Author Topic: Do you have a good relationship with your parents and/or grown children?  (Read 22305 times)

Imma

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@elaine amj  so your dad did that thing of getting married and not telling you too?  My dad did that to my sister and me. 

Yep, 3rded. We were kids though. My dad picked us up for the weekend, and as we were driving he said, "oh, and by the way, (name) and I got married last weekend, so we'll be heading to stay at her place the whole time."

Me (10 yrs old): um.... congratulations, i guess?

Dad: Oh, thanks!

~

We did get invited to the wedding after that one though...


Edited to add: So I guess he did tell us himself, just after the fact.

I had no idea that this was so common.  At least he told you eventually though I guess.  I think our dad planned to keep us in the dark permanently except that it was kind of obvious because of the visa issues that they would have had otherwise.  I seriously have no idea what he was thinking (or his wife).  We all get on fine and we were all adults. Anyway, once I found out that they had gotten married I went and bought them a (small) wedding present and sent them a congratulatory card.  I'm always trying to act like a 'normal family' when my parents pull stuff like that.  I have no idea why I bother...

4th and 5th here! My dad told me about his last TWO weddings after the fact. I think it was a couple weeks after though, not years.  I was a kid one and an adult for the other one. It seemed so weird that I never mentioned it to anyone. I guess it's a thing.

Well, 6th and 7th here! Happened in my family and my in-laws. In my in-laws, the person didn't want to "upset their kids" by informing them about the wedding. They found out when new partner put up framed wedding pictures in the house.

In my case, my parent later claimed he informed me when I was in hospital recovering from a stroke. As I was not completely lucid I have no idea if this is true or not. Could be true. Wouldn't be surprised if it is because he completely lacked any kind of understanding that I was going throug a serious health episode at that time.

Didn't ever meet the new partner. I was apparantly supposed to meet them for the first time that a family party that I didn't attend because it was less than two weeks after I had returned home from hospital. Got a text from one family member afterwards to ask me how I was doing ( a nice person who'd visited me in hospital and had been worried about me) because I hadn't turned up to the party. That family member then told me that no one at the party was aware that I wasn't attending for medical reasons, instead they were told I wasn't attenting because I was having a tantrum about my father's partner. That's how I first heard about it.  A sibling had told me previously that they thought our parent was maybe seeing someone, but I didn't officially know that, and "maybe seeing someone" is a bit different from a remarriage.  I contacted my parent for clarification and they were very angry with me that I didn't even bother to remember the news about their new partner and how he thought it would be so nice to introduce us for the first time in the company of all our family.

My father and the host both made it clear that I was in the wrong for not turning up and meeting the new partner, and other than the one family member that contacted me, every single family member that attended that night has cut me off. And even some family members that didn't attend. It took me some time to realize. I have an uncle who lives far away and used to send me birthday cards, no other form of contact. The first time I didn't get a card on my birthday, I didn't think anything of it. People are busy, cards get lost in the mail. Then no card turned up at Christmas, maybe they've stopped sending Christmas cards? Then I heard he had a milestone birthday and had invited my siblings for a party, but not me, and it finally dawned on me what was going on. I sent him a birthday card wishing him a nice party and stopped sending cards after that. I was never close to that uncle, he always lived far away, so birthday and Christmas cards were our main method of communication, but I was so sad and disappointed that someone would just cut me off completely based on some untrue rumour that people had spread about me.

I am surprised how many people have gone through this. And not a "we eloped" thing but people trying to actively exclude their kids from their wedding ceremony or trying to eternally hide their wedding to their kids. That's just so extremely weird.

Hula Hoop

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@Imma so sorry that this happened to you too.  I'm extremely surprised that there are so many of us with this experience. Amazing!

My question is what on earth were all of our parents thinking when not telling us that they were married.  Especially when we have nothing against their new partner.  What exactly is their reasoning?  I didn't expect a wedding invitation but it would have been nice to at least have been informed of the event after the fact.  It really hurt me and made me feel like they didn't value me or my sister or our relationship to them at all.

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Come to think of it, my mom did it too. My mom and stepdad had a wedding planned and my dad was giving them shit for living together before the wedding (he is not religious, he was just being an ass), so they decided to have a quick courthouse wedding and have the ceremony later as planned. So anyway I thought they were just going out to dinner and they came back and told me they were married.

Imma

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@Imma so sorry that this happened to you too.  I'm extremely surprised that there are so many of us with this experience. Amazing!

My question is what on earth were all of our parents thinking when not telling us that they were married.  Especially when we have nothing against their new partner.  What exactly is their reasoning?  I didn't expect a wedding invitation but it would have been nice to at least have been informed of the event after the fact.  It really hurt me and made me feel like they didn't value me or my sister or our relationship to them at all.

I wish I could answer that, but I can't. I've heard "we didn't want to upset you" but who honestly thinks their kid would be less upset if they weren't invited to a wedding that everyone and their dog was invited to? Or "we didn't know if you would be upset about a new partner" well, you could have asked?

Especially if the parents have been divorced for a long time. I can imagine people would be upset if a parent got married to the person they cheated with in their previous marriage, or if they would jump into a quick new marriage right after the divorce, but if the divorce was a while ago and the dust has settled, everyone knows that new partners are a thing that could happen. When my sibling told me they thought my parent was seeing someone I was actually happy for them. In your case it seems extremely silly since you and your sibling had already met the new wife and didn't have any issue with her. How would your father have reacted if your boyfriend was suddenly your husband and you hadn't told him, and had never planned to tell him? He probably wouldn't be too happy about that. 

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My FIL married his mistress within weeks of finalizing the divorce, telling no one until after the fact. The mistress was suspected but not verified until this point. Years later when he passed away she ran off with everything that was supposed to go to his grandkids. We are still sorting out legal stuff even though she pissed the money away on drugs and plastic surgery already so I'm not sure of the point, though.

I don't have a good relationship with my mom, I did with my father when he was alive. He said something when I was a teenager that stuck with me. My mom had snapped "I'm you parent and not your friend" after snooping in my private journal. My dad was livid and he snapped back, "well I'm her parent AND her friend. In this house we respect privacy."

That argument and those words have guided my parenting style - Children deserve respect and we should raise them to be the sort of people we would be friends with. My adult son and his partner chose to live a block away from us so they could see us more often. I am both his mother and his friend, and he is both my son and my friend. I'm very close to my teen son as well, although parent is the stronger role still, of course. Punishment was rare for both my kids after the brief time-out discipline period around the 3 to 4 year mark, which is when the kids didn't quite have the vocab yet so needed calm down time before we could talk. We preferred discussions and talking about why we do the things we do and have the expectations we have. Even a 3 year old, once they calm down from being upset, can understand that they need to eat their dinner because we love them and want them to have the energy to play, so sweets come afterward. Too many parents spend so much time demanding and disciplining that they never actually get around to raising their children.

"Because I said so" is simply disrespectful and works to create the us vs them divide that so many parents complain about when it comes to their older kids. Do you like it when your boss says that to you? Yes, sometimes you have to put your foot down, but it costs nothing but a few moments of time to at least explain why you are doing so. If you can't explain it, then maybe you need to revisit your motives - it could be ego and not parenting causing one to make demands of a child's behavior. People laughed at me for my parenting philosophy when I was younger. Now they compliment me on how well my kids turned out.

Hula Hoop

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Come to think of it, my mom did it too. My mom and stepdad had a wedding planned and my dad was giving them shit for living together before the wedding (he is not religious, he was just being an ass), so they decided to have a quick courthouse wedding and have the ceremony later as planned. So anyway I thought they were just going out to dinner and they came back and told me they were married.

That's a bit different though as they actually told you that they were married.  I think what we're talking about here is people like my dad who got married and then didn't tell his children.

tygertygertyger

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Man, @Imma, what a terrible situation for you, and so unfair. What a loss for them not to keep a relationship with you! 

elaine amj

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Man, @Imma, what a terrible situation for you, and so unfair. What a loss for them not to keep a relationship with you!
I agree - what a loss for them!

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Imma

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Man, @Imma, what a terrible situation for you, and so unfair. What a loss for them not to keep a relationship with you!
I agree - what a loss for them!

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To this day it's a mystery to me. There's a reason that my uncle lives far away and that's because he ran into very similar issues with the family, he moved away as a young adult, lived his own life, occasionally visited the family in the old country. I maybe met him 10 times in my life, mainly at Christmas and funerals. So it wasn't a huge loss in an emotional sense but I still can't imagine that if a family member that you've had major issues with in the past calls you up to tell you some gossip story about your niece, you immediately believe that family member. Even though you know they lie to make themselves look better all the time. Maybe he was tired of being the black sheep and was happy to shift the blame on someone else?

Family is weird. I'm kind of surprised how common "not telling the kids you're married" thing is.

nereo

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Here’s a weird one (under: Things parents didn’t tell their children).  My friend didn’t find out until she was in her 20s that she was a US citizen.  Her father (a US citizen) was living in Canada and married a Canadian.  The marriage went south when she was little, and her mother always led her to believe that she was only a Canadian.  BUt apparently they did all the paperwork and she had dual-citizenship the whole time.

She only found out when she was accepted into a graduate program in the US and went to start the Visa process.


Hula Hoop

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@nereo -I can totally imagine my parents doing something like that.  Very bitter divorce issues and weirdness all around. 

We should start a new thread of commiseration for those of us who come from mucked up families. 


jeninco

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@nereo -I can totally imagine my parents doing something like that.  Very bitter divorce issues and weirdness all around. 

We should start a new thread of commiseration for those of us who come from mucked up families.

Although there's a fair bit of overlap between mucked up families and not having a good relationship with your parents.
I don't, really. But my parents are monumentally self-centered narcissists, my dad much more so. I do ... OK with my mom.

We're working hard to have better relationships with our own kids. So far, so good!

shelivesthedream

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I unfortunately had the perfect example today of my parents' perennial low-level dishonesty. They took our 3yo, Awdry, out to a park to give us a break. They went to a cafe and bought him cake and juice. When I had packed a little bag to take with them, I didn't pack any snacks because I said, "I assume if you're wanting food you'll all have some at that café." When they get home, Mr SLTD asked him if they had anything to eat while they were out (in the general asking how things were). He said he couldn't tell us because otherwise Granny and Grandad would not be allowed to come again.

It's clear what happened. They made a little "joke" that Awdry took seriously. Because he's THREE. And to say that incident in isolation is concerning makes me sound insane. But it's another example in the endless parade of gaslighting (making me out to have opinions I don't have in order to make me the bad guy); thinking lying is no big deal; and not thinking about how a child is going to perceive stuff.

So yeah, actually, I now don't want them to take him out again if they're going to do stuff behind my back and tell Awdry to lie about it. Shot their smartypants selves in the foot there. Except how can I say "I want to limit your contact with my children because you made a stupid joke"? Especially as I thought getting them to take him out would deal with the problem of him talking to them and them literally ignoring him and talking to someone else like he's not there.

Any actual advice welcomed with open arms. If I just say it with words, I'm opening myself up to years of passive aggressive backlash. (See: today's bullshit casting of me as Evil Funsponge.)

I'm glad we're moving away in a year and a bit so I can have an excuse to hide behind. My brother's getting married next year and wants kids asap. He's the golden child, so I hope it works out and we can just faaaaade away as the golden grandchildren get this shit instead.

DadJokes

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I have an okay relationship with my father. He and my mother separated when I was young. She died due to an unusual medical condition when I was five, and I went to live with him. He then married someone that I never got along with. It resulted in a very difficult childhood. I get along with my father today, but I still don't really forgive him for putting me through all of that as a child. I live halfway across the country from him and only talk to him when he calls every couple weeks or so.

My wife has a fairly good relationship with her parents. The relationship is by no means perfect. Their relationship is very surface level, and her mom still wants to parent her sometimes, but we see them several times per week and get along very well.

rockstache

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I unfortunately had the perfect example today of my parents' perennial low-level dishonesty. They took our 3yo, Awdry, out to a park to give us a break. They went to a cafe and bought him cake and juice. When I had packed a little bag to take with them, I didn't pack any snacks because I said, "I assume if you're wanting food you'll all have some at that café." When they get home, Mr SLTD asked him if they had anything to eat while they were out (in the general asking how things were). He said he couldn't tell us because otherwise Granny and Grandad would not be allowed to come again.

It's clear what happened. They made a little "joke" that Awdry took seriously. Because he's THREE. And to say that incident in isolation is concerning makes me sound insane. But it's another example in the endless parade of gaslighting (making me out to have opinions I don't have in order to make me the bad guy); thinking lying is no big deal; and not thinking about how a child is going to perceive stuff.

So yeah, actually, I now don't want them to take him out again if they're going to do stuff behind my back and tell Awdry to lie about it. Shot their smartypants selves in the foot there. Except how can I say "I want to limit your contact with my children because you made a stupid joke"? Especially as I thought getting them to take him out would deal with the problem of him talking to them and them literally ignoring him and talking to someone else like he's not there.

Any actual advice welcomed with open arms. If I just say it with words, I'm opening myself up to years of passive aggressive backlash. (See: today's bullshit casting of me as Evil Funsponge.)

I'm glad we're moving away in a year and a bit so I can have an excuse to hide behind. My brother's getting married next year and wants kids asap. He's the golden child, so I hope it works out and we can just faaaaade away as the golden grandchildren get this shit instead.
This is not about snacks. Anyone who tells my kid “not to tell mom and dad,” anything, joking or not, does not get to spend time alone with my children. Personally, I will die on that hill.

Stated blatantly, any reasonable adult would understand why that’s important. If your parents refuse to see that, they’re just baiting you.

charis

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My parents have a similar issue with trying to hide certain innocent behaviors or not wanting to discuss it. Beyond the basic, don't try to hide stuff or you can't be trusted with my child, it's the illogical leaps and drama that annoys. Like asking you to not bring my kid a happy meal every week or to  offer something to drink other than only juice does not mean that I'm a crazy health nut.

jeninco

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I unfortunately had the perfect example today of my parents' perennial low-level dishonesty. They took our 3yo, Awdry, out to a park to give us a break. They went to a cafe and bought him cake and juice. When I had packed a little bag to take with them, I didn't pack any snacks because I said, "I assume if you're wanting food you'll all have some at that café." When they get home, Mr SLTD asked him if they had anything to eat while they were out (in the general asking how things were). He said he couldn't tell us because otherwise Granny and Grandad would not be allowed to come again.

It's clear what happened. They made a little "joke" that Awdry took seriously. Because he's THREE. And to say that incident in isolation is concerning makes me sound insane. But it's another example in the endless parade of gaslighting (making me out to have opinions I don't have in order to make me the bad guy); thinking lying is no big deal; and not thinking about how a child is going to perceive stuff.

So yeah, actually, I now don't want them to take him out again if they're going to do stuff behind my back and tell Awdry to lie about it. Shot their smartypants selves in the foot there. Except how can I say "I want to limit your contact with my children because you made a stupid joke"? Especially as I thought getting them to take him out would deal with the problem of him talking to them and them literally ignoring him and talking to someone else like he's not there.

Any actual advice welcomed with open arms. If I just say it with words, I'm opening myself up to years of passive aggressive backlash. (See: today's bullshit casting of me as Evil Funsponge.)

I'm glad we're moving away in a year and a bit so I can have an excuse to hide behind. My brother's getting married next year and wants kids asap. He's the golden child, so I hope it works out and we can just faaaaade away as the golden grandchildren get this shit instead.
This is not about snacks. Anyone who tells my kid “not to tell mom and dad,” anything, joking or not, does not get to spend time alone with my children. Personally, I will die on that hill.

Stated blatantly, any reasonable adult would understand why that’s important. If your parents refuse to see that, they’re just baiting you.

Ditto. We had this exact conversation with my BIL when the kids were relatively small -- fortunately, he got the point right away. We basically said "for lots of reasons, but in particular because that's how abusers groom children, anyone who ever tells our kids "let's keep this secret from mom and dad" will never get a second chance to spend time alone with them."

In your case, I'd expand that to make sure that one or the other of you goes with your son on any excursion involving your parents for a while, because unfortunately the only way you'd find out that they'd said such a thing is if he tells you. But note that reasonable adults would have a positive reaction to the above statement, and feel free to point that out to your sucky parents.

And if they want to be passive aggressive? Hand the awkward right back to them -- you don't have to placate them, or try to make peace, or whatever. You get to set reasonable boundaries to keep your child(ren) safe, and if they can't follow simple rules, that's too bad for them.

Sibley

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I unfortunately had the perfect example today of my parents' perennial low-level dishonesty. They took our 3yo, Awdry, out to a park to give us a break. They went to a cafe and bought him cake and juice. When I had packed a little bag to take with them, I didn't pack any snacks because I said, "I assume if you're wanting food you'll all have some at that café." When they get home, Mr SLTD asked him if they had anything to eat while they were out (in the general asking how things were). He said he couldn't tell us because otherwise Granny and Grandad would not be allowed to come again.

It's clear what happened. They made a little "joke" that Awdry took seriously. Because he's THREE. And to say that incident in isolation is concerning makes me sound insane. But it's another example in the endless parade of gaslighting (making me out to have opinions I don't have in order to make me the bad guy); thinking lying is no big deal; and not thinking about how a child is going to perceive stuff.

So yeah, actually, I now don't want them to take him out again if they're going to do stuff behind my back and tell Awdry to lie about it. Shot their smartypants selves in the foot there. Except how can I say "I want to limit your contact with my children because you made a stupid joke"? Especially as I thought getting them to take him out would deal with the problem of him talking to them and them literally ignoring him and talking to someone else like he's not there.

Any actual advice welcomed with open arms. If I just say it with words, I'm opening myself up to years of passive aggressive backlash. (See: today's bullshit casting of me as Evil Funsponge.)

I'm glad we're moving away in a year and a bit so I can have an excuse to hide behind. My brother's getting married next year and wants kids asap. He's the golden child, so I hope it works out and we can just faaaaade away as the golden grandchildren get this shit instead.

Except it's not a stupid joke. It's an indication of a mindset. Telling children to keep secrets can be extremely dangerous too - it covers up grooming and sexual abuse, plus a whole set of lessor issues. What if your kid had a serious allergy that you were trying to figure out and they wouldn't stick to the elimination diet?

You don't have to tell your parents if you don't want to deal with the bs. You can just be busy. "Oh sorry, Tuesday isn't going to work for us" when they want to take the kid solo on Tuesday. They know what they're doing. They have a choice.

pachnik

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I unfortunately had the perfect example today of my parents' perennial low-level dishonesty. They took our 3yo, Awdry, out to a park to give us a break. They went to a cafe and bought him cake and juice. When I had packed a little bag to take with them, I didn't pack any snacks because I said, "I assume if you're wanting food you'll all have some at that café." When they get home, Mr SLTD asked him if they had anything to eat while they were out (in the general asking how things were). He said he couldn't tell us because otherwise Granny and Grandad would not be allowed to come again.

It's clear what happened. They made a little "joke" that Awdry took seriously. Because he's THREE. And to say that incident in isolation is concerning makes me sound insane. But it's another example in the endless parade of gaslighting (making me out to have opinions I don't have in order to make me the bad guy); thinking lying is no big deal; and not thinking about how a child is going to perceive stuff.

So yeah, actually, I now don't want them to take him out again if they're going to do stuff behind my back and tell Awdry to lie about it. Shot their smartypants selves in the foot there. Except how can I say "I want to limit your contact with my children because you made a stupid joke"? Especially as I thought getting them to take him out would deal with the problem of him talking to them and them literally ignoring him and talking to someone else like he's not there.

Any actual advice welcomed with open arms. If I just say it with words, I'm opening myself up to years of passive aggressive backlash. (See: today's bullshit casting of me as Evil Funsponge.)

I'm glad we're moving away in a year and a bit so I can have an excuse to hide behind. My brother's getting married next year and wants kids asap. He's the golden child, so I hope it works out and we can just faaaaade away as the golden grandchildren get this shit instead.
This is not about snacks. Anyone who tells my kid “not to tell mom and dad,” anything, joking or not, does not get to spend time alone with my children. Personally, I will die on that hill.

Stated blatantly, any reasonable adult would understand why that’s important. If your parents refuse to see that, they’re just baiting you.

Ditto. We had this exact conversation with my BIL when the kids were relatively small -- fortunately, he got the point right away. We basically said "for lots of reasons, but in particular because that's how abusers groom children, anyone who ever tells our kids "let's keep this secret from mom and dad" will never get a second chance to spend time alone with them."

In your case, I'd expand that to make sure that one or the other of you goes with your son on any excursion involving your parents for a while, because unfortunately the only way you'd find out that they'd said such a thing is if he tells you. But note that reasonable adults would have a positive reaction to the above statement, and feel free to point that out to your sucky parents.

And if they want to be passive aggressive? Hand the awkward right back to them -- you don't have to placate them, or try to make peace, or whatever. You get to set reasonable boundaries to keep your child(ren) safe, and if they can't follow simple rules, that's too bad for them.

+1  I don't have kids but I've heard this many times.  Asking a child to lie to his or her parents could get the kids into a dangerous situation.

Letj

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Very interesting.  Posting to follow.

former player

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Have you thought of writing a short letter explaining why it's not safe for Awdry to be taught to hide things from his parents and posting it to your parents?

You need to make it all about Awdry and not about what they've done.  So not "you told him to keep secrets from us" but "Awdry came home saying he wasn't supposed to tell us X.  This is very dangerous because Y.  Please ensure that he is never again given any reason to say he isn't supposed to tell us things.  Thanks."
« Last Edit: May 27, 2021, 01:44:09 AM by former player »

shelivesthedream

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Quote
And if they want to be passive aggressive? Hand the awkward right back to them -- you don't have to placate them, or try to make peace, or whatever. You get to set reasonable boundaries to keep your child(ren) safe, and if they can't follow simple rules, that's too bad for them.

Ever heard the phrase "reasons are for reasonable people"? I would be better off not giving any reasons at all, so they can't nitpick them and make me out to be the bad unreasonable guy AGAIN.

I'm still dealing with the huffing fallout of asking my dad not to blaspheme in front of our kids. (He says things like "Ugh, Jesus Christ" or "for God's sake" a LOT by anyone's standards.) I get that's it's no big deal for him, but I just don't think it's that big an ask.

We still talk to them for three reasons:
1. My grandmother is 93 and still going, and I just know that if we stopped contact my mother would be really shitty about it to Granny, and I don't want to upset my lovely grandmother who would not understand.
2. Awdry and Geronima, at the moment, love them and are super excited to see them. But yesterday I saw Awdry's little face as my parents ignored what he was saying and talked over him. So this may change.
3. Misplaced filial guilt due to years of Stockholm syndrome.

So a lot of it is not wanting to make other people unhappy just because I personally think they are awful people.

shelivesthedream

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I sent the following, crafted to allow them to deny malicious intent but to let them know we're onto them:

Awdry told us he wasn't allowed to tell us something about yesterday's excursion because otherwise you wouldn't come back. I'm not sure what that's about, but obviously it's concerning that he's picked up the idea that he's supposed to lie to us. Obviously it's a potential safety issue if he believes other adults can tell him to hide things from us. I presume he got the wrong end of the conversational stick somewhere - I don't know if you can shed any light?

The crazy thing is that I wouldn't worry about them going against my explicit instructions, like an allergy diet. They just want to attribute opinions to me I don't have so they can make me be the bad guy. Which is actually much more sinister when they're doing it to my own son, but also harder to deal with.

I did call her out on something yesterday, though. I'm usually not sufficiently quick off the mark to process, "That was a shitty thing to say...really shitty...I should say something...I should say X" in the moment. But Mum made some comment about how I'd definitely be feeling better when I was 16 weeks pregnant (I'm 14 weeks) and I said that you just never know with pregnancy, and she said "You definitely will, I've been pregnant twice, remember?" and quick as a flash, I said, "So have I!"

I mean seriously, she has been pregnant twice in her body thirty years ago. I have been pregnant two and a bit times in my body within the past four years. I think I'm the one who knows when I might feel better here. But no, everyone else in the world is an idiot even about their own selves.

Imma

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You are definitely not overreacting @shelivesthedream . Even if it was a joke, you don't make those kind of jokes to a three-year old. Everyone knows that, even people that don't even have kids. And you always make sure you tell the parents everything that happens, even if they reflect badly on you, because you don't want the child to feel uncomfortable discussing anything with their parents.

My friend has a 15 year old and they came over for brunch one day. My friend was on a short errand in this neighbourhood, kid was already at my house, I offered them something to drink. He knew I had Pepsi so he asked for that. I know they are never allowed full sugar soft drinks but I had diet, so I gave him a small glass as I wasn't sure my friend was ok with soft drinks in the morning. He drank it before my friend returned, I could have easily kept it quiet, but I told my friend as soon as they came back. Because I'm not the parent, but I am the adult in the situation and I should take responsability for my actions. My friend wasn't too bothered as it was a special occasion, but the kid wouldn't have gotten it at home. This is a super trivial matter but if you're not transparant about trivial things, how can you expect someone to trust you to be transparent on non-trivial things?

In the case of your parents it seems like they're trying to undermine you in tiny, trivial ways, small enough to say "who cares about that?" but there is something wrong with you if you undermine a parent in front of their children. It seems like they use trivial matters to test the boundaries. It's like stealing a couple of coins from a your kitchen table. You wouldn't even miss that kind of money, but they've still crossed a major line.

elaine amj

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So frustrating! Especially when this incident is just one in a long string of very frustrating incidents. I hope you find the right boundaries for them. And as you say, in just a year and a bit, you'll have some physical distance too which should help considerably. 

My MIL was difficult too, although nowhere near as challenging as your parents sound. We lived with her when my DD and DS were born (AND GrandMIL, so lots of fun for me!). When DD was a toddler, the candy and junk food became a daily thing and DH put his foot down. After that, she hid it in the kitchen and would sneak DD treats (still daily). That (along with quite a number of other issues) pushed us to move out. Sneaking treats once a week was much more bearable. Of course, 2 years later, she moved in with us for health reasons and stayed for 10 years lol. But on our turf, she had less access to hide things from us. I did turn a blind eye to some things and let that be between grandma and the kids.

MIL wasn't a big fan of me most of the time (some years yes, many years no) and the kids heard a ton of badmouthing of me through the years from all the in laws (usually behind my back. I knew though as they would tell on each other) but have always tuned it all out. Now my kids are grown and I don't think they even remember their being critical of me. Especially since in their later years as they declined, they each liked me more as I took care of each of them in their turn.

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jeninco

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It's also worth pointing out that if you have a good relationship with your kids, it's unlikely your parents will be able to undermine it. If you're feeling, er, "Educational", you can also start teaching your kids how to interact like reasonable people (and model that behavior, which -- at least per what you've been posting here -- you're trying hard to do).  Remember, though -- you're also modeling how to deal with difficult people when you interact with your parents in front of your kids! Do you want them to put up with limitless putdowns and snide comments, or to be able to politely (as appropriate) say "wow, that's rude."

Signed, someone with older kids and one true asshole parent. (Spoiler -- none of us talk with him at this point, including the kids. Which is fine -- there are plenty of other GOOD older male role models in their lives.)

shelivesthedream

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Today I apologised to Awdry for something I did yesterday. (He deliberately fell on top of Geronima after she'd fallen over and was already crying. I shoved him off her. He cried "Pushing is not allowed!" I yelled that I didn't care and, uh, various other things. Geronima was fine in the end.) I was kind of nervous that either he wouldn't remember, or that he'd get upset in remembering. But he didn't. He took it very graciously, and we actually had a nice chat about it. It was good.

I've been reading "The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read". I don't love it. The way it suggests you talk to your children is very much like "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen" which I DO love (we have the "little" version and the siblings book). However, I feel it places a lot of blame and adverse responsibility on parents' shoulders. I haven't finished it, but this far it's basically made me feel bad about everything I've done in the past, including while our kids were in the womb. I will keep reading, I think, but I have found How To Talk Etc a much more positive book for building a relationship with your kids that didn't make me feel like I'd already fucked them up beyond all repair.

Mr SLTD and I talk about my parents. Ultimately, we don't regard them as trustworthy people (see my million posts upthread) and can't be bothered to put in any work to change them when it would be mainly for their benefit (so we trusted them with their grandkids).  The plan is to do the minimum necessary for the next 18 months then move house and slow fade them (and hope my brother's had his kids by then to divert their attention).

FLBiker

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Thanks for this thread!

A couple of things -- I had a great relationship with my mom (she died a few years ago) and I don't have much of one with my dad.  That's basically the same as it was in childhood (they were married, he just wasn't particularly involved).  I am much more involved with parenting my daughter -- I love spending time with her and she knows it.  I feel like, ultimately, that's all that matters.  At the same time, I am definitely her parent, and not her friend.  And, as she gets older, I think the key is respecting boundaries.  My parents were great about that.

My in laws, on the other hand, are not.  I could totally relate to the little gaslighting, "you're no fun" type stuff.  For example, we wanted (and still want) to minimize the role of licensed characters in our house.  They didn't agree.  Similarly with food stuff, we're vegetarian, they aren't.  I'm certainly not expecting you to become vegetarian, but you can't sneak meat to my kid.  From my POV, you're either on the parenting team or your off it, and if you're off it, why would I want you involved?

Encouraging my kid to lie to me is 1) a non-negotiable dealbreaker and 2) very unlikely to work.  Unsurprisingly, my wife doesn't have a great relationship with her folks.  They have always been kind of meddlesome and gaslighting with her, and they always tell her that she's too sensitive whenever she calls them on it.  And as my wife has spent less time with them over the years, she has grown less tolerant of their BS and more willing to call them out.  Seems easy enough not to be like that.  Her father also has a lousy temper, which doesn't help.

Fortunately, DW and I on the same page in terms of boundaries, so it hasn't been so bad.  It's too bad my mom died, though -- she would have been a great grandmother, and we would have been totally supportive of DD going for visits to their house.  While I trust that DD would be safe with my dad and his new wife, I don't think they have any interest.  And I wouldn't send my daughter (even at age 6) to stay with my in laws.  They just don't make good choices.  And, frankly, there house isn't safe (kind of hoardery, lots of tools / unfinished projects everywhere, and too many prescription pills around).  Now that we've moved away from Florida, I'm sure she and my wife will go stay with them sometimes, but that's fine so long as my wife is there.  I don't think I have it in me to stay there.

nereo

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Thanks for this thread!

A couple of things -- I had a great relationship with my mom (she died a few years ago) and I don't have much of one with my dad.  That's basically the same as it was in childhood (they were married, he just wasn't particularly involved).  I am much more involved with parenting my daughter -- I love spending time with her and she knows it.  I feel like, ultimately, that's all that matters.  At the same time, I am definitely her parent, and not her friend.  And, as she gets older, I think the key is respecting boundaries.  My parents were great about that.

My in laws, on the other hand, are not.  I could totally relate to the little gaslighting, "you're no fun" type stuff.  For example, we wanted (and still want) to minimize the role of licensed characters in our house.  They didn't agree.  Similarly with food stuff, we're vegetarian, they aren't.  I'm certainly not expecting you to become vegetarian, but you can't sneak meat to my kid.  From my POV, you're either on the parenting team or your off it, and if you're off it, why would I want you involved?

Encouraging my kid to lie to me is 1) a non-negotiable dealbreaker and 2) very unlikely to work.  Unsurprisingly, my wife doesn't have a great relationship with her folks.  They have always been kind of meddlesome and gaslighting with her, and they always tell her that she's too sensitive whenever she calls them on it.  And as my wife has spent less time with them over the years, she has grown less tolerant of their BS and more willing to call them out.  Seems easy enough not to be like that.  Her father also has a lousy temper, which doesn't help.

Fortunately, DW and I on the same page in terms of boundaries, so it hasn't been so bad.  It's too bad my mom died, though -- she would have been a great grandmother, and we would have been totally supportive of DD going for visits to their house.  While I trust that DD would be safe with my dad and his new wife, I don't think they have any interest.  And I wouldn't send my daughter (even at age 6) to stay with my in laws.  They just don't make good choices.  And, frankly, there house isn't safe (kind of hoardery, lots of tools / unfinished projects everywhere, and too many prescription pills around).  Now that we've moved away from Florida, I'm sure she and my wife will go stay with them sometimes, but that's fine so long as my wife is there.  I don't think I have it in me to stay there.

That sounds really tough with your in-laws.  I certainly would not be ok with them openly lying to me either. Can you give some examples of the 'gaslighting' that you describe?

FLBiker

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Thanks for this thread!

A couple of things -- I had a great relationship with my mom (she died a few years ago) and I don't have much of one with my dad.  That's basically the same as it was in childhood (they were married, he just wasn't particularly involved).  I am much more involved with parenting my daughter -- I love spending time with her and she knows it.  I feel like, ultimately, that's all that matters.  At the same time, I am definitely her parent, and not her friend.  And, as she gets older, I think the key is respecting boundaries.  My parents were great about that.

My in laws, on the other hand, are not.  I could totally relate to the little gaslighting, "you're no fun" type stuff.  For example, we wanted (and still want) to minimize the role of licensed characters in our house.  They didn't agree.  Similarly with food stuff, we're vegetarian, they aren't.  I'm certainly not expecting you to become vegetarian, but you can't sneak meat to my kid.  From my POV, you're either on the parenting team or your off it, and if you're off it, why would I want you involved?

Encouraging my kid to lie to me is 1) a non-negotiable dealbreaker and 2) very unlikely to work.  Unsurprisingly, my wife doesn't have a great relationship with her folks.  They have always been kind of meddlesome and gaslighting with her, and they always tell her that she's too sensitive whenever she calls them on it.  And as my wife has spent less time with them over the years, she has grown less tolerant of their BS and more willing to call them out.  Seems easy enough not to be like that.  Her father also has a lousy temper, which doesn't help.

Fortunately, DW and I on the same page in terms of boundaries, so it hasn't been so bad.  It's too bad my mom died, though -- she would have been a great grandmother, and we would have been totally supportive of DD going for visits to their house.  While I trust that DD would be safe with my dad and his new wife, I don't think they have any interest.  And I wouldn't send my daughter (even at age 6) to stay with my in laws.  They just don't make good choices.  And, frankly, there house isn't safe (kind of hoardery, lots of tools / unfinished projects everywhere, and too many prescription pills around).  Now that we've moved away from Florida, I'm sure she and my wife will go stay with them sometimes, but that's fine so long as my wife is there.  I don't think I have it in me to stay there.

That sounds really tough with your in-laws.  I certainly would not be ok with them openly lying to me either. Can you give some examples of the 'gaslighting' that you describe?

The gaslighting typically takes the form of revisionist history -- usually my FIL saying "I never did / said that" (when he did) and MIL backing him up.  And then my wife is told that "she's making a big deal out of nothing" and that "she's so sensitive".  Like, for example, the time that my FIL lost his temper, shouted at my wife, her mother and her grandmother and drove off leaving the three of them at the restaurant by themselves (so my wife had to drop off her mom and grandmother before coming home).  That didn't happen (except that it did).

shelivesthedream

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That sounds really tough with your in-laws.  I certainly would not be ok with them openly lying to me either. Can you give some examples of the 'gaslighting' that you describe?

I don't know if this has specifically happened to FLBiker, but the kind of thing that goes on with my parents is:

Me: We're vegetarian*. Don't give my kid that ham sandwich.
Parents: Sorry, sweetie, you're not allowed any sandwiches because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so.
[Toddler is upset because he thinks he's not getting any lunch.]
Me: He can have a cheese sandwich, just not a ham one. Here, have a cheese sandwich. [Spends some time consoling toddler.]

*Example because FLBiker brought it up. We're not.

Me: When you take him to the zoo, please don't buy him anything from the gift shop.
Parents take child round the zoo and instead of walking past the gift shop, they take him in, let him look at loads of stuff and then either:
a) "Sorry, sweetie, we're not allowed to buy you that thing we've cajoled you into wanting because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so."
b) They return home with a massive stoopid toy. "Oh, you meant don't buy him anything from the gift shop! I didn't realise! But he looooooves it, can't he keep it, Mean Mummy, pwetty pwease?"
c) They return home with a massive stoopid toy. "Oh, you meant don't buy him anything from the gift shop! I didn't realise! Here, sweetie, you'll have to give me that toy. You're not allowed to keep it because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so."
When this fantastic option exists of just not taking him into a shop if you're not going to buy him anything. Or saying at the beginning that you're not going to buy anything but he can have a look if he still wants to. He can absolutely handle hearing that because we've never bought him anything "off list" and the only shop he's accustomed to going to is Aldi to do the weekly food shop, which is done off a prewritten list.

It's hard to understand if you've never had to deal with it. Mostly, each individual incident isn't really a massive problem. But it's like death of a thousand cuts.

Our wonderful friend took Awdry, who is three, to a museum. We said don't give him anything to drink except water (juice etc causes a peeathon) and don't buy him anything from the gift shop. Other than that, have fun! So the carton of juice they got with his kids meal came home unopened in her bag, and she said they looked at the models in the gift shop and he did think he was taking one home but she explained they weren't to keep and it was fine. Somehow she was able to understand and action our requests with zero drama and zero creating of situations where Awdry gets confused/upset because of something that isn't actually what I said. Somehow she managed to understand that even though we don't give biscuits/sweets/whatever at home on normal days, it was fine to give him a big chocolate cookie on the way home, and to know that we'd be happy he'd had a nice time eating it. Somehow she figured out that when we asked if he'd eaten much at lunchtime, we were asking if he'd had a big lunch or a small lunch so we knew how much dinner to make him, and there was no need to cower in pretend fear and say, "Ohhh, wellll, we were going to get him the nice-sounding children's meal but we knew we weren't allowed to give him [list of made up things I never said he's not allowed], so we told him Mummy had said he wasn't allowed it and got him a plain sandwich instead. He was sooooo disappointed!"

So I either have the choice of giving a general rule that they will wilfully misinterpret to make me a bad guy by saying I said something adjacent to what I did say, but not actually what I said. Or I have to give a rule for every possible situation and then it's so confuuuuuuusing and I'm so meeeeaaaaan and prescriptive, wah wah wah.

Fuck, I need to get these people out of my life. I have no idea how. But typing it out is really bringing it home to me. It kind of gets lost in the flow of conversation and I'm not very quick to process and react to it, but it's actually kinda awful now it's here in black and white with a spotlight on it.[/list]

DadJokes

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That sounds really tough with your in-laws.  I certainly would not be ok with them openly lying to me either. Can you give some examples of the 'gaslighting' that you describe?

I don't know if this has specifically happened to FLBiker, but the kind of thing that goes on with my parents is:

Me: We're vegetarian*. Don't give my kid that ham sandwich.
Parents: Sorry, sweetie, you're not allowed any sandwiches because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so.
[Toddler is upset because he thinks he's not getting any lunch.]
Me: He can have a cheese sandwich, just not a ham one. Here, have a cheese sandwich. [Spends some time consoling toddler.]

*Example because FLBiker brought it up. We're not.

Me: When you take him to the zoo, please don't buy him anything from the gift shop.
Parents take child round the zoo and instead of walking past the gift shop, they take him in, let him look at loads of stuff and then either:
a) "Sorry, sweetie, we're not allowed to buy you that thing we've cajoled you into wanting because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so."
b) They return home with a massive stoopid toy. "Oh, you meant don't buy him anything from the gift shop! I didn't realise! But he looooooves it, can't he keep it, Mean Mummy, pwetty pwease?"
c) They return home with a massive stoopid toy. "Oh, you meant don't buy him anything from the gift shop! I didn't realise! Here, sweetie, you'll have to give me that toy. You're not allowed to keep it because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so."
When this fantastic option exists of just not taking him into a shop if you're not going to buy him anything. Or saying at the beginning that you're not going to buy anything but he can have a look if he still wants to. He can absolutely handle hearing that because we've never bought him anything "off list" and the only shop he's accustomed to going to is Aldi to do the weekly food shop, which is done off a prewritten list.

It's hard to understand if you've never had to deal with it. Mostly, each individual incident isn't really a massive problem. But it's like death of a thousand cuts.

Our wonderful friend took Awdry, who is three, to a museum. We said don't give him anything to drink except water (juice etc causes a peeathon) and don't buy him anything from the gift shop. Other than that, have fun! So the carton of juice they got with his kids meal came home unopened in her bag, and she said they looked at the models in the gift shop and he did think he was taking one home but she explained they weren't to keep and it was fine. Somehow she was able to understand and action our requests with zero drama and zero creating of situations where Awdry gets confused/upset because of something that isn't actually what I said. Somehow she managed to understand that even though we don't give biscuits/sweets/whatever at home on normal days, it was fine to give him a big chocolate cookie on the way home, and to know that we'd be happy he'd had a nice time eating it. Somehow she figured out that when we asked if he'd eaten much at lunchtime, we were asking if he'd had a big lunch or a small lunch so we knew how much dinner to make him, and there was no need to cower in pretend fear and say, "Ohhh, wellll, we were going to get him the nice-sounding children's meal but we knew we weren't allowed to give him [list of made up things I never said he's not allowed], so we told him Mummy had said he wasn't allowed it and got him a plain sandwich instead. He was sooooo disappointed!"

So I either have the choice of giving a general rule that they will wilfully misinterpret to make me a bad guy by saying I said something adjacent to what I did say, but not actually what I said. Or I have to give a rule for every possible situation and then it's so confuuuuuuusing and I'm so meeeeaaaaan and prescriptive, wah wah wah.

Fuck, I need to get these people out of my life. I have no idea how. But typing it out is really bringing it home to me. It kind of gets lost in the flow of conversation and I'm not very quick to process and react to it, but it's actually kinda awful now it's here in black and white with a spotlight on it.[/list]

Fuck that shit. My child would not be seeing his grandparents if they pulled those kind of shenanigans.

Sibley

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That sounds really tough with your in-laws.  I certainly would not be ok with them openly lying to me either. Can you give some examples of the 'gaslighting' that you describe?

I don't know if this has specifically happened to FLBiker, but the kind of thing that goes on with my parents is:

Me: We're vegetarian*. Don't give my kid that ham sandwich.
Parents: Sorry, sweetie, you're not allowed any sandwiches because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so.
[Toddler is upset because he thinks he's not getting any lunch.]
Me: He can have a cheese sandwich, just not a ham one. Here, have a cheese sandwich. [Spends some time consoling toddler.]

*Example because FLBiker brought it up. We're not.

Me: When you take him to the zoo, please don't buy him anything from the gift shop.
Parents take child round the zoo and instead of walking past the gift shop, they take him in, let him look at loads of stuff and then either:
a) "Sorry, sweetie, we're not allowed to buy you that thing we've cajoled you into wanting because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so."
b) They return home with a massive stoopid toy. "Oh, you meant don't buy him anything from the gift shop! I didn't realise! But he looooooves it, can't he keep it, Mean Mummy, pwetty pwease?"
c) They return home with a massive stoopid toy. "Oh, you meant don't buy him anything from the gift shop! I didn't realise! Here, sweetie, you'll have to give me that toy. You're not allowed to keep it because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so."
When this fantastic option exists of just not taking him into a shop if you're not going to buy him anything. Or saying at the beginning that you're not going to buy anything but he can have a look if he still wants to. He can absolutely handle hearing that because we've never bought him anything "off list" and the only shop he's accustomed to going to is Aldi to do the weekly food shop, which is done off a prewritten list.

It's hard to understand if you've never had to deal with it. Mostly, each individual incident isn't really a massive problem. But it's like death of a thousand cuts.

Our wonderful friend took Awdry, who is three, to a museum. We said don't give him anything to drink except water (juice etc causes a peeathon) and don't buy him anything from the gift shop. Other than that, have fun! So the carton of juice they got with his kids meal came home unopened in her bag, and she said they looked at the models in the gift shop and he did think he was taking one home but she explained they weren't to keep and it was fine. Somehow she was able to understand and action our requests with zero drama and zero creating of situations where Awdry gets confused/upset because of something that isn't actually what I said. Somehow she managed to understand that even though we don't give biscuits/sweets/whatever at home on normal days, it was fine to give him a big chocolate cookie on the way home, and to know that we'd be happy he'd had a nice time eating it. Somehow she figured out that when we asked if he'd eaten much at lunchtime, we were asking if he'd had a big lunch or a small lunch so we knew how much dinner to make him, and there was no need to cower in pretend fear and say, "Ohhh, wellll, we were going to get him the nice-sounding children's meal but we knew we weren't allowed to give him [list of made up things I never said he's not allowed], so we told him Mummy had said he wasn't allowed it and got him a plain sandwich instead. He was sooooo disappointed!"

So I either have the choice of giving a general rule that they will wilfully misinterpret to make me a bad guy by saying I said something adjacent to what I did say, but not actually what I said. Or I have to give a rule for every possible situation and then it's so confuuuuuuusing and I'm so meeeeaaaaan and prescriptive, wah wah wah.

Fuck, I need to get these people out of my life. I have no idea how. But typing it out is really bringing it home to me. It kind of gets lost in the flow of conversation and I'm not very quick to process and react to it, but it's actually kinda awful now it's here in black and white with a spotlight on it.[/list]

Fuck that shit. My child would not be seeing his grandparents if they pulled those kind of shenanigans.

My grandparents DID pull that shit and guess what? We didn't see them for the longest time. It was probably the best option for us. All my cousins, who did spend a bunch of time with the grandparents, are all a bit screwy.

mspym

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@shelivesthedream that is some A-grade arseholery and I hope you can slow fade as soon as possible.

FLBiker

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That sounds really tough with your in-laws.  I certainly would not be ok with them openly lying to me either. Can you give some examples of the 'gaslighting' that you describe?

I don't know if this has specifically happened to FLBiker, but the kind of thing that goes on with my parents is:

Me: We're vegetarian*. Don't give my kid that ham sandwich.
Parents: Sorry, sweetie, you're not allowed any sandwiches because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so.
[Toddler is upset because he thinks he's not getting any lunch.]
Me: He can have a cheese sandwich, just not a ham one. Here, have a cheese sandwich. [Spends some time consoling toddler.]

*Example because FLBiker brought it up. We're not.

Me: When you take him to the zoo, please don't buy him anything from the gift shop.
Parents take child round the zoo and instead of walking past the gift shop, they take him in, let him look at loads of stuff and then either:
a) "Sorry, sweetie, we're not allowed to buy you that thing we've cajoled you into wanting because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so."
b) They return home with a massive stoopid toy. "Oh, you meant don't buy him anything from the gift shop! I didn't realise! But he looooooves it, can't he keep it, Mean Mummy, pwetty pwease?"
c) They return home with a massive stoopid toy. "Oh, you meant don't buy him anything from the gift shop! I didn't realise! Here, sweetie, you'll have to give me that toy. You're not allowed to keep it because [eyeroll, put-upon voice] Mummy says so."
When this fantastic option exists of just not taking him into a shop if you're not going to buy him anything. Or saying at the beginning that you're not going to buy anything but he can have a look if he still wants to. He can absolutely handle hearing that because we've never bought him anything "off list" and the only shop he's accustomed to going to is Aldi to do the weekly food shop, which is done off a prewritten list.

It's hard to understand if you've never had to deal with it. Mostly, each individual incident isn't really a massive problem. But it's like death of a thousand cuts.

Our wonderful friend took Awdry, who is three, to a museum. We said don't give him anything to drink except water (juice etc causes a peeathon) and don't buy him anything from the gift shop. Other than that, have fun! So the carton of juice they got with his kids meal came home unopened in her bag, and she said they looked at the models in the gift shop and he did think he was taking one home but she explained they weren't to keep and it was fine. Somehow she was able to understand and action our requests with zero drama and zero creating of situations where Awdry gets confused/upset because of something that isn't actually what I said. Somehow she managed to understand that even though we don't give biscuits/sweets/whatever at home on normal days, it was fine to give him a big chocolate cookie on the way home, and to know that we'd be happy he'd had a nice time eating it. Somehow she figured out that when we asked if he'd eaten much at lunchtime, we were asking if he'd had a big lunch or a small lunch so we knew how much dinner to make him, and there was no need to cower in pretend fear and say, "Ohhh, wellll, we were going to get him the nice-sounding children's meal but we knew we weren't allowed to give him [list of made up things I never said he's not allowed], so we told him Mummy had said he wasn't allowed it and got him a plain sandwich instead. He was sooooo disappointed!"

So I either have the choice of giving a general rule that they will wilfully misinterpret to make me a bad guy by saying I said something adjacent to what I did say, but not actually what I said. Or I have to give a rule for every possible situation and then it's so confuuuuuuusing and I'm so meeeeaaaaan and prescriptive, wah wah wah.

Fuck, I need to get these people out of my life. I have no idea how. But typing it out is really bringing it home to me. It kind of gets lost in the flow of conversation and I'm not very quick to process and react to it, but it's actually kinda awful now it's here in black and white with a spotlight on it.[/list]

This is SO relatable!  These are exactly the types of interactions we have.  Again, fortunately my wife and I are on the same page, which makes it much easier.  Also, we moved last July from Florida (where they were about an hour away) to Nova Scotia.  There's only so much trouble they can cause via Zoom and the postal service.  I'm sure my wife and daughter will go visit them, but my wife has already said that she doesn't want to stay with them (they'll stay with friends nearby).

It's tricky -- I want to support my wife in seeing her parents (which she wants to do in small doses, even though they drive her nuts), but I have zero interest in spending time with them.  I have a much small reservoir of energy I'm willing to put into relationships -- I'm an introvert, and I just have a handful of friends / family that I stay in touch with.  I have zero energy for people who are actively sabotaging things.  And I'm not overly judgmental about this -- the few folks I've worked with over the years that I've felt this way about have been unanimously regarded as difficult, so I know my radar is decent.  I'm also in 12-step recovery, so I have a strong "do not enable" streak.  My MIL is always enabling my FIL (with his overeating and other harmful behaviors) and I find that very unpleasant to be around.  Owell.  It certainly could be worse, and again I feel like the key is that my wife and I are on the same page.  If she felt like they were great and wanted us to send our daughter to stay with them for a week, or if she insisted that I go and stay with them for a week, that would REALLY be hard.