Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: despedina on December 04, 2012, 08:50:40 PM

Title: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 04, 2012, 08:50:40 PM
My husband and I are torn about how to handle an upcoming get together with my MIL and my husbands 2 younger brothers. The issue mainly centers around the older BIL, his wife and their son.

Breif history:

Brother in law #1 has always been hard for people to talk to. A few years ago I actually stopped having meaningful conversations with him because he's always finding fault in things people says.

About 6 years ago, MIL and FIL seperated due to ongoing infidelity issues on the part of FIL. He went to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed as bi-polar, got meds, and they reconciled. Shortly after, FIL convinced BIL #1 that he had the same issues.  BIL1 went to his family dr and got same meds as FIL (which in my opinion has changed nothing), no psychiatrist was ever seen. He and his wife now use this as the reason that BIL1 acts like an bacon-fed knave all the time.

FIL was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in March 2011. BIL1's actions only got worse as he attempted to take over for the family business. He constantly threw the fact that we live 45 min away and that BIL2 was away at college in our faces and stated how all the pressure of the world was on him, and saw himself as his dad's only caretaker (my MIL is a nurse). Since FIL was sick we put up with this as much as possible, and were down at his parents every weekend. Toward the end my husband was also going down every Wed (taking off work).

FIL passes Aug 9. At the funeral dinner, in front of all the family and friends, I came out of the rest room to see BIL shaking my 4yo son and screaming at him in front of everyone.  His 7yo son and mine had been playing a nintendo DS and my nephew got bumped in the face with it.  I quickly picked up my son and told BIL he is not to lay hands on my son or scream in his face, and that all issues should be brought up to myself or my husband.

After this, my husband had a severe talk with my BIL that day, as it was a long time coming anyway (BIL1 was always stating that my kids were too rough with his child, and had scolded our kids in front of us many times before, which we had calmly handled up until now)

My husband tried for 2 months to smooth things over with BIL1. They both agreed that they needed to sit down and work all their issues out however BIL1 was consistently unavailable for 2 mos straight. Finally in mid Oct at a family event, BIL1 made a concerted effort to ignore all of us. Others noticed and it was embarassing especially to my MIL.  When we started toward the car, BIL1 yelled loudly "Have a Good Evening!"
The next day my husband called him and asked why he would not acknowledge him.  I'm not sure what all was said, but BIL1 sees all the issues as being because my sons are bullies!  We were shocked. No one (day care, school, other family members) have ever had an issue with my sons. They are pretty quiet actually. My now 5yo is a bit rambunctious but in no way bullies his 7yo son. In fact, most of the time when the kids are playing, my BIL and SIL are no where to be seen and my husband, myself or my 15yo daughter are watching the kids.  So I can only imagine that my nephew is telling them somehow that my kids are doing something to him.   Of course my husband got angry and they had a bit of a blow up over this. My husband felt bad after and tried to get back on track to working out their issues. BIL1 ignored all calls, texts and emails. Due to this we decided ot opt out of Thanksgiving at my in laws and we went out of town (we had a nice dinner a few nights prior with MIL and BIL2).
After we got back my husband has tried again to reach out to his brother.  He won't answer the phone, and most texts are ignored. When he does decide to respond he just says "you watch your kids and I'll watch mine". This last Sat that actually turned out to be boloney, as we went to a cousin's bday party and he had no idea where his son was the entire time (I was watching him in the basement along with other kids). At this event he ignored my husband again which was obvious.  So now in 20 days were supposed to spend Christmas eve together.  MY husband has sent a message asking them not to worry about gifts (it should be obvious but its not) and my BIL said they are still buying gifts for everyone. What????  Are we now required to purchase gifts for people that won't even acknowledge us? Not only that, but sit at a dinner table with them ignoring us, and worrying that anything my sons may do/say may set him off again?  It seems like everyone (cousins etc) have advised my husband to just let it go. How do we do that? I just don't know how we will sit at the dinner table knowing that BIL1 thinks my kids are evil incarnate. Should we just opt out of Christmas Eve, and not see my MIL? I would feel so horrible. I already feel horrible that her son's can't work things out (she refuses to intervene). 
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Deetee on December 04, 2012, 09:05:21 PM
This isn't even a question for me. Don't go. Stop trying to patch things up. See MIL some other time during the holidays and have a nice visit.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Lindee on December 04, 2012, 09:14:22 PM
I'm voting for avoid. If you are dreading it already why should you ruin Xmas for the sake of pretending to be a happy family? How do your children feel about this? Your MIL will be hurt but your sons should come first.  Of course everyone else is advising your husband to let it go. It is easier for them if he does and it is not them having to take the brunt of his behaviour.

Can you just do a pop in visit to see MIL without having the full blown family meal?
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Rusty on December 04, 2012, 10:38:42 PM
This is a hard one, because MIL will miss out on seeing her grandchildren because of issues between her two sons.  I'm pretty sure the issue between the children is just a cover for a deeper resentment. Have the brothers always had issues or has this just come up since the children were born.   Does BIL1 have the same issues with BIL2.  Nevertheless he has absolutely no right to yell at or even touch your child and I wouldn't have waited for anyone else to intervene, I would have told him so in no uncertain terms myself.  Could your DH go to visit alone and try to talk to his brother before the event.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Danika on December 05, 2012, 01:00:35 AM
It sounds like your DH has tried to communicate with BIL1 many times and BIL1 is ignoring him. If there will be tons and tons of people there and your family can avoid BIL1 and his 7-year-old, and you still want to see the others and think you'll have a good time, then go.

But if you're dreading it, and it will ruin your holiday, your DH's and your kids', then don't go.

I actually applaud MIL for trying to stay out of the middle, except for the parts where BIL1 is rude and ignoring you under her roof.

I'm voting for avoid. If you are dreading it already why should you ruin Xmas for the sake of pretending to be a happy family? How do your children feel about this? Your MIL will be hurt but your sons should come first.

POD, especially what I bolded.

I agree with PPs. There's some family history. BIL1 is causing more drama than there needs to be. Perhaps he would enjoy the holidays more without your DH around (my guess is he's jealous and/or resentful of your DH for something). And it seems like BIL1 would "win" if your family caved and didn't go. He'd get his mother's full attention for his own kids and he'd spend time with his whole extended family while you all were alienated. But if you foil his plans to edge you out and show up, will you truly be able to enjoy yourselves?

Bottom line, are you looking forward to this holiday gathering or not? Because, getting together for any event is about celebrating and having fun. It's not a job. It's not something you have to do like laundry or paying your mortgage. This is your free time. Does it have more positives than negatives? Or does the dread overshadow anything that might be gained by going?

My vote is for you to avoid drama. Stay home with DH and your kids and have a 100% fun time without the baggage.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: blarg314 on December 05, 2012, 01:07:01 AM

A good compromise might be to skip the Christmas Eve family get together.  Explain to your MIL that you're sad about missing it, but given the tension between BIL and you guys, it would make for a very tense and awkward gathering, and you don't want to cause a fuss.  Then make arrangements to come over for the day a day or two before or after Christmas, to do gift exchanges, etc.

However,

My understanding is that this is the first Christmas since your FIL died, right?  Given that, it might mean a lot to your MIL to have you all there - family holidays after a death can be really hard to handle. In that case, if your MIL is a reasonable person, then I'd ask her which she would find easiest - you guys showing up, even if it's awkward, or re-scheduling your time with her.

For one Christmas gathering, it could be worth it to suck it up if it helps your MIL handle the first Christmas after your FIL's death. However, I'd have an exit plan to leave a bit early if it gets hard on your kids.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: NyaChan on December 05, 2012, 04:39:46 AM
I would go but keep your kids close to you and away from the nephew/BIL.  I'd also check in with MIL ahead of time explaining that you are uncomfortable coming, but want to see her.  Then you can let her know that you may be leaving if BIL does something again like laying hands on your kids.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: POF on December 05, 2012, 04:42:17 AM
While it might be a difficult XMAS for your MIL, your children deserve a peaceful happy XMAS and XMAS eve and they come first.

BIL acts like this ? Your children will be impacted.  Maybe your MIL should NOT invite Bil and invite you.  Yeah its bad that she's impacted - but you need to protect your children.  AND if someone had been SHAKING my child .... that would have been it.

I've had to make a similar decision re: toxic inlaw behavior and beleive me - we are the happier for it.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: RubyCat on December 05, 2012, 06:01:18 AM
I would opt out of Christmas Eve and get together with MIL and BIL2 at another time, as you did with Thanksgiving.  Your dh has gone above and beyond to smooth things over with BIL1.  There is no way I would allow my children to be around BIL1 after he laid hands on one of them.  That is wrong on so many levels and not healthy for the boys to be put in that position.  FWIW, I cut off my father for a year for swatting one of my daughters with a newspaper when she was young.  Your MIL may be hurt by your refusal to attend Christmas Eve if BIL1 is there but that is the natural consequence of BIL1's actions.  I'm curious if MIL has said anything to BIL1 about his behavior?  I'm also wondering if BIL1 is trying to create some kind of a rift between your family and MIL. 
 
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Just Lori on December 05, 2012, 06:40:53 AM
I have two teen-aged girls, and BIL is throwing a hissy fit worthy of any 15-year-old.  Therefore, I'd give you the same advice I give my girls when one of their friends is wallowing in drama:  Don't reward the behavior.

The worst thing you can do to an attention seeker is ignore him or her.  Give a small, sympathetic smile and carry on what you're doing.  He's the annoying buzz that you can't get rid of so you've learned to live with.  Make a game of it with your husband.  Carry around a piece of paper in your pocket where you make a mark every time you're blatantly ignored or BIL makes a PA remark.  If he says something about you watching your kids, give a little chuckle and say, "Of course we are.  How about the bean dip?"  Do not lower yourself to his level.

This all assumes you're going to spend Christmas with them.  It sounds as though you enjoy the family gatherings enough to want to continue, but perhaps I'm misreading.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: cicero on December 05, 2012, 06:55:31 AM
I would make two suggestions:
1. no, you should not go to any future gatherings if BIL is going to be there. if someone had shaken my four year old child (no matter *what* the child did, and i believe you that your child didn't do anything), and yelled at them, it would be a cold day in youknowhere before i would go to a family gathering that included that person. (unless and until that person apologized. *really( apologized)

2. your husband needs to stop, like yesterday, chasing after his brother. I can only assume (and forgive me if i am off) that the combo of a bi polar parent, an enabler parent, the "bad" son (BIL) - turned your husband into the "good" son, the forgiving, the need-to-please guy. but plesae go back and read what you wrote - your BIL assaulted your son, and your husband spends the next few months *trying to make amends*. trying to get BIL to ... what? to forgive you? to talk to you? this doesn't make any sense! instead of your BIL being the one to chase after YOU and ask for YOUR forgiveness for what he did, he ignores you, he blames your 4 YO son for his own behaivor, and he plays PA games.

you didn't go to thanksgiving dinner. so? did world war three start?

I say - have the holiday that you want. keep your children safe. if you want, invited your MIL and your nice BIL but otherwise, keep away from BIL 1

Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Roe on December 05, 2012, 07:40:57 AM
The worst thing you can do to an attention seeker is ignore him or her.  Give a small, sympathetic smile and carry on what you're doing.  He's the annoying buzz that you can't get rid of so you've learned to live with.  Make a game of it with your husband.  Carry around a piece of paper in your pocket where you make a mark every time you're blatantly ignored or BIL makes a PA remark.  If he says something about you watching your kids, give a little chuckle and say, "Of course we are.  How about the bean dip?"  Do not lower yourself to his level.

Pod, esp to the bolded!  Your BIL is playing a game.  It's a power play.  And he's winning.  The fact that your DH continually tries to makeup with someone who enjoys being in charge is crazy!  It will drive your DH insane. You can't reason with an unreasonable person. 

And the fact that your BIL accuses your son is being a bully...project much?  IME, your BIL is the bully.  He's the one displaying bully behavior.

I wouldn't necessarily avoid all future family get-togethers, otherwise, the bully wins.  I would, however, skip the family Christmas.  It's more important to have a drama free celebration with your own family than walking on eggshells and trying not to upset BIL.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Margo on December 05, 2012, 08:09:43 AM

A good compromise might be to skip the Christmas Eve family get together.  Explain to your MIL that you're sad about missing it, but given the tension between BIL and you guys, it would make for a very tense and awkward gathering, and you don't want to cause a fuss.  Then make arrangements to come over for the day a day or two before or after Christmas, to do gift exchanges, etc.

However,

My understanding is that this is the first Christmas since your FIL died, right?  Given that, it might mean a lot to your MIL to have you all there - family holidays after a death can be really hard to handle. In that case, if your MIL is a reasonable person, then I'd ask her which she would find easiest - you guys showing up, even if it's awkward, or re-scheduling your time with her.

For one Christmas gathering, it could be worth it to suck it up if it helps your MIL handle the first Christmas after your FIL's death. However, I'd have an exit plan to leave a bit early if it gets hard on your kids.

POD.

I also recommend that your H stop trying to 'reach out' to his brother. He has tried, and failed. Your BIL is determined to hold on to his grudge. Let him. agree with your H a simple explanation which you / he can give if any other family members comment (e.g. " BIL seems to have a problem with me/us at present. I have/H's name has reached out several times to BIL to find out why he is behaving this way, and to address any issues.   BIL hasn't responded. We remain more than willing to discuss it with him when he is ready to do so. Until then, we are here to enjoy spending time with MIL and the rest of the family. ")

Since he appears to have an issue with your children, have a strategy with your husband to ensure that your and his kids don't end up together. Since he has said he'll watch his kids, this could involve sending his kids back to him every time they approach your kids, politely declining to watch his kids, or even removing your kids from the room if his kids join them.

I would also suggest that you and your husband have a conversation with MIL in advance, to expalin that while you do not expect her to take sides, you do expect her to take account of the fact that it is not appropriate for BIL to be rude or aggressive to you or your kids under her roof, and that if it occurs again and she does not address it you will leave. You can make it very clear taht you want to spend time with her, and that you are more than happy to visit at a time BIL won't be there, or to host her and other family members in your home, but that you are not willing to put up with being abused or insulted, or having your child physically assaulted by an adult.

I got the impression from your original post that speaking to SIL is unlikely to be very helpful, but it might be worth raising with her the allegation of bullying, on the basis that BIL is ignoring you and you want to get to the bottom of what is alleged to have happened.  It may be that there is something such as your son not yet having learned about taking turns (for instance) and his cousin not yet being old enough to understand that a 5 year old isn't very subtle... If there was some incident which gave rise to the allegation of bullying, knowing what it was might help you make sure it doesn't arise again. If there wasn't, you can simply move on.

All that said, other than the possible need to support MIL in her first christmas as a widow, there is no reason why you have to go. Perhaps it would be possible to arrange something else which you are a family can do, so that you are only free to go to MIL's for a short period?

Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: weeblewobble on December 05, 2012, 08:22:02 AM
This is a hard one, because MIL will miss out on seeing her grandchildren because of issues between her two sons.  I'm pretty sure the issue between the children is just a cover for a deeper resentment. Have the brothers always had issues or has this just come up since the children were born.   Does BIL1 have the same issues with BIL2.  Nevertheless he has absolutely no right to yell at or even touch your child and I wouldn't have waited for anyone else to intervene, I would have told him so in no uncertain terms myself.  Could your DH go to visit alone and try to talk to his brother before the event.

Not really. MIL will still see her grankids, just not at the same time.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: FoxPaws on December 05, 2012, 08:33:24 AM
Don't go. Plan something else with MIL and BIL2, even if it means rearranging traditions (so Grandma can see the kids open their presents if that's important, for example).

BIL1 is playing all of you like a cheap violin; even the alleged gift giving is a power play (look at me!! I'm being magnanimous and keeping the Christmas spirit even though I despise the recipients!!). Bi-polar might explain the inclination, but it doesn't excuse the behavior.

Your husband needs to be helped to understand (perhaps with the aid of a grief counselor) that he is not responsible for fixing this situation. Every time he reaches out to his brother, it reaffirms BIL's belief that he's the wronged party and that his actions are correct and defensible.

I am so sorry this is happening to your family. I hope that you can come to a resolution that brings you a measure of peace and allows you to have a joyful Christmas with your husband and children.

Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: weeblewobble on December 05, 2012, 08:35:40 AM
Nope,  sorry, he laid hands on your child and screamed in his face. He can't be trusted around your children. All social niceties are off.  Tell MIL you will see her at some other time around the holidays or she (and only she) can come to your house.

Speaking as someone whose family did avoid inlaw holiday gatherings for two years because of a problem relative, trust me when I say that making this sort of stand, and putting your own family/feelings first is liberating and totally worth it.  Your BIL is the elephant in the room.  You're all expected to tiptoe around the elephant and not mention the elephant's insane behavior, because that will make the elephant rampage.  You can't reason with him.  You can't expect rational behavior from an elephant.  And the pattern does not change because an elephant never forgets how to control the people around him.

First, DH needs to stop trying to "work things out" with BIL.  BIL wants DH to chase his approval and apologize and grovel because it puts BIL in a position of power.  DH needs to take that power back.  BIL doesn't have time in his schedule to meet?  Fine.  BIL doesn't want to talk about the real issues?  Fine, allow him to blame his bad behavior on the actions of small children.  That makes him look awesome.  He doesn't want to apologize?  Fine. 

Second, you need to stop going to family gatherings where BIL will be present.  Does it suck that you could temporarily lose contact with some family members while BIL gets to enjoy parties/events without consequence?  Yes. But it does two things.  1) It shows family members the consequences of denying/enabling BIL's bad behavior (the consequence being that you are not present and they are stuck dealing with BIL alone) and 2) It takes away BIL's argument that all problems are based on your sons' bullying his. (Really?  A 4 and 5 year old are bullying a 7 year old?  Really?)

Third, if you do go to a family gathering, don't wait/expect/hope BIL will acknowledge you.  This is what he wants, to hold some power of approval/validation over you.  Ignore him as he ignores you.   It's the worst thing you can do to someone like this.

Fourth, don't allow other family members to pressure you into "making nice" with BIL. This is the peril of being the "reasonable" sibling, you're expected to make all of the compromises. BIL had made it clear he doesn't want to see you or the boys anymore.  You're just giving him what he wants.

You would not believe how much easier and calm life if once you draw the line with these personalities. MIL may be upset that all of her family isn't getting together at once, but you've got to put your kids and family first.  Good luck.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: MrTango on December 05, 2012, 08:39:42 AM
Don't go.  I would completely cut BIL1 out of your and your childrens' lives.

Your DH constantly trying to patch things up with BIL1 is giving BIL1 all sorts of control over your lives that he doesn't deserve.

My suggestion would be for your DH to stop contacting BIL1.  No "goodbye" letter or call.  Nothing, just a sudden silence.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: weeblewobble on December 05, 2012, 08:40:39 AM
and POD to Foxpaws.  One of my problem relative's favorite weapons was the power of "forgiveness."  She would run roughshod over boundaries and then when you objected, say, "But I've forgiven you for all of the things you've done to me!" 

(Still scratching my head over what we possibly could have done to her.   Apparently, saying no and putting up healthy boundaries were horrible offenses. )


Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 05, 2012, 09:04:00 AM
Thanks for all the advice.
I'm still not sure what resentments my BIL1 has against my husband/us but I have a few theories.
My DH is very successful in his job, BIL1 worked at several places unsuccessfully before finally landing in the family business (where my FIL said he just socializes most of the day).  Since my FIL passed the buisiness is not doing well, and according to other relatives is because BIL1 is not good with customers.
BIL1 only has one child by his wife. She refused to have more and insisted he get a vasectomy. We all thought this was a bad idea with him having only 1 child (it was her 2nd).  We really wonder if he regrets this and sees our 3 kids as reminding him of this.  I have 3 kids, my daughter is 15, Son1 is 8 and Son2 is now 5 (this is the one that got grabbed by BIL1)
Their childhood together was pretty average.  DH and BIL1 spent a lot of time together because MIL was a nurse and worked odd hours and FIL had the family business and worked long hours also.

After posting this last night, my BIL1 finally responded to my DHs last text. He said that he had nothing to talk about because he feels the "issue" with the kids is solved. He refuses to see that there are issues well beyond that. He also said that DH and I shoudl come to xmas eve otherwise we are being selfish and hurting MIL and BIL2!  DH just responded that he didn't agree and left it at that.

Also, I didn't mention this, but next summer my MIL has planned a big family vacation for all of us. Right after FIL died, she confided that FIL really wanted a last vacation with everyone (we were hoping for a period where he would be better before the tumors started growing again). We agreed only because MIL booked 2 vacation houses so we could have our own spaces. 1 house for our family of 5, and 1 for MIL, Bil1, Bil2, SIL and Nephew.  We were going to that location that week anyway and we figured that DH and BIL1 could reconcile.  Right now it looks like we won't be spending much time with BIL1 at that vacation which is fine with me.

I think what we're going to do about xmas eve is just go over and give it a try only because this is the first xmas after FIL died. My DH is going to tell MIL that he's tried and that we will not be tolerating any bad behavior or people ignoring us. This is our holiday too.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Danika on December 05, 2012, 09:21:43 AM
Also, I didn't mention this, but next summer my MIL has planned a big family vacation for all of us. Right after FIL died, she confided that FIL really wanted a last vacation with everyone (we were hoping for a period where he would be better before the tumors started growing again). We agreed only because MIL booked 2 vacation houses so we could have our own spaces. 1 house for our family of 5, and 1 for MIL, Bil1, Bil2, SIL and Nephew.  We were going to that location that week anyway and we figured that DH and BIL1 could reconcile.  Right now it looks like we won't be spending much time with BIL1 at that vacation which is fine with me.

There's still time to cancel. You can change your mind, if you want to. It's sad to let MIL down, but again, like a PP said, your kids' feelings and your happiness are your first priority.

I think what we're going to do about xmas eve is just go over and give it a try only because this is the first xmas after FIL died. My DH is going to tell MIL that he's tried and that we will not be tolerating any bad behavior or people ignoring us. This is our holiday too.

Be prepared to leave quickly. Don't bring your good casserole dishes that you want to take home that night, bring tin foil pans instead. Have your jackets near the door. Don't park your car on the driveway where it can get parked in. That way, if BIL1 causes a scene, you and DH can very calmly grab your kids, quickly say "MIL, it was nice to see you" and you can make a very quick getaway with as little drama as possible.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: JenJay on December 05, 2012, 09:32:05 AM
From an outsider's point of view your DH is practically begging his brother to make up while BIL sits on his throne and poo-poos your DH's every attempt, and I imagine he's loving every second of it. How important he must feel to treat your family so terribly and still have your DH trying to reconcile. Jerk!

BIL is being extremely passive-aggressive so I think it's time you stopped trying to figure out how to give him what he wants (Hint- what he really wants is your DH falling all over himself to make up for these ridiculous, imaginary slights!) and give him what he's showing you he wants - no contact.

He doesn't speak to you in public, doesn't take your calls, doesn't acknowledge your texts, etc. He is saying "I do not want a relationship with you right now." So hey, there ya go, you're off the hook! Of course we all know he's being a giant tantruming baby, but it buys you some peace so I'd cash that check!

Your DH should call his mom and decline Christmas Eve. Make plans to see her before or after. When she gets upset calmly say "Mom, I don't like it either, but Bro has been very clear that he doesn't want to see me right now and we need to respect his feelings. If we try to get together it'll just ruin the holiday for all of us. We're grown men so let us handle it."
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Otterpop on December 05, 2012, 09:53:15 AM
OP, I agree with your decision to go but go with a strong united front.  YOU are the aggrieved parties.  YOU should not tolerate BIL's bad behavior and then grovel afterward (that was a mistake that validated his tyrannical stance >:().  Be polite, distant and easy breezy with BIL.  "Ignore" his ignoring you, don't chase, and enjoy everyone else's company.  I like Danika's plan for a quick escape if the evening degenerates.  Should you have to leave, have a family debriefing afterward to let kids know they are not to blame.  Then reward yourselves (nice walk, movie, ice cream, miniature golf...) for getting through it.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: bopper on December 05, 2012, 09:58:11 AM
If you do decide to go, don't think "BIL shouldn't be ignoring us", think "Thank God BIL is ignoring us!".  Plan ahead of time strategies for dealing with him.  Don't initiate conversation.  Stay around other people.
Be prepared to leave it gets too bad.

On the other hand, others are going to imply that you should forget what BIL does.  It is easier for them.  So if you want to set very firm boundaries, you could tell MIL that you can't make Xmas eve but what other time could you stop by this Xmas season?  If you set your boundaries and aren't around when BIL is around, then the others will put more pressure on BIL to stop his antics.

Also realize that BIL may be mentally ill and would not respond to you like a typical person, so stop expecting him to.  Also keep in mind that when he says "your kid bullies his" that he is most likely "projecting", that is, projecting his kids behavior on to yours, so what he is really saying is "my kid bullies yours."
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 05, 2012, 10:34:44 AM
You know I just remembered, at church that night they are saying a mass for FIL.  I completely forgot that we were going to do that with the family.  I guess I shouldn't worry and we can just sit away from BIL1 at that.

For the vacation, the house we are staying in is 1/4 mile away from the other rental house so I'm not so worried. We'll just have to tell MIL that we won't all be gathering together like a big happy family.

As far as the gifts, are we required to purchase gifts for BIL1, his wife and nephew? DH tried telling BIL1 that we shouldn't exchange gifts considering what is going on but BIL1 responded "Well we're getting you gifts, so do what you want". This makes me cringe becuase last year DH told BIL1 not to purchase gifts for him anymore, since BIL1 was going to the toy section and last year bought DH a Darth Vader mask.  The year before that was some other sort of toy, so last year DH calmly told BIL1 to not worry about buying a gift for him anymore since it was apparently hard for them. 
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: BarensMom on December 05, 2012, 10:47:28 AM
OP, here's the facts as I see it:

Your BIL abused your son by shaking and screaming at him. You should have called the police.

He says that your children are bullying his child.  No one else has corroborated his statement.

Your DH is practically begging your BIL to talk out the issues.  BIL is getting off on this. 

Why is your DH trying to make up with someone who abused your son and is behaving like such a jerk?  You must know that your children are unsafe around this man.  I wouldn't go within a country mile of him, no matter how your MIL feels on the subject.

DH needs to cancel any plans that involve BIL being present.

 
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: mj on December 05, 2012, 11:09:15 AM
Please don't go.  I agree with all the reasons why PP are advising not to go.  Since BIL did not apologize for assaulting your son, I would never give BIL the chance to do it again and especially, especially not on Christmas. 

Taking a stand won't make everything all magically better, but it will help your family.  Personally I think any gifts he sends should not be accepted either.  If sent by mail, I would return to sender.  If left at MILs house, I would not touch it or take it with me. 

No more calling and trying to make amends. 
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: FoxPaws on December 05, 2012, 11:41:10 AM
I think what we're going to do about xmas eve is just go over and give it a try only because this is the first xmas after FIL died. My DH is going to tell MIL that he's tried and that we will not be tolerating any bad behavior or people ignoring us. This is our holiday too.
Your daughter and elder son are old enough to be briefed on what is going on beforehand. Let them know that if Uncle starts getting out of hand, your family will be leaving and they need to cooperate and move quickly when you say it's time to go. You could also use the LIFO technique - Last In, First Out. Do something pleasant -  like drive around and look at Christmas lights - before going and then leave at a prearranged time.

In my experience, just having an exit strategy and a backup plan often means not having to use them. I don't know if it's some weird law of social physics or that just knowing you aren't stuck increases your confidence and sense of control and diffuses the general tension.

Edited to add:
I would get a gift for your nephew. It isn't his fault his father is a jerk. If you and your DH are presented with gifts you can graciously turn them down since you didn't get anything for them.

Best of luck to you.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: cicero on December 05, 2012, 11:51:27 AM

As far as the gifts, are we required to purchase gifts for BIL1, his wife and nephew? DH tried telling BIL1 that we shouldn't exchange gifts considering what is going on but BIL1 responded "Well we're getting you gifts, so do what you want". This makes me cringe becuase last year DH told BIL1 not to purchase gifts for him anymore, since BIL1 was going to the toy section and last year bought DH a Darth Vader mask.  The year before that was some other sort of toy, so last year DH calmly told BIL1 to not worry about buying a gift for him anymore since it was apparently hard for them.
well, i still think you shouldn't go no matter what, but I respect your decision to do so.

however, you both need to stop letting your BIL control you.

he was abusive to your child, he is mean to you and your DH. Your DH *told him* that he doesn't want to exchange gifts - there is no need for your DH to get his brother's approval for this. (let me say, that this isn't always the case, in a *normal* family situation you would both *agree* on this or compromise, but this isn't a normal situation). so, no, no gifts are necessary. i *might* buy something for the nephew because children shouldn't have to suffer, but that is it.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: BeagleMommy on December 05, 2012, 11:56:59 AM
OP, I don't know what to tell you about the gift situation.  That's a tough one.

However, if you feel you must go to support MIL I would make sure BIL1 is not left alone with your kids.  Make sure your kids know that they do not have to play with nephew and that it is okay for them to tell BIL1 no.

POD to having an exit strategy.  If BIL1 can't keep his act together for one night so MIL can have a pleasant holiday after losing her husband he will look like the bad guy.  You may want to tell MIL that you will leave if BIL1 starts making problems.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Danika on December 05, 2012, 01:37:07 PM
I would not get BIL1 any gifts. Not even a card. I agree with the PP who said you could get nephew a gift, though.

You and your DH sound like you don't want others in the family to think you're mean. You're trying to be the bigger people. But the rest of the family is not the judge and jury. You know in your hearts that you're good people and that there was no way to fix this. Your options were to be doormats and let your children get shaken and yelled at by BIL1 or to say "hey, stop" and now you feel like you're being punished for defending yourselves and your child.

The family dynamic is very messed up. Others have allowed BIL1's behavior for too long. It's very likely too late for him to change or be fixed. He doesn't sound like he's owning up to anything.

Stop feeling responsible for the happiness of the extended family. Stop believing all the stuff they're spewing like "call BIL" or "just ignore him." Do what's best for your children and know that you have clear consciences.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: cheyne on December 05, 2012, 01:48:11 PM
BIL1 assaulted your son.  Let's look at it from your son's POV.  You are making him be in the same room with a man that shook him and screamed in his face for no reason.  Does your son deserve this?

Your DH needs to "man up" and stop with the placating nonsense.  Call MIL and make a date to see her and BIL2 over the holidays.  Do not go for Xmas when BIL1 is there.  Send a present to Nephew in time for the holidays (after all he's just a little kid too), and wash your hands of that family.

This doesn't have to be "forever", but it should be the actions you take for now.  You can always see BIL1 again if and when the situation changes.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: LeveeWoman on December 05, 2012, 02:06:25 PM
BIL1 assaulted your son.   Let's look at it from your son's POV.  You are making him be in the same room with a man that shook him and screamed in his face for no reason.  Does your son deserve this?

Your DH needs to "man up" and stop with the placating nonsense.  Call MIL and make a date to see her and BIL2 over the holidays.  Do not go for Xmas when BIL1 is there.  Send a present to Nephew in time for the holidays (after all he's just a little kid too), and wash your hands of that family.

This doesn't have to be "forever", but it should be the actions you take for now.  You can always see BIL1 again if and when the situation changes.

I can't get past the bolded. There is no way in hell I'd take my child around someone who had done that to him.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: doodlemor on December 05, 2012, 03:01:23 PM
Nope,  sorry, he laid hands on your child and screamed in his face. He can't be trusted around your children. All social niceties are off.  Tell MIL you will see her at some other time around the holidays or she (and only she) can come to your house.

Speaking as someone whose family did avoid inlaw holiday gatherings for two years because of a problem relative, trust me when I say that making this sort of stand, and putting your own family/feelings first is liberating and totally worth it.  Your BIL is the elephant in the room.  You're all expected to tiptoe around the elephant and not mention the elephant's insane behavior, because that will make the elephant rampage.  You can't reason with him.  You can't expect rational behavior from an elephant.  And the pattern does not change because an elephant never forgets how to control the people around him.

First, DH needs to stop trying to "work things out" with BIL.  BIL wants DH to chase his approval and apologize and grovel because it puts BIL in a position of power.  DH needs to take that power back.  BIL doesn't have time in his schedule to meet?  Fine.  BIL doesn't want to talk about the real issues?  Fine, allow him to blame his bad behavior on the actions of small children.  That makes him look awesome.  He doesn't want to apologize?  Fine. 

Second, you need to stop going to family gatherings where BIL will be present.  Does it suck that you could temporarily lose contact with some family members while BIL gets to enjoy parties/events without consequence?  Yes. But it does two things.  1) It shows family members the consequences of denying/enabling BIL's bad behavior (the consequence being that you are not present and they are stuck dealing with BIL alone) and 2) It takes away BIL's argument that all problems are based on your sons' bullying his. (Really?  A 4 and 5 year old are bullying a 7 year old?  Really?)

Third, if you do go to a family gathering, don't wait/expect/hope BIL will acknowledge you.  This is what he wants, to hold some power of approval/validation over you.  Ignore him as he ignores you.   It's the worst thing you can do to someone like this.

Fourth, don't allow other family members to pressure you into "making nice" with BIL. This is the peril of being the "reasonable" sibling, you're expected to make all of the compromises. BIL had made it clear he doesn't want to see you or the boys anymore.  You're just giving him what he wants.

You would not believe how much easier and calm life if once you draw the line with these personalities. MIL may be upset that all of her family isn't getting together at once, but you've got to put your kids and family first.  Good luck.

Weeblewobble is very wise. 

BIL does not want to change the situation - he is having a great time being in control.  His behavior is incredibly rude.  It's no wonder that his son causes problems, think how hard life must be for that poor child. 

I fear that your DH has been so close to the situation for so long that he has lost sight of how irrational and bizarre the behavior of BIL is.  This business of playing into BIL's moods and tantrums needs to stop.  Perhaps both you and DH would benefit from some sort of counseling, to gain strategies to deal with both BIL and enabling MIL.

I get such a chill every time that I think of him shaking your son.  For this reason, I would stay away from him, and keep my children away.  Next time your son may not be so lucky, and he could incur permanent damage.  Frankly, I think that BIL is a very dangerous man, and I don't say this lightly.

I think that you and your family should go to the church service only, and then drive back home.  Keep your children nearby at all times, even at the church.

Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 05, 2012, 04:04:24 PM
Thanks for everything on this thread. After reading all the responses it has really cured some of my "tunnel vision" on this situation. 

I think everyone in the family has lost sight of why the relationship came to a head - due to the grabbing and screaming at my son.  I called my husband at lunch and told him I just can't be in the same room with his brother.  All I've been thinking about since it happened is what he did to my youngest and that he called my sons bullies, but I thought I was having issues letting go of these issues and I have been trying to encourage a healthy relationship between them.

Now I see that we should not put up with BIL.  I told DH that maybe we should just go in the morning before BIL gets there and do something else after. Maybe go visit both of his Grandmas. I just can't see how we will sit in the same room with BIL1 and SIL.  Besides them and us it will only be MIL and BIL2 so no crowd to hide in to avoid situations.

My husband has been saving the texts that he's been sending to his brother.  He sent an email to his mom this afternoon basically throwing his hands up, and attaching the texts he's sent to show he's done nothing but tried. Sometimes I really question who MIL blames here. She is really hard to read, and DH wants to make sure she knows he's trying hard to work issues out.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: FoxPaws on December 05, 2012, 04:18:07 PM
Something else to consider: sometimes, in the first year after a death, it helps to NOT keep the old traditions. Trying to keep everything as usual just emphasizes the loss. It might be better for your husband - and the rest of the family - to take a break this year for that reason alone.

I bring that up because you'd mentioned that this being your first Christmas after FIL's passing was one of the reasons you were considering going. On the flip side, your husband's paternal grandmother might really appreciate seeing her grandson and great-grandchildren on her first Christmas without her son.

Would you still attend Mass?
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 05, 2012, 04:37:32 PM
Would I still attend Mass?

That's another strange development. My DH emailed the church to find out exactly when the mass was, because we think there are multiple masses that day. They responded that the mass for FIL was Nov 15, and there are no more scheduled for him right now, but if we want to pay $5, we could schedule another.

So I'm not sure if MIL just wanted us all to go to mass under the guise if it being for FIL or if she is misunderstanding when the mass for FIL was.  So I'm not sure what we're doing there.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: MamaMootz on December 05, 2012, 04:41:07 PM
I still pod Margo... she is dead on.

If it were me, and DH really wants to go on Christmas, here are the rules I would lay out to him ahead of time.

1) Absolutely, positively, NO babysitting of BIL's children. He said he's going to watch his kids, let him. Don't get sucked in. Every time his kids come near you, take yours and move away.
2) Ignore him. Everyone who said this is a huge power play is dead on. It will be driving him nuts to be ignored - he will likely escalate to try and bring the attention back. Don't cave, no matter what.
3) DH needs to stop placating BIL and getting his mom involved at all.
4) If family asks, simply say that you don't know what the problem is with BIL but you've tried to work it out. Ball is in his court.

Trust me, his behavior will show everyone in the family his true colors. Stay calm and ignore. We need a t-shirt like that to send out to all of our posters with P/A families, I swear.

I personally would not want to spend Christmas with him and his kids, but I understand you also want to see BIL2 and MIL. And it would be really stinky to have to rearrange your day and go out of your way to avoid BIL.

On the gifts, I wouldn't buy him anything. I'd buy nephew(s) a token because they can't help who their father is and they are just kids. But nothing for BIl. He's goading your husband with the gifts he buys for him anyway. Seriously, a Darth Vader mask? :o

I agree with the posters who also say that if he laid his hands on my child, it would be a cold day in Hades before I ever saw him again. But that's me.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: kherbert05 on December 05, 2012, 05:16:13 PM
I'm going to be blunt DO NOT GO. Your husband needs to tell his mom that until brother gets real help he is not allowed contact with your children.

 From your description of your BIL's interaction with your 4 yo I as a mandatory reporter would have been required to call the cops and CPS if I had witnessed it.

This came up a few years ago. I was present when a relative's inlaw nearly did this - except I stepped between the "adult" and the child. I double checked with a mentor and was told since the adult did not touch the child I didn't have to report. If she had actually shaken the child - All  the mandatory reporters present (there were 7 - 8 of us between teachers, nurses, and Social Workers) would have had to report.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Deetee on December 05, 2012, 05:33:53 PM
From your latest update, it sounds like you do not plan to go. This makes perfect sense to me. However, if you change your mind (as it sounds like the discussion is ongoing) I have the following suggestions.

1) You and DH need to take back control of your actions and emotions. Right now BIL is controlling them both with his temper tantrums and you are reacting to his threats and his words and his ignoring or not ignoring. You and DH need a solid game plan heading into the event that is NOT dependent on your BIL. (With the exception that certain behaviours from him will cause you to carry out certain actions-but these are predetermined before he does them)

2) Gifts: Decide on gifts independent of BIL. My suggestion is a gift for the nephew and small food gift for the family. It is the type of gift that is not out of place whether or not they reciprocate. This is important because you don't need to think about BIL and his gift posturing. Your decision is made and his actions will not affect it.

3) "Will not tolerate" is not something that a grown man says to his mother about his brother. "Will not tolerate" is what you do with your actions. If  a kid is throwing a tantrum do you say "I won't tolerate this!" or do you say "I won't tolerate this!" and put the kid in his room or walk away. You are a parent. You know which is more effective.

4) If you will not tolerate being ignored, you need to be prepared to leave immediately. Personally I think you should totally tolerate being ignored. You can't control BIL so just ignore his ignoring.

5) If you will not tolerate being yelled at or your kids being yelled at decide beforehand if you will leave the house immediately or simply leave the room.

6) Sit down with DH and agree that if BIL does X, you will do Y. (Look up a nice restaurant nearby if you need to leave)

7) Also sit down and think about why you want to go and what you want to do (bake cookies with kids, look at pictures with SIL2, chat with BIL2, ask MIL about her knitting etc...) Don't make the trip about BIL because you have already figured out exactly what you need to do.

I know this sounds like a lot of planning, but I think once it is done, it will be less trouble to deal with BIL.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Danika on December 05, 2012, 05:41:47 PM
...My DH emailed the church to find out exactly when the mass was, because we think there are multiple masses that day. They responded that the mass for FIL was Nov 15, and there are no more scheduled for him right now, but if we want to pay $5, we could schedule another.

So I'm not sure if MIL just wanted us all to go to mass under the guise if it being for FIL or if she is misunderstanding when the mass for FIL was...

Hmmmm.  ::) It makes me wonder where BIL1 might have learned his manipulative behaviors. I'm glad that your DH emailed the church for more info.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: AmethystAnne on December 05, 2012, 10:14:24 PM
I'm going to be blunt DO NOT GO. Your husband needs to tell his mom that until brother gets real help he is not allowed contact with your children.

 From your description of your BIL's interaction with your 4 yo I as a mandatory reporter would have been required to call the cops and CPS if I had witnessed it.

This came up a few years ago. I was present when a relative's inlaw nearly did this - except I stepped between the "adult" and the child. I double checked with a mentor and was told since the adult did not touch the child I didn't have to report. If she had actually shaken the child - All  the mandatory reporters present (there were 7 - 8 of us between teachers, nurses, and Social Workers) would have had to report.

Thank you for bringing this up. (And on a personal note: thanks for the reminder that anyone who is a school employee is a mandatory reporter.)

The BIL could have had serious consequences of his actions.

Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: johelenc1 on December 05, 2012, 11:21:54 PM
I would like to add that any family doctor who gives someone bi-polar meds is incredibly shady.  Those are serious medications and require periodic blood work to check liver function.  Family doctors are in NO way qualified to diagnose or treat mental illnesses.  Being on the wrong medications can be just as dangerous as not being on any.

I would find it pretty impossible to be in the same room as BIL if it were me.  We do not spank our children and if anyone grabbed them the way your BIL did, I would go ballistic.  Absolutely ballistic. 

All the rest is just fluff - your husband chasing his brother, the "bullying" (aka deflecting), all of it.  All that matters is the way BIl treated your son.  Until that gets worked out (and it should be BIL coming to you, not the other way around), nothing else matters.  I would tell MIL that because of what BIL did, you can't be around him.  I'm fairly shocked grandma isn't more upset over it herself.  In any case, if you need to respond, ever, to BIL, a simple, "until to acknowledge the way you treated our son and apologize to him, we have nothing to say to you" should do. 

Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: weeblewobble on December 06, 2012, 05:57:34 AM
All the rest is just fluff - your husband chasing his brother, the "bullying" (aka deflecting), all of it.  All that matters is the way BIl treated your son.  Until that gets worked out (and it should be BIL coming to you, not the other way around), nothing else matters.  I would tell MIL that because of what BIL did, you can't be around him.  I'm fairly shocked grandma isn't more upset over it herself.  In any case, if you need to respond, ever, to BIL, a simple, "until to acknowledge the way you treated our son and apologize to him, we have nothing to say to you" should do.

This struck me as odd, too.  BIL did this in a room full of people and nobody said anything until Mom came in?

MIL should be more upset that her grandson was treated so roughly. 

Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Corvid on December 06, 2012, 08:19:05 AM
Frankly, I agree with previous posters that the whole bullying issue is a big old red herring.  Even if your four-year-old was indeed bullying his seven-year-old, it would not justify your brother-in-law's grabbiing and shaking a four-year-old child and screaming in the child's face.  The kid was four.  FOUR.  Your brother-in-law is a grown man.  All this high-horsed self-righteous justifying of his egregious misbehavior as the fault of small children is silly and a self-serving smokescreen of bull-patties.  He owes your son an apology.

Has your son said anything about it?
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: ettiquit on December 06, 2012, 11:43:56 AM
Thanks for everything on this thread. After reading all the responses it has really cured some of my "tunnel vision" on this situation. 

I think everyone in the family has lost sight of why the relationship came to a head - due to the grabbing and screaming at my son.  I called my husband at lunch and told him I just can't be in the same room with his brother.  All I've been thinking about since it happened is what he did to my youngest and that he called my sons bullies, but I thought I was having issues letting go of these issues and I have been trying to encourage a healthy relationship between them.

Now I see that we should not put up with BIL.  I told DH that maybe we should just go in the morning before BIL gets there and do something else after. Maybe go visit both of his Grandmas. I just can't see how we will sit in the same room with BIL1 and SIL.  Besides them and us it will only be MIL and BIL2 so no crowd to hide in to avoid situations.

My husband has been saving the texts that he's been sending to his brother.  He sent an email to his mom this afternoon basically throwing his hands up, and attaching the texts he's sent to show he's done nothing but tried. Sometimes I really question who MIL blames here. She is really hard to read, and DH wants to make sure she knows he's trying hard to work issues out.

Good.  I couldn't get past the physical abuse either - everything else is really irrelevant in my opinion.  Stay strong!
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 06, 2012, 11:48:11 AM
My son has not said anything lately, right after he started crying and all my BIL said was that I needed to make my son behave.   

Honestly I was also a bit irked that all the people who were standing around turned a blind eye to what was going on, but that's pretty much par for the course with this family in general. If everything is not happy go lucky then they don't see it.

Also, his son is not an angel by any means. He is basically an only child (his sister was in her mid teens when he was born), and does not seem to grasp the meaning of sharing and its been an issue.  So yes my kids get in disagreements with him.
My SIL has been known to say that her child is "perfection" and even told me just a few days before this incident that her son "likes to manipulate other kids to see how much he can get other kids to do", like it was a brag. I don't really get it.   Of course, I don't blame nephew for the way he's being raised.   I guess I'm just saying that BIL1 and his wife seem to be a big part of the problem they seem to think rests only on my boys' shoulders.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: LeveeWoman on December 06, 2012, 12:20:38 PM
My son has not said anything lately, right after he started crying and all my BIL said was that I needed to make my son behave.   

Honestly I was also a bit irked that all the people who were standing around turned a blind eye to what was going on, but that's pretty much par for the course with this family in general. If everything is not happy go lucky then they don't see it.

Also, his son is not an angel by any means. He is basically an only child (his sister was in her mid teens when he was born), and does not seem to grasp the meaning of sharing and its been an issue.  So yes my kids get in disagreements with him.
My SIL has been known to say that her child is "perfection" and even told me just a few days before this incident that her son "likes to manipulate other kids to see how much he can get other kids to do", like it was a brag. I don't really get it.   Of course, I don't blame nephew for the way he's being raised.   I guess I'm just saying that BIL1 and his wife seem to be a big part of the problem they seem to think rests only on my boys' shoulders.

As others have said, the toxicity extends well beyond your brother-in-law.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Danika on December 06, 2012, 12:49:38 PM
My son has not said anything lately, right after he started crying and all my BIL said was that I needed to make my son behave.   

Honestly I was also a bit irked that all the people who were standing around turned a blind eye to what was going on, but that's pretty much par for the course with this family in general. If everything is not happy go lucky then they don't see it.

Also, his son is not an angel by any means. He is basically an only child (his sister was in her mid teens when he was born), and does not seem to grasp the meaning of sharing and its been an issue.  So yes my kids get in disagreements with him.
My SIL has been known to say that her child is "perfection" and even told me just a few days before this incident that her son "likes to manipulate other kids to see how much he can get other kids to do", like it was a brag. I don't really get it.   Of course, I don't blame nephew for the way he's being raised.   I guess I'm just saying that BIL1 and his wife seem to be a big part of the problem they seem to think rests only on my boys' shoulders.

As others have said, the toxicity extends well beyond your brother-in-law.

Precisely!

In my extended family, on my mom's side, this is the exact kind of thing that one of my uncle's would do to the kids and all his siblings would just say "he's disciplining the child. It takes a village to raise a child. Good for him for disciplining a child. He likes order and respect." Not only would they excuse it, they'd defend it.

That's why you don't have supporters in the extended family. That kind of behavior is ok in their eyes because "he's the adult and he knows better."

Without the support of strangers on internet forums, I wonder how many more years of dysfunctional family events I would have endured because the only opinions I ever heard when I raised concerns were from the dysfunctional family members who would say "it's ok" and "it's family" and "stop overreacting." I cut off a lot of the toxic members before I got married, so my kids haven't been in your youngest child's position, but it's still annoying to deal with the extended family who are enablers.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Nora on December 07, 2012, 03:50:44 AM
NO! He failed! He will NOT get super-happy-family-fun-time, he will not be given presents, and you WILL NOT feel bad about any and all reactions to taking this step!
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: weeblewobble on December 07, 2012, 12:09:46 PM
NO! He failed! He will NOT get super-happy-family-fun-time, he will not be given presents, and you WILL NOT feel bad about any and all reactions to taking this step!

In the words of Dwight Schrute's Bellsnickle, he is IMPISH!
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Sara Crewe on December 07, 2012, 01:58:46 PM
Two things I noticed here:  Firstly, the issue of the assault.  BIL1 is extremely lucky you didn't call the police for what he did to a 4 year old child.  I think PPs have covered this, so I won't go over again.

The second point I noticed is that you say MIL 'isn't taking sides'.  I think that is completely untrue.  She is taking sides and is supporting BIL1.  Otherwise, she wouldn't be expecting her grandchild to be in the same room as a child abuser and wouldn't be expecting all of her sons at the same party.  If my relatives acted like this, I wouldn't invite everyone and leave it up to the victims to decide if they could stand being in the same room as the offender; I'd take the latter off my guest list for the comfort of the people he assaulted.

I have no idea why your DH is trying to apologise/reconcile with his brother (I'm really sorry you felt you had to assault a 4 year old - it's all his fault, we'll watch him better next time? - does that really make sense to you?).  If this was me, I'd be having nothing to do with this person until he made a grovelling apology.  I suspect the PP earlier who says that in dysfunctional families, one person has to be the 'reasonable' one (read doormat) is right and your DH has been assigned this role.

Also, does anyone have anything except BIL1's word for the fact he is on medication?  IMHO, either the family doctor is a quack or BIL1 is lying  - drugs like that should only be prescribed by psychiatrists (although I accept things may be different in the US).
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 07, 2012, 06:46:02 PM
Well, I've never seen him on said medication. I only know that he and his wife have said he's on medication.
And yes, I've heard of family doctors prescribing meds like this before.  In fact, when I was in high school, my mother convinced my doctor I needed paxil because I she thought I was under severe stress,  so I know it happens.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 07, 2012, 06:53:54 PM
So small update, my DH and I spoke last night and we decided that best case scenario, if we go to xmas eve WITH bil1 we will just be on edge the entire afternoon, and worrying if he approves of how my sons are playing with nephew. We don't feel this will be at all enjoyable and I really can't get past the fact what he's done before (btw, he did at one point apologize half-heartedly to DH for his blow up and shaking of my son, but he's yelled at my sons before and apologized and DH told him he could not accept his apologies anymore until they could sit down and talk about changes that need to be made and have boundaries set, which obviously has not happened). 
I just think that if we go we're "playing with fire" and asking for another incident if we go.
DH emailed BIL2 to explain this and has not gotten a reply yet.  MIL is still insisting that there is a mass for FIL on the 24th (which I don't understand) so if she wants us to go to mass we'll go to mass.  DH has not yet told her that we cannot be there at her house at the same time as BIL1. I've explained that he needs to do this soon, so she has time to plan and get used to the idea. She tears up everytime he talks to her about BIL1 so he's finding it difficult.  It may sound terrible, but I'm starting to wonder about her tearing up every time my DH tries to talk about the issue with her.  Seems like just a way to shut DH down.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: JenJay on December 07, 2012, 06:58:53 PM
I think that's exactly what she's doing!

Your DH should let her know that he contacted the church to find out what time FIL's mass would be and was informed it had already been held on 11/15, that the 24th is a regular mass, and your family will not be in attendance.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: LeveeWoman on December 07, 2012, 06:59:08 PM
So small update, my DH and I spoke last night and we decided that best case scenario, if we go to xmas eve WITH bil1 we will just be on edge the entire afternoon, and worrying if he approves of how my sons are playing with nephew. We don't feel this will be at all enjoyable and I really can't get past the fact what he's done before (btw, he did at one point apologize half-heartedly to DH for his blow up and shaking of my son, but he's yelled at my sons before and apologized and DH told him he could not accept his apologies anymore until they could sit down and talk about changes that need to be made and have boundaries set, which obviously has not happened). 
I just think that if we go we're "playing with fire" and asking for another incident if we go.
DH emailed BIL2 to explain this and has not gotten a reply yet.  MIL is still insisting that there is a mass for FIL on the 24th (which I don't understand) so if she wants us to go to mass we'll go to mass.  DH has not yet told her that we cannot be there at her house at the same time as BIL1. I've explained that he needs to do this soon, so she has time to plan and get used to the idea. She tears up everytime he talks to her about BIL1 so he's finding it difficult. It may sound terrible, but I'm starting to wonder about her tearing up every time my DH tries to talk about the issue with her.  Seems like just a way to shut DH down.

Of course it's a way to shut him down! She is more interested in protecting a  violent man than her own grandson.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 07, 2012, 07:01:04 PM
He told her he checked on the mass, and she just replied that she had it written down.
But regardless I was wanting to take the kids to mass xmas eve anyway (we don't attend church often and I want them to experience going on a holiday), so I don't have an issue going, as long as we sit far away from BIL1 (its a very large church).
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: FoxPaws on December 07, 2012, 07:34:20 PM
Please reassure your DH that his mother is not going to drown.

He needs to tell her what is going on without factoring in how she chooses to react. A person can cry and listen at the same time. It might help to pretend she just has a cold or really bad allergies. He is not responsible for how his mother - a grown woman - feels or the way she expresses her feelings.

He is responsible for ensuring that his children are physically safe and emotionally secure. By setting boundaries and upholding them, he is providing a valuable lesson on how to stand up for yourself and your loved ones. That is a great gift to pass down at any time of year.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: sammycat on December 07, 2012, 09:41:46 PM
The second point I noticed is that you say MIL 'isn't taking sides'.  I think that is completely untrue.  She is taking sides and is supporting BIL1.  Otherwise, she wouldn't be expecting her grandchild to be in the same room as a child abuser and wouldn't be expecting all of her sons at the same party.  If my relatives acted like this, I wouldn't invite everyone and leave it up to the victims to decide if they could stand being in the same room as the offender; I'd take the latter off my guest list for the comfort of the people he assaulted.

I was just coming in to say the same thing.   I can't believe it wasn't pointed out before. 

MIL and BIL deserve each other and I, for one, would be leaving them to it.  There is no way in e-hell I'd be subjecting my child to this violent thug and the person/people who condone it.

I've cut people/family off for a lot less than this.  To me, it's a no brainer that BIL and his family deserve the cut direct, and things with MIL would be pretty chilly for a while too.

Spending Christmas with any of them wouldn't even be on my radar, let alone worrying about presents.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: BarensMom on December 07, 2012, 11:28:49 PM
He told her he checked on the mass, and she just replied that she had it written down.
But regardless I was wanting to take the kids to mass xmas eve anyway (we don't attend church often and I want them to experience going on a holiday), so I don't have an issue going, as long as we sit far away from BIL1 (its a very large church).

I'm sure there are other churches in your area offering Christmas Eve services.  Your children should not be in the same building as BIL1 nor your manipulative MIL.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Danika on December 08, 2012, 12:51:00 AM
I just think that if we go we're "playing with fire" and asking for another incident if we go.

I agree. And even if there are only small fires this time, you'll all be on edge the entire time and be miserable. Not a fun holiday.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: cicero on December 08, 2012, 03:24:22 AM
So small update, my DH and I spoke last night and we decided that best case scenario, if we go to xmas eve WITH bil1 we will just be on edge the entire afternoon, and worrying if he approves of how my sons are playing with nephew. We don't feel this will be at all enjoyable and I really can't get past the fact what he's done before (btw, he did at one point apologize half-heartedly to DH for his blow up and shaking of my son, but he's yelled at my sons before and apologized and DH told him he could not accept his apologies anymore until they could sit down and talk about changes that need to be made and have boundaries set, which obviously has not happened). 
I just think that if we go we're "playing with fire" and asking for another incident if we go.
DH emailed BIL2 to explain this and has not gotten a reply yet.  MIL is still insisting that there is a mass for FIL on the 24th (which I don't understand) so if she wants us to go to mass we'll go to mass.  DH has not yet told her that we cannot be there at her house at the same time as BIL1. I've explained that he needs to do this soon, so she has time to plan and get used to the idea. She tears up everytime he talks to her about BIL1 so he's finding it difficult.  It may sound terrible, but I'm starting to wonder about her tearing up every time my DH tries to talk about the issue with her.  Seems like just a way to shut DH down.
ya think?

the thing is that your DH has been dealing with this his whole life - first between his mother and his father and now between his mother and his brother. your MIL has made her choice and it's hard and sad to see her struggling with it but she did make a choice.

as for the relationship between him and his brother - i've said it up thread and i'll say it again: your DH needs to stop. just stop. he needs to stop trying to "fix this" (he can't), stop trying to smooth things over (he can't), stop taking responsibility when he shouldn't. (It may be a good idea for him to address this in therapy)

I'm glad you and DH were able to talk this thru. It might help your DH if, when he talks to her, he has little not cards with ready sentences on them, e.g., "Do not apologize more than once". or "Sorry mom, but we will not be there" (repeat as needed).
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: JoyinVirginia on December 08, 2012, 03:29:36 AM
Your dh does NOT need to tell mil anything in advance in my opinion. Talking had not done any good so far. And from my limited knowledge of catholic mass via my friend who volunteers  for lots of organizational things at the cathedral she attends.. Christmas eve masses are for Christmas eve, the special masses for deceased will be held at other times. And your dh called and spoke to the church and mil is still trying to convince him that something will be happening that just is NOT happening.
Spend time enjoying yourself.
My mother shared with me, many years ago, that before I was born she and my dad went about three years not speaking to dads sister and her husband, because her husband was just so obnoxious. Eventually he got a bit less obnoxious and they started speaking again.
I agree with others. As long as your dh chases after his brother, nothing will change. Your bil needs to just be ignored, and that includes no acknowledge ment from y'all and as little contact as possible. If he brings a gift to mil house, leave it there or throw it our without opening out, and make sure mil sees that. If you want to be nice let your kids give their cousin a gift.
Help your dh practice broken record technique. mom, we are not coming over Christmas eve. only say that, no discussion, no justification, no apologies, no excuses, don't get defensive. mom,.we are not coming over and you know why. I am not discussing anything with you, it won't change anything. We will see you another day.
Edited to add: Cicero has very good advice. Practice that conversation with your dh.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: weeblewobble on December 08, 2012, 08:54:03 AM
Yes, MIL tearing up every time DH brings up BIL's behavior is a strategy to get DH to drop the subject.  DH needs to understand this and carry on with whatever he is saying. 

When a family member's bad behavior is enabled, the ultimate goal for the enablers  is a holding pattern.  They fear change because change is painful, it will involve hurt feelings, and it will mean admitting that there is a problem.  That is why dysfunctional families tend to "close ranks" when someone points out that someone's behavior is a problem.  Because, in their minds, you're not just criticizing the behavior, you're criticizing the way the family responds to that behavior. You're saying something is wrong with the family system, when they have devoted a lot of energy to assure themselves and every one else that they are normal.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: weeblewobble on December 08, 2012, 08:59:27 AM
Also I find it very suspicious that MIL is trying to get you to attend a mass for FIL when it's clear the church held it in November.  But it sounds like you want to go either way. 
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: BarensMom on December 08, 2012, 10:01:59 AM
This is what I, an outsider, see as the facts:

- BIL1 abused your child. 
- Apparently, MIL and the rest of the family was okay with that. 
- Your DH is running around like a puppy dog saying, "Let's talk, let's talk."
- BIL1 is getting a huge ego-boost and enjoying DH falling over himself to "talk."
- BIL1 says he buying gifts for you all.  You don't want to reciprocate.
- MIL says there's a Mass for your FIL on Xmas Eve.
- The calendar says it already happened in November.
- Every time DH tries to bring up the subject, your MIL turns on the waterworks.
- You want to take your children to the same church as BIL1 on Xmas Eve.
- BIL1 has abused your children before.

What does this tell you?





Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Tea Drinker on December 08, 2012, 10:34:04 AM
One thought on crying and communications: some of us tear up easily. It's inconvenient. When I can, I tell people "it's just a physical thing, sorry, let's keep talking" and reach for a tissue to wipe my eyes. So maybe it's worth ignoring the tears and keeping going.

If MIL is like me in this, you/your husband can have that conversation you want. Maybe offer MIL a tissue or handkerchief and say something like "I know this is difficult, but I need to talk to you" and see what she says. If the tears are a tactic to avoid talking, at least you'll find out for sure, and can go from there. There's a huge difference between "sure, give me a moment" or "I'm listening, sorry" and someone demanding to know how you can push them when they're crying.

I realize not everyone can ignore tears. But if you can, in a situation where you don't believe the person is really distressed, it might be worth trying here.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: doodlemor on December 08, 2012, 02:45:00 PM
Bethalize posted this on the Happy Christmas? thread.  It is really excellent advice.

It seems a good time to post the Toxic People Survival Checklist: https://sites.google.com/site/toxicpeoplesurvival/

The last line: "Remember: Stay polite and stay sane and if you can't manage that, then stay away."

Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Danika on December 08, 2012, 03:28:56 PM
My mother's tactic is not crying. It's screaming and talking over you, so you can't finish your statement. I learned long ago that the only way to be even somewhat heard was to write what I had to say. Your DH might have better luck just mailing his mother a letter telling her that you won't be seeing them when BIL1 is there.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Pandora on December 08, 2012, 03:36:51 PM
 Do not attend. Why ruin your whole holiday to attend an event you are already dreading?
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 09, 2012, 09:13:10 PM
Small update, we went to MIL's for dinner tonight and after making her a nice dinner we explained that we will not be there pretending to have a happy Christmas Eve with BIL1 and be on edge all night waiting for BIL1 to flip out about something.  She took it well and agreed that it was probably for the best.  She understands DH has done what he could and as long as BIL1 does not want to talk about all the issues we cannot be around him with our kids.  DH explained that he would keep the door open in case BIL1 comes to his senses and wants to work through the issues but DH said he cannot chase after him any longer.
I reinforced my DH by assuring MIL that DH has done pretty much everything except fall at BIL1's feet and beg him to talk about things, and that he would not be doing that any more. I also explained that for myself, I could not sit in a room with BIL1 and SIL and take his BS act while I know what he did to my youngest and that he believes both of my sons are bullies. I told her that if he really does have mental issues, he needs to get real help and stop using it as an excuse to act like an bacon-fed knave.
There was no water works on MIL's part so I really believe she understands.
DH will be reaching out to BIL2 this week to let him know what's going to happen, and DH will send one last text to BIL1 simply stating that he will not be in attendance with him on Christmas Eve. He is sending this simply so BIL1 is not surprised when we are not there when he is, so that MIL has as good a Christmas Eve as possible and so that DH is not getting angry phone calls or texts from BIL1 while we try to enjoy our Christmas Eve elsewhere. 
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: cicero on December 10, 2012, 01:42:07 AM
hugs - this can't have been easy for you both but good for you for standing up for yourselves.

two things that i have to say:
1. i *hope* beyond hope that your MIL really *did* get it. but I doubt it. she might continue to guilt /pressure you into making this one happy family, giving BIL one last chance, etc. just be prepared with stock phrases.
2. please tell your husband to not send anything else to BIL. whatever his reasoning is, for BIL it will just be another song and dance to try and get him to play nice. It's not a good idea at all. BIL will see that you aren't there (or MIL will update him). DH should turn his phone off or turn it off for BIL's number or do what he has to do with today's technology to make this work. but he should not contact his Brother.

Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: weeblewobble on December 10, 2012, 06:03:40 AM
hugs - this can't have been easy for you both but good for you for standing up for yourselves.

two things that i have to say:
1. i *hope* beyond hope that your MIL really *did* get it. but I doubt it. she might continue to guilt /pressure you into making this one happy family, giving BIL one last chance, etc. just be prepared with stock phrases.
2. please tell your husband to not send anything else to BIL. whatever his reasoning is, for BIL it will just be another song and dance to try and get him to play nice. It's not a good idea at all. BIL will see that you aren't there (or MIL will update him). DH should turn his phone off or turn it off for BIL's number or do what he has to do with today's technology to make this work. but he should not contact his Brother.

POD to this.  It will just give BIL more time before the holiday to play the victim and cause trouble.  Why give him time to go to the other family members and "rally support" with, "Oh, woe is me, Mr. Despedina is being so meeeeeeean to me and destroying our big happy family."  Or give him time to contact DH and demand answers.  DH should just avoid calling or speaking to BIL before the holiday.  And then he should give you his phone on Christmas Eve/Day.

Also, you should be prepared for BIL to show up at your house on the holiday to "demand answers."  Especially if MIL decides to come over to see you.  BIL will not like being "thwarted" and not getting the confrontation/attention he wants.  He will act out. 

I really hope that MIL does understand. It will make things easier for you.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 10, 2012, 07:34:37 AM
Luckily, I seriously doubt BIL1 will show up here as we live 45min to the north of the town the rest of the family lives in.  We are planning on either visiting MIL early that morning or the day before. We haven't really decided yet. Since we're going out of town on Xmas morning (and will be driving 13 hours) I'd prefer to just spend Xmas Eve at home at this point.

I really think MIL gets it.  I doubt she will push further. She's usually the kind that will not voice her feelings on things unless prodded. Sometimes its really like pulling teeth to get things out of her. So in this instance it will be in our benefit.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: kckgirl on December 10, 2012, 07:49:02 AM
If you can afford it, why not split that 13-hour drive up over the two days and leave Christmas Eve around 10 a.m.-noon. You could stop at 6 p.m. or so and have a nice dinner somewhere, then finish your drive on Christmas morning.That way, if BIL wants drama, you aren't even accessible for him to try to start some. Turn off the cell phones when you're on the road and have a nice, stress-free trip.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 10, 2012, 08:50:25 AM
Unfortunately, leaving early is not an option. My oldest is from a previous relationship and Christmas Eve is her dad's time. Normally we would pick her up at 10am on Christmas, but my ex has been kind enough to let us pick her up between 9 and 10 pm Christmas Eve so that we can leave earlier on Christmas.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: CharlieBraun on December 10, 2012, 11:21:44 AM
Well done, despedina.

One further thought I had - are you part of a home parish where you are?  I will suggest that you have a Mass said in the New Year for your late FIL, and invite your MIL to the Mass, to a weekend or overnight at your home, and for a nice dinner that honors your FIL.  Just you, your kiddos, DH, and MIL.

If not in your home parish, then in your MILs, but the meal to be at your house afterward.

I can't remember who posted it (sorry) but it's absolutely correct that all Masses offered on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are part of the Nativity of Christ, and cannot be offered for individual intentions.

Good luck.....
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 10, 2012, 01:31:28 PM
DH chose to send the text. Here's what he send this morning.

I want to let you know that Despedina, the boys, and myself will not be attending a mixed xmas eve with you and your family at moms.  This was not an easy decision for us.  I wanted to let you know so you  will not be surprised.  I have already discussed this and our reasons why with mom and BIL2.  Our reasons are our reasons,  I do not wish to discuss or defend them and would prefer if you did not resort to name calling.

If you ever find yourself in a place where you are ready to have an open and honest dialog with me I would welcome that very much.

I wish you and your family a Merry Chrismas
.

No response so hopefully this is the end of any drama this holiday season.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: doodlemor on December 10, 2012, 04:27:17 PM
DH chose to send the text. Here's what he send this morning.

I want to let you know that Despedina, the boys, and myself will not be attending a mixed xmas eve with you and your family at moms.  This was not an easy decision for us.  I wanted to let you know so you  will not be surprised.  I have already discussed this and our reasons why with mom and BIL2.  Our reasons are our reasons,  I do not wish to discuss or defend them and would prefer if you did not resort to name calling.

If you ever find yourself in a place where you are ready to have an open and honest dialog with me I would welcome that very much.

I wish you and your family a Merry Chrismas
.

No response so hopefully this is the end of any drama this holiday season.

Great going!  Keep those spines strong.

Many posters here have talked about something an "extinction burst," I believe.  Basically it means that the annoying perpetrators will up their antisocial behaviors when the victims start to escape. 

I apologize for being a downer.  Don't be shocked if BIL causes some sort of drama over this.  He may be plotting right now.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: JoyinVirginia on December 11, 2012, 12:35:53 AM
Well done, despedina.

One further thought I had - are you part of a home parish where you are?  I will suggest that you have a Mass said in the New Year for your late FIL, and invite your MIL to the Mass, to a weekend or overnight at your home, and for a nice dinner that honors your FIL.  Just you, your kiddos, DH, and MIL.

If not in your home parish, then in your MILs, but the meal to be at your house afterward.

I can't remember who posted it (sorry) but it's absolutely correct that all Masses offered on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are part of the Nativity of Christ, and cannot be offered for individual intentions.

Good luck.....

Charlie Braun, that was me. I was fairly certain, from the descriptions of the Christmas masses a friend helps with at the Cathedral, that it was probably the only time of year you can be certain a personal mass will NOT happen.  I have a friend who is dedicated Catholic and very active with many volunteer roles. You know those church ladies who tell everyone where to stand and when to do their part in the service? My friend is one of those ladies, and by all accounts us good at it.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 14, 2012, 07:37:07 AM
My 15 yo daughter came to me last night to tell me that SIL had PM'd her through FB to ask what she wanted for xmas.  I told her just not to respond. Not sure if SIL is dense or what????  I question whether BIL1 has even told her we won't be seeing them. DH wanted to respond but I just told him I'm not sure what anyone could say at this point to her to make any difference.
I'm not happy that she bypassed DH and I to ask DD but again I have to look at who I'm dealing with here.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: CharlieBraun on December 14, 2012, 07:45:46 AM
I think it's time to block FB as well.  Your SIL may or may not know what is going on, but I give 6/3 & even odds that she does, and this is an attempt to subvert your authority and for that family to, as one used to say, "give themselves airs."
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: MamaMootz on December 14, 2012, 08:15:56 AM
POD Charlie Braun - why is your DD even FB friends with her at this point. She needs to block that whole side of the family, as do both of you.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Danika on December 14, 2012, 10:34:12 AM
Your SIL is what we would call a "flying monkey." Like Wizard of Oz, the witch has flying monkeys who do her bidding. BIL1 couldn't get what he wanted. Suddenly, SIL is being sent by him to accomplish his goal. I would ignore her, as you intended to do.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: TootsNYC on December 14, 2012, 11:56:18 AM
DH has not yet told her that we cannot be there at her house at the same time as BIL1. I've explained that he needs to do this soon, so she has time to plan and get used to the idea. She tears up everytime he talks to her about BIL1 so he's finding it difficult.  It may sound terrible, but I'm starting to wonder about her tearing up every time my DH tries to talk about the issue with her.  Seems like just a way to shut DH down.


Or maybe she just finds it upsetting. Maybe there needs to be a lot less talking and a lot more just plain doing when the time for it eventually comes.

"Sitting down and talking about" emotionally painful situations isn't always the best way to handle it. Your DH just needs to calmly state when you're going to be over:
"Mom, as you know I've decided that it's best to avoid Brother1 right now. So we'd like to come over to see you at X hours. Are you available then for us to visit?"

And then stop talking about it.

Just *live* with. So people can get used to it.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: despedina on December 14, 2012, 04:17:08 PM
My daughter is not friends with her at all, but she's not blocked from sending a message. I guess we'll have to fix that.

My DH sent SIL a message over FB this after noon that essentially says that he had communicated with BIL1 that they should save their money for nephew (they are always complaining about money anyway) so please do not purchase gifts for us.  He also said "I guess BIL1 did not pass this along".   

Other than this all has been quiet which is surprising but welcome.
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: Nora on December 17, 2012, 02:54:37 AM
I like the "I guess he did not tell you" part if your DH's message. Surely she would not have contacted DD if Bil had told her! ;)
Title: Re: To avoid or not to avoid Xmas Eve get together?
Post by: MamaMootz on December 17, 2012, 10:45:19 AM
Your SIL is what we would call a "flying monkey." Like Wizard of Oz, the witch has flying monkeys who do her bidding. BIL1 couldn't get what he wanted. Suddenly, SIL is being sent by him to accomplish his goal. I would ignore her, as you intended to do.

P.S. I love this! "Flying monkey" is so accurate!