[name_f]My[/name_f] husband and I have been together for many years. I know his family quite well and I get along them. [name_f]My[/name_f] husband has a difficult relationship with his mother. They don’t have much in common and when she tries to get closer to him, she can be intrusive, which pushes him even farther away. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t have many friends because of her tendacy to be intrusive, so she feels very lonely.
We now have a 3 months old son, and he is the spitting image of his father. Recently, my mother in law told me that when she was with our son, it felt like she had her own baby boy again and she could start over. That made me uncomfortable. While I understand her desire to fix or do over the relationship with her son, I don’t want her to do it through her relationship with her grandson.
Any idea how I could start a conversation about this issue with her? Thanks in advance!
This is so hard!
Awkward family relationships are challenging. Before even speaking to your MIL I would speak to your husband. Ultimately it’s his mother I think you need to speak to him first before speaking to her just as it’s his family and you don’t want any awkwardness. If he gives you the go ahead to speak to the MIL I would with your husband go over how you want her relationship with your son to go how little/how much involvement you want this is very important because it’s information you need to clearly give to her. Once you’ve decided this I would meet up with MIL in a public setting and just as kindly but as bluntly tell her how you plan for her role to go.
Hopefully it’ll work out for you and congratulations on the birth of your son
Considering that it sounds like she’s been given multiple chances, I would cut her off. Plus her using the baby as a second chance is creepy and she’ll only see them as a second chance and not as an individual. This situation sounds familiar and you should browse reddit for what other people have done. You are under no obligation to keep her in your lives. Family is something you make, not something you are born into.
Ooh that would weird me out too!
Maybe it’s just my non-confrontational side, but I’d monitor a bit before saying anything to her. Hopefully it was just a weird offhand comment. [name_m]Just[/name_m] stick to your boundaries with her regarding how she treats you and the baby.
I agree. Where this has been a single comment I’m not sure Id jump yet at some confrontational move. As the mother you do however have the ability to not only monitor but control the extent to which your MIL has access to your son which could in itself send out the message that your child is not her replacement
Thanks everyone for your insightful answers, they help a lot!
@tori101 thank you for reminding me to include my husband in the brainstorming before opening a conversation with his mother. The balance you suggested between being kind, but still blunt talks to me a lot.
@PRSing it really helps to read that we don’t have to stay in that relationship if we feel that it does harm to us or our son. My husband is not considering this option for now, he just doesn’t want to be as close to his as she would like. In the past, we had other conversations with her to set some boundaries and she was able to adjust and improve, even though there is still work to do on the intrusiveness.
@LaurenAlexis and @Alix2016 , like you I tend to be more cautious. It really makes sense to me to observe how she interacts with our son before opening any conversation. Also, after talking with my husband, we plan on asking her what she meant with that comment if a conversation is needed. That way, we will know exactly what she intended just to make sure that we start the conversation on the same page.
Keep in mind that if she only temporarily improves, and then goes back to how she acted in the past, that isn’t her needing a reminder. That’s her putting up a front until you give up and allow her bad behavior to continue in your lives. Her behavior is what led you to posting this. Watch out for her manipulation and don’t let her gaslight you. Protect your family first. Your family is more important than her.
What you bring up is really important. I agree with you that if she was just going back to her previous behavior after the discussions we had, that would be a major concern. However she has improved overall in the last years and she was able to acknowledge that it was problematic. She still has issues, but I think it’s because it has been part of how she interacts with other people for a really long time.
You mentioned that she would use her grandson as a replacement, instead of having a real relationship with him. That’s what concerns me the most. If she can’t have a healthy relationship with my son, than my husband and I will have no other option than cutting her out. I feel like you’ve had experience dealing with this kind of issues and you know how dangerous it can be on the psychological level. Thank you for giving me tips to make the difference between manipulation and real progress. I will keep my eyes open!
Update: I had a conversation with my mother in law last month and she’s the one who initiated it! She mentioned that whenever she saw her grandson, she was drawn to use the nickname my husband was called by when he was little. However, she felt it would not be a good thing to do. I took that open door and ask her why she felt it wasn’t a good idea and she told me it would not be healthy for her relationship with her grandson.
We talked about how it was important that she had a relationship with him for who he is and how it was independent from the relationship with her son. I am so relieved! And I see the difference in their relationship since that conversation. She even talks about how he has similarities with many people in the family (both for his physical appearance and his character). I feel like she really sees him for who he is, with his multiple heritage from many people.
I’m glad things worked out! Monitoring and refereeing relationships between our children and they people who love them can be very difficult at times.
I’m glad that you solved your problem