July 2013 Moms

In law Advice -- long

I would love your honest opinions because I really don't know how to handle this situation. It's long I'm sorry...warning.

 My hubby's mother sadly has serious mental health issues that came to light when he was about 10 years old. Eventually years down the line, his parents separated since she has been hospitalized the majority of her life. Soon after the split a good friend of his moms started dating his father....she was such a good family friend that my hubby called her "aunt" growing up.  Long story short, she ended up marrying his father later but hubby holds serious resentment towards her...thinks she's an opportunist. There's obviously more too it but that's the gist and trying to keep it short.

 Now I completely understand why my husband feels the way he does and I'll always support and stand by him. This woman has been extremely generous, sweet, and kind to us throughout our marriage and pregnancy and I have never had any personal issues with her.

The new problem is that she keeps saying that she's Charlotte's "grandma" and it's driving my husband insane. I completely understand why he's upset by it...and he's about to snap. They have a VERY strained relationship.

 Should I speak with her privately and tell her it's upsetting my husband and while I appreciate her actions and love, it would probably be best not to call herself grandma... at least not in front of him to keep the peace?  Or should I tell hubby he should just let her say whatever she wants and ignore it to keep the peace. Should I stay out of it and let him tell her...which will most likely turn into a fight. Or what? I don't know what to do but I'd really like to avoid a huge blowout during this time....

 

Sorry that was long...

 

 


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Re: In law Advice -- long

  • Eesh... what a complicated situation. Would it be possible to speak to DH and ask him to tolerate it because you feel step-MIL wants to lavish love and attention on LO and it's not fair to deprive LO of that?
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  • If you have a conversation with her I think you need to support your husband. Telling her that she can do it just not around him says that you are okay with it and this may cause more problems for you down the line. Can your husband talk to you fil? It doesn't wound as if ignoring her will keep the peace for much longer.
  • I think it's something your husband is going to have to deal with. I would stay out of it:) 

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  • image Dccornel:
    If you have a conversation with her I think you need to support your husband. Telling her that she can do it just not around him says that you are okay with it and this may cause more problems for you down the line. Can your husband talk to you fil? It doesn't wound as if ignoring her will keep the peace for much longer.

     

    Yeah you're right it's not a good idea to say she can do it when he's not around...I veto my own suggestion lol. I didn't think about hubby talking to FIL. They have an interesting relationship when it comes to the new wife...but that's certainly a good option!!!


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  • I vote talking to her about it and maybe picking a different name. 

    We are going to have to do something similar most likely. Much different situation, but FIL remarried last year after only knowing the woman for 3 months. Not that I'm saying that is wrong, they are grown, they can do what they want. However, this woman is younger than two of my DHs siblings, and the same age as DH. So it's all around a weird situation. DH is not comfortable with her being called grandma, and if he isn't comfortable with it, I support that. 

    I agree with PP that going behind his back could cause more problems. So I vote finding a new name she could be called, or just using her first name. 
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  • svodosvodo
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    Man, that's rough. Maybe you could try and have DH see it from the baby's perspective? What would be best for baby? Two grandmas on his side that love him or a confusing relationship with his grandpa's wife? Obviously I don't know the whole situation, but the more people who love your baby the better!
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  • image svodo:
    Man, that's rough. Maybe you could try and have DH see it from the baby's perspective? What would be best for baby? Two grandmas on his side that love him or a confusing relationship with his grandpa's wife? Obviously I don't know the whole situation, but the more people who love your baby the better!

     

    That just made me awwwww. That's so true and a great way to put it. 


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  • image svodo:
    Man, that's rough. Maybe you could try and have DH see it from the baby's perspective? What would be best for baby? Two grandmas on his side that love him or a confusing relationship with his grandpa's wife? Obviously I don't know the whole situation, but the more people who love your baby the better!


    I agree with this. If she is going to love your baby and be a good grandma then your DH needs to try to get over his hard feelings towards her... As warranted as they may be.
    I am very sorry you were put in this position.
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  • is it possible to use a different version of grandma? maybe your DH would be more okay with this? Nana, mema, meme, etc? 
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  • Maybe you could talk to dh and see if he would be comfortable with lo calling her a different name? Something like nanna or mimi? That way there's no confusion that dh's mom is "grandma" and that his sm is just another grandmotherly figure?
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  • Yikes! Does DH have an issue with just her calling herself grandma, or does he not want her to act like Charlotte's grandma? I think that makes a difference, because like PP said, it seems that she really wants to dote on your child! If it's just the name, maybe there can be a good solution by talking it through with DH, then having him talk it over with his father. My mom's stepmother has always been just Gramma to me, but I think it took my mother a long time to for her to accept it.
  • cjm724cjm724
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    Is your husband against you talking to your MIL? If he isn't, I would talk to her about it.  If he is against you talking to her, I wouldn't go behind his back.  I suggest talking to your husband about it before you do anything.  It seems to be a sensitive topic for him, so if you asserted yourself into the situation without him knowing, it might hurt his feelings or anger him.  

    If his dad's wife is going to be close to you guys in the future, I would definitely suggest to DH to allowing her to call herself grandma or something of the like.  That's probably best for the baby.  Why make things awkward and complicated and highlight the discord to your growing child? 

    I hope everything works out for the best for you, DH, and baby.  It sounds like a difficult situation! 

  • image Dani428:

    image Dccornel:
    If you have a conversation with her I think you need to support your husband. Telling her that she can do it just not around him says that you are okay with it and this may cause more problems for you down the line. Can your husband talk to your fil? It doesn't sound as if ignoring her will keep the peace for much longer.

     

    Yeah you're right it's not a good idea to say she can do it when he's not around...I veto my own suggestion lol. I didn't think about hubby talking to FIL. They have an interesting relationship when it comes to the new wife...but that's certainly a good option!!!

    Apparently I lost my ability to type, sorry. And if not the fil ... The mil ... Or whatever she is :P 

  • Ouch, this is a really tough situation!

    Personally, I would speak with her solo. You're both "outsiders" to the family, ie you married men who are blood relatives, you're on more equal footing. Tell her how much you appreciate the positive support she has give you & your DH, and let her know you're excited for her to be a part of your LO's family. Then just get down to brass tacks. If there's been this much strain in their relationship, I doubt she's oblivious to the fact. Let her know that it upsets your husband when she refers to herself as grandma, the same way it would upset him if she referred to herself as his mom. She is probably just so excited to be a grandma, that she never stopped to think how the title might upset her stepson, that it might come across to him as though his stepmother was trying to replace his actual mother, who in his mind is the "true" grandma, regardless of desire or ability to be involved in LO's life. Ask her if she would refrain from using that term for the time being, and try to come up with another special term (Nana, Gigi, Mimi, etc) to show that she has a special place in your LO's life.

    I'd see how that goes for a while, and if your DH still gets upset you might have to have a frank talk with him as well. It's understandable to have these sort of feelings in the beginning, but at some point he needs to accept the fact that his father is a capable adult who made a choice, and that choice is to be with a woman who has been a source of love and support for him for a long while. Honestly, since this all happened when he was so young, and he still feels this strongly about it, he should probably look into some sort of counseling. Having a parent with mental illness is a really hard thing, especially for a ten year old to deal with. It sounds like he feels as though his dad abandoned his mom, moved on with an opportunistic woman, and he feels a strong sense of responsibility and loyalty to his mother. These are good emotions to have, but it sounds like they're coming from a child's confusion of the situation and not a rational adult's acceptance of what a mental illness can do to a family.

    I really hope you're able to resolve the grandma name issue, and that your DH eventually comes to see this woman for who/what she really is. 

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  • image MarganK:
    Yikes! Does DH have an issue with just her calling herself grandma, or does he not want her to act like Charlotte's grandma? I think that makes a difference, because like PP said, it seems that she really wants to dote on your child! If it's just the name, maybe there can be a good solution by talking it through with DH, then having him talk it over with his father. My mom's stepmother has always been just Gramma to me, but I think it took my mother a long time to for her to accept it.

     Great question and point. It's a mix of both for him honestly...both the term and the actions. Her using the term Grandma and wanting Charlotte to call her grandma is his really upsetting him right now...like if he hears it one more time he's going to blow. I think eventually though he will be more comfortable with her acting like a grandma since she does have very good intentions and wants to dote on little Charlotte....but even that will take time. I think an alternate name would certainly be a good start and ease some tension...I'm so glad I posted this here!!!


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  • image Dccornel:
    image Dani428:

    image Dccornel:
    If you have a conversation with her I think you need to support your husband. Telling her that she can do it just not around him says that you are okay with it and this may cause more problems for you down the line. Can your husband talk to your fil? It doesn't sound as if ignoring her will keep the peace for much longer.

     

    Yeah you're right it's not a good idea to say she can do it when he's not around...I veto my own suggestion lol. I didn't think about hubby talking to FIL. They have an interesting relationship when it comes to the new wife...but that's certainly a good option!!!

    Apparently I lost my ability to type, sorry. And if not the fil ... The mil ... Or whatever she is :P 

     

    Hahha OH! Both were good ideas lol. Hubby calls her ... THE WIFE. lol!


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  • Maybe your husband can talk to his dad about it in private?

  • image Aurora317:
    Ouch, this is a really tough situation!Personally, I would speak with her solo. You're both "outsiders" to the family, ie you married men who are blood relatives, you're on more equal footing. Tell her how much you appreciate the positive support she has give you amp; your DH, and let her know you're excited for her to be a part of your LO's family. Then just get down to brass tacks. If there's been this much strain in their relationship, I doubt she's oblivious to the fact. Let her know that it upsets your husband when she refers to herself as grandma, the same way it would upset him if she referred to herself as his mom. She is probably just so excited to be a grandma, that she never stopped to think how the title might upset her stepson, that it might come across to him as though his stepmother was trying to replace his actual mother, who in his mind is the "true" grandma, regardless of desire or ability to be involved in LO's life. Ask her if she would refrain from using that term for the time being, and try to come up with another special term Nana, Gigi, Mimi, etc to show that she has a special place in your LO's life.I'd see how that goes for a while, and if your DH still gets upset you might have to have a frank talk with him as well. It's understandable to have these sort of feelings in the beginning, but at some point he needs to accept the fact that his father is a capable adult who made a choice, and that choice is to be with a woman who has been a source of love and support for him for a long while. Honestly, since this all happened when he was so young, and he still feels this strongly about it, he should probably look into some sort ofnbsp;counseling. Having a parent with mental illness is a really hard thing, especially for a ten year old to deal with. It sounds like he feels as though his dad abandoned his mom, moved on with an opportunistic woman, and he feels a strong sense of responsibility and loyalty to his mother. These are good emotions to have, but it sounds like they're coming from a child's confusion of the situation and not a rational adult's acceptance of what a mental illness can do to a family.I really hope you're able to resolve the grandma name issue, and that your DH eventually comes to see this woman for who/what she really is.nbsp;
    nbsp;Thank you so much for your thoughts and suggestion. I agree that she's just so excited she's not thinking about the whole picture and how it may be affecting hubby.nbsp;I certainly hope we can all figure it out without any fighting or drama.nbsp; His dads wife has done some things later his life that caused more issues...but I agree that there needs to come a time when he can move on, ignore it, or find a better way to deal with it. He's gotten much better with dealing with his emotions with her the last few years so I have hope...but it's still pretty bad.

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  • Wow! That is complicated! I can understand why it would annoy your husband, because he has never accepted her as a step-mom, and it sounds like he never will because of the relationship with his mom. I would definitely try to talk to her about it. She doesn't need to be called grandma to get attention or to give attention to LO, she can be nana or whatever name you decide to use. See if that would be acceptable to DH.


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  • image Aurora317:

    Ouch, this is a really tough situation!

    Personally, I would speak with her solo. You're both "outsiders" to the family, ie you married men who are blood relatives, you're on more equal footing. Tell her how much you appreciate the positive support she has give you & your DH, and let her know you're excited for her to be a part of your LO's family. Then just get down to brass tacks. If there's been this much strain in their relationship, I doubt she's oblivious to the fact. Let her know that it upsets your husband when she refers to herself as grandma, the same way it would upset him if she referred to herself as his mom. She is probably just so excited to be a grandma, that she never stopped to think how the title might upset her stepson, that it might come across to him as though his stepmother was trying to replace his actual mother, who in his mind is the "true" grandma, regardless of desire or ability to be involved in LO's life. Ask her if she would refrain from using that term for the time being, and try to come up with another special term (Nana, Gigi, Mimi, etc) to show that she has a special place in your LO's life.

    I'd see how that goes for a while, and if your DH still gets upset you might have to have a frank talk with him as well. It's understandable to have these sort of feelings in the beginning, but at some point he needs to accept the fact that his father is a capable adult who made a choice, and that choice is to be with a woman who has been a source of love and support for him for a long while. Honestly, since this all happened when he was so young, and he still feels this strongly about it, he should probably look into some sort of counseling. Having a parent with mental illness is a really hard thing, especially for a ten year old to deal with. It sounds like he feels as though his dad abandoned his mom, moved on with an opportunistic woman, and he feels a strong sense of responsibility and loyalty to his mother. These are good emotions to have, but it sounds like they're coming from a child's confusion of the situation and not a rational adult's acceptance of what a mental illness can do to a family.

    I really hope you're able to resolve the grandma name issue, and that your DH eventually comes to see this woman for who/what she really is. 

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  • image lrichmond86:
    Maybe you could talk to dh and see if he would be comfortable with lo calling her a different name? Something like nanna or mimi? That way there's no confusion that dh's mom is "grandma" and that his sm is just another grandmotherly figure?


    Great idea. I love the thought of more people loving on baby, too. Sorry this is difficult for you and dh.
  • I'm with the others who suggested using a different name. (That's what my sister did with my step-grandmother whom she detests. I'm not sure why since the woman is lovely, but whatever.) I also think you need to sit down and talk to your husband. I get that people have difficult relationships with their step-parents, but it sounds like this woman 

    1) really is a sweet person and

    2) makes your FIL happy.

    She's going to be a part of Charlotte's life if you want her grandfather to be part of her life and that may be how you need to explain it to your husband. He's really not being fair to his dad in this whole thing either.

     

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  • Well she is the baby's step grandma. She loves your baby and I think it's great. Maybe you can come up with a cute nickname since your DH is sensitive about the issue. My mom is going to be Gi Gi. 
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  • sid464sid464
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    Everyone's given so much good advice!  Really just agreeing with everyone else-  If you can make these two things happen, hopefully it will make things a little better for everyone involved-

     1.  Choose a name besides Grandma that DH feels more comfortable with and still lets her feel included.

     2.  Let DH know that although you support him and understand that his relationship with her will probably always be a little "off", she is a part of your dad's life, and therefore is going to be a part of your child's life, and like someone else said, having one more person to love your baby isn't a bad thing.

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  • Thank you all so much for the great advice ... so many helpful suggestions!!!! Seriously don't know what I'd do without this board sometimes....crazy cheesy I know but I mean it. Hopefully I've been able to help and support others too.

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  • It sounds like you and your step mil and have a good relationship so it may work better for you to speak to her with kindness and empathy, which your H may not be able to do. Also this is assuming that your H won't mind you doing this. Ultimately I think it depends on how you and your H handle these things.

    In my marriage I would stay out of it and let DH handle it as he wishes, even if it is blowing up at her. DH and I both have complicated family situations and respect the way we handle our respective sides and support each other.

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  • image svodo:
    Man, that's rough. Maybe you could try and have DH see it from the baby's perspective? What would be best for baby? Two grandmas on his side that love him or a confusing relationship with his grandpa's wife? Obviously I don't know the whole situation, but the more people who love your baby the better!


    I would definitely say this is the best way of looking at it. Since it sounds like she was close with their family growing up, she is obviously a genuine, loving person who will offer nothing but love and care for LO. It seems like the issues your DH has with her don't affect how capable she is of loving LO, so it isn't hurtful for her to be a grandmotherly figure, other than the circumstances of how she came into that role making your DH uncomfortable.

    I would present it to your DH like the PP put it and see if he is can resolve his issues for the sake of LO's relationship with this person who is obviously going to be a part of her life, whether it be as a grandma, nana, grandpa's wife, or something else. Hopefully your DH can see which role will be most beneficial to LO, despite the fact that it may be a little uncomfortable to him.
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  • image Asbromle:
    I think it's something your husband is going to have to deal with. I would stay out of it:nbsp;


    I second this. Things get dicey when you get involved in family drama with a long history. But above all else, it is important to have your husband's back.
  • Wow...that is tough!!!! I think I'd talk with her, and maybe during the discussion ask if she'd be willing to go by a different name. Mimi, nana, etc. maybe the name "grandma" is what's really under your husbands skin, as it means she is the mother of the parent. I don't know...but I hope you can work it out! I feel for you!
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  • image mrschristinalou:
    Wow...that is tough!!!! I think I'd talk with her, and maybe during the discussion ask if she'd be willing to go by a different name. Mimi, nana, etc. maybe the name "grandma" is what's really under your husbands skin, as it means she is the mother of the parent. I don't know...but I hope you can work it out! I feel for you!

     

    THANKS! I feel more for my hubby to be honest...it's such a tough situation. Thanks again everyone!!


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