Author Topic: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws  (Read 4474 times)

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just2baccepted

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What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« on: December 04, 2009, 09:10:30 PM »
I'm just curious what everyone thinks about this.  What boundaries do you see as acceptable when it comes to your DIL without you youself feeling rejected?  Would you rather there be none at all?  Or would you accept any type of boundary.  Thank you in advance.

Let's see if I can explain a bit better:

Take Everybody Loves Raymond for example, which I know is an extreme and it is just a show.  But Ray and Debra have no boundaries for Ray's family.  Is that what most MIL's want?  For their children and DIL's or SIL's to be totally accesible to them.
Or like Anna's DIL wanting to keep Christmas morning with just immediate family.  I'm just curious as to why that would be inappropriate?  When children/spouse/grandkids plan a vacation, or go out to eat, or go to the zoo, do some MIL's expect to be included in most family activities?  Is it okay to request that your IL's and other family members call before they come over?

So let's just say your DIL was totally open, how much time would expect to spend with them if you live near and would you expect to be involved in most activites.  Its hard to find the right words, I hope I explained correctly.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 09:37:24 PM by just2baccepted »

2chickiebaby

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2009, 09:15:53 PM »
What do you mean?  What kind of boundaries?  To me, it should just "be"....it shouldn't be  set in stone or something.  I know I'm missing something but can you explain?

2chickiebaby

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2009, 10:03:55 PM »
I know Raymond and Debra live across the street from the inlaws.  I love the way they interact....it's funny and it's a family.  They make a lot of fun of Marie but she's just wanted to feel needed.

I wouldn't care if the DIL's said to call before coming over.  Close DIL doesn't say that or act like that the maybe 2 times I've popped in.  I do that so little that she doesn't have any reason to complain so she doesn't.  I don't think she'd ever say to call first. She has always said that their door is always open.  I love that.  I don't have set times that I'd expect to be involved in their lives. 

The other DIL would have to be checked with 2 months in advance for it to happen. Although, in the past when they lived here, we popped in one time for a few minutes and she seemed fine. 

We would never go over there first thing Christmas morning.  We always call and go later to see what Santa brought the kids. 

She gives me lists of games the kids are playing and what times they are and is delighted when we attend.  They don't tell us when they are going out to eat every single time but if they want us to come too, they call.  I'm sure that distant DIL would feel the same way if they lived here.

I don't have boundaries, as you can tell, J2b, which is why I'm going to counseling to see if I can gobble up some :P

AnnieB

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2009, 11:17:38 PM »
When I was a DIL, I didn't think along the terms of boundaries but.... I know I did not like it when my mother would stop by unannounced (my MIL never did that).   My husband and I rarely dropped in on our parents unannounced - we worked, they worked, so we would call first.

We never thought of having our parents with us on Christmas morning.   We lived nearby and made arrangements for  Xmas eve/Xmas afternoon or the week-end which included lots of people and presents and food.  But to us, Xmas morning was for the four of us.   His parents had kids at home and so they had Christmas morning to themselves.  My mother didn't seem interested and she just wasn't someone you wanted around when the presents were open.  I think this is something different from family to family.  New families ideally make their own arrangements, maybe combining what they liked from both their families and doing away with what they didn't like.   For us,  the Xmas morning with grandparents was never something that was done in his huge, warm Norwegian family or my more distant New England family.

Up until two years ago, after my oldest moved to England some 10 years ago,  it was my two younger sons, my mother and myself Christmas morning, in my house, followed by a Christmas dinner sometimes with friends over since the rest of our families live far far away.   Sometimes my oldest would be here, once or twice with his wife.  Now it is just my youngest, my mother and myself.  To be honest, I don't think I'm going to be very happy on Christmas morning once it is just my mother and me.  Or me.   But I don't think my happiness is the responsibility of my kids -- if I find myself feeling lonely and blue Christmas morning, I am going to find something to do that will perk me up (sleeping in, going away for the holiday, going out for a movie, etc.) 

As a MIL now, I think it is up to my sons and their wives to lay the rules about boundaries at their houses.  I let them know what is OK for me.  First son lives overseas, so of course we always have to plan ahead.  No casual dropping in.   We have to plan 4 months ahead at least usually.  If they lived near, it would be the same for them as for 2nd son and wife. 

 Pretty much for me, they can drop by if they are in the area, any time.  If I'm not here, they can come in, use the house, the food, the bathroom.    They always let me know ahead of time if they are planning to be in the area,  if they want to sleep over, etc.  But if they happened by, I don't want them to think they couldn't just drop in.  They have lots of friends in this area, they love the town so they often come here not just to see me but to hang around anyway.    Motel mom, yep.  Door is always open. 

They live an hour away, so I am rarely "in the area" to drop in on them.  They've never set rules, but I am pretty sure I know they need to be notified to make sure they are at home and (if my gs is away) not having private time.  I would never just stop by without calling first, but I'm that way with my friends who live a block away and my mother who lives across the street.  And yes, I like it if my friends call first.

I don't expect to be included in every family event.  They have things they want to do as a family, with friends their age who have kids, with her family, etc.    I love it when I am included - tomorrow we are all (her parents and me and them) going somewhere Christmasy together to look at lights.  Next week-end I'm going somewhere with my DIL that is Christmas related, at her invite. 

However, I will say that this being OK not to be included in everything was not true before I came to this site and started listening to some of the stories and the DIL's.  I was not giving much thought to what my son and DIL needed and looking at things from their point of view.  I love them and their lifestyle and interests so much, I think I would like to attach myself to them, lol --- but in reality I know I need to have a life of my own and they need to have a life of their own.  Not sure how happy I'd really be spending a lot of time with them - absence makes the heart grow fonder, etc. etc.

Don't know if this has answered any questions.  I expect you will get 12 different answers from 12 different MIL's.

 

« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 11:26:35 PM by AnnieB »

lilyofthevalley

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2009, 11:41:55 PM »
That's an interesting question.  I think some of it can be summed up with a brief review of Emily Post (well, I think it's now Peggy, but same difference).  Don't drop in uninvited, don't ask nosy questions (how much money anyone makes is off limits and not my concern, even for my sons or daughter), don't complain about how you're hosted or treated (if it is truly terrible, suddenly remember something you need to do and leave, don't complain to your host), issue early invitations to events and allow guests to decide if they'll attend or not.  Guilt doesn't go with an invitation.  Abide by the rules of the house you are visiting.  Likewise, I expect my children and/or their spouses (whoever is in charge of it) to RSVP promptly, call before coming to my house, and abide by the rules in my house.  In many ways I don't see it as boundaries as a lesson in common decency. 

As far as boundaries go, I'm happy to abide by most of them I'd say.  If my DIL or daughter's BF told me they didn't like to be hugged, then I wouldn't hug them.  If they were truly unreasonable (we expect to only be served Lobster and Filet when we come to your house) then I'm not sure what I'd do, but fortunately we haven't had those types of encounters.  I think that every household has rules and every family needs some time to themselves (heck, I like having time all by myself).  If this is communicated to the other parties, then I don't see a problem.  If the other parties have to guess what the family wants this week (eg...getting mad one week because someone stopped by without calling and then getting mad the next week because they were in town briefly and didn't stop by), then I think that's where boundaries become a bit unreasonable, not because the family can't have them but because they're not clear or consistent.  I realize I ramble, I hope this makes sense.

Offline Pen

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2009, 11:54:16 PM »
Good topic! I hope you get lots of responses. Here goes: I would like to have a friendly relationship with DS and DIL - like I do with my friends or any other relatives. Call before you drop by, I'll call before I drop by. Don't assume I'll be available to help you move. Don't ask us to change our Thanksgiving dinner time for you and then show up so full from eating a midday meal at DIL's parents that you can't enjoy the special dishes you specifically asked me to cook. Don't get on your Blackberry when the conversation doesn't revolve around you. Don't criticize my life choices, childrearing methods, career, environment, yard, daughter, shoes, cars, cooking, housekeeping. Do invite us over for dinner at least once in your marriage. Don't tell me that your parents will be the favored grandparents. Don't use every bit of DS's vacation time for your family/extended family leaving DS unable to visit his grandparents. Don't regift me when you've spent a ton of money on DIL's parents, and don't expect me to spend big bucks on you in return. Be considerate and kind.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Aisling

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2009, 06:10:21 AM »
So here's a question for you, when I'm babysitting should my son & dil be able to dictate where I can take my grandchildren?...
I think the only "boundaries" there need to be are respect for others, honour, (if you make a commitment keep it),  & lots & lots of love !!!   

To answer the first: yes, absolutely it is the mother and father's right and responsibility to make these decisions.  They are the parents, not you.  And, to be frank: if you don't like the rules, why babysit for them?  I'm sure they don't want to make a martyr of you.

As for boundaries, it would be wonderful if all families could get along without needing to state these things so obviously.  But not all people are entirely socially functional.  Some people are, unfortunately, damaged.  Add to that the fact that different families have different ideas of what is and isn't acceptable, and yes, sometimes these things must be discussed frankly and honestly if there's going to be any hope of peace.

Differences in behavior and tradition between families is not necessarily bad.  Neither is compromise, or change.  But if someone is incapable of compromise and change, or refuses to accept either, then that someone is going to end up very lonely.

Let me tell you about my ILs.

My ILs ignored and neglected my fiance.  For example, ehen he was in high school, he had a part-time job to pay for his car insurance and such things.  He was injured at work, and they insisted he go back to work immediately instead of getting the physical therapy his doctor ordered.  He has problems with his ankles to this day because money was more important to these people than his health.

His mother has chosen to have no contact with either of us for five years.  We don't know exactly why.  She simply fell off the radar.  Not that we miss her, since previously, her infrequent phone calls always ended in tears.  My fiance was never grateful enough for what little she had done for him, according to her; we weren't welcoming enough when they came to visit (when we told them not to, because I was dreadfully sick at the time), and my fiance had the audacity to call my parents "mom" and "dad" too (and he didn't insist I do the same for his parents, even though they have never invited me to call them anything but "Mr" and "Mrs").

His father, we recently cut off.  My fiance has a medical condition that means he cannot, cannot go out in sunlight.  His father has insisted for years that he's not only a terrible son but a terrible person for not going to family reunions that are always scheduled in the middle of the summer in outdoorsy touristy areas.

What loving parents would repeatedly and knowingly jeopardize their child's health like that?  What loving parents drive their son to tears, again and again?

Do you really think we should still be attempting to placate these people?  Do you think that, if we were going to try and have a relationship with them, we would be wrong to take steps to protect ourselves?

just2baccepted

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2009, 09:57:55 AM »
From AnnieB - "tomorrow we are all (her parents and me and them) going somewhere Christmasy together to look at lights."

Thanks for everyone's answers and I'm still reading through them.  Annie that all sounds reasonable to me and from what I can see you seem reasonable in general so I would think that you DIL's shouldn't have any problem having a normal relationship with you.

On the above quote - I would have LOVED to have done something like that, my family and his family together doing somthing fun.  But that could never happen.  One time during our garage sale my MIL and SIL stopped by for awhile.  My mom didn't realize MIL was there and she stopped by as well to drop something off.  When she got there she realized that MIL was there and she hurried back to her car after dropping off the item.  I think if I remember right I tried to get her to stay.  I later asked mom why she didn't want to stay and she said "oh I know how his parents are about just wanting you guys' attention and I didn't want to interfere."  I just cringed when she said that but I knew it was true.  But mom was just going by stories that I had told her in the past about them like this one:

We had just moved to our new home and were putting in a new fence and our dogs doggie door.  My DH has a friend from work who is half black and half white (oh God forbid!) and DH invited this friend down to show him how to put in a doggie door.  And we all know that blacks and Jews and any other non-white race is a big no-no with DH's parents, but just by coincidence FIL had offered to come down the same day to help DH with the fence.  At first DH was like okay, but then we both got to thinking about the friend from work.  And Dh realized that not only would FIL get upset about not having DH's undivided attention but he would be upset that DH had a friend that was half black. 

So DH called his poor friend and made up a lie and said that he they would have to do this some other time.  Fortunately DH kept his word and the friend did get to come down some other time and learn how to install the doggie door. Now that we've grown some back bone if that had happened today we would have said no to FIL coming down and we would of told DH's friend come on down!  B/c we have decided not reward IL's poor behavior any longer and I wish we done that.  And I'm ashamed that we didn't. 

 DH hated to do that to that to the friend but we didn't want that uncomfortable situation and FIL pouting and leaving early like he did the first time he came to our house b/c me DH, and SIL had gone into the bedroom while she taught us how download music.  We were in there for maybe 20 minutes and FIL got upset and insisted that they just go home.  We weren't paying enough attention to him I guess.  SIL said he was so mad that he drove really fast going home.  I guess he thinks by acting this way it will get our attention and get us back in line and it really it does no such thing all it does is push us away and make us not want to be around him.


(I hope I didn't offend anyone with the racism in with my IL's, because unfortunately its out there.  Which is sad b/c this guy at DH's work is so nice and funny, but his skin just happens to be darker than what FIL can tolerate, it makes me sick b/c I've to listen to my IL's blame the Jews for problems, just like the Nazi's did, and hear my MIL talk about disliking all Japanese b/c of Pearl Harbor!  You have no idea how I force myself to bite my tongue just for my DH!)

just2baccepted

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2009, 10:51:54 AM »
Good topic! I hope you get lots of responses. Here goes: I would like to have a friendly relationship with DS and DIL - like I do with my friends or any other relatives. Call before you drop by, I'll call before I drop by. Don't assume I'll be available to help you move. Don't ask us to change our Thanksgiving dinner time for you and then show up so full from eating a midday meal at DIL's parents that you can't enjoy the special dishes you specifically asked me to cook. Don't get on your Blackberry when the conversation doesn't revolve around you. Don't criticize my life choices, childrearing methods, career, environment, yard, daughter, shoes, cars, cooking, housekeeping. Do invite us over for dinner at least once in your marriage. Don't tell me that your parents will be the favored grandparents. Don't use every bit of DS's vacation time for your family/extended family leaving DS unable to visit his grandparents. Don't regift me when you've spent a ton of money on DIL's parents, and don't expect me to spend big bucks on you in return. Be considerate and kind.

Thanks, that sounds totally reasonable to me.  Maybe your DIL is a little uncouth at times.

AnnieB

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2009, 10:56:58 AM »
So here's a question for you, when I'm babysitting should my son & dil be able to dictate where I can take my grandchildren?  Keep in mind that the only things we may do are, go for a walk, visit relatives, go shopping, go to a movie, or maybe find out if there is a fun kids thing to do & take them there.  Do you think that I should have to stay indoors cause dil wants it that way?  I am providing a free service to them, & I do cherish any time I have with my grandkids, but I think having to stay in one place & not go anywhere is a bit much.

To answer the first: yes, absolutely it is the mother and father's right and responsibility to make these decisions.  They are the parents, not you.  And, to be frank: if you don't like the rules, why babysit for them?  I'm sure they don't want to make a martyr of you.

Aisling, I would have to respectfully semi-agree disagree with part of your comment.  Reading closely what Anna said -- I personally think it is a bit unreasonable to ask or tell a family member (as opposed to a paid babysitter) to stay at home with children. 


Anna, I semi-agree and disagree with you also  - yes, they should be able to say where you can take the children - as Aisling points out, they are the parents.   There may be places they don't want the children to go, or places they want to take them.

A more workable solution might be to sit down together and come up with a list of places you both agree upon.  Not so sure the parents have to know where the children are every second of the day -- unless this is their personality and they are this way with all childcare services. 

 If they trust whoever is caring for the children, it would seem as long as they know the places you would be, and have a way to be in touch in case of emergency either on their side or yours, then they might considering relaxing a bit.   

If they do not trust the caregiver enough to let them take care of the children, then they probably should look for another service. 

Just my opinion.

Aisley, it would be easier to address the rest of your questions if you start a new post somewhere else so we can focus on that ... otherwise we tend to bounce around!!

just2baccepted

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2009, 11:07:35 AM »
There is a big message there for anyone who wants to keep Christmas exclusive. 

First one would have to look at the big picture and maybe your DIL is trying to exclude you but for most people I don't think that's the case.  Was my mom trying exclude family when she didn't want people over right after we had just woke up, our hair was messy, we were in sleeping clothes and I'm sure we all had bad morning breath.   I just don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to spend that time with immediate family only.  Families have a right to spend their holidays the way they want.  If your lonley on Christmas morning then maybe call up friends or find other people that are lonley as well, maybe even volunteer at a soup kitchen or some place that involves lonley elderly who have no one.  But if a normal rational DIL wants this special time to be just the immediate family there's nothing wrong with that and that doens't make her bad or exclusive.  I can promise you from experience if you come off as thinking you have a right to XYZ there are not going to like that and you'll push them away.  I'm talking from the experience with how my FIL acts like he 's entitled to XYZ.  I can tell you as a DIL I do not like that at all.  I'm just trying to tell you as a DIL how that would make me feel.

I had to add this as well b/c I got to thinking that if your DIL is as bad as you feel she is - then you should feel blessed that she allows you over in the afternoon.  Its all about compromise.  Maybe give them the morning to be a family and enjoy Christmas just the four of them and then allow the rest of Christmas to enjoyed as an extended family. That really is not an outragous request on their part.  That seems totally logical to me.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2009, 12:55:07 PM by just2baccepted »

Offline Pen

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2009, 11:43:34 AM »
J2b - Thanks for your comment; yes, the rudeness of my DIL knows no bounds, although she thinks she's high class (newly-rich dad.) Which leads to your doggie door/friend vs. FIL situation - we had to call our friends and dis-invite them to Thanksgiving (I whined about that in a different topic a couple of weeks ago) because DIL doesn't like them. I did it to see DS and keep peace in the family. Fortunately my friends, although not "high class," are classier than she and were very gracious about it.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Aisling

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2009, 03:42:38 PM »
Aisling, I would have to respectfully semi-agree disagree with part of your comment.  Reading closely what Anna said -- I personally think it is a bit unreasonable to ask or tell a family member (as opposed to a paid babysitter) to stay at home with children.

Why should one person doing a job be held to different standards than another?

AnnieB

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2009, 04:30:47 PM »
Why should one person doing a job be held to different standards than another?

A job?  Err.. well, as no-pay employee is certainly an interesting way to look at one's mother or the mother of one's spouse.

My question would be, why would someone want me to watch their children if they thought I could not be trusted - especially if I am a family member who has raised three children of my own?

Fortunately, both of my DIL's have trusted that I am caring and responsible enough care for their children and that includes being caring and responsible enough  to decide whether or not to take a grandchild to the park, to the store, on errands I have to do, etc.   

 

mom2

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Re: What "boundaries" are acceptable to In-laws
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2009, 09:28:53 PM »
Anna,

I can certainly understand your feelings with the free babysitter thing.. me too. My opinion is that if the place/places you are taking the kids are safe then it should be fine.. just my opinion.