six year olds stress

Japan
December 5, 2008 7:52pm CST
I need some advice. We are living with my MIL, we are in a tight situation with money and my husbands health is very bad. Unfortually MIL is a very selfish inconsiderate old woman. In a way I can understand, she is 71 and still working in the fields, she lost her husband 46 years ago and took care of her two sons and a very awful mother in Japan when there was no help or respect for widows. I have tried to understand her point of view and if she could meet me half way it would help. But she basically hates me, I'm the one who bought a piano or computer when she was struggling to pay her debts, I work and bought the stuff with my money for my kids. (This was years ago when we had our own place). Since we moved here all I hear from her is that this is her house, her land. We need help from the city to get some welfare for a few months until my husband can get back on his feet. To get money MIL has to sign a promise that she would be willing to sell everything, she doesn't have to sell and in this area nobody wants to buy. She wouldn't sign so we had yet another row, she is deaf so I have to shout. I'm at the edge of a nervous breakdown as it is and this added stress of fights (at least one a week) then the sulking and not talking to anybody doesn't help. The main worry is my six year old daughter. She gets so upset at the shouting, she hates and is afraid of he grandmother, grinds her teeth in her sleep and cries in her sleep most nights. I have tried not to figth with MIL but she doesn't help out or try to understand. For example I am cooking for 7 people in a kitchen designed for two people, there is basically no counter space, but she has baskets lined up on the bit of counter space there is. She put the baskets there while my husband was in hospital, I wanted to say something but knew that if I did she would go and complain to my husband making him more ill. So I waited until he came home, when I asked her move the baskets she went mad at me and came at me with her walking stick. So I yelled back, then she started shouting about something completely unrelated to the incident. But by then my daugther was crying hysterically. So what to do about my daughter? We are planning on moving out as soon as we can but until then what to do? Also in the long term how will this affect her? Any suggestions please? Jacks
5 responses
@Pascha (65)
• United States
6 Dec 08
Oh wow. Talk about an unhealthy situation!And your little one is certainly feeling the effects of it! But let me ask you something. What is your little girl learning from all of this? Is she learning that family ALWAYS comes first, and to live her life in a loving manner? It doesn't sound like it, and it doesn't sound as though you're setting that example yourself either. I'm not being insulting on purpose, honest. But look at the side effects your girl is going through now, then look in a mirror and tell yourself that you aren't being a part of the problem. I bet you can't do it, can you?It's okay though, cause you can fix it. I promise. You sound as though you truly hate your mother in law. That hatred then gets reflected back at you from her. Your girl and your husband gets caught up in this vicious cycle here. So, the only thing that is being reflected in that household is hatred. And it's magnifying. so let's try something new, shall we? Try reflecting love. Find something good to say to and about your mother in law at the start of every day. Nothing repeated, and nothing insincere. In every situation, there is something good to say,no matter how bad the situation is. I'm not saying to kiss her butt, just be sincere. For example, "those baskets are gorgeous!" This tells mom in law subconsciously that you think she has good tastes. Then when you cook, move them out of the way. When done cooking, take great care to clean the counter the way she likes it, and put them back exactly as she had them. It's a respect for property issue. She feels like you have no respect for what is hers, and therefore, don't respect her. That's part of the whole not wanting to sell stuff too, or sign something that says she'll sell it. It's a respect for property, and a respect for her, thing. You gotta try to see things from her point of view. She had to bust her keister to get what little she has! She sacrificed and lost so much in the process. now she's supposed to sign a paper saying she's willing to give up all she worked so hard for? Start trying to do nice things for her. Ask her to go on a walk, go with her to Bingo if she likes bingo. Rent a movie that you think she'd enjoy and ask her if she'd like to watch it with you. Start working on establishing a positive relationship with her for once. She'll resist for a while. She's an old woman and it sounds like she's used to people going away. Take some time and effort to break down those walls. And remember to respect always just one thing. Your husband is her son. She was the first woman in his life and in his heart. Moms have a very hard time seeing another woman occupying that spot. She may actually believe you're trying to take over the spot that is HERS. The only way to reassure her is to start asking her what HER opinions are. Involve her in your life. Allow her to be "mom". Not necessarily YOUR mom, but his mom. Set the example for your girl. Cause the one that you're setting right now isn't teaching her how to love people. It's teaching her quite the opposite actually. it certainly isn't teaching her what love is, or what family is.
• Japan
6 Dec 08
Thank you for your response. You make it sound very easy and I wish it were but we are dealing with generational and cultural differences. I'm from the UK, my husband is Japanese and we live in Japan. I don't hate my mother in law, she drives me crazy almost everyday, I do feel sorry for her but she is now in a place where any apology on my behalf is met by her treating me like her personal servant. After one fight I apologised and cooked her a meal which the rest of the family didn't really like, very Japanese style, she threw it back at me and said she didn't want it and then ate the bread that should be for the breakfast, so I have to go shopping at midnight! The next day she was ordering me around to clean out the toilets, I had done them a couple of days before!!! Anything just to keep me jumping. In the 17 years we have been here I haven't had one conversation with her ( we have only been living together for a few months) but we lived just a few minuetes away but everytime we would see her she would complain to me about whatever. She has NEVER shown an interest in the kids until they became old enough to work for her. She pushed my husband to work even he was very ill, he ended up in hospital with congestive heart failure and his kidneys have failed. He told that he can no longer work. For the past few years she has had her sister and brother in law help, but they are old and not in good health. They resent working as there is no money and mother in law asks constantly for money from them. Basically without my husband working she cannot keep the land as there is no way she can pay the tax, the up keep of the cars, buying fertilizer etc. We have tried very hard to serve her, to love her, to help. I get up at 3am to clean before she comes into the kitchen but she still finds something wrong. Most of the fights we keep to ourselves, but she is deaf and so just talking can sound like a war!! My daughter is very good. She is scared of her grandmother, just because she shouts so much but my daughtet says poor Grandma, her brain doesn't work well. That was the only way I could explain mother in laws temper tantrums and sulks. I wonder what I can say to explain my temper and sulks!!! As for actually selling the land it would be totally undoable in this area. There has been land that is in a better location, closer to the main road, that has been on the market for over 5 years. Nobody is interested in this area. The welfare officer explained that it is just a formality, that the land would not be taken from her, even the city doesn't want it!! But she won't understand. It is just a promise to the city so if we can't pay back they have something!! Well this is getting very long. Sorry!!! I'll try some of your suggestions out but I am not holding my breathe for any change, she is very stubborn!!! Jacks
@Pascha (65)
• United States
6 Dec 08
Well, seems to me you've identified a huge part of the problem. The solution to that part of the problem is staring you right in the face. Get to know HER culture. Ask her about life as a kid. Remember, in her time, women were subservient to their husbands. Kids grew up to take care of their parents. Everyone in the family worked, and worked hard from the time they could walk. Japanese culture from when she was growing up, and a young wife and mother, is much different than even current Japanese culture. So you've gotta learn about it from HER shoes. Learn about the different traditions and beliefs and yes, even the superstitions. In doing so, you may wind up opening a new gateway to each other. Or at the very least, possibly earning her respect. There's hope yet. :)
@mimico (3619)
• Philippines
6 Dec 08
Hey does your mother in law like your daughter? If she does then maybe she'll be nicer for your daughters' sake. If she cannot be nice for her own granddaughter, then I suggest you have a chat with your daughter about the situation. Ask her why she is afraid, because she might be afraid for the wrong reasons. Put away her fears and tell her that everything will be over soon. I think a six year old should be smart enough to understand this.
• Japan
6 Dec 08
I really don't know if she likes any of my kids. The oldest boy she likes because he takes time to talk to her but then she twists things to her advantage and also interupts his study (and since he is a year behind in high school he really needs to study and do better on tests other wise high school will take 5 years instead of 3!!)The other kids she has never shown an interest in them. I do tell my daughter that grandma is poorly, that she is not the woman I met 17 years ago. My MILs' mother was very bad then, when we were trying to move to our own apartment she climbed onto the car and hung on the wipers until they broke!! So I think this dementia is inherited. I hope we can out soon as living together is not working out at all!!
• United States
6 Dec 08
I know this will be very hard, but I think I would try refusing to fight. Every time a fight starts, actively turn it around into something you find pleasing. For example, if MIL gets aggravated because you moved a basket, compliment her on how lovely the basket is, and things like that. It is extremely difficult for a belligerent person to continue to fight with someone that simply will not respond in kind, and you get to stay calm and peaceful. She may never quit trying to fight, but I suspect she will get frustrated enough to slow down. Good luck to you, whatever you decide to do, and remember, this is only temporary.
• Japan
6 Dec 08
You haven't met my MIL. The other day she was on at me and I had a really bad headache so I just nodded by head and said "Hai, hai" (Japanese for yes) but this wasn't enough she stood next to me screaming down my ear. I had tears running down my face from the headache and the added strain of being screamed at. My oldest son is almost 17 and is really trying to reach her, he sits for ages listening to the same story. He is very good with her be even he gets yelled at when she is in a stroppy mood. He just takes it and leaves the room but she just starts up the next time she sees him, even if it is a few days later. In the summer she was yelling at him before he went to camp. He came back 5 days later and she took up where she had left off, he had forgotten about the fight!!! We are looking for a place to move to now so I hope soon that this will be sorted. Jacks
@katemeow (848)
• Singapore
6 Dec 08
wow, this is really tough! living with a really inconsiderate mother in law must be really difficult... but from my point of view, i hope that you will be the more understanding person in the relationship. She has lived a very hard life and probably has forgotten how it is to enjoy life or at least be kind to others. at least you still have your youth and your little girl :) maybe you two can spend more time outside, away from MIL? also try to talk to your little girl and explain why MIL is a mean woman and that what she really needs is for you guys to try to understand her. good luck and wishing you the best!
• Japan
6 Dec 08
Thank you for your response. I tried to comment earlier but my computer has been playing up. I am trying to be understanding but she won't meet me half way. For example we have asked many times not to walk around with knives with the blade out in front. She is unsteady on her feet and her hand is at my daughters eye level. I am terrifed that she might fall and hurt herself or one of the kids. She managed to cut my selve once, but I could move out of the way We have explained why she needs to be careful but all she says is that she is Japanese and I'm Englsih so it is different. My poor husband spent over 3 hours explaining this one point to her, that it is about safety not culture differences. So now my kids get out of the kitchen when she is there. Anyway we get out as much as possible. We live in the countryside and I don't drive which makes it difficult but when the weather is nice we take lots of walks. Jacks
• Philippines
6 Dec 08
yes, children have problems to...