Moronic mother in law's

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    husband's mom and dad picked the kids up from school for us today while we were off getting his MRI and EEG in LA.

    When we got back, I learned the difficult child 2 forgot his afternoon medications (again) at school (I noticed he was really squirrely and starting to fall apart, so I asked him point blank).

    mother in law pipes up, "He was really good for me all afternoon. Seems like he only acts up when you're around." She said this two more times throughout the course of the evening when we were out at dinner. I wanted to smack her!

    Yeah, your grandson has a mental illness and it's all because I don't know how to parent him! (Of course, I refrained from reminding her how out of control he got with her last February when she was in charge while I was at the hospital with husband for his surgery... she had things in such good control that she ended up slapping difficult child 2 and making him hysterical to the point that he was sobbing to me he wanted her and grandpa to go home and he didn't like them anymore!)

    I've been dealing with this family for 20 years and I think I'm about finished.
  2. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    I hear you. I stopped asking my mom to watch my difficult child's when she told him to "Eat that food or I'll shove it down your throat", she told me what happened and said it was a good thing he ate it, she was out of control. I have no doubt that if she had to raise a difficult child, there would be serious abuse or death...not kidding.
  3. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    gvcmom, we've all had a relative or friend of this sure it's our parenting & not a serious mental/emotional/developmental issue or illness. AND they have the years of study that our psychiatrists & tdocs have put in I know however....

    when I was hit with garbage of this nature I would simply thank that person for sharing their opinion on the matter - make sure the psychiatrist knew what they thought at the next appointment & left it at that. (This generally stopped said expert on the spot.)

    Keep in mind, as angry as this makes you - you cannot change mother in law - you can only change your reaction to her antics & comments.

    (On a side note, school is falling down in the job with difficult children medications & that isn't good.)
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's not necessarily about parenting, either - so don't think that if you had easy child kids there would be no problem. And it's also not necessarily because they're in-laws. I think it's also a generational thing. I was just whingeing to easy child about it (she's visiting us tonight, yay!) about mother in law at the moment.

    Now, I get on well with mother in law, but I DO work at it. The more time I spend with her, the more difficult child I see in her. And at the moment, I know she is feeling very unwell and in a lot of pain, fed up with her ageing body letting her down. I know she is almost pathologically afraid of getting old and frail. The worse she feels (physically and emotionally) the more difficult she is to get on with.

    Now in the last few days, she and I have had to have various medical tests and see specialists about our assorted health problems. It's a long drive in the car, we have time to talk about all sorts of things. She will say to me, "What do you think the problem is?" and if I tell her what I think, she will immediately tell me the opposite and almost always is trying to either downplay any concern I might have, or seem to find a way to turn it back onto me having "done too much" or done something wrong in some way. For example, I'm currently in a lot of pain with my shoulders and my hips. After having multiple tests and finally seeing my neurologist (also her neurologist - we had back-to-back appointments) it's looking like some sort of inflammatory process is going on; if this is it, then it should be treatable and self-limiting, but it IS painful. The problem has been getting worse for several months and especially in the last two weeks.
    So tonight, mother in law asked me, "How are you this evening?"
    Now, from past experience I know she's not just asking to be polite, so I told her truthfully, "It was worse this morning and at midday, but this evening I'm not too bad at all."
    I may as well have said, "I'm feeling awful tonight, much worse than this morning," because her response was, "I told you you've been doing too much driving over the last few days! What you need is some rest, take things easy. Nothing wrong with you that a good rest won't fix."
    Now, this is unanswerable - if I try to talk about it at all then I'm either arguing, or I'm obsessing about my pain levels and this is also clearly unhealthy. But if I agree with her and later on the problem is clearly continuing, then I'm not being honest with her. No win.
    I'm getting the usual platitudes (I've heard them over the years) such as, "You do realise, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Which is meaning that because I have some medical knowledge, I am worrying myself sick literally. Which, of course, I don't do. In fact I have enough knowledge to NOT worry. And that time, I said so - "My pain does not change, if I get Label A or Label B. My pain is the same. But the label can help me understand why, and this can make it easier to accept and ignore."

    Meanwhile - she will complain to us about being worried - her heart rate might have sped up and kept her awake through the night (which IS a worry, she's not making things up) but then when she worries about it, it actually makes her heart rate irregularities worse. Or she comes out of the doctors complaining that the doctor wants more tests organised and she (mother in law) doesn't want to do it. So I reassure her, tell her that the doctor only wants to make sure, she wouldn't put her through the hassle of tests unless there was a good reason, then I call and make the appointment for her. Over the next week or so, she complains about will she, won't she, go have the tests. Then at the last minute, with an air of defiance, she cancels. I make a point of not reacting (I sense she's just itching for me to argue with her, so I won't).
    If eventually she has the tests (or procedure) and things aren't exactly perfect, then it was the worst decision in the world, we don't hear the end of it, everything is wrong, she KNEW it would be a disaster, didn't she say it over and over?

    She is NOT competing with me. I'm fairly sure she is not. But I'm fairly sure she IS projecting - she knows she worries too much and seems to be working hard to stop ME from worrying about myself (which is what she would do, if she were me).

    As for parenting - yes, she's said it all there, as well. So have other grandmotherly friends of ours. Of course there's nothing wrong with our boys, they're just boisterous, that's all. And maybe could do with a teensy bit of discipline now and then, it wouldn't hurt.
    I really think they're NOT trying to say, "You're a bad parent," but in fact are trying (in their own hamfisted way) to desperately deny the ghastly possibility that our darling child might not be perfect. ANYTHING to make us (ie them, really) feel better, to reassure us that there is nothing wrong, especially the awful spectre that whatever is wrong is MENTAL. Because for their generation, anything even hinting at the possibility of mental illness is utterly anathema. mother in law, for all her medical training, has a very poor understanding of psychology and psychiatry. And an even worse opinion. Even taking one of the kids to see a psychologist to get IQ testing done would be enough to trigger a major tantrum in mother in law, because you NEVER admit to any need to see one of those charlatans. And again, it's not mother in law, it's her generation.

    If you could sit down and talk commonsense with these people, chances are they would admit to a huge fear that there could be something seriously wrong and not easily fixable. They can't admit to that fear, so instead they turn it into anger, usually at the person who is insisting that there is a problem needing to be assessed. Denial is the first stage of grief, which is what we have to go through when we deal with the loss of what we thought we had. Anger is also in there right at the beginning.

    And because we are not family (other than having married in) then we are the most likely targets. If you have a choice to criticise the child of your womb, or the person who stole them from you, who would you go for?

    I can generally handle mother in law, but at the moment, with her anxiety being worse than usual plus my pain levels being worse than usual, I'm not coping as well. Recognising this makes it easier to know that sometimes I just have to change the subject, or avoid talking about my own problems, if she isn't wanting to REALLY be supportive about it (because it's too much for her right now, too).

    I get the "he was behaving just fine for me; it's only when you're around," stuff too. It's really annoying. And yes, that IS competition, plus it's a way the person is using to tell the world, "See? I still have what it takes to be a good parent, I was one of the best, I haven't lost my usefulness to society, give me more opportunities and let me show you just how useful I could be to you."

    It's all about making her feel better about herself, rather than about making you feel inferior. Because as you get older, you begin to fear (and resent) the way you're discredited and left on the shelf. Phrases like "Youth is wasted on the young" and other platitudes get used a lot. And because WE aren't old enough to have that wisdom, we are powerless to defend ourselves from any implied criticism. "Oh, you will understand when you're older."

    But remember - it's not about making us feel bad. it's about making her feel good. Or at least, better. It's probably not even intended to be at our expense. They would be horrified to realise that it IS at our expense, so you could never make that point either, because they've raised denial to an art form and would only react with more denial and self-justification.

    This evening as we left mother in law, easy child had asked her to come with us tomorrow while she goes to try on more wedding dresses. mother in law said over and over, "Are you sure you want me along? Are you sure it's OK? Well, only if you're sure. I mean, I know YOU asked me,easy child, but it has to be OK with your parents as well. After all, they're the ones driving." husband & I were there and reassuring mother in law, "Yes, of course it's OK," but because WE hadn't been the ones to ask, she was desperately afraid she was going to be an intruder into our day. Her anxiety is bad at the moment (but she would never admit to it - that is a mind thing).

    mother in law is a good person. But her insecurities can cause a lot of problems, for her as well as for us. We just acknowledge that is how she is, and we work with that as our baseline. We certainly can't change her - not now!

  5. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    gcvmom, we don't have much to do with my husbands parents, and that is why. Anytime they watched the kids, mother in law would pipe up with that same saying. Plus she fed them candy and other stuff the whole time. I am not a huge diet watcher, but there are lines here. The mother in law here is husband step mom, and she was truly an evil step mother. She used to always tell everyone she treated everyone's kids the same. What ever. She has not seen our kids since easy child's birthday party in July. Bet she has seen her dtr and son's kids since then. father in law is not a kid person.

    I see no problem in letting the family members who drive me nuts have to make the effort to see us. Why should I want them around? It is kinda hard to find others to watch kids or pick them up, but I did get used to it after time.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Thanks everyone :) I KNOW difficult child 2's problems and behavior are NOT my fault. It's just that mother in law has a very insidious way of making these comments at a time when I am feeling vulnerable (being anxious about husband's problems doesn't help). She really hit a nerve, although I tried not to show it.

    I'm very glad she lives several states away. Ever since she slapped difficult child 2 earlier this year, I've been distancing myself from her and putting more of the responsibility for keeping in touch with her back on husband. It is HIS mother, afterall.

    I think what Marg said about the generational differences is true. She looks at kids as things to be controlled and bended to the will of the adult in charge. They don't have feelings that deserve consideration. And if they can't entertain or impress you, they really aren't worth your attention. My dad is very much from that generation, too, even though he's 10 years younger than mother in law. What's funny is that my mother, who is also 10 years mother in law's junior, has COMPLETELY different views on children and discipline and has a much, much better grasp of what I deal with on a day to day basis. While she's understandably sad that this is the hand that difficult child has been dealt, she doesn't think any less of him, or me for that matter. I don't know what I'd do without her!

    And I also see how this is sort of a competition with mother in law and her perceived parenting skills as Marg suggests. Never thought of it that way before, but you hit it right on the head! It's a way for her to lift herself up at my expense. In retrospect, she does that a lot to people, and it definitely explains the fierce competition that goes on between her daughters for her time and attention, and in their minds, her love. Very sad for them all.
  7. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Marge, logically I know that you are right in that gcv should be able to have a one on one with her mother in law. In my heart, I know that there are grandparents who don't give a rats patootie about the difficult child other than they are a great vehicle to call the warrior mom or dad a failure.

    When I tried to logically discuss this with my parents, even times when L had had major meltdowns at their house, it had to be because of something I had done either immediately before, or an accumulation of foolhardy mistakes I had made over her lifetime. Every expert in the world couldn't have made them feel any differently.

    They also had to point out, though, that my own difficult child'ness as a chidl and teen had absolutely nothing to do with them. That was all my fault. Which is why my dad didn't mind sending me to a therapist when I was 11 (I had to ride the bus downtown by myself) but when asked to participate he wouldn't attend because "it's got nothing to do with me!" I could go on and on about why that is circular logic and redundant, but you all understand it, I'm sure.

    It may not be worth the time it takes to speak to gcv's mother in law. It might give mother in law a great excuse to tear her down and further undermine her parenting. I suppose gcv knows what would be best. Maybe if she went into it knowing that either mother in law is going to change her opinion, or there will be an ultimatum that mother in law keep her opinions to herself, it might work. I don't know that her mother in law would respect an ultimatum, either. I suspect her mother in law is living a vicarious victimhood through difficult child and gcv is the villain in her head.
  8. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Witz, I really don't think anything I say will make an impression on her. That's something I'll leave to husband if he feels so inclined. I just needed to vent :) I'm not going to try to change what cannot be changed in my humble opinion.
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    You're not kidding there, Witz. I don't know if that fits your mother in law or not, gcvmom, but it sometimes can be hard to come to terms with this. I've had to accept it about my mother and other memebers of my family and I believe Witz and others have too. It doesn't keep it from hurting, but rest assured- we understand and you are not alone and we know that it is not our fault that our difficult child's are difficult child's- but if we were the way some people made us sound, or tried to make us feel- the wicked horrid parents that would put our kids through anything (never mind what they put us through), we would not do all we do for our kids- we would have left them at grandma's door and taken off.

    I never understood the psychology or manipualtion, whatever, behind this, but you know there are people who always try to make it look like someone else is doing a particular thing or acting a certain way, yet it's really the accuser who is that way.
  10. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    When Wynter was a year old (pre-verbal, mind you), my former mother in law would talk through Wynter. Things like, "You tell your Mommy you don't need that big snowsuit just to go outside".

    While it ticks me off beyond words that she has had nothing to do with Wynter for 10 years now, I'm so relieved to not have to deal with that. I'm pretty sure I would have taken her out by now because I *know* that everything would have been my fault. And I would have used the 'justifiable homicide' defense. With as many mother in law's like this out there, I would probably have had a sympathetic jury and gotten off, too. :winks: :rofl:

    That her son is either borderline or anti-social, however, has nothing to do with her. :rolleyes: (Not saying it does...just hightlighting the double standard.)

    I agree. 20 years of this is enough. So sorry you have to endure this still.

    I did what Linda, did, with the so-called experts. "I'll be sure to let the therapist, psychiatrist and neuropsychologist know your opinion on the matter." Shuts them right up. mother in law's might be different, though.
  11. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    oh oh oh I have one of those!!!!
  12. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Hmmm.... maybe next time she's in town, I'll invite her along for a psychiatrist appointment.:devil:

    A diagnosis and/or prescription would do that woman good.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    LOL...Oh come one Heather...just wait till you have a lil grandbaby and you hold that little one up and smile at Wynter and say "Mommy, I really really want my teddy right now so we can go out and play!"

    LOL...all us grandma's who "talk" for the kids arent so bad!
  14. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Janet, you didn't know my former mother in law. :faint: And it was never good stuff, like I want my teddy bear. I'd give Wynter something and she'd be, "You tell your mommy you don't want to eat those stinky peas." "You tell your mommy you don't need that big snowsuit." (It was only hovering around zero outside.) "You tell your mommy you don't need a nap." Then me saying, "You tell grandma that if you don't get your nap, you're going home with her." "You tell grandma your name is Wynter, not Winnie. I didn't name you after a damn bear." :devil:

    Nope. Don't miss that woman one little bit.

    Speaking of names, my cousin's name is Lyric. My grandmother hated that name and called her 'Baby L' for the first 6 weeks. Until my uncle finally told her that if she continued with that particular behavior, she wouldn't be allowed to visit anymore.

    Sorry, for the hijack, Gcvmom. But, get me going and there's no stopping me. ;)
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Just to clarify - what I actually said was, "If you could sit down and talk commonsense with these people, chances are they would admit to a huge fear that there could be something seriously wrong and not easily fixable."

    I wasn't suggesting that we should try to do this - it was in the same realms as, "If we could change the Earth's gravitational field to one that was half-strength, we would find our weight problems would also be halved."

    Sometimes we are close enough to talk to them. Sometimes just asking them how they feel can be enough to get at least SOME information on what makes them tick - because for a lot of grandparents like this, it is very much about THEM (so yes, there can be a chance that they will respond with some information, if the topic is about them).

    But if the problems are this bad then often you're way beyond being able to talk one-on-one.

    There have been times when I look back, when I would never have believed that mother in law & I could ever be as close as we are. But for me - I figure that at my age, I've learned a great deal and taken the information on board, on how people tick. I've got no advantages tat aren't also available to other people my age or older, but I made a choice to try to use all the knowledge and experience, in trying to understand other people.

    In my relationship to mother in law, I put in a great deal of effort. She isn't easy. She's even worse if you rub her the wrong way (as I used to do before husband & I married). If she takes a 'set' against you, it takes a long time and a lot of work to undo it. Some people just don't bother.

    I also follow the concept that husband had to come from someone with some good in them. Nobody can be all bad, it's just a matter of finding the good side and working from there. I also had to be sure that the effort would be worth it - in our case, I think it is. But depending on how toxic a person can be, you have to make different choices.

    I also learned, back when I was a kid, to play this as a game. I would see someone who was especially difficult, someone who scared people or intimidated them, and make a quiet bet with myself to crack their shell in some way. Nobody else ever needed to know. But a difficult or cranky teacher at school, for example, or maybe the school cleaner (janitor) or similar; a neighbour who never said a kind word to anyone, a person I might see in their garden who would turn the hose onto any kid who paused to look over the fence - I would try to make friends. Not easy. Often it didn't work. But sometimes it did.

    If it didn't work, then at least I knew I had tried. And if it did - then I had a new friend and sometimes a really fascinating story as for why they were like that.

    If you play this game, the really fun thing is that the object of the game itself is friendship. There is no other vested interest. So if the person gets suspicious and tries to look for the 'catch' - there isn't one! And if the person you're trying to befriend is actually a really nasty piece of work - then simply the process of trying to be friends with them for no valid reason, can really drive them crazy!

    With mother in law, I've learnt that if she holds a different opinion to me on anything, it's best to not raise that topic at all. If she raises it, I try to avoid responding. I try to anticipate her needs and help her at the same time as helping us - as last weekend, I was spraying for lawn weeds, something I know she hasn't the strength or energy to do. It was no trouble for me to do her lawn as well, and it means (if the treatment is successful) that I can walk on her lawn barefoot over summer. Doing her a favour with no apparent benefit to me, and no expectation of her doing anything for me - this is the sort of thing that can break down barriers and preconceptions.

    But only if your relationship is already close enough to do this.

    In the process of working on the relationship, I have learned a lot more about mother in law's character, as well as sister in law's character. It also helps me have a better understanding of how husband's personality was formed.

    There were times in the past when I kept a much lower profile with mother in law. I felt I needed to. And even now - I always tread carefully. Frankly, the easiest way is to keep "Explosive Child" methods firmly in my mind, and use the baskets. It's not just for kids!

    Mind you, anybody tries to communicate with me through a third person, especially a child - they'll have me right in their face. You do not use children like tools, or like some sort of communication device. And you certainly shouldn't be teaching a child to argue with their mother about anything the mother has required in terms of their behaviour, their clothing, their standards in any way. I'd be taking the child by the hand and leaving the room, with the child. if that means leaving the argumentative person in the room on their own - so be it. But the child should not be subjected to such contentious, confusing messages. it's immoral.

    And the people who then 'justify' what they were doing/saying with, "But I was only joking" (mother in law does this sometimes) are showing their own insecurities (you just successfully called them on it) while trying to attack your own and implying that you are over-reacting. I usually respond with, "We don't have that kind of humour in our family." Or I ignore it. It's not funny.

    I suspect mother in law does this because it was done to her as a child. I have noticed she does this the most when she is feeling off-balance in some way. If I can, I then try to probe - why is she feeling uneasy? Sometimes it's as simple as finding out what is REALLY worrying her, and reassuring her.

  16. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    That makes more sense to me.

    You're much more patient than I am, Marge. ;)
  17. threebabygirls

    threebabygirls New Member

    I haven't read all the replies, so forgive me if someone else has said this, but, EVERY child I know (difficult child or not) behaves better for anyone who is not his/her primary caregiver.
  18. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I would only add "or teacher".