Jump to content


Recommended Posts

I've got a question about what to do after a bad scene with my MIL...


The back story is that she's been divorced about 10 years and is alone. We have speculated that she is manic-depressive, but she won't go to therapy because everyone else has a problem, not her. Years ago we actually moved out of the state to get away from her because she was constantly taking out her sadness/anger on us. Not in a good way, like telling us her problems, but in a bad way of lashing out and saying how we didn't love her and didn't care and she should just kill herself. We would have to defend ourselves, tell her it wasn't true, etc... you know the type!! (Usually late-night drunk phonecalls.) She always blamed us for things, but never admitted to her bad behavior. She was acting out of hurt, but not taking any responsibility for the fact that she wasn't responding like a grownup by blaming us and hurting the people who were there for her.


Anyway, things got better over the years... less instances of this. We've since had kids, and they are the love of her life now, obviously. She still plays the martyr and makes us feel bad sometimes because we apparently don't perform up to her standars... she expects us and my brother-in-law to fill the void in her life and make her happy. She still occasionally lashes out in one of her venting sessions and complains about us. (Note: we invite her all the time to come to town and we went to her place last weekend... we do tons of stuff with her and all her complaints are just not correct factually. She is lonely, but for a man. She just takes it out on us.)


So, finally to now! (sorry so long... I need to vent, too! ) We were at her place this weekend visiting. We had a super Friday with the kids, and Saturday I could tell things were a bit off. The manic phase seemed to be there. After dinner she just went nuts... banging dishes and muttering about how we think she's "just a poor, white trash, old lady". (totally crazy stuff???!!) My 6 & 4 year old were even asking her why she was angry. They were freaked out. To shorten it... she had one of her yelling-blaming fits, but this time in front of the kids. I took them in a bedroom and cranked up the TV, so I missed most of it, but she yelled at me and even blamed my 4-year old boy for "disrespecting" her because he dented a watering can that she LET him play with all day!!!!!!](*,) So, after my hub and his brother tried to calm her down for about an hour, I packed up our stuff and said we were leaving.


She tried to say she wasn't doing anything and then said that was "stupid". Basically now I kind of look like the b*tch who took the grandkids away because my hub was trying to talk it out. Although my hub totally agreed we should leave, I instigated it. But my point was that I was scared to be there, scared to have my kids around her, and just p-ed off and uncomforatable in front of her. In the past, we all just have to act like she never did that stuff... we totally let her get away with it because we feel sorry for her... but basically she blew it doing that in front of the kids.


How do I now go on?? I'm tired of apologizing for things she thinks we did to her when she never says sorry for saying all those mean, untrue things.


I don't know how to continue the relationship because usually we just never mention it and act like everything is fine. I guess I will have to do that again just to keep the peace, but it is frustrating.


Any thoughts on what to do? She will play down her role and say I overreacted by leaving. It will turn into "the night I lost it and left" instead of "the night SHE lost it in front of the kids", even though I never raised my voice or said anything mean. Either way I'm going to have to swallow it and be the grown-up, I guess. Thanks for reading.

Link to comment

I really feel for you.


I'd assume you want to do the least harm to people. Keeping away from the MIL would protect you all from her behavior, but limited contact will always involve tension and drama.


I happen to know of a similar situation in my own family. In that case, the family gave up and avoids the angry bitter MIL, and she knows it's her own doing.


You can't fix everything, and your MIL seems unsufferable.

Maybe keep to phone calls.

Link to comment

Gosh. Tough stuff...but I agree that if she can't act like a mature adult in front of the kids, she shouldn't be allowed contact with them. Scaring them and exposing them to inappropriate behavior is definitely a no-no..and it is your responsibility to police that...I think you need to draw up some rules. Sounds like she needs them. I hope she gets help, she sounds miserable...and is spreading her misery all over.

Link to comment

ghost... you're exactly right about being selfish. We really do feel sorry for her... she can be kind and loves the kids to death. She has so much built up inside, and it blows out occasionally. She's used to treating the people in her life who are closest the worst, which is a trap many people fall into, but my family wasn't that way.


I just don't know what to do to try to get my point accross that she can't act that way, and that she should really try to get help. She just refuses to acknowledge her own wrongs and blames the world.


Dako, I'm seriously considering not calling her and waiting for her to call. Frankly it would be so nice and easier to distance ourselves, but there's the kids, and it's hard.

Link to comment

thanks, fnlyfrei. The 'mature adult' thing is so frustrating. She really just doesn't get that even if she is hurting or angry, there is no excuse for making the kids think they are to blame. (and I mean HER kids and MINE!!) my hub grew up with fights in front of him, so she's used to people just having to take it. But we are grown up and we don't do that to OUR family... maybe that is an angle to use with her.

Link to comment

Don't swallow this, she's being a manipulative jerk. She crossed a line when she did all this in front of the children. What happens when she starts to take things out more on them? Think of how bad it will be for them if Grandma starts saying all those things to them?


You should have a good sit down talk with your hubby and discuss how you will handle the situation together. You need to do this together and be in agreement and united because she will try to use any difference of treatment on your parts as a means to manipulate you. It will be hard on your hubby, but he needs to be responsible for his children and his family first, then her. It might be best for you to limit your contact to small doses of your MIL.


I know my Mom has a lot of trouble with my Grandmother, she's similar to your MIL, but my Mom doesn't let her blame her or blame me. We don't spend much time with her when we visit, it makes my Dad mad, but he's a mama's boy and refuses to admit to the problem.

Link to comment

thanks CB!! perfect description... manipulative.


Luckily my hub and I are well-aligned on this, but we do need to decide together what to do. I am kind of working on typing her a letter because I think talking now will just end up heated, and I can get my points accross calmly and without blame and ire. I think she's used to not being peanalized for these outbursts, and I am ready to put my foot down.


It scares me deeply what she could be capable of with the kids since she doesn't seem to realize how she is acting.

Link to comment

Hi there,


My friends had a similar situation to yours (with TWO sets of parents!). They took the position that whilst they may be able to deal with this behaviour, no way were their children going to be exposed to it. Quite right too, if you ask me - so it was kind of like what you were saying; they stay when all is well, and leave the moment there are tensions, being very very firm about it.


It's too confusing for the wee ones. Tell her honestly that your children are NOT and never will be part of scenes like that. It's really up to her, whether she values seeing them or not.


I would be symathetic to a degree, but tough when it comes to the children.


Take care!

Link to comment
I am kind of working on typing her a letter because I think talking now will just end up heated, and I can get my points accross calmly and without blame and ire.


This may seem like a great idea, but it really won't work. Yes, you'll be able to get your points out without confrontation, but she's going to continue to refute the things you want to say.


Do your best to stay away from her. I've had to do that with my mother-in-law. After she called my family white trash and manipulative (totally unfounded - the woman just throws temper tantrums when she doesn't get her way), I chose to not be around her anymore. My husband supported me in this 100%. Now that I have a child, I have to spend some time around her, but it's only been twice since he's been born - he's 9 months old - at VERY short intervals. If she started subjecting my son to the type of abuse she subjects me to, he wouldn't be around her anymore either.


If you really want to let her know how you feel, let her know over the phone. Tell her that you feel abused by her and very uncomfortable. Don't list specific incidents, since you won't have her attention for long. It's really only a matter of time before she starts making your children feel the way she makes her own children feel.


My own grandma treated her children like dirt, and did a lot of the same stuff you're saying your MIL does. Her grandchildren were the apple of her eye when we were younger, but as we've gotten older, she's started to show her true side. I hadn't seen her in almost 10 years until last week during a family gathering. You can't let toxic people in your life, and especially in your children's lives.


I want to say that I'm SOOOOO sorry you're going through this. There's no easy way to deal with a mother-in-law. But thank your lucky stars that your husband is on your side - many of us children-in-law aren't so lucky!

Link to comment

Thanks Honey Pumpkin... good advice. I think it really did shock her when we left. Maybe that was a good start and shows that while the adults can allow her to 'vent', there is a very solid line about the kids' exposure.


paisley80... I can tell you have been through this, thanks for writing because you made me think about the future. Her boys have always been forced to be there for her. Her childhood was rough, and her marriage was rough, and I've told my husband before that I thought it was borderline abusive the way she made her boys responsible for making her happy. It was kind of sick, but when I started dating hub and we moved in together, I swear she acted like I stole her boyfriend!!


We've all been on the receiving end of this, and she doesn't see it as her wrong... she thinks we owe her or something. But, I hear you about the letter... it won't help in the long run, but I'm still thinking about it. At the very least I need to send her money for the watering can!! And at the same time maybe just mention that no matter what the issue, I won't allow the kids to be involved in grown-up problems, and that was why I left.

Link to comment

You should have a good sit down talk with your hubby and discuss how you will handle the situation together


I agree with Carnelian Butterfly. The solution to this must be something that you and your husband come up with as a team.


If she is indeed suffering from mental illness of some kind- and has already refused to get help there's not much you can do to change that. However you can work around it.


It seems that in the scenerio you described above- you and your family spent the whole weekend with her. Perhaps it would be better to just spend one day at a time with her- you'd be less likely to witness a bipolar episode that way. You could also call her first to see if you can tell which kind of a day she is having. If she sounds "off" on that day- reschedule for the sake of your kids.


I think replacing the watering can is a good idea. Maybe next time you get together with her- have it be at your place where you call the shots- or a neutral public place where she'd be less likely to have another meltdown.



Link to comment
I think replacing the watering can is a good idea. Maybe next time you get together with her- have it be at your place where you call the shots- or a neutral public place where she'd be less likely to have another meltdown.


That IS a really good idea. Might show her that she was being a little histrionic.


And yes, I have one of "those" mothers-in-law. I've been married to her only son, the man to whom she has a shrine in her living room, for 6 years now. When he told her we were going to be married, she absolutely freaked out. Told my husband that I was worthless because I didn't have a college degree and that I'd do nothing but drag him down, and why wasn't he marrying Emily? Such a nice girl... I let it go, assuming she was just reacting out of surprise and sadness at "losing" her son. I spent the next 2 years trying to get her to like me, the next 2 years simply peacefully co-existing, and the past 2 years as far away from her as possible.


You might be worried about what she'll tell people about you if you cut her off. The fact is, those who know her and who know you probably already know how she is. I know that my MIL tells her neighbors that I'm no good, that my family's trailer trash, that I'm lazy, etc., but her neighbors have all told me this! They know how she is, how judgemental and just downright horrible. If anyone actually believed that I'm no-good trailer trash, I don't know them anyway, so it doesn't really matter.


What the heck is it about children being married that turns people into complete nutcases? I hope beyond hopes that I will not ever, ever be like my MIL. I know that I'm stubborn and outspoken, but I don't ever want to try to control my child's marriage, or any aspect of my child's life beyond his childhood. My mom is the picture perfect mother-in-law, and I swear I'm not just saying that. Both my husband and my sister's husband LOVE her, and my husband always asks her over for dinner, and expresses genuine disappointment when she can't come over. I'm gonna need my mom to go ahead and write a book.

Link to comment

wow paisley... I feel for you, but taking the high road really is the best. People do know how my MIL is... it seems everyone feels sorry for her, but they know how she can be. If she tells people how "mean" I was, I doubt anyone will blame me.


Your mom sounds great, and mine is too!! My parents were very 'hands-off', so we got support and no interference. Hub's parents had a trainwreck marriage, but somehow she has all the answers to everyone's problems??


BellaDonna, we have had many, many nice visits over here, so I think you are right... for some reason she went off that night at her house, and she probably thought we were trapped since it was late and we've always just taken it before. I could tell that something was off with her, but really didn't expect a scene. Like I said, I really surprised her (and probably p-ed her off royally!!) when I packed up and said that we were leaving.


I will probably send a note and some cash for the watering can... and say 'sorry about the can' and 'I left because of the kids'. I'm not going to apologize this time, though, I have made that decision. I will discuss with hub if he thinks that is ok, and make sure we have a plan for if she calls. I don't think either one of us will call her first, so it might be a stand-off.


ugh... this is a grown woman!!!!!!!!! Sometimes I still can't believe it...

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...