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#1 of 12 Old 09-21-2011, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i could really use some advice on how to handle my in-laws going forward.

We recently spent 4 days with dh's parents, sister and her family. My dc are ages 7 and 4 and both have a very solid routine and go to bed every night at 7:30. Sister-in-law's dc are ot on a regular routine and stay up layer and go to bed at various times (they are 8 yr old twins). We all shared a 4 bedroom home for the long weekend. I knew going into this trip that my dc were ging to be a little off their schedule but finally felt ready to push it a bit since they are getting older, and we were all celebrating my FIL's birthday (special occasion).

By day 3 my dc were exhausted, especially the 4th. They were unable to get to bed before 9 due to dinner reservations and more family and friends visiting until late. SIL's kids were also up late and coming into the room where I was trying to put my kids to bed.

Well, I finally got my youngest DS to take a nap on the 3rd day. He was very tired from being up since 5:45am, when he usually wakes after 7:30am. When he woke from his nap my older son and his cousins were at the park and dh and I planned to bring ds2 to meet them, but ds2 was still feeling tired and didn't want to go. So, MIL offered to watch him. I said ok, and headed down to park w Dh. When we got there, the bigger kids had already left, so Dh and I went for a quick walk and then headed back to the house.

When we got to the driveway, SIL was standing there waiting for us and started yelling at us that ds2 was being horrible, he doesn't know how to listen, he was screaming, and throwing things, and ran off from her. She yelled at us that his behavior is unacceptable and ridiculous. She then yelled that we needed to get control of our child.

We went inside and DS was quietly sitting, and I brought him into our room and held him and asked him what happened. He broke down crying very hard and said big kids were splashing him in the face and that he got mad and his cousins' mom took his cars from him and said he would never see them again. I held him and dh went and got him his cars back, and he stayed with me in the room til dinnertime. That evening SIL's friends came over with their kids and they all didn't leave til after 9. I finally got my dc to bed and was sitting with a cup of tea when SIL walks in and says that DS2 is running all over the place upstairs and being disruptive. Dh and I immediately went back up and ds1 is crying saying that his cousins' mom told them they were naughty and mean. "why did she call us that, mommy?"

I was upset when heard this so I went directly to SIL and asked her if she told our boys they were naughty and mean, and she said she did say it was naughty to run around when her dc were going to bed. I explained to her that they were exhausted, off their schedule, and my youngest was having a hard time with everything going on, being only 4. She replied that "Well, C (friend's daughter) is only 4 and she knows how to listen."

I just shook my head and left and ignored her the rest of the time. We left the next morning, as planned.

Of course, since then I have bought of a zillion things I would have liked to tell her in response to this, but I guess it's a good thing I left before I had the chance. I am still pretty upset by this. MIL made a comment the next morning to me that she heard my youngest "screaming again."

What would you do? How much do I enlist dh? He says what they think doesn't matter, only our family matters and we shouldn't let it bother us. But I am bothered. I feel it needs to be addressed. I don't want to be the "punishing" person who withholds her dc from their grandparents and aunt because I no longer like them, but at the same time, I feel lines were crossed and boundaries disrespected. I felt like they were picking on my 4 yr old. And that's not ok.

Help, please!

TIA to anyone who read this all. Sorry it's so long!
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#2 of 12 Old 09-21-2011, 05:33 PM
 
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I think you're right but I'm not sure how I'd address it. I think it would be a good idea to avoid cohousing situations like that for a couple of years. If they push back, dh can let them know your family has to do what's best for everyone in the family and that means having a calm environment and routine for the kids.

If you want to address specific things you might try situation, behavior, impact -- eg. when you told my son he was naughty and mean, I felt it was disrespectful to him as a person and to me as his parent. As the fundamental issue seems to be lack of respect, you may have a hard time getting acknowledgement that they overstepped boundaries.

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#3 of 12 Old 09-21-2011, 05:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by briansmama View Post

 I don't want to be the "punishing" person who withholds her dc from their grandparents and aunt because I no longer like them, but at the same time, I feel lines were crossed and boundaries disrespected.

Why?  I am really asking.  Are you thinking your kids will benefit from close relationships with people who call them names and complain about their essentially age appropriate behavior?  Do you feel like the grandparents and aunt are entitled to a close relationship with your kids despite the fact that they are being disrespectful and nasty?  I would think about what my reasons were before I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to withhold my kids from them. 

 

I've been through a similar type of thing with my in-laws and also felt like I didn't want to be the giant B wife and mother keeping DS from the in-laws and vice versa.  When I really started thinking about it though, there was no benefit to DS, only harm.  I was concerned about DH and obviously did not want to cut him off from his family, nor did I want to cut DS or myself entirely off from them.  DH is a grown man though and can have whatever relationship he wishes with his family.   We agreed together to start limiting our time with his family for reasons similar to yours.  We also were very blunt about boundaries and what was and was not acceptable.  In our case, in-laws have not really whole heartedly agreed to the boundaries which is why we have to continue to limit contact.  Also, we end up being hypervigilant when we see them with DS so that they aren't overstepping boundaries.  It tires us out, which is another reason we limit contact.  It doesn't mean we don't spend time with them...we see them probably about 10 times a year for a few hours at a time.  But we don't stay overnight anymore, nor do we have them stay overnight, and visits are never more than 5-6 hours, we've quit letting them babysit, etc. 

 

It can be tough, but if they are making your four year old feel like crap, I'd speak up and tell them what is and isn't acceptable.  It would be great if your DH would do that, but if he wouldn't, I'd do it myself.  And if they fail to make changes in how they're treating your son, I would quit thinking about limiting contact as punishment, and start thinking about it as protecting my child.  It isn't that your heart is in the wrong place and you're trying to be vindictive or punishing....you're truly concerned for your little boy, you're his mom, and you and your DH are the ones responsible for his well being.  If the in-laws cannot change their behavior enough to stop treating him poorly, you're not punishing them, you're just doing your job as parents to limit visits. 

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#4 of 12 Old 09-21-2011, 06:21 PM
 
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To be honest, I would write a very detailed email about how things went from your point of view. Ending with the fact that you feel boundaries were crossed and why.  I would also state that it will be along time before such a gathering happens again.  Just my two cents.

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#5 of 12 Old 09-22-2011, 02:30 AM
 
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How I would deal with it would depend on the amount of contact. If you see them a few times a year, as long as things do not escalate. I would just deal with it. Ignore the stupid comments, be vigilant (either you or DH stays with the kids at all times). It will be tiring, but you can do it if it isn't that often. And your kids will be OK if they occasionally see that people do things differently. If you see them quite often, then maybe you need to reduce the harmful contact. Find your own place for visits, to retreat to when things get out of hand. I have two relatives who are very self-centered and just do not get children AT ALL - what is appropriate, what is normal, nothing. Just really clueless and it is very tiring for me to be around them while my kids are small. I stayed with them once. After that DH and I decided never again. We still visit, but we rent a hotel room, and when things get crazy, we get to leave. So we still see them, but in a healthier way, as we are not "trapped", kwim?   

 

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Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

It can be tough, but if they are making your four year old feel like crap, I'd speak up and tell them what is and isn't acceptable.  It would be great if your DH would do that, but if he wouldn't, I'd do it myself.  And if they fail to make changes in how they're treating your son, I would quit thinking about limiting contact as punishment, and start thinking about it as protecting my child.  It isn't that your heart is in the wrong place and you're trying to be vindictive or punishing....you're truly concerned for your little boy, you're his mom, and you and your DH are the ones responsible for his well being.  If the in-laws cannot change their behavior enough to stop treating him poorly, you're not punishing them, you're just doing your job as parents to limit visits. 


This. You can discuss it with them, but behaviors are often very ingrained, and if they have no strong desire to change, they will not. And if they feel they are right, they will actually have no interest in changing. You can not change other people. You can only change YOU - your reaction to them, your involvement with them.... 

So if you need to limit contact, do it for DCs, yourself, your DH. These are the most valid reasons.

 

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To be honest, I would write a very detailed email about how things went from your point of view. Ending with the fact that you feel boundaries were crossed and why.  I would also state that it will be along time before such a gathering happens again.  Just my two cents.


Sounds like a good idea on first look, but I would not do this. It opens the whole thing up for debate, he said-she said.... Point is you need your child to not be hurt or treated badly. Writing a detailed email only allows them to debate it - it wasn't so bad, I didn't say that... or allows them to make you the whiny, complaining or b*itchy relative. 

 

I would address the situations clearly, at the time. Not as big drama, but just clear, succinct issues. I KNOW this is hard to do. But with practice it becomes easier. For example "SIL was standing there waiting for us and started yelling at us that ds2 was being horrible, he doesn't know how to listen, he was screaming, and throwing things, and ran off from her. " you - "SIL - you do not need to shout. Please talk with me about it later when you are calm. Right now I will go talk with ds2." The other option, if you can not think of quick, clear reply, is to ignore it. The classic standbys work well - "oh, ok" - then walk off and do what you need to be doing, like taking care of your son in the way you want and need to do it. "do not discipline my child. I am his parent, I will take care of it, thanks." 

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#6 of 12 Old 09-22-2011, 04:57 AM
 
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I would no longer leave my children alone with them under any circumstances, and if the ILs asked why I would tell them without mincing words. Your SIL's behavior was unacceptable and I'm afraid my inner mama bear would have come out with claws if I'd been in your shoes. She sounds like a bully.

 

As for writing an email or otherwise putting your boundaries and thoughts into writing, I wouldn't. It could easily backfire--depending on how angry your letter makes them, the email will be forwarded on and passed around (ask me how I know!), anything you write will be construed in the worst possible light (it's so hard to convey your tone in writing and if someone wants to think the worst about you, they will), your words will be twisted and you will be made into the bad guy. Personally, I would just cease all unsupervised visits with these particular in-laws without fanfare and go on with your life. If they ask why you don't want to stay with them any more or why they can't babysit or whatever, tell them, and be honest.

 

"The last time we visited, I didn't appreciate the way you treated my child and I don't feel comfortable leaving him alone with you again. I think it's better for everyone if we stay in a hotel."

 

Simple, blunt, honest, and if your SIL is a good person and genuinely wants to heal the rift, this will open up a real conversation. She might be angry but she'll understand that you're hurt and that your trust in her has been damaged, and she'll want to work with you to fix the relationship. But if she's one of those people who would rather be "right" than have healthy relationships, her response to your honesty will make it clear very quickly.

 

Some people need to be told what our boundaries are as bluntly as possible. They're not toxic--they're just clueless about the ways in which they make us uncomfortable. Other people just don't care about boundaries, and those are people who should be avoided and who should never have unsupervised contact (or any contact, in my opinion) with our defenseless children.

 

I'm sorry you had such an unhappy experience with your in-laws. Do try and make sure you and your DH are on the same page regarding contact with them, but in the end no adult's feelings matter more than your children's safety. Someone who reduces your baby to tears multiple times in a short visit is not safe. hug.gif


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When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty. --George Bernard Shaw

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#7 of 12 Old 09-22-2011, 06:03 AM
 
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I wouldn't say anything about the experience but I also wouldn't leave my kids with these in-laws by themselves. I don't think what they did was particularly out of the ordinary or awful, but it seems they lack important parenting skills and good judgment about how to forge relationships with little kids. You will have to run interference every time  you are together as a family. 

 

 

I would not write an email or bring it up. They know you didn't like what they did because of how you reacted, and frankly, I doubt your SIL is capable of doing any better. 


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#8 of 12 Old 09-22-2011, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much. I knew I could count on help here from all of you wise mamas! You all put my feelings about what happened into very succinct words that I was having trouble describing myself without rehashing the entire episode.

I really needed the validation. Dh kept telling me to let it go but that just isn't going to happen. I think the advice above to limit contact and eliminate any possibility of ever sharing a house again with these people is the right way to go, and if they question, complain, or argue about that then I or dh plan to explain very simply that the last te we tried that I didn't like the way you treated my child and I think it would be better for everyone if we stay in a hotel.

Aptoddlermommy, you are so right. Just because they are family does not entitle them to spending time with my dc if they are reducing my little one to tears! I feel for my dh and know this will put him in the middle, but at this point, I am still upset from everything that happened and I just don't think it will ever go away. I do feel like boundaries were crossed, my child and i were disrespected, and I have no desire to put myself or my family in that situation again.

We moved last year from being 30 min from MIL and FIL to another state. They stayed for 2 weeks right after we moved in and it was a very long 2 weeks. I know the time will come when they will want to visit again and I plan to have dh explain why they will need to stay in a hotel or wait for us to visit (we can stay w my family or in a hotel and they can visit us there). Future visits can be on my terms.

Thank you so much again for taking the time to read what happened and offering such wonderful help. I really needed it and can't tell you all how much I appreciate it.
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#9 of 12 Old 09-22-2011, 11:25 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by briansmama View Post

I really needed the validation. Dh kept telling me to let it go but that just isn't going to happen. I think the advice above to limit contact and eliminate any possibility of ever sharing a house again with these people is the right way to go, and if they question, complain, or argue about that then I or dh plan to explain very simply that the last te we tried that I didn't like the way you treated my child and I think it would be better for everyone if we stay in a hotel.

 

 

 

OP, what you described is the very reason I wouldn't even visit, let alone stay overnight with, my step sister and her family when they would visit my parents.  I saw my dad "compare" the kids once and start making comments about who behaved better/worse and that was enough for me.  Your statement should do the trick. 

 

When it comes to visiting you, will FIL and MIL behave better being that SIL and family won't be under the same roof?  My dad adored his grandkids but one at a time was all he could handle for short period of times, let alone a couple of days. 

 

 


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#10 of 12 Old 09-22-2011, 03:42 PM
 
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There is a pecking order that needs to be established in these situations. Who is the better parent, who has the better kid, who is the top mom. Happens with most families. I'm usually the most outspoken and the biggest B. So when stuff like that goes on, I set everyone straight. When they start acting childish and talking rudely to my DD's I tell them to stop. Point blank no questions asked. Then I ask the girls what the issue is away from everyone. I don't allow them to make it a huge family affair. If they yell at one of my kids I tell them to stop they have no right to use inappropriate methods on my kids.

I would never yell at theirs, I would never punish them either. I practice what I preach, if your kids do something that is disruptive, then I'll tell you alone and also let you know it's your responsibility to correct them, unless you think it's ok for me to handle it my way which is always nicer than theirs. For all their thinking that I'm a relaxed unparent, they sure as heck appreciate it when it all gets resolved and nobody is yelling or crying.

Stand your ground, don't shy away, this is your family whether you like it or not. You may like her again someday and it's really a difference in how kids are treated, your kids obviously know that you allow them to work through how they're feeling instead of being capable of shutting up on demand. That's not being a good listener that's being a trained monkey!
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#11 of 12 Old 09-22-2011, 04:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonR View Post

How I would deal with it would depend on the amount of contact. If you see them a few times a year, as long as things do not escalate. I would just deal with it. Ignore the stupid comments, be vigilant (either you or DH stays with the kids at all times). It will be tiring, but you can do it if it isn't that often. And your kids will be OK if they occasionally see that people do things differently. If you see them quite often, then maybe you need to reduce the harmful contact. Find your own place for visits, to retreat to when things get out of hand. I have two relatives who are very self-centered and just do not get children AT ALL - what is appropriate, what is normal, nothing. Just really clueless and it is very tiring for me to be around them while my kids are small. I stayed with them once. After that DH and I decided never again. We still visit, but we rent a hotel room, and when things get crazy, we get to leave. So we still see them, but in a healthier way, as we are not "trapped", kwim?   

 

Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

It can be tough, but if they are making your four year old feel like crap, I'd speak up and tell them what is and isn't acceptable.  It would be great if your DH would do that, but if he wouldn't, I'd do it myself.  And if they fail to make changes in how they're treating your son, I would quit thinking about limiting contact as punishment, and start thinking about it as protecting my child.  It isn't that your heart is in the wrong place and you're trying to be vindictive or punishing....you're truly concerned for your little boy, you're his mom, and you and your DH are the ones responsible for his well being.  If the in-laws cannot change their behavior enough to stop treating him poorly, you're not punishing them, you're just doing your job as parents to limit visits.

 


This. You can discuss it with them, but behaviors are often very ingrained, and if they have no strong desire to change, they will not. And if they feel they are right, they will actually have no interest in changing. You can not change other people. You can only change YOU - your reaction to them, your involvement with them.... 

So if you need to limit contact, do it for DCs, yourself, your DH. These are the most valid reasons.

 

 

All of that!

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II would not write an email or bring it up. They know you didn't like what they did because of how you reacted, and frankly, I doubt your SIL is capable of doing any better. 


This is absolutely true with my SILs... and they're not horrible people, they're just... shall I say "questionable" parents. They haven't moved on up to our way of thinking yet. Lord knows I'm trying to enlighten them. But gently... and not very successfully. Hence the separation and the view that I'm protecting my children, not punishing anyone else. My older SIL would occasionally tell me she'd be "happy to babysit" or have my kids over for a slumber party... but... yeeeeeeah. Not so much! I would just thank her and say I'd keep it in mind, but I couldn't imagine leaving my kids with her and their cousins. That would just be setting them all up for failure, really. It's like I'm actually protecting my SIL too, from my wrath if she were to inflict her foolishness upon my child!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

There is a pecking order that needs to be established in these situations. Who is the better parent, who has the better kid, who is the top mom. Happens with most families. I'm usually the most outspoken and the biggest B. So when stuff like that goes on, I set everyone straight. When they start acting childish and talking rudely to my DD's I tell them to stop. Point blank no questions asked. Then I ask the girls what the issue is away from everyone. I don't allow them to make it a huge family affair. If they yell at one of my kids I tell them to stop they have no right to use inappropriate methods on my kids.

I would never yell at theirs, I would never punish them either. I practice what I preach, if your kids do something that is disruptive, then I'll tell you alone and also let you know it's your responsibility to correct them, unless you think it's ok for me to handle it my way which is always nicer than theirs. For all their thinking that I'm a relaxed unparent, they sure as heck appreciate it when it all gets resolved and nobody is yelling or crying.

Stand your ground, don't shy away, this is your family whether you like it or not. You may like her again someday and it's really a difference in how kids are treated, your kids obviously know that you allow them to work through how they're feeling instead of being capable of shutting up on demand. That's not being a good listener that's being a trained monkey!


That's my bolding there, because that's exactly how it is with my family. I am the most outspoken and the biggest B for sure, so it caught everyone off guard when I pulled my head out of my booty and became an advocate of gentle discipline. Blew them away. But since I was already The Big Mama B on the Block, no one questioned me. I had to lay down the law in no uncertain terms as far as what was allowed and what was not in regard to anyone else disciplining my children. My parents still spank my other nieces and nephews, and even when I was still believing in that lie, I didn't allow anyone else to ever spank my kids. THAT was something they had a hard time with, but accepted. So when I quit believing in it totally, they weren't too shocked. I would never discipline some else's kids, though if hitting is involved I will tell the child "we don't hit", then go speak to their moms to let them know what I saw. But I don't tell other people what they should or shouldn't do either - drives me crazy to hear someone tell a parent "your kid needs XYZ!" like they know the child the way the parent does, or could begin to perceive what another's child "needs".

 

Sadly it sounds like your dh's family - like my own - is just flat out unfamiliar with respecting children OR each other. You can imagine their confusion when you aren't giving their opinions and recommendations more weight than you give to your children's. That's really hard for people who were raised with being treated as a second class citizen by their own parents to stomach... I think because they waited all that time to sit at the big kid's table, if you will, and now you're telling them your child is their equal. And that's their problem, not yours. Happily, you can break the cycle and keep it from becoming your child's problem by taking that stand!

 

it's also pretty upsetting for my kids to see their cousins - they're only a couple of months apart in age, and they really love them - being belittled and threatened, so that's another reason we limit contact, and then when we're there, I really try to support my SIL in a more laid back approach by essentially beating her to the punch if the kids as a group start acting out, and calming things down my way rather than hers.

 

Sorry this was so long! Guess it hit a note. Hope things go more smoothly for you in the future!

 


It's such a relief to finally trust yourself.
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#12 of 12 Old 09-23-2011, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much everyone. DH and I had a good talk last night after reading all of these posts and we agreed that we will not be sharing a home with his family in the future. If they want to visit, DH said he will be happy to give them a list of 5 of the closest hotels. If we go to their area, we plan to either stay in a hotel ourselves or stay with my family again.

 

The kicker to this story (for me) is that we spend the first 3 days of this trip with my sisters and their families and we had no issues. When I told them what happened with my SIL, they are shocked and asked if we were seriously talking about the same child, they had such a great time with him! 

 

My sister deeply believes in and practices gentle discipline with my nieces, who are about the same ages as our boys. She's the best example I have of how well gd works and how rewarding the work is. I truly did not realize that DH family had a different perspective, as anytime we've spent with his parents they always doted on the grandkids, and time with my SIL and her children has always been so short, usually just a dinner or lunch out (they live far away). And the only other time we all shared a home, out first dc were all infants, so we were all gentle. I just did not see this coming!

 

It helped us so much to read everything here, so thanks again all of you who responded!

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