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Another awful visit with Aunt & Uncle--update #39 - Page 2

post #21 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the support. I think dp & I may want to talk to someone else (maybe from our faith community etc.) to get some outside perspective & support. This is really, really bothering me & upsetting me 4 days later & dp, understandably, finds it hard to listen to me talk about it.
post #22 of 41
As someone who has lots of entire family in-law issues myself I think it is a great idea to talk with someone. I'm also going to second a previous poster who said that you and your dc can cut off contact but that doesn't mean that your dp has to nor that it needs to be a big dramatic announcement. This is your dp's family and while they are not behaving in the way you want them to (ie loving, warm, accepting which are perfectly normal and healthy things to want a family to function as) that does not mean that your dp doesn't have unconditional love (not necessarily approval for the actions!) for them or that she shouldn't be in contact with them. Being dramatic and announcing you will not be part of dp's family does not build up your own family. Instead you deomnstrate to your perseptive children that love is conditional. That if they act poorly or have beliefs you do not agree with that love will be withdrawn from them. I think it is just fine to not see inlaws. You have a responsibility to do what is right for your children. But these are not relationships where you see these people on a daily/weekly basis. 7 months is a long time, especially to a child, you won't be radically changing anyone's life by not seeing them for a year or two. Maybe in that time with dp maintaining the relationship and sharing her point of view and expectations there will be room for getting together.
Perhaps you and she could write some emails about your experiences and sadness to bil/sil. By stating your experiences but acknowledging their beliefs and asking how you can all peacefully and lovingly coexist may help open their eyes.


Lots of families have inlaw issues for a variety of reasons. I am confident your family can find a way to protect your dc and allow your partner to have contact with her family. Tolerance and acceptance is a two way street that *most* families have to negotiate in big and small ways at almost every holiday/get together/phone call.

Take care,

Jenne
post #23 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your perspective, Jenne. I find it really helpful. I really, really value family, and my role has normally been to support dp in building up her relationship with her family. MIL & I in particular have built up a good relationship over the years, that I feel can be restored. That said, I don't think it's okay to continue contact until we have evidence that they are understand the issues & are willing to change. Which is work that dp is going to have to do with BIL. I do think though that no matter what happens, we will be keeping visits short & not staying at the same place as them. They live near lots of other family & friends, so it would be easy to stay elsewhere & visit them briefly, in a public location. My priority number one is protecting my girls. But I do see that it might, just might be possible to negotiate something with them in the future. The irony is that in the past (prior to July) we were the ones who were pushing for a closer relationship...they always seemed content to see us or not see us and left us in charge of inviting them etc. So letting things slide could be quite easy without any dramatic announcements, as you say.
post #24 of 41
I agree with this.

[QUOTE=SunshineJ;14953981]I'm afraid I'd have to say goodbye to any relationship with these people. They obviously are not a healthy couple for your children to be around! I would just explain to dd that her aunt and uncle are mad at you and dp because they don't like that she has 2 mommies, and sadly they took it out on her which wasn't very nice. Simple, to the point and accurate.
post #25 of 41
So sorry your girls have had to witness this horrible behaviour. That would absolutely break my heart.

I agree that disowning them publicly is not helpful but I also think that perhaps a letter is in order reminding them that they're dealing with a CHILD and that whatever their personal beliefs may be that children are sacred and should be treated with love and respect.

I understand why your partner is uncomfortable with the topic, but I do feel that the offending parties need to understand that the way they've behaved toward DD1 is unacceptable.

We're working on this for our ILs too, who over the holidays decided that our three year old is out of control and that their house would be come a "no-touching" obstacle course. They have dogs and ask that we're understanding of them, but refuse to understand the developmental realities of a preschooler. ARGH.

I really hope you find some satisfaction in all of this, and that your DD feels loved as she DESERVES to feel.
post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenne View Post
As someone who has lots of entire family in-law issues myself I think it is a great idea to talk with someone. I'm also going to second a previous poster who said that you and your dc can cut off contact but that doesn't mean that your dp has to nor that it needs to be a big dramatic announcement. This is your dp's family and while they are not behaving in the way you want them to (ie loving, warm, accepting which are perfectly normal and healthy things to want a family to function as) that does not mean that your dp doesn't have unconditional love (not necessarily approval for the actions!) for them or that she shouldn't be in contact with them. Being dramatic and announcing you will not be part of dp's family does not build up your own family. Instead you deomnstrate to your perseptive children that love is conditional. That if they act poorly or have beliefs you do not agree with that love will be withdrawn from them. I think it is just fine to not see inlaws. You have a responsibility to do what is right for your children. But these are not relationships where you see these people on a daily/weekly basis. 7 months is a long time, especially to a child, you won't be radically changing anyone's life by not seeing them for a year or two. Maybe in that time with dp maintaining the relationship and sharing her point of view and expectations there will be room for getting together.
Perhaps you and she could write some emails about your experiences and sadness to bil/sil. By stating your experiences but acknowledging their beliefs and asking how you can all peacefully and lovingly coexist may help open their eyes.
This is fantastic advice. There's definitely no need for a major announcement, and your partner can still have a relationship with her family. It also leaves the door open for future communication between all of you.

As for your daughter, she absolutely does not need to be around them. She's old enough to understand their rejection and to know that they don't care for her and that's just too hurtful for anybody.

I had a very similar situation, but I was much older when it happened. My stepfather's brother, his wife and his mother just don't like me. They decided to not like me from the first time they meet me when I was 14 years old. I was treated very coldly at their houses, often ignored and very often badmouthed. The last time I saw my "uncle" he refused to even speak or look at me for a whole weekend. It was decided at that time that there was just no reason for me to be involved with that part of the "family." My parents were still involved as much as they wanted to be, which frankly, wasn't all that much because of everything. Not seeing them anymore was an amazing relief.

I was a relatively confident teenager when this happened and completely understood that it really had nothing to do with me personally, that it was more their problem. I understood all the reasons they didn't like me (it boils down to them thinking I was a snob, you know, 'cause I liked books and did well in school--all of those "bad" things), but it was still very painful. To this day it still bothers me every so often, and it still smarts a little bit. I absolutely can't imagine being rejected in this way by "family" at a younger age. It's not a healthy situation and it can have a really long-term impact.
post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by proudmamanow View Post
Thanks for your perspective, Jenne. I find it really helpful. I really, really value family, and my role has normally been to support dp in building up her relationship with her family. MIL & I in particular have built up a good relationship over the years, that I feel can be restored.
Just thinking on this and I wonder if it would be useful to talk to your MIL and tell her how this is affecting your DD and maybe get her support for the next visit?
post #28 of 41
First of all - {{hugs}} for having to live through such a situation. UGH. And bravo to you for not tolerating it.

Two, part of the challenge your family may have is that BIL/SIL may have no concept that their behavior is unusual or needs changing - afterall, if they knew they were misbehaving, one would presume they would correct it or address it. And you, the offended party, won't be able to raise it because they will most likely dismiss your complaints out of hand.

They clearly have deep homophobia (justified in their minds, perhaps, by their religion, but since I have known many deeply religious people who do not support homosexual relationships but who also would NEVER take it out on a child, I suspect the behavior is based on more run of the mill homophobia combined with disrespect for children).

People who treat children this way - who let their own issues and prejudices affect their interactions with children - I find really hard to deal with, period. For me, it a core religious and ethical belief that children be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of any other factors. It should not matter to him that your daughter is not (in his mind) his "real niece" or that he doesn't approve of your relationship. He needs to treat her as a person deserving of respect and dignity.

This may not be something they can fix, and if so, keep your daughter away as much as possible and/or teach her that this is HIS baggage, not hers. The pps had great advice on how to do this.

ON the other hand, if BIL has the quality of introspection, if someone like your MIL points it out to him, he may learn to treat your children with respect, even if he has deep issues with his sister's relationship/"lifestyle". I wouldn't hold my breath, but people do change sometimes.

I think your plan to limit exposure is a very good one. In addition to limitation of times, I would add dilution; make sure the times you are with them, other positive family members or friends are there. Many people behave their best if they have an audience, and you get "credit" for seeing them even if you in fact only spent 2 minutes saying hello and the rest of the time talking with more positive people.

Again, more power to you for addressing this issue now when your daughters are so young. They will learn so much from you and your partner fighting for them, AND trying to support their right to (healthy) extended family. Good luck.
post #29 of 41
Why would your dp want a relationship with people that treat her partner and children like that? Her priority should be you and your children, that's who comes first. If dh put his family of origin who treated me and my kids like crap over me and my kids, there would be some serious problems.
post #30 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenne View Post
Being dramatic and announcing you will not be part of dp's family does not build up your own family. Instead you deomnstrate to your perseptive children that love is conditional. That if they act poorly or have beliefs you do not agree with that love will be withdrawn from them.
I see it as the perceptive children seeing that the parents take them being mistreated seriously, and will do what it takes to protect them from bullies.
post #31 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishmommy View Post
I see it as the perceptive children seeing that the parents take them being mistreated seriously, and will do what it takes to protect them from bullies.
I think there's a very very big difference between loving conditionally and not tolerating abuse.
post #32 of 41
ugh I feel for you on the adults who allow a child that small to "offend" them. My mom says this about my just-turned-3 year old DD. And to add to that she LIVES WITH US. I think DD acts out toward her because she senses, like I do, that the boys are "favored".
The ironic part of it is that they are also close--DD slept with Grandma from shortly after the baby was born (after sleeping in her own bed a few weeks, transitioned out of ours) until a couple months ago. Her choice. She still will occasionally go into my mom at night. This is something that's only them, VERY occasionally DS1 will sneak in there.

but my mom will get resentful and refuse to speak to dd and stuff because she'll do something like call her "stupid"--my mom claims this is only to her, despite the fact she has witnessed and commented on her saying the SAME THING to me. It happened exactly ONCE though because I called her on it and laid it out that she is BARELY THREE and she is EXPERIMENTING--she wants to know what will happen if she says this. If you give it attention and power, well, then she's found her way to get attention and power! Which is what she wants.

We are working on our issues. (we have to, economics and well, a healthy dose of guilt on my part on the thought of my mom being utterly alone without us.)

if I were in your situation though I'd quit being around them. Who needs people who are that hostile to her and to you??
post #33 of 41
So sorry you're going through this!!

I also have a female DP and we have two DDs that DP carried. Her family is fantastic with us and we lived near them up until this past summer. We've since moved to be close to my family. My mother adores our girls, but I wondered how it would be with us all being in her space and her having to be more "out" about us. I decided before we moved that if it became evident that she couldn't be an out and proud grandma, then we'd have to move back to Colorado.

Although it's not the same as your situation, I just knew that I wouldn't be able to handle it if my girls weren't completely and wholly accepted. I'm sure at times my mom is awkward when introducing me and DP, but I think she needs to feel that way sometimes. lol

Good luck and much hugs to you and your family.
post #34 of 41
You know, one of the things I love about this place is that we can all have different perspectives that come from our different experiences and that when people ask for opinions/assistance they have such a wide range of view points!

I offer my viewpoint which comes from my experiences. My experience (unfortunately!) is that dh's family detests me. They are (sometimes) civil but for the most part just ignore. Does dh wish things were different? Absolutely! Do I refuse to spend excess time with them? Absolutely! But dh having a relationship with them that is removed from his relationship with me works for us. It doesn't take anything away from our relationship. He is free to be a good son without also having to be a good husband. I am confident of our relationship and so can be free to allow this. He and I had an earnest discussion of our options. We felt that they were this 1) I put up and shut up and so does he. 2) He tells them they are being inappropriate and that he is disappointed and continues to have a relationship with them that is by and large without me. (We don't have children yet but the plan will be that they are never alone with any of my in-laws and will have minimal contact unless there is some change in the way I am treated. We haven't announced this to them, it is just our plan.) 3) He severs his relationship with them and honors "our" family. For us, obviously, choice 2 seemed the most reasonable and the best way to potentially fix things so that there could be some sort of extended family in the future. Does it totally suck? Absolutely. But he and I both feel that with time there is a chance that things can improve. Are there certain things I would absolutely say, "Nope. Them or me." Absolutely--physical, sexual, alcohol, or drug abuse--he would have to choose. If my in-laws were overtly tampering with our relationship (ie frequent phone calls/emails/texts) or frequently disparaging me that would also be cause for my action on my part. Simply pretending that they don't exist on my planet works for us.

As for the message that actions send I was stating how I might have perceived it given that situation. I typed up several paragraphs about an experience I had as an adolescent involving myself, my parents, and extended family but that isn't really germaine other than it colors my impression that cutting off contact sends the message that love is conditional upon one's behavior.

Proudmamanow I hope you and your dp are able to come to a solution that works for your family. I wish you the best in navigating what surely is one of the most complex set of relationships human beings can have--family!

Jenne
post #35 of 41
It occurs to me that I think very, very differently about a relative being hostile to my partner and a relative being hostile to my child who is not my biokid, while simultaneously being loving to my child who IS my biokid.

The former, eh. Sometimes adults don't click, and while I might not seek out opportunities to get together with that relative I probably wouldn't get too upset.

The latter? I don't think I could even be near that relative without diving for their throat. Questioning the "real" status of a mom/kid relationship, even indirectly, is throwing down the gauntlet in the biggest possible way, and it's just terrible for the kid to have to endure.

OP, maybe it's better to keep the focus on that aspect? "Honey, your brother doesn't seem to believe that dd1 is really your daughter, really his niece. That is just too twisted and toxic a viewpoint for the kids to be around. Visit him if you want, but we're staying home."
post #36 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenne View Post
You know, one of the things I love about this place is that we can all have different perspectives that come from our different experiences and that when people ask for opinions/assistance they have such a wide range of view points!

I offer my viewpoint which comes from my experiences. My experience (unfortunately!) is that dh's family detests me. They are (sometimes) civil but for the most part just ignore. Does dh wish things were different? Absolutely! Do I refuse to spend excess time with them? Absolutely! But dh having a relationship with them that is removed from his relationship with me works for us. It doesn't take anything away from our relationship. He is free to be a good son without also having to be a good husband. I am confident of our relationship and so can be free to allow this. He and I had an earnest discussion of our options. We felt that they were this 1) I put up and shut up and so does he. 2) He tells them they are being inappropriate and that he is disappointed and continues to have a relationship with them that is by and large without me. (We don't have children yet but the plan will be that they are never alone with any of my in-laws and will have minimal contact unless there is some change in the way I am treated. We haven't announced this to them, it is just our plan.) 3) He severs his relationship with them and honors "our" family. For us, obviously, choice 2 seemed the most reasonable and the best way to potentially fix things so that there could be some sort of extended family in the future. Does it totally suck? Absolutely. But he and I both feel that with time there is a chance that things can improve. Are there certain things I would absolutely say, "Nope. Them or me." Absolutely--physical, sexual, alcohol, or drug abuse--he would have to choose. If my in-laws were overtly tampering with our relationship (ie frequent phone calls/emails/texts) or frequently disparaging me that would also be cause for my action on my part. Simply pretending that they don't exist on my planet works for us.

As for the message that actions send I was stating how I might have perceived it given that situation. I typed up several paragraphs about an experience I had as an adolescent involving myself, my parents, and extended family but that isn't really germaine other than it colors my impression that cutting off contact sends the message that love is conditional upon one's behavior.

Proudmamanow I hope you and your dp are able to come to a solution that works for your family. I wish you the best in navigating what surely is one of the most complex set of relationships human beings can have--family!

Jenne

And dh and I (well, dh) came to the total opposite conclusion when his side continued to be nasty to me (not his parents, they are awesome, but a sibling and sib's family that live locally).
post #37 of 41
I don't know how I'd react if my in-laws were hostile towards me (aside from a single drunken rant about not ruining his son's life from my ex-FIL, I've never had a problem with any of my in-laws). However, that's not what's happening in the OP. If dh's family treated ds1 (not dh's child...but I'll point out that the OP's dd isn't even "just" a stepchild) the way the OP's BIL treated her dd, all hell would break loose. I don't like the homophobia, but I despise the fact that they're taking it out on a child who can't defend herself. If my brother or sister ever treated one of my children that way, I can't even imagine wanting to maintain my relationship with them. I accept that adults have their issues with each other. I have no respect (or sympathy) for people who choose to take those issues out on children.

I totally agree with what siobhang said here:
Quote:
People who treat children this way - who let their own issues and prejudices affect their interactions with children - I find really hard to deal with, period. For me, it a core religious and ethical belief that children be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of any other factors. It should not matter to him that your daughter is not (in his mind) his "real niece" or that he doesn't approve of your relationship. He needs to treat her as a person deserving of respect and dignity.
post #38 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swan3 View Post
Just thinking on this and I wonder if it would be useful to talk to your MIL and tell her how this is affecting your DD and maybe get her support for the next visit?
Hi Swan,
We did try to engage her prior to this visit & tbh, I think that might be part of the problem. I think she was so anxious that things 'go well' that she displaced her anxiety onto dd1, who was just acting like a normal 4yo, and tried to make her into a 'stepford kid' for lack of a better word. So engaging MIL doesn't seem to have worked thus far.

We will be making it clear that unless BIL owns up to his behaviour & changes it, I will not be taking our dds to visit him again. MIL may need to be made aware of this if this affects future holiday plans, or she may not. We'll see. We often see them separately in any case. For the moment, I do not plan for dd to see him again unless I can see evidence of a change in behaviour & an acknowledgement of past wrongs.

One of the things that has proven tricky in the past is that whenever dp has expressed views to BIL about their interaction with our family, SIL has then come after dp to tell her to leave BIL alone as she is upsetting him. Sigh. Such a treat to deal with them!

I hear loud & clear everyone here saying to cut them off. The thing is, I have had experiences of family members being cut off in my own extended family & it had poisonously negative implications for decades....so I'm committed to trying to work this out a bit longer via the adults....but I'm also committed to protecting dd from them.
post #39 of 41
Thread Starter 
Just an update on this whole sordid situation. Dd1 turned 5 today calls and cards poured in from family & friends with one big fat exception. Total and utter silence from BIL , SIL & family. This after they called the night before Dd2's birthday, 3 weeks ago, to say they were wrapping her gifts to send, were so excited for her & then called again the day of her 2nd birthday to wish her a happy birthday. We have heard NOTHING from them....they have usually called on her birthday previously, heck they've even called on my birthday sometimes. We didn't say anything to dd1 of course, but it literally makes me feel nauseous. I mean who does this? They only have 2 neices...that's it......I have no words really.

Our last visit with MIL was unpleasant. She clearly loves dd, but also clearly thinks she is a mean, nasty girl, as she expressed great surprise at her ability to play nicely with her friends, which is something she has excelled at for more than a year. She also expressed surprise at her listening ability in dance class, which should not be the slightest surprise to anyone who knows her, she does very well in group settings. So clearly she has picked up on BIL's perspective. Dp called her on this in a very gentle way and got an extremely defensive responsive.

I'm so sad for my little girl. And still lost as to what to do. We have explained on various occasions to dd that their behaviour is not her fault. And we have no plans to see BIL and family, though at some point that may come up....sigh.
post #40 of 41
Don't be sad for your DD, she sounds fine. Just cut these toxic people out of your family life. If openly cutting them off is too much for you, just be too busy. And with the calling and gifts to DD2 just say "No thank you. It's not fair and that favoritism is not good for either girl." It's just as bad for your DD that they do like. I wouldn't accept their calls or packages. If a person can't be positive around both of your children you are better off without them. Just tell your DDs that these are rude people so you won't be seeing them anymore, that some people are just rude.
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