.  If you rant and rage over their actions, you're not giving him a chance to feel his own emotions, because he's too busy dealing with yours.  Stop emoting for him and let him see it all with his own eyes.  If you MUST say something, don't vent in anger, draw attention to the inappropriateness of it, but with disappointment. 

Because it really is sad that your MIL chooses to spend her bonding time with your DD, by sitting her down in front of the TV.  Rest assured that this will ultimately hurt MIL more than DD.

And don't be afraid to distract DD from the TV.  I found that having my DD really helped my relationship with my IL's, because instead of sitting there listening to the ridiculous things they said, I spent my time entertaining DD.  Don't be afraid to bring things for her to do - to keep her busy.  Don't be afraid to offer a trip to the park, for anyone who wants to come.

Good luck, be strong.


May 10, 2011, 05:56:24 am #3 Last Edit: May 10, 2011, 06:05:59 am by Holly
Hi Sun.  I went back and read some of your older posts to try and answer your question.  The quoted ones I find most relate to your question here.    They're not in choronological order....
She does those things to come in between her son and his dad. They have such a wonderful relationship which is no suprise since FIL did most of the raising. MIL is jealous since DH doesn't really want much to do with her.

We randomly get a call at the end of November from MIL for a surprise visit. I really really didn't want visitors at the time, I was studying for an exam, my house was the equivalent of a pigpen, we were all still in pj's, etc. Needless to say, it was a bad time. I told her all this and still she insisted on visiting. I gave in and told her to give me an hour. .... no MIL. Oh oo. I talk to DH and he says don't worry about it, it's nothing. But I worry. The next day I get a phone call at 7:30 am. It's MIL. She sounds really chipper and asked me if she woke me. I said no and it was a normal conversation for about 5 minutes.. and then BAM cue Jekyll to Hide.. "NOW YOU LISTEN TO ME, if you want any part of this family you call me back, I'm upset and you are no longer part of this family." "Click" I just stared at my phone. I called her back right away and tried to alleviate the situation. I was told that "she should be able to visit whenever she wants, we are family and the state of my house doesn't matter, she shouldn't have to call to make an appointment, etc etc) Nothing I said made a difference. From there I was KICKED OUT of Christmas, We (DH and I) were not to come to her house, no calls from SILs. But FIL did call on Christmas to pick up my daughter to take her to see her "family". I was soo upset. I ended up agreeing to let DH go with DD because MIL threaten to leave FIL if my DD didn't come to Christmas. (She was leaving him too, but that didn't end up happening).I was pretty devastated about the whole situation.

I went to the hospital with my mom after my water broke (7 am) and found out I was only 1 cm dilated at 10am. It was going to be a long one. I get a call from my MIL. It went pretty good, so I asked her to come down later since I figured she'd have stuff to do (Call SILs, FOO, get balloons(?) idk... lol) as well as that my DH had went to work and wasn't even there yet. 6pm comes around and no MIL.. not even a call. DH was there at 12am. So I'm going through some really intense labour, when DH comes in from a call and says "Did you tell my mom not to come down to the hospital?" I was incredulous. I basically told him "What the F are you talking about???!" and he knew that I didn't do a thing. I had the baby at 4 am and none of his family had shown up. Long story short.. I find out that mom had talked to DH before me and got the same speal, "wait for me mom, come down in a bit okay?". She talks to me and then has a complete meltdown about it after we get off the phone, (didn't say anything to me while we were talking, I had no clue). Calls all his sisters and tells them all the we want nothing to do with any of his family and no one was welcome at the hospital. WTF? All because we told her to come later?? Needless to say, this sparked a feud. One SIL didn't talk to me for a year,

then FIL stopped by to see if we could work things out. He suggested a family meeting with the SILs and MILs. I agreed only to do it with MIL, DH and FIL. For the most part it ended up being pretty fruitless. I basically did most of the talking, about boundaries and respect, and MIL just sat there with a smug look on her face, only apologised when DH demanded that it was the least she could do, and it was very insincere. I felt like I was bashing my head on the wall. They basically say it's over the fact that we don't visit enough (DH's fault mostly) and that they want to be more closer of a family. (We've never skipped out on any family event, ever.) I was still feeling pretty sore about it, so when I ran into my MIL at the mall a few days later, I didn't really feel like coming over that night. I politely told her DH didn't mention any thing about visiting and said we will see. Now she won't talk to me and has come into my work twice and won't even say hi, even though I tried to talk to her.

my MIL has in 4 years of my DD being born, never called to take her, never invited us to supper, randomly shows up and never leaves, doesn't take DD by herself (always has at least one of her 9 GK to entertain her), doesn't respect me or my DH, thinks her way is the only way...Yet complains that we never visit (which we do.. once a month or so.. not really alot i know..) that my DD doesn't know "her family", yet no one calls us or really visits.. which is fine by us.. and always involves the SILs with everything

I was told by MIL that "they" (I'm still not sure who "they" are to be exact.. ) think DH and I aren't social enough at family gatherings and that we don't get around to everyone enough... huh?? Who watches people like that?? Can't you just enjoy being together instead of picking people apart??


I think its no coincidence that people choose times of upheaval to show their  worst behavior, I just haven't figured out why, yet.

There is no law that says you have to have a party if you aren't feeling up to it. Lots of kids I know just get a dinner, cake and some gifts. Low-key and they still enjoy it.

You do what is right for you...if a small part without the uproar is what works, then go for it.


Based on how you describe the dynamic above, it sounds like your MIL has had issues with your DH that precede you.  It sounds like she has trouble getting his attention, and has come to find that interacting with you in a certain way gets her that attention.  She also sounds very emotionally unstable and highly manipulative.  In my opinion, the woman you describe is an Emotional Abuser.  None of this has anything at all to do with you.

When you communicate with MIL, you end up feeling like things are your fault, because you are the one doing the communicating.  I suggest that your DH make and take the phone calls with MIL. 

It's not wrong to invite grandparents and young children to a young child's birthday party.  Its perfectly appropriate.  But if your MIL will wants you to host a party for 16 others, yes, she will be upset that you don't.  You can't control how upset MIL gets.  Threats, insults, false accusations are likely.  You can, however, control how you react.  You can give in and host 16 others, and then accept she will still be upset. You will be accused of not socializing enough, or of being unwelcoming because you didn't invite them in the right order.  Or you can decide to keep you guest list, invite her and maybe she will attend, quite possibly she won't.  And, yes, she will be upset. I don't think it's at all possible for you to be able to do what you want, without upsetting her.  Can you accept that your MIL gets upset no matter what?

When someone responds to "give me an hour to get dressed and get the house together" with a Christmas ban, you can be sure they will find something wrong in everything, no matter what you do.  When someone hears "come down later on" as "you and your family are never welcome here again" there is nothing you can do.  When someone demands your child come over without you on a holiday, and threatens to leave her own husband if you don't comply, that is Emotional Blackmail, and there is no logic and no limit.  It is absolutely ABUSIVE behavior.

I think for your own peace of mind, the best thing you can do is detach .  You must become able to see yourself as separate from her.  Learn to truly understand that your actions and her actions are not  a result of "cause and effect."   Your MIL "acts" how she wishes.  She can and will phrase what you said or did or looked as a "reason" for her action, but no matter what you said and how you did it, her action would be the same .  Her goal appears to be to get more attention from your DH, and others.  She has found that by positioning herself as "victim" she gets attention, and power.  It works for her.  She will continue doing it.

As for the SILs who go years without speaking to you at MIL's behest?  They are likely potential victims of her abuse as well. They target you as they try to avoid the wrath of being the Target.  Abusers need targets, and they know if it's not you, it's one of them.  I've seen using others to also abuse you, referred to as "abuse by proxy."

Abusive dynamics are sometimes easier to understand when it's physical. A man who physically abuses his wife will always have a "reason."  He tells her,  it's because she served the dinner late. So she makes sure she always to have it on the table at 5.  Then its because the dog left a mess in the yard.  So she always cleans the yard before he gets home.  Then its because she didn't answer the phone by the third ring.   He feels so good after he abuses her, he expects her to feel good too.  The honeymoon phase of the abuse cycle.  Everything is right with the world again. Anyone reading this except his Target can see that he abuses only because he is an abuser. His wife will never be "good" enough to stop him from being what he is, an abuser.   But you can bet until the day she makes the choice to leave the abuse, and remove herself as Target, she'll knock herself out trying to reach "if only I didn't...then he wouldn't...".

If you can truly accept, in your heart and mind, that someone else will use the idea of "you" and "your words" and "your party" and "your childbirth" as an opportunity to get attention and power, independent of authentic you (and your words, actions, party, pregnancy, etc.) then you may be able to find peace.  Her abusive actions and blame game come from within her.  It is not from you.  As long as you believe there is something you can do to prevent her from being her, you will drive yourself crazy.  Let go of applying rationality when dealing with the irrational.  Accept that MIL will do what MIL will do, and it doesn't matter what time you get the dinner on the table.

If you detach, and do not seek her approval, or the love and apprroval of her proxies, then its theoretically possible for them to act how she wishes without it hurting you.  Detachment takes time and practice.  Its hard not to care about what family "thinks" of you! But if you want to spend time with family who will abuse you, I don't know of any other way to do it and minimize the damage.

The use of bold type within in this post is not to yell, but because there are so many words to make it easier to read the important points.  If using them in this sense offends anyone or the moderators, it was not meant to, and please feel free to remove them.  Thank you.


We always followed the age/guest 1:1 ratio too, and it worked out well. I never enjoyed attending those extravaganzas where the birithday kid gets lost in the chaos of grownups and big cousins; painful to witness, for sure.

The b-day kid wants to play with new toys, eat a bit of child-oriented food and blow out candles. That's about it. If no guests are invited it is still a special day.

Sun, it does sound as if you're dealing with a forceful, self-involved MIL who is going to continue to lose out if she keeps it up. When she understands that her methods no longer work perhaps she'll back off with the unreasonable demands.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


At 4 years old (pre-kinder or pre-school age) most of my friends and my siblings put in a 'kids only' rule, for various reasons. But that seems to be the appropriate age.

Grandparents, parents and kids. Some of my friends did no adults at all except mom and dad and a room of kiddies, with maybe one other parent to help out depending on the size of the group.

Your kid, you decide how they spend their birthday.


I would be honest and upfront about it.  Invite her, but tell her that you are having a birthday party this year with just DD's friends and grandparents.  Plain and simple.  If she gets upset and starts ranting, reaffirm that the party this year will only be for DD's age appropriate friends and grandparents.  If she keeps going, ask her nicely "So shall I count you in or not?"  Stand firm.  You can be polite without being condescending, and you can hold your ground without being rude.  She may perceive it as rudeness, but that's her problem.  I am a firm believer in honesty and consistency.  I think if you use those two things all the time, along with politeness, people eventually learn where you stand.  They don't have to like it, but they will learn.  And if they don't?  What have you lost?

Also, I applaud you for being flexible with the TV thing.  I am also a very flexible person and I will give in on things that really don't matter to much to the grand scheme of things.  I think I said before, my house desserts or snacks if you didn't eat some dinner first.  My ex MIL house a whole bar of chocolate for dinner if that's what you want.  So they associated visits with Nanny meant getting to eat all kinds of junk.  They also knew not to try it at home.   ;D   There is nothing wrong with that at all.  It gave them something to look forward to at Nanny's and it made her feel like she was getting to spoil them.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


pam1: I'll make sure to check out that Triangle Drama you suggested.

Scoop & Pen: That was exactly the birthday plan I was thinking of. Just a few friends (4) and giving the inlaws the option of coming over either for dinner or during the party I guess. I can't see them wanting to come over when I have all the ruckus going on. I have heard of Toxic Inlaws and I'm going to check and see if the local library carries it. I'll check for the Dance of Anger as well. I definately agree about trying to leave DH out of it, I've really been trying to keep it to myself.. it's just hard. He doesn't even really like his mom and will admit to it but he doesn't cope well and doesn't like talking about his family problems. He gets more pissed at the fact that we are even wasting time talking about it. I think I'll need to take a page out of his book I guess. In my defense, he doesn't get the kind of flack I do. I'll just have to remove the target off my back.

Holly: Being a bit of an introvert, I get way more out having a few people over and my DH is the same way. It's hard when someone continuously is unhappy and causes massive amounts of drama over differences in personality and values. I know when I was a child we always had a few friends over and just my one aunt (mom's sister) and her kids (whom we were practically siblings with since we were so close in age). It was always a blast. (My mom and dad each have 3 siblings and quite a few nieces and nephews)

I have a little 2nd cousin who has these massive parties (in excess of 20+ kids!! not even counting the parents) and gets more presents then what she ever even use. My cousin's (her father) basement is full of toys his daughter has never even touched.  And you know what the sad part is? She's never happy about what she gets and just keeps asking for the next present.. 38 that year...   :o it's really sad what some people consider acceptable in regards to birthdays. Massive overkill is what I would call it only because in the end my little cousin doesn't even seem to enjoy herself and is one of the most spoiled brats you'd ever meet.

Sassy: You've really blown me away with the analysis of my relationship with my MIL. Ever considered a career in Psychology??? :)  I really do have to get it through my head that she's going to react the same way no matter what I say or do.. It's just really hard to deal with someone who is never happy. And unfortunately, our relationship has gotten worse since DD has come around. One time when DD was really young ( about 9mons), we brought her to a party that his cousin threw. DD was colicky for almost a year and had really bad stranger anxiety so this party ended up being something very tramatizing for her.. (I'll be honest I didn't take her out too much, it was really hard to do.. so I might have added to it that way, but it's not usual for babies to go through periods of stranger anxiety). Well MIL had a fit since all the other younger ones did really well, and accused me of keeping the baby from her family and that's why she's crying since she didn't know anyone. DD was really upset and I was trying to calm her down, but MIL kept jumping up into her face and baby talking her, which only fed the fuel and made her cry harder. After 5 more minutes of unsuccessful attempts to calm down DD, I left the room to try and get some quiet time and sure enough she calmed down once we got away from all the commotion and was fine for the rest of the party. Well MIL ignored us for the whole night after that, wouldn't acknowledge us when we left and phoned me to freak out about how I took the baby away from her the next day... Oy.

" Accept that MIL will do what MIL will do, and it doesn't matter what time you get the dinner on the table. " <--I LOVE THIS!

P.S- I like the bold. Emphasis!! :)

Pooh and Alohomora - I'm going to go ahead with the plan of just grandparents, and kiddy friends and see what happens. I really don't know why I'm so worried about her having a fit (potentially causing more rifts between us and other family members) I mean if they can't see whats infront of their faces and have their own opinion on it, well I certainly can't do anything about it.

I think I just really need to stick to my guns and go for the glory. I've been pretty stressed out about events that are supposed to be happy and enjoyable. As parents I think we should be able to do things without being harassed everystep of the way by over the way we do it. I know the biggests issue my MIL has is that my mom is such a huge part of our life and that given her current behaviour, as well as major personality differences, she isn't. I think because SILs hang off her and let her do whatever she wants she feels we should allow her to do the same with us. Well her behaviour is NOT acceptable to us. 

A quick comparsion of mom and MIL on DH's birthday this year. MIL - Not even a phone call to wish him happy birthday. MOM - took us all out for dinner, entertained DD while we ate, paid for the meal (WE TOLD HER NO a million times but she took the cheque and paid anyway), bought him a card and gave him a gas gift card, a big hug and kiss. My mom just loves DH and make sure he knows it too. I really don't expect anything out of MIL either, but even a happy birthday voice message would have been nice... it is her son.. I know it's not good to compare but I find the proof is in peoples actions.


Quote from: Sun_is_still_shining on May 10, 2011, 04:36:57 pm
Holly: Being a bit of an introvert, I get way more out having a few people over and my DH is the same way. It's hard when someone continuously is unhappy and causes massive amounts of drama over differences in personality and values.

I feel the exact same way!


It's too bad certain other people can't agree with us..