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RoseRed135

Passive Agression

129 posts in this topic

The following article is currently featured in the GP.com Newsletter and on the GP.com FB page

http://www.grandparents.com/family-and-relationships/mother-in-law-daughter-in-law/how-to-deal-with-a-difficult-daughter-in-law

So now I'm wondering, are any of you dealing w/ a family member/IL that you feel is P/A? Or have you done so in the past? Or have you observed someone else going through this? And, if you will, how do/did/would you handle it?

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17 minutes ago, RoseRed135 said:

The following article is currently featured in the GP.com Newsletter and on the GP.com FB page

http://www.grandparents.com/family-and-relationships/mother-in-law-daughter-in-law/how-to-deal-with-a-difficult-daughter-in-law

So now I'm wondering, are any of you dealing w/ a family member/IL that you feel is P/A? Or have you done so in the past? Or have you observed someone else going through this? And, if you will, how do/did/would you handle it?

I think the article is ridiculous and the suggested solutions are PA at best and ****** more likely.  :(

Many of the GP.Com articles seem as if they are designed to cause family relationships plummet to new lows. I have no idea how the writers for for GP.Com are selected, but maybe they need a new source?

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Thoughts:

Why is it all on the DIL to keep MIL informed or invited? Why can't the son let his mother know his kids are in a play, or arrange visits? And again with the insistence of the matched set. What the heck does it really matter if your DIL disappears while you visit? You're getting to see your ds and your gc. Why is anyone entitled to her time too? If she doesn't find your company enjoyable, isn't it better that she gets out of the way?

Seriously, articles like this don't help a thing. They continue to support the idea that only a wife can manage a family schedule, and fathers are useless dolts.

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This should be titled "How To Let/Get Your DIL Walk All Over You". At a certain point (you'll know yours when you get there) you get to call her out on PA behavior....and its OK to say "This isn't the first time this has happened and now I'm angry/upset/hurt/frustrated. Let's get this out on the table". Then you listen carefully and respond as tactfully as possible. 

xDIL is somewhat PA. And is also a 'right fighter'. Two big issues in the demise of her marriage to DS. (He's no prize either, FYI, 'right fighter' also). I see it clearly, phrase my requests in ways she'll positively respond to, so know how to get what I want. DS kept me in the loop as much as possible, when he was home. If he was at sea it all fell on xDIL to do the notifying and inviting...overall she was pretty good about keeping me as involved as possible, and for most of their marriage they lived out-of-area, making it harder for everyone. 

Bottom line, if DIL is SAHM and she's made a 'date' with grandma, then she needs to respect the date...I hate games

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5 minutes ago, ImpishMom said:

Thoughts:

Why is it all on the DIL to keep MIL informed or invited? Why can't the son let his mother know his kids are in a play, or arrange visits? And again with the insistence of the matched set. What the heck does it really matter if your DIL disappears while you visit? You're getting to see your ds and your gc. Why is anyone entitled to her time too? If she doesn't find your company enjoyable, isn't it better that she gets out of the way?

Seriously, articles like this don't help a thing. They continue to support the idea that only a wife can manage a family schedule, and fathers are useless dolts.

Well yes, all of that  ^

My husband was perfectly capable of telling his parents when/where the kids' activities were and inviting them to see MDS be Joseph in the Church play while YDD cried in her seat, next to us, that she couldn't be the babe. Honestly? I didn't have the time or patience for explaining things to my PILs. We didn't speak, think, or do things the same, but my husband totally understood their crazy and was able to tell them where to park, what door to enter (as compared to the front door, because that nonsense mattered to them) etc. They always attended, their son took the time to notify-arrange.

So, again, where is the son? Our sons do all the texting and calling, they know us and understand us.

Recently MDS forgot to tell my husband a plan he had cooked up for all our kids. ALL our other kids ridiculed "they say you are the genius...  hmmm" and other choice thoughts as to his competence. Nobody blamed DIL, not her job. Will MDS siblings disgust cause him to do better? We'll see, but no bit of the problem is with his wife - she is not a servant or a phone operator. And she doesn't know our preferences or family language, MDS has that covered.

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19 minutes ago, Mame925 said:

This should be titled "How To Let/Get Your DIL Walk All Over You". At a certain point (you'll know yours when you get there) you get to call her out on PA behavior....and its OK to say "This isn't the first time this has happened and now I'm angry/upset/hurt/frustrated. Let's get this out on the table". Then you listen carefully and respond as tactfully as possible. 

xDIL is somewhat PA. And is also a 'right fighter'. Two big issues in the demise of her marriage to DS. (He's no prize either, FYI, 'right fighter' also). I see it clearly, phrase my requests in ways she'll positively respond to, so know how to get what I want. DS kept me in the loop as much as possible, when he was home. If he was at sea it all fell on xDIL to do the notifying and inviting...overall she was pretty good about keeping me as involved as possible, and for most of their marriage they lived out-of-area, making it harder for everyone. 

Bottom line, if DIL is SAHM and she's made a 'date' with grandma, then she needs to respect the date...I hate games

Article actually doesn't say if DIL made a date, or had one imposed upon her. Also doesn't say DIL is a SAHM. Just that DIL is responsible for everything.

A lot missing in the article.

BUT, I do agree: if you make plans, keep them. Or course, life happens and things can go awry, and that can't be helped, but in today's world of cellphones, easy enough to give a call and say so...unless you get labelled p/a for last minute changes, b/c life happened.

Edited by ImpishMom
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I also noticed the article said making plans for weekly visits.

Again, that's not going to help anyone, implying weekly visits are a standard norm. Many families couldn't manage that, or even want that, no matter how fantastic a relationship they may have w/grandparents.

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Another thought, for adults who feel they were not heard as a child (and I am one) we tend to be more controlling as adults than PA...unless we never gain the confidence we need to stand up for ourselves. I gained the confidence...am pretty straightforward in my relationship dealings. PA tells me the person has the confidence, but doesn't recognize it. I didn't have the issues with ILs or FOO with my kids, because they're my kids. I learned some things watching my mother negate my sister as a mother...she undermined her at every turn. Sister stood her ground, but it was hard hard hard....my kids are younger, so I watched for it and was able to stay ahead of it. Sister & I strengthened our bond over Mama's ridiculous behavior. 

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I grew up in a family that could be super PA. Could've written a how-to manual on it. It was normal to me to watch people act on their frustrations that way, all the while claiming things were fine. Early on in our relationship, DH pointed out to me when I was being PA and I realized that it was wrong and not the way normal, healthy relationships work. So I stopped doing it, and it did lead to a change in my relationship with my mom, but in the end we both knew it lead to a better place for communication. I stopped tolerating it from other people, and will just be direct, or refuse to be baited into that kind of nonsense. 

It's funny, DH won't tolerate it from me, coworkers, friends etc, but his mom gets a total free pass to be as PA as she wants. She's the queen of saying something snotty and then trying to pass it off with "Oh I'm just joking". She is rarely direct, so I often think that's why she doesn't get it that when I say something, I mean exactly what I said. 

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Hmmm... Very thought-provoking replies here, ladies. A lot to take in...

2 of my own thoughts about the article, itself.

1. ...she “forgets” to mention that the kids are starring in an upcoming school production, she rarely expresses appreciation ... : ”Oh, I thought your son told you about the kids,” ...

How often, on these boards, have we heard about some couples having a yours/mine policy? It seems to  me, it's possible that a DIL who does the above may have such a policy w/ DS/DH. So she might leave it up to him to tell the GPs about/invite the GPs to a school production and thank them for any gifts. (I don't think that should be the case if the gift is personally to her, but the comment above doesn't say that.) IDK if that would ordinarily extend to telling MIL about the kids' "achievements" (mentioned in the same paragraph). But for some couples, it might.

2. Finally, passive-aggressive people have perfected the disappearing act. You show up at their house (a planned visit) and she stays in her room, ”working” on a project. Or you show up and she suddenly has to run errands. What did you do to warrant such behavior? Who knows? She could be mad at your son and taking it out on the woman who raised him.

Or she could have decided to "drop the rope" and leave any entertaining of MIL up to DS/DH. Especially if there are ongoing conflicts between her and MIL. How often have members here advised a DIL to do just that? Is that a P/A way of telling MIL, "I don't enjoy your company?"  Or just a way to shield herself from stress or pain, etc?

 

 

Edited by RoseRed135
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Funny thing, though, so frequently, DILs here complain about their MILs making P/A remarks, etc. My own MIL was a master at that. Usually, it was followed by a little fake laugh. And if I objected to her P/A comment, then I got the typical, "Oh, I was only joking" (as NM mentions) or "I was just giving my opinion." ;)

So now I'm wondering... Is P/A behavior more common in MILs or DILs, etc? Or if it's about even, is it for different purposes, depending on their role? Or does it, like so many things, seem to depend on personality?

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2 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

Funny thing, though, so frequently, DILs here complain about their MILs making P/A remarks, etc. My own MIL was a master at that. Usually, it was followed by a little fake laugh. And if I objected to her P/A comment, then I got the typical, "Oh, I was only joking" (as NM mentions) or "I was just giving my opinion." ;)

So now I'm wondering... Is P/A behavior more common in MILs or DILs, etc? Or if it's about even, is it for different purposes, depending on their role? Or does it, like so many things, seem to depend on personality?

I think hugely personality dependant.

I also think it's somewhat cultural/generational. For a *very* long time, women weren't to be outspoken. That would be *rude* and unladylike. I suspect that the art of passive aggression started then. Also, it seems to be a 'learned' trait, so passed down from generation to generation. Chances are, if you know someone that's passive aggressive, they learned it growing up.

My grandma was blunt as it got. My Nan was passive aggressive as Hades. Sweet smile as she slipped a knife in your ribs, and played clueless as to why you were bleeding. Same generation, very different women.

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5 hours ago, ImpishMom said:

IMy Nan was passive aggressive as Hades. Sweet smile as she slipped a knife in your ribs, and played clueless as to why you were bleeding. Same generation, very different women.

Oh my how this describes my SIL to a tee!  Big old smile, all the time, literally.  All the while hiding that butcher knife ready to strike.  Another of the reasons we're on a permanent CO.  Her mother was the exact way.  SIL learned very well.

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From the article:

Quote


What did you do to warrant such behavior? Who knows? She could be mad at your son and taking it out on the woman who raised him.

 

 

Good. grief. Yes, because that's how real people in the real world routinely think. Not "I don't like/am angry with your mother and don't want to hang out with her", not even "I don't feel like putting in the effort to entertain your mother, who is not my best friend or close confidante, when I'm upset", but "I'm mad at you, so I have made a decision to take it out on your perfectly sweet and flawless mother who did nothing wrong."

This explanation is for people who are deathly allergic to blame, or even the possibility that everyone in an extended family might not be bosom buddies.

There's no distinction in the article between misconduct, disorganization, and mismatched expectations; it's ALL the DIL being PA, and it's ALL "targeted", i.e. personal, even if multiple people have to deal with it. It's crazymaking and resentment-building to encourage MILs to think this way. Is DIL very busy or under stress? What is her general level of organization? Is she always punctual with other people? Do DIL and MIL have different ideas of what constitutes "on time" or adequate notice? 

And the solution is to "incentivize her problem solving" to get what the MIL wants -- but what if the DIL doesn't want to give MIL what MIL wants? Many MILs would like the certainty of hearing "actually I don't want weekly visits and I don't want to invite you to every school event" rather than having it hinted at through PA behaviour, but I bet a lot of others would take that really badly. 

And yes, the assumption that it's all on DIL and HER "problem solving" grates. Men can call their own mothers.

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18 hours ago, ImpishMom said:

I also noticed the article said making plans for weekly visits.

Again, that's not going to help anyone, implying weekly visits are a standard norm. Many families couldn't manage that, or even want that, no matter how fantastic a relationship they may have w/grandparents.

Weekly visits just don't work for a lot of people. Between work, school, after school activities, errands, housework, and nuclear family time, there's not much time left. 

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I think that sometimes a person will take actions against an innocent 3rd party in order to hurt the person who hurt them. It happens in friend relationships as well as family. It's even a plot line in movies, hold the knife to someone's loved one neck to force that person to do want's wanted. Sometimes a DIL may refuse to visit a MIL who really hasn't done anything wrong, not even in the DIL's eyes, because she's angry at her DH and sees denying the visit as getting back at her DH who wants the visit. A MIL may be angry with her DS who doesn't call or make efforts towards his family and take it out on the DIL. It's been talked about on this board as "safer" to take out frustrations on the inlaw instead of the direct family member. It happens,

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This article is lame for a few reasons.  First, forgetful people or late people or disorganized people are not always passive aggressive.  They are just people who are forgetful, late or disorganized and until consequences are severe enough will probably continue to be this way.  Second, the author suggests less than honest and direct ways of dealing with the "passive aggressive" DIL that are disingenuous and will probably not solve these issues or somehow get DIL under control so she behaves in a way that meets MIL's expectations.  "Act confused" or "Empower your DIL by sending her a note of appreciation".  MIL can only control herself and her reaction to disappointment over her expectations not being met.  Third, MIL is presenting her version of what goes on with regard to DIL.  It would be helpful to get DIL's side for a complete picture, which in an article like this is easy to do.  Perhaps DIL has a standing engagement of running errands when her DH is home which is also the time MIL visits.  Perhaps MIL comes over uninvited.  Perhaps DIL has a long history of being late or forgetful with everyone - don't we all know someone like this - or perhaps DIL does struggle with MIL's involvement in her life and these are symptoms of this difficult relationship or perhaps DIL and DH are having marital issues and MIL is an easy target or MIL and her DS have issues so the lion share of facilitating a relationship between MIL and the GK's, etc. is on DIL which she resents.  Fourth, the author's tone is condescending towards DIL's and again fueling this nonsense does nothing to solve these issues.  "You (MIL) as the mature one knows", "But in (DIL's) mind who is more powerful than the mother of the man DIL married".   I don't think this way as a DIL and don't know anyone who does. 

I did not deal with my MIL in a forthright manner at times, so I am guilty as charged under the standards set forth in this article.  However, my MIL didn't either.  We had a dishonest relationship.  My MIL could have easily come on a board like this and stated that I often times left the room and went upstairs and never made myself available to her or FIL when they visited, which I did.  However, the story would not be complete unless she mentioned that she refused to speak English when she visited my home, so I felt ignored in my own home which is why I left.  So, we both were engaging in "passive aggressive" behavior instead of dealing with the relationship honestly which I don't think was ever in the cards given the consequences if we revealed what we truly felt about each other. 

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55 minutes ago, missmm said:

I think that sometimes a person will take actions against an innocent 3rd party in order to hurt the person who hurt them. It happens in friend relationships as well as family. It's even a plot line in movies, hold the knife to someone's loved one neck to force that person to do want's wanted. Sometimes a DIL may refuse to visit a MIL who really hasn't done anything wrong, not even in the DIL's eyes, because she's angry at her DH and sees denying the visit as getting back at her DH who wants the visit. A MIL may be angry with her DS who doesn't call or make efforts towards his family and take it out on the DIL. It's been talked about on this board as "safer" to take out frustrations on the inlaw instead of the direct family member. It happens,

This comes back to, why is the matched set so freaking important? Why does a DIL have to visit w/her dh every time? I genuinely don't understand why folks get all in a lather if the DIL isn't in attendance.

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1 hour ago, missmm said:

I think that sometimes a person will take actions against an innocent 3rd party in order to hurt the person who hurt them. It happens in friend relationships as well as family. It's even a plot line in movies, hold the knife to someone's loved one neck to force that person to do want's wanted. Sometimes a DIL may refuse to visit a MIL who really hasn't done anything wrong, not even in the DIL's eyes, because she's angry at her DH and sees denying the visit as getting back at her DH who wants the visit. A MIL may be angry with her DS who doesn't call or make efforts towards his family and take it out on the DIL. It's been talked about on this board as "safer" to take out frustrations on the inlaw instead of the direct family member. It happens,

Oh, sure, that could happen. I just don't think it's the most likely explanation, or the one that will put the MIL in the best frame of mind to cope with the situation. And I don't see absenting oneself from a visit, in itself, as being actively hurtful behaviour. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think a lot of DILs would see leaving MIL with her son and grandkids as a punishment. 

I think the far more likely explanation, if DIL even is actually upset with her husband and not just busy/looking for alone time/not fond of MIL, is that she doesn't want to have to pretend things are great and play "happy family" for an audience. I'm reminded of this thread from the archives.

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On 9/7/2017 at 9:48 AM, RoseRed135 said:

The following article is currently featured in the GP.com Newsletter and on the GP.com FB page

http://www.grandparents.com/family-and-relationships/mother-in-law-daughter-in-law/how-to-deal-with-a-difficult-daughter-in-law

So now I'm wondering, are any of you dealing w/ a family member/IL that you feel is P/A? Or have you done so in the past? Or have you observed someone else going through this? And, if you will, how do/did/would you handle it?

This article is pretty unhelpful. First of all not just Dils are passive aggressive, it's not a role issue but a personality issue. Also the examples of P/A behavior are not very good. The last one especially, you should always follow the moms rules, her kids= her rules. Im really not sure why this seems to be such an issue with inlaws. My husband and I don't make decisions to upset our extended family, they don't even factor into the discussion. My husband and I decided what type of parents we wanted to be, what issues were important to each of us, and how we felt about really big topics (vaccines, punishment, cio, sugar....) and neither of us included our parents into the process. So when we have rules it really is what we think is best for our child and we are not going to change that in order to not upset grandma/grandpa. Neither do those decisions reflect upon our in-laws that we think they did things wrong, but sometimes it's perceived that way. 

This is how I handle my mil p/a behavior, I address her comments in the moment. Example she says, " I laid my babies on their tummy and they were fine. Doctors just like to scare parents these days. I must be a horrible mother." 

Me: "every generation has done things differently based on current doctor advice and studies. I'm sure our grandkids will sleep standing up (I like to inject humor so things aren't tense.... im not sure this works) 

Mil is p/a with anything to do with mothering or family holidays. I've found it's best to either ignore the comments or just matter of factly state why you are doing it. What I don't do is apologize or try and soothe her. I don't think encouraging p/a behavior is helpful. 

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17 hours ago, missmm said:

I think that sometimes a person will take actions against an innocent 3rd party in order to hurt the person who hurt them. It happens in friend relationships as well as family. It's even a plot line in movies, hold the knife to someone's loved one neck to force that person to do want's wanted. Sometimes a DIL may refuse to visit a MIL who really hasn't done anything wrong, not even in the DIL's eyes, because she's angry at her DH and sees denying the visit as getting back at her DH who wants the visit. A MIL may be angry with her DS who doesn't call or make efforts towards his family and take it out on the DIL. It's been talked about on this board as "safer" to take out frustrations on the inlaw instead of the direct family member. It happens,

 In fact, it has also been said on this board that MIL/DIL issues often reflect marital problems. So yes, DIL could be avoiding MIL largely b/c of issues between her and DH. Personally, I don't have any problem w/ the article's suggesting that.

What does concern me is the suggestion that it's necessarily P/A behavior. As Toaster suggests, DIL may just be too upset over her problems w/ DH to be able to "play 'happy family'" w/ him and MIL. Or maybe he invited his mom over at a time DIL said wasn't convenient for her, so she decided to just go ahead and let him and the kids have the visit while she went about her business. Or, if they do have a yours/mine agreement, as I mentioned earlier, perhaps this is part of it though it may seem extreme to some. Maybe DH doesn't join in either when she visits her mom. There are a number of other possible explanations for DIL's behavior, as BSW has shown. Sure, DIL's actopms might be intended to hurt, etc. But not necessarily.

Like some PPs, it also concerns me that self-reflection isn't encouraged in this article. Perhaps DIL is absenting herself b/c MIL is often openly critical of or rude to her. Or b/c MIL is forever trying to tell DIL what to do. Maybe DIL is backing away from MIL, not to hurt her or DH, but rather to shield herself.

When tensions were high between my MIL and me, I used to find reasons to leave for a while during my ILs' weekly visit. This was in no way to hurt or "get back at" anyone, but, merely, to remove myself from those tensions. It gave me a chance to sort of "catch my breath" and then go back and continue my part in the visit as pleasantly as possible. Hopefully, it made things more comfortable for everyone else, too, including the kids (since they can pick up on adult tensions).

Edited by RoseRed135
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On 9/8/2017 at 0:42 AM, ImpishMom said:

I think hugely personality dependant.

I also think it's somewhat cultural/generational. For a *very* long time, women weren't to be outspoken. That would be *rude* and unladylike. I suspect that the art of passive aggression started then. Also, it seems to be a 'learned' trait, so passed down from generation to generation. Chances are, if you know someone that's passive aggressive, they learned it growing up.

My grandma was blunt as it got. My Nan was passive aggressive as Hades. Sweet smile as she slipped a knife in your ribs, and played clueless as to why you were bleeding. Same generation, very different women.

 

21 hours ago, Toaster said:

 

And the solution is to "incentivize her problem solving" to get what the MIL wants -- but what if the DIL doesn't want to give MIL what MIL wants? Many MILs would like the certainty of hearing "actually I don't want weekly visits and I don't want to invite you to every school event" rather than having it hinted at through PA behaviour, but I bet a lot of others would take that really badly. 

 

 

4 hours ago, Knovel said:

 First of all not just Dils are passive aggressive, it's not a role issue but a personality issue.

Mil is p/a with anything to do with mothering or family holidays. I've found it's best to either ignore the comments or just matter of factly state why you are doing it. What I don't do is apologize or try and soothe her. I don't think encouraging p/a behavior is helpful. 

Ok, so 3 votes here for "personality." But Imp makes some interesting comments about "cultural/generational" influences, as well, IMO.

Also, Toaster raises the question of whether or not more direct communication would be better received. How many MILs would prefer hearing, for example, "I don't  really want to spend any time w/ you?" How many DILs would appreciate, "I think your parenting is awful?" Is P/A sometimes the only solution?

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My MGM always told us if we couldn't say something nice about/to someone not to say anything at all.  This is a good way to steer away from PA (even if your tongue gets sore).

I pretty much stuck to this with my own MIL until she pushed and pushed and I had my back against a wall, then I'd say just enough to get her to back off...usually a NO, I am not going to do that was sufficient.  No JADEing.

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On Friday, September 08, 2017 at 10:14 AM, ImpishMom said:

This comes back to, why is the matched set so freaking important? Why does a DIL have to visit w/her dh every time? I genuinely don't understand why folks get all in a lather if the DIL isn't in attendance.

Seriously, joint attendance and giving notice of achievements? Is it the Army?  

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14 hours ago, Knovel said:

 

This is how I handle my mil p/a behavior, I address her comments in the moment. Example she says, " I laid my babies on their tummy and they were fine. Doctors just like to scare parents these days. I must be a horrible mother." 

Me: "every generation has done things differently based on current doctor advice and studies. I'm sure our grandkids will sleep standing up (I like to inject humor so things aren't tense.... im not sure this works) 

Mil is p/a with anything to do with mothering or family holidays. I've found it's best to either ignore the comments or just matter of factly state why you are doing it. What I don't do is apologize or try and soothe her. I don't think encouraging p/a behavior is helpful. 

IMO, you're handling MIL's behavior very well. You didn't ask, I know, but if she ever repeats any of her concerns, I hope you realize you can then just say something like, "We've been over that" and bean dip (change the subject).

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