My DH has older parents (late 60s early 70s) and the whole family plain sucks at communication. It's actually gotten worse over the years and while my husband occasionally makes attempts to try he feels awkward approaching things as well. They don't discuss things of importance much and so lines aren't drawn, expectations are not there. In a way they are virtually strangers.
While my family has been horrible in the past we've pretty much all have come a long way despite being a broken family. His is not a broken family in the traditional sense.
We see them once a year (they live in SC and we in NJ), and we talk maybe every 3 weeks. I talk to my mom usually daily despite her living in FL. She knows my wishes, what I've researched, my expectations of her or anyone who is with my kids. The kids can be themselves around her and despite her having raised us differently she accepts our lifestyle choices (extended BF, cosleep/bedshare, delayed/limited vax, no pressure on thumb sucking, uncirc, ECing, gender neutral, animal loving - mostly vegan, limited sugar, veggie dyes, etc..) She tries to educate herself, tries to see our side. Cares enough to really know us.
His parents arrived in Saturday and already my thumb sucking DD has gone from only when she is super bored, super stressed or incredibly tired to non stop. Within 5 minutes of being in our house my MIL pulled the thumb out of my DDs mouth and said how old are you? 4! That's too old to be sucking your thumb. Of course my husband and I both said, we don't make it an issue she can do what she needs as far as her own thumb is concerned and yet the sense of disapproval and occasional mention of it from his older "dog doesn't learn new tricks" parents my daughter has been sucking non stop.
There is a lot of "well good girls" and "if you want to be a good boy", lot's of ooh princess, well big kids sleep in their own bed type of talk. Not to mention bringing yogurt from their hotel over because they conveniently forgot from last year that we don't do dairy. The last time they visited we went through explanations and when I mentioned to my MIL this morning she said "well you just keep changing the rules on me" to which I replied that we haven't done it for years.
So the thing is that they've asked to watch the kids during the day. DH and I have work all week. My youngest 2 (DS) has just gotten used to his caregiver and we are still working on that. My eldest is as well but to a lesser extent trying to get used to her.
Point is that I don't want them watching the kids until either my husband, myself or us both talk openly and extensively with them. Which given everyone's inability (yes myself included - because I follow suite) to communicate and trying to be sensitive of talking around the kids is not an easy feat.
Also, I will assume some of the responsibility of them not really liking much all these years. I'm pretty bossy and it's my way or no way type which I am really trying to get better at :). There have been a few relationship things that they saw before our kids came along that they makes them less enthusiastic about me. That I said, did or that DH did at my request to better our relationship. Not to mention that DH and I eloped. No one was going to pay for the wedding and we certainly could not so we made it special for ourselves. Lastly, when my son was about due my MIL came in to "help out". She stayed 2 weeks and the day after she left I went into labor. My body wasn't going to relax when she was around and I should have known that well ahead of time but did not.
So, here we are. Thanks for reading!
Ignore their suggestions or just pretend you don't hear them. Don't justify, argue, defend or explain. "That's not how we do things." You are grown ups and don't owe them explanations. "That's not going to work for us."
Dh and I agreed long before I was even pregnant that his parents would never watch our children. They didn't like it, in fact they picked fights about it (as if arguing with us about the choices we made for our kid was going to change our minds??) and it really hurt our relationship. Oh well, that's too bad, they raised their kids how they chose, we are doing the same.
It might come out politely if you say something like:
"The kids have a routine with their day car providers that they are used to. It's best for the kids to keep that routine, even while you are here. "
Then, whatever they say back, say
"I can see how you would feel that way, but none the less, that's what we've decided to do."
Just keep using the same phrase, "I can see how you would fee that way, but none the less, that's what we decided to do" over and over, no matter what they say.
(the phrase is from the book "Toxic Parents")
but everything has pros and cons
"I understand you feel strongly about this, but our decision is final."
"Thank you so much for wanting to help, but we already have caregivers during the day. We'd love to visit more often, though!"
"You are so sweet to offer but it's already taken care of. How about we [random plans that you actually want to do] next weekend?"
"I think we've already made it clear that that arrangement won't work for us. Thanks for your generous offer, though!" etc.
Don't brook an argument here; there's nothing to argue about because you've made your decision and that's that. And remember that "No." is a complete sentence.
Loving wife and mama to my sweet little son (Fall 2008) and a beautiful baby girl (Fall 2010)
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty. --George Bernard Shaw
Well, i thought it went okay at least last night and earlier today. My husband said (and very truthfully) that we don't want to disrupt the kids schedule with daycare. That they are just getting settled with it and that my youngest gets upset returning after being away. My FIL was the only one in the room when my husband was saying this. MIL was giving kids a bath and I was feeding our cats. FIL was understanding but I could tell he wasn't happy.
Then tonight they didn't show up right away after we got home from work. They called to make sure we wanted them to come over... we didn't get the call because we were outside waiting for them.
To make things worse I blew up after the second "chiding" of my daughter and her thumb. I slammed the dishwasher shut and stormed into the room, looked at them both and said "Enough with the thumb already". DH also walked into the room to say the same. I pointed out what is only glaringly obvious to my DH and I. My daughter has sucked her thumb ever since they've gotten here. Almost non stop in their presence. She typically is a before bed or when stressed type and has gone from having the thumb just in her mouth back to active sucking.
Geez, way to go family. Who needs bullies at school when you are related to them??
Just popping in to say I am 41 and still suck my thumb from time to time. I did as a child and picked it up again after a divorce and when I was quitting smoking. There are a lot worse habits to have.
IL stuff can be a nightmare. And, for some people, ILs are a total lifesaver. Sucks to be in the wrong camp.
How often do you have to see them? Just once a year, right? Maybe they can stay in a hotel next time?
We won't let ILs babysit either (well, nobody at all, yet, and that includes them). MIL has literally exceeded 50 requests--and knows to only direct them towards me, for some reason. She always gets the same response: "We appreciate the offer, but I know I've mentioned we aren't using babysitters yet. We love your spending time with him as a grandma, not as a sitter!" She probably hates me for it; however, there are some safety issues and she and FIL are both in their 70s. While some folks that age might be great care providers, I wouldn't be able to relax for a second if we left our son with her.
Good luck, mama. Be glad they don't live in your town.
I got tired of my signature, but I still love my children and husband and miss my little brother.
In-law issues just plain suck. My FIL is "allowed" to be alone with ds, MIL is not. FIL knows that MIL is not allowed with ds alone, but MIL doesn't know this. It's one big messed up situation. In our situation it's a little different because MIL has some undiagnosed mental health issues. So it is for the safety of our children that dh and I have had to make the rule that MIL isn't alone with them.
In your situation I would just keep repeating "this is our decision" and let that be the end of it, since it's just once a year. You aren't going to get them to understand or change their minds so I wouldn't even put forth the effort.
Steph, DH Jason (1-1-11), DS Owen (10-3-03) and DS Kai (10-13-11)
The whole communication thing reminds me so much of my family. I haven't had my mom do something I really disapproved of with my kids, but there always seems to be this nagging, bossy quality to everything. So far, they still like her. But they also don't see her much... They live almost 3 hrs away and it plenty of times they offer to come, we try to find an excuse.
Good luck! It's probably good you don't have to deal with it frequently.
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