When is enough "enough"? (re: ILs) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 05-28-2009, 04:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I moved 1000 miles away from our family, mainly because of the stress and drama his parents (really, his mom) were causing in our lives. (A side note: When we visit, DH typically joins us for the first weekend of the visit, and I stay a week or 10 days, just me and the kids. We stay w/ my parents.) MIL is a VERY difficult person. Most everyone that is related to her or connected to her somehow has cut her out of their life because she's literally crazy (as in, she has been committed before and has a host of mental issues.)

A sampling:
-She is a compulsive gambler. She'll run off and gamble away all their money (typically after wiping our FIL's retirement, taking a loan out in his name, or pawning her wedding ring) and then calls to say that she's going to kill herself. Everyone waits by the phone to find out if she does or not (she doesn't) and then she returns home and no one holds her accountable for her actions because she's reacted so dramatically.

-She has empheseyma and still smokes over a pack a day. She eats horribly. She takes horrible care of herself and gets mad that we won't feed DS (age 2.5) junk. She's also very anti-breastfeeding and makes snide comments about it, as well as staying that I should've given him a bottle so she could take him out on her own. She constantly pushes junk food, knowing that we limit it. DS loves hummus and veggies, fruits, etc. but she tries to give him soda, candy, Gerber fruit snacks, etc. She does things to get under people's skin, and this is a major one. I finally grew a backbone when DS had such horrible diarrhea after his last visit with them. I told them they were not to give him anything to eat that we had not approved. Her answer? "Well so-and-so says the best part of having grandkids is giving them junk and sending them home. Guess we don't get to do that..."

-They WILL NOT babyproof and they ignore DS. Last time, MIL had countless medications sitting on the dining room table w/ their LIDS OFF. There was also an ashtray, a fly swatter, and a LIT CANDLE, all sitting on the coffee table. As soon as we arrive to visit, they ask DS "what do you want to watch on TV?". When he gets bored and wanders away, they turn it to Fox News and are fixated while I chase DS around. There is an open staircase that he gravitates towards, though they don't notice as they're usually caught up in the O'Reilly Factor.

-They came to visit us a few months ago and I had to run into Target to grab a few things. We were going to eat at a restaurant that was in the same complex as Target. DH dropped DS w/ them while he swung back around to Target to pick me up. When we pulled up in front of the restaurant, DS was sitting on the curb and CRYING while ILs stood 5 or so feet away, talking to each other. They didn't try to comfort him at all. Every meal we at in a restaurant during that visit ended up with me juggling a newborn baby and DS while ILs focused on their own food, rather than interacting w/ their grandkids.

-We were packing up the car to go show them around our town. I forgot my car keys, so I put DD (just a few weeks old at that point) in the car in her carseat and I ran upstairs to get my keys. DH and FIL were putting some things from FIL's truck into our garage and MIL was standing next to our car. It was very cold and DD became FRANTIC. She was screaming so loud I could hear her in our condo on the second level. I ran downstairs and MIL was gone. I asked DH where she went and he said that she'd said she was cold and went to sit in her car. She completely ignored a SCREAMING newborn and didn't even bother to shut the car door or anything. She just walked away.

-Last time I visited them (I stay w/ my parents, who live nearby and see my ILs a few times during my 10 day visit, typically), MIL said she wanted to take us to the zoo (because my mom had taken us to a wildlife park the day before). We arrived and DS was having a great time but MIL just rushed thru everything. We only spent 20 minutes in the whole zoo and MIL acted very bored the whole time. There was a kitchen playset in a fun play area and DS fell in love w/ it. MIL was so bored that after about 5 minutes she started saying "DS, we need to go to the car or I'm going to eat the cookies I have in there for you... We need to go or I'm not going to buy you candy." She was so bored and ready to be done w/ DS it broke my heart.

-Their dogs are very unpredictable and will randomly bite anyone close to them. The dogs are their "babies", though, and when we insist that they are put outside, ILs will grumble about it. Once, when DS was just a couple of months old, MIL sat at the window and watched her dogs out the window, rather than interact w/ DS.

-Last time I visited, MIL went on a ridiculous tirade that it's "bull$^&" for kids to stay home with their moms and not be in daycare. I'm a SAHM...


-MIL was married once before and had a child. Her husband left her (and took the kid) when he came home and she was passed out drunk and the baby was screaming. When DH (who is adopted) was 6 months old MIL decided she "didn't want to be a mom" anymore and walked out on them. She returned 6 months later but was always abusive and cruel to DH. She's incredibly abrasive and rude and mean to EVERYONE in her life, which is why no one else will have anything to do with her.

I would just drop DS off at their house to visit (after spending time w/ them and DH and I...he warms up to them fine) but I can't because of the safety issues. Instead, MIL calls constantly, wanting me to come see them. No matter how many times I visit them, they complain that it's not enough. Yet when we do visit, it's miserable and DS just wants to leave. They don't make an attempt to get to know him, they don't try to play with him or spend time with him. They are concerned about "scoring"- who gets to spend time with the kids, how much, what they did, etc. "So and so's grandkids live in town. They see them every day...Mrs. Jones gets to babysit her 3 week old granddaughter every weekend." DH has done a great job attempting to explain that we don't do things that way, but nothing helps.

I also feel like I can't trust her to report back to me if anything happens w/ the kids. She's a compulsive liar- example: I saw her feed a hamburger patty to one of their dogs. The dog started throwing up. FIL, concerned, asked her if she'd given the dog anything to eat and she said "No, I haven't given her anything at all." I can't leave DS w/ her because I wouldn't get the straight story out of her if he became sick or had any sort of trouble.

-We left DS w/ them in their hotel when they came to visit us a few months ago. We came to pick him up and he was wandering around the room, bored. ILs were watching TV. DS STUNK. He had been sitting in a dirty diaper for god knows how long and either they were so far away from him for the entire visit that they didn't notice or they were too lazy to change it. His skin was red, so he'd obviously been dirty for a couple of hours.

I'm aware that MIL really does need mental help, but I have accepted that the situation won't change. My concern now is the uncertaintly of what I should do? I get so anxious and upset over the idea of visiting them that I feel sick and every single visit is upsetting and ridiculous. But, my kids have very little family (and FIL is a good guy, just a bit lazy). I'm the only one that will tolerate MIL at all- everyone else avoids her like the plague.

WWYD? What is an acceptable amount of time to spend w/ them? How do I handle such a toxic person? I've put my foot down w/ the food issues, etc but that doesn't help with dealing with the stress of trying to find a balance between my sanity and their "rights" as grandparents. I'd like to try to keep the peace but at the same time and so tired of dreading spending time w/ them and getting beat up constantly by MIL testing us and trying to push us away so she can make me the "bad guy", as she has with the rest of her acquaintances. Advice?
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#2 of 27 Old 05-28-2009, 06:50 AM
 
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What a tough position to be in.

Honestly, I'd say enough was enough quite a while ago.

If my in-laws did even about half of those things (once, never mind repeatedly), they would lose all contact with their grandchildren until they were willing to respect my authority as the parent.

I'm trying to say this as gently as possible: You clearly don't trust these people. Why on earth do you allow them unsupervised visits with your kids? As you said, no one else is willing to spend time with them, they disappoint and hurt your children ... I'm a little unclear as to the benefit in continuing your relationship with them.

My advice is to set very clear boundaries before the next visit. Make sure they know what you expect from the visit--how they will treat you and your children. I would further let them know that if they cannot respect these boundaries, that they may choose not to spend time with you and their grandchildren any longer.

Good luck in making the best choices for your family!

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#3 of 27 Old 05-28-2009, 06:55 AM
 
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Wow, what a tough situation. You must feel horrible.
However noble your motives are (keep some family for your children, accept ILs as they are) I firmly believe that your direct family (DH and children) comes first. From what you are describing your ILs really can't be trusted around your children.
Have you looked for professional support? It must be quite an emotional tangle for your DH to be in.

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#4 of 27 Old 05-28-2009, 10:16 AM
 
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What you described is waaaay beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior. Under no circumstances would I leave a child with them. None.

Read Toxic Parents. Commit to memory the list of non-defensive responses. Use liberally when talking to your mil.

A few suggestions for boundaries...no disciplining my children, no visiting if house is not safe, respectful language at all times, children's safety and welfare comes first at all times. You have to be willing to enforce those boundaries by getting up and leaving.

That might mean spending no time with them at all, or very short amounts of time. Your children can help send pictures, drawings, have short speaker-phones conversations. I believe it's important to demonstrate healthy behavior, and subjecting your family to that is not healthy.

Sorry mama. That's really awful and sad. Thank goodness you have 1000 miles between you.
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#5 of 27 Old 05-28-2009, 10:34 AM
 
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What does your DH think of all this? When I read about your MIL's behavior it makes me think she is mentally ill too, but if they don't see it they won't get her any help. I don't think I would leave a child with them, ever, and it seems you have valid concerns. It's so hard to have no say or power in a situation (not like you can tell her to get help) but have expectations placed on you (they expect to spend time with DC). I can relate as my MIL is OCD with hoarding, and nobody wants to get help for her. Luckily I don't have to make decisions about children and my MIL, just myself, and DH is very respectful when I don't want to go. Can you talk to DH about it?
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#6 of 27 Old 05-28-2009, 10:39 AM
 
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She sounds exactly like my mother! You have my sympathy. Sadly I have no advice; we just avoid my mum as much as possible. In her case it's when she's drunk which is a lot of the time. So we only visit if she's sober, and dad warns us in advance. But I think she's mad anyway and there's nothing we can do which is very frustrating.

I'd say just avoid her as much as possible, she doesn't deserve to see her grandson if that's how she acts. I hope you manage to sort it out.
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#7 of 27 Old 05-28-2009, 11:43 AM
 
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Wow, she sounds very toxic. What does your DH think about his parents? Does he see them as capable or is he just humoring them out of guilt and obligation?

Personally I would not have further contact with these people. They've repeatedly shown that they can't be trusted to care for your children, that they don't respect you either as a mother or a human being, and that they don't have enough regard for your family's safety to do basic things like put dangerous medications away or control their dogs.

Apply the stranger test here. Would you continue to associate with people you'd just met if they did any of these things, let alone all of them? Just because your husband was unlucky enough to be adopted by dysfunctional people doesn't mean you have to expose your own children to the same insanity and danger.

And definitely check out Toxic Parents and Emotional Blackmail, both by Susan Forward. You might also consider the book Understanding the Borderline Mother, by Christine Ann Lawson. Your MIL sounds pretty textbook IMHO.


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#8 of 27 Old 05-28-2009, 11:51 AM
 
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I've put my foot down w/ the food issues, etc but that doesn't help with dealing with the stress of trying to find a balance between my sanity and their "rights" as grandparents.
They have no rights as grandparents. They've abdicated any such "rights" long ago by their very actions. At this point it's a matter of protecting your family from them. Unfortunately, that may mean that FIL has to suffer the consequences of his own actions (putting up with/staying with MIL).

Honestly, it's far more important that you provide for your family a healthy, stable environment than it is that you involve these toxic people in your lives.

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#9 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 02:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all the responses. I didn't realize my post was so long until I just reread it- thanks to all who managed to read it all!

A few points of clarification/explanation:
-We don't leave the kid(s) with them anymore. The last time we did so was in their hotel (which we babyproofed) and before that was long ago, before DS was very mobile and babyproofing was much of a concern. DH and I ran down the street to visit his old neighbors and returned 20 minutes later. The "stranger test" that someone mentioned is spot-on: I do NOT trust the ILs and for that fact we don't ask them to babysit, nor do we allow DS to visit unattended.

-She has been diagnosed with mental illness, but I'm unsure of what exactly. I agree that she does sound like textbook borderline personality, just going on the little experience I have with it.

-DH is a bit torn on the issue. he agrees that she's crazy, but he also grew up with it...he is constantly realizing how insane she really is: when he was young, he made her a clay frog in art class. He was only 8 or so years old and gave the frog to her for her birthday (she likes frogs). She said "oh, this took a lot of f*$%ing thought." and SMASHED the frog. He was always bothered by it, but a few nights ago after our DS gave DH a rock he found outside (and DH put the rock in his dresser to keep it) he brought it up again, not understanding how anyone wouldn't cherish anything their child made for them. However, DH is also used to his dad just tolerating her. MIL is so angry and horrible that everyone just kind of placates her and puts in as little effort as possible, just doing enough to not make her flip out. But DH spends a lot less time w/ them than I do. His visits are much shorter and MIL isn't as nasty to him (I think because she knows FIL wouldn't tolerate that). So he understands how stressful it all is on me, yet doesn't really want to rock the boat. He's adopted and I suspect that he carries some baggage from that, but he's also just a bit jaded by the whole thing. Her crazy behavior is the only thing he's ever known and while he doesn't tolerate it he also doesn't understand just how toxic it is.

I guess my issue is that I'm constantly grieving the fact that I don't have "good" in-laws. My sister's in-laws are really fun, nice people. My parents get along w/ them beautifully and everyone can get together and have a great time. My MIL caused scenes at our bridal shower, our baby shower, and my college graduation. When my grandparents died tragically w/in 10 days of each other (just days before and after Xmas), MIL couldn't be bothered to attend a single visitation or funeral. Instead, she slit her wrists because she wasn't getting attention. I don't mean to sound selfish or like I'm trivializing her mental illness but her crazy behavior is just so predictable and insane that I want to scream when anyone puts up with it (though, admittedly, I put up with it as well.)

I'd love for DCs to have two sets of loving grandparents. I'd love for them to feel doted on by all of them, etc. I just need to convince myself that it's ok that that's not how it is. That's life, and what's important is that my kids are surrounded by people that love and respect us. I will admit that I really dislike making waves (especially with REALLY nasty people), but it's time I stood up for myself. I've felt trampled on for 8 years...EIGHT YEARS!!! What a long time to let someone treat you poorly....

I really respect the advice I get on MDC, and I think just hearing that I wasn't overreacting and expecting too much from my ILs has helped. I won't cut them out of my kids' lives but I also won't knock myself out to try to force a relationship that is so toxic and potentially harmful for my kids.
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#10 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 11:25 AM
 
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Oh, mama. You are not selfish or anything else for feeling hurt and betrayed by your MIL and FIL's behavior. Of course you can't make a diagnosis or anything but I really, really think you should get the books Toxic Parents and Stop Walking on Eggshells. TP could be so, so helpful for your husband to read. It sounds like he's had a horribly traumatic childhood at his parents' hands (and yes, it's his father's behavior too--enabling an abuser is just as abusive, and in some ways worse because he doesn't have the excuse of mental illness).

I have to say, given how they've behaved and the absolute pain they've put you through (and the danger in which they've put your children), this seems like a total contradiction to me:

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I won't cut them out of my kids' lives but I also won't knock myself out to try to force a relationship that is so toxic and potentially harmful for my kids.
Mama, as your children's mother it is your duty to protect them from harm, even if doing so makes you extremely uncomfortable and rocks the boat. Your ILs are harmful and potentially dangerous. I think you should give serious thought to limiting or even ceasing contact, especially as the children grow older and more likely to remember these terrifying outbursts and behaviors. Remember too that going no-contact doesn't have to be a permanent solution. You can always go back and reinitiate a relationship if you feel that things have improved.

My own grandmother was, I believe now, an undiagnosed borderline, and her husband was a classic narcissist (borderlines and narcissists often marry, for reasons that are still poorly understood). The contact I had with them as a child was confusing, frequently emotionally abusive, and still causes me some pain to this day. I know you feel a strong duty to allow your children to know their grandparents, and preserve a relationship with your ILs, but please know that sometimes the lack of a relationship is far, far healthier than having one with toxic people.

Whatever you decide, I would encourage you to read about how you can successfully maintain your own boundaries and protect your children, and also maybe consider talking to someone professionally. Not because there's anything wrong with you, by the way! Just because dealing with disordered, toxic people has a way of distorting our own reality and making us doubt ourselves, which can be damaging and depressing over time. In fact, many times toxic people go out of their way to make us feel crazy. This is called "gaslighting" (after an old movie in which a man tries to make his new wife go insane so he can steal her money) and is maybe the worst thing about dealing with a toxic person. After awhile, you start to think maybe it's just you. But it isn't.

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#11 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 12:04 PM
 
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I'd love for them to feel doted on by all of them, etc. I just need to convince myself that it's ok that that's not how it is.
Do you have any social outlets to find "adopted" grandparents? Church, retired neighbors, visit a nursing home or similar assisted living facility?

Just an idea ...
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#12 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 12:06 PM
 
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NEVER leave them alone with these people! My dh and I have had similar issues with crazy mil. She too has burned many bridges. We have had to set some major boundaries and limit how often we see her. We decided that our son was more important and we didnt want him thinking crazy is normal and how you get what you want kwim? Your family should think about doing the same. Oh and she will be peeved BUT you gotta be firm and consistant.
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#13 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 12:10 PM
 
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PS - I agree that you should check out "Stop walking on eggshells" and also look into some books on setting and maintaining boundaries.

In fact, I believe I might still have a copy of eggshells. PM me if you'd like me to send it to you and I will see if I can find it.
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#14 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 12:11 PM
 
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I'd avoid being at their house if at all possible.

It really is not fair or fun, but I don't think you're ever going to be able to trust your ILs to watch the kids. It sounds like you and your dh will always have to be "on duty".

Or maybe try to keep visits short.
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#15 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 01:38 PM
 
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I guess my issue is that I'm constantly grieving the fact that I don't have "good" in-laws. My sister's in-laws are really fun, nice people. My parents get along w/ them beautifully and everyone can get together and have a great time.

I'd love for DCs to have two sets of loving grandparents. I'd love for them to feel doted on by all of them, etc. I just need to convince myself that it's ok that that's not how it is. That's life, and what's important is that my kids are surrounded by people that love and respect us.
Please, please, please concentrate on this bolded part.

I completely understand wanting the children to have two sets of loving grandparents, I do. It breaks my heart that my children will never know that. If I have any say in the matter, my children will never even meet either of their biological grandparents. Instead I have adopted a set of grandparents for my child, and I will have to be content with letting great-grandma and adopted grandparents handle it all... I cannot justify exposing my children to the toxicity that we have spent all these years struggling to get out from under. Nor can I justify exposing myself to it.

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#16 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 01:39 PM
 
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My concern now is the uncertaintly of what I should do? I get so anxious and upset over the idea of visiting them that I feel sick and every single visit is upsetting and ridiculous. But, my kids have very little family

<snip>

I've put my foot down w/ the food issues, etc but that doesn't help with dealing with the stress of trying to find a balance between my sanity and their "rights" as grandparents. I'd like to try to keep the peace but at the same time and so tired of dreading spending time w/ them and getting beat up constantly by MIL testing us and trying to push us away so she can make me the "bad guy", as she has with the rest of her acquaintances. Advice?
Cut them off.

My mom kept grandma in our lives, because "she was family". My mom has one true regret about her parenting - and that's it. I have one thing about my childhood I wish I could change - and that's it. My grandmother was a toxic, manipulative and undermined my mom's authority at every opportunity. As we got older, her attempts to buy our love from our mother grew greater and more blatant. I got off easy - I only suffer from a crippling lack of self-confidence, and an emotional eating disorder. She really got to my brother and sister...huge. (The single biggest difference between me and them is that I saw through her games at an early age, and opted out of the "easy" rewards. It wasn't worth it.)

You're not the only one getting beat up by these games. Your son is, too. And things like the food? Putting your foot down only works if she's honest, which you already know she isn't. My mom put her foot down, too. That worked something like this:

1) Mom took grandma grocery shopping (grandma couldn't drive at that point), and grandma would buy a very small bag of bulk candy "for the kids"...just a piece or two each for a weekend visit. Mom would kind of go "okay - it's not a lot".

2) Grandma would then ask her neighbour to help her out by picking up another bag of candy at the store.

3) We'd go to grandma's, and help ourselves liberally to the huge bag of candy in the closet. (To give you an idea, I can remember practicing counting by 5s and 10s with my empty candy wrappers on her kitchen table.)

4) We'd be instructed not to tell mom about the candy (or any of the other junk food - including fudgsicles, Revels and creamsicles, cookies, Pepsi with every meal, etc.) or "she won't let you come here, anymore". This was always phrased to make it sound as though we were doing something wrong and would get in trouble. Please understand, also, that my brother, who didn't like sweets, would also eat all this stuff, because grandma guilted him into it ("But, I bought it specially for you"..."oh, you have to have some after I went to the effort to pick it out", etc. etc.).

Mom had no idea about any of this for a long, long time. She ended our overnights over this, and another, bigger issue (my brain-damaged grandfather had become a pedophile, and grandma was his enabler...he was far too crippled to have gotten his hands on any children without her help). But, that was years later, when the truth about everything came out. A lot of damage was already done.

She was evil, toxic and manipulative. She was an energy vampire. But...she was "family". So what?

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#17 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 01:46 PM
 
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Can you avoid telling them exactly when you will be in town? Maybe just say "we will be coming to the area for a visit and are free on _____ to do _____." I would aim to see them at the end of the trip so you can honestly say "sorry, we are leaving tomorrow (or whenever)". I can absolutely understand wanting your son to know his grandparents but it's not worth having such negativity in your life.

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#18 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 01:59 PM
 
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There are variations on cutting people out of your life. It was a difficult decision for us to cut FIL out of our lives, but he simply didn't bring anything positive to our children's lives and did bring both immediate and potential threats to their safety and happiness. And through circumstances beyond his control and choices that he made, we felt he was incapable of changing the situation, or as close to incapable as to not make a difference. Our children would benefit from a healthy relationship with all four grandparents. But our children were not benefiting from a relationship with him. Having one unhealthy relationship is not better than not having a relationship at all.

It doesn't mean 100% no contact, though. If we run into him at a family event, we don't make a fuss and discomfit everyone else just because he's there. We're polite. He sometimes is, too. If he isn't, dh talks to him and he either settles down or we leave. We keep it chill, still. No dramatics. He occasionally even talks directly to the kids. If he stays within healthy bounds, that's fine. Some guy they don't know talks to them casually once a year or so for a couple minutes. No big deal. And while he's never invited to our house and we do not seek contact with him, we do send him a photo of the kids once a year at Christmas when we have an address for him. He can see how they're growing and that they're well. I don't know if that means anything to him, but we feel it meets a potential need he might have while still protecting our children from him.

You can craft "no contact" to work for your family, it isn't a rigid thing. The goal is to provide your children with healthy familial relationships and to protect them from unhealthy ones. A child's world is filled with all sorts of relationships -- family, friends, and friends who become family. You can find people who will fill that role if you need it. Heck, our kids have at least three other people in their lives who they treat as grandparents and who love them in return, with no blood relation whatsoever.
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#19 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 06:34 PM
 
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It would have been enough a loooong time ago for me.

Of course everyone wants their kids to have 2 sets of loving, doting grandparents. But not everyone gets that. From your posts it sounds like your children have 2 wonderful parents (including a dad who turned out great despite his mother) and a set of loving grandparents in your parents? And you mention a sister, who I'm sure is a good auntie. That's a lot. A lot more than a lot of people have.

Can I gently suggest you quit focusing on what you WISH they had and look at how much they DO have?

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#20 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 10:24 PM
 
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I think things will be simpler for you if you limit visits to safe, well lit public places like the public library. (no food allowed!) If there are any behavior issues on her part, you change the subject or just leave immediately. No need to take your child into a house with unsafe dogs and random pills left around.

Give them one visit at the library during your trip, with a "bonus" second visit if they have very good behavior and she is taking her pills.

On the other hand, you could just drop them as others have suggested. You will never be able to meet her "expectations" for attention, so you might as well do what you need to do to protect your child.
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#21 of 27 Old 05-29-2009, 10:29 PM
 
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I'm sorry to hear your DH is torn b/c I think it would be child abuse to force your children to be in their presence.

Maybe just let DH visit them a couple times a year alone?

Mama to expecting Babe 2
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#22 of 27 Old 05-30-2009, 09:12 PM
 
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Whenever you feel like being near the 1000 mile away city anyway, take them to lunch.
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#23 of 27 Old 05-30-2009, 09:40 PM
 
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i am not sure i understand.

so you go back to visit. how long do you stay with ur inlaws? with ur dh? not a week or ten days?

how much time do you spend with them? do you stay with them or go over for an afternoon to visit them?

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#24 of 27 Old 06-01-2009, 11:20 PM
 
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DH and I moved 1000 miles away from our family, mainly because of the stress and his parents (really, his mom) were causing in our lives.
You moved 1000 miles away from your family, who are good people, to get away from his parents?

Does seeing that typed out help at all? Your children cannot have a relationship with both sets of grandparents but they could be much closer to the one set they do have.

Please, please get into counseling with your husband and read the books recommended together. Once he learns how to maintain boundaries with his parents, he'll be able to do it living 10 or 1000 miles from them.
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#25 of 27 Old 06-02-2009, 08:47 PM
 
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I just had to quickly reply.
I don't have time to go into details but my parents and my ILs share some traits with your mom. What I did with my family--I basically took a sabbatical from them for a couple of years. It was tough, I KNOW they don't understand why I did it and think I'm a wackjob but it really helped.

With my inlaws, I am very clear about what I will and will not allow. Again, they may think I'm nuts but my kids are my kids. They deserve my protection.

I completely feel your pain about wishing things were different. I've been there, sister.

Just a suggestion--you could try to give yourself a sabbatical from the inlaws but you would need your husband's support. It was different for me because I was taking a break from my own relatives, instead of my inlaws. But it really helped. It made me realize that mothering isn't a popularity contest and that the choices I make for my precious children are going to unsettle, even anger people.

Your MIL sounds like a very manipulative, abusive person and I personally would disengage for awhile.
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#26 of 27 Old 06-03-2009, 02:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Thisbirdwillfly View Post
You moved 1000 miles away from your family, who are good people, to get away from his parents?

Does seeing that typed out help at all? Your children cannot have a relationship with both sets of grandparents but they could be much closer to the one set they do have.

Please, please get into counseling with your husband and read the books recommended together. Once he learns how to maintain boundaries with his parents, he'll be able to do it living 10 or 1000 miles from them.
There was obviously a lot more to the move- a new job for DH, the desire to leave a boring Midwestern town for an area we loved. But, yes, it was wonderful for our relationship to simply not have to deal with passive agressive ILs. Even not engaging them is work and effort. To have to set boundaries of any type, to run into them around town, etc. was *work* and *stress* on our marriage and it was very beneficial to get away from all that we knew and form a stronger bond just with our own little family.

I'm still very close with my parents, but it was beneficial to get away from them as well. We found that having our family so close dictated what we did every weekend, holiday, etc. Not because we felt forced, but because we both enjoy spending time w/ my family and easily slipped into that habit. We now love having the tradition of Thanksgiving on our own, or the excitement of our frequent visits to see my family. We now value the time that we all spend together w/o slipping into the rut of neglecting our own family unit. I know many people that don't fall into that trap but DH and I get very little time together due to his job and were not always great at making time for "us".

Also, for the previous poster, when we visit we stay w/ my parents. An example: we fly in to the state both our families live in (they live about 10 miles apart). We stay w/ my parents and typically see ILs the first day we're in town and then once (maybe twice) in the following 7-10 days that our visit typically lasts. Depending on what DH has going on at work, he will either stay for a weekend or for the whole duration of the visit.

Also, MIL is certainly a nasty person with a lot of problems. She doesn't treat my children the way she treats adults but she is still negative and disrespectful towards DH and I when she is around the kids. Even worse, she seems to have very little interest in the kids, which makes me very sad. If she were to do anything relating to her gambling addiction, suicide attempts, even smoking around them we would have cut off contact long ago. It's become obvious that her lack of interest rules her out as a potential babysitter but the fact that the issues I have w/ her are things that my children will never see complicates the issue. However, DH and I have agreed that for my own sanity we will visit with them as a family once and then I will meet them for lunch once (DH will only be staying for 3 of the 10 days of my upcoming trip). My guilt stems from the fact that FIL is a good guy (though a classic enabler) but DH suggested that we simply wait until DS is 10 or so years old and then we'll both feel wonderful about FIL taking DS fishing or doing something 'grandpa-y' w/o MIL around. Sometimes it's easy to forget that relationships will evolve as children age.

Typically, I dread visiting them and my mom feels guilty that we're staying w/ them and the kids are seeing her and my dad lots, so she pushes me to visit them more. I explained to her today how awful it's gotten and that I would be visiting with them once and did not want to be pressured. She agreed. Just knowing that I won't be forcing myself to spend a lot of time with them has made me much less stressed. It's unfortunate that my kids don't have 2 wonderful sets of grandparents but that doesn't mean that they have to waste time getting to know a woman who doesn't have much of an interest in being a healthy role model for them.
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#27 of 27 Old 06-03-2009, 09:21 AM
 
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I agree that you should have lost all contact with this woman a long time ago. Our children do not need people like that in their lives. I want my children to be surrounded by people who love them and care about them, not people that I would have to worry about them hurting or neglecting my children. That's not safe. I rarely talk to my mother and she lives only about a 30 minute drive from us because she is so negative and toxic. I don't want her around my children. I had to grow up in that atmosphere and now I don't even want my kids around it for more than a minute and I just about lose it. I can barely tolerate special occasions and holidays around my mother. I hate it but that's the way it has to be.

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