When this stepmom is conflicted about her stepson and MIL, she asks Reddit:
I (32f) have been with my husband (34m) for 10 years now. We’ve been married for 8yrs and we have three boys.
Eli (15m) is my stepson but I love him like he’s mine, and we have our two younger sons 7m & 5m. I’m currently pregnant with baby number four, and this is definitely the last one lol.
My MIL Grace (63f) has been staying with us for a little while since her house is currently being renovated.
Since I’ve been in Eli’s life since he was little, my MIL more or less holds me responsible for every perceived “mistake” he has ever made.
Anytime he disagrees with her, freely speaks his mind, or just does something she doesn’t like, I’m the one who’s “blamed” for it.
I will be honest, I do encourage Eli to express how he feels, to be sure in what he believes, and that as long as no one is getting hurt by it then he can do what he wants. I encourage my other boys to do that too. All I want is for them to be happy.
This morning, my husband had already gone into work, and the younger boys were at the table eating with Grace.
I was getting their lunches packed up and put into their bags when Eli came down. He was wearing an oversized pink button down and flared jeans, and he had on some really pretty green eyeshadow.
Grace immediately started talking about how he was dressed way too girly for a boy, that he needed to take the makeup off. Grace then turned to me and said “aren’t you going to tell him he looks weird and ridiculous?”
So I looked at Eli and told him that he looked cute but the green eyeshadow didn’t match his outfit that well so next time he should try pink or neutrals. He smiled a little and went to put on his shoes while I got the younger boys backpacks so we could go to the car.
As soon as Eli was gone, Grace told me that I was being purposely difficult and that since Eli isn’t my son, it’s not my place to allow him to just do whatever he wants. I have to 'discipline this child.'
I told her that if she really felt like I wasn’t his mother, then it made no sense for her to ask me to discipline him for wearing eyeshadow.
I took the kids to school, and on my way back home my husband called to ask what happened this morning with his mother.
I told him, and he said that I could have just asked Eli to take it off instead of doing something that was going to irritate Grace further. So clearly both he and his mother think I messed up, just for different reasons. AITA?
NTA, you're great, I wish more kids had Mother figures that supported them like this. Your husband's response is concerning.
This is how abusers work. By being silent and deflecting it, your husband allows and condones his mother's crappy behavior.
Yes, it's painful and difficult to deal with confrontation. But ignoring it just keeps the cycle going. Especially rude when she's literally a guest in yours AND your children's own home. Eli should have the right and safety to express himself, HE LIVES THERE.
This is a tricky line to walk.
Once you have kids, its hard to have it be about you. If husband has trauma due to his mother that he wasnt 100% able to work through before Eli was born 15 years ago, it is going to be incredibly hard to work past that trauma, while doing right by your kid, being an active and involved parent, and learning better mechanisms for handling a hard parent.
Going to therapy and working past trauma can bring up things that some people had buried, or bring up past trauma responses while we work through those issues, which can make it hard to be a parent.
One of the reasons im child-free is because of this, and partially because I know that I couldn't handle watching my own child potentially end up miserable due to trauma responses that are deeply embedded and will take a very very long time to unlearn.
It took me a long time to come to that realization and accept this, and not everyone can/does.
Ops husband isnt really in the wrong, he just sounds like hes been so beaten down by his mother that to him its normal to just sigh and give in so she doesnt start anything with him and give him more issues than he has.