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Christmas can be a wonderful, but challenging time of year – a fact that can be dependent upon how you plan to spend the festive season.
After all, for some, the idea of gathering with those they love can be an exciting prospect, but for others, it can be a daunting one. One mum who seems to feel this way took to Mumsnet to ask whether or not it was unreasonable to ban her mother-in-law from coming to stay for the holidays.
“Am I being unreasonable to say no to the MIL (mother-in-law) this Christmas?” her post began.
“She is visiting us just now, before today we hadn’t seen her since the beginning of 2020 when DD (dear daughter) was a baby. DD will be 3 soon and we also have baby DS (dear son). Dh (dear husband) and MIL are usually LC (low contact).
“MIL is all over the kids, quite literally. She basically follows DD around as DD plays with her toys. She hovers over DS as he’s playing on the floor and tries to get his attention all the time by making clicking noises. I took DS out to play in the swing, MIL wanted to come with, which was fine. I popped out through our gate to say a quick hi to a neighbour who was in his garden, she followed me all the way! After playing in the garden I was walking towards our bins carrying DS to put something small in, she actually followed me to the bins rather than going inside the house.
“All of this is made more awkward by the fact that MIL doesn’t speak much English (Has lived in the UK for 30+ years) so rather than trying to talk to the children she does this physical following, hovering and making weird clicking noises.
“She doesn’t know DS’s name, she called him ‘the little boy’. Small mercies, DS doesn’t like it when she tries to hold him and starts crying, DD refused to give her a goodnight hug when she asked. I’m neither encouraging or stopping the children from interacting with her and I let them just do what they feel comfortable with.
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“So AIBU (am I being unreasonable), DH said he might invite her for Christmas, which would mean a minimum 4-day stay because of the trains. He’s not being the best host at the moment, he’s playing on his phone and doing work stuff whilst she’s sitting in the living room with us. I would happily accommodate a 2-day stay but 4 days would just be too much for me, and probably the DC (dear children) too!
“I’ve said that she can visit after Christmas when the trains are running normally. She has a son and lots of close friends in her hometown so she wouldn’t be alone.”
Since posting her dilemma, the mum has received hundreds of comments. The majority of people seem to think it is unreasonable to ban the mother-in-law.
One user branded the mum ‘hostile’ in her attitude towards her mother-in-law, writing: “I can’t see that she’s done anything bad at all. Remember these are her grandkids and she has barely been able to see them since their birth due to Covid. You have a DH problem, he should be entertaining his own mum.
“You seem to be judging her for not speaking much English but perhaps you have no idea what prevented her from learning. Why would you say this is a small mercy? Poor woman, it sounds like a hostile environment for her.”
Another forumite chimed in: “I feel for her, she’s hardly doing anything wrong trying to form a bond somehow with her grandchildren.”
“From what you say your MIL sounds like she is trying to spend time with you,” commented another user. “I would encourage your DH, kids and MIL to spend time together. Alternatively, do some nice things together. You say you have a son, remember you too will be MIL to a daughter-in-law who might think the same about you.”
“Children should always be allowed to say no to a hug. That’s basic,” said another comment. “Apart from that she sounds tiring to be around but otherwise harmless, and your DH should be doing more to entertain her when he is not working.”
This seemed to be a common theme, with people saying she should ask her husband to become more involved. As one person put it: “Say no to Christmas. But right now, put a rocket up your DH. Say ‘I’m nipping out for a bit/going for a bath/having an early night. Sure you two have lots to talk about. And tomorrow I’m going for a long walk with my friend so you and MIL are looking after the kids’. Sure she’s longing to spend some quality time with you all.”
In reply, another user added: “This. Say to him unless he steps up to host her properly this weekend then you won’t even consider Christmas as an option. If they aren’t particularly close then Christmas is quite an intense experience to invite her for. Would she be alone if not with you? What did she do before 2022?
“Once she leaves, tell him truthfully you found that really difficult because she was hovering, following you etc. Tell him you can’t do that for Christmas, it will make the experience stressful for you and you’d prefer she came after for a shorter stay so you can all get used to staying together. It’s not about it being his mother as you’d feel the same if any guest was doing that.”
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