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To tell or not to tell: How to deal with MIL?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I never pictured myself as not getting along with my MIL. Yes, she ask my BF of 7years if he remembered the girls from his old church a little too much (he stopped going when he was 18). But other than that I enjoyed talking to her about herbs and different things. So much so that I asked her to be at my home birth and it didn't hurt that she was an RN :). She sort of protested but I thought she was just being nice. Now, my dd is 21mo and has spent the night w/ her grandmother less than a handful of times. She only works a couple days a week so it's not work but rather it feels like something much more personal.

I go to school 1/2-full time. I just completed my associates and am working on getting into a program for ultrasound tech. I go to school online now and am a SAHM. On the other hand my 'SIL' (for all intensive purposes) is a SAHM but her boys stay the night with MIL at least once a week! And when they aren't staying the night she goes over there while her husband is at work. She is getting so much more free time and she isn't trying to go through school so her family can have a better life! Also the only thing I can see that they have in common is that they both got pregnant at like 19. Other than that they are completely different people! And I don't like being around SIL very much because it is VERY uncomfortable because she is just a very quite/strange/judgmental person -I have tried though! I have tried and she just sits there, stares at you and doesn't say a word! I tried going over to MIL's house more to run on treadmill and get some together time because they will absolutely NOT stop over here. They rarely ever call to see if they could watch DD and then this happened...

 

Last winter MIL agreed to watch DD so BF & I could go out on our first date in over a year, it would also be one if not the first time she would watch dd. We had this planned for weeks but on that wednesday MIL called BF and said she couldn't watch DD because SIL&BIL were moving (for the 7th time in 2 years). I feel like she totally ditched us. We never went out on that date. Why did they have to move that weekend? Why couldn't sil get her many brothers to help them move?

And that wasn't the only incidence; We would try to go out of our way to make trips to take DD to see her grandparents but MIL would be out with SIL or watching her boys. Did I mention it wasn't safe to leave DD around SIL's oldest boy? Yeah, he was believed to be autistic by everyone (including father of 2 autistic boys) and she wouldn't get him tested because then she wouldn't have enough money to buy new clothes! I didn't know if he would lash out or throw something at her so I was stuck caring for a baby that no one had any interest in helping me with. It was so bad that I lied and said I had a baby shower to go to on a day when both SIL's and MIL wanted to take me and DD to the zoo. I don't think I would change my decision but since that day tensions have definately been raised.

 

Why would someone with less in common, and less need for a babysitter be given the help? I believe it's because of their religion. Jehova Witnesses are very strict about only closely associating with other JW's or so I've come to find out. They also don't celebrate Birthdays, christmas, easter NOTHING! They believe it's all pegean and beneath them. I don't care what they believe I just wish they could participate in our family traditions. It never occurred to me before I had a kid because it only matters to me if they are there for her and they aren't! I want to tell them I would like to see them at her B-day party this year but BF assures me they won't come and I shouldn't even bring it up. But I'm just to that point were enough tension has built up and I don't really care if they ever see their granddaughter again! I don't want to use her as ammo, it's just that none of this makes seance and I'm tired of acting like I don't have anything to say! So, any advice on how to approach MIL with this? Should I just let it alone? Thanks for letting me vent, if nothing else :)

post #2 of 15

It sounds like it is possible that your MIL sees you as stable and managing well and your SIL as being the one in need of huge amounts of help with so many moves and a child who may have autism. You know that you are stressed and stretched and in need of support but because you are doing so many things well that it may not look like you need the kind of help that a family that seems to bounce from one crisis to the next needs.

 

Yes, you definitely need child care support when you are going to school but SAHM's need breaks too, especially when there are a few children and some with challenging behaviour. I am not saying that your SIL needs or deserves more or less help than you do, just that your MIL's perception of the situation might be that way. 

 

It has to be hard when birthdays and holiday celebrations are an important part of your life and they are not a part of your in-laws' life. There is no easy answer there - for you it is about wanting them to respect and participate in the family traditions that are important to you and for them it is about having their religious beliefs and traditions respected and accepted. It is a conflict with no easy answer. I suspect that if your MIL was offering some connecting and fun time with your dd on a regular basis, even once a month, it might be easier for you to adjust to the fact that they won't be there on Christmas and birthdays but there will be plenty of other happy memories with them for your dd.

 

Can you approach your MIL saying that you want your dd to have a strong relationship with her and wonder how to make that happen? For people who grew up with birthdays and holidays being a significant part of developing that bond it can be hard to imagine it can happen without those holiday get-togethers but it is possible. You might get further with your MIL if you stick with wanting her to spend some more time with your family but you will need to find something that is mutually agreeable. Remember that while you are wishing she would come and participate in your holiday traditions, she might be wishing that you would bring dd to her church with you. Finding some middle ground might make it easier to live with that tension.

 

What does your BF say? Can he be the one to talk to his mom?

post #3 of 15

Since they're JW, they can't.  It's their life.  They can not go to those functions it would be a big deal for them.  Also you said BF you're not married and that could be another big issue.  JW's could be considered very judgmental, I'm not calling them that but they can be percieved that way quite easily.  You can't change them and they will choose their "own" over you.  Sad as it is you need to decide if it's more important to be "in" with them or to get on with your life since it's going to be a constant issue unless you convert and even then I'm not sure how well it will go. 

post #4 of 15

Is your sister in law your mother in laws blood? If so, those relationships will always be different.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cassandraz View Post

Is your sister in law your mother in laws blood? If so, those relationships will always be different.



No, she married into the family.

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

Since they're JW, they can't.  It's their life.  They can not go to those functions it would be a big deal for them.  Also you said BF you're not married and that could be another big issue.  JW's could be considered very judgmental, I'm not calling them that but they can be perceived that way quite easily.  You can't change them and they will choose their "own" over you.  Sad as it is you need to decide if it's more important to be "in" with them or to get on with your life since it's going to be a constant issue unless you convert and even then I'm not sure how well it will go. 



The thing is I've heard lots of stories from BF about JW's. I know they can cast out even their own kind if someone slips up. I just always found MIL & FIL to be very conversational and personable. I thought I had a good grip on their personalities after 5 years but I guess I was wrong, I mean, I don't know what else to say. I think you hit the nail on the head about them 'choosing their own' because honestly that is the only thing those two have in common. I don't know I guess I'm just p@%$^^ off because I desperately need a babysitter. We don't have the money to hire one, I guess I will have to try public assistance, which I didn't want to do.

I would never convert to Jw, besides BF hating that and now all other religions, I personally have researched the origins of the religion and know it to be a sham made up in the 1920's. Besides, who wants to be apart of religion who's only stance is that they know when the 'real' Armageddon' will take place -what a bunch of downers! lol


Edited by sweetBBkendall - 11/30/11 at 10:33pm
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shantimama View Post

It sounds like it is possible that your MIL sees you as stable and managing well and your SIL as being the one in need of huge amounts of help with so many moves and a child who may have autism. You know that you are stressed and stretched and in need of support but because you are doing so many things well that it may not look like you need the kind of help that a family that seems to bounce from one crisis to the next needs.

 

Yes, you definitely need child care support when you are going to school but SAHM's need breaks too, especially when there are a few children and some with challenging behaviour. I am not saying that your SIL needs or deserves more or less help than you do, just that your MIL's perception of the situation might be that way. 

 

It has to be hard when birthdays and holiday celebrations are an important part of your life and they are not a part of your in-laws' life. There is no easy answer there - for you it is about wanting them to respect and participate in the family traditions that are important to you and for them it is about having their religious beliefs and traditions respected and accepted. It is a conflict with no easy answer. I suspect that if your MIL was offering some connecting and fun time with your dd on a regular basis, even once a month, it might be easier for you to adjust to the fact that they won't be there on Christmas and birthdays but there will be plenty of other happy memories with them for your dd.

 

Can you approach your MIL saying that you want your dd to have a strong relationship with her and wonder how to make that happen? For people who grew up with birthdays and holidays being a significant part of developing that bond it can be hard to imagine it can happen without those holiday get-togethers but it is possible. You might get further with your MIL if you stick with wanting her to spend some more time with your family but you will need to find something that is mutually agreeable. Remember that while you are wishing she would come and participate in your holiday traditions, she might be wishing that you would bring dd to her church with you. Finding some middle ground might make it easier to live with that tension.

 

What does your BF say? Can he be the one to talk to his mom?


Sorry for posting all these seperately, I'm still pretty new to this.

 

Thanks for replying. It's nice just to have someone empathize about the whole holiday thing. Believe me, I would LOVE it if BF would talk to her for me but BF isn't really good at getting the right message across. He also is no longer apart of the church, which practices shunning, so I think he is just happy to have ANY relationship with them at all and wouldn't like to push the envelope on that subject. MIL has taken DD to church one time but never asked again and honestly I don't mind while she doesn't know what's going on but I don't know how I'd feel about that later on.

 

"Yes, you definitely need child care support when you are going to school but SAHM's need breaks too"

-I don't know if I mentioned it but I am a SAHM. I have finished my associates mostly online, while watching DD 24/7. In the summer we go out for walks or play at the parks sometimes but I need to stay in and study a lot. The program I'm hoping to be excepted into is based on GPA. So while I know I am helping her out in the long run, for right now I feel simply awful for making my DD stay inside on a nice day... It would make me feel like a better mom if I had someone who could stop by and play with her sometimes.

Of course this all isn't my MIL's fault! But here I am, busting my butt in school trying to make a better life for my daughter(she needs different medical coverage), trying to not let her watch too much TV, cloth diapering, and I cook more than 95% of our meals myself! But my sister-in-law doesn't cook, had my MIL go out and buy her CD's and never used them, couldn't be bothered to get my nephew tested for Autism, has never even had a job in her life, watches TV constantly and dumps her kids off at MIL's no less than 2X a week BUT that is the person who my MIL feels needs the extra support? I'm so sorry but I don't get it! And it makes me feel horrible that my lack of a support system is carried directly over to my daughter, that is what I have to hand down to her???


Edited by sweetBBkendall - 11/30/11 at 10:47pm
post #8 of 15
Okay, so the whole family is JW and your BF is living with and had a kid with someone outside the church?

I can see a whole list of reasons that MIL would be much closer to SIL than you even if the only thing they had in common was that they got pregnant at 19- but thats not the only thing they have in common. They are both JW, they are both married, they share a lifestyle choice. It is probably hard for either of them to talk to you, because you are outside their realm of what they think is normal. Im sure it is hard for them to want to build a relationship with your DD because they dont know what they are allowed to teach her and what they arent.

It is really difficult on everyone when a strong family religion is dominant and then one person deviates from that. Honestly, I would just leave the whole situation alone because it sounds like they are being rather pleasant right now and still including you in the family, even though their son has obviously "gone astray." They arent being abusive or toxic, they are just not super chummy with you and yours. It sucks, but I wouldnt expect more from a family of JW's when you arent one of them.

It sounds like you could use some help moving past the feelings you have for your SIL. You consider her to be judgmental, yet you have an entire list of things that you think she is doing wrong. I have my own list of reasons for not choosing a religion, but you cant let your feelings about their religon allow you to be judgmental about who they are. If you cant accept them for who they are (downers or not) then you shouldn't want them to be a bigger part of your life. You know, you cant go around judging them for how they parent and their religion and whether or not they are downers AND want them to spend more time with your kid. I would probably put some distance in between these relationships and try to view them as what they are acting like--- your boyfriends family, of no relation to you whatsoever. It sucks that they aren't closer to DD, but unless you are willing to allow them to teach the JW beliefs to her, its unlikely that they will become close.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

Adeline'sMama, I think you mistook some things I said and maybe put some things in there I never meant to imply at all.  I want to be clear that I never said anything about being closer to SIL. That ship has sailed and it's ok! (really)... MIL, or rather her distance, does come as a shock.  We were always fine before and I thought she would treat this grandchild with the same enthusiasm as I would expect from any grandmother. Why wouldn't I? I've no experience with this or any religion really, except what I've looked into myself. I just know that my family would never cast someone out because of race, religion, or paternity. I've also been with BF longer than SIL and BIL have been married so just to be clear, this isn't some passing thing... We also have the exact same life style only without titles. I suppose that is a big deal to people(?)

I just thought it went without saying that I don't judge MIL for her religion, obviously, because I do want her in DD's life. Just because I have my own beliefs that don't coincide with MIL's doesn't mean I'm hostile about it towards her. I was taught to respect other people's differences and try to work past them the best you can. Even if I don't think it's the best religious practice, I guess I just believe that family comes before religion.

That being said, you did have some really valid points that I'll be sure to mull over, thanks.

 

post #10 of 15

OP we have a long line JWs in my family and when my great aunt was discommunicated... for reasons that were not shared her husband told her he wanted a divorce since it was too difficult to deal with her and his life in the church.  And so he left her.  Family is not always stronger when it comes to that religion.  I've known kids to pushed out of the family for their choices as well.  You really need to know that it could be ugly and you're right family should be more important. 

post #11 of 15
Isn't a child born out of wedlock destined for hell according to JW teachings? Might make it hard for her if she believes things like that.
post #12 of 15

Well they're supposed to be shunned but she's not a JW. 

post #13 of 15

my best friend growing up was JW.  We're still friends.  I don't think any of the 3 sisters are practicing JW, I've never directly asked her youngest sister, I'm just under the impression she's not.  All of them have kids out of wedlock, but their mom--who is JW, their dad never converted to it, their mom did when we were little kids.  Anyway my point is the grandma, who is JW, is raising 2 of her grandkids, and babysits for my friend who has 3, and her sister's new baby.  She's always taken the kids to services with her and to their assemblies--those who want to, the grandkids are now ranging in age from about 8 to 14, then there is a brand new baby from the youngest.    Maybe it is different because they're her daughters and these are their kids.  I remember when we were little, my friend only came to ONE of my birthday parties, but she comes to her grandkids parties now.  Don't know if there's different levels of strictness in JW communities, or if she just doesn't talk about what she does with her kids in the church or what?  I *know* their mom is practicing JW, my friend said she was at an assembly last month with her dd.

post #14 of 15

Based on my experiences with JW and other similar organizations I'd offer the following ideas:

 

It may have nothing to do with your family. My mom offers a TON of help and money and assistance to my brother's family. To someone who didn't understand the family dynamic it could look unfair. I can really see a SIL thinking it was unfair. My sister and I understand the dynamic and don't have an issue with it but I often wonder if our DH look at it differently.

 

JW either don't or can't do holidays and birthdays if they are observant. It is a major point of tension so I think you bf is right. I don't think you should bring it up. They know you celebrate holiday and birthday. I don't they think they are being excluded. They don't or can't want to come. It isn't a reflection on how they value their grandchild. Pushing the point will not help your relationship.

 

The fact that you are unmarried and had a child out of wedlock are probably very serious issues in their eyes. It may well taint the entire relationship. These things are a not a big deal to a lot of people these days but to many other people they are very serious. There are serious religous consequences, in their eyes, to your choices and to their son's choices. It isn't uncommon to break off contact entirely with family who are raised JW and leave the flock. So, the fact that they've maintained contact and relationship probably means they are more flexible than some in their congregation.

 

None of these things mean that your LO can't have a real and loving relationship with the grandparents and you can't maintain a respectful and appreciative relationship with them. Just understand that they feel they have limits and it isn't personal.

post #15 of 15


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JudiAU View Post

 Just understand that they feel they have limits and it isn't personal.


yeahthat.gif I studied with and about JW's for years, and they are good people. I think it is amazing that your MIL is still "associating" with your husband, given the fact that he was raised JW and does not believe. Maybe he was never baptized and that makes it easier for your MIL to tolerate, but either way by continuing the relationship with someone who was raised in the religion and has abandoned it she is already going outside what she has been taught is right to do.

 

1)You will NEVER get your MIL to come to a B-day party or Christmas, best to forget the idea now. To her this is similar to someone asking you to come to a human sacrifice party and being offended that you wouldn't just come out of love for your human-sacrificing friend. These are really big deals to JW's and are seen as VERY evil. The kind thing for you to do would be to not ask, or mention either thing.

 

2)There maybe many reasons that SIL is getting more help and that her children are seeing MIL more. One I suspect is that MIL is just more comfortable with talking about her religion with other members, and in my experience religion is one of the few things JW's talk about. They study the same materials at the same time all over the world, of course they have more in common than a young marriage.

 

**Also, and this is sad--she may be uncomfortable with your child who will not be part of their Heaven-on-earth scenario if you raise her to reject the faith. She is probably constantly worried about you, her son and now your DD's future, and the fact that your BF rejected her religion and that you don't seem receptive must make it hard for her.

 

If MIL spends one day with you, for every ten days she spends with SIL I can guarantee that her visit your your family is still costing her more emotionally and spiritually than the time spent with SIL's family. It isn't person, it's a religion that they believe in and you don't.

 

All that said, good for you for working so hard and of course you deserve a break!!! Find one outside of your family, there are other ways. Swap babysitting with a friend or neighbor, or just go ahead and pay for it once in a blue moon. At this point you need to give up wishing your in-laws were different and look for another option. Besides just facing reality, your BF must have had reasons for rejecting MIL's faith and the more you leave your DD alone with MIL the more she will try to teach her about what she truly feels is the truth. She won't be able to help it.

 

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