Major MIL Drama (longer post. sorry in advance.) — The Bump
July 2015 Moms

Major MIL Drama (longer post. sorry in advance.)

My mom has been planning a baby shower for me, which is great. She lives out of state, and so do my father, his wife, and my stepsister. My mom is doing the bulk of the shower planning, since she initiated the idea, but my stepmom, sister, and stepsister also have roles they're playing in it. They are all on the same page and all seemed to be working out really well. They were all similarly awesome during my wedding planning.

Well, my mom thought it would be polite to include my mother in law in part of the planning. My MIL lives about an hour away from DH and I. MIL is very controlling and high-maintenance, so my mom decided it would be a good idea to give her one specific task - food. That way she's included, but she can't take over the entire shower, which she would be inclined to do.

A bit of background: MIL is very, very pushy. She has been the only woman in the family for a long time (she has three sons including DH and a very passive husband), so she is used to planning and dictating everything that goes on. She's been very fortunate that most of the time, people humor her and follow her plans. She assumes that every holiday will be at her house and clearly has a problem if someone else attempts to plan an event besides her. Christmas was a nightmare. DH and I hosted it for the first time at our house, and all she did was try to control every aspect of the holiday and was actively campaigning to not have a holiday at our house again. She did this by loudly making comments all through Christmas, such as "We'll do it normally next year," and loudly asking my brother-in-law, "What do you think of the Christmas here? Not the usual, right?" Very rude. During our wedding planning, she tried to force multiple tacky ideas on me that had no relation to the theme or feel that DH and I had picked, and she INSISTED upon adding a bunch of random acquaintances of hers and ex-spouses of distant relatives to the guest list. Our guest list was supposed to only be about 100 total, and her list alone was about 200. When we told her we couldn't invite that many people (as we ourselves and my father were paying), she ignored us and just kept repeating, "You have to. You have to include everyone." She has tried to control and decorate the guest room in our house, she makes plans for us without asking, and she interrupts me whenever I speak. She also likes to talk about how much everything costs in her house, and will do things like give us a gift card to a restaurant, but then tell us we can only use it to treat her and her husband to dinner. 

So it was no surprise that MIL couldn't just plan the food aspect of the baby shower. She immediately started trying to control the decor and favors, which my mom had already planned for. My mom was shocked but still tried to be polite. Then MIL informed my mom (not asked, but informed) that she was adding about ten people to the guest list - all friends of hers who I have never met, and distant, out-of-state relatives. Keep in mind that the original list had my immediate family, DH's immediate family, and my close, personal friends. My mom still tried to be diplomatic with her.

The sh** really hit the fan when my MIL saw the shower invitation. Because so many people are involved in the planning - my mom, stepmom, sister, stepsister, and MIL - my mom thought it would be the simplest, most concise thing to do to write "Given by DMH1687's family" on the invite. That covers all the women involved. Well, my MIL went crazy. She thinks she should be separately acknowledged on the invitation and wants a clear distinction between "my family" and "her family." She wrote my mom a dramatic, pissy email explaining how she would be bowing out of the shower and planning her own, because she wants her own family to be better represented. My mom was flabbergasted. So I wrote to my MIL and told her that she was being unreasonable and self-absorbed, reminded her that the shower isn't about her, and that I will not be attending any such separate shower that she tries to plan. I also told her we're going to have to talk about a lot of things, since she has a pattern of controlling behavior and I don't want it affecting me, my husband, and my baby for the rest of our lives.

She has since tried to push BACK into the original shower, sent multiple bullying emails to my mom, and sent me multiple letters that explain how many "allies" she has in the matter (a list of people that "support" her) and try to pit me against my mom. I have stopped responding to her completely.

How would you handle this? Obviously these issues go much deeper than a baby shower. 

Re: Major MIL Drama (longer post. sorry in advance.)

  • I know what it is like to have a controlling mother/mother in law. But I would try to communicate and discuss wifh all of them what you want and how you want it to go down. Discussing something is completely different then arguing about something. Start off by saying to everyone, I respect your opinions and I appreciate the support and love that you have given my husband and I and our baby. Then go on to say that, I would like all of us to be part of this special event and we can all have equal parts. Express how much you don't want it to be chaotic and how it isn't anything personal and stress is not good for anyone especially you and the baby. Try and make it a positive environment so that your mother in law won't feel attacked and that your mom won't feel bad and betrayed. It really isn't about any of them, it is about the baby and your new roles as parents. Dealing with a control freak is hard, but approaching the situation with fire and anger will only create more fire and more drama. You need to set the ground rules and what you want straight forward. So what if she has other people backing her up or if she plans everything and has a great history at it. The fact is that you want a fun, stress free baby shower and if she doesn't like it, they don't have to come.
    MrsJIsbellUseTheTriforce94
  • I agree with the PPs answer, well said. Also, where is your husband in all of this? Has he said anything to her?
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  • I agree with the PPs answer, well said. Also, where is your husband in all of this? Has he said anything to her?

    This. You two need to be a unified front
    kalix87UseTheTriforce94
  • My husband is not effective in dealing with her. She is very narcissistic and has always been this way. Part of the reason she has gotten so bad is because her sons and husband will do just about anything to get her to stop harassing/carrying on, including just saying, "Yeah, okay, whatever," when they should probably be addressing her bad behavior and putting a stop to it. My MIL initially called my husband and kept him on the phone for a half hour, screaming at him because he didn't support her opinion. He told her calmly that she was being unreasonable. Her response to that is, "Well, your dad thinks I'm right!" Pretty sure FIL doesn't want anything to do with it and probably hasn't said anything about it.

    My poor DH called my mom on the phone to apologize to her and let her know that he supports her. But in terms of addressing the root issues and making sure she doesn't keep pulling this kind of thing, I think it's going to be up to me. A precedent definitely needs to be set, and proper boundaries have never been established. DH can't handle it and his mom doesn't take him seriously.

    I guess I am just going to have to hope she doesn't create a scene at the shower and deal head-on with her if (and WHEN) she oversteps with our baby. 
  • Gosh! What a nightmare. I think your handling your self just fine. What does you DH say? I can't believe someone would act this way it's so bizarre. Anyhow I don't have any advice but want to wish you the best of luck and try and stay calm. This added stress is not good for you. I personally wouldn't go to a shower she planned. If her and her following don't want to attend your moms shower then oh well. Good luck mama.
    UseTheTriforce94
  • Thank you for all your replies. It's going to be a bumpy ride....but somehow we will carry on!  ;)
  • Let her plan her own. Everyone wins and you'll get two showers. My MIL has never done anything for us including bring our baby a gift.
  • Definitely do not let her plan her own shower because again she will be getting her way. Your DH needs to let her know that you do not need the stress she is causing that she can either 1) attend your shower as it is currently being planned  or 2) choose not to attend. Simple as that. Not to be rude, but he needs to back you up on this and set boundaries with her NOW or you will be dealing with these kinds of issues the rest of her life. Narcissistic people like her do not change.
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  • I don't deal with bullshit. 
    I have no problem waving goodbye to someone if they're going to be like that. 
    I would have stopped talking to her (never saying something mean) but just not go out of my way for anything for her or get ahold of her.

    Bobby Llewellyn born September 29, 2012
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    UseTheTriforce94
  • Yours sounds a lot like mine. I moved 3.5 hours away from mine and that helps quite a bit! :) Honestly though, I just try to be civil enough to get by. You can't change women like this, but you're right that you don't have to take their shit either. Only the good die young, so you'll probably have to find a way to deal with her for a long time.


    June 2012 Mom (2.5 yr old boy), July 2015 Mom (team green), Babywearing newbie/enthusiast
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    sarahsairsairUseTheTriforce94
  • I have a similar woman in my family but instead of being related by marriage this women gave birth to me. My mom is one of the most manipulative, controlling women I know. Her latest was this past Easter, asking me if we planned on having my 12 year old daughter's ears pinned back at some point. She even offered to pay for it. I can't even tell you the anger i felt.

    I have worked in a corporate office environment around lots of different people, taken college courses and gone to seminars on interpersonal communication. I can tell you, these type of women do not deserve our consideration. These women thrive on getting their way and do not care who gets hurt with their bitchy actions.

    I think you did good, not letting her get away with such crappy behavior. It's about time someone stands up to her and if the men if her life refuse to well good for you for sticking to your guns.

    I know this isn't any advice or anything but just wanted to relate to you and support your decision. She sounds extremely familiar and I know these type of people do not respond well to "playing nice." Good luck with your shower, best wishes!
    sgrho2MrsJIsbell
  • Oh my... she sounds like a real headache. You should be honest with her. Tell her she is stressing you out, and you feel like this is more about her getting her way than showering you and the baby. Be concise and clear "if you can't be respectful and cooperative, then you really have no place being at the shower." Let her know that her behavior is causing stress on your pregnant self, and you are just not going to put up with it. If she tells you how many people are on her side, tell her that is ridiculous and there are no sides!  I would make a point the hard way and give her the lesson she rightfully deserves... no communication unless she can act her age!
    UseTheTriforce94
  • Well I think this will be a starting point for your mil if you don't set boundaries now. Imagine the torture in baby's bdays and other functions... I think you should ignore her and not invite her to your moms planned shower. If she still wants to have another planned let her do it and tell her that you won't attend if she tries to embarrass you. Sometimes you have to put your foot down. And in this case you are being a nice person by including her but if she wants to hijack all of your moms efforts
  • Thanks for all your support and input. I am definitely not backing down on this or anything else she tries to pull. And you're right, it would be nice if DH stepped up a bit more. I'm not quite sure how to approach that, as I don't want to be seen as the one putting him in the middle. 
  • It's his mother so it's not putting him in the middle. If anything HE's put you there. As long as he sits back and let's you deal with it she'll always think this is just what you want or how you feel but not him. He needs to step it up. But for men who have mothers like this it's hard for them bc they honestly want them to just shut up.
    erinnlouUseTheTriforce94
  • AmommyB said:

    I have a similar woman in my family but instead of being related by marriage this women gave birth to me. My mom is one of the most manipulative, controlling women I know. Her latest was this past Easter, asking me if we planned on having my 12 year old daughter's ears pinned back at some point. She even offered to pay for it. I can't even tell you the anger i felt.

    I have worked in a corporate office environment around lots of different people, taken college courses and gone to seminars on interpersonal communication. I can tell you, these type of women do not deserve our consideration. These women thrive on getting their way and do not care who gets hurt with their bitchy actions.

    I think you did good, not letting her get away with such crappy behavior. It's about time someone stands up to her and if the men if her life refuse to well good for you for sticking to your guns.

    I know this isn't any advice or anything but just wanted to relate to you and support your decision. She sounds extremely familiar and I know these type of people do not respond well to "playing nice." Good luck with your shower, best wishes!

    I feel you on this. I don't really have in laws (hubby's father passed away when he was 13 and hubby's mom didn't take the loss too well...MIL ended up living on the street addicted to speed. Hubbs was then raised by his grandparents) but honestly having my mother and her constant "opinions" and need for control is more than enough.

    OP I think you're doing great standing your ground!! As people have already said, you can't change or reason with women like that.
  • amyjay23amyjay23 member
    Long-Lasting Membership 100 Comments 100 Love Its Photogenic
    edited April 2015
    You don't need to be nice.  She obviously doesn't mind pushing people around, so you can be pushy back.  I'd let her know what's happening, tell her exactly what she can do if she wants to help or be involved, and make it clear that there is no room for negotiation.  If she wants to be a part of it, she will deal with it.  If she doesn't- her loss.  

    I always get stuck in the trap of trying to be polite to people, but when someone is being that overbearing and rude you can't really do anything except be direct.  Remember, she obviously doesn't care about your (or your mom's) feelings, so why should you tip toe around hers?

    UseTheTriforce94
  • I think you've handled it very well already, stick to your guns! If she carries on bullying your mum then I would tell her to not bother coming. It's about you and he baby not her.
  • Wow your whole situation sounds very similar to mine in every aspect! It's so awful sometimes I'm at a complete loss of what to do and my husband is so passive with her because he is used to her behavior, well I'm not and it causes a lot of tension with him and I. I feel tho that mine is a lost cause and I'll be stuck dealing with it forever. There is no talking to or reasoning w this woman. I hope your situation turns around although I feel it won't and it's one where you just have to deal w it. Luckily for u she's an hour away unlike mine which is 10 mins. Good luck to you!!
    UseTheTriforce94
  • Don't let her back in the shower. Don't go to one she wants to throw. Let her know you are done playing these childish games. If she wants any kind of relationship she needs to stop being like that. Period. Don't reply to any BS emails or phone calls. Only reply when she acts like an adult. Treat her like a child...( since she wants to act like one) " when you want to be a big girl and play nicely then we can talk " I dealt with the same thing. After about a month she stopped with the drama. I personally don't care what she thinks about me.. But she will damn well be respectful or she can stay away.
    ariejsmomUseTheTriforce94
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