But we're the parents!

starbucjoMarch 9, 2007

I really need some advice! My in-laws live about 400 miles away; yet my parents live about 5 miles away. Because of this, I REALLY go overboard to include my in-laws in my kids lives (3 year old and an 8 month old) I send digital pictures at least 4 times a week and I even had my MIL with me in the room while I delivered my youngest son and my mom had to wait outside!

My in-laws visited us at Christmas and New Years and they were just here for the weekend for my oldest's birthday, so we do manage to see them often. My husband and I decided we would travel to spend Easter at their house.

My in-laws are active in church; my husband and I are not and have decided not to raise our children with any religious affiliation. Since we'll be visiting over Easter, we know my in-laws will go to church. Since my husband and I are not religious and because my kids are so young and don't have a very long attention span, my husband and I decided that instead of bringing the kids to church for the service on Easter we would bring them at the end of the service. That way my in-laws could enjoy the service and still "show off" the grandkids to all of their friends afterwards. Well, my MIL was upset by this because she assumed (without asking) that we would bring the kids to church for the service. That upset me somehat because she knows we don't believe in the things she believes in so why would she assume we'd all go to church? And why would we want to bring a 3 year old and an 8 month old who won't sit through a service? Anyway, no big deal. I even thought if it was important to her we could all go and my husband and I could walk around outside with the boys if they act up. (I always try to make concessions for them).

Anyway, the next issue was Easter baskets for the boys. I asked my husband to find out what his parents planned to get the boys because I didn't want too much candy and if they were getting a lot of candy I wanted to get something else. When my husband asked, his dad told him that they have baskets and they had already started to discuss where they would hide the baskets. This made me very mad! We're the parents! Shouldn't we get to do the Easter baskets? Shouldn't they have checked with us to see what we (THE PARENTS) wanted to do and then decided how they could be part of that instead of just taking over??

This is indicitive of how they are with everything! There's no consideration for my husband and me, and usually we allow it because of the guilt that we don't live closer to them. But I can't continue to do this; it's just not fair! We tried to talk to them in the past about boundaries and they got very stressed and things were very uncomfortable between us because they were afraid to say or do anything with the boys. How can I find a happy medium with them? Or should I continue to miss out on things that are important to me to make them happy (I realize there will always be times when this happens, but how do I draw the line??)

Thanks! Just venting this helped!

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I assume you are going to be in the in-laws' home for Easter. I think it is nice that they are taking care of the Easter baskets for you so that you do not have to pack and bring all the Easter basket stuff with you. Relax. They are planning for the Easter that you will be celebrating in their home. Let them be the hosts.

I agree that you want to limit candy at this age and that eggs might be preferable to hunt. Then you can make deviled eggs and egg salad sandwiches, which are nutritious. However, if it does not work out that way, I would just go with the flow and manage the candy so that others share it and your small sons are not inundated with it.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 9:50PM
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Wow! As the maternal grandparent, I would have been so upset not being in the birthing room while the paternal grandparent was allowed in. We were not in the room while the birth took place...only mom, LOL...dad, new baby and DR. were in there. We did get to see our little treasure about an hour after her birth. It was perfect! Wonderful!
You seem to want to please your in-laws even if you don't agree with things. Is there a reason for this? Is your husband very attached to his parents and does not want to stand up to them?
As for Easter, you are going to their house. Not knowing them or the structure of the family, it seems that they are playing host and doing what they have done in the past for their kids. I think your husband should have told his parents that YOU (husband and you) would take care of the baskets. If it's unsaid, then the grandparents worry and provide one.
I think you're so wonderful in taking extra care for your in-laws, but maybe you have to make some things clear to them...actually your husband has to make things clear to them and both of you have to let them know what is expected and not expected.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 4:05AM
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To Sheila: If the in-laws had asked us if we wanted them to get baskets before just doing it, it would have been different, but they just did it and that's what bothered me. Going to their house shouldn't mean that we can't celebrate with our kids like we want to, should it?

To Eileen: I do want to please them even if I don't agree with things! I do it all the time. My husband used to have a very hard time standing up to them but he does it now. When he does they get very offended and it becomes very tense when we're together. (He said they've always been that way, which is why he never used to say anything.) I've started to get into that same trap of not wanting to upset them. I want to be close with them even though we don't live close. I want them to be a big part of our kid's lives. I don't want to be a stereotypical DIL so I really try to see things from their perspective and make sacrifices. But it's so difficult because they don't seem to look at things from my perspective and the more sacrifices I make the more they expect. They seem to want to be the parents. My FIL often times tells my son "Go see Mommy" and he's talking about my MIL! If I'm around he says "oops, I mean Grandma". They want to control everything and do it just like they did it or they get offended. I don't want them to get upset so I let them control everything.

They wanted my oldest to have ice cream when he didn't eat his dinner. Normally this is a big NO! but they were visiting and don't see him all the time so, what the heck, my husband and I said "go ahead!" and they were heroes for getting him ice cream. Fine. But then the next day they didn't ask but took him to the candy store for jelly beans when he didn't eat lunch. We respected them by allowing the ice cream. They took it too far and didn't respect us with the candy. How do we change this?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 12:29PM
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ever heard of when in rome do as the romans do? they're the grandparents, and you're, in this case, "just" guests...

do what my kids do...have a basket at home before leaving, then again at grandparents...you don't have to do candy at both places...

as for the church, most have nurseries for the kidlets. we're going to dd1's and fully plan to attend their church service before leaving for home, although we don't go at home.

believe me, you're lucky your in-laws are doing anything at all...my fil pretty much has ignored the kids and now his 6, soon to 7 great-grands...it's sad...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 2:56PM
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Doing a basket at home before we leave is a great idea and will address a lot of my concerns!! I didn't think of that. Thank you!

When I have guests I try to accomodate them, I don't subject them to things I know they won't like. I guess that's my problem. When the in-laws visit I bend over backwards because they're guests; then when we visit them I bend over backwards because I'm a guest. Yes, they're the grandparents, but I'm never "just" a guest; I'm the mom and that should count for more than it has in this relationship.

There's no nursery in this church on Easter. There's a greeting time, then the service, then coffee hour. All of this will take 2.5 hours +. That's a long time to entertain a 3 year old and an 8 month old. I'm nursing the 8 month old and chances are he'll need to eat while we're there, which may be awkward. I'm all for doing as the Romans do, but a little consideration for me would be nice. I wanted to come just for the coffee hour, but that wasn't acceptable. I just want a little compromise.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 4:40PM
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After reading all you have said, I personally think you have gone above and beyond what should be expected of a DIL. I don't have a DIL (we have 4 daughters so have SIL) but I was once a DIL and know what it's like to try to please the in-laws. Look, just do what you want to do and get up the guts to let your in-laws know that this is the way you do it in YOUR household. Your husband should really be the one to tell them this, but some husbands just can't stand up to their mothers. This is unlike daughters...they can certainly tell their moms enough is enough. LOL!!!! Stand your ground and nicely let them know that you want to be the main basket giver and if they would like to have a basket that is fine so long as it's smaller and not as great as your basket. Tell them exactly what you would like in their basket..if you're doing the candy, then tell them to put in small cans of playdoe, bubbles...whatever... and if they tell you that they already have the basket made, that's easy...just tell them that YOU already have YOUR basket made and nicely tell them what you would like them to put in their basket. You have to make them realize that you are the mom, the parent, and the first person in their grandchild's life. It takes some guts to do this, but it better be established now because if not, there will be major conflicts later on. Let them know, nicely but firmly, what is allowed and not allowed.
I watch my granddaughter everyday while her parents work and would not think of overstepping their boundry. What they say goes, even though I don't always agree. I love my grandchild to pieces, however, I'm the grandma and NOT the parent. Let me tell you, this relationship is a lot more complicated than the one you have with your inlaws and ours works just fine. I know my place and know that I have to run ideas through my daughter before I act. It's a simple matter of respect for the parent and I don't see that you're getting that respect. Gently gain that respect as the parent by being firm but nice as what you expect from them and be consistant and also exact.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 4:05AM
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I'm feeling mighty guilty right now. It hit me we were a lot like your in-laws regarding the Easter baskets. I didn't mean disrespect--in fact, I never thought it might be bothering the kids and, if it did, we never knew about it. I see exactly where you are coming from. We just wanted the holidays (not just Easter) to be special for the kids and grandkids. And after they moved up north, we'd send baskets at Easter for them UPS and sometimes a "Pizza Party" and send Pizza Hut coupons, $$$ for the pizza, a video suitable for the GK's, some M&M's and popcorn for movie watching. It was just a way to keep in touch, but it never occurred to me it could have easily annoyed my step-daughter. Yikes!

As far as taking them to church, that's certainly up to you, but I wouldn't because of their ages and especially since there's no nursery. They are too young and it'd be a hassle getting two little ones ready and staying looking nice long enough just so the grandparents "show off" the little ones. Maybe you could stay home and have a nice brunch ready when they come home.

Hope you have a great time whatever you decide. I'm sure your husband's parents mean well. Like me, maybe they just get too enthused about seeing the babies!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 10:11PM
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As far as going to church with the in-laws...I wouldn't bring the children. Not only because you and your husband don't believe as his parents do but because the children are too young to attend services. To expect children at the age to sit quietly is asking too much of them. I agree with you on that issue.
On the issue of the Easter Baskets. I think you are overreacting. I was always thankful to my in-laws for making the baskets for our children when we would be at their home for the holidays. My husband and I would bring small gifts to put in the baskets for our children. I think what they did was very nice. I didn't need to know what was going in the baskets, I knew already...it would be candy! You are getting upset over nothing imo. Let it go. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 1:02PM
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I'm a parent too. I understand where you are coming from. I've been a mom for 7 years now. I'm tired of catering to what everyone else wants. I finding I want my own traditions with my family that dh and I created. I've tried to include my in-laws and my family. It has come back to bite me too many times. If I try to be accomodating, I get stepped on and not respected. It's not just Easter, it's every major holiday. I've had to put my foot down a few times and it made me the bad guy.

I don't have a solution for you. I just wanted to say you aren't alone in feeling the way you do.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 11:34AM
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life is short I personally do what is going to make the most lasting best memory for my kids. If that goes against my personal beliefs and what I want so be it. It has worked for 22 years. My daughter is happy, the in-laws were happy ( God rest em) and at this vantage point I guess I don't really care. I did my little bit for mankind!!!!!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 9:21PM
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I Like Claimsgirl61's attitude..."Best Memories". Two Easter Baskets...Try to find out what they're doing and do yours different (IF theirs is already purchased, if not, then tell them what you want in theirs..not that MY MIL listened)...Church..YOU CHOOSE how long you want to stay and when you want to go. Before durring or after, YOUR CHOICE. Not thiers. Even if they were older 2 1/2 hours for church...umm no. And I do go to church!! And for goodness sakes, start speaking up if it bugs you. Don't be a doormat. They can't change things that bug you if they don't know it bugs you. A simple..Please don't...can go a long way. You don't have to be rude, but kindly letting them know their place and yours will keep a lot of hurt feelings from festering (which is happening now).


    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 5:25PM
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I don't have any grandchildren, so got on this forum to find out what I am missing.... :-). I am going away happy.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 2:57PM
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I don't want to hijack the OP's thread, but I'd like to comment on some things I think are related.

For those of you who are suggesting multiple Easter baskets, did your kids get more than one Easter basket at Easter when they were little? We didn't. We didn't get more than one Christmas stocking either. I don't know what particular situations you had, but I know when I was little, I didn't get as much stuff. We had our simple fun such as one Easter basket and one Easter egg hunt and that was it. I'm finding that with my children, the kids and our household are being overwhelmed with too much junk...toys, candy, etc. It's not just holidays and it's not just grandparents doing it. I find Christmas, Easter, or whatever holiday isn't as much fun for anyone - adults or kids - when the kids get too much stuff. There is the immediate factor where the kids are so overwhelmed with so many presents that they are screaming, there is the what are we going to do with all this stuff when we get it home because the kids already have to much, and then the factor where the kids don't appreciate what they get. Extra stuff causes extra stress.

Another factor in this is the junk food. Someone mentioned the kids getting a basket of candy and then letting the adults share in the candy later so the kids don't get too much. Please don't put anyone in the position of taking/sneaking candy away from the kids. If it is given to my kids, they know about it, want it, and it is theirs. Taking it away creates a fuss. Not taking candy away makes a mess and some very unhappy kids after the sugar runs it course. I'm willing to be the bad guy when my kids need it, but why purposely put me or dh in the bad guy position in the first place. We have plenty of battles t fight already.

Last year we were at a family event and a relative walked in and handed each of my children a container of peeps,a baggy full of chocolate and a coke. My fil was dying and we knew this would be our last time to see him. I wanted this to be a time of good memories and tried to make sure that nothing happened to spoil it. I tried to do damage control. It didn't work. I was still the bad guy. Thinking back, I don't think that there would have been a solution to that situation. Any action I would have taken would have made at least one person unhappy.

Like I said in my earlier post, I don't know the solution to the problem. In my case, I have politely asked both sides of the family (mine and dh's) not to give so much stuff. If they insist on giving something, I have tried explain my position and to direct them to gifts the kids could use such as clothes. I've also asked for the gift of time. I do want my kids and grandparents/relatives to have memories together.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 12:58PM
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