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Old Today, 08:01 AM
 
2 posts
Reputation: 10

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My MIL is an exceptionally kind and devoted grandmother, and my kids (as well as their cousins) are all very fond of her. She has regular contact with us and has babysat on many occasions (once staying in our house with the kids for a whole week) when we went away etc.

Unfortunately, despite this, I find her personality very challenging - and I'm sure the feeling is very much mutual. We are very different and come from very different backgrounds. MIL is a toxic gossip, forever discussing people behind their backs in an unpleasant, speculative way. She is also an attention seeker: if there is ever any sort of drama in the wider family, she will always contrive to make it all about her. Eg. if someone has been hospitalised, it's always "Oh, I've been so stressed, it's been such an awful week for me me me" etc, rather than focusing on the person who is most affected. She also has form for making wild claims about people she doesn't like (eg once speculating to me that a family member was pretending to have cancer for attention, a few months before they actually died of it).

Most recently, FIL has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and his health has been steadily failing. MIL has obviously been very much affected by this, although she & FIl have a very poor relationship, and have previously separated several times.

We recently went away for a week. Originally, we had asked her to water our house plants while we were away, but we decided that the plants would be fine for a week between watering so my husband told MIL not to bother. MIL then visited us on the afternoon that we returned from holiday. When she finally stood up to leave, she was unable to find her keys. We'd been sitting in the garden for almost all of the visit. She wasn't sure where she'd left them - but thought she'd put the keys on the kitchen table on her way out to the garden. Her car was parked, unlocked, outside our house.

We have a fairly modern and uncluttered house, we searched high and low for the keys, including in the bins, cupboards etc, but they could not be found anywhere. My husband and I suspect that she probably dropped them on the grass verge outside the house when getting out of the car, and that a passer-by picked them up. The keys included front door keys for our house, as well as various other keys.

A couple of days later, I went away for a few days, and while I was away, MIL came over to see my husband and the kids. She then told my husband that she "had to get it off her chest" that she was convinced that I had taken her keys and deliberately hidden them, because I didn't want her to have a copy of our front door key. She added that she thinks I hate her. Reading between the lines from comments made by other family members, I suspect that MIL has been saying all sorts of unpleasant things about me behind my back for years, but she doesn't normally confide in my husband.

My husband was shocked and told her absolutely not, there was no way that I would have done this. But I am frankly fed up. There are various dramas going on in the wider family atm, in addition to FIL's illness. But MIL has form for making these sorts of horrible accusations behind people's backs and I'm tired of biting my tongue. There was a loose arrangement discussed re the kids visiting MIL this weekend, but neither DH or I had the stomach to see her. Just not sure how to proceed.
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Old Today, 08:26 AM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
43,705 posts, read 42,347,370 times
Reputation: 84290
Quote:
Originally Posted by beecomb View Post
My MIL is an exceptionally kind and devoted grandmother, and my kids (as well as their cousins) are all very fond of her. She has regular contact with us and has babysat on many occasions (once staying in our house with the kids for a whole week) when we went away etc.

Unfortunately, despite this, I find her personality very challenging - and I'm sure the feeling is very much mutual. We are very different and come from very different backgrounds. MIL is a toxic gossip, forever discussing people behind their backs in an unpleasant, speculative way. She is also an attention seeker: if there is ever any sort of drama in the wider family, she will always contrive to make it all about her. Eg. if someone has been hospitalised, it's always "Oh, I've been so stressed, it's been such an awful week for me me me" etc, rather than focusing on the person who is most affected. She also has form for making wild claims about people she doesn't like (eg once speculating to me that a family member was pretending to have cancer for attention, a few months before they actually died of it).

Most recently, FIL has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and his health has been steadily failing. MIL has obviously been very much affected by this, although she & FIl have a very poor relationship, and have previously separated several times.

We recently went away for a week. Originally, we had asked her to water our house plants while we were away, but we decided that the plants would be fine for a week between watering so my husband told MIL not to bother. MIL then visited us on the afternoon that we returned from holiday. When she finally stood up to leave, she was unable to find her keys. We'd been sitting in the garden for almost all of the visit. She wasn't sure where she'd left them - but thought she'd put the keys on the kitchen table on her way out to the garden. Her car was parked, unlocked, outside our house.

We have a fairly modern and uncluttered house, we searched high and low for the keys, including in the bins, cupboards etc, but they could not be found anywhere. My husband and I suspect that she probably dropped them on the grass verge outside the house when getting out of the car, and that a passer-by picked them up. The keys included front door keys for our house, as well as various other keys.

A couple of days later, I went away for a few days, and while I was away, MIL came over to see my husband and the kids. She then told my husband that she "had to get it off her chest" that she was convinced that I had taken her keys and deliberately hidden them, because I didn't want her to have a copy of our front door key. She added that she thinks I hate her. Reading between the lines from comments made by other family members, I suspect that MIL has been saying all sorts of unpleasant things about me behind my back for years, but she doesn't normally confide in my husband.

My husband was shocked and told her absolutely not, there was no way that I would have done this. But I am frankly fed up. There are various dramas going on in the wider family atm, in addition to FIL's illness. But MIL has form for making these sorts of horrible accusations behind people's backs and I'm tired of biting my tongue. There was a loose arrangement discussed re the kids visiting MIL this weekend, but neither DH or I had the stomach to see her. Just not sure how to proceed.
My advice won't be very satisfying to you, but I think it's the best strategy in your situation: Smile and wave.

Don't make any declarations, don't banish her or forbid the kids from seeing her, because if you declare, "No more grandma!" then YOU will look like the crazy one (because she's passed herself off as an exceptionally kind and devoted grandma). And you will have proven her gossip to be true.

So just smile and wave.

The BEST news is that your husband is on your side (as he should be) and doesn't appear to have succumbed to her machinations. So focus on your bond with HIM and support his choice to honor you.

You aren't required to be BFFs with her. Continue to be sociable and topical but don't feel the need to involve her in your life any more than necessary. Disprove her gossiping theories by continuing to be your kind and patient self, even with her.

The rest of the family will get it.

BTW, how did she get home that night without her keys?
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Old Today, 08:49 AM
 
2 posts
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by BirdieBelle View Post
My advice won't be very satisfying to you, but I think it's the best strategy in your situation: Smile and wave.

Don't make any declarations, don't banish her or forbid the kids from seeing her, because if you declare, "No more grandma!" then YOU will look like the crazy one (because she's passed herself off as an exceptionally kind and devoted grandma). And you will have proven her gossip to be true.

So just smile and wave.

The BEST news is that your husband is on your side (as he should be) and doesn't appear to have succumbed to her machinations. So focus on your bond with HIM and support his choice to honor you.

You aren't required to be BFFs with her. Continue to be sociable and topical but don't feel the need to involve her in your life any more than necessary. Disprove her gossiping theories by continuing to be your kind and patient self, even with her.

The rest of the family will get it.

BTW, how did she get home that night without her keys?
You're right, I don't like that advice very much at all at the moment!

It strikes me that the obvious way to refute MIL's allegations would be to just give her a replacement key to our house - but after everything that has happened I am pretty reluctant to do that?

I don't have much to do with DH's siblings or MIL's other relatives, so rarely have much of an opportunity to defend myself. Most of them only know what they hear about me from MIL and there is usually an awkward vibe when I see them (that sense you get when you feel like someone has been told negative things about you, it's quite uncanny). I usually get along well with most people, so don't think I'm paranoid!

Re how she got home, Mil's first reaction when she discovered that the keys were missing was a (rather enthusiastic) suggestion about staying at our house overnight. But DH immediately said that wouldn't be necessary and he drove her home. He brought her spare car key back with him and drove her car to her house the next day. She doesn't live far away (about 15 mins drive)
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Old Today, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
43,705 posts, read 42,347,370 times
Reputation: 84290
Quote:
Originally Posted by beecomb View Post

It strikes me that the obvious way to refute MIL's allegations would be to just give her a replacement key to our house - but after everything that has happened I am pretty reluctant to do that?
I certainly wouldn't make it a priority to give her a key. I would work on finding other reliable and more objective child care.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beecomb View Post

I don't have much to do with DH's siblings or MIL's other relatives, so rarely have much of an opportunity to defend myself.
Then don't worry about that part. You can't control her, and you definitely shouldn't fall for the bait of trying to refute gossip she may or may not have shared. The only person who's opinion you really care about here is your husband's, correct?

Does your husband also not see his siblings often, or is it just you? Why not?
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