Mother-in-law difficulty - FamilyEducation
Mother-in-law difficulty
09/21/2010 at 13:17 PM

I have taken to posting this thread in hopes that I can get some objective feedback. Lengthy as this post may be, I would appreciate anyone who is willing to read and respond with some advice. My mother-in-law is a seemingly very sweet woman. She does nice things for others, but mind you, she strokes her ego quite often and brags about her good deeds. Kudos to anyone who helps others, I have no problem with that. My problem, simply put, is she seems to always be comparing herself to me...what she does vs what I do, how she looks vs how I look, her relationship with my children vs my relationship with them, her family reunions vs my family reunions. I could go on, but that is the gist of it. I have son (who has ADHD, OCD, and panic & anxiety disorder) from a previous marriage. His father left us for another woman and is barely in his life. My husband has raised my since he was two years old. My son refers to him as his dad, loves him as a dad, and vice versa. Well, my MIL is nice to my son and that's about all I can say. But when I got pregnant with my daughter, she started making snippy comments about how my daughter would act nothing like my son. She would always say things like, "The baby will stay with me when you need a babysitter, and your son can go to your Mom's." She would always try to separate them in her own way with snide remarks like that. Since my daughter was born, she compares her relationship with her to my relationship with her. When she keeps my daughter, she will say things like, "She doesn't have a care for you in the world when she's with me." When I leave my daughter with her and tell her goodbye, my MIL says things like, "Tell Mama you don't care if she leaves." I mean, of course I know my baby loves me. She's my daughter and I'm with her all the time. The problem is that I feel like my MIL thinks that she should rub it in that my daughter loves her. From day one, I have always handed her the baby when she was around, I bought her baby stuff to keep at her house, I respect her and show her just as much courtesy as my own mother. I am now at my wit's end. I truly wish we could have a genuine loving relationship, love these kids, and be a happy family without the nonsense. A child's upbringing is not something to be jaded or play games over. This woman is 32 years my senior, I wish she could be more mature about this. I'm thinking that maybe she's jealous. We live right next to her, which makes matters even more difficult. I even asked her if there was a problem one time, cried my eyes out, only to have her walk out of my home acting as though she didn't know what I was talking about. Also, she let her niece move in with her for a few months this year. Her niece, who had a daughter of her own, took it upon herself to yell at my son when he didn't follow the rules she had for her daughter when we visited. My son, who takes medication three times a day for his difficulties, was very taken back by was I, and my husband. Finally my FIL (who had cancer at the time and had no desire for her to be there)confronted her about it. She got mad and talked about my on Facebook, a public website, for our family to see. And mind you, all my son did was take the remote from her two year old daughter. That's it! At that point, enough was enough. I confronted her myself, and needless to say, it wasn't a pretty situation. My ML came into the confrontation and told me to get out of her house. I told her what her niece had said, to which she replied, "So!" I told my MIL that this was wrong and I couldn't believe she didn't think so. To which she replied, "No, I think you're a bipolar witch." Well, things escalated, and I ended up calling her out on an affair she thought no one knew she had on her husband. My husband ended up going over there and telling his mom that he was tired of the way she treated his wife and son and demanded an apology. She said she wasn't apologizing and told him to get out. We ended up not speaking for two months. During that time, I was very distraught over the distance in the family, even though I had been hurt and felt like an outsider to my MIL. So I wrote her a very long letter, explaining my problems and what I thought needed to change in order for us all to have a healthy relationship and be a happy family. Her response was not very nice, she didn't accept blame for anything and only pointed out the good she had done. I do give her credit b/c she has watched my son play ball and bought him birthday gifts, all things that she made a point of telling me. However, she doesn't treat me or my son like she treats her blood family. I sent her another letter, telling her I still felt she had hurt us, but for the sake of family and moving on, we needed to just move past everything. But I also said that if we didn't both make an honest effort, this situation would repeat itself. That leads me to my present problem...the comments she keeps making about my daughter. Also, if I make a cake, she makes a cake. If I buy an outfit, she buys one. Things are better for now, but I see her slowly but surely building her way back up to what she once was. And the sad thing husband told me this was going to happen. What should I do? I don't know how I can live with the pettiness and have a relationship with someone I feel would run me right over if I gave her half a chance. But I also dread the thought of cutter her out of the family. It genuinely pains my heart to think of doing that. I don't know why, after all she has done. And this barely scratches the surface. I also apologized to her in the letters for anything I had ever done wrong....what that was I didn't know, but I still gave her an apology b/c I wanted a good, fresh start. She hasn't to this day offered me an apology or acted as though she feels any remorse. My husband says he wants to have nothing to do with her, but I keep letting her back into our lives. I know her loves his mother, as do I. But where do you draw the line, and how? HOW????

I've had a few arguments with my MIL, but mine doesn't live next door. I think it sucks your MIL doesn't treat all her grandchildren equally. Though speaking from experience, some things (like snide remarks)you just have to swallow. But manipulative behavior directed at a small child is just wrong. That will probably effect you and your kids even more as time goes on. I don't have a good answer as to what you should do, but drawing a line in the sand sounds like a great idea to me, and maybe some family counseling with you, hubby and the MIL. As for how? You just do it, talk with your hubby to figure out the specific things that need to be addressed, then decide how to address them and what happens if things don't change. My MIL was allowing my kids to do things at her house that we don't allow at our own house. Our biggest issue was when she lived in a city suburb and would allow my then 8 year old to walk to the local convenience store alone. Big time scary. When we found out she was no longer allowed to take the kids home with her. We've since relented, as it's been 7 years, but we set out rules for when our kids are with her and we have no problem reinforcing our rules by not allowing her to take the kids. It's strange and awful that we had to set rules and punishments for a grown woman but it was necessary for our children's well being. I hope you figure something out. Good luck and God bless.