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Any advice on how to tactfully address this?

Okay, what about to tell you really isn't a terribly big deal, but I'd really like to keep it that way....

My mom and MIL have teamed up to throw me a baby shower. These two ladies are extremely different, but they typically get along well, and I do believe they love each other, (our families have spent some holidays together). Unfortunately, they are so different that they just don't see eye to eye on many things, and I had a feeling that when they decided to team up on the shower, there might be a little friction.

Anyway, my mom is a sweet person who means well, but she often needs a lot of guidance and advice on things. For example, when I go to her house for dinner, she'll often ask me tons of questions ("What pan should I use? Should I make carrots, or broccoli? How long should I leave this in the oven?") You'd never know that she's been cooking dinner for our family for almost 40 years... My mom is also only working part time right now, so she's got a lot of time on her hands. 

DH and his dad had lunch together today, and FIL mentioned that my mom has been "driving DH's mom crazy." Apparently, my mom calls MIL almost every night with shower questions and keeps her on the phone close to 40 minutes at a time. DH's mom works long hours and is going through a stressful time at work, so this is probably bothering her even more than it normally would.  And knowing my mom as I do, this does sound like exactly the kind of thing she normally does (when she had to get the addresses together for the shower invitations, she literally called me 4 times in about 30 minutes with questions, many of which were really not necessary).

DH has asked me to bring this up with my mom, but he doesn't want to hurt her feelings or cause resentment, so he asked if I could just sort of work it into the conversation tactfully. I can't think of a way to actually fo that, though. To be honest, I'm very close to my mom and talk to her about everything, so I'm willing to tell her, point blank, to just not call MIL so much. However, my mom can be extremely sensitive sometimes, and I would hate for her to hold this against DH's family.

So, any thoughts about how to bring up something like this without causing friction in the family? Should I go for broke and just be honest? SHould I mention it to my dad and see if he can think of a way to bring it up? Should I wait and see of this topic comes up naturally through conversation? Thoughts? 

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Re: Any advice on how to tactfully address this?

  • There is no easy way to tell your mom that your Dh said his father said that his wife said....its like 4 degrees of telephone. There is no reason to be in the middle of it.

     If MIL doesn't want to yak to your mom, she can screen her calls or tell your mom its not a good time to talk. It might be easier for MIL to communicate over email.

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  • You might actually be able to both "work in into the conversation" and then be direct.  Get her talking about the shower.  Ask some leading questions like "What did MIL say?".  From there you can ask her how often she's reached out to her that week/weekend/whatever.  Then mention that your DH told you that your MIL is going through a really stressful time at work right now and to maybe try to condense her contact to once or twice a week, just to help lighten her load some.  If she asks directly if DH or MIL said something you  can either choose to be direct or you can make it out that your concern is that you'd hate for your party to add her stress level, but you still want her to be included in the planning.     

     You can suggest that she just write things down in order to address multiple topics in one conversation or to maybe even send MIL one email one day of the week and then follow up by phone 2-3 days later.   If she starts doing this, she might even answer her own questions before even having to call or hit send.

    You can tell your Mom to call her less by framing it against your MIL works situation and that will hopefully avoid hurting your Mother's feelings.  You might even be able to be direct with her given that it does truly sound like your MIL wouldn't have as big of a problem with it if she didn't have the work stuff going on, but I can understand that navigating between your family and your in-laws can be a minefield.  Good luck and I hope it's a lovely shower! 

  • It sounds to me like your mom is either very unsure of herself with very little self-confidence, or she thinks asking for opinions and help makes others feel needed. Can you build her up more, and ask your MIL to do the same? After the first call, perhaps an answer of "I trust your judgment" or "What do you think is best? I really appreciate you taking care of this for me" would help. If the calls continue you may have to ask her to tone it down, but if I were in your shoes I'd try the building up first.
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  • Think VIPRoss had some great ideas, and I was thinking along the exact same lines.

    Is there anyway that you could have sort of a poor MIL discussion w/ your Mom, as far as her stressful job & the even longer hours she's been putting in recently? Meanwhile, completely making it seem like you're on your MOM'S team by coming to the conclusion that you just feel so awful that your shower is adding even more, unnecessary stress to MIL's life right now? Then you segue into making it as un-stressful as possible, you're really trying to only contact her once a week (or every 10 days). Soooo maybe you could try to do the same thing, Mom...?? (obvs w/ a bit more couth there, but you know how to work your mom)

    Also, thinking maybe using an aunt or a good friend of your mom's as her "shower helper"? Certainly not trying to throw someone else under the bus, but thinking that someone that knows your mama and her prep ways is probably a lot more adept at steering her in the right direction. Maybe suggest a possible other co-hostess? (certainly put this under the guise of mil's stress and unfortunate time restraints due to work stress right now) Of course, have a convo w/ MIL pre-emptive to this suggestive possibility to your mother. But I have a feeling she'd be ridiculously grateful.

    Tough position to be in, Greco! Good Luck!!

  • There is no reason in the world that YOU should negotiate a relationship between two grownass adult woman. 

    Your MIL has every ability to not answer the phone or to say "I'm happy to answer questions, but I only have 10 minutes tonight."

    And I find it patently unbelievable that your mother, however bored, is oblivious to the fact that daily, 40 minute calls over mundane details isn't really annoying. She's doing it because it satisfies a need, because she wants to - and she doesn't want to be told not to.

    Let them complain to their husbands. But to make this your problem to fix is outrageous. The party will come and go. When it's over, the problem is over.

    Don't meddle, and don't let anyone suggest you meddle.  

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  • I think that these are two grown women and if one person has a problem with another, she needs to handle it.

    Why can't they just email?

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  • MYOB - not your problem.  It isn't fair for your FIL to draw you into it either.  If he does it again, just say that if there is an issue between your mothers, they really need to work it out themselves.
  • Awww, I kind of feel for your mom in a way.  Not sure why and I guess she can be a pill but it looks like she is constantly looking for validation.  Although I can understand your MIL's POV, it's not up to the children to work it out.

    Besides, this is your shower.  It's not fair to bring you into it.  Your only worry is to show up the day of.

    My suggestion is the next time your mom calls, maybe your MIL can tell her it's not a good time, and maybe suggest a day and time to have a phone call and your mom can pan everything out in one conversation, or maybe a lunch date.

    Of course I don't know all the details but it looks like your mom just wants to make sure things are done right. 

     


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  • image +SMACE+:

    I think that these are two grown women and if one person has a problem with another, she needs to handle it.

    Why can't they just email?

    This. 

  • no. if it bothers MIL that much she doesn't have to answer the phone does she? or she can tell your mom she can only talk for a minute...you get my point here.

    why on earth would you say hey mom i know yure planning my shower but FFIL told me that you're making FMIL crazy with the calls and FI said I should say something to you about it. WTF?!!? STAY OUT OF IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • I think your mom and MIL need to divide up the shower responsibilities in way that they can kind of independently take care of their own aspects of the shower but not have to rely on each others' input for all the decisions. I.e., Mom takes care of invites and RSVPs and favors.  MIL takes care of the food and decorations -- or whatever.

  • image livinitup:

    There is no reason in the world that YOU should negotiate a relationship between two grownass adult woman. 

    Your MIL has every ability to not answer the phone or to say "I'm happy to answer questions, but I only have 10 minutes tonight."

    Let them complain to their husbands. But to make this your problem to fix is outrageous. The party will come and go. When it's over, the problem is over.

    Don't meddle, and don't let anyone suggest you meddle.  

     This. Let the ladies communicate with one another directly. Stay out of it.

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