Trouble with in-laws
06/06/2011 at 11:47 AM

I've been married for 12 years and have had several power struggles with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Most of the time I have let the issue go in order not to cause family drama. After the birth of our first child who was also the first grandchild, my husband decided that it would be best to set some boundaries as far as how holidays were spent because the MIL and SIL started to become excessively demanding and bossy. That was seven years ago. Now there are 8 other grandchildren divided equally among the siblings and the family pressure has lightened. Well, maybe just a little.

The recent big problem happened at my middle child's 5th birthday. His Grandma arrived at the party with 2 of his cousins ages 5 and 4. They had just spent the night at grandma's. They were wearing fancy crowns and carrying happy meals. The 5 year old had a crown and announced that he made it for the birthday boy's brother. This left my 5 year old confused and upset... it was heart breaking. My husband politely told his mother that she should not have brought the children with crowns and excluded the birthday boy! She reacted defensively. Accusing my husband of saying she was teaching her other grandchildren anti-social behavior. Of course, that's not what he said. He chose not to go into it with her because it was our sweet boy's party.

The SIL, who's children were at the party with grandma, arrived late, as usual. She proceeded to talk loudly about her personal life in the room where I was leading an arts and crafts project with all the children. This is the usual- every year. My husband and I go away from family functions shaking our heads over how she manages to make all events about her.
The real hassle came at the end of the party. Her 5 year old, the same one who brought the crown for the birthday boy's brother, drew a lovely picture that all the adults were fussing over. Rightly so! He's a talented kid. At the same time his parents were rounding up he and his sibling to leave and getting their things from the grandmother's car. Their son then wanted to give the picture to my oldest son. My middle son said, "But it's my birthday!" My oldest son then told his cousin that it was his brother's special day and that he should just give it to his cousin. So the 5 year old gave it to the birthday boy and then after a min he said he wanted it back. Crying began. I was the only parent around. I explained that it wasn't nice to give a present and then take it back, especially on someone's birthday. I told my nephew that his parents were leaving, and that it was time to go get in the car. I also said I would talk to my son when later about giving the picture back. Ugh. What happened next was my SIL stormed back into my house and said rudely, "My son wants his picture back!" I was stunned! I'm still am! I ended up giving the picture back because I was raised to be a good host. I also didn't want to make things worse. Sigh.

Her son's birthday is next weekend. And I just don't know what to do. Should I confront her? Should I leave it be? Should we all become conveniently sick?

Wacky stuff like this happens at every family function. I have found myself dreading my own babie's birthdays. I need to learn not to be so nice- but I can't imagine having a fight with family in front of the children.