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One very confused DIL

Started by NewMama, March 01, 2012, 09:31:09 am

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Hi, I was hoping to get some advice about my MIL. I'm interested in what some of you can help me understand from her side and what I can do.

I thought I had a great relationship with my MIL - my husband and I dated for 7 years before we married, and currently have been married for 2 yrs. We recently had our first child 10 months ago. DH is an only child, and his mom lives an hour away from us. Up until about 4-5 months ago I had no issues (I thought) with her at all. She was always very respectful of our relationship, during wedding planning she would always say "whatever you two feel is best, etc" and was never critical or rude. I honestly didn't think she even had it in her to be like that. My mother lives about a 5 minute walk from our house, and both my parents and ILs are divorced.

In November (my son was 6 mo) it seems like she did a total 180 and now picks apart every little thing I do, right down to the spoons I use to feed my baby. She's obsessed with how much time my mother spends with my son, and how my son reacts to my mom. My son doesn't always react well to my MIL, she frets and hovers over him constantly, despite us assuring her he's fine she'll prevent him from playing with certain toys, rolling around on the floor or sitting up.  He frequently ends up in tears because she's hindering his movements.  She's criticizing decisions she was previously supportive of, ie we use cloth diapers to save money, which initially she said was great, now it's supposedly going to make him bow-legged and she doesn't know how he can stand wearing them. I made a point of trying to make sure she felt included during my pregnancy and initially when my son was born, because my husband is an only child and we do live an hour away. She was the first person I ever let bottle feed my son besides my husband (he's breastfed), I frequently suggested to DH to invite them over or that we should go visit those first few months. I printed lots of pictures for her (I don't even do that for my own mother).

I'm not sure exactly what started all this, but here's my theory: Halloween weekend we were supposed to go visit but had a snowstorm. The highway to the city were she lives is notoriously dangerous so if there's any remotely bad weather we don't go. We told her we'd reschedule and she assumed it was going to be the next weekend. However DH told her that'd we'd be up the weekend after that because he was away on business, didn't get in til 2am Saturday morning and was exhausted and the next day was my mom's birthday breakfast. The comments towards me started with at the beginning of that visit, and really intensified when I asked her not to feed my son ice cream (with frozen chunks of chocolate and peanut butter) and DH backed me up when she turned to him for permission to feed it to him. That was the first time we'd ever gotten into a situation like that, and the snarky comments have been coming fast and furious ever since. All mostly out of earshot of DH. She's picked on his diapers, clothes, spoons, food (she yanked his food out of my hand one day), how he sleeps, told me I couldn't go check on him when he was crying, breastfeeding (which she also was previously supportive of), his carseat, where I sit in the car, my going back to work, his toys, how I cut his toenails etc. You name it. After the first visit where she acted like that I think my mouth was hanging open the whole drive home. I could not believe it.

I never used to bat an eye when we visited with her, but now every time one is coming up my stomach is in knots and I can't sleep. Do I say something to my husband? Do I wait her out and hope she comes to her senses whenever she's over what's made her upset in the first place? I ignore the snarky comments and try to be polite as possible, but I'm wearing thin, especially since my return to work is coming up and she's very critical of that.


Your DH needs to have a talk with her and I wouldn't make any  further effort until he did so.  Something is obvious ticking her off and she doesn't like having to take instructions from you as to her grandson.  However, the fact remains that he is your son, not hers and she needs to figure out how to respect that.  You set a boundary and she doesn't like it.  Your DH needs to deal with it, especially since she looked to him to overrule you.  That may have been what really pissed her off -- That her son didn't go along with her.


Welcome LMarieRN :)

Please read the threads under the category Open Me First.  We ask all new members to do so not b/c there is anything wrong with your post.

I'm with Foofoo, your DH needs to address this asap.  In my experience bad behavior doesn't go away until there are consequences for it. 
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift

lancaster lady

Hi Marie and Welcome .

I think your MIL might be jealous of your own Mom , that she sees your baby more
than her , and that he knows her better .
Has your DH noticed any of her behaviour ?
It might be an idea to discuss your feelings with him first .
If you both decide to have a word with his Mom , be prepared for the fallout .
Of course she'll be hurt and mad , maybe she's not aware of how hurt you are .
Good idea to clear the air , your baby , your rules .
Good Luck .


I sort of let it slip a few weeks ago that I'm having a hard time with people being critical of me as a mom and that it seems no matter what I do, someone thinks I'm wrong.  When DH pressed me about who specifically, I did mention his mom among other people but didn't get into specifics. She tends to say most of these things when DH isn't listening or in another room. She's coming to visit on Sunday, and I'm a little wound about it I do find it easier to deal with on my own turf. The last visit I found sticking close to DH kept a lot of comments at bay, but I can't stay next to him the whole time. I'm nervous to talk to him about because he doesn't hear most of it, and I'm not sure if he'd believe his mom would be like that. Heck, 6 months ago I didn't think she could be like that.

I think she is jealous of my mom, although I don't know what to do about that. I'm close to my mom but it's not like she's here everyday or I even talk to her everyday. The reality is my mom lives close by and my MIL doesn't. I tried so hard to make sure she was included as much as possible and now I feel like it was all for nothing. It makes me sad, I used to tell my friends how happy I was that I had a drama-free relationship with her, and that I didn't believe in that DIL vs MIL stereotype.


Welcome, LMarieRN. It's gratifying to read how you are concerned about mending the relationship w/ your MIL. I hope you can figure out what's bothering her and clear the air. It does seem as if sons are important in the process, so if your DH is a fair-minded, calm and loving guy to you while being respectful and understanding of his mom it will help a lot.

Your MIL may be going through difficult life changes right now. She may be feeling like she's not useful anymore since you are very capable and have the support of your FOO. She may feel that her son has become more a member of your FOO than his own. She may be wondering what all her hard work and sacrifices were for. Perhaps she's also dealing with health issues, hormonal changes, etc.

We MILs often don't feel comfortable saying what's on our minds because we know we have the most to lose, IMO. Perhaps your MIL is lashing out in odd ways because she's insecure about speaking up.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Thanks for the perspective Pen. I'm trying to understand where she's coming from because I'd like to find someway to resolve it without making it worse. I'm not into the drama and can't for the life of me understand people who are.

We have the first grandchild on both sides, I've found there was a tremendous amount of expectations from both grandmothers about how things were going to be after he was born. My mom had a harder time in the beginning because we disagreed about a lot of things and she wasn't around very often, but things are much much better now and she's been great. My MIL was great in the beginning, but as I've already explained things are not so great now. I'm hopeful we can get back to the way it was.


Marie - I think your last statement says something (to me).  I think MIL was enjoying being the "good Gma" and now that things are better with your Mom, she feels like she's the "other Gma".

I think that you need to have a woman to woman talk with her.  Use something along the lines of:

"We're not talking about the INTENTIONS of your actions / words, I know your intentions are good.  What I'm talking about is the consequences.  When you do/say XXX, it makes me feel YYYY.  I know you don't want that, because, that would drive a wedge between us and between you and Baby.  So let's leave the past in the past, because you didn't know.  But now you know, and in the future if you do/say XXX, I'll have to assume that it's because you INTEND for me to feel YYYY.  Now, lets go and do ZZZ together."

I think it's important that you end your conversation quickly and on a positive note with you and MIL and baby doing something 'special' together.


Hi Marie, becoming a grandmother for the first time especially brings out parts of you that you never knew existed.  She may not even know herself why she's acting this way.  I suspect that it will pass and she'll come to a balance that will work out for all of you.  You started out with good foundation and I believe this will improve in time.  I don't think its uncommon, because grandmothers become so enamored and possessive of their grandchildren that there's bound to be competition and jealousy, but most of the time we get a grip and start behaving like human beings again. 

lancaster lady

Marie ,

Before things go any further , I would ask if you have done anything to hurt your MIL to
her face , as you don't understand why she is acting the way she is .
It may give her the opportunity to open up and tell you .
She may say nothing , but at least you have tried , and may start her thinking .
I would wait , of course until her next objection comes up , then ask .
This could go on for months , I would want it sorted now .


Thank you ladies for all  your replies. Visit is coming up tomorrow, and I have some ideas now of how to deal with this. I'm hopeful to at least stop the snarky comments and guilt trip about going back to work (I do that to myself enough!), that's what I have the most issue with.

I think the jealousy end of it may be something she's going to have to come to terms with on her own. I've made a point to not bring up any time my mom babysits or helps me out, and either ignoring her when she pries about it or telling her I don't keep track of how often my mom sees him. It's truthful without directly answering. Telling her how often my mom is here is going to set off comparisons.  I find that DH tells her when my mom helps when he's out of town or has babysat so I think I'm going to have to tell him to stop that. I do feel for her that's it's difficult to be away from her only child and grandchild, and I have a son and may very well be in the same situation someday. I'm hopeful that maybe as my son gets bigger and able to communicate with her (and remember her from visit to visit) maybe he won't have the bad reactions to her that he does.


Welcome LMarieRN,

I think you should move at least 3 hrs away from both grandmothers......(just kidding)

If your MIL is making snarky comments when your DH isn't within earshot, that's just poo and strategic on her part...she must know your DH wouldn't approve or she'd say it in front of him.  I'd let him know because it sounds like he's supportive of you and if he doesn't know, then he can't help.

You sound like you want to improve the current relationship with your MIL but I guess I'd come right out and say it.  "We used to have a closer relationship and I miss that...." You could let her know you feel her presence in your new son's life is important to you but that  her comments are offensive to you "even though you may not intend it that way" (or maybe she does but you could put it that way).  Assure her that even though your a new mom and learning, your son is receiving excellent loving care.  I'm afraid if someone was treating me badly, I wouldn't go around them or allow them around me until things improve somehow.   I'd tell DH what I'm feeling about that.  Being a new mom is stressful enough without the downgrading comments from others.  Who needs it.  But I do have an inkling MIL is a bit jealous of your mom.

Bottom line is you need to have peace in your home and your life right now.  You need to take care of you because babies are exhausting!  It's ok to try to see things from the MIL perspective but not at the expense of disrespecting you.  Things need to be aired out before they grow into something worse.  That's just how I see it.

Get some rest, LMarieRN, and best of wishes to the next visit! 

"When you allow life to flow... without struggle... your Soul is restored."   ~z2z~


Hi LMarieRN,

Nice to meet you. Please take my advice with a big old pinch of salt because I am a newlywed in a rather strained relationship with her MIL. It sounds like a confusing and hurtful situation that you're in, and I agree with the previous posters who recommended DH speaking with her first.

My MIL will not accept anything I say. Even when DH had a fever of 102, she would not believe me until she did it herself. If he helps to initiate the conversation, then it can help keep you on the same page.

If you decide to take the bull by the horns so to speak, then I would also recommend that you be prepared to use your intuition in the conversation. I have attempted on a couple occasions to learn why my MIL dislikes me, and she always denies that there is anything wrong. If your MIL does not want to talk about it, she may pretend that everything is all right. And obviously it is not.

Take care of yourself. I hope that you get some rest and that this gets resolved for you soon. Have a great day!


Hi everyone, I thought I'd just give a little update since our visit was yesterday.

It went very well and actually seemed like the pleasant, perfectly sane MIL I'd always known had returned. I'm hopeful that this means things are on the mend. I have found in the past when the visit is at our home it's usually not as bad as when it's at hers. We'll see how our next visit at her house goes, and maybe I can put this whole unfortunate period behind us.

One of the hot buttons issues of late has been the fact that I'm going back to work soon and my son will be going to daycare. MIL was a SAHM and never had a job, even before DH was born. She assumed all along I was going to quit my job, even though we've never been anything but clear that I wasn't (it was never an option). I'm lucky enough to live in Canada and get a year long maternity leave. Since we chose a daycare in the fall she's been pestering me repeatedly with the same questions about the place and there's nothing wrong with her memory. I got fed up with it last time and directed all her questions to DH, and she was genuinely surprised he had toured the daycare with me, knew anything about it and was also happy with the facility we chose. I think that was definitely the right thing to do, there was no questions directed at me this time except asking if my return is soon and I have a schedule yet (I work shifts). I heard her say something about daycare to DH while they were in the kitchen, but I didn't catch the whole thing and I'm quite happy to let him deal with it.