First, a little background:
DH became a widower in 2007, with children who were 4 and 9. Their BM's family has been very involved in the kids' lives, and for some of the past few years have essentially raised them. Since I started dating my now-husband, I've been getting nonstop feedback on ways in which to "fix" him. Everything from career advice to insisting he gets his dog neutered to ... well, everything.
Lately, my stepkids have been coming home with stories about how their family (grandparents, an aunt, and most notably a great-aunt) will explain to them basically everything wrong with their father. It's typically the same things they say to me, but I really don't want the kids to get into the middle of this crap. Is there any polite way to confront these people an explain that they don't have anything to do with how often my husband works (vs staying home and helping with the kids, house, yard), how much or little we choose to spend on toys, the way we're apparently starving the children because we limit their junk food consumption, etc.? I know that they're worried that, now that we're married, they'll be less involved with the kids' lives, so I don't want to push these people away completely. And honestly, I'm enough of a grown-up most days to be able to handle them encouraging me to improve my husband. What I can't stand is them telling our kids that there's something wrong with their dad. I just won't accept that, but I'm at a loss for how to handle it. Any advice?
Thats a touchy subject. Maybe a polite "I love him just the way he is and wouldnt have him any other way" could do the trick. But I think when it comes to the kids, your DH should be the one to say something to them. And if he doesnt know that they are doing this, you should definitely inform him!
October 8, 2012 at 4:25 PM
Simple, when they approach you "DH's and my marriage is our private business, we'll handle it privately, thank you." and leave it at that. Let DH fight them when they come to him, he needs to stand up for himself. As for when they give you advice on how to handle the kids "DH and I have discussed how he wants his children parented and I am in agreement with him, thank you for your input though, he's got it covered." Then let DH fight his battles with his family. They are involved because is hasn't been. This is realistically a minefield he has to clean up. First though, he has to want to be involved with the kids and seriously step up and be a father again. He CAN NOT armchair parent over his family. If he wants to call the shots he HAS to do the work and be a parent, otherwise he needs to keep letting them parent...
It's got to stop. Children view themselves as extensions of their parents, so criticizing him is attacking them too by extension. That's why divorced parents who attack one another create very insecure, guilt-ridden children. If it were me, I'd tell them that that they will only be welcome in the children's lives if the criticism stops.
Dh has to stand up for himself and his children. I'm sure they all helped him when his wife died and perhaps he feels beholden to them??? Regardless, what they are saying to the kids isn't acceptable and he needs to put an end to it. As for you, just tell them your marriage isn't up for discussion.
Personally I'd tell them to eff off. But I agree with the fact that DH needs to tell them to butt out. And really-its none of BM's family's concern-as long as the kids are happy/healthy-sounds like DH's doing a fine job on his own without THEIR (bms family)help.
Stop the info train. Don't give them any information about what you're doing and they can't comment on it.
"Blah blah blah his job"
" he supports his family. Did you see the lakers game?"
"Blah blah you should/ shouldn't"
"I'll give that all the consideration it deserves. Have you been to that new coffee shop downtown?"
" we've got it covered."
October 8, 2012 at 5:59 PM
Thank you all for your replies. I've been sticking with responses along the lines of "DH and I have it under control" and reminders to the kids that only their dad and I make the rules for our house, and that other people's opinions are nothing more than that... but some days it just drives me insane. It doesn't seem to matter whether we ignore it or I try a polite dismissal, every week or two some new thing crops up. DH has been saying he'll handle it, but I guess I'm just getting impatient. It's comforting to know that the general consensus is that he needs to manage the relationship with BM's family.