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Old 05-09-2018, 11:09 AM
 
Location: Pacific Northwest
14 posts, read 5,790 times
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My husband and I are finally ready to begin our family soon but have been struggling over how the dynamics of our family regarding our dysfunctional mothers.

My husband's mother is normally okay; but over the last couple years my husband has gotten in touch with his estranged father. His parents got divorced when he was a baby and his mother cut out all communication by the time he was 6. They've reconnected and it's been great for both of them. His father is a wonderful man, super nice, has great values we share, and thankfully no demons to worry about. But his ex wife can't stand him; my mother in law is routinely trying to sabotage the father son relationship that has been growing and constantly finds something nasty to say every time she thinks his name is mentioned or if something reminds her of him. It's bad enough that we can't have events that will include both of them without her spreading all kinds of lies and borderline physically attacking him. There doesn't seem to be anything behind the behavior besides she just really doesn't like him (they have totally different personalities and lifestyles; not surprised it never worked out) so we don't know what to do at this point other then only inviting one which we don't think will go well once we have a child both of them will want to be a part of.

The other issue is my own mother. She's just out of control nasty; been diagnosed with a combo of histrionic and narcissistic personality disorder but refuses help to get better or control her disorders. She's at the point where only 2 out of her 6 children will even speak to her, and that list is probably going to be just me at the end of the year. Normally this would be an easy one to ditch, but my adopted father is my best friend outside of my husband and I want to keep him in my life. So far we're been able to do that (going out to lunch or a game without her or having him stop by for a bit) but like with my MIL I'm afraid of what will happen when we have kids and my mother insist on either coming with her rotten attitude or not allowing my father a relationship with my kids. I've talked to my father about it and he thinks she'll mellow out; but she never did for my siblings when they had kids so I doubt that.

I can't speak for my husband, but I know that I've had enough of the behaviors of our mothers and worry about my children feeling what I did all those years where a family member or friend doesn't show up to a celebration just because my mom and her rotten attitude was there. But at the same time I would rather find a way to fix things before the kids or find a way to include our fathers without our mothers going insane and becoming vindictive towards us. Is it possible to get these kinds of people to change or come to a agreement on behavior? Should I just cut them out (I really don't want to, especially my father)? Wondering what people have done with relatives who make things difficult like this.
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Old 05-09-2018, 11:24 AM
 
Location: Brew City
2,994 posts, read 1,875,797 times
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Good luck. I'm struggling with two toxic-in-their-own-way mothers myself. We keep visits to a minimum and try to live our lives the way that makes us happy. We don't want to take it out on our kids and keep them from having grandparents but we're not going to interrupt our lives for them either. When either of them come to visit it's pretty much a grandparent/grandchild visit instead of a whole family visit.
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Old 05-09-2018, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Pacific Northwest
14 posts, read 5,790 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vegabern View Post
Good luck. I'm struggling with two toxic-in-their-own-way mothers myself. We keep visits to a minimum and try to live our lives the way that makes us happy. We don't want to take it out on our kids and keep them from having grandparents but we're not going to interrupt our lives for them either. When either of them come to visit it's pretty much a grandparent/grandchild visit instead of a whole family visit.
Thank you and same to you. I know for myself the hardest part will be my own parents since I've seen most of my siblings travel this road and its hard separating my mother and father from each other for too long. My father has only gone to one of his grandchildren's birthdays because of my mom and I'm not sure my heart could take it if he declines seeing my children because his wife is out of control. With him it might have to be a singular grandparent visit outside of normal events; but I really wish I could find a way he could be included with the rest of the family and not have to worry about my mother getting upset.

I'm the honorary peacemaker of the family so this has been something I've been working on for years, but now I'm ready to have kids of my own so I feel that times up and changes need to be made now before it directly affects my kids in person.....families are so much fun
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Old 05-09-2018, 12:19 PM
 
Location: Central, NJ
2,284 posts, read 4,766,451 times
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I think you should consider giving the men in your life a little less slack. Your father has chosen to not have a real relationship with the grandchildren he already has. Not only is there no reason to believe he will behave differently with your child, but why would you even allow him to? Imagine what that would do to the other grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, to see him go to events for one child but never theirs. Your mother is not to blame for his behavior, he is. He could go places without her but he chooses not to.

Since you do act as a peacemaker - have you ever heard your MIL out about her feelings? It's great if your FIL has changed over the years. But wonderful, super nice men with great values don't walk out of their children's lives. Perhaps acknowledging that he used to be that type of person will help tame her outrage and by extension her behavior around him. If not, telling her outright that it will limit the amount of time that she spends with her grandchildren might get through to her.
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Old 05-09-2018, 01:00 PM
 
2,235 posts, read 952,553 times
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Wow itís so nice that your husbands father was able to totally skip his parenting responsibilities and now is the nice guy, the good guy. Of course he doesnít have any baggage,meanwhile the mother - you know the one that stuck with your husband and raised him is the bad guy. yes I get it, you donít like her and she is bitter. You plan children and the good father gets all the benefits of grandparenting and you think the mother wouldnít be hurt or bitter. All this time the so called good father didnít give a dodoo and bam.

I suppose you could screw the mother even more and cut her off or you could help your husband set some healthy boundaries by talking it through and asking she not discuss the x husband and your husband not discuss his father. As for when a child arrives you both can make it clear your childís relationships with other grandparents is off limits and if she canít you could have the compassion to visit a family therapist together.


As for your mother and stepfather,they are a team, and you playing favourites is hurtful to their marriage. Itís not fair but thatís how it is, your stepfather loves his wife but what you seem to want is her out of your life so you can have a nice unrestricted relationship with your stepfather. Well you canít have your cake and eat it, he chose your mother,his first loyalty is to his wife and he should be trying to help her,not undermine her. Why canít you and your stepfather see a professional family therapist? Also why would he be different with your child as he is with the other grandchildren? He is a grown man and makes his own choices and itís seems awfully convenient to blame the mother.
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Old 05-09-2018, 01:23 PM
 
Location: Pacific Northwest
14 posts, read 5,790 times
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Originally Posted by Spuggy View Post
Wow it’s so nice that your husbands father was able to totally skip his parenting responsibilities and now is the nice guy, the good guy. Of course he doesn’t have any baggage,meanwhile the mother - you know the one that stuck with your husband and raised him is the bad guy. yes I get it, you don’t like her and she is bitter. You plan children and the good father gets all the benefits of grandparenting and you think the mother wouldn’t be hurt or bitter. All this time the so called good father didn’t give a dodoo and bam.
Just to clear up any things, my husbands father never walked out of his life or skip out on his parenting. He was not allowed by my husbands mother (who admits that it was her decision and not based on his bad parenting skills or anything that would make a typical person want to keep their child away). His father paid child support up until his ex wife refused to take anymore; and then he continued to save until he reunited with his son. That's why I consider him upstanding and loving. Maybe you can bash him on not sticking out like my father and fighting in court to continue fighting with an unstable wife; but in that case you still have a sad older man who is just trying to keep the peace by staying out of the wife's rath and not trying to make things worse for the children.

It's worth noting that both our fathers have never said an ill word about their wives, and to this day are willing to work out a way for all of us to come together as whole families and enjoy our time with our future children. Our issue is with our mothers due to their behavior not only now but even back during our childhoods. And even then we want to find a way to make them included as well. As much as my mothers behavior is uncalled for, I realize for her its definitely a mental illness issue and the potential for her to be "normal" is pretty high. I've tried working through therapy and I still stick around even thought it's hard to. But I realize not being involved with her other grandchildren is causing more pain for her and I hope to help her by including her in my childrens lives as she might never get to have a relationship with a grandchild again. As for my MIL, we're not playing favorites by any means. We love her and while she may drive me crazy, I have enjoyed her in my life to the point I'm trying to find ways to keep her involved in my child's life at the same time respecting the grandfather of the child who has just as much right to be involved in his grandchild's life.

I'm sorry if it comes off that we're against his mother as that's not my intention at all; we're simply aren't doing this to get back or punish her. My husband has a right as a grown man to seek out and develop relationships with his father and allow his fathers ongoing behavior to establish what he thinks about him. And it's been nothing but loving (even to his ex) and we feel lucky that he can be a part of out family now after all the years he respected his ex's wishes. We're trying to find a way for everyone to have their wishes and be involved in the children's lives without the toxic nature of peoples behaviors spilling out.

Last edited by pattons360; 05-09-2018 at 01:56 PM..
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Old 05-09-2018, 01:43 PM
 
Location: Pacific Northwest
14 posts, read 5,790 times
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Originally Posted by Irish Eyes View Post
I think you should consider giving the men in your life a little less slack. Your father has chosen to not have a real relationship with the grandchildren he already has. Not only is there no reason to believe he will behave differently with your child, but why would you even allow him to? Imagine what that would do to the other grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, to see him go to events for one child but never theirs. Your mother is not to blame for his behavior, he is. He could go places without her but he chooses not to.

Since you do act as a peacemaker - have you ever heard your MIL out about her feelings? It's great if your FIL has changed over the years. But wonderful, super nice men with great values don't walk out of their children's lives. Perhaps acknowledging that he used to be that type of person will help tame her outrage and by extension her behavior around him. If not, telling her outright that it will limit the amount of time that she spends with her grandchildren might get through to her.
Perhaps I have not made things as clear to help get the overarching view of the family situation. First off, my father never choose to not be in his grandchildren's lives. My siblings have chosen to not include him in their lives and maybe that's fine for them. Personally I want to keep my family in as intact as I can as I realize the advantages and positive influences children who engage with their grandparents are important and I want them growing up knowing their grandparents regardless of the little issues that we might be able to manage if we're creative. It pains my father to not be able to see his grandchildren even when his wife is gone and I don't believe in additionally punishing a person just because I don't like the behavior of one they marry. I don't even want my mother to miss out on this because this might be her last chance to be close to any grandchild in a positive way and I know she has it in her when she's well.

In terms of my mother In Law....that's another case of trying to work and hear things out but it's just her personality. Like I said, she doesn't dislike her husband for cheating on her, beating her, being lazy, or not wanting to be a father. She just doesn't like him (to the point of calling him her sperm donor to her sons face). My husbands father didn't just walk out, he was told he was out of the picture and even his attempts to pay child support unofficially was waved off after a couple years. Both his parents have been open and their descriptions of events are identical so there's no reason to imagine that he was a horrible run away dad. He was a parent all the way up until he was told he wasn't and even then him backing off was more to help my husband not have a pair of fighting parents that live on opposite sides of the country and constantly threatening each other with court.

We're not wanting to take or hold grandparenting rights over anyone's head. My husband and me both got to grow up with grandparents who despite not being the best they worked to be part of their grandchildren's lives and provide the kinds of support only grandparents can give. I want to make things better, not divide. But I also want to find a way for adults to be adults and be there for the children they obviously want to be a part of in ways that will work. We're just trying to find ways that everyone can be involved as it's their right to be included in the lives of our children.
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Old 05-09-2018, 01:49 PM
 
2,235 posts, read 952,553 times
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Originally Posted by pattons360 View Post
Just to clear up any things, my husbands father never walked out of his life or skip out on his parenting. He was not allowed by my husbands mother (who admits that it was her decision and not based on his bad parenting skills or anything that would make a typical person want to keep their child away). His father paid child support up until his ex wife refused to take anymore; and then he continued to save until he reunited with his son. That's why I consider him upstanding and loving. Maybe you can bash him on not sticking out like my father and fighting in court to continue fighting with an unstable wife; but in that case you still have a sad older man who is just trying to keep the peace by staying out of the wife's rath and not trying to make things worse for the children.

It's worth noting that both our fathers have never said an ill word about their wives, and to this day are willing to work out a way for all of us to come together as whole families and enjoy our time with our future children. Our issue is with our mothers due to their behavior not only now but even back during our childhoods.

thank you for clarifying. I stand by my comment though in regards to setting boundaries with your mil and she understands that the x is not a subject for discussion and your husband abides by that by not discussing him either. If you do get pregnant you both will have to sit her down and have a talk and come to some decision on what is comfortable for all of you.

I also stand by my comments about your stepfather. You can't just have a relationship with him at the exclusion of his wife. I appreciate she is awful, but your stepfather chose her, lives with her, possibly enables her and is passive. He may very well treat your child the way he treats other grandchildren, or he may not, BUT then that may sow some seeds of deep hurt and pain for the other grandchildren. What I'd ask is what specific steps is your stepfather making to make sure your mother doesn't lose you also, and to help her get treatment? Passifying and placating a wrathful wife is not healthy, and he is compromising his grandchildren by doing so.
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Old 05-09-2018, 02:06 PM
 
2,235 posts, read 952,553 times
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My sense of your stepfather is that he is the kind benevolent passive father but I don’t know this has been healthy.
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Old 05-09-2018, 02:28 PM
 
Location: Pacific Northwest
14 posts, read 5,790 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spuggy View Post
thank you for clarifying. I stand by my comment though in regards to setting boundaries with your mil and she understands that the x is not a subject for discussion and your husband abides by that by not discussing him either. If you do get pregnant you both will have to sit her down and have a talk and come to some decision on what is comfortable for all of you.

I also stand by my comments about your (correction: *father*). You can't just have a relationship with him at the exclusion of his wife. I appreciate she is awful, but your stepfather chose her, lives with her, possibly enables her and is passive. He may very well treat your child the way he treats other grandchildren, or he may not, BUT then that may sow some seeds of deep hurt and pain for the other grandchildren. What I'd ask is what specific steps is your stepfather making to make sure your mother doesn't lose you also, and to help her get treatment? Passifying and placating a wrathful wife is not healthy, and he is compromising his grandchildren by doing so.

I get that and we never bring up my husbands father or what our current relationship is with his mother due to the issues. In the past she had told us she was alright with his renewed relationship and was willing to go to events with him; but after two incidents which required him having to remove himself because even when they attempt to avoid each other she has show that she feels compelled to trash talk him and even seek him out for confrontation about nothing. Its hard because like I said both are or can be wonderful people, but its not working out and we don't see the need to punish them both (I don't know about my MIL health needs, but her behavior is close enough to my own mothers that it could be something medical. Unfortunately she doesn't believe in doctors, therapy, or any kind of medication so we try to love her and work with her as is).

As far as my father, I want him and my mother to be involved in my child's life. But that requires working with my mother, something we've alside of him have all tried for years. Some years she takes medication is is better and those are the years I feel show her ability to build a positive relationship with her grandchildren alongside her husband. Its the times when she refuses or falls off her medication that make things bad and a combo of refusing meds and having her behavior completely drove away my siblings (who I can't control and I don't share my feeling about in regard to my mother) and through that lead my father to lose his ability to have those relationships. My father supports my mother and wants her to get better. He has invested in therapy, medications, emotions and more. I won't be like my siblings and demand he walk out on my mother, and to my understanding and past experience he helps her more then anyone else in her life. We're just trying to approach this situation differently from my siblings because obviously they don't think its worth it to have either parent in their life, and I think we can find a solution if we ask and work for it.

Understand that while my in brief (for explaining 20 some years worth of drama) backstory might make me seem like I could care less for the women in my life who helped raise my husband and I; we both deeply care for them and want them to be included (which is why I posted this), but struggling to think of ways we can help make things better before the kids came and decisions would be rushed possibly hurting feelings or creating problems with the children. We get that you can't please everyone, but I really want to please every grandparent as much as possible because regardless of how long they've physically been there or what emotional state they are plagued with they deserve to have a chance (which all of them want) to have a relationship and see their grandchildren.

Last edited by pattons360; 05-09-2018 at 02:53 PM..
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