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So I think I'd try something like… "MIL, after we talked the other day I was feeling so sad about your feeling around the bond. I was thinking, though, that DD2 is really like you in XYZ, and it would be a shame if she missed out on that. So maybe we need to plan some time for you two to do ABC together. Because it would REALLY upset me if the girls were treated differently."
And then your DH needs to chime in, maybe another time, about the same thing – it would REALLY upset him if the girls were treated differently.
Thanks again for all the input so far. I will look up more information on codependency. I also am beginning to look into talking to a counselor because I agree that we need to create boundaries, but I am still at a lost on where to start, how to communicate them, and how to enforce them. I haven’t really talked DH about counseling yet, but he needs help to stand up to MIL for the good of our girls. He is the one who is home when IL’s visit during the week.
This weekend MIL asked DH if she was in the dog house. I truly believe she doesn’t understand the weight of what she has said. Also it is not just this statement but the accumulation of her actions and statements over time that has led me to this point. Oh and MIL also told DH that they weren’t going to stay for dinner anymore so that they aren’t in the way, which means two things 1) they will come and go while I’m at work and 2) she really has little time to spend with DD2.
I must protect my children; I know that for sure, the rest of it I’m still struggling with. I am just really beginning to realize that I don’t want to be her emotional cheerleader anymore. I don’t have the energy for it – with three babies, a husband, and a full time job. I work really hard trying to find the right tools to parent my girls in a positive, gentle, and nurturing way – I just don’t want to feel that I’m parenting her as well. I also don’t want the emotional baggage anymore.
In practice, I'd let your daughters hold the reins on their relationships with MIL as much as possible given their ages, and only help as a guide as long as you feel they are too small. How they feel about MIL is theirs to feel, as is how much time they want to spend with her and how they view the relationship.
My guess is that as soon as they are old enough, they'll team up and address the inequity themselves by ganging up on her. Good luck with a difficult situation.
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