Jump to content

Menu

How would you handle this family situation (long)


Recommended Posts

My first instinct is to move states. Alas, no money. So that solution’s on hold. I need to deal with this in the next week.

Background:

DH's parents were abusive when he was growing up. Physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. But, after years of gaslighting "it didn't happen" or "it wasn't that bad", and being told "he was being too sensitive", he continued to have a relationship with both parents [who had by this time divorced].

In 2018 we moved in with his mom for a year. She thought it went well. Dear reader, it did not. I won't armchair diagnose anything, but she has a ton of narcissistic tendencies.

October 2019 DH decided to go no-contact with his entire family. It has been framed as "taking a break." DH is now inclined to think it will be permanent but originally had wanted to keep option open. DH's mom texts and calls me every once in a while (and sometimes him too), I politely decline meeting up or letting her see the kids (he deletes without reading).

Now my side of the family: my parents are difficult. They do not take questioning of their authority well (let alone recognize when they don't have any). They love me. They love my kids. They hate DH. DH stays cordial with them, and in holidays etc they do the same, civil but no more. It has grown worse in the past 2 years. They barely bother hiding it anymore, but they do buy equal amount of holiday gifts, etc, other than a few snide remarks to me and rolled eyes and other “subtle” cues. They probably think they are paragons of martyrdom for doing so well.

DH wanted the kids to have a positive grandparent influence on the kids, and so he has always been more give-over to them despite how they treat him. He acknowledges they love the kids and they help us out from time to time so he hasn’t been inclined to rock the boat; he thought the balance of benefit was with just taking it and only seeing them himself on holidays.

He works 60+ hours weeks on our own businesses (he tries for 80hr/wk if health permits). Covid has hurt the actual income. There are no jobs in the area we live, I have looked. Right now the plan is to double down on the 2nd [new] business and hope to see a return, living off of savings and small jobs until it does.

The Situation Now:

I dislocated my knee. I let my parents have the kids "to help" while I recovered. It has not been a good recovery. They stayed there longer than expected. This was against my better judgement, but it is what it is. 

While kids were there, Dh’s mom called my mom. My mom didn’t even know DHM had her number. As reported to me by my mom: DHM asked if we were still living in our town, and if my mom ever saw the kids. My mom said yes they still live in that town but we don’t see the kids much since we're 2 hours away. (When we cut off contact, I told my mom to never give our address to DH’s family and that the split was due to abuse and so I would not let my kids see that side for a while.)

When DH went pick kids up from my parents (because I was not up to driving the 4 hours roundtrip at that point) my dad, for lack of a better word, ambushed him. My dad gave him "what he should do" with his/our life: he needs to grow up and forgive his family and mend the rift because this has gone on long enough, he needs to get a job and stop being lazy, he needs to do these specific things with the stimulus money because he will never get a windfall this big again in his life, he needs to put the kids first above his own selfishness, he needs to start taking the kids back to church because the bishop is not a medical expert and doesn't know how overblown this all is. (And in case you're wondering if DH is a reliable witness about what my dad actually said, my dad helpfully provided Written Instructions as well, I mostly used my dad's own words from that in the summary.)

DH rightly said, "Look John, you have no idea who I am and you can't tell me what to do. I wanted a relationship with you when I was young, but that was 17 years ago and I've grown up now. You’ve never even asked me one question about myself. I don't care what you think because you have no idea what you're talking about." There was a little bit of back and forth but that was essentially DH’s response.

I went 2 weeks without talking to my parents at all after this. I spoke to my mom briefly on Friday about an event we are committed to that she has the info for (and the organizers haven’t answered my emails for the past 2 weeks). It was brief and we pretended nothing was wrong. We agreed that they could see the kids before the event that took us to their town, this coming week.

This morning I got a text from DHM saying, “Happy Easter Moonhawk! Is it possible to see the kids at your parents house next time they visit?”

Originally I wouldn’t have thought anything of this text other than she’s fishing and is making a guess about them visiting eventually. Even after her one call to my mom. But after my dad’s comments to DH about “mending the rift”, I’m paranoid. I understand this could be coincidence but I don’t feel charitable to any of these people right now so IDK if I should proceed as such. But regardless I have to address both.

As long as DH was willing to put up with it, I took the cowards way out. But now DH has no interest in seeing my parents again, holidays or not, and his once-championing of “grandparents matter” is no longer a thing.

So, right now my plan is to

A) politely say to DHM via text, “Happy Easter! No, that won’t be possible. I hope you’re doing well!”

B) When I see my parents, addressing this head on. I’m thinking a written note of 1-sentence points to my parents, as well as a sit-down discussion this week when in town. The flaw with this is that kids will be there, so I’d have to do this after kids are in the car, which limits the time and location (driveway). And like I said, my parents do not take this type of stuff well. I’m preparing for a lot of “too sensitive” “overblown” “he needs to grow a spine” type of rhetoric. IE, they aren’t going to listen. So keeping it factual and with a written note (thanks for the trick, Dad), seems to be my best course of action.

I know what boundaries I want to set, but don't know what consequences should be. I am not at the point of full break with my parents (and DH understands this and is ok with that), but I have been happy with talking with my mom once or twice a week and only seeing them in person periodically. My parents have already started over this past year saying I'm trying to keep the kids from them (all legit Covid reasons) and I think (unconfirmed) they are telling this to the extended family. I guess I don't need the extended family since I don't talk to them anyway, but for some reason this rankles me and is getting taken into account when I'm making my decisions when it shouldn't. I know my judgement is being influenced by the words "my family". 

What do you think? Am I handling this correctly? I mean, I have put this off too long, but that’s not something I can go back and redo. So as of now, does this seem like the best course of action? What have I missed?

Thanks for getting this far if you did. I know it seems so cut and dry what I should do but I'm holding back, so I am hoping hearing other perspectives will help me move forward.

  • Sad 12
Link to post
Share on other sites

I’d block DH’s mom and never respond at all.  

I’d probably discuss with my parents that what Dad said was totally inappropriate. They have no idea the extent that DH was abused as a child, and as they have never displayed anything but a not only disrespectful but downright hateful opinion of him it should be obvious that his childhood and his relationship with his parents are none of Dad’s business.

DH is an adult and he doesn’t need to be parented by them or by his own heinous parents. And if they interfere in any way again, including by stupidly trying to giving access to the children to that awful and abusive woman they’ll be jeopardizing future contact with their grandchildren. 

And when they argue, “That is none of your business” and “You have been terribly inappropriate” on wash & repeat.

Is that what you were thinking of saying?

  • Like 13
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, Katy said:

I’d block DH’s mom and never respond at all.  

I’d probably discuss with my parents that what Dad said was totally inappropriate. They have no idea the extent that DH was abused as a child, and as they have never displayed anything but a not only disrespectful but downright hateful opinion of him it should be obvious that his childhood and his relationship with his parents are none of Dad’s business.

DH is an adult and he doesn’t need to be parented by them or by his own heinous parents. And if they interfere in any way again, including by stupidly trying to giving access to the children to that awful and abusive woman they’ll be jeopardizing future contact with their grandchildren. 

And when they argue, “That is none of your business” and “You have been terribly inappropriate” on wash & repeat.

Is that what you were thinking of saying?

Yep, I think this is good. 

And I think there is just no great way of dealing with family problems that will make sure it is fair or works.    I have been in this kind of mess with both sides.  I think you need to be true to yourself and your dh and kids.  That they come before the extended family.  

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you think your parents would allow DHM access to your children in their efforts to mend the rift in his family? If you don't trust your parents, I would never allow the kids to stay with them if you are not also there.

You can still have relationship and boundaries with your parents, but if they are untrustworthy or if they keep trying to fix your DH, they may lose the relationship. That's on them. You set your expectations and boundaries, and stand fast. Don't let them manipulate and guilt you into something you're not comfortable with. Practice your escape lines, like Katy suggested. Don't get sucked into lengthy discussions or explanations. "I appreciate your concern, but it's not your business. I'm not going to discuss it with you." or something similar. Since they're your parents, you would be better to do all the discussions and boundary setting.

I'm sorry you are going through this. Your own family (dh and kids) are your family now. Tend to each others' needs and don't let the whirlwind suck you down. 
 

ETA: If DH parents show up at your parents' house before the scheduled event, have a plan to leave immediately. 

Edited by Tiberia
  • Like 9
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Tiberia said:

Do you think your parents would allow DHM access to your children in their efforts to mend the rift in his family? If you don't trust your parents, I would never allow the kids to stay with them if you are not also there.

You can still have relationship and boundaries with your parents, but if they are untrustworthy or if they keep trying to fix your DH, they may lose the relationship. That's on them. You set your expectations and boundaries, and stand fast. Don't let them manipulate and guilt you into something you're not comfortable with. Practice your escape lines, like Katy suggested. Don't get sucked into lengthy discussions or explanations. "I appreciate your concern, but it's not your business. I'm not going to discuss it with you." or something similar. Since they're your parents, you would be better to do all the discussions and boundary setting.

I'm sorry you are going through this. Your own family (dh and kids) are your family now. Tend to each others' needs and don't let the whirlwind suck you down. 
 

ETA: If DH parents show up at your parents' house before the scheduled event, have a plan to leave immediately. 

This went through my mind too.  When your dad said those things and you got the text, I think they have something planned. 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone with a lot of unfortunate experience with dysfunctional families, I suspect you are reading this accurately. It's not likely that this is a coincidence. Trust your instincts.

Your letter needs to be extremely brief. No elaborate explanations and no threats. 

You should anticipate that attempts at discussion will likely flounder because they will talk over you or dig down into their position. It doesn't mean you shouldn't talk to them, but you should be prepared emotionally for this likelihood. You might find it helpful to practice a couple key sentences, such as:

"You are wrong to insert yourself into dh's relationship with his parents. That is for him to sort out with them."

"If you undermine what dh and I have decided as parents for our family, you show us that you are untrustworthy."

That sort of thing.

Sorry this is so rough.

 

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I would go with your plan part A, but I think your plan part B will be a lot of wasted effort -- and that the end point will be more upsetting than where you are right now.

What I think would be better for dealing with your side of the extended family is to (1) decide on an new normal, and (2) start acting like that's normal -- without ever acknowledging that anything has changed, or making any effort to explain yourself.

The new normal needs to reflect the people you are dealing with. What I see is that the people you are dealing with have the tendency to, once a decade or so, ambush one or both of you a very patronizing lecture. I imagine that this bad trait is one-among-many that you haven't mentioned, so the new normal needs to reflect all of their bad traits, not just that one, of course.

What your plan aims at is kind of communicating to them what is unacceptable, in the hopes that they will grasp what is going on and stop creating problems. This goal coincides nicely with a (very normal) desire to simply reprimand them -- which the certainly deserve -- but it isn't likely to be successful.

What my plan aims at is deciding what is unacceptable, and therefore not accepting it, without bothering to convince them of anything. Convincing them of things is super pointless. Making your own plans is where the power is. For example: If you aren't going to accept lectures: don't. Have your new normal plan include what to do if a lecture gets launched: excuse yourself politely, followed by excuse yourself rudely with a reprimand, followed by firm actions where you obviously stop listening, stop making eye contact, don't accept any paperwork, then drive away, and cool the contact for a specific length of time. Ask yourself: at a rate of once-a-decade, is this a good enough plan for responding to the opening comments of an insulting lecture? If not, make a better one.

(What other bad traits do they have? What's your personal-boundaries plan for what to do if those things start to happen? How frequently would you have to do it? Is it good enough, knowing that things will happen and you will respond, or do you need more?)

  • Like 8
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

((Moonhawk))

Sorry you are dealing with all this. I like bolt.'s  idea about decide what the new normal is and then just move into that going forward.

If you decide to create your own, new hand-picked extended family I'm hoping for a cousin spot, okay? I will be supportive of your decisions and we can exchange funny memes, or whatever. 

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no way on God’s green earth I would be taking my children to their house this week.  Or myself.  Occasional phone contact with mom would be my limit for the foreseeable future.

I normally think people are too quick to cut contact with family members, but they are trying to “mend” a relationship with your DH’s abusive parents, and they’re confirmed meddlers and that combination is not safe for your family. 

  • Like 13
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

A few thoughts:

1. Make sure you and your husband are on the same page about all of this.  Meddlers try to drive a wedge between husband and wife, and that is not good.  This needs to be your first priority, your own marriage.

2. Tell MIL no, it's not possible.

3. Remind your parents that his parents are abusing and don't respect boundaries.  Tell them that sharing information with his parents was not appropriate or acceptable. It's just stirring up a hornet's nest for you.  Tell your Dad it was completely unacceptable to ambush DH.  You acknowledge that he has specific and differing ideas about how to handle things, but you are grown adults and you do not tolerate this kind of interference in your life. 

4.  I wouldn't allow unsupervised access of your kids to your parents. In fact, I'd give it a long pause before visiting again.

 

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry moonhawk. 😞

I think katy's advice is spot on.

I think that a sit down/letter/discussion to address this will likely not work and will likely just give them a bigger opening to hurt you. I would just very plainly say (maybe by text) 1. You are angry at them for disrespecting your dh. 2. Mind your own business. 3. Don't call me for a while. Then DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE! Hold your boundary.

I agree with everyone else, trust your gut, sounds like dh's mum has been in their ear and they were ready and willing to back her over you&dh. I wouldn't be surprised if they already had her to visit when the kids were there.

Fwiw - I would have very serious issues with the ambush in front of the kids! If they disrespect their father in front of them, they are not good grandparents.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

It sounds to me also like they and dhs parents have been talking.  I wouldn’t send the kids over to your parents any time soon in case their sympathy with dhs parents led them to give them access to the grandkids.  Then I’d dial back the contact for a bit.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Text to MIL is fine. 

Too much getting into it with parents. No more unsupervised contact, ease off on supervised contact, give short feedback re treatment of dh.

I'd just do it by text. Dad, dh told me you berated him today. It's not your place to do that. Dh and I are a team and we don't need unsolicited advice now or in the future. I will ask you if I think your input could be helpful. 

Don't respond to replies. Done and dusted. Move on. 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

One suggestion I have is for you to start building up your network so that you are never in a situation again where you have no option but to rely on your parents for child care. 

One time my mother was watching my DS who was maybe 1 1/2 HS at the time, and she did something terribly dangerous regarding DS. When I tried to discuss it with her, she thought I was overreacting and did not understand that her actions could have been deadly. That was the last time she was ever along with my DS until he was old enough to stay home alone. To make that possible I had to rely on friends for help in situations that came after. I did not bother to tell her that she would never be alone with him, but it was up to me to make sure he was safe.

Edited by City Mouse
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

What a tough situation. I’m so sorry.

I would just text your MIL that it wouldn’t be possible without the hope you are well just bc it could come off wrong. 

I think your dh handled the situation well. I would only tell them that you didn’t appreciate the ambush and that you two are adults and need to find your own way- that you will ask for opinions if you want them.  You can’t really control whether they like your dh. It sounds like they have been trying to keep the peace for years. I don’t think what your dad did was wise, but I don’t think it was abusive. People do share their opinions when they shouldn’t. That said, your dh is in his rights to not see them.  In my world it wouldn’t be a reason for the children not to see them as long as they respect your boundary regarding the other Grandma. I would tell them there’s a lot they don’t understand and you no longer want to discuss it. Then hang up or walk away if they bring it up. 

The only other thing I guess I would say is this. I don’t know you or your dh. I do have a dd who had a love interest that I would find it very difficult to accept. I really am quite an accepting open person, but this guy was arrogant, belittling, critical and, I believe, was playing the part of being every girl’s dream because he wanted to be seen that way not bc he was. If she ever married him, it would take every ounce of my strength of will to have him in my house. But I would do it because I love my dd and would hope to be a great grandparent to the children. I am not saying I think your dh is like this guys, only that it’s good to be objective about whether they are concerned about abuse.  Mostly I am saying that we all have people we don’t like or find it harder to spend time with. Sometimes those people marry into our family.  Consider if they deserve credit for how well they’ve done, even while flawed.  I’m sure it is crazy frustrating that they haven’t seemed to try to like him.  But, I don’t know, I guess I’m saying maybe give them space to be imperfect while setting boundaries.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Gently, the thing that stands out to me here is that your DH has gone no-contact with his family but you have not. Consider seriously that you may be letting them “keep a foot in the door” by doing this. And now they are going behind your back to your parents, who may be helping them. Perhaps it’s time to go dark on his family as a united front.  
 

As for your parents, based on what you wrote here, if you want to have a talk with them, you can but you yourself don’t seem to think they’ll be receptive. It may be better to set blunt boundaries: “You may not talk to DH about his family/job choices/etc “. “You may not under any circumstances allow his family to see the kids.” And then just quietly and consistently reinforce those boundaries without explaining or justifying yourself. And I wouldn’t let your parents have the kids unsupervised until you’re sure they’ll respect your boundaries. 

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing between DH and your dad seems to have been handled appropriately by your DH.

I am a woman of few words in situations like this, so what I'd probably do with your folks is just out and tell them "please don't ever discuss me, my husband, or my kids with my in-laws or extended family.  Thank you.  If they ask, just say you aren't getting involved in that conversation with them."

I wouldn't keep the kids away from your folks.

I'm not in a position to opine on whether or not your dh could use some advice or other ideas.  The fact is that he's a grown-up, doesn't want to discuss it, and has said so.  That's enough for your parents and in-laws. 

That said, please make sure you are not unintentionally feeding this by anything you say in your conversations with your parents.  If your position is to stand by your man, then stand by your man.  I've seen others complain to their parents about everything their dh does to annoy them, and then the parents think it's their place to weigh in, or maybe they even think that's what the wife wants them to do.

Between you and your dh, though, I would be looking at why he has this problem with both your family and his.  We all have room for improvement.  But that's not anyone else's business.

Edited by SKL
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

When NC is involved with any abusive parent, it is best to go completely NC if your DH is traumatized by their presence in your family's lives. Determined abusers (not using the word NPD, because I obviously don't know the backstory) will find a way to worm their way into the lives of their child who has gone NC. I know one controlling parent who hired a private detective to find the home address of their adult child to come and ambush them and create an ugly scene hoping that the child would talk to them in order to avoid the scene in front of the neighbors. Cut out contact with your MIL to show support for your husband's stance. She will use you and your contacts to find a way into your lives. Personally, if past physical abuse was involved, I would not want that grandparent to interact with my own child even inside someone else's home.

So, don't text back to your MIL. Block her. Tell your parents in no uncertain terms that you are adults and know how to handle your relationships and don't need their input. Don't depend on your parents for money, physical labor, babysitting etc. Those things are meant for families with positive relationships amongst each other. No point doing the "conventional" things with grandparents when they are causing harm to your family. Better to let those hopes go. Sorry, I have seen too much go wrong in my own life because at some point I felt too afraid to break conventional family bonds and I did not have the voice and thick skin to deal with such parents that I am now being blunt.

Edited by mathnerd
  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the support and perspectives. I'll try to keep this more factual and answering questions asked, or if I think clarity would help.

3 hours ago, Tiberia said:

Do you think your parents would allow DHM access to your children in their efforts to mend the rift in his family? If you don't trust your parents, I would never allow the kids to stay with them if you are not also there.

I don't think so -- our parents never got along. That's why my mom was shocked DHM even had their number. But my dad's speech has really made me have to re-evaluate.

But, yes, after this, we've decided kids will not be spending unsupervised time with my parents.

3 hours ago, Harriet Vane said:

As someone with a lot of unfortunate experience with dysfunctional families, I suspect you are reading this accurately. It's not likely that this is a coincidence. Trust your instincts.

Your letter needs to be extremely brief. No elaborate explanations and no threats. 

You should anticipate that attempts at discussion will likely flounder because they will talk over you or dig down into their position. It doesn't mean you shouldn't talk to them, but you should be prepared emotionally for this likelihood.

Yes, I was thinking 4-5 bullet points. But...brevity in writing is not my strong suit, LOL

2 hours ago, bolt. said:

What I think would be better for dealing with your side of the extended family is to (1) decide on an new normal, and (2) start acting like that's normal -- without ever acknowledging that anything has changed, or making any effort to explain yourself.

The new normal needs to reflect the people you are dealing with. What I see is that the people you are dealing with have the tendency to, once a decade or so, ambush one or both of you a very patronizing lecture. I imagine that this bad trait is one-among-many that you haven't mentioned, so the new normal needs to reflect all of their bad traits, not just that one, of course.

What my plan aims at is deciding what is unacceptable, and therefore not accepting it, without bothering to convince them of anything. Convincing them of things is super pointless. Making your own plans is where the power is. For example: If you aren't going to accept lectures: don't. Have your new normal plan include what to do if a lecture gets launched: excuse yourself politely, followed by excuse yourself rudely with a reprimand, followed by firm actions where you obviously stop listening, stop making eye contact, don't accept any paperwork, then drive away, and cool the contact for a specific length of time. Ask yourself: at a rate of once-a-decade, is this a good enough plan for responding to the opening comments of an insulting lecture? If not, make a better one.

(What other bad traits do they have? What's your personal-boundaries plan for what to do if those things start to happen? How frequently would you have to do it? Is it good enough, knowing that things will happen and you will respond, or do you need more?)

Oof, bolt, yeah I think this is all true, including the parts I cut out of succinctness. Except the tendency is more than once a decade now, unfortunately. I don't think I can do this as often as it is now happening.

DH did interrupt my dad after his first point with his reply, my dad just followed him out to the car and continued talking to the next and the next point. That was the "back and forth" I was alluding to. We found the Written Instructions in the car afterwards, it must have been placed there during the car being loaded with kid stuff. 

I try really hard not to think about their bad traits. My mother has a very venomous tongue. And she thinks before she speaks, and will not apologize. If I wrote out everything she's said to me, even in the past 2-3 years, I'm pretty sure the consensus would be not good. Heck, I forgot half the things, but I know in January she made me an "apology" lemon bread for something that must have been bad enough to get an apology loaf for (she didn't say sorry, but she said, "this is my apology bread for you.") But I think about it and balance against all of the other things she's said/done that are positive. It's easier when it's directed at me. And I can say, "She doesn't think before she speaks, she didn't mean it." But it's starting to spill out towards the rest of the family, and Covid has been a definite aggravator. I feel like it's sped up the progression of some of these things by about 5 years.

And no, I can't continue to have this same relationship with them as it is at the frequency it is happening. Thank you for putting the question directly so that I have to face that also.

2 hours ago, SusanC said:

If you decide to create your own, new hand-picked extended family I'm hoping for a cousin spot, okay? I will be supportive of your decisions and we can exchange funny memes, or whatever. 

{{{Thank you Susan}}}} Yes, I've got a slot open, I can always use more cousins. Welcome to the family! 

1 hour ago, Danae said:

There is no way on God’s green earth I would be taking my children to their house this week.  Or myself.  Occasional phone contact with mom would be my limit for the foreseeable future.

I normally think people are too quick to cut contact with family members, but they are trying to “mend” a relationship with your DH’s abusive parents, and they’re confirmed meddlers and that combination is not safe for your family. 

So, just to clarify, I said they could see the kids when we went to their town. DS is having First Confession at the parish there. My mom was one of the teachers for the religious ed program, and the function is at the church, so I couldn't really tell them "no you can't go to the Church" because there was no way for me to enforce that. I won't be taking the kids to the house. 

Yes, the fact they've taken an interest in his family relationship at all is really concerning since they are, as you say, meddlers that take it upon themselves to meddle. 

1 hour ago, prairiewindmomma said:

A few thoughts:

1. Make sure you and your husband are on the same page about all of this.  Meddlers try to drive a wedge between husband and wife, and that is not good.  This needs to be your first priority, your own marriage.

4.  I wouldn't allow unsupervised access of your kids to your parents. In fact, I'd give it a long pause before visiting again.

1. Yes, thanks for the reminder. DH the first week after the incident was pretty livid. He's in therapy and working through childhood trauma, he brought it up with his therapist and they worked through a lot of what it brought up for him. He doesn't have an opinion on if I cut ties with my parents, as much as he will not be seeing them in the foreseeable future* and does not want kids there unsupervised. We agree on both points. 

*Stay turned for "What To Do About the Holidays" Coming This Summer to a Board Near You

1 hour ago, LMD said:

I agree with everyone else, trust your gut, sounds like dh's mum has been in their ear and they were ready and willing to back her over you&dh. I wouldn't be surprised if they already had her to visit when the kids were there.

Fwiw - I would have very serious issues with the ambush in front of the kids! If they disrespect their father in front of them, they are not good grandparents.

You''re right, they probably more identify more with her than us: after all, to them, I'm keeping the kids from them without any reason too (ie Covid is not a reason), so they'd probably assume we are blowing things out of proportion with his family. 

Kids know at an age-appropriate level DH's family situation and that she isn't allowed to see them. The kids haven't seen her since we moved out from living with her. They have not asked to see her. There would be no stopping them telling us immediately if they did in fact see her.

52 minutes ago, City Mouse said:

One suggestion I have is for you to start building up your network so that you are never in a situation again where you have no option but to rely on your parents for child care. 

One time my mother was watching my DS who was maybe 1 1/2 HS at the time, and she did something terribly dangerous regarding DS. When I tried to discuss it with her, she thought I was overreacting and did not understand that her actions could have been deadly. That was the last time she was ever along with my DS until he was old enough to stay home alone. To make that possible I had to rely on friends for help in situations that came after. I did not bother to tell her that she would never be alone with him, but it was up to me to make sure he was safe.

Yes, we technically didn't *need* child care and haven't for a couple years. It was a bad call on my part that I accept full responsibility for the fallout, especially after all of the nonsense we've gone through this year. I held strong this long, but it all "made sense" at the time when I was on pain meds and unable to move without DH's help. 

And, your story brings up a good point. We had a dangerous situation when DD(12) was 3 and DHM was watching her. She didn't realize she lost DD for 15 minutes, the time it took a 3yo to walk from the park to the house; in fact, when she realized it, she thought she had only lost her for 3-5 minutes. So after that we only did family activities with her and she didn't watch the kids alone.

But okay, back to what this made me realize: I think on paper my parents look like great grandparents. They spoil them with gifts, both parents are early educators and so put a lot of emphasis on letters and number play basically from day 1, they have a big backyard, lots of toys around the house, tons of books, they are available all the time and *want* the kids all the time, etc. And then put them next to DH's parents...yeah. But I think how bad DH's parents were distracted from the drawbacks of my own: they don't respect any of our parenting decisions, have dismissed me in front of the kids, have actively tried to break up me and DH, and some other things I'm too embarrassed to admit. It's easy to get convinced by the on-paper goodness that happens 90% of the time, when the other 10% you are actively trying to avoid acknowledging exists.

@freesia I started this before you replied so can't quote, but yes this is something I think about a lot. I don't really need them to like him. I can understand how difficult that position would be for them, not liking someone your kid marries. I took the approach for the first 10 years of marriage that either they'd come around eventually or we would just keep the status quo. And for a hot minute there it looked like they actually started to like him, my mom at least. But all good things come to an end and here we are now. I know now they'll never like him and that's too bad, and by now the feeling is mutual, so I am not holding it against them; it's the disrespect and barely-hidden contempt that is the problem. Unfortunately, I am giving them more credit here than they have probably earned. You sound like you have a much more even approach to your situation and I hope your situation resolves well if you find yourself having to deal with a difficult child-partner longterm.

@Forget-Me-Not Yes, that is a problem, re: he's NC but I'm not. Originally we purposely set it up that way since it was only "taking a break" and we wanted to have a line of communication in case someone in the family was in an accident, etc. Obviously, it's being abused so I should probably say I'm only to be contacted in emergencies, and then not respond to anything else after this.

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just another thought as I read through your continued posts about your own parents.

The escalation in concerning words and behavior can be part of aging and it can be part of early dementia. With age, the world narrows and the aches and pains accumulate. Some people do really become more childlike—more self-centered and with a lower tolerance threshold for discomforts or stress. This is also the case with dementia but much more so. For something like Alzheimers, which can take a decade or more to manifest, the first stages can be simple inflexibility and interpersonal relationship difficulties. I have watched this progression personally too many times with family members and with people in my orbit.

If those concerns are reality, then not much changes for you. You do not leave the kids with them unsupervised. You limit the drama you engage with. But knowing this is part of the picture can help with your own patience and forbearance. Not that you allow abusive or inappropriate behavior, but that it’s easier to acknowledge inside yourself that this person is unable to “be reasonable.” In such cases, we reduce the attempts at long explanations or hope for real, connected agreement. Instead, you become the adult in the room, setting boundaries and quietly shutting down interactions when the older person is obviously unable to hold themself together appropriately. When a toddler gets in that state, we give them a drink of water and a nap. It’s not much different with dysfunctional people—we stop the interaction in that moment and everyone takes a time out.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

@Harriet Vane There's a history of Alzheimers on my mother's side; her father died from it. Another reason I try to go deaf when she goes off the handle. But, a lot of these tendencies have always been a part of her personality; she's always gone for the jugular. So idk how much of it is her baseline, her aging, or something like dementia. Thanks for the reminder that I can be more charitable for this reason alone, even if the end decisions are the same.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Moonhawk said:

But I think how bad DH's parents were distracted from the drawbacks of my own: they don't respect any of our parenting decisions, have dismissed me in front of the kids, have actively tried to break up me and DH, and some other things I'm too embarrassed to admit. It's easy to get convinced by the on-paper goodness that happens 90% of the time, when the other 10% you are actively trying to avoid acknowledging exists.

I'll be honest in that if these things happened to me or DH by my parents twice, it would be a deal breaker.  Once, I'd forgive, tell them it's unacceptable, try again.  A second time? We'd have a nice twice a year conversation - Christmas, Easter, and maybe their birthdays...  

You mention several times acting as though nothing happened, moving on, simply accepting bread rather than a real apology, smoothing things over, and smoothing over rough spots rather than outright calling them on grossly inappropriate behavior.  It leads me to believe that perhaps they invest heavily (financially?) in your family or (time maybe?) or in some way that has "bought" them what they consider the right to be downright rude and appalling.  You are also extremely polite.  I border on too much people pleasing, which also has a tendency to lead itself into avoiding confrontation with people I feel uncomfortable around.  I would examine this tendency.  I'm not exactly sure when I traded in straightforwardness for politeness, but I'm not sure I ended up with the better of it, especially not seeing how it's hurting you.

Their behavior is truly awful - I'm not sure if you need to hear this said aloud? Truly, truly awful, and if they would make snide remarks to your children behind your husband's back then there truly cannot be any unsupervised time with the parents until they are probably in mid to late teens.  I remember a time when MIL made a sassy remark to my daughter when she was 17/18 and she was old enough to say it wasn't acceptable without being rude.  That's a hard thing for a child to do and they should be expected to do it and not be put in that situation until they are strong and capable enough to stand up for what is right.  And they certainly can't bear witness to them trampling their mama either.  ((Hugs mama) nothing is easy about calling people you love on their bad behavior.  😞

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, SKL said:

The thing between DH and your dad seems to have been handled appropriately by your DH.

I am a woman of few words in situations like this, so what I'd probably do with your folks is just out and tell them "please don't ever discuss me, my husband, or my kids with my in-laws or extended family.  Thank you.  If they ask, just say you aren't getting involved in that conversation with them."

I wouldn't keep the kids away from your folks.

I'm not in a position to opine on whether or not your dh could use some advice or other ideas.  The fact is that he's a grown-up, doesn't want to discuss it, and has said so.  That's enough for your parents and in-laws. 

That said, please make sure you are not unintentionally feeding this by anything you say in your conversations with your parents.  If your position is to stand by your man, then stand by your man.  I've seen others complain to their parents about everything their dh does to annoy them, and then the parents think it's their place to weigh in, or maybe they even think that's what the wife wants them to do.

Between you and your dh, though, I would be looking at why he has this problem with both your family and his.  We all have room for improvement.  But that's not anyone else's business.

Sorry SKL, I must have read before you edited, I don't remember the last paragraphs from my original read. 

Yeah, I'm pretty careful about saying anything negative about DH. (This is the only place I ever do.) With parents, I tried to talk about the nice things he does for me, or the good things he's doing with the kids, during the first 10 years of marriage. Not making a huge deal, just trying to share our life. This was usually met with rolled eyes or exaggerated sighs or "doesn't sound like much" type of responses so I eventually stopped. It's a good thing to keep in mind, though, I could probably do more positives like before.

I HAVE told my mom that DH was often the pro-visit vote when I didn’t want the kids to go over. And I know they are going to blame him for the shift now, like he is trying to keep the kids away from them, when really he was a big reason they saw the kids so much in the first place. One of those tragic little side stories to this.

Hmm, no, I don't think he has the same problem with both my parents and his family. He "has this problem" with his family because they were abusive and continue to be abusive. "Looking at why" he has this problem means looking at his abusers, not the 4yo boy begging them to stop.

Or perhaps you hit on something, and it IS the same problem -- ie both our families are abusive. 

He definitely has room for improvement, no question -- almost as much as me! 😉 But the things they brought up are almost comically aligned with the things he does NOT have a problem with. Calling him lazy, that was a literal LOL for me when I read that. The man needs a port to give energy donations to the electric grid. 🙂 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Your husband sounds selfless, and I’m going to guess that he struggles with overcompensating in general (as many abused children do). 


I largely agree with BlsdMama. I find it rather horrifying that your parents, after many years of you two being married, are still behaving like they do toward him. They are continually actively disrespecting him.....why are you allowing that??? (that is meant not to accuse you, but to get you to snap out of it)
 

They sound like abusers who move in where/when someone else is vulnerable. Ugh.  

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...