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I feel defeated...MIl rant and GD, UPDATE #64

post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 
I posted yesterday about my MIL pulling ds's hair. Well, last night, she dropped by again unannounced and I was obviously perturbed, kept my conversation short with her, etc. (Again, getting kitchen cleaned before ds's bedtime).

Anyway, she brought ds some junk (popsicles, etc). He wasn't in the greatest mood (it had been a challenging evening with him hitting everything in sight). And, when she arrived the first thing he did was hit her. She told ds that he should be nice to her because she bought him some things : And, he tried to hit her again and said he didn't want them. I gently pulled him over to me, reminded him of our earlier conversation (no hitting) and then he tried to show off a little bit in front of MIL (stick out tongue) so I asked him if we needed to talk in another room. He said "no" and walked away - but first put his arm out like he was going to hit her (but didn't).

MIL then said she was leaving and promptly walked out the door without even a goodbye. Ds was left hysterically asking for "mamaw" and said he wanted to give her a kiss. It was awful.absolutely awful. What could I say in that situation?

So, dh wasn't around - I gave him my account of the situation and asked him to talk to her. dh didn't think this was a big deal - but I was so hurt for ds. He didn't understand (he's 2.5yo) why she left, no did she even think about discussing it with him.

So, dh and I talked a long while about it. Dh said he'd handle it, but I wanted to know exactly HOW. Long story short, she told dh that I make her feel unwelcome and that she left because ds has been hitting her with more frequency, so she thought she'd teach him a lesson :

I told dh that I thought it was important that we tell our families what is okay and what is never okay when it comes to disciplining ds. Pulling hair, hitting, spanking, etc, etc are NEVER okay. And, if dh or I are around - WE will handle the discipline, NO ONE else.

Dh got upset and asked if I should write a manual to give to everyone who ds comes in contact with and have them take a test before they are allowed to be alone with ds. It hurt my feelings because I'm the one researching the best decisions for ds - while dh has said he'll go with the flow. And, now all the sudden, the research doesn't matter? Because it's his mom?

As a side note, MIL and I have at best a tense relationship. She is a very overbearing, intrusive woman with no relationship boundaries. I've been seeking the help from a counselor who told me that I need to emotionally distance myself from her - which I feel I've been successful in doing. Dh says this is wrong and that I come off as cold and rude when she visits 5-6x per week. Could ds be picking up on some of my emotion? I really don't feel like I'm rude to her, but I simply don't really get too involved in conversation with her. I mostly just keep myself busy with housework while she's visiting (which requires me to be in the laundry room or kitchen). I had actually hoped this approach over time might help her realize that MY life will not stop just because she wants to drop by all the time. I still have a home to keep up with.

So, I just feel defeated overall. Like HOW I'm trying to raise my ds doesn't matter to dh when it involves his mom. His mom already thinks I'm nuts simply because I don't let ds eat crap all the time, drink soda and because I don't want pain meds during birth and I nurse for "too long". I just feel stomped on and I really have no idea where to go at this point.

1. I guess I'm looking for some information about books that show developmentally appropriate milestones (cause/effect, empathy, abandonment - which is what I felt MIL did when she left without saying goodbye and could clearly hear ds screaming for her to come back.)

2. Should I address the tension issue with MIL or leave that to dh? He said he'd talk to her about not stopping by all the time - but he's said that before and she still does.
post #2 of 74
Ummm, is that my mil? except for the junk food part, she's actually really weird about food, it's all organic, but it's crazy, not normal. SHe has some serious eating issues, and she's a wreck as a result.
First of all, hello, stopping by 5-6x a week is NOT okay, especially if you don't enjoy those visits.
Confronting my MIL did not work, you could talk to that woman til your blue in the face, she'll still totally disrespect you. So yes, emotionally distancing is good. SHe is also being manipulative, not good. SO you need to get tough, centred and calm. If she comes over more than you are comfy with, just tell her when she comes that you are busy at the mo, and to please come at another time. SHe will give you a hard time about this, but you have to value yourself.
The hardest part for me was that I REALLY had this dream we could get along. I know my mil loves my children. But at some point, I had to put myself first in the relationship, for the sake of the children. I had to face reality of who she is, and to expect more is unrealistic. I know it's hard. Your dh needs to support you too. Maybe he doesn't understand your feelings, but regardless, he needs to be supportive of you.
It's all a good learning experience for you to learn to draw healthy boundaries and learn to really stand up for yourself, and your child. Good luck with this.
post #3 of 74
No offense meant at all... but I've been trying to explain natural / logical consequences to Dh- and one example I used was if you hit someone they may not want to play with you.
She may be a big pain in the behind, but wasn't your MIL leaving as a result of being hit a logical consequence?
post #4 of 74
I certainly think that 5-6 visits a week is at least 5 too many. And coming over unannounced is totally unacceptable. My MIL used to do this when we first were married, and we finally got to the point where we just wouldn't answer the door. It was obvious from the cars in the driveway we were home, but eventually she got the point.

You need to come to some agreement with your dh before you start planning the line with your MIL. If he isn't on board, you are in a tough spot.

I also tend to agree with Madre. I don't think it's a bad lesson for your son to learn that when he hits people, they will not want to hang around with him.
post #5 of 74
I have no specific advice for you, just hugs.

I had serious MIL issues in my last relationship. I also had some boundary issues with my own mom that I had to work out when my oldest children were small. I'm happy that I've worked those things out with my mom now, but it was tough for quite awhile. Hang in there.

I also know that my dd is the same age as your ds, and if Grandma were to just leave in the middle of a visit, she'd be heartbroken, even if she had been snotty and even if it was a natural consequence. I'm not sure they're able to rationalize that sort of thing at this age.
post #6 of 74
Yikes. I kinda like my MIL, and if she dropped by 5-6x a week unannounced I'd probably hit her or pull her hair! Especially if she expected me to drop everything I'm doing and entertain her. Can you start with telling her that she MUST call before coming over to make sure it's a good time for you, and that you will not be answering the door unless she has done so? And then stick to that? Or will your DH throw a monkey wrench in that?

I think MP has a good point, but I also think that it's a poor example for her to set to not have a straightforward conversation with your son ("It hurts and makes me sad when you hit/pull hair, I think I should go home if you don't feel like being kind right now" or something like that) instead of just leaving and not explaining herself. If you're feeling bold, I might ask her "so what lesson were you trying to teach him, passive-aggression?"

I don't know of a book to suggest, but maybe print her an article or two to read (DH too!). One of my fave sites for short, quick to the point articles is http://www.naturalchild.com/articles/
post #7 of 74
I see what you mean, MAdre Piadosa, but I think it would have helped if MIL had said "DS, I am leaving beause it makes me sad when you hit me." Or something to that effect, so he understood why she left.
post #8 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by ashleep
I see what you mean, MAdre Piadosa, but I think it would have helped if MIL had said "DS, I am leaving beause it makes me sad when you hit me." Or something to that effect, so he understood why she left.
Oh I totally agree
It just struck me because I happen to have used that same example last night
I should have also addressed the rest of the post and the questions.
1. No book recs- sorry, but even grownups get upset if someone leaves without saying goodbye. Maybe you could ask her how she would feel if you got upset for something she did- then while she was in the bathroom, dissappear without a goodbye.
2.I do think that its dh's issue- since its his mom. But if he is unable to get her to respect boundries... how would she respond to a sign on the door. "Mama and child are resting, please call us after X time to arrange a visit." Then don't answer your door. Or do you have a friend's house you could camp out at for a week so your not home? Maybe she'll get that message.. if dh talking doesn't help.
Dana
post #9 of 74
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Madre Piadosa
Oh I totally agree
It just struck me because I happen to have used that same example last night
I should have also addressed the rest of the post and the questions.
1. No book recs- sorry, but even grownups get upset if someone leaves without saying goodbye. Maybe you could ask her how she would feel if you got upset for something she did- then while she was in the bathroom, dissappear without a goodbye.
2.I do think that its dh's issue- since its his mom. But if he is unable to get her to respect boundries... how would she respond to a sign on the door. "Mama and child are resting, please call us after X time to arrange a visit." Then don't answer your door. Or do you have a friend's house you could camp out at for a week so your not home? Maybe she'll get that message.. if dh talking doesn't help.
Dana
MD - I do understand what you were saying - and had she discussed it with him prior to leaving, I would have been okay with it. Instead, she left (and not immediately after the hitting - so it even left me confused. Dh and I think it's very important to discuss before, during, and after a consequence.

No, my dh will not be on-board with just not answering the door. Because to him, it's perfectly acceptable for her to drop by this frequently. The only time it's bothered him is when MIl stopped by AT DINNER TIME 4 days in a row. Finally, dh made the comment to MIL - "you know, this is the 4th time this week that you've stopped by at dinner - and ds thinks it's time to play instead of eat when you're here." She totally didn't get it "because I didn't bring any food over." :

Thank you all for your suggestions. Honestly, I know I really cannot talk to her about her visiting so frequently because she doesn't respond - not to me, not to dh - she really doesn't care.

But, maybe if dh can angle it this way "you know mom, I really think that ds has been hitting you more frequently because lately you've been coming over shortly before his bedtime (which is wind-down time for us) and maybe if you call first, Steph or I can let you know if he's in a good humor - so that the hitting is less likely. Because lately, ds has been getting tired earlier and I think it has to do with the fact he's waking earlier in the am and we're busy outside playing most evenings. He's just tired by the time you get here and isn't really in the mood to play." She may respond to that.
post #10 of 74
I have a similiar MIL I can empathize with you. I think first of all, you and dh need to be on the same page when dealing with your mil and your son. Once you can agree on the basics of disciplining, then you can all sit down with mil and explain to her what you're trying to do. I also think it might be a good idea for you to attempt to have a conversation with her by yourself explaining that while you want her and ds to have a good solid bond, you are still the mother and she needs to respect YOUR boundaries. I know all of this is easier said than done. We've done all the above and have finally come to the conclusion that my mil is pretty much nuts She just doesnt get it so we try and limit our time around her. She used to drop in ALL THE TIME but she got sick and we live farther so she cant just drop by anymore....
Anyway....good luck
post #11 of 74
Steph, that sounds like a good conversation. And, as far as dh not liking it if you don't answer the door, I'd tell him fine, when he's home he can visit her all he wants, when he's gone, too bad for her. Maybe in a nicer way. My FIL is in the habit of calling really late at night: 10:30 and later. Now, before kids, I wouldn't have cared AS MUCH, but I now really value any time after the kids are asleep, and don't want the phone ringing off the hook. Besides, in our families, it's just common curtesy to not call that late "just to talk", and he always has to talk for at least an hour. So, I just stopped answering. dh can answer if he wants, but when he's not home, I just don't answer (and he knew dh wasn't home, but called anyway). He got the point eventually and stopped calling so late. Well, until now, but that's because dh doesn't get home until 10, and FIL calls right when he walks in, only talks a couple of min., and then tries to wait till the weekend.
post #12 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by peilover010202
But, maybe if dh can angle it this way "you know mom, I really think that ds has been hitting you more frequently because lately you've been coming over shortly before his bedtime (which is wind-down time for us) and maybe if you call first, Steph or I can let you know if he's in a good humor - so that the hitting is less likely. Because lately, ds has been getting tired earlier and I think it has to do with the fact he's waking earlier in the am and we're busy outside playing most evenings. He's just tired by the time you get here and isn't really in the mood to play." She may respond to that.
That's a wonderful way to put it. Hoping it will work for you.

I may be coming in a little late on this, but with your MIL pulling his hair, does she not consider that to be equally offensive as your ds hitting her? She is at least an adult who *should* be able to control herself. At age two, people have a little less impulse control than at oh say 52.

Anyways. s to you
post #13 of 74
* Tell her to stop coming by unannounced. If she continues, meet her at the door, chat with her on the porch but refuse to let her in. We used to live a couple miles from my husband's parents. Now we live about a football field's distance away and she never comes by unannounced because she knows I won't let her in.

* Tell her under no circumstances is she to ever discipline your son. You have your beliefs on how it should be done and it's not up to her to enforce her beliefs, but rather respect your decisions. Pulling his hair, no matter how funny both of them thought it was, was totally inappropriate. I'd let her know that if she ever tried to physically hurt one of my children again, it would be the last time she had physical access to them.

* My blanket statement to anyone who questions what I do with my children is "you raise/raised yours the way you wanted and I'd appreciate if you let me do the same."

I don't like Dr. Phil but I watched a parenting show once. He made some remark about how consistency with your kids shouldn't just happen in your home. If your parents or in-laws are around all the time, they should treat your children like you do in regards to diet, discipline, rules and/or schedules. I told my husband his mother and sister can spoil the kids all they want when visits go down to once a month. If they want to come over all the time and be with the kids all the time, they need to respect my wishes in what they eat (I don't allow much junk, either), how they play (no killing games, no older-kid cartoons) and how they are disciplined (no spanking, "popping" hands, yelling at them, humiliating, belittling, etc.). Otherwise, the only thing you can do is limit contact.
post #14 of 74
...I don't have any words of wisdom at all, in fact I'm pretty much floored by the whole thing...but this has got to be very difficult for you and I really hope your DH can make your MIL understand how unreasonable she is being.
post #15 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Madre Piadosa
No offense meant at all... but I've been trying to explain natural / logical consequences to Dh- and one example I used was if you hit someone they may not want to play with you.
She may be a big pain in the behind, but wasn't your MIL leaving as a result of being hit a logical consequence?
Yes, it's a logical consequence, but it would have been better for her to have told the little guy that she was leaving, why she was leaving and given him a proper goodbye. My dd is a lot like the OP's son, if there's no goodbye, no transition she will freak out. She doesn't understand why someone she loves didn't say bye and is suddenly gone. It can literally take hours for her to calm down after this happens to her. It got to the point where we told someone point blank that if they were going to be in our house they had to let dd know when they are leaving because of how poorly she handles change without transition.

To the OP: I agree, 5-6 x a week is rediculous. I see my MIL that often right now because we don't have a vehicle and it's driving me up the *&%&^%*^$ wall because she doesn't understand boundaries or respect me as a parent. But I'm too nervous to tell her off because she's our only transportation right now and she tends to throw pity parties and sulk ugh..
post #16 of 74
Nevermind, just caught on to the fact that this was the next day. I hope the other solutions work for you.
post #17 of 74
Um, are you guys really calling love-withdrawl a logical or natural consequence?

And OP, are you leaving your child in the care of a woman who defends her right to pull his hair? Did I read correctly that you go to another room during her visits and leave him unsupervized with her?

I really hope not.
post #18 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
Um, are you guys really calling love-withdrawl a logical or natural consequence?
No, the withdrawal isn't the consequence, MIL leaving is the consequence. When we are not nice to people they don't want to be around us. Thus, MIL left because shewas being hit. I don't understand or condone the way she went about it (not saying anything to ds) but I understand the leaving.
post #19 of 74
Well, I stand by my questions.
post #20 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Madre Piadosa
...wasn't your MIL leaving as a result of being hit a logical consequence?
I had this thought as well. Gee, if walked into a house and the person's 2.5 yo hit me and stuck his tongue out at me, I'd leave too.

When your ds was upset that MIL left, that would have been a perfect opportunity to say 'MILs feelings were hurt, honey, because of being hit. She's sad now and had to go home because she feels so sad. That's why we don't hit people."

Then, if that seemed to be sinking in and I felt like he was open to it, I'd say "would you like to phone grandma and let her know that you're sorry about hitting? I bet she'd be really happy to know that."

If instead you respond with something like "I can't believe she left without saying good-bye! Look what it's doing to poor ds!" then ds continues to think only of himself, what he wants, how he is affected, and learns exactly the wrong message.

My take anyway.
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