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Smile For The Camera

At a family dinner with my husband’s extended family, they wanted to get a picture of all the great grandkids – about 15 total.  Mine are 2 and 4, not the youngest and certainly not the oldest.  They wanted them to stand shortest to tallest.  Considering my children have only met these cousins maybe 3 times in their short lives, they were not very comfortable with them.  My 4 year old was crying that she did not want to stand with kids she did not know.  My MIL got right in her face and told her that sometimes she needed to do things she didn’t want to do, and that she’d better “put her family’s wants and needs in front of her own wants and needs.”  Then she leaned in even closer and cruelly said “So suck it up!”

I don’t know why, but my MIL always shocks me speechless.  I don’t say anything, and then kick myself later.  But really, how do you respond to something like that?  Help!


8 responses »

  1. How would I respond?

    First, I would be direct. Tell MIL she cannot speak to your children that way. Tell her she was disrespectful and rude. Does she have the kind of personality where she thought she was being funny, or something?

    Second, depending on her reaction, cut off contact with her. If she shocks you speechless on a regular basis, it sounds like she would have a bad influence on your kids. You need to protect them.

  2. You MUST MUST MUST stand up for your daughter!!! Your MIL has to understand that you will not allow her or anyone else to speak to your children like that!!
    I had to stand up to my own parents about something similiar … It didn’t go so great, I handled it pretty badly. I later went back and apologized for the way I handled it but explained that I would NOT apologize for standing up for my child and I would do it again in a heart beat!!!!
    If your MIL is any kind of mother she will eventually respect you for putting your child first!!!

  3. That’s when you tell MIL that SHE has to consider the needs of HER family, a family that includes a scared child who now definitely won’t want to stand anywhere near any other person but mom and who will never, ever want to bond with grandma again. Sounds like MIL doesn’t realize how hypocritical it is to tell a child to do something s/he doesn’t want to do when in reality the same advice applies to her. It’s grandma who needs to suck it up and accept she might not get the picture she wants. She’s the adult, she needs to accomodate the frightened child. NOT the other way around.

    Funny how a kind word from her might have steered the situation so differently.

  4. Remove your children from the photo and when MIL pitches a fit, tell her to suck it up because “life is unfair” and “you can’t always get what you want.”

  5. You don’t need to get into it with her. Just quietly go pick up your child and say, “She’s not comfortable doing that. She’ll just stay with me.”

    MIL then goes off about how she wants a perfect picture, and you reply, “But she’s not going to do that.”

    By doing that, you’ve drawn her ire onto YOU and not onto a four-year-old. And then, if you keep your calm, MIL looks bad to everyone else for screaming at you and delaying the picture, while you stand there saying, “But she’s only four. She’s not comfortable doing that.” (Using basically the same words every single time you reply.)

    Don’t give her reasons or she’ll think she has grounds to argue with you. Nope: just pick up your daughter and go stand in your place in the picture and that’s it.

    Now, I realize that ship has sailed, and it’s done, but in the future, simply go over there and quietly pick up your daughter and remove her from your MIL’s presence without a word. Let her follow YOU insulting YOU while you look to your daughter’s comfort (and ignore MIL.)

  6. My take (and I’m a MIL)–philangelus has nailed this one. Your MIL is not leaving your life and she remains mother of your husband and grandmother to your kids. I would think you want less conflict while at the same time taking care of your needs and your children’s needs. This woman got caught…focusing on how much she wanted the perfect picture–and lost sight of the fact that families get together to have a good time. Your focus, to my lights, is on helping to get the kids in the picture if possible without making them uncomfortable or unhappy or making you unhappy. The focus is not on taking care of your MIL or telling her off. You can’t fight w/ a person who doesn’t’ fight back. I don’t mean stand there and get hit. Just step aside and let the punch fly into air. And I’m sorry this woman doesn’t have a more graceful manner. Not only would it make your life better, it would likely make hers better but my guess is you are more likely to figure out how to handle her than she is to change.

  7. Thank you all for your advice. It certainly helps to see it from your angle and know that it wasn’t just me blowing it out of proportion. I love what you have to say, and I will certainly put it into play next time. And unfortunately, there will be a next time. But my husband and I have made a deal we won’t have to see them for the holidays this year – hip hip hooray!

  8. How do you respond to something like that?

    You take your daughter by the hand and say “C’mon honey, we’re going home. Right after Daddy has a word with Grandma.”

    And then you leave as a family.


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