Author Topic: MIL gets weird  (Read 8968 times)

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sparksals

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2013, 10:57:00 AM »
Obviously having or not having kids is 100% your choice and its 100% totally cool to decie against it.  But its not ok to think your decision to not have children has absolutely no impact on your extended families, such as your MIL. She probably has some emotions she needs to work through on that stance, and that's normal and to be expected.

So here she is, working through those emotions, and here she is a recent dog owner (maybe she had dogs in the past as well, but from your post it sounds like it'd be a while without and now she's got one) so "whoo-hoo dogs are great!" is at the forefront of her mind, and hey, who doesn't love a squishy adorable puppy?  So she's transferring some of her emotions to the puppy as she works through accepting she won't get grandkids [from you two]. This kinda sounds like a really obvious Psych 101 thing.



I agree with this. LordL and I are definitely not having kids any time in the next few years. In the meantime, my mother loves catsitting her "grandkitty." She asks about him every time we talk and even sends us holiday cards on his behalf. Every card we get addressed from her is cat themed now. I even made her an album of cat pictures and she has it displayed on the mantle. I think it's endearing, if admittedly a little nutty - but it shows that she cares about our family, even if we only have fur kids for now ;) .

Also, to address sparksals comment - I don't think it's PA if it's actually channeling the desire for grandkids into something else. If it's meant to be a segue into "HINT HINT WHEN AM I GETTING GRANDKIDS" then yes, it's PA. Comments like "oh you're such a good dog mom, you'd make a great mom to a baby too" or stuff like that would be crossing the line.

This is what she may be doing.  Since she hasn't shown such interest in other pets, I'm wondering if this is her way to channel the desire for grandkids.  This is what I find PA.  If she came out and expressed disappointment in a non-PA manner, that would be completely different.

bah12

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2013, 10:58:12 AM »
While I agree that a decision not to have kids can affect the extended family emotionally, I don't agree that it gives them an excuse to unload all their emotions on the couple who made the decision.  It's a very personal decision and I can understand a couple telling family members they've decided against it.  No doubt there may be emotions to work through, and it's even ok, IMO, for family members to communicate a feeling a loss.  But to make the couple responsible for those emotions, and uncomortable as they are being worked through, is not ok.

Now, this whole "Grand Puppy" thing may or may not have anything to do with the lack of grandchildren.  I'm going to assume that it doesn't.  I know a lot of people who refer to their pets as children or grandchildren.  And while MIL is being annoying, I wouldn't say she's being rude.  I would respond by ignoring the odd behavior.  I would not put the puppy on the phone nor would I acknowledge any reference she made to the puppy being some sort of grandchild of hers.  In time, the behavior may stop...or it won't.  It's hard to tell. 

And for some conflicting advice, if your DH has a close enough relationship with his mother that he can be more blunt without it causing more hurt feelings, then I do think he can say "You know mom, this whole 'grand puppy' thing is coming off a little weird.  Do you mind not referring to our dog as your grandchild so much?"  I just personally wouldn't be willing to go there if I thought that she'd take it personally and be hurt (and I tend not to be afraid of confrontation).  This just wouldn't be worth it to me.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 11:01:09 AM by bah12 »

WillyNilly

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2013, 11:01:48 AM »
Obviously having or not having kids is 100% your choice and its 100% totally cool to decie against it.  But its not ok to think your decision to not have children has absolutely no impact on your extended families, such as your MIL. She probably has some emotions she needs to work through on that stance, and that's normal and to be expected.

So here she is, working through those emotions, and here she is a recent dog owner (maybe she had dogs in the past as well, but from your post it sounds like it'd be a while without and now she's got one) so "whoo-hoo dogs are great!" is at the forefront of her mind, and hey, who doesn't love a squishy adorable puppy?  So she's transferring some of her emotions to the puppy as she works through accepting she won't get grandkids [from you two]. This kinda sounds like a really obvious Psych 101 thing.

I don't see how its harmful so I don't think you should forbid it, or bring it up.  But you can cut back on your participation on the weirdness of course - you don't need to put the puppy on the phone for example, or allow more drop-by visits then you are comfortable with.  Basically let her act however she wants to act on her end, and you and DH just act the way you prefer on your end, and eventually it will all settle down.

I normally agree with you, WN, but on this one I couldn't disagree more.  Having kids ... or not... is a very personal decision.  While it may impact family in terms of feeling disappointed, it is something they have to accept.  Many people make decisions that impact their family indirectly.  It is just something that has to be accepted. 

It is one thing if MIL was assertive and said she felt disappointment, that would be completely acceptable and welcome.  But PA behaviour is mostly a sign of manipulation and if she is behaving this way in order to communicate her unhappiness, she is barking up the wrong tree.   

I don't understand what you are disagreeing with.

My very first sentence I totally grant that the OP total decision power on the kids thing.  And I go one to say that the MIL is simply in the process of having to accept the decision.

I don't know the MIL is PA.  I wouldn't be surprised if her behavior is totally subconscious on her part. But so long as its not meant to influence the OP and her DH, its simply meant as a way to help herself work through her own emotions, she should be free to handle an emotional acceptance the way best for her own psyche.  As I said, I don't think the OP and her DH have to participate, but they should let her work through it the way she works through it. If she wants to call the puppy her 'grandpuppy', what harm does it do the OP? Meanwhile it might seriously help the MIL.

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2013, 11:08:21 AM »
My extended family are animal lovers, and it's not unusual for us to refer to our pets by a family relationship, such as grand-puppy.  It's silliness, and no one thinks twice about it.

My mother has sometimes asked for me to put a certain pet on the phone.  I pretend to do it and let Mom babble away until she's done.

When there is a strained family relationship, the offending party may be aware of it but may not understand exactly what they do that causes problems.  They may try to stick to safe topics.  Puppy love would seem like safe behavior, but in the O.P.'s case, it's annoying because the relationship is already tense.  I'd let the puppy business go without a thought.  MIL should be able to do or say something once in a while without getting called on it.
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sparksals

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2013, 11:46:00 AM »
While I agree that a decision not to have kids can affect the extended family emotionally, I don't agree that it gives them an excuse to unload all their emotions on the couple who made the decision.  It's a very personal decision and I can understand a couple telling family members they've decided against it.  No doubt there may be emotions to work through, and it's even ok, IMO, for family members to communicate a feeling a loss.  But to make the couple responsible for those emotions, and uncomortable as they are being worked through, is not ok.

Now, this whole "Grand Puppy" thing may or may not have anything to do with the lack of grandchildren.  I'm going to assume that it doesn't.  I know a lot of people who refer to their pets as children or grandchildren.  And while MIL is being annoying, I wouldn't say she's being rude.  I would respond by ignoring the odd behavior.  I would not put the puppy on the phone nor would I acknowledge any reference she made to the puppy being some sort of grandchild of hers.  In time, the behavior may stop...or it won't.  It's hard to tell. 

And for some conflicting advice, if your DH has a close enough relationship with his mother that he can be more blunt without it causing more hurt feelings, then I do think he can say "You know mom, this whole 'grand puppy' thing is coming off a little weird.  Do you mind not referring to our dog as your grandchild so much?"  I just personally wouldn't be willing to go there if I thought that she'd take it personally and be hurt (and I tend not to be afraid of confrontation).  This just wouldn't be worth it to me.

Bah said so much better what I was trying to say. 

sparksals

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2013, 11:47:07 AM »
Obviously having or not having kids is 100% your choice and its 100% totally cool to decie against it.  But its not ok to think your decision to not have children has absolutely no impact on your extended families, such as your MIL. She probably has some emotions she needs to work through on that stance, and that's normal and to be expected.

So here she is, working through those emotions, and here she is a recent dog owner (maybe she had dogs in the past as well, but from your post it sounds like it'd be a while without and now she's got one) so "whoo-hoo dogs are great!" is at the forefront of her mind, and hey, who doesn't love a squishy adorable puppy?  So she's transferring some of her emotions to the puppy as she works through accepting she won't get grandkids [from you two]. This kinda sounds like a really obvious Psych 101 thing.

I don't see how its harmful so I don't think you should forbid it, or bring it up.  But you can cut back on your participation on the weirdness of course - you don't need to put the puppy on the phone for example, or allow more drop-by visits then you are comfortable with.  Basically let her act however she wants to act on her end, and you and DH just act the way you prefer on your end, and eventually it will all settle down.

I normally agree with you, WN, but on this one I couldn't disagree more.  Having kids ... or not... is a very personal decision.  While it may impact family in terms of feeling disappointed, it is something they have to accept.  Many people make decisions that impact their family indirectly.  It is just something that has to be accepted. 

It is one thing if MIL was assertive and said she felt disappointment, that would be completely acceptable and welcome.  But PA behaviour is mostly a sign of manipulation and if she is behaving this way in order to communicate her unhappiness, she is barking up the wrong tree.   

I don't understand what you are disagreeing with.

My very first sentence I totally grant that the OP total decision power on the kids thing.  And I go one to say that the MIL is simply in the process of having to accept the decision.

I don't know the MIL is PA.  I wouldn't be surprised if her behavior is totally subconscious on her part. But so long as its not meant to influence the OP and her DH, its simply meant as a way to help herself work through her own emotions, she should be free to handle an emotional acceptance the way best for her own psyche.  As I said, I don't think the OP and her DH have to participate, but they should let her work through it the way she works through it. If she wants to call the puppy her 'grandpuppy', what harm does it do the OP? Meanwhile it might seriously help the MIL.

yeah, I didn't explain very well.  Bah's post described what I was trying to say.

Arrynne

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2013, 11:53:00 AM »
My husband jokingly refers to his mom's dog as "Aunt Holly".

It's odd behavior.  It could be her way to accept your choice to be child-free, or it could be a PA move on her part.   Only you know her well enough to know which it is.

citadelle

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2013, 12:38:09 PM »
Her behavior might strike you as "weird", but how is she hurting anyone? If she is, indeed, reacting to a lack of grandchildren, at least she's not pressuring you and is, instead, showing affection for the puppy. I think it might be kind of mean to try to take that away from her.

BeagleMommy

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2013, 12:54:56 PM »
OP, how does MIL refer to the other pets in your home?  I'm now trying to imaging the look on The Beagle's face if I put the phone to his ear and said "Say hi to Grandma".  It would probably be a canine version of this  :o.

Could your DH try saying something like "Puppy's not in the mood to talk now" and move on with the conversation?

NyaChan

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2013, 12:56:26 PM »
Wow my family does this with my sister's cat, and I always thought of it as funny & cute, not weird.  My sister's cat is super high maintenance so my mom likes to spoil her grand kitty, which is especially funny because that cat only has eyes for my sister.  Would my mom LOVE if my sister and I got married and had kids? Yes, and she does express her desire to have grandchildren - but this joke for us is separate from that.  It isn't a PA dig in our house, it is sweet. 

This is not to deny that this MIL might be doing it to make a point, I'm just trying to say that, if it isn't obviously that, I wonder if it is really a big deal.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 01:06:42 PM by NyaChan »

Ms_Cellany

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #25 on: March 04, 2013, 12:59:54 PM »
Everyone raise your hand who thought of this:

Using a chainsaw is as close as we come to having a lightsaber in this life.

GSNW

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2013, 01:43:22 PM »
I think the perspective is helpful, so thank you.  MIL irritates me all the time.  Some things I'm justifiably annoyed at, and some things annoy me because it's her.  I still think the gushing over Puppy is over the top, and I'm not positive it's NOT a PA dig at our childfree choice, but confronting it as such would be a waste of time and energy.  DH does not want to entertain her requests to talk with Puppy on the phone, so I'll let him handle that (I text with her and only when necessary, so I shouldn't be concerned about it). 

I'll post a picture of the doodlehead when I get home tonight.  She is PRECIOUS.

GSNW

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #27 on: March 04, 2013, 01:44:15 PM »
OP, how does MIL refer to the other pets in your home?  I'm now trying to imaging the look on The Beagle's face if I put the phone to his ear and said "Say hi to Grandma".  It would probably be a canine version of this  :o.

Could your DH try saying something like "Puppy's not in the mood to talk now" and move on with the conversation?

She loves our other pets, too, but she doesn't make a fuss.  The last part had me cracking up.  "Puppy is not in the mood!"

bansidhe

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #28 on: March 04, 2013, 01:45:09 PM »
Everyone raise your hand who thought of this:

My hand is raised - and I did a GIS to try to find a similar one with a Bearded Dragon. No luck, though. I may have to make one myself.  ;D

But as to the topic at hand. I wouldn't consider this weird at all unless she's dropping hints about human grandchildren as well. If she is, then it's PA and husband needs to have a little talk with her.

If the "putting the dog on the phone" thing is excessive, I'd just start telling her the puppy is asleep/eating/outside/on the other line, then beandip. A reasonable person would take the hint after a couple of times.

My mother has grandcats. I've got two sisters and none of the three of us has children. She started referring to our kitties as her grandcats early on and no one thought twice about it. (Between the three of us she has over 40 grandcats and she's got seven of her own cats. My family Does Cats.)
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weeblewobble

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Re: MIL gets weird
« Reply #29 on: March 04, 2013, 03:00:19 PM »
To me, this is just a ploy to get closer to you.  It's a somewhat passive aggressive route back into your lives.  As in, she doesn't want to bother YOU.  She doesn't want to cross YOUR boundaries, she just wants to talk to the dog! 

My SIL started the same tactics with our dogs, which she called her "nephdog" and "niecedog."  Due to other boundary issues, we didn't want to spend a lot of time with her on the phone or have her visit at our house.  So she took to calling to "talk to the dogs" or she would drop by for a visit "with the dogs." 

We just chalked it up 1) her being a very enthusiastic pet owner and 2) trying to work around the boundaries we'd established.  We refused to put the dogs on the phone, by saying it wasn't possible, then told her we had to hang up.  Or we would stop her at the door and tell her that it wasn't a good time to visit.  Eventually, she dropped that tactic.

The only time is got really troublesome was after we had our daughter. (The first grandkid in the family.) SIL felt displaced, so she started demanding "equal treatment" for her dogs, since they were my in-laws' "granddogs."  If my daughter got a special treat, SIL would say, in the dogs' voices, that the "granddogs wanted a treat, too!"  If my daughter got a little "just because" gift, SIL would speak for the dogs saying that their feelings were hurt and wanted a gift, too. If the dogs didn't get Christmas presents... it got ugly.