Advice on African MIL - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 04:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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About a month has passed since my MIL's visit and I am still consumed with some of the things that occurred during her visit. She stayed with us for almost 6 weeks and this was the first time she had met her grandchildren who are both under the age of 2 1/2. When I first found out she was coming I was excited that they would finally get to meet their other grandma although apprehensive at the same time - especially at the length of time she was coming (she was also coming after a stint of helping DH's sister with her new baby). DH kept telling me how great it would be to have the extra hands to help me out because I am living in crazy town right now with these two so close together! But when she came, it was the exact opposite of what I had anticipated. She spent a lot of time in her room "resting" with the TV on and sleeping large chunks of the day away. I understand she was tired however I was under the impression the trip was so that she could get to know her grandsons. Right from the get go, she would repeatedly tell me if we lived in Nigeria we would have "people" doing all this stuff for us (cooking, cleaning, bathing, putting the kids to bed etc). My days are very busy here and I usually don't have a lot of time to sit around (no different than the majority of moms!) - she would often comment on me bustling around but then she would just kind of disappear upstairs. When she did spend time with the boys I found it was often disciplining the older one on things that he did. I found it was hard for him to really get a chance to warm up to her. One day, she had a talk with me about why we chose to name our children the way we did and not use their African names for their first names rather than their middle names. She refuses to call them by their given names and only their middle African names - I have no problem with her doing this although she has asked me many times to call them their African names too. I do not. I love their middle names but I call them by their first names that their father and I chose for them. She often questioned why I did not going to church and bring the boys (personal choice of my DH and I). I enjoy her but I was really put off and irritated by the fact that I would be busting my butt all day long and she would be upstairs watching TV. She did on the rare occasion help me wash dishes which was nice. I guess I just expected a lot more as my mom really "gets in there" when she is here or plays with them and takes the boys outside. I found a frequent activity for her to do with them was turn the TV on. The kicker for me though was an incident between her and I (DH was not at home) right at Xmas time. She had spent most of the day upstairs (except for coming down for meals which she usually made herself) while I was having a talk with my oldest about standing on the chair and rocking it. I was calmly talking to him about getting down (he was resisting) and she got right in his face and took over. I calmly told her it was OK I was dealing with the situation (as she had just walked into our confrontation). She continued going on at him and started in on 'you had better listen or you are going to get a smack'. This is when I had had just about enough and told her to leave it alone and no one was going to be smacking anyone and we do not smack in our house (which was also quite surprising as she had told DH to never spank the boys - which we do not). I was getting a bit worked up but trying to remain cool and kept repeating myself. Meanwhile my son is looking back and forth between us a bit confused as we are both talking to him. Anyways she kept going with the smacking threats and I said not to worry to my son - no one will be smacking you and just listen to mama that's all you have to listen to right now. I can still feel the rage building up in me as I write this and that's when I grabbed our jackets and we headed out of the house to cool down. I was livid! In my heart, I feel like she knew she was getting a rise out of me because she had this smirk on her face the entire time. Like she knew she wasn't going to smack him but just thought this game would be fun to play on me. I honestly lost a lot of respect for her at that very moment and now, to this day, don't have much appreciation for her nor do I look forward to her visiting again. The next day it was as if nothing ever happened. I know she cares for me and likes me but I do get the feeling from her and her comments that as a white girl I have no culture, I have no values and that these boys are only African. This whole visit did end up causing strain between my DH and me - well maybe just strain on my side. I think he loved having his mom there cooking him some African meals etc but I had a tough time dealing with it all. Can anyone help me out on how to mend this relationship with her? Of course my DH loves his mother and she loves him and her grandchildren and will be back but how can I get some respect out of all this. She also got into this calling me "DH's wife" as in Nigeria she explained people wouldn't call me by my name but would refer to me as 'so and so's wife' or 'so and so's mother'. She liked calling me that around the house in a joking way but after awhile it got very tiring. Please help. Any advice? Thoughts? Am I going blowing this out of proportion because I really don't feel that I am.......:
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#2 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 05:01 AM
 
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I think you are blowing it out of proportion. You come from completely different cultures and you both need to respect that. You cannot expect your elder to come in and tell them how it's going to be or else. That's just not how it works in other countries. My house, my rules isn't African at all.

It is true a village is a family. I haven't been to Nigeria but I have lived in African villages before. If someone was ill or family less the whole village supported them. Fed them kept them clean. There was no MY home. If you are family you were never asked to leave and never expected anything from. Grandmas were not the care takers per se. Grandmas were taken care of. All the women of the village pitched in to get water to help out. There just wasn't this I don't know American way. Honestly I loved it.

Also all "women" over the age of 12 were called "mother" (meme). If you could have children you got this title whether or not you had children. It's like saying Sir or Ma'm I suppose in the US. It's respectful. I would say hello to strangers and use the term mother as a sign of respect not disrespect. I liked that also. Same with grandma (kuku).

There is also a big difference in smacking a child and threatening to do so which I think may be a cultural thing also. maybe in American when a white person says it a hand goes flying but not in other cultures. Usually the threat alone is enough to stop a child. No I don't do that. I am just putting it out there.

I think perhaps you should read up on Nigerian culture and find a way to respect different cultures. It's not about right and wrong.

BTW, the travel from Africa to America is brutal. I would be staying 6 weeks also! granted Nigeria is closer than where I went but maaaaaan is it a flight! If you're going to spend 2 grand and days on a plane I sure as heck would make my time worth it as most likely a return trip isn't coming any time soon.

It might be worth it for you to visit her. Learn and feel the culture. You can only learn so much by reading. You might want to google "culture shock". You need to understand she is NOT American and is FAR from it. Our culture is very I'm not sure how to word it. For example when I explained Americans have this like invisible bubble and people are not allowed in it my African friends burst out laughing thinking we were absolutely moronic. They also make fun of american black gangs. Where *I* lived people got CLOSE (which led to my bubble explanation as it made me uncomfortable). I mean strange men would touch my chest with a flat palm just talking. It wasn't sexual just they don't have these physical boundaries and don't get it just like we don't get how they COULDN't.

It's a little hard to explain.

I would not think she was rude and I would not confront someone like that. you can teach how Americans in general do things or how they think and she can try to absorb it but I think demanding your way or the highway isn't right either. But in the end you gotta do what you gotta do for your own sanity. Just my opinion.
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#3 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 05:06 AM
 
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Thought I would add in you do not know her physical health. She may not know either. In the country I was in it was one doctor for TWO countries. If you were in pain you were not important. Only dying people were.

Also you realize the jet lag factor might be hard for her to get over. It must be a 10 hour difference or so. So 10am to you is going to be her bed time.
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#4 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 05:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Babygirlie ~ appreciate the response. All the things you brought up do make sense. I hope I don't come off trying to figure out who's right or wrong. That was not my intention at all. It's just really trying to make sense of it all and to try to strengthen the relationship (especially without getting my back up). The jet lag makes sense as she's not a young woman and I realize she was tired - it was just that it lasted that entire visit - maybe you're right and there are some health issues unknown to us. She does live here in North America for 1/2 of the year (or has been the last few years) with other family members and their children. So she wasn't actually traveling from Africa but it would still be a tough flight. I think I had incorrect expectations of her really helping me with the boys as I had been told by DH how much family pulls through when babies are born back home. Like you said, here in north America it's such a different mentality - especially when children are born as it's often not so much extended family helping out but moms trying to "do it all" on their own. The support is severely lacking and that's just due to our culture and the way we are raised to fend for ourselves. I was just oh so hoping to catch up on some much needed sleep and get things done with the extra hands and it never happened. Thank you for the thoughts and advice..
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#5 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 05:25 AM
 
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hmmm... I am not sure if I have a lot of good advice, but just want to offer you some consolation.

My DH is from north africa, Egypt, not really the same thing, but a lot of things in the culture are similar. In terms of her wanting her culture to dominate and not really having any regaurd for your culture, I think that is very common. I wouldn't realisitically expect that to change, but would try to roll with it and see it as a learning experience for you and your children. Sometimes when I see my in laws or DH want the children to be raised exclusively in their culture with out regaurd to mine, I remind myself that we live in America and speak engligh all the time, so my culture is already taking a very dominating place in the children's lives. They may feel threatened by this and will do anything to try to reassure themselves that the kids are of their culture, not American. It would be scary for them that their children/ grand children are being raised in a different culture from their own, just like you feel less comfortable with their cultural traditions which they try to impose on you. Also remember that when she does things like call you "mother of ..." instead of your own name, she is offering you part of her world. That's all she can give you is what she has and what she knows. She won't give you what you have and know (culturally) because that is not something she is familiar with. She gives you what she has. I think also her being a mother in law, it is automatically assumed she knows best about raising children so don't expect her really to follow your lead in the way you parent. I certainly wouldn't want some one threatening to smack my child, but you also have to realise that the different way she interacts with him can be enriching to your child in the way that he learns more about the culture of his father and might even be able to get by in that culture if he is in that situation in the future. It is not like he will be constantly exposed to that to the point of it damaging him I wouldn't think. But none the less, I understand it would be hard to accept. I doubt she was smirking because she thought it was fun to mess with you. Probably just thought it was amusing to see how worked up you were getting by something to her didn't seem like anything.

I am in your boat, I have a 2.5 year old and a 11 mo old. I need all the help I can get, but don't get hardly any at all. Not easy. Sometimes I feel like my whole situation is just screaming "Can't you see I need help with something?!"
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#6 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 05:39 AM
 
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4202863.stm I think this article can help you see there might be cultural expecations of mil and dd relationship.

As for the wife of "so and so". I would look at her and go, and why wouldn't I be proud he is a wonderful man. Don't feel the troll so to speak. Start calling her mother of so and so. Maybe she was trying to drop a hint on what she culturally expects of you.

http://www.rachelstavern.com/interra...rspective.html This might ad to some insite...not sure. My sister married a black man (American), his family was insulted....why wasn't black women "good" enough. I wonder if your husband's mom was feeling the same way? It could also have nothing to do with your skin color, but the fact you are not a "good" Nigerian woman. Just like some people get up set if their child doesn't find a "good" Catholic, Jew, Baptist, Muslim, et....

I do think there might be culture issues at play. You were expecting her to help you out. She is an "old" woman and her culture she might expects you to wait on her. Then you ad jet lag (as another posted).

I think several things need to happen. 1. You need to learn more about her, your husbands, and your children's culture. That should be important part of him. 2. You dh needs to do something else out of the cultural norm for him, talk to his mom about expected behavior.

I would talk to him about this "mom of so and so" or "wife of so and so". It could be that she was being a snot and he needs to talk. Or it could be a cultural misunderstanding. We have Nigerians locally. I have not heard them use this expression, but that could be because I am not of their culture.

Also, did you ask her to help you out or expect her to just jump in? It was your home, maybe she didn't feel welcome because you didn't tell her what you need to do in YOUR home. Ask your dh about this. Your mil might not have known what to do.
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#7 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 05:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Ganesh78 View Post
Thanks Babygirlie ~ appreciate the response. All the things you brought up do make sense. I hope I don't come off trying to figure out who's right or wrong. That was not my intention at all. It's just really trying to make sense of it all and to try to strengthen the relationship (especially without getting my back up). The jet lag makes sense as she's not a young woman and I realize she was tired - it was just that it lasted that entire visit - maybe you're right and there are some health issues unknown to us. She does live here in North America for 1/2 of the year (or has been the last few years) with other family members and their children. So she wasn't actually traveling from Africa but it would still be a tough flight. I think I had incorrect expectations of her really helping me with the boys as I had been told by DH how much family pulls through when babies are born back home. Like you said, here in north America it's such a different mentality - especially when children are born as it's often not so much extended family helping out but moms trying to "do it all" on their own. The support is severely lacking and that's just due to our culture and the way we are raised to fend for ourselves. I was just oh so hoping to catch up on some much needed sleep and get things done with the extra hands and it never happened. Thank you for the thoughts and advice..
If she has lived her only a 1/2 she might be suffering from depression!! My sil first few years was hard because she felt "isolated", and she was.
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#8 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 05:55 AM
 
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lol here's a bad story. I had gotten super sick. I forget why. but I had the need to use the bathroom very badly in every way to put it politely. I ran to the bathroom and LUCKY me.. the father mother and children all tried to clambor in with me. The father even throwing the window open to get a better look how I was doing. He ran to the outside to fit in through the window. Talk about embarrassing! (This was in the "city" and I was doing a family exchange there.) I'm sitting there on the toilet trying to shoo people out which is hard when you're uh on the toilet.

I got through the bathroom as quickly as I could since people had such a need to "help". I was sitting on my bed and they said Coke and salt cures everything they heard (particularily for Americans?)! So they put this giant glass of coke on the floor in front of me and Dad throws a huge handful of salt into it. It exploded! Coke everywhere! If I wasn't on the verge of vomiting I would have died laughing. Oy!
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#9 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 08:31 AM
 
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I think it can be important to remember that between very different cultures what is perceived as rude and polite, respectful and disrespectful, can be completely turned on its head sometimes. I had a really hard time with that when I was living in Egypt -- feeling affronted/put out/put upon/etc by some of the local cultural norms, and further affronted/put out/put upon/etc by what is normal to me in terms of basic proprieties being irrelevant. Remembering that someone doing something that strikes you as completely and unequivocally rude might be for them totally proper is hard sometimes, but it goes a long way towards not sweating it so much when it seems like this person in your life is going about everything in just so baffling a way.
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#10 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 09:20 PM
 
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I dont know but this wont be a popular opinion I am sure but... I think using the different cultures thing is a copout sometimes for bad behaviors :-X and people can go ahead and disagree with me all they want to I've seen it first hand. I think people let it go because they say "oh well so and so is from a different culture so its ok you just dont understand where they are coming from." I THINK YOUR MIL WAS WRONG and from the way you described it, it sounds like she knew what she was doing was wrong!

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#11 of 21 Old 02-02-2010, 09:33 PM
 
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Sounds stressful yes, but I don't see any wrong doing here. Did you spend any alone time, or have you ever, spent any alone time with your MIL. Maybe she indeed thought she was "helping" you by stepping in when your ds was having a tantrum. I can understand your flustration, but as an outsider looking in, I can see what she was doing also. I think spending even more time with your MIL would be beneficial. My 2 cents fwiw

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#12 of 21 Old 02-03-2010, 12:13 AM
 
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I dont know but this wont be a popular opinion I am sure but... I think using the different cultures thing is a copout sometimes for bad behaviors :-X and people can go ahead and disagree with me all they want to I've seen it first hand. I think people let it go because they say "oh well so and so is from a different culture so its ok you just dont understand where they are coming from." I THINK YOUR MIL WAS WRONG and from the way you described it, it sounds like she knew what she was doing was wrong!
I actually agree that a shrug at "cultural differences" can be used as a way to gloss over people being just plain wrong, but it's worth noting that a lot of what the OP describes -- an expectation of being hosted when visiting, a different sort of role regarding the kids than the OP expected, the use of titles rather than personal names -- are really, really common good form throughout a great deal of North Africa/the Middle East/South Asia.
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#13 of 21 Old 02-03-2010, 12:14 AM
 
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In law relationships can be so complicated, adnd when you throw in culture clash--I just want to say you have my sympathies. My MIL really rubs me the wrong way some times and there are no cultural barriers there. Just want to say I think your irritation is valid, and good for you for working on it and not growing resentful. People are very complicated, and all those things that pps mentioned about cultural differences could well be true, but at the same time, it could be true that your MIL was trying to get a rise out of you or feels some resentment or jealousy, so don't beat yourself up. I have seen with my parents that when their kids decide to do things with their own kids that don't exactly mimic what they themselves did, they (my parents) feel threatened and judged, as if we are telling them that what they did was not good enough because we don't want to do it the same way. Maybe something along those lines is going on with your MIL too.
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#14 of 21 Old 02-03-2010, 12:14 AM
 
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I agree with some of what chimomma said.

I really don't think she meant any disrespect when she was calling you "so and so's mom or wife of DH". In the african culture I am familiar with, that is how every woman is addressed.

I also wouldn't get too bent out of shape about her insisting on calling the kids by their african names. She may be trying to make sure that some of her culture gets into the mix, you know? Same as chimomma was saying.

I do find it bizarre she spent the day sleeping and watching TV. My african MIL has not yet met her grandson, so I don't have a lot of first hand experience. We'll have to wait another couple of years before we can afford to visit. But considering the amount of work she normally does, I would probably have a hard time begrudging her that.

Did you talk to your husband about the disconnect between the expectations that she would be helping out, and what actually happened? Was he surprised at her behavior?
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#15 of 21 Old 02-03-2010, 12:18 AM
 
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I don't for one moment think you're over-reacting or blowing anything out of proportion. You had a visitor for 6 weeks who made you feel uncomfortable in your own home. This is a big deal, and it's understandable why you feel the way you feel.

Everyone has given great advice and you seem to be reading the situation accurately. Yes, you need to set appropriate expectations; yes, it's a cultural thing; yes, you need to get to know your MIL better; yes the children need to be intimate with their own culture from both the maternal and paternal sides of the family. It's important to remember, however, that no one culture is better than another. Bottom line, you're American, and your kids are too. Mixing cultures is a great way to learn from one another, but if you were visiting an African village, I'm sure they'd expect you to attempt to appreciate their way of life since you were living with them (albeit temporarily) rather than exault your own culture and your own way of doing things at the expense of theirs. You should expect no less from a guest in your own home.

As far as your relationship with MIL goes, knowing more about her culture and just getting to know her better in general will probably help you set more realistic expectations for the next visit, in fact, after this visit, you kind of know what to expect in the future. If she's truly a problematic person, then maybe she shouldn't stay in your home; you can always rent a house or apartment short term for her to stay in. And the way she interfered with your disciplining your own child does raise a red flag to me. Seems she could have been a bit less hostile about it.

Good luck. I hope your next visit goes a bit better! You should ask her to teach the kids how to make traditional African meals. Food is always a great way to bond, and they're never too young to learn about it!
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#16 of 21 Old 02-03-2010, 04:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow. Reading through all the replies and the discussion have really helped me start to get my head sorted around everything that went on. I think there's a lot of truth in that I need to familiarize myself with the Nigerian culture - surely that might help me understand things a bit better. In uni I took courses on cultural sensitivity that had a focus on subjects such as ethnocentrism - that term horrifies me and i certainly hope I didn't come off in my post sounding like I felt my own background / culture is superior to others. Someone said that I should read up on Nigerian culture and find a way to respect other cultures. Surely I could benefit from accustoming myself better to the culture but I don't think in any way I am disrespectful of other cultures. I am open to learning and trying to understand more than anything.

To make it a bit more clear - her and I are OK - things are fine between us, it was just uncomfortable for me. And maybe that's my issue to work out. Who really knows...maybe it is hers too. Maybe she does have deep down feelings that she wishes her son was with a Nigerian / African woman and not some white North American. I don't know.

As it was my home she was in, it is possible she felt uncomfortable. She never seemed uncomfortable while she was here to me, but it is possible. Maybe I needed to be more forward and just say look here are the boys - I will be back in a couple of hours.

My MIL is a very strong woman who certainly speaks her mind (my girlfriends found her "intimidating" when they met her). I was always mindful of her and respectful - to the point I would keep my mouth sealed shut at certain times. Now looking back though, I wonder if I came off as timid to her - when I had a bit of a meltdown at Xmas to DH he said to go ahead and tell her what I thought about our "incident". I felt that would be disrespectful to her and did not. However would she gain a little more respect for me had I spoke to her and told her how I felt and what I thought that day. All DH's family (sisters, brother, aunts etc) are all quite vocal and outspoken. I don't really know.

I did spend some alone time with her. I was always inviting her out with me and the little ones on our outings - she most often declined. The one thing she wanted to do while here was to go shopping for dresses so I did take her out just her and I to do that at the end of her trip. I had to keep putting it off because of the kids but eventually we were able to work something out so that I could take her without them.

I liked the idea of having her cook with the boys on future visits. I think that's a great idea. Someone mentioned renting her an apartment on a future visit but that would never happen - that's not even an option.

I can honestly say I never thought being in a interracial relationship and having a multicultural family was a big deal. And it really isn't. But there's so much more to it once you are in the thick of it.
I've always thought of myself as a very open minded, very tolerant, individual but maybe I need to open that mind of mine up even further...
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#17 of 21 Old 02-03-2010, 04:56 AM
 
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I can honestly say I never thought being in a interracial relationship and having a multicultural family was a big deal. And it really isn't. But there's so much more to it once you are in the thick of it.
I've always thought of myself as a very open minded, very tolerant, individual but maybe I need to open that mind of mine up even further...
You know, I always thought the same thing, and I have always associated with people from all over the world. I just treated them as people and never focused on the differences. Thinking about it, I always overlooked the differences almost completely. So much so that I often didn't take the time to really learn anything. I never asked these immigrants I knew about their country and how it is there, never ask about their family structure and how things are handled there, never learned anything from their language. And now I have recently realized that sometimes the best way to do justice to the relationship is not to overlook the differences, but focus more on the difference, pay them respect and really try to understand the world in which that person comes from.
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#18 of 21 Old 02-03-2010, 05:45 AM
 
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I read this thread because I was interested in it, my sister having been married to a Nigerian man and having 5 children with him. His parents had both died, however, so we never met them. He called my mom and dad mom and dad. His oldest daughter had a baby, and they were not really on speaking terms at the time she was born, but it happened when I went to visit him, his daughter came along to introduce him to the baby. He gave the baby a Nigerian name which I believe is what he uses for her. His children had Igbo names, but my niece did not choose to give Igbo names to her children.

In any event, I have to say in some way your story reminds me of the last time my mother came to visit. She stayed 6 weeks, which was really long for my husband. His parents only stay from 3 days to a week and they help out a lot. Frankly, the 6 weeks was getting long for me too. My mom is old and not in good health, so she can't help out, but I think in general she sees not having to work as something she's due. She had come out to visit me in 1999 when my first was born, and I was cooking dinner and washing dishes for my visitors--not what I expected.

When she came to visit me in 2008, she stayed in the living room watching tv most of the time. Or she'd talk me into taking her to shoe stores so she could get new shoes. She got several pairs while she was here. She didn't like the way I did things and told me numerous times that she didn't understand why I did things this way or that I was certainly different and unique. I'd finally stop and ask her how she expected things to be done, and then try and accommodate her, but the same arguments would come up again. My mom is passive aggressive, I don't think she really knows how to be direct. But then when she got angry enough, she would say things to me that were out and out offensive, I'd ask her why she was trying to be offensive, and then she would ask why I was so sensitive.

She didn't try and discipline my children, thankfully, but I grew up in a home where adults or older children would give out a smack when they thought it was necessary, and the threatening to spank still gets used today by various people.

So anyway, not sure where I'm going with this other than to say even with the people you grew up with, things can be difficult, especially if you've lived away from them for awhile, and age differences make things worse.
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#19 of 21 Old 02-03-2010, 11:36 AM
 
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I think you are blowing it out of proportion. You come from completely different cultures and you both need to respect that. You cannot expect your elder to come in and tell them how it's going to be or else. That's just not how it works in other countries. My house, my rules isn't African at all.
I agree with this. And although "cultural differences" can be used as a copout sometimes, the big problem is, different cultures have different ideas of what's "good" and "bad" behavior.

I'm glad you were able to broaden your perspective, and hopefully that means the two of you won't have any resentment between each other. There are so many things that could have contributed to the problems you had with her. Not just cultural differences, but culture shock on her part, which can be a lot more difficult to deal with than some realize. Probably a zillion small reasons and subconcious thoughts and assumptions contributed to the two of you ending up in conflict.

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All DH's family (sisters, brother, aunts etc) are all quite vocal and outspoken. I don't really know.
This has been our experience with Nigerians too. Our Nigerian friends are all very "vocally energetic" and outspoken. It can be really overwhelming for someone with a quieter personality or from a culture where it's important to be "quiet" and where a culture requires people beat around the bush a lot in order to be polite.

I wonder, would you be able to have an honest talk with your MIL about this. I'm not talking about telling her all the things she did that made you feel uncomfortable. But explaining to her why you reacted the way you did, and asking her if you are missing something in the way you address her or relate to her that kept the two of you at odds when she was there.
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#20 of 21 Old 03-02-2010, 12:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by babygirlie View Post
I think you are blowing it out of proportion. You come from completely different cultures and you both need to respect that. You cannot expect your elder to come in and tell them how it's going to be or else. That's just not how it works in other countries. My house, my rules isn't African at all.

It is true a village is a family. I haven't been to Nigeria but I have lived in African villages before. If someone was ill or family less the whole village supported them. Fed them kept them clean. There was no MY home. If you are family you were never asked to leave and never expected anything from. Grandmas were not the care takers per se. Grandmas were taken care of. All the women of the village pitched in to get water to help out. There just wasn't this I don't know American way. Honestly I loved it.

Also all "women" over the age of 12 were called "mother" (meme). If you could have children you got this title whether or not you had children. It's like saying Sir or Ma'm I suppose in the US. It's respectful. I would say hello to strangers and use the term mother as a sign of respect not disrespect. I liked that also. Same with grandma (kuku).

There is also a big difference in smacking a child and threatening to do so which I think may be a cultural thing also. maybe in American when a white person says it a hand goes flying but not in other cultures. Usually the threat alone is enough to stop a child. No I don't do that. I am just putting it out there.

I think perhaps you should read up on Nigerian culture and find a way to respect different cultures. It's not about right and wrong.

BTW, the travel from Africa to America is brutal. I would be staying 6 weeks also! granted Nigeria is closer than where I went but maaaaaan is it a flight! If you're going to spend 2 grand and days on a plane I sure as heck would make my time worth it as most likely a return trip isn't coming any time soon.

It might be worth it for you to visit her. Learn and feel the culture. You can only learn so much by reading. You might want to google "culture shock". You need to understand she is NOT American and is FAR from it. Our culture is very I'm not sure how to word it. For example when I explained Americans have this like invisible bubble and people are not allowed in it my African friends burst out laughing thinking we were absolutely moronic. They also make fun of american black gangs. Where *I* lived people got CLOSE (which led to my bubble explanation as it made me uncomfortable). I mean strange men would touch my chest with a flat palm just talking. It wasn't sexual just they don't have these physical boundaries and don't get it just like we don't get how they COULDN't.

It's a little hard to explain.

I would not think she was rude and I would not confront someone like that. you can teach how Americans in general do things or how they think and she can try to absorb it but I think demanding your way or the highway isn't right either. But in the end you gotta do what you gotta do for your own sanity. Just my opinion.
this post is what actually made me register and become an active member. I usually just read and look for the issues that I might be going through with my dd. I just wanted to say I am pretty sure that one of the country you visited in Africa was Namibia.

I am namibian and we call all women 'meme' all men 'tate' and much older adults 'kuku'. Let me know if I am right
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#21 of 21 Old 03-02-2010, 01:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by babygirlie View Post
I think you are blowing it out of proportion. You come from completely different cultures and you both need to respect that. You cannot expect your elder to come in and tell them how it's going to be or else. That's just not how it works in other countries. My house, my rules isn't African at all.

It is true a village is a family. I haven't been to Nigeria but I have lived in African villages before. If someone was ill or family less the whole village supported them. Fed them kept them clean. There was no MY home. If you are family you were never asked to leave and never expected anything from. Grandmas were not the care takers per se. Grandmas were taken care of. All the women of the village pitched in to get water to help out. There just wasn't this I don't know American way. Honestly I loved it.

Also all "women" over the age of 12 were called "mother" (meme). If you could have children you got this title whether or not you had children. It's like saying Sir or Ma'm I suppose in the US. It's respectful. I would say hello to strangers and use the term mother as a sign of respect not disrespect. I liked that also. Same with grandma (kuku).

There is also a big difference in smacking a child and threatening to do so which I think may be a cultural thing also. maybe in American when a white person says it a hand goes flying but not in other cultures. Usually the threat alone is enough to stop a child. No I don't do that. I am just putting it out there.

I think perhaps you should read up on Nigerian culture and find a way to respect different cultures. It's not about right and wrong.

BTW, the travel from Africa to America is brutal. I would be staying 6 weeks also! granted Nigeria is closer than where I went but maaaaaan is it a flight! If you're going to spend 2 grand and days on a plane I sure as heck would make my time worth it as most likely a return trip isn't coming any time soon.

It might be worth it for you to visit her. Learn and feel the culture. You can only learn so much by reading. You might want to google "culture shock". You need to understand she is NOT American and is FAR from it. Our culture is very I'm not sure how to word it. For example when I explained Americans have this like invisible bubble and people are not allowed in it my African friends burst out laughing thinking we were absolutely moronic. They also make fun of american black gangs. Where *I* lived people got CLOSE (which led to my bubble explanation as it made me uncomfortable). I mean strange men would touch my chest with a flat palm just talking. It wasn't sexual just they don't have these physical boundaries and don't get it just like we don't get how they COULDN't.

It's a little hard to explain.

I would not think she was rude and I would not confront someone like that. you can teach how Americans in general do things or how they think and she can try to absorb it but I think demanding your way or the highway isn't right either. But in the end you gotta do what you gotta do for your own sanity. Just my opinion.
Ok, off topic.. but that culture sounds wonderful. I'm jeolous to be honest! I don't even know all my neighbors, nobody around here seems friendly. It would be nice for everyone to kind of be connected like that.

familybed1.gifnovaxnocirc.gif nut.gifMommy to my amazing 6 yr old dd, we homeschool.gif, and  27 weeks belly.gifpuke.gifand have been sick the whole time so far, grrrrr!!!!!!!

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