We just got through an extremely frustrating annual trip with DH's family. Our DD who is 3.5 years old spent the entire trip avoiding and ignoring us and also being completely disrespectful. We started this trip out trying to be very relaxed about not keeping all the 'home rules' in effect, but drew the line at things such as going to bed after 11pm, not washing hands or brushing teeth, eating junk and candy all day long or watching age inappropriate movies with the older cousins.
We took her aside a few times to discuss the disrespectful behavior which included her deliberately ignoring us even if we were asking her a simple question about what she would like to eat or drink. When she asked MIL if she could have gummy bears, I overhead and said "let's wait for treats after we eat dinner" she turned to me and pointedly said, "I asked Grammy, not You!" and proceeded to ask my MIL again who laughed but said, "your Mom said No" rather than just help me out by saying let's wait for after dinner.
DD will even run away from us if we try to be with her and it has nothing to do with us trying to control her from doing something. It just feels like she wishes we would go away and no cramp her style until it's time to go to bed or first thing in the morning where she always wants us of course. This behavior only exists when MIL is around, DD will always try to get MIL to off to another room so they can do things away from everyone else. This was something my MIL started when DD was real young, MIL would always separate DD from the pack of grandkids so they could spend alone time which DH recently started to put the kibosh on. He feels family time is spent with family (not ignoring the rest of the grandkids too) and if his Mom wants alone with her she should plan it separately.
The other point of frustration is MIL, I feel she encourages this type of behavior because she doesn't help us enforce any boundaries at all and undermines us because she will go against our wishes behind our backs. Such as explaining to MIL that we're trying to teach DD not to share utensils or drinks with anyone and then DH caught MIL giving DD a sip of her Diet Coke. MIL also has a weird obsession of wanting to constantly share everything that she's eaten or drunk with DD which I personally find to be disgusting, but the thing is MIL also knows we don't drink soda and that we definitely don't give it to DD and yet she let her have Diet Coke??
I've talked to my SIL's about this and pretty much my thoughts on why MIL does these things are confirmed. She will purposefully offer and give things to DD that she knows we don't want or allow. It's her way of buying DD's affection and being that special person in her life. When DD was younger my MIL would be extremely upset if DD got hurt and would only allow me or DH to comfort her and no one else. My SIL's have told me that MIL always chooses one particular grandkid (there are 12 in the family) to intensely focus on (and she'll completely ignore the rest) and will do anything they want and give them anything they want even before they think or ask for it.
Talking to MIL is not going to work at all. It'll be more of a headache then it's worth and all it will do is create a lot of needless passive aggressive drama and no resolution. It's just easier for us to limit the time DD spends around her and we no longer allow her to babysit or spend any time alone with her without one of us supervising. The problem is with these huge family parties of 30+ people and the annual family getaway where you just can't shadow your kid 24/7. But how can we better handle the blatant disrespect that DD keeps acting out? Do we call her bluff and cut the trip short and say "it's time to leave?"
Any insight or suggestions would be helpful, I'm ready to just say "No more family trips with DH's family or we're going to stay at a hotel".