Author Topic: MIL is peeved at me - is she right? (inc. pic of awesome cake!) NEW UPDATE #75  (Read 33930 times)

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MommyPenguin

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I'm inclined to take the MIL's actions a little less seriously than the others.  If taking BabyBartfast to Baskin Robbins is a usual thing, then it seems to me not unnatural that while they're waiting for their ice cream to be made one day near BBF's birthday, the MIL might say, "Oh, look, there are some cakes here!  You're going to have a cake for your birthday in a few weeks, BBF!  Won't that be fun?"  BBF wanders over to look at cakes and has fun picking out her favorite, etc.  The next week, they're there, and BBF remembers looking at cakes and her birthday coming up and wanders over to look at cakes again.  Etc., for each of the next few weeks.  It's not so much the MIL pushing, as the MIL seeing the cakes, being reminded that BBF's birthday is coming up, and thinking it fun to let BBF look at them.  It may not have occurred to her (depending on whether previous cakes were similar to this one) that the cake would be significantly different... after all, a cake is a cake, right?

I do have to say that, as cool as the cake in the picture here is, for an *older* kid, it is nothing like what I'd expect from a cake for a little kid.  I can really see why BBF was surprised and disappointed to see it.  It looked black, or close to.  And while she might like all those things separately (dinosaurs because they're big and ferocious and make kids feel powerful, ballerinas because they're beautiful and graceful, space because it's exciting), put all those things together and it's a bit... eclectic.  I'm not saying the cake is bad, because I can totally see why people think it's awesome, but I think it's coolness is in a way much easier for adults to appreciate than kids.  I can see why BBF wasn't really sure what she wanted on a cake, and yet was disappointed with what she got... she was probably imagining the traditional cake with light-colored frosting and little puffs at the edges, and wasn't sure whether she wanted a picture of a ballerina or a dinosaur or whatever on it.

And it does sound like your DH had a valid misunderstanding with what the problem was.  He did clamp down on the parts that he probably felt made it like a party, and limited it to only those things that seemed reasonable for "recognizing somebody's birthday, on the day, while out and about."  Is having a small birthday cake and having the staff sing "Happy birthday!" so different from, say, when you go out for lunch on your birthday and mention to the waiter that it's your birthday, and they bring you out a dessert and clap and sing "Happy birthday?"  So I can see him thinking that it was within bounds.

I also have a similar issue with my mother, who desperately wants to spoil my girls.  And the degree to which we let her varies a bit, depending on how far away we live (too many snacks are not as much a big deal during a one-week visit as they are if we're living in the area and she's seeing them every week or so).  She's very much a gifts=love type of person, so she always wants to buy them treats, both of the food and of the toy variety.  If only I could get her to think that homeschool books=love.  Alas.  So there's a constant pressure to push back against what we see as "too much" and it can sometimes be rough on the relationship.  But if I were in your shoes?  I'd probably a) have the second cake be "today is your *actual* day," and not play it as a replacement cake, and be okay with it, and b) if not a, then I'd at least be reasonably satisfied with DH's explanation and agreement to discuss MIL ideas in the future so that you both understand exactly what is okay and what isn't of MIL's ideas.

gramma dishes

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...   I'd probably a) have the second cake be "today is your *actual* day," and not play it as a replacement cake, and be okay with it, and b) if not a, then I'd at least be reasonably satisfied with DH's explanation and agreement to discuss MIL ideas in the future so that you both understand exactly what is okay and what isn't of MIL's ideas.

Your whole post makes a lot of sense and I think is applicable to a lot of situations.  But the thing that makes this different is that it was all done behind Slartibartfast's back.  Very secretively.  And apparently (it seems) the child was also "encouraged" to keep the secret from Mommy.  That secretiveness changes the dynamics of this situation from what would be "normal".

MyFamily

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I just went back and reread the OP's first post.  Why did your MIL talk to your daughter about her attitude?  I understand you were busy hosting, but you are allowing your MIL to take an active role in raising and disciplining your child.  It was your or your husband's job to stop hosting and take your daughter aside and tell her to knock it off. 

I believe your MIL is absolutely over-stepping her bounds, but honestly, I think you are just as much to blame for that as your husband is, and you really need to review how this relationship works. 


"The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones" - Solomon ibn Gabirol

bonyk

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I don't think that DD was necessarily coached to keep quiet.  First, I've never met a 4 year-old who could keep a secret.  Second, if DD was used to going for ice cream with MIL, and she was sleeping when she got home, it may just have slipped her mind by the time she saw the OP.

Shoo

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I just went back and reread the OP's first post.  Why did your MIL talk to your daughter about her attitude?  I understand you were busy hosting, but you are allowing your MIL to take an active role in raising and disciplining your child.  It was your or your husband's job to stop hosting and take your daughter aside and tell her to knock it off. 

I believe your MIL is absolutely over-stepping her bounds, but honestly, I think you are just as much to blame for that as your husband is, and you really need to review how this relationship works. 

My impression is that the MIL wasn't exactly scolding the OP's daughter.  My guess is she was probably saying something like, "Grandma is going to get you a real birthday cake, but you have to pretend like you like this cake today.  Okay?  Grandma will get you that ice cream cake we talked about, but you have to be a good girl right now." 


AngelicGamer

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I just went back and reread the OP's first post.  Why did your MIL talk to your daughter about her attitude?  I understand you were busy hosting, but you are allowing your MIL to take an active role in raising and disciplining your child.  It was your or your husband's job to stop hosting and take your daughter aside and tell her to knock it off. 

I believe your MIL is absolutely over-stepping her bounds, but honestly, I think you are just as much to blame for that as your husband is, and you really need to review how this relationship works. 

My impression is that the MIL wasn't exactly scolding the OP's daughter.  My guess is she was probably saying something like, "Grandma is going to get you a real birthday cake, but you have to pretend like you like this cake today.  Okay?  Grandma will get you that ice cream cake we talked about, but you have to be a good girl right now."

Actually, the OP answered that in her update in post 75:

On the plus side, I asked what she said to Babybartfast at the party, and it was indeed along the lines of "You have to be gracious about the cake you've got" instead of promising her something else.




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WillyNilly

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I just went back and reread the OP's first post.  Why did your MIL talk to your daughter about her attitude?  I understand you were busy hosting, but you are allowing your MIL to take an active role in raising and disciplining your child.  It was your or your husband's job to stop hosting and take your daughter aside and tell her to knock it off. 

I believe your MIL is absolutely over-stepping her bounds, but honestly, I think you are just as much to blame for that as your husband is, and you really need to review how this relationship works. 

My impression is that the MIL wasn't exactly scolding the OP's daughter.  My guess is she was probably saying something like, "Grandma is going to get you a real birthday cake, but you have to pretend like you like this cake today.  Okay?  Grandma will get you that ice cream cake we talked about, but you have to be a good girl right now."

I don't think that is MyFamily'sa point though (I could be wrong of course).

I *think* her point, which I agree with and mentioned earlier, is that MIL is taking over the role of raising the child in many ways.  The MIL is essentially co-parenting.  She's not in a strict "grandma" role but rather a "Mom2" role.

And that, IMO is unhealthy and dangerous [to the overall emotional health of the family unit].  Yes kids are a lot of work.  But that's what you signed up for when you had them.  Grandma should not be so entrenched in every day life that she replaces the role of parent for important things - and teaching how to behave at one's own birthday party is a definitely IMO a parenting role.  OP and her DH dropped the ball and straight up had MIL act as parent when they should have.  And it appears they do that a lot.

MIL could have stepped up and done hostess duties - serving cake is not an important parental role.  Instead OP served cake and let MIL step in and handle the real issue at hand, the emotional and mental growth of the OP's child.

Mental Magpie

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I really don't see anything wrong with having MIL parenting sometimes.  That is some families' dynamics but it is not for other families.  The problem I see is that when MIL doesn't like what she is told about how to "parent" (I'm using that term lightly here) she does what she wants instead.  MIL is not crossing parenting boundaries because that is the dynamic the family has; she is crossing boundaries because she's not listening to what the primary caregivers say.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

SPuck

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I really don't see anything wrong with having MIL parenting sometimes.

I actually agree with this. My neighbor admitted that her nanny and Mother-in-law were both like a second and third mother to her child. The difference is here is that when it comes down to the wire if the added on parents don't step back when asked to by the actually parents, you have boundary issues. I can imagine the birthday cake is a prelude to larger issues. There is nothing like the child's first summer camp experience being followed by an unplanned visit to Disney world after all.

Slartibartfast

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I just went back and reread the OP's first post.  Why did your MIL talk to your daughter about her attitude?  I understand you were busy hosting, but you are allowing your MIL to take an active role in raising and disciplining your child.  It was your or your husband's job to stop hosting and take your daughter aside and tell her to knock it off. 

I believe your MIL is absolutely over-stepping her bounds, but honestly, I think you are just as much to blame for that as your husband is, and you really need to review how this relationship works. 

My impression is that the MIL wasn't exactly scolding the OP's daughter.  My guess is she was probably saying something like, "Grandma is going to get you a real birthday cake, but you have to pretend like you like this cake today.  Okay?  Grandma will get you that ice cream cake we talked about, but you have to be a good girl right now."

I don't think that is MyFamily'sa point though (I could be wrong of course).

I *think* her point, which I agree with and mentioned earlier, is that MIL is taking over the role of raising the child in many ways.  The MIL is essentially co-parenting.  She's not in a strict "grandma" role but rather a "Mom2" role.

And that, IMO is unhealthy and dangerous [to the overall emotional health of the family unit].  Yes kids are a lot of work.  But that's what you signed up for when you had them.  Grandma should not be so entrenched in every day life that she replaces the role of parent for important things - and teaching how to behave at one's own birthday party is a definitely IMO a parenting role.  OP and her DH dropped the ball and straight up had MIL act as parent when they should have.  And it appears they do that a lot.

MIL could have stepped up and done hostess duties - serving cake is not an important parental role.  Instead OP served cake and let MIL step in and handle the real issue at hand, the emotional and mental growth of the OP's child.

MIL happened to be the one carrying Babybartfast into the kitchen when the cake was brought in.  DH and I were trying to find the birthday candles which I knew I had bought (which turned out to be in the diaper bag in my car) so it really was natural for MIL to say something.  You are right to an extent - MIL does play a pretty significant parenting role for Babybartfast, since we see her so frequently.  And I would say a good 90% of the time, she does enforce the same things we would (going to bed, not too much TV, manners, etc.)  It's just the 10% of the time when we disagree that she drives us nuts by being stubborn about doing things her way  ::)  She really is a lovely woman, and I'll say again that I really don't think any of this is malicious - she just lives her life in a very by-the-by kind of way.  This manifests as being passive aggressive sometimes (never confronting someone head-on), rarely planning things ahead of time with any finality, constantly being surprised when things turn out differently than she expected, and honestly being confused why the rest of the world doesn't drift through life the same way she does.

Slartibartfast

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Another eye-roller, which isn't directly related but does show how MIL thinks -

Babybartfast got a late birthday present from MIL today: a box of ladybugs.  1600 live ladybugs, to be precise.  Babybartfast does love ladybugs, but a) we don't have THAT big a yard, nor do we live out in the country, and b) the window in Babybartfast's room has a wonky seal which lets ladybugs in EVERY year.  Babybartfast spends a month or so each spring catching ladybugs when she should be napping.  Releasing 1600 ladybugs in our yard will probably result in another infestation.

I do appreciate that MIL got something Babybartfast will like, and I appreciate how she wants to make Babybartfast happy, but sometimes she just doesn't think.  Babybartfast now believes she as 1600 new pets and she's going to be kind of disappointed when we have to let them go.  I think we'll split them into two groups - let a few loose in the yard, so from now on when Babybartfast sees a ladybug she'll think it's one of those, and we'll let the rest loose in the nearest field.

taffywduck

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Another eye-roller, which isn't directly related but does show how MIL thinks -

Babybartfast got a late birthday present from MIL today: a box of ladybugs.  1600 live ladybugs, to be precise. 

**snip**

Wow, talk about a weird present to impose on you with no prior discussion! You're a better person than I because that box would not have made it into my house and MIL would have 1600 bugs to deal with herself.

MyFamily

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WillyNilly explained what I was trying to say very nicely.  Thank you, WillyNilly!!

I'm going to be really blunt here, but, Slartibartfast, you can't have it both ways.  You can't have MIL co-parent and then put restrictions on her co-parenting.  It doesn't work that way for her.  If you give it to her, she is going to expect to have that right 100%.  Every time you allow her to do this, she will assume she can do it anytime she wants.  You either have to accept this and work with her; or you have to take steps to set-up stricter boundaries.  If allowing her to do this makes your life easier, than that 10% of the time is the payment you will have to pay now; and it may be larger as your kids get older.  It isn't fair to her to expect her to have parenting rights when it works for you and to not have those rights when it doesn't work for you.


"The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones" - Solomon ibn Gabirol

Jones

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Oh my goodness.

I have held off on commenting, as other people have succintly said what I was thinking, but I have to jump in here.

She sent you a box of 1600 live ladybugs for your daughter. What on earth did she think you were going to DO with them? One or two ladybugs in an aquarium she put together herself, fine; but 1600 bugs in a box?

Good heavens. I don't know what I would think about that.

ETA: Totally release the majority of them at MIL's house. Extra points if the releasing happens inside the house.  >:D

ClaireC79

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I think those 'pets' need to be homed at 'Grandma's' - as a special thing for them to share (or if you can't do that the local park/field and everytime you go she can 'visit' them)