I wanted to clarify my relationship with my MIL (and FIL) and answer a question about what I do for them. What do you do for your inlaws to foster the relationship with their grandchild(ren)? Please, before posting, please do not say you do not believe grandparents don't have to treat grandchildren fairly or that you leave it up to your DH/partner. I need to foster the relationship and improve the connection between my inlaws for my child's sake. Thanks.
I am not looking for them to lavish attention on my child. I'm simply seeking some level of fairness in how they treat all of their grandchildren and an improvement in the relationship/connection/bond.
What I do for MIL (and FIL):
- I do have a very nice place for MIL to sleep and I have always put out fresh sheets, blankets and pillows for her. Yes, it is an air mattress, but it is quite comfortable (more comfortable than where we sleep, actually) and it is clean and fresh and in a quiet area of the house.
- I go to the grocery store before her visit and get good things (just not meat) and usually I order pizza or other take-out for her and she chooses what she wants from the menu. More often than not, DH and I pay for it.
- I send them pictures of their grandchild, and lots of information on what is going on in their grandchild's life. Frequently.
- I used to send lots of cards (for things like Father's Day/Mother's Day, etc). For years. I send them art projects from school, drawings, special hand-made messages and cards from my child, etc.
- I invite them for field trips, for birthday parties, for playgroups. For holidays. For visits in general. I always extend the invitation to them both (both FIL and MIL).
- I try to engage FIL in conversation about things that interest him. His yard. His hobbies. The weather. What's going on in his home town.
- I try to engage MIL in conversation about things that interest her and I listen to what she says.
- I always offer to pay for things like take-out, pizza we order, the admission to places we go. More often than not, DH and I do pay. We never free load off of them and we always, always offer, which both MIL and FIL have remarked about and have said they really respect us for.
- I take MIL out for lunch, and pay. I take MIL out for coffee, and pay. I take MIL out for ice cream, and pay. I take MIL to movies, and pay.
- I ask what they would like to do first. I ask for their ideas about agendas for the day. I try to elicit ideas from them. What would you like to do? What do you enjoy? Oh, I don't know. Whatever is fine is always the reply. But they always say it's a problem or snipe about it after the fact. This has happened so many times. They don't speak up and I think they are fine with things, then learn later they didn't like it.
- I used to buy them gifts, special ones, from their grandchild - keepsakes, personalized things, special and meaningful books, framed photos, grandparent journals, etc. I made a real effort on that kind of stuff for about 4 years (my child is only 4.5).
- I have gone to visit them when they've requested over the years: holidays, Mother's Day, if they have relatives in town, family reunions.
- I've not complained and agreed it was necessary when DH had to go to their house, use his very limited vacation from work, and help them when they've had a few emergencies and other episodes. We're the only relatives close, and we do that for them and have for years. Granted, they don't ask for help often but when they have, we've been the family to do it. I feel that is what family does.
- I reached out to MIL and helped in every way DH asked me to and which I felt was appropriate without overstepping my bounds when MIL's mother passed away. We stayed with them, sent cards, called on the phone. That's what family does.
- When I go to MIL's house, I put up with their smoking and their lack of a guest room, and the tv being on loud into the night in the same room they set up the air mattress for me, DH, and DS. The last time the tv blared all night and other family members were watching it and DS (3 at the time) stayed up until 1 a.m. crying. I try to overlook things when at their house, within reason.
- I've tried to give MIL and FIL as much information to make things they don't understand as easy on them as possible, such as things about how we are parenting and choices we make.
I don't know - there's probably more, but this is a good attempt at a list of what I do for MIL and FIL.
In return, I am asking that they be fair and spend an equivalent amount of time and money on DS as they do on their other two grandchildren the same age who happen to live much further away.
I hope that answers your questions. And provides some food for thought. I'd be happy to read what you do for your MIL and FIL.
Thanks so much.