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#1 of 27 Old 04-30-2011, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I could use some advice on how to handle this. I am very upset. angry.gif

 

Details/background:

DD7yo spent a few days @ Gramma's house. Last time we talked (Friday), dd told me that she would be home Sunday (which MIL had said before, too). So this AM, ds and I get up and leave the house to run errands. DH is in bed coz he worked a graveyard and got to bed @ 5am---he is a heavy sleeper and totally crashed out. I left the house unlocked. Abt 9am.

 

We got home around 1:30, dh woke up a little later, then MIL calls and says they're on the way to bring dd home and show up 15 minutes later.

 

They show up and chatty chatty, nice nice. I'm really glad dd had a nice weekend with them. We have not had the best relationship track record w/ MIL; without getting into it too much, she's super controlling, co-dependent, narcissistic, toxic, yada yada. No boundaries. She has been "good" for a while, and we genuinely want our kids to have grandparent relationships, so we are forgiving and try really hard to have a functional relationship with her.

 

The dirt:

A little while later, dd comes to me very seriously and says she needs to tell me smth that Gramma did.

 

Okay---so she describes how Gramma wanted to drop off her clothes early so they wouldn't have to bring them when they dropped dd off later (what? that doesn't make sense to me but sounds like smth MIL would make up), they came in the unlocked house while dh was sleeping and I was gone, and Dd says Gramma was going through our house, opening kitchen cabinets, looking behind books on the bookshelves, looking in the bathroom medicine cabinet, sifting through our dirty laundry (wtf?), and opening and looking through our filing cabinet, sifting through papers in our office, and dd says she started to turn on our new computer (dd's comp for school). She says Gramma said she had to change clothes and climbed over the baby gate (not an easy task coz it's at the top of stairs), down the stairs, through our laundry area (which was by now means up to "company standards"), and into the downstairs (basement) bathroom--dd says she asked her why she didn't just change upstairs (the bathroom everyone uses) and Gramma said, oh I don't know (umm, coz you wanted to snoop). Dd said it made her feel all anxious inside to see MIL's actions, and dd said to her 'aren't we going to go?'

 

The result:

She basically rifled through our whole house while dh was sleeping. I feel totally violated. I'm really angry.

 

I want to confront her and set boundaries--I want to email her because anytime someone calls her on inappropriate behavior face to face or on the phone, she A. denies it B. starts yelling as loud as she can over them so she doesn't have to listen C. all the sudden literally loses her hearing (she has legitimate hearing problems but it rly "flares up" when she wants to shut you out) D. calls everyone in the family and spins the story of how somebody just flew off the handle and attacked her, victimize, etc.

 

Dh is furious, called his stepdad (FIL) and let him know (coz of above phone communication issues w/ MIL), hey we know she did this and are upset abt it, need to be able to trust, etc. He wants to cut ties with her coz this is just one more straw, kwim? FIL says they should go to counseling--I feel bad for FIL, he's pretty nice and really wants to be a grampa (MIL estranged his son and son's kids from them).

 

I'm torn because I am estranged from my dad for trust issues--it sucks and I feel like that's a last resort. I'm sad because I felt like our relationship with MIL was finally getting pretty functional, and we were able to trust her enough to send dd for the weekend. How can I trust my kids with someone who invades my privacy like that? Dh is convinced that she weasels dd for information about us, too. I feel really sick to my stomach and more and more upset about this-also, what is she looking for? We are good parents and pretty damn responsible. Yes, we have dirty laundry; please don't search through it looking for poo, coz you will find our poopy diapers! We have nothing to hide, though. There's nothing she could "find out" on us that we wouldn't just tell her face to face.

 

irked.gif

 

WWYD? Should I write an email? In the past, I have called her on crap and set boundaries, after which she ignores us for a while til things scab over, then is really nice for a while and on good behavior because she wants to be with the grandkids, then does something totally wack like this. This is the worst blow yet, though. I don't think I will be able to fully trust her again.


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#2 of 27 Old 04-30-2011, 07:58 PM
 
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Ick. Yuck. I am so sorry that happened to you guys.

 

Cut ties is what I would do honestly. What she did is gross and violating and it sounds like its upsetting your dd and hubby... sounds like she needs a swift C-YA to wake up, but that is just my opinion. I would email and state everything she has done and why this is the last straw, perhaps suggest some counseling for her in a caring way (she may not know what she is doing if she is this messed up). Let her tell stories all she wants, odds are people know what she is up to... 

 

I don't know. I hope that helps in some small way. Hugs to you and yours and I am sorry again you have to go through this. Truly awful.

 

 

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#3 of 27 Old 05-01-2011, 04:08 AM
 
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Yep, I would cut her off.

 

There's clearly a history of issues here, and just when you thought maybe you could start to trust her, she does this. That tells you everything you need to know. You can only give a person so many chances before you have to draw the line. She's not going to get any better.

 

What the heck was she looking for anyway?? It makes me wonder whether she was trying to find some dirt on you that she could use against you.

 

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#4 of 27 Old 05-01-2011, 04:11 AM
 
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That is pretty darn creepy. 

 


I can't see why you can't let FIL maintain a relationship with your children, but not MIL. It doesn't seem fair to cut him off for her behavior. Couldn't he see them without her - take them to the zoo, come over, etc?


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#5 of 27 Old 05-01-2011, 06:45 AM
 
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Dd said it made her feel all anxious inside to see MIL's actions, and dd said to her 'aren't we going to go?'

 

You poor dd!  I think that you need to protect her from her grandmother.  It was very brave of your dd to tell you about it, my concern would be if she would feel guilty that it was her fault if all contact was broken off.  Does your dd feel like she has a good relationship with her grandmother?  If so is there any way to facilitate their relationship in a supervised way?

 

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#6 of 27 Old 05-01-2011, 08:51 AM
 
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If you have been unable to deal with things reasonably with her, I'd talk to you FIL about the issue primarily.  Talk to your dd and reaffirm that Gma should have listened to her about her inappropriate actions and that you'll try to avoid putting her and Gma in a place where that would happen again - especially because it made her (your dd) so uncomfortable (so they'll still do things together - just differently because Gma is weird sometimes).  And when she (Gma) brings up 'oh, I want to xyz', just matter-of-factly say 'oh no, I don't think that will work because of how you were going through our household things without asking'.  There's just nothing normal about doing that to someone else - I wouldn't pay attention to anything she says that tries to sound reasonable, she didn't ask first and it wasn't her stuff to look through no matter what.  Just refuse to let it escalate, be calm, and state facts (and vent and let out your anger elsewhere).

 

I wouldn't really trust her to do things very often - if at all - without being there myself in the future.  We've had things like this happen with my MIL, who who will ignore or discount things she previously agreed to with us since they're not a big deal to her.  We're just around when she is.  I don't engage in arguing with her about things, I'll just say "I just want to be asked before dd gets/does xyz" or talk to dd and ignore what MIL is saying about something so there's no issue about how to handle xyz.  Most things are really  more important for me and our dd's to have under control together.   And I just ask like it is really weird of her to even think something is going to be influenced by discussing it between her and I.  Because, for our relationship, it is - she's just not really a part of those decisions and how things happen.     

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#7 of 27 Old 05-01-2011, 11:16 AM
 
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I, personally, find it draining to completely cut out family members. I would take her key away or change all the locks. Some one with those kinds of boundary issues shouldn't have had a key in the first place. I also wouldn't let her be alone with my child again because her bahavior is so far off that it isn't emotional safe for your child to be left in her care.

 

I'd still get together for dinners and holidays and let them come to your DD's dance recitals or whatever.

 

It sounds like a polite but distant relationship could work. You all meet at something fun your DD is doing, and then go out to ice cream together. That's it. Or you all get together for a holiday, and have a lovely meal and keep the conversation light. It last a couple of hours and then everyone parts. No keys, no overnights, no real closeness.

 

The thing about over-reacting and cutting them out is that your DD could end up feeling bad, like it's her fault that she should keep secrets.

 

But the woman is a loon and your child shouldn't be alone with her. She could really mess with your kids' head.


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#8 of 27 Old 05-01-2011, 07:49 PM
 
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Yes to everything Linda said. I agree that cutting them out isn't the best approach, but, totally supervising any interaction is definitely warranted.
I have a polite, distant relationship with my MIL, & it works out well for all parties involved.
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#9 of 27 Old 05-01-2011, 10:50 PM
 
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can you find a way to let her know that you know that she did this, and -- importantly -- that it disturbed your DD *without* opening the door to "debating" it with her? she won't need to feign deafness because it won't be a long discussion. maybe just a simple statement, loud and clear as a bell, preferably delivered face-to-face so you can see her microexpression (the flash on her face before she puts on her "game face". something along the lines of, "DH and i cannot believe that you snooped through our entire house. i'm not even going to ask why you did that, but you really hurt DD with your actions, and the consequence is that we cannot trust you anymore." if she tries to debate or deny it, i would stop listening myself and leave. and then just start seeing MIL through your new eyes, and act accordingly. this will probably mean that you do things differently from now on. so be it. 


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#10 of 27 Old 05-02-2011, 11:11 AM
 
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Since your DH told FIL that you guys know, I'm sure FIL told MIL.

 

I'd just lock the door from now on, and visit as a family instead of letting DD be alone with her -- it's not right of MIL to put her in the position of having to feel like she's caught between two people she loves with a secret. If she asks why, I'd be honest: "We're aware that we can't trust you around our things, so we're taking appropriate measures to maintain our privacy." 

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#11 of 27 Old 05-02-2011, 12:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElliesMomma View Post

can you find a way to let her know that you know that she did this, and -- importantly -- that it disturbed your DD *without* opening the door to "debating" it with her? she won't need to feign deafness because it won't be a long discussion. maybe just a simple statement, loud and clear as a bell, preferably delivered face-to-face so you can see her microexpression (the flash on her face before she puts on her "game face". something along the lines of, "DH and i cannot believe that you snooped through our entire house. i'm not even going to ask why you did that, but you really hurt DD with your actions, and the consequence is that we cannot trust you anymore." if she tries to debate or deny it, i would stop listening myself and leave. and then just start seeing MIL through your new eyes, and act accordingly. this will probably mean that you do things differently from now on. so be it. 


This sounds like a perfect response.
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#12 of 27 Old 05-02-2011, 12:38 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by craft_media_hero View Post

 

We have not had the best relationship track record w/ MIL; without getting into it too much, she's super controlling, co-dependent, narcissistic, toxic, yada yada. No boundaries. She has been "good" for a while, and we genuinely want our kids to have grandparent relationships, so we are forgiving and try really hard to have a functional relationship with her.


 


 

First and most importantly - let this go. You can't have a functional relationship with someone like this - not possible.

 

Whether or not you have any relationship with her is up to you and your dh. I can see good reasons to cut her off, but that doesn't mean you have to do so. Just remember that you can't control her issues, and she's going to have them, no matter what you do on your end. Don't let her be alone with your dd - ever. She's bad news, and will mess up your child's head. But, you can have a relationship, if you really want to - just not a functional one.


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#13 of 27 Old 05-02-2011, 12:51 PM
 
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Yah I'd just agree with you dh that you are going to see them for dinner or and afternoon at the park, or whatever (totally) supervised!) once a month or so. And then the rest of the time just ignore/detatch/say no.

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#14 of 27 Old 05-03-2011, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElliesMomma View Post

can you find a way to let her know that you know that she did this, and -- importantly -- that it disturbed your DD *without* opening the door to "debating" it with her? she won't need to feign deafness because it won't be a long discussion. maybe just a simple statement, loud and clear as a bell, preferably delivered face-to-face so you can see her microexpression (the flash on her face before she puts on her "game face". something along the lines of, "DH and i cannot believe that you snooped through our entire house. i'm not even going to ask why you did that, but you really hurt DD with your actions, and the consequence is that we cannot trust you anymore." if she tries to debate or deny it, i would stop listening myself and leave. and then just start seeing MIL through your new eyes, and act accordingly. this will probably mean that you do things differently from now on. so be it. 




This sounds like a perfect response.


 

 

Yup. Personally, I'd change the phrase 'DH and I cannot believe...' to 'DH and I are shocked and angered'. Unless you really can't believe it, that is. :)

 

I'd also change 'consequence' to 'result'. Too many people in this society mix up the concepts of 'consequence' and 'punishment', and she sounds like one of 'em!

 

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#15 of 27 Old 05-03-2011, 06:55 PM
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boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.  She doesn't take your kids alone anymore, and you keep your door locked.  Simply don't give her the opportunity to do it again.  But no, don't send her an email.  Don't engage in the crazymaking. 

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#16 of 27 Old 05-05-2011, 02:30 PM
 
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My DH said this was a total deal breaker for him. I feel so sad for your DD for having to watch this and feel so twisted inside over it. She was very brave and smart to talk to you about this! Wondering if you've addressed MIL yet, or if you will. What a sucky situation this is.

 


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#17 of 27 Old 05-05-2011, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

I'd still get together for dinners and holidays and let them come to your DD's dance recitals or whatever.

It sounds like a polite but distant relationship could work. You all meet at something fun your DD is doing, and then go out to ice cream together. That's it. Or you all get together for a holiday, and have a lovely meal and keep the conversation light. It last a couple of hours and then everyone parts. No keys, no overnights, no real closeness.

 

 

This is what I'm going for ^

 

I did email her in a very positive, non-violent communication type of way, and talked to dd more about it, and I think she was probably giving our place they hawk-eye (she says she was looking for a tool to fix our toilet?), I don't think she will be coming over without me or dh actively present here---I'm really glad I brought it up coz we've had a long email conversation, and I think that in some ways we might be better off than ever, and I'm glad I did set down some boundaries, though I was really gentle and positive and open about it. So . . . we'll see!


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#18 of 27 Old 05-07-2011, 10:02 AM
 
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I would call her and ask,'Would you like to explain why you went through our home?' If she denied it I would(and I would anyway) not allow dd to spend time with her alone. I would always keep the house locked too. What a lame woman to do such a thing,and put your dd in such a position.I am glad your dd was ok to talk to you.Making children *keep secrets* sets them up for bad things in the future. Best wishes with MIL.

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#19 of 27 Old 05-07-2011, 10:33 AM
 
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I haven't read all the posts yet, but from what I've read there is a lot of good advice. The only thing I want to add and/or emphasize is that your kids should never ever be alone with her. If she's willing to do that sort of thing with your daughter, what other things would she / could she do? Just not worth it in my opinion. It's more important to protect your children (who are helpless to protect themselves from adults) than it is for them to have a relationship with someone like that. If she doesn't respect your boundaries, she certainly isn't going to respect your child's boundaries either. Access to children should be earned with trust and respect, not taken for granted.

 

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#20 of 27 Old 05-07-2011, 12:14 PM
 
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I would not leave your child alone with someone like that!  You  mention: 

 

I want to confront her and set boundaries--I want to email her because anytime someone calls her on inappropriate behavior face to face or on the phone, she A. denies it B. starts yelling as loud as she can over them so she doesn't have to listen C. all the sudden literally loses her hearing (she has legitimate hearing problems but it rly "flares up" when she wants to shut you out) D. calls everyone in the family and spins the story of how somebody just flew off the handle and attacked her, victimize, etc.

 

If she's not the sort to listen to reason or boundaries then you can send all the emails you want and she'll do just as she pleases.  So the only real boundary is to not have a relationship with her.

 

That is not the sort of person you want around your child.  She'll mess with your child emotionally and most likely "punish" her for telling you about snooping through your things.  And, someone that DOES weird things like that is not balanced and not someone I'd trust my kid with if I didn't have to!  The good part here is that it doesn't sound like your husband is enabling her.  So I see nothing to be gained by continuing to try to have a relationship with her.  Invite the FIL over, though - alone.

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#21 of 27 Old 05-07-2011, 06:25 PM
 
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That is straight up weird and creepy.  I would never ever again trust my child to be unsupervised with someone like that.  I am trying to think up an explanation in my head of what exactly she was digging for that would maybe make some sense...like curiosity about your finances or something (that still would be totally inappropriate but less creepy), but she was digging in your dirty laundry too.  That is bizarre and borders on some sort of weird fettish/obsession.  I don't know what but it just is "off."  Plus, your DD trusted you enough to tell you what was going on and she obviously felt very uncomfortable, so I wouldn't give granny the chance to make her feel that way again.  Granny broke trust and lost her opportunity for that sort of relationship with your DD because clearly she isn't stable and cannot be a positive adult in your DD's life.

 

Also, I will just say that I hear a lot of people saying that they want their kids to have a relationship with grandparents despite the fact that they themselves have enough issues with grandparents that they don't want a close relationship with them.  I really don't think kids suffer one bit from not being close to grandparents who lack boundaries, yell and scream like you describe, etc., and this is coming from someone who wasn't allowed to have a relationship with certain toxic grandparents.  I did not miss a thing.  I am glad that they weren't part of my life.

 

I agree with others who say only supervised visits here and there and not at your house.  Your MIL doesn't sound like the type of person any of you need to be spending a ton of time with.  Good luck!

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#22 of 27 Old 05-08-2011, 07:50 AM
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 (she says she was looking for a tool to fix our toilet?),

 

 

Do you generally keep tools among your dirty laundry and behind your books on the bookshelves?  It seems like she's obviously lying.  Even if she weren't lying, though, this is still a boundary violation.  She doesn't get to walk into your house and start fixing things without being asked to do so. 

 

 


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#23 of 27 Old 05-08-2011, 12:01 PM
 
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As for the tool for the toilet excuse:  She's counting on your dd to be too stupid to describe what she was doing, or you to not believe your dd.--more likely the first.  I've noticed a lot of people doing shady things with children in tow really underestimate the perceptions and intelligence of children as witnesses.  They get used to them being babies who can't discern and who are helpless non-people when it comes to witnessing things and don't notice them getting older, knowing exactly what is happening and also able to articulate it.   

 

I have known a few liars who didn't even know or care if their lies were the least bit believable.  That's pathological.  It was always a hopeless relationship...  They can't see anyone's perspective except their own, and they usually can't even tell for themselves what's true and what's a lie.  I think it is a survival skill for people who feel compelled to do things they know deep down are really really wrong--they muddle themselves up so they can't face the truth inside or out.

 

I would not tolerate the behavior at all.  And I would try to keep discussions very brief since they are useless.  Simple statements, like "because of what you did we don't trust you" are the only kind of things I would be willing to say, avoiding anything like rehashing details which seems to go nowhere good.  I would most likely attempt to preserve some relationship with supervised visits, but remember that this kind of person will say false and undermining things to your kids later on, often sneakily so that the kids don't quite pick up on it. No outside force is able to make a person like that have respect for others when deep down inside they simply don't.  You cannot talk them into it.  Don't try.  State your position only.  She has already shown hers.  Done.

 

My little OT story:  I discovered my mother had progressed to listing my faults--particularly her criticisms of my parenting--to my young teen right around the time time her husband started being verbally abusive toward my special needs son (my dear annoying and oblivious Aspie).  Apparently she was telling her how I was too restrictive a mother.  Oh, and I was being too protective of my son as well which was the reason he wasn't able to learn (verbal-abuse style?) from his mistakes.  I feel bad for my mother because she mainly doesn't "get" a lot of boundaries for herself or others so is barely aware what she is doing.  Her husband was the one with serious aggression issues.  But even though she knew how bad his actions were she referred to me as "holding a grudge" rather than simply protecting my children when I wouldn't leave them for overnight visits with them.   She had to find a way to take his side and make out like they were victims of my harsh decisions.  I decided not to debate that kind of thing, thank goodness.  We did a couple of overnights where we camped at their house with the kids, but Mr. Scream and Rage caused a few more problems partly because he was mad at us for staying.  So we ended up with a rather distant relationship.  Much, much better.  You can't change others.  You can really only change your response.  We do a few holiday visits.  That's okay.


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#24 of 27 Old 05-09-2011, 02:08 PM
 
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Yikes poor dd!

 

I don't have experience with seriously toxic family members but in this situation I might try something like, allowing her craziness from this incident to blow over and when she gets back to her "acting somewhat normal so she can see her grandkids" I would try to settle in a place where you, dh, kids, her, grandpa all get together like once every month or something in a public place (no ones home) for a predetermined amount of time.

 

Personally I don't think cutting family out of your kids lives is always the way to go when people act insane. If she can handle this kind of set up without doing something that would freak out the kids I'd try to maintain it, with absolutely NO room to expect she will gain ground. I would not let her have the kids over again, that's for sure.

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#25 of 27 Old 05-18-2011, 10:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craft_media_hero View Post
This is what I'm going for ^

 

I did email her in a very positive, non-violent communication type of way, and talked to dd more about it, and I think she was probably giving our place they hawk-eye (she says she was looking for a tool to fix our toilet?), I don't think she will be coming over without me or dh actively present here---I'm really glad I brought it up coz we've had a long email conversation, and I think that in some ways we might be better off than ever, and I'm glad I did set down some boundaries, though I was really gentle and positive and open about it. So . . . we'll see!


That's all well and good, but ... you'll also be locking the door, right? And what about letting your DD be alone with her? It was a really terrible position your MIL put your DD in -- I wouldn't give her an opportunity to do something like that to her again. Your MIL sounds quite untrustworthy, so I wouldn't just assume that all will be fine just because she says it will. 



Quote:
Originally Posted by les_oiseau View Post
Personally I don't think cutting family out of your kids lives is always the way to go when people act insane.


I agree, and want to clarify that my position is that the MIL shouldn't be alone with the kids, not that she should be cut out entirely. I don't think there's anything wrong with only visiting as a family. 


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#26 of 27 Old 05-19-2011, 07:23 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

 


That's all well and good, but ... you'll also be locking the door, right? And what about letting your DD be alone with her? It was a really terrible position your MIL put your DD in -- I wouldn't give her an opportunity to do something like that to her again. Your MIL sounds quite untrustworthy, so I wouldn't just assume that all will be fine just because she says it will. 


 


 

I totally agree. If she still has a key or is allowed to be alone with your child, then you and your DH didn't learn anything from this.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#27 of 27 Old 05-25-2011, 09:42 AM
 
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I think what happens next should be mostly up to your husband, because this woman is his mother. If he wants to cut contact entirely, you should respect that. It sounds like your MIL has serious mental illness and has probably put him through the wringer his entire life. If he wants to cut her out, he has every right to do so and I firmly believe you should support him in his choice. I also think it's sad about your FIL, but I have trouble sympathizing with him too much if he actually allowed this woman to estrange him from his own children/grandchildren. Perhaps not getting to see your DD anymore will be the push he needs to see his wife for what she truly is--a toxic and manipulative liar who badly needs some sort of help.

 

Your DD was incredibly brave to tell you about this--she needs to hear that whatever the consequences of your MIL's actions, it was your MIL's actions--and NOT your DD's telling--that created the situation. She did the right thing and will need to be told this more than once, I imagine. What a great daughter you have!


Maybe your DH will change his mind about cutting her off, and of course that's fine. But if he doesn't want his toxic parents to have any contact with your family--and that certainly doesn't sound unreasonable, given the kind of people they are--then that's what should happen. Your DD will suffer far more from having a toxic relative in her life than from not having contact with her--I speak from experience. greensad.gif

 

Good luck, mama. What a sad situation. 

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