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Dealing with In-laws: AP style


Forum: Attachment Parenting

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  #1  
March 2nd, 2013, 11:17 AM
Destiny
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 2,755
I've got some pretty bad in-laws. They are upset that I don't follow their traditions. They don't like that I'm a vegetarian, how I discipline, how long I breastfeed, how many kids I have, how I've spaced them etc. etc. etc.

I don't mind them seeing things a different way, but they're very aggressive about it. For instance, my MIL refused to leave during my first homebirth. Whenever I ask a favour I get a lecture (the latest was when I needed a ride to the store and she spent the whole ride lecturing me about breastfeeding during pregnancy). They've taken great offense at my steadfast refusal to budge for them, and things are getting worse.

Last time I had to spend time with them (Christmas) I spent over 5 hours there and no one said a word to me, at all. I even tried to strike up a conversation with my SIL only to have her turn away and start talking to someone else.

How do you deal with them lovingly? What helps? At what point do you cut them off completely?

Just thinking about them makes me mad, if I don't feel angry with them, I start to feel worthless (because that's their opinion of me, and it's the message I've gotten from every adult, ever). It's a mess, and I want to clean it up, but nothing really helps.
Is there an AP way to deal with toxic in-laws?
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  #2  
March 2nd, 2013, 11:26 AM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 6,057
Honestly I would just start avoiding them as much as possible. Maybe when your kids are older and they see that they are turning out just fine, it will get easier. I'm sorry you have such terrible in-laws hugs!!! What does your DH think about it? Does he stick up for you and your (presumably shared) beliefs and ways? Really it should be his job to handle his people, IMO...
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  #3  
March 2nd, 2013, 11:57 AM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 6,905
WOW. Pretty surprising the things people get upset about. But if I may offer some insight, I think it's because when you do things differently, some parents can think, "so you don't think my way was the best way to raise a child" and that can hurt people who aren't as confident in their traditions as they should be.

You probably can't do ANYTHING that will change them, but next time they get on your case about not eating meat, you could say, "I definitely see why some people eat meat. It's a great source of protein. I prefer to get my sources from other places, but I bet you can grill up one heck of a steak!" When they complain about how you discipline, you can say, "I think all parents do their very best for the kids within the parameters of what they are comfortable with. I might not do things just as you did, but I do think you did a great job raising your son and I will do my best to do a great job raising my daughter." When they complain about how long you breastfeed for or how many kids you had or how you spaced them out, say, "It's definitely not for everyone, but we're very happy with it."


The will probably continue to be aggressive about it, but at least this way you can show you aren't judging them by doing things differently. Let them be judgmental pr!cks all by themselves And let them see that they aren't shaking you AND that you are still going to keep doing what you are doing--what you believe is best for you family. You might even say one day, "I know you don't like every choice we make, but I do hope that you appreciate that we always do what we believe is best for our kids, same as you did when raising yours. In that way, I think we're actually a lot alike."

When they lecture you, say, "I can tell you're really upset by my decision and feel really strongly about this. I wish we could see eye to eye on this, but for now I can say that I will keep what you said in mind and ultimately we'll do what we believe works best for our family."

I would definitely say that if it continues, reduce contact. If they complain you aren't bringing the baby by anymore, tell them the truth. "I really want to be able to come over more, and I've made an effort to be respectful of your beliefs even though I won't convert to your thinking, but so far despite everything I've tried, I don't feel welcome there. I would absolutely LOVE it, though, if we could get together and just enjoy each other's company and leave our opinions on parenting and lifestyle out of our visits. Maybe I could stop by this weekend and we could have dinner together." You know, give them a second chance after showing them that their treatment of you is off-putting and ultimately pushing you and their son and their grandchildren away, despite you not wanting that.

You aren't worthless, though, and I'm not surprised you are mad. Allow yourself to be mad, but don't let them see that! you're an amazing mom, though, and some people feel the need to put you down so they can feel about their own choices. They need to think their way was really better because they can't cope with the idea that there was a better way and they didn't do it themselves, so they convince themselves (and try to convince you) that your way is much worse. Just remember that is where that is coming from. It may help you not get hurt by them and at the same time understand what is driving their nasty comments, which can help you deal with them better.

WOW. Pretty surprising the things people get upset about. But if I may offer some insight, I think it's because when you do things differently, some parents can think, "so you don't think my way was the best way to raise a child" and that can hurt people who aren't as confident in their traditions as they should be.

You probably can't do ANYTHING that will change them, but next time they get on your case about not eating meat, you could say, "I definitely see why some people eat meat. It's a great source of protein. I prefer to get my sources from other places, but I bet you can grill up one heck of a steak!" When they complain about how you discipline, you can say, "I think all parents do their very best for the kids within the parameters of what they are comfortable with. I might not do things just as you did, but I do think you did a great job raising your son and I will do my best to do a great job raising my daughter." When they complain about how long you breastfeed for or how many kids you had or how you spaced them out, say, "It's definitely not for everyone, but we're very happy with it."


The will probably continue to be aggressive about it, but at least this way you can show you aren't judging them by doing things differently. Let them be judgmental pr!cks all by themselves And let them see that they aren't shaking you AND that you are still going to keep doing what you are doing--what you believe is best for you family. You might even say one day, "I know you don't like every choice we make, but I do hope that you appreciate that we always do what we believe is best for our kids, same as you did when raising yours. In that way, I think we're actually a lot alike."

When they lecture you, say, "I can tell you're really upset by my decision and feel really strongly about this. I wish we could see eye to eye on this, but for now I can say that I will keep what you said in mind and ultimately we'll do what we believe works best for our family."

I would definitely say that if it continues, reduce contact. If they complain you aren't bringing the baby by anymore, tell them the truth. "I really want to be able to come over more, and I've made an effort to be respectful of your beliefs even though I won't convert to your thinking, but so far despite everything I've tried, I don't feel welcome there. I would absolutely LOVE it, though, if we could get together and just enjoy each other's company and leave our opinions on parenting and lifestyle out of our visits. Maybe I could stop by this weekend and we could have dinner together." You know, give them a second chance after showing them that their treatment of you is off-putting and ultimately pushing you and their son and their grandchildren away, despite you not wanting that.

You aren't worthless, though, and I'm not surprised you are mad. Allow yourself to be mad, but don't let them see that! you're an amazing mom, though, and some people feel the need to put you down so they can feel about their own choices. They need to think their way was really better because they can't cope with the idea that there was a better way and they didn't do it themselves, so they convince themselves (and try to convince you) that your way is much worse. Just remember that is where that is coming from. It may help you not get hurt by them and at the same time understand what is driving their nasty comments, which can help you deal with them better.
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  #4  
March 2nd, 2013, 02:04 PM
Destiny
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 2,755
It's difficult to modify the way I talk, but I will definitely give it a try. I usually say something evasive, but since they're so aggressive it doesn't always work.

We have already dramatically reduced time spent with them. DH and I are coming up on 4 years of marriage and my in-laws have been awful for every day of it. For my own sanity's sake, I need to walk away for awhile.

I know that one of the big issues my MIL has with me is that I'm a SAHM, and she dearly wanted to be. I think a great deal of her resentment towards me comes from that. My differentness makes me an easy scapegoat as well, especially in a family where everyone has similar views, except for me.

My husband has a big desire to smooth everything over, but his attempts have not gone well. He's very easily manipulated and they know exactly how to turn his problems with them right back around towards me and him.
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  #5  
March 2nd, 2013, 03:02 PM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 6,905
People like that (manipulative and turn it around on others) cannot be reasoned with. If you need to walk away for a while, you should.
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Thank you Jaidynsmum for the beautiful siggy!
Check out the Attachment Parenting Board for Effective Parenting Solutions.
PM me if have questions about autism, TTC gender swaying, natural childbirth, going "vaccine-free", or if you are looking for gentle discipline advice.
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  #6  
March 2nd, 2013, 03:55 PM
Destiny
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 2,755
Quote:
Originally Posted by alittlelost View Post
People like that (manipulative and turn it around on others) cannot be reasoned with. If you need to walk away for a while, you should.
That is certainly how it feels.
I keep hoping something will change, but it really is getting worse as time goes on. Keeping my distance has been a very good thing for us, but nothing is getting better in the long run.
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