Author Topic: MIL and comparisons  (Read 3991 times)

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Offline stilltrying2010

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MIL and comparisons
« on: May 13, 2011, 06:13:48 AM »
My MIL is CONSTANTLY making comparisons between the grandchildren. No other grandchild can be complimented without her retorting with a comment about her daughters children (I call her GSIL for golden sisterinlaw).  Truthfully, MIL doesn't even ASK about our DD (literally have had entire conversations without her even mentioning our DD) just talks about the accomplishments of GSILs kids, who are smart & talented kids). Step SILs kids are occasionally mentioned & StepBILs kids are criticized (along with their parents).

MIL intends to visit us when 2nd baby is born, she has been playing nice the past week (baby is coming in 2 weeks!) For example, she asked when our DD (age 5) was going to have her dance recital & what dances they were doing. I answered. She replied as to what GSIL's DD (14) was doing & for her dance recital.  I know this reads as if MIL is just making conversation.  However, it is EVERY time a gc is spoken of (outside of GSILs kids).  Everything comes back to GSILs kids, who are nice & well accomplished but we never speak to them, even though we send the occasional email & all appropriate gifts. MY DH has not in the 9 yrs I've known him had any close relationship with his sister, infact he seems to dislike her.  My MIL is very involved in GSILs children's lives and is a wonderful grandparent to them. The rest apparently are second rate.

MY question is this - what is the proper thing for me to do when MIL replies to a statement/compliment/accomplishment about our DD (or other GC) with a statement about GSILs kids? Is she aware she is doing it? I don't think my pointing it out will change what she does. Regardless if it is about OUR dd, it diminishes the others accomplishments.  I am NOT exaggerating to say that MIL does this EVERY time.  Additionally, our older child will be 5 1/2 and I feel uncomfortable with MILs ability to control her "Your cousin conversation" with our DD.   

Does anyone have some rehearsed line that would be appropriate so that she stopped doing it or other way to look at it?  I have tried ignoring it.  Repeatedly complimenting the "other gc" although this backfired since MIL always gets the last word in and will just continue on and on  and on. . 

Any advise is appreciated.

Offline Pooh

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2011, 06:19:52 AM »
How about if every time you said, "I'm sorry.  I must have misunderstood.  I thought we were talking about DD?"  (or new baby).  Maybe after doing that a few times she would get the hint?

Sorry, that's the best I could come up with, having not been in this situation.

I also want to say congratulations and I wish you the best of luck.  2 weeks!  Yay yay yay!
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline themuffin

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2011, 07:03:49 AM »
Geesh,  That would kinda get under my skin.  I think I would just flat out tell her about it. 

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Sassy

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2011, 07:04:49 AM »
Part of this might be because she knows you are not in regular touch with the others, and thinks she is sharing news.  I know what you mean about it sounding like a regular female type conversation.  The I say this, then you say your version of the same topic, to relate.  But when it happens all the time, it becomes like the other person doesn't want to share their thoughts on what you just said, or learn more, just to tell their own story on the topic.

Would you be okay being honest with her?  When she does it, to say something like  "I feel like you may be making a comparison between grandchildren."   Or observe "The children are all so different from each other, I don't know if making comparisons is fair."  If you do this consistently, she may begin to catch herself.  As you said, this will become important for her to think about before talking to your DD5.



holliberri

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2011, 07:12:03 AM »
StillTrying,

I just got done an adoption workshop on comparisons between biological children and adopted children. Many GPs very innocently make these comparisons often, but they need to be dealt with nicely b/c children overhear them.

If she is just making conversation about the other cousins ("Other GD just did that too!") it's probably not a big deal. My MIL talks so much about her other grandchild when we're around and it is because we never see BIL or his son (different continents and airfare is outrageous). I would just put up with that, I think it is conversation. If it goes on too long, Pooh's response would probably work well!

Once she starts one-upping the accomplishments of one child versus another, it warrants stepping in because children overhear it (just as you said) and it shapes their thoughts about themselves. For example, if you're saying what good grades DD got...and MIL says, "Other GD is smart...she did XYZ," all you need to say is "DD is very smart." Your child will hear it out of your mouth as a factual statement. If MIL does something awful with that statement and says "not as smart as other GD..." you need to step it up and say "she's as smart in my book, and comparisons aren't necessary."

If your child does overhear this, have a conversation with her about it. Let her know that people outside yoru family say things that might not be true, and you'll handle them as a family together.

Good luck with the new baby! Very excited for you!

Sassy

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2011, 07:12:48 AM »
I like Pooh's response!  It could also be phrased as a question "Would you prefer to talk about GD14 now, instead of DD5?"

I doubt MIL is conscious she does this, or at least is probably unaware of how it sounds to the other person.  Gently sharing your observation of what she just did with her, every time (since it happens all the time) is a way of bringing attention to it without being defensive or controlling.

misunderstood

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2011, 07:16:13 AM »
  When she does it, to say something like  "I feel like you may be making a comparison between grandchildren."   Or observe "The children are all so different from each other, I don't know if making comparisons is fair."  If you do this consistently, she may begin to catch herself.  As you said, this will become important for her to think about before talking to your DD5.

Yes I totally agree with Sassy.  She may not be aware she is doing it, perhaps she is soo involved with GSIL's children that she doesn't have much else to talk about.  Hopefully is she is reminded that each child is an individual and all have good points and it certsinly isn't a competition, she'll stop or at least cut down.

LaurieS

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2011, 07:23:31 AM »
The I say this, then you say your version of the same topic, to relate.  But when it happens all the time, it becomes like the other person doesn't want to share their thoughts on what you just said, or learn more, just to tell their own story on the topic.

I agree that this is probably the case, and it's most likely not deliberate.  Your MIl may be taken back a little if you do bring this to the forefront but unless you do your resentment will grown and yes this may spill over to the way grandma directly communicates with her other grandchildren.

My own in-laws have done this when speaking with our children and I really think that they did so because they struggled to show the kids that they could relate to what they were doing.  With us it was my dd playing ball and her cousin showing horses, not that one was ever better.  This in their eyes kept the distant family a part of the everyday life of the younger cousins.  In our case all this was based on love not a need to compete... I'm glad I could see the difference or there could have been so much more stress.

Offline Scoop

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2011, 07:42:56 AM »
I think it depends on the way the comparison is made.

For example, if it's drawing a link between the 2 GK's (like the dancing), I don't see it as a big problem.  You can say "So that means we have 2 excellent dancers in our family!"

If it's more of a way of pointing out that cousin does "more", then you can point out that DD is 9 years younger and she's doing great in her age group.

If it's a pointed dig at DD "Well, at least Cousin eats all of HER vegetables!" and "Cousin is so much calmer than DD."  Then you can go into full on defensive mode.   "MIL, are you TRYING to make DD feel less worthy, because she doesn't eat as many vegetables as Cousin?  You know, there's no Nobel Prize in Vegetable Eating right? In 20 years, it won't matter who ate their vegetables, but hurtful words from your own Grandmother, can live with you a long time."

Then you can pull out this one:

"We're not talking about the INTENT of your words.  We're talking about the RESULT of your words.  When you constantly praise Cousin, and offer NO PRAISE to DD, it hurts her feelings.  I'm sure you do not INTEND to hurt her feelings, but you are.  So please try and change your words in the future, or else, now that you know the RESULT of them, we're going to have to assume that you INTEND to hurt DD."

LaurieS

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2011, 07:52:16 AM »

"We're not talking about the INTENT of your words.  We're talking about the RESULT of your words.  When you constantly praise Cousin, and offer NO PRAISE to DD, it hurts her feelings.  I'm sure you do not INTEND to hurt her feelings, but you are.  So please try and change your words in the future, or else, now that you know the RESULT of them, we're going to have to assume that you INTEND to hurt DD."

I agree in part Scoop... if your intent is to use words and phrases in order to crush the grandparent, then yes I think this would be a resonable course of action. I'm not sure what the OP's final destination is at this point maybe she'll come back.

Offline Pen

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2011, 08:29:31 AM »
Our kids need to know we'll be their champions, so I agree that calmly repeating praise for them when MIL brings up the other fabulous GC is a good idea. If we get agitated about it we look defensive and our kids will pick up on it.

I don't know why people compare or favor one GC against another. It doesn't matter if it's due to being oblivious of their feelings or being purposely cruel, it hurts all the same. My DF & SM constantly interrupt with praise for SM's adult children & adolescent GC. Between my own children they've favored DS. It's been awkward for DDD, but I am proud that my disabled kid has more class than her Ivy League-educated GPs.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline stilltrying2010

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2011, 04:54:26 AM »
Thank you SO much for all the replies!  It really made me feel as if I have a way to combat it.

I have not told MIL in the past about it as I didn't want to offend her.  Instead I have become resentful and all comments seem to be suspect (not fair, I know).  I do think there could be something about MIL trying to keep people "informed" about the family but also think it strange that only 1 sister & her family get constant praise while the 2 stepsibs & their kids ALWAYs are criticised or disparaged.  Before we had a child, the situation was obvious to me - to the point where when MIL did this to nieces/nephews I would reiterate my compliment but it was almost as if MIL could let someone other than GSILs kids get the spotlight (not even when none of them are present!). 

MIL will also only play with things she gave DD & point out that She gave it to her. She will talk ONLY about GSILs kids & she pics saying who they are and what they are doing. This may sound like she's trying to keep the cousins close but its almost creepy.  Additionally, we don't talk or see these people but once a year.  GSIL lives 5 mins from MIL who goes to all her kids events, watches her kids etc. I do NOT believe that MIL is educating these kids about OUR dd, her likes, abilities & interests.  MIL doesn't even make an effort to HAVE a relationship with our DD - I think they have spoken twice THIS YEAR by phone.  Our DD is a TALKER & my DH or DM will have to make excuses to get her off the phone.  DD will say that MIL talks about strange things but I think its just because she doesn't know her.  Two-way street though, right?  Shouldn't MIL put in some effort?  All xmas/bday gifts are things that GSILs DD now 14 liked when SHE was 5 - even if they ask what our DD likes & I tell them they STILL get DCousins likes. 

Pooh/ Holly/sassy/scoop/Laurie hit the nail on the head when calling her out - I am just afraid that since there IS built up resentment about this, and I will have just had a baby (they'll be here when she's 2 wks old), our family will obviously be adjusting that I perhaps may not handle things correctly.

Thank you on your insight and I will have to remember to call it GENTLY as it happens versus unloading 5 yrs worth of annoyance on her. 

Wish me luck - I am going to need it :)

holliberri

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2011, 07:20:03 AM »
I think you'll be fine. If she is disparaging of other relatives' children, just do the same thing. I'm sure we've all been there at some point...kids don't really benefit when comparisons are made...even if they come out on top in the comparison.

cd1029

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2011, 08:07:34 AM »
You might want to rethink having her there for two weeks after the baby is born.  Who knows what she will say to DD.


catchingup

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Re: MIL and comparisons
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2011, 09:27:56 AM »

Simple!! Dont mention their accomplishments at all
Wait for her to brag about other grandchildren then come up with something better about your own kids ;) :D ;D 8) 8) ;) :D ;D :-X