In-Laws Pushing Boundaries, How To Say No? - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > In-Laws Pushing Boundaries, How To Say No?
nettlesoup's Avatar nettlesoup 03:05 AM 05-17-2013

My partner's Dad and Stepmother are causing us grief concerning our 4 year old, and have been this way since she was born. Before she was born they grudgingly visited us once a year. But from her birth onwards they started visiting every two or three weeks. The problem with this is that they usually ignore me and my partner and play with her as if we're not there.


We have always tried to keep a distance from them due to this behaviour, but also due to my partner's negative childhood experiences with them. But more recently we've given in to letting them take her for days out. They spend a fortune on her, completely spoil her and take her to toy shops to choose whatever she wants, which is ridiculous! We have very little money so can't compete, but also want her to grow up having sense about money. And to top it off, they then brag to my partner's Mum about what they did with our daughter and how much they spoilt her, posting photos on Facebook and making a big deal.


The most recent issue was inviting her to go on a weekend holiday with them without first consulting us. Of course she got excited so we had to break it to her that she can't go. We really need to make stricter boundaries as we are sick of the way they are around both us and our daughter, constantly pushing for more access to her, and trying to win us over by spending money on us too. They couldn't care less about us, and only use us to get more access to my daughter. The problem is, my partner has a hard time saying no, and I usually end up having to say something, but neither of us have the guts to tell them what we really think.

I've seen a book recommended in the past here, does anyone happen to know what it's called? And any other advice would be greatly received. We are at the point where we've really had enough.

LLQ1011's Avatar LLQ1011 11:39 PM 05-17-2013

Set them now. Suck it up and just do it. Mu inlaws are like this and it really hurts my partners feelings. Before our son they never viisted him at his home once. Not in 7 years. Then e had our son and they are here every month.  I would start to set visit times and so on that you are comfortable with. I HATE the competeing and showing other family memebers they see the child more. You just have to do it.


Why are they so interested in her anyway? No other grand kids?

phathui5's Avatar phathui5 01:07 AM 05-18-2013



Say it with me.


Also, "We've decided that she cannot go on overnights/whatever else you want to add."


You aren't under any obligation to let anyone spend more time with your child than you are comfortable with. 

nettlesoup's Avatar nettlesoup 02:44 AM 05-18-2013

She is their only grandchild. When she was born they tried to get into the hospital to visit without permission. All her other grandparents are lovely, helpful people who don't ever act like this, but these ones are never helpful but instead use money to manipulate us. My daughter has already said that she likes going out with them because they buy her stuff.


We have told them she's not ready to stay overnight elsewhere and that we'd like to take her on her first holidays. It's more my partner who really needs to suck it up and say something. He says he will but it's yet to actually happen. We really do need to put down boundaries, but it's difficult because neither of us are confrontational people.

LLQ1011's Avatar LLQ1011 12:03 PM 05-18-2013
My mil did the hospital while I was in labor thing. I Still hate her a little bit for it. Hopefully he does it before they do something so infuritating that its a blow out.
barefootmama0709's Avatar barefootmama0709 11:57 AM 05-29-2013
Originally Posted by nettlesoup View Post

She is their only grandchild. When she was born they tried to get into the hospital to visit without permission. All her other grandparents are lovely, helpful people who don't ever act like this, but these ones are never helpful but instead use money to manipulate us. My daughter has already said that she likes going out with them because they buy her stuff.

^^Read this again, OP. If these were people that were NOT related to you, would this be considered acceptable behavior? If the answer is "no", then you need to reconsider the time they are spending with your child. They are teaching her values that you are uncomfortable with; make them take a step (or several) back.

nettlesoup's Avatar nettlesoup 12:31 PM 05-29-2013

They are in the US on holiday at the moment, but I've already sent them a message telling them not to buy lots of toys for her. I mentioned that she only looks forward to seeing them because they buy her stuff. We are going to set boundaries properly on their return when we next have to see them.

mamazee's Avatar mamazee 12:46 PM 05-29-2013
Hmm I've had people do this - promise overnight trips I have no intention of allowing, with me having to be the bad guy and say no. It is really really annoying. I think you've got to just give them the word that they aren't to invite your dd anywhere without talking to you and your partner.

I accidentally solved the "buying too much" stuff, which is actually a different person than the one who promises trips. But we didn't have space for everything so we had a big garage sale, and this person showed up unannounced not knowing we had a garage sale that day and saw all the stuff she'd given in the garage sale. It was awkward but the problem stopped. Other than setting up an awkward moment like that, you could make make it clear that you don't have space for everything and that you'll have to get rid of a lot of the stuff your dd is being given.

I've also had to have a discussion about sweets and junk food with a family member.

I think a lot of it is just boundary setting and saying "no." You can temper the conversation with some talk about how valuable grandparents are and how you understand they're showing love, and you want them to be able to show love, but you can't have them promising trips/buying more stuff than you can accept/feeding too many sweets and junk food.

Good luck!
glionna's Avatar glionna 11:19 PM 05-31-2013
my mil is the same. my dd now 3.5yo is her first granchild and on holidays they have a "tradition" to open gifts infront of all other relatives. she always makes me sick cause we agree on a limit amount to spend and she always says she forgets and/ or says she bought it thru out the year for her. If she wants to see her she will pop up unannounced. and once she requested us to wake her up at 10pm to see her. and because it takes so much of me to put her to sleep i just told her good night now im going to sleep and left my dh to dismiss her. i used to talk to her to try and understand but i gave up. she has done things to my dh in his youth that i still can not believe. so everytime she uses her passive aggressive confrontational conversation i always reminded her that her son is my dh and her time was up when he turned 18 (off age) 15 yrs ago. now im the one nursing and caring for my dd. i had a couple of my daughterd xmas gift to.stay at her house cause even if i have the space at my home she did not consulted me for them. and i tell this toy mil in front of my dd so she wont be begging to take it home.
sometimes ppl are just different, there will be a time that you will be fed up, and they know it, until then they will continue take advantage of it all.....but like the song says..... "mother knows best..." you are the mom.
glionna's Avatar glionna 11:32 PM 05-31-2013
once my mil did promise a stay over to my dd and i talked to my mil in front of my dd like my mil was my dd. i asked my mil with the sweetest voice i talk to my dd..., did you asked me permission for it?? no, right?? and what happens if you dont ask permission???... and my dd answer "you dont get it!" and so i opt to talk to her like that and it makes her mad sometimes and i hear it from my hubby later on how she complaints to him and he even told me he like the method. teaching my dd being respectful. she still loves spending time with them no matter what and i understand that they will always be her grandparents no matter what, its just frustrating sometimes...
nettlesoup's Avatar nettlesoup 12:58 AM 06-01-2013

Glionna, yours really does sound frustrating! But your posts help a lot, thanks!


Mamazee; the issues you've had do sound very similar to mine.


They'll be back soon and I'm dreading the confrontation I know we must have. I've mentioned a number of times that my sister will be taking my daughter for her first horse riding experience, yet they keep saying that they're going to take her to the stepmother's brother's farm where there are horses despite what I've said. There will be no safety gear for her or experience, and in general, no way! So that's going to be fun to bring up since I doubt my fiance will say anything.

Tags: Family