Should I be upset by this? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 03-02-2011, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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SIL likes to use my children.  She has some anxiety issues and uses them to feel more comfortable/distract people from her.  Usually it's either not a big deal (she plays with them after Thanksgiving dinner to get away from the table) or I've been able to get them out of it. 

 

I feel stuck by this latest situation.  I feel very upset about them being used, but it's really of very little consequence.  MIL, who I really like, called yesterday and says SIL is feeling lots of anxiety about her upcoming baby shower at the church.  She wants my kids there (4yo and 17 mos) to help with fetching gifts and such to take some attention away from SIL.  My POV is that if SIL is so uncomfortable she shouldn't have asked for the shower.  SIL HATES showers.  She doesn't go to other people's unless absolutely necessary, and I also feel like if you don't go to others and feel so strongly (she says it's the only time she wishes she were a man) it's hypocritical to have your own.  (She's having two).  If you care about the presents that much you should just suck it up and deal with it like everyone else.  Her DH and mom and dad are going to be there so it's not like she's not getting any support. 

 

I suppose their perspective is that her anxiety is not her fault, and she's as entitled to presents as anyone else, and this is something that doesn't hurt me or my kids but does help her.  They know they're using them; it's just not a big deal. I would normally send them off with DH, but now I think that will come off just as being spiteful.

 

The other situations I got them out of were really clear to me.  The time we were closing on our house and SIL and MIL had a commitment to dinner with some other women, and just because SIL was uncomfortable, FIL was supposed to drive separately and have dinner with a bunch of women just so he could bring DD1 to make SIL feel better.  FIL and DD came to the closing with us instead. 

 

The time she wanted to bring her new boyfriend we'd never met to our house to show off my child to him.  This was at a time that she was going on dates with different internet guys a couple of times a week and had a history of stalkers. 

 

The time that she was invited to bring DD1 to her friend's daughter's b-day party, but she was only going if she brought DD and we didn't know them.

 

To their credit, it usually hasn't been a big deal when I said no.  And I suppose I should be just as upset at MIL for enabling this.  I just generally respect and like her more so SIL is getting the brunt of the blame.  We should also probably deal with the real issue a little better, but this time is of so little consequence, that I'm not sure if it's a good idea.  MIL and FIL did hear the real issue on the boyfriend issue, but SIL never did.  She wouldn't listen anyway...

 

 

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#2 of 11 Old 03-02-2011, 11:16 AM
 
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For stuff like the shower and ditching out on dinner early, I'd be totally fine with it.  I've used my kids to get away from my inlaws, it would only be kind of me to let someone else use them to get out of a situation like uncomfortable after dinner chatter.  Does she spend time with your kids outside of the times that she uses them for a buffer?  Does she really care about them and enjoy them?  That would be the deciding factor for me.

 

On the bright side, since she's having her own baby, your kids will be out of the buffer business for good!

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#3 of 11 Old 03-02-2011, 11:20 AM
 
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Hmm, were you planning on taking the kids anyway? I don't think I would have a problem with it if it fit into my plans but, if fr example, you were looking forward to a few hours of adult time without the kids I would say so. I guess her new baby will be taking some of that off your kids. Hope that fits with her baby's personality...

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#4 of 11 Old 03-02-2011, 11:26 AM
 
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uh oh. I am so guilty of this kind of behavior. I have always been shy and often excaped social activities by playing with other people's children. But now I escape with my own children. 

 

Come to think of it, my cousin's fiance will often play chess with my twins at get togethers. He doesn't really know the family very well and is probably a little shy.

 

It does sound like your children will be out of the buffer business soon enough.

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#5 of 11 Old 03-02-2011, 11:49 AM
 
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I hate to say this, but it doesn't matter if people think you should or shouldn't be upset about it, it matters if you are upset by it.

 

Do you think it will continue after your SIL has her baby?  If so, I would definitely work on ways to confront her about it, whether you do it directly or through your spouse.  If you don't think it will continue after she has her baby, can you work to deal with it until that time?  I know, not a great solution, but the positive aspect of it is that it won't be too much longer.  smile.gif

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#6 of 11 Old 03-02-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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Hmm.  I've done this too, but never seen it in this perspective.  I've just always genuinely felt more comfortable around children than adults.  I think because children are so sincere, non-critical, and non-judgemental.  Like they'll point out a fact "u have a zit on your nose" or whatever, and are totally just matter of fact....not saying or looking at u like "u have a zit on your nose u pathetic disgusting ugly person" the way an adult would insinuate!  if that makes sense :)

 

I can totally see someone as insecure as you've made SIL out to be caving in and doing a baby shower coz she felt it was expected of her, not because she really wanted it.  But I don't think the issue is really stalker boyfriend vs. baby shower to consider your childrens involvement.  The real issue is your children being used in any way which is manipulative and insincere.  And it's not healthy for SIL to use them instead of facing her real issues.  Are you on good enough terms with SIL to have a heart to heart talk about it?

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#7 of 11 Old 03-02-2011, 12:06 PM
 
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In this particular instance, the question that makes sense to me (aside from logistical considerations) is, "Would the kids mind?"  If they wouldn't really enjoy it, then it's using them.  If they would have a good time, like the attention, enjoy watching her open gifts, etc, then it's mutually beneficial.  Maybe the fact that you feel weird about it is an indication that she IS using them, I'm just thinking that it makes sense to try to objectively evaluate whether it's mutually beneficial or only one-sided.

 

I don't think I have anything to say about what to do if you decide she is using them, that's just the criteria I would apply to decide whether she is or not (in this instance).


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#8 of 11 Old 03-09-2011, 04:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamalisa View Post

For stuff like the shower and ditching out on dinner early, I'd be totally fine with it.  I've used my kids to get away from my inlaws, it would only be kind of me to let someone else use them to get out of a situation like uncomfortable after dinner chatter.  Does she spend time with your kids outside of the times that she uses them for a buffer?  Does she really care about them and enjoy them?  That would be the deciding factor for me.

 

On the bright side, since she's having her own baby, your kids will be out of the buffer business for good!

 

Actually, I know this isn't really what your question is about but I'm wondering, if her anxiety is this bad, how is she preparing herself for a baby for whom she may well need to interact with the world in various ways in order to get her child's needs met?  And is she thinking at all about who she wants to be and how she wants to be with her child so the baby doesn't inherit the same level of anxiety?

 

Sorry, I know that's not what you came here to ask about but it was all I could think about as I read how she tries to use your kids as a social buffer.....
 

 

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#9 of 11 Old 03-09-2011, 05:05 PM
 
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Hmm I would be happy if SIL spent time with my kids at parties and I could relax. And mine does actually so I just sit back and watch. I am doubting she is throwing herself her own baby showers and probably would very much like to not go. I sure as heck didn't want to go to mine but I know this wasn't for ME.. it's for the BABY... and I have to put the baby first. Who am I to spit in the face of someone wanting to throw my baby a party and lavish my baby (not ME) with gifts? I had HUGE anxiety attacks about my shower. I actually ended up missing it as I got pre-eclampsia that day and wasn't allowed to leave the hospital. I had worked up so much nerve to go to this I was actually pretty mad I didn't get to go. I never thought to get a baby to distract people from me. It's a decent plan :P the thought of people just staring at me mooching presents makes me cringe inside and feel awful even though I know it's not about me.. it's about baby.

 

You don't have to but don't worry she will soon have her own baby to "use" to get away from people and then she'll be wishing for adults to get away from the baby :P

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#10 of 11 Old 03-09-2011, 05:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LROM View Post



 

Actually, I know this isn't really what your question is about but I'm wondering, if her anxiety is this bad, how is she preparing herself for a baby for whom she may well need to interact with the world in various ways in order to get her child's needs met?  And is she thinking at all about who she wants to be and how she wants to be with her child so the baby doesn't inherit the same level of anxiety?

 

Sorry, I know that's not what you came here to ask about but it was all I could think about as I read how she tries to use your kids as a social buffer.....
 

 

I have extreme agoraphobia. I'm also in extreme pain every second of the day. But I push myself to meet her needs. My dd is autistic.. meaning she has about 10 appointments a month. It's hard but I fortunatly have an understanding dh who usually goes with me especially on appointments an hour away. yesterday was an hour away appointment. he drive while I maybe not so quietly cried and whined all the way up there and I drove home. I may not suck it up to go to parties or whatever but for her I suck it up. And it's HARD! I have zero social skills.. zero friends or family... and I have talked to more people in my whole life in one month of her diagnosis. I'm pretty proud of myself.
 

 

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#11 of 11 Old 03-16-2011, 08:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies.  I had been reading the updates from my e-mail instead of logging in and didn't realize there were so many.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulvah View Post

 

Do you think it will continue after your SIL has her baby?  If so, I would definitely work on ways to confront her about it, whether you do it directly or through your spouse.  If you don't think it will continue after she has her baby, can you work to deal with it until that time?  I know, not a great solution, but the positive aspect of it is that it won't be too much longer.  smile.gif



No, I don't think it will continue.  It's progressively slowed since she had a steady boyfriend, fiance, DH, pregnancy....

 

 

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Originally Posted by rush2ady View Post

 

I can totally see someone as insecure as you've made SIL out to be caving in and doing a baby shower coz she felt it was expected of her, not because she really wanted it.  But I don't think the issue is really stalker boyfriend vs. baby shower to consider your childrens involvement.  The real issue is your children being used in any way which is manipulative and insincere.  And it's not healthy for SIL to use them instead of facing her real issues.  Are you on good enough terms with SIL to have a heart to heart talk about it?



Yes, probably because it was expected, although she is having 3.  Seems easy to get out of to me.  "No Thanks", or "Well, my mom already has one planned, why don't we just combine them?"  Yes, I do think she is avoiding her own issues, but not close enough to have a heart to heart. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hykue View Post

In this particular instance, the question that makes sense to me (aside from logistical considerations) is, "Would the kids mind?"  If they wouldn't really enjoy it, then it's using them.  If they would have a good time, like the attention, enjoy watching her open gifts, etc, then it's mutually beneficial.  Maybe the fact that you feel weird about it is an indication that she IS using them, I'm just thinking that it makes sense to try to objectively evaluate whether it's mutually beneficial or only one-sided.

 

I'm not sure that they would mind, but I also know they wouldn't mind special time with DH either.  I like this criteria, although I think either alternative would be acceptable to them.  I'm the one who has a problem with this, not necessarily them.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LROM View Post

Actually, I know this isn't really what your question is about but I'm wondering, if her anxiety is this bad, how is she preparing herself for a baby for whom she may well need to interact with the world in various ways in order to get her child's needs met?  And is she thinking at all about who she wants to be and how she wants to be with her child so the baby doesn't inherit the same level of anxiety?


 

Yeah, I have overall concerns about how what I perceive to be a lack of knowing herself and over dependence on others affects her decision making.  However, that's really not my business.  My business is how involved my kids have to be in that.   
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mamalisa View Post

Does she really care about them and enjoy them?

 

Yeah, she does.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by babygirlie View Post

 I am doubting she is throwing herself her own baby showers and probably would very much like to not go. I sure as heck didn't want to go to mine but I know this wasn't for ME.. it's for the BABY... and I have to put the baby first. Who am I to spit in the face of someone wanting to throw my baby a party and lavish my baby (not ME) with gifts?



I definately never thought of showers like this.  I personally don't "get" showers.  The whole point is asking for gifts; how are they even socially acceptable?  I know most people don't think of it like that, but that's how it comes across to me.  I didn't have my own because I felt uncomfortable asking for gifts, especially from people I didn't know very well (like church people).  I also don't like getting invited to showers, especially someone I hardly know,  because I don't feel so much like it's a celebration of joy, but a request for a gift.  I get a lot more joy out of both giving and receiving without the expectations of showers.   She may not be setting them up herself, but she is agreeing to them.  I've said no thanks to lots, and never (to my knowledge) offended anyone.  And sorry, but I really am having trouble thinking of it in terms of the baby.  The baby doesn't go to or care about the shower, or even the cute outfits.  Baby just wants mama's arms and milk.  My feelings about showers can't be helping this situation.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by babygirlie View Post

I have extreme agoraphobia. I'm also in extreme pain every second of the day. But I push myself to meet her needs. My dd is autistic.. meaning she has about 10 appointments a month. It's hard but I fortunatly have an understanding dh who usually goes with me especially on appointments an hour away. yesterday was an hour away appointment. he drive while I maybe not so quietly cried and whined all the way up there and I drove home. I may not suck it up to go to parties or whatever but for her I suck it up. And it's HARD! I have zero social skills.. zero friends or family... and I have talked to more people in my whole life in one month of her diagnosis. I'm pretty proud of myself.



I'm proud of you too!

 

 

DH is invited to shower as well.  I think if he doesn't go, I'll give 4yo a choice -- maybe keep the baby with me if she decides not to come.  If he comes, then I'll try to get them out to the playground during gifts.  I've never liked showing off kids.  SIL isn't the one who gets to choose for them to be a spectacle just so she doesn't have to be.  DH did mention to MIL that he wasn't sure if DD would want to do all that and she said she didn't have to do anything she didn't want to.

 

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