Join Date: Jun 2004
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Originally Posted by sphinx
I was in a similar rut regarding the communication triad with my DH and MIL - she being an intrusive, nosy, opinionated, dominating, overindulgent grandma and showing up at my house far too often. My dd, like your son, also felt the tension in the relationship and began to act out against both of us actually. I have to say that talking too much about it to DH and constantly asking him to mediate really damaged our marriage. He saw me as a judgmental nag and felt torn between the two women he loves most and to whom he feels the most loyalty. Mostly, he felt he had to placate us both, and that did not improve anything because it kept all discussion about it at a superficial level.
So I understood that if I wanted to win the respect of MIL (or at least her willingness to abide by my basic principles), I had to take the responsibility to open communication with her. I had to assert my position as the natural authority in my house, and with my children. Without demonizing her, I told MIL clearly and directly my expectations for her behavior regarding visiting, how she treated my children, and so forth. I shared the principles of my parenting in a positive way and showed her how I wanted her to respond to specific situations. I refused to discuss the relative validity or quality of my methods with her. I then reminded her relentlessly whenever she "forgot" our guiding principles, and after a good struggle she finally accepted it and, though she is still sometimes confused or may even disagree, she is now very respectful of my wishes. She ALWAYS defers to me when she is not sure if I would approve of something or how I would go about it. This took about 6 years of frustration to achieve, but we got here. It would have taken less time if I had just spoken up sooner. We actually almost like each other now! We see her 4-5 times a week, she helps immensely with the childcare, and knows when to leave.
And you know what? Not only have all the relationships between MIL, DH, me and DC improved dramatically on this point, but MIL is actually more open and clear now in her communication with everyone. She is a better listener (used to dominate by talking nonstop) and we are both much more humble with each other. My DH's whole family tiptoed around her for years because she would burst into tears at the slightest hint of criticism. I was the first one to tell her that was unfair and unnecessary. I think that by saying my feelings straight up, I really showed her that I wanted to be on the same team and that I would value her needs too, so she felt safer to be able to express them. All this at the age of 64! It sounds like a lot of your MIL's actions and reactions come from fear, and so helping her feel safe and wanted in the family could help diminish her absurd and immature reactions to your ds's behavior.
So... you may be the person your MIL has been waiting for, to help free her from her own passive-aggressiveness! I hope it all works out for you!
Originally Posted by peilover010202
But, this woman is so stoic, judgemental, passive-aggressive, etc that it seems a daunting task. But, I have an appointment with my counselor on Tuesday, and hopefully he can help me set up a good game-plan.
Thanks everyone - I really have enjoyed reading your advice.
Mommy to kids
Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)