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  #1  
Old 02/20/08, 01:49 AM
 
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Inlaws playing games re: a new baby. Advice please?

I had a detailed post typed out, but decided to cut it down. I am in need of cooler, perhaps experienced heads on this one.

My MIL has always played games with her children, playing favorites and attempting to pit them against their father, which caused all kinds of problems for DH until he was fifteen and moved in with his dad and found out he was nothing like the monster MIL had described. Dh's dad is great and we both adore him. He is all kinds of excited about the baby.

Well, her games have reared their head again and this time she used my unborn baby as a pawn. I am seriously considering calling her up and telling her if she wants to see this baby she will stop trying to hurt her son to get her way and never involve my child in her selfish little games ever again... it's ridiculous and she has no compunctions about toying with little children whatsoever, and I think I might explode if she tries it once my baby is here. Since her last stunt she hasn't called in a month but once the baby is born it will be an entirely different story. She definitely likes to play Mommy, know what I mean?

I don't know whether to let it lie and pretend nothing happened or call her on it. Blah... at least DH's stepmother is normal.

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  #2  
Old 02/20/08, 05:12 AM
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I would never let anyone "toy" with my children. If you want to see the momma lion come out of me, mess with my children. I would tell her now to get her stuff straight of get the heck on.

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  #3  
Old 02/20/08, 05:19 AM
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I too am going through a bunch of carp that my MIL is doing and am also pregnant. My advice - lay down the law now. It gets much harder to enforce a rule or visitation after you've let it slide for a while. DH has already told her that she is NOT invited to the birth, that they will NOT be camping out in their RV in our driveway for three months like they did with my 2 poor SILs when they had kids, and they WILL respect our privacy by not dropping in unannounced as they have done in the past. MIL is playing the guilt trip game now, but so far it's working...Make sure that you and your DH are on the same page and stand up for yourselves now, or she'll walk all over you later...Good luck and stay sane!

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  #4  
Old 02/20/08, 05:19 AM
 
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I'd call her up and tell her what you were going to say. She sounds like she likes to ride high on the horse but she needs a verbal knockdown to the ground.

MIL pitted her kids agaist each other when they grew up. Two are alcoholics now and the boys can't even be in a room together. They don't get along at all as they've gotten older, and rarely speak to each other. MIL now can't understand why her family is fractured.

Kat

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  #5  
Old 02/20/08, 06:33 AM
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Simple, my house, my kid, MY RULES. Don't like it then don't expect to see any of us again.

My mom and dad had a rule with my brother and sister which was the parents rules didn't apply when the kids were at the grand's house. Before our first was born I told them that our rules applied everywhere and if they were not willing and able to live with that then the only times they'd see the grand kids was at our house. They agreed in a flash and even followed up on it, mostly.

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  #6  
Old 02/20/08, 06:51 AM
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If she is close enough to you for a face to face I would do it in person. Have her over to YOUR house and then tell her very quietly and firmly how it is going to be with your child. Make sure your DH is in agreement though and standing beside you.

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  #7  
Old 02/20/08, 07:11 AM
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What Sancraft said. Life is too short to waste time on poisonous people.Try not to let her get to you,especially now that you're expecting.

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  #8  
Old 02/20/08, 07:12 AM
 
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better to resolve it sooner than later. At least now the baby is not old enough to feel the full extent of the drama.

That way if it does not go well you will know before child gets wrapped up in it.

If it goes well you have time to see if there is a relapse.

Judge by actions not words/promises.

This is your child and it is your choice, you only have to put up with what you want, so decide what you want and stick to your guns.

Emotional abuse is still abuse.

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  #9  
Old 02/20/08, 07:27 AM
 
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It's hard to give an opinion without knowing what you are talking about.

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  #10  
Old 02/20/08, 07:39 AM
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I wouldn't call now. It's like training a dog, you don't want to let any time go by before the correction. Let her do whatever it is she's known for one more time, and then do not wait, hit her hard with it. You are going to get the best effect from doing it this way from ALL parties involved, not just her. By doing it now, to others it looks like you might be over reacting, or making a big deal out of something that wasn't. If you wait until it's fresh in everyone's minds exactly what she's capable of, you'll do better.

Jennifer

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  #11  
Old 02/20/08, 07:42 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sancraft View Post
I would never let anyone "toy" with my children. If you want to see the momma lion come out of me, mess with my children. I would tell her now to get her stuff straight of get the heck on.
I agree 100% with Sancraft.

My Mother Dearest played games all her life. To this day, I regret exposing my children even once to her horrible behavior.

When you speak with this woman, do it with your husband at your side.
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  #12  
Old 02/20/08, 07:52 AM
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Jen, BTDT. Nip it in the bud. Now. And make sure your DH is beside you doing the same thing. Now.

Trust me on this. The important bit is "now". It never gets easier, and the effects are never going to be less explosive. She WILL try to use the situation of your telling her to cut it out to her advantage, she will continue to attempt to drive stakes between family members, and do not think she can't cause problems in your marriage -- she can.

Get a book for your DH (and you read it, too) called "Children of the Self-Absorbed". I forget the author right now -- it's available on amazon. Another good one is "Toxic In-Laws". These two books helped me understand the dynamic of my husband's family, and helped him understand that he COULD do something about it.

Tracy
(who is now living happily ever after)

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  #13  
Old 02/20/08, 07:52 AM
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I agree she needs to be told off, but I suggest your hubby do it. That's worked for my hubby and me for 20+ years...I deal with my family and he deals with his. That way I'm not the bad guy with my inlaws, and vice versa.

Plus it shows that you two are a united front, unable to be manipulated and divided.

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  #14  
Old 02/20/08, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sancraft View Post
I would never let anyone "toy" with my children. If you want to see the momma lion come out of me, mess with my children. I would tell her now to get her stuff straight of get the heck on.
I agree 100%. My mothe is like that...she just loves to keep something going on. She doesn't have our house # or cell#'s due to her games. She even pulls her mess on my disabled sis who is just too tenderhearted to stand up to her. Makes me furious! I put up with her games until she started them with my kids. Then she got her warning, which she ignored. I guess when someone is allowed to act like that their whole life and get away with it change is not something they're going to do.
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  #15  
Old 02/20/08, 08:25 AM
 
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It sounds like your mother-in-law enjoys nothing better then to keep things stirred up, the best lesson you can teach her and make your point is to NOT play into her attention getting games. That would require not responding to her nonsense unless it is absolutely necessary.

Just keep telling your self that you are not going to lower yourself down to her standards by allowing her to anger or upset you - remind yourself that YOU will be the bigger person for it. If push comes to shove and she will not take no for an answer, simply say something like, "I'm sorry, but I have made the decisions on how my husband and I are going to raise my child, and it's not open for discussion." -- If she still get's pushing, simply smile and say something liken, "I'm sorry, but if you think I am going to lower myself down to those standards inorder to better communicate with you, you are sadly mistaken."

DO NOT give her even a hint that you are okay with any of her nonsense because that will be like adding fuel to her fire.

Good luck,
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  #16  
Old 02/20/08, 09:22 AM
 
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Start out the way you mean to go....type out a list of rules (not suggestions, RULES) that must be followed and give them to her. You can soften the blow by saying everyone else will get the list, too). Then post the list on the front door when the baby is born. That way no one will be coming by unannounced, etc.

I am adding this from Miss Manners, in case you want the more polite approach:

Dear Miss Manners,
I'm pregnant with my first child and I am having a problem with two family members. On my husband's side of the family, there is a relative that is constantly giving me advice that is not accurate medically (maybe 50 years ago they believed that any stretching was bad and breastfeeding was wrong, but that's not correct according to modern medicine). I'm not sure how to handle this constant advice that goes against everything my doctor says, all of the pregnancy books and my beliefs.
Also, how do I handle members of my family that want to visit from far away at the time of my child's birth? My husband and I don't want the stress of being a host and just want to enjoy the birth of our baby and get to know him for the first few weeks. Why do older members of the family think that they should be entitled to be at the birth of your child?
Gentle Reader,
To answer your last question first, they are entitled. This is not only your child, the way your car is only your car and you can refuse people who want to borrow it or even ride in it. This child is their relative, and they are entitled to meet him.
Miss Manners is not advising you to go to the other extreme. You don't have to invite them to watch the birth or to move in with you those first few weeks. You merely have to tell them when would be a good time to drop by for an hour or so to see the baby. (And since you are sensitive to implied criticism, it will save you from listening to family rumors that there is something terribly wrong with the child that you must keep him hidden.)
These people are also entitled to give you advice. And you are entitled to thank them for it and then ignore it.

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  #17  
Old 02/20/08, 09:43 AM
 
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My m-i-l gave me lots of grief when I was pg and after ds was born. I was only 18 and pretty much took it and cried about it later. Dh got fed up with her games and one evening we were at their home eating dinner when she started up, dh did not say a word, got up from the table, went and got our coats and the diaper bag, came back to the kitchen and said get up we're going. No fight, no discussion, she got the point. The key was her darling-perfect-never could do wrong in her sight-son stood up to her for his wife and his son so she knew immediately the game was up.

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  #18  
Old 02/20/08, 10:01 AM
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Bingo!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by triana1326 View Post
I too am going through a bunch of carp that my MIL is doing and am also pregnant. My advice - lay down the law now. It gets much harder to enforce a rule or visitation after you've let it slide for a while. DH has already told her that she is NOT invited to the birth, that they will NOT be camping out in their RV in our driveway for three months like they did with my 2 poor SILs when they had kids, and they WILL respect our privacy by not dropping in unannounced as they have done in the past. MIL is playing the guilt trip game now, but so far it's working...Make sure that you and your DH are on the same page and stand up for yourselves now, or she'll walk all over you later...Good luck and stay sane!
Your DH is a keeper -- until the child of the "offending" parent puts his or her foot down, nothing will change. BUT you can make your own rules quite clear and enforce them. This may mean you take the baby everywhere and if they show up unannounced you take the baby and leave, so be it.
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Old 02/20/08, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Kstornado11 View Post
What Sancraft said. Life is too short to waste time on poisonous people.Try not to let her get to you,especially now that you're expecting.
Ditto and Ditto. I've already wasted too much time trying to placate people to "keep the peace". NO more. Speak up now.
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  #20  
Old 02/20/08, 10:39 AM
 
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Consider whether telling her (anything) will make a difference in her behavior. Which is what you want. Venting often only feels good in the moment. I would definitely go with the face-to-face conversation, with husband in the house if not in the conversation. Probably better to tell her what you will ALLOW her TO DO, not what she can't do. Tell her with sad voice & sad face that you would hate to deprive your child of a loving relationship with a grandparent, but you will make that decision if driven to it. Good Luck! Sue

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  #21  
Old 02/20/08, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jen74145 View Post
.......I am seriously considering calling her up and telling her if she wants to see this baby she will stop trying to hurt her son to get her way and never involve my child in her selfish little games ever again...
Sorry, sounds to me like you are going to use your child as a pawn in this game. "You do as I like or I withhold said child...?" Do what you think you need to do but leave your child out of it. You might end up with your child feeling treated as your husband was with his father. Be very careful.

If you doubt this persons ability to be a good grandparent, you simply don't leave them alone with the child. But to deny them access - is playing your own game.
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Old 02/20/08, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Callieslamb
If you doubt this persons ability to be a good grandparent, you simply don't leave them alone with the child. But to deny them access - is playing your own game.
Actually, it isn't. Some people are so toxic that "simply don't leave them alone with the child" doesn't work. The child still witnesses the ATTEMPT to put down/undermine the parent and damage relationships, and this can be just as damaging.

Just as I wouldn't expose my child to certain "rated" behavior in movies, etc., I will not expose them to certain behavior on the part of some family members. If the family member in question is too immature (or mentally unstable) to control themselves within the parameters that I, as the parent, set, then it is not my "using" the child to manipulate a situation or "play a game", it is accepting that the family member is incapable of stopping or unwilling to stop the hostile or toxic behavior and not allowing my child to be exposed to it.

Big difference, and I realize one that only a person who has lived through an extreme of this situation could honestly understand, but still, a difference. If the OP feels that the behavior is enough to be noted, it's probably enough to do damage to the child, and telling the MIL that unless she smartens up and behaves respectfully towards both of them, then her access to their family unit will be nil, is certainly justified. It's got little to do with being manipulative yourself, and EVERYTHING to do with protecting your family unit from those who would seek to damage it. And yes, there are people out there who enjoy doing this to family members, who seek the feelings of power this gives them over others, and they have a million ways of justifying it in their own head.

Look up NPD -- Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is far more prevalent than many people think.
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  #23  
Old 02/20/08, 04:45 PM
 
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My philosophy is to accept people for who and what they are. Enjoy the good and ignore the bad. Your mother in law isn't going to change. For the sake of your child learn to let it roll off of you and still make her a part of your life without allowing yourself to be manipulated. I don't belive family should ever be cast off because of personality flaws-period. A smile, a nod, and letting something go in one ear and out the other can go along way.

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  #24  
Old 02/21/08, 07:03 AM
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*sigh*

I'm witnessing first hand what an angry woman who wants to hurt her ex is capable of... she will do anything, use anyone, and while she will claim up and down that she loves her kids and is doing this "for them" so they'll know what their father is "really like," the fact is that she could care less what she is doing to them as long as whatever it is is causing her ex pain.

And I see no reason to believe that she won't do exactly the same thing when grandchildren are born. My expectation is she will move in with the new mother (either her daughter or daughter in law) and simply camp there, being "indispensable" and helpful, but utterly blocking access to the baby for her ex and his family. She will be babysitter-on-the-spot and insinuate herself into the young couple's life at every turn. She will use guilt, money, time... whatever resource is at her disposal... to keep the young couple in line and make them feel wretched if and when they finally decide they've had enough of her manipulations. Or they may never realize they are being manipulated, but the child will have no relationship with his grandfather.

She will feel perfectly justified in blocking her ex's relationship with his grandchild because he was a "terrible man" who divorced her. In fact, anything she does to punish him she has already justified in her own mind as something she is doing to save her children (and the next generation) from exposure to this terrible person.

It takes incredible strength to look at your mother (or mother-in-law) and say "knock it off" when you know they'll do the innocent hurt act: "who me? I just love you..." and then play their trump card: I'll withdraw from you. I'll hurt you by playing the drama queen, I'll hurt you by waving financial or other resources in front of you then snatching them away if you don't "behave."

Love, for these women, is not unconditional. Love from these women is doled out on the basis of loyalty: you are either blindly loyal to them and willing to follow their agenda, or you'll be punished for siding with the "wrong person."

Laying down rules might help to manage a situation like this, but I think recognizing what is really going on, what drives and motivates this MIL, might also help the new mother. So I would not, for example, allow her to install herself in your home before or after the baby is born. I would insist that when she visits she stay in a motel because you and the baby need your rest. This helps you to delineate your home as your turf, not hers. If it is her habit to just drop by I'd get locks for the doors and use them ("oh, you came by? I was napping..."). I would do anything and everything I could to firmly establish that my home is my turf.. and my rules apply.

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  #25  
Old 02/21/08, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by MorrisonCorner View Post
Love, for these women, is not unconditional. Love from these women is doled out on the basis of loyalty: you are either blindly loyal to them and willing to follow their agenda, or you'll be punished for siding with the "wrong person."
Wow! You just described my MIL to a tee!! She actually stopped talking to her older son for 2 years and refused to allow anyone to even say his name after he accused her of something to do with his education and his learning disabilities (it's a bit hazy since it was before I was around and they don't talk about it anymore). DH was forced to sign a paper saying he'd pay back all of his college education (they paid for it) when he wanted to move to MD with me to "live in sin", and was almost disowned when he announced that we were getting married. She has a long history of punishing family members who go against her wishes, and it takes years to get back in her good graces, but you still have to watch yourself carefully whenever she's around.
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  #26  
Old 02/21/08, 08:00 AM
 
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For those defending the rights of a grandparent -- you're correct -- if said grandparent has not already proven themselves to not be worthy, which I think is made clear in the orginal post.

The poster is of the mindset that a nice person is kind, loving, understanding no matter what -- she doesn't need more of the same, she needs the encourgement and strenght she will need in not only being young, a new mother but having to deal with a extremely pushy mother-in-law.

I have no doubts that the poster will give the mother-in-law, all the opportunities to be a part of the baby's life, just as soon as she earns the right by respecting the baby's parents wishes.

If mother-in-law wishes to come here and state her case, so be it

Marlene

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  #27  
Old 02/21/08, 09:17 AM
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"The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." Proverbs 14:1


My mother is just like the OP's MIL. She pitted us kids against each other all our lives, and then started the same shenanigans with our kids. She still plays the horrible game of tearing the family apart (while my father tries to pull everything together... sick, sick, sick...)

But I refused to play the game.

I stood up to her, and she has since "erased" us from her life. This is not great loss, I assure you.

As Tracy noted, there are people so toxic that they poison the souls of those around them. If you've not lived through this, you really have no idea of how bad it can be.

Jen, your DH needs to stand up to his mother. You need to protect your children together.

You are doing a very good thing by refusing to play this sadly sick woman's game.

Pony!
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  #28  
Old 02/21/08, 09:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by triana1326 View Post
Wow! You just described my MIL to a tee!! She actually stopped talking to her older son for 2 years and refused to allow anyone to even say his name after he accused her of something to do with his education and his learning disabilities (it's a bit hazy since it was before I was around and they don't talk about it anymore). DH was forced to sign a paper saying he'd pay back all of his college education (they paid for it) when he wanted to move to MD with me to "live in sin", and was almost disowned when he announced that we were getting married. She has a long history of punishing family members who go against her wishes, and it takes years to get back in her good graces, but you still have to watch yourself carefully whenever she's around.

And, realize that you don't have to be in her good graces. For that matter, don't even try as it is playing into her manipulating games.
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  #29  
Old 02/21/08, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by MorrisonCorner View Post
*sigh*

I'm witnessing first hand what an angry woman who wants to hurt her ex is capable of... she will do anything, use anyone, and while she will claim up and down that she loves her kids and is doing this "for them" so they'll know what their father is "really like," the fact is that she could care less what she is doing to them as long as whatever it is is causing her ex pain.

And I see no reason to believe that she won't do exactly the same thing when grandchildren are born. My expectation is she will move in with the new mother (either her daughter or daughter in law) and simply camp there, being "indispensable" and helpful, but utterly blocking access to the baby for her ex and his family. She will be babysitter-on-the-spot and insinuate herself into the young couple's life at every turn. She will use guilt, money, time... whatever resource is at her disposal... to keep the young couple in line and make them feel wretched if and when they finally decide they've had enough of her manipulations. Or they may never realize they are being manipulated, but the child will have no relationship with his grandfather.

She will feel perfectly justified in blocking her ex's relationship with his grandchild because he was a "terrible man" who divorced her. In fact, anything she does to punish him she has already justified in her own mind as something she is doing to save her children (and the next generation) from exposure to this terrible person.

It takes incredible strength to look at your mother (or mother-in-law) and say "knock it off" when you know they'll do the innocent hurt act: "who me? I just love you..." and then play their trump card: I'll withdraw from you. I'll hurt you by playing the drama queen, I'll hurt you by waving financial or other resources in front of you then snatching them away if you don't "behave."

Love, for these women, is not unconditional. Love from these women is doled out on the basis of loyalty: you are either blindly loyal to them and willing to follow their agenda, or you'll be punished for siding with the "wrong person."
You have just described my grandmother to a tee. She has not talked to me in 5+ years. I have no idea what I did to offend her and really don't care. I've told my father he is not to give her my phone number if she calls asking for it. Sooner or later she will as soon as she feals I've been punished enough. I do not need or want her games in my life.
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  #30  
Old 02/21/08, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MorrisonCorner View Post
It takes incredible strength to look at your mother (or mother-in-law) and say "knock it off" when you know they'll do the innocent hurt act: "who me? I just love you..." and then play their trump card: I'll withdraw from you. I'll hurt you by playing the drama queen, I'll hurt you by waving financial or other resources in front of you then snatching them away if you don't "behave."

Love, for these women, is not unconditional. Love from these women is doled out on the basis of loyalty: you are either blindly loyal to them and willing to follow their agenda, or you'll be punished for siding with the "wrong person."

Laying down rules might help to manage a situation like this, but I think recognizing what is really going on, what drives and motivates this MIL, might also help the new mother. So I would not, for example, allow her to install herself in your home before or after the baby is born. I would insist that when she visits she stay in a motel because you and the baby need your rest. This helps you to delineate your home as your turf, not hers. If it is her habit to just drop by I'd get locks for the doors and use them ("oh, you came by? I was napping..."). I would do anything and everything I could to firmly establish that my home is my turf.. and my rules apply.
Can I hear an amen????

Very, very wise advice.
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