half MIL rant, half need advice about starting new family traditions for baby

posted 6 months ago in Relationships
Post # 46
298 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Also, if you make an effort to see them at other times, you can control it. Lunch at a local restuarant? Built in time limit and no cooking/cleaning for you. Snacks during the football game? Sure, then you put out some party food and don’t have to talk to them much. Etc. Etc.

Post # 47
832 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: City, State

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pontihatesperiods :  I would encourage you to step into your husband’s shoes and look at it from his perspective as well. To him, Christmas/holidays means exactly eat, open presents and sit around. These ARE his traditions and they are no less valid than anyone elses, for some people the same old, same old is comforting. Spending Christmas like this may look dull from the outside but it could very well mean something to him and also be something that he wants to share with your child. He may be willing to try something different but he also may not, in which case you’ll have to meet him halfway so that you both get a say in your child’s experience. I agree with PPs who recommend splitting the day and doing something as a nuclear family for one half and then with his family for the other. 

Post # 48
563 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

Oh in-laws.  My husband and I live in the same city as his immediate family.  My immediate family is about 4 hours away, and all of our extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents) are 8 plus hours or more all over the country.  When we first started dating, we did a lot of things with his family- naturally, they’re right here. After a while, I started to get irritated that we were always going over there (or worse, having them at our house…endlessly).    However, after we had children, we had to find some middle ground- so we did.  We split holidays- sometimes with his extended family, sometimes with mine, and sometimes we stay home.  We’ve forged our own traditions- as you’ve mentioned, and honestly, we just take it one step at a time.  Find “nuclear” family stuff that works for you (we always do halloween at our house because we like our neighborhood), and then find other stuff that includes our extended family (christmas day dinner at my inlaws).  I’d suggest trying to find a balance- it worked for us.  Good Luck!

Post # 49
713 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2005

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pontihatesperiods :  You keep saying they have never visited, but have you ever actually invited them? As in, “Hey Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law, you helped us purchase our beautiful home and we would be delighted to have you come over and have a celebration with us.”

My IL’s are very formal when it comes to visiting, they wont visit unless you ask even if you give them an open invitation to stop by anytime they like. Its a weird family thing. Maybe your IL’s are the same way.

As for starting new traditions, there are a million ways to have traditions that wont blow up into an us vs. them. 

For instance, every year we buy the kids christmas jammies and take their photo in them on Christmas Eve. Its their Christmas Eve gift. They love it and its a photo memory to share with the grandparents.

My Darling Husband makes homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, another christmas tradition,  but when we lived near his parents, we had traditions with them as well. The only thing I can say is I get that you want to have your own traditions, and there is nothing wrong with that, but do plan to spend some holidays with the IL’s because if not you will be robbing your child of the joy of being with cousins.

My fondest childhood memories are holiday, especially Thanksgiving at my aunts house with nearly 120 cousins. I come from a large family.  Her house was the biggest house in the family and all 400 of my relatives showed up for dinner and eating and talking. We kids played and it was the most wonderful experience ever.

Eventually there will be more kids added to the family and that will increase the joy for your child/future children. 

Post # 50
725 posts
Busy bee

What exactly is it you want to do at the holiday? (Full disclosure– I LOVE my family holidays and I’ve always thought we have a lot of traditions—but most of them amount in one way or another to eating and sitting around hanging out.) More specificity about your desires (other than NOT THEIR HOUSE which is a negative demand, not a positive desire) would help people find action oriented solutions for you. 

Can you just add the traditions you want to do onto theirs? For example, you mentioned crafts. Is there any reason that you can’t……bring crafts to their house? Or do crafts in all the weeks leading up to the holiday? Or host Christmas EVE at your house and Christmas day at theirs (less cleanup for you!) 

I’ll be honest, having the whole extended family gather at the grandparents and eat souns like a lovely holiday tradition for me. I sure wish my family lived close enough to do that for more holidays than we do (and is there any way to bend around it? For example, my husband and I fly to my parents for Christmas where we….sit around and hang out and eat. AND THEN we travel with his sister around the world for the week and a half after Christmas) 

Post # 51
174 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2016 - The White Barn

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pontihatesperiods :  I don’t think you not wanting to go over to his parents house at every holiday is unreasonable. Just be willing to compromise. Maybe every other year go for christmas or have your own christmas with your own family and then make time to go visit them. Offer to host, “Hey, I want to host Easter or Thanksgiving this year. If you want to come spend time with us we will be at our house for Thanksgiving this year, you are welcomed to come!”. Or, just ask your husband for some holidays off. You don’t need to spend every single holiday with the inlaws butI would not cut them out completely.

Post # 56
1090 posts
Bumble bee

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pontihatesperiods :  Family units branch beyond hubby and baby. Why not suggest hosting a holiday or two at your house one year, and spend time at theirs the next? You can make your get togethers as entertaining as you like, and start new traditions that way. And regarding the boring visits to the in-laws, what you’ve described is typical of lots of family gatherings. People eat, drink, and visit with one another. In the end, I don’t think it’s fair to your husband to cut off holidays completely, especially since he doesn’t see them very often. You married him knowing holidays are important to them. 

Post # 57
322 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

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pontihatesperiods :  I haven’t read all the PPs but it sounds like you’re frustrated about the lack of balance around visiting and holidays, celebrations etc generally, rather than just once the baby comes. 

To me, it sounds like your husband needs to visit them more regularly on his own and that’s up to him to schedule, but also means you can’t be upset or annoyed if he goes to see them for a weekend once a month or something.

It sounds like you guys could benefit from saying no to his mom and letting her be upset without changing your minds. Celebrate your own way sometimes if you’d prefer to, regardless of what your Mother-In-Law says.

For holidays and Christmas how would you like to spend it in an ideal world and what can you do to incorporate more of that this year? I think it would be good to implement some of those changes before the baby comes. 

It sounds like you feel you’ve compromised all the time and it’s now time for your husband to also compromise. Doesn’t mean you’ll always have things how you want them, but might help alleviate some of your resentment.

Post # 58
653 posts
Busy bee

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pontihatesperiods :  but the baby won’t be taking part in crafts or volunteering for first few years. It might also not go so well that you don’t want to travel to your in laws with the baby because it’s a hassle but going abroad with a baby is fine 

Post # 59
2695 posts
Sugar bee

OP, I’m curious.. do you think there might be an issue with your husband viewing his mother as the “head of the family”?  

I’m wondering if this is less about holiday traditions and more about boundaries in general.

Post # 62
583 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

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pontihatesperiods :  From your post, I’m just wondering why you pick Christmas as your hill to die on? 

Personally I would use the Christmas as the opportunity to go to their house for a few hours, your future child(ren) will enjoy getting presents from the family and being fawned over.  Assuming there are other kids there, they will enjoy showing each other their presents and playing with each other.  

In my experience, Christmas isn’t that fun for the adults, and we get along well with both our families.  It’s all about making it magical and memorable for the kids. They’ll almost always have more fun in a group.

Get out of the other holidays.  If Mother-In-Law didn’t come to your thanksgiving, why do you have to go to hers?  Use those sorts of holidays as nuclear family time. 

Post # 63
6847 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 1997

I realize this is water under the bridge at this point, but this is part of the reason why it is so important to talk about EVERYTHING before you get married and do them. I don’t see anything wrong with establishing your own traditions once the baby comes, but your Dh MUST be in agreement for it to work. You and the child/ren cannot do one thing while he goes to his family’s house. And it is likely you will both need to compromise – either alternating holidays or spending part of the day one place and part another, or visiting them on a different day near the holidays.

Before Dh and I had a baby, we discussed with our folks that we wanted our kids to be able to wake up Christmas morning, come downstairs in their new Christmas pajamas, open stockings, have warm cinnamon rolls, and then open gifts and play with them. They understood and agreed, in part because Dh and I were united and in agreement. We see his family Christmas eve and my side of the family a day sometime after Christmas, so we still spend time with them, just not on the exact day. But it is going to be hard to convince his parents if even your Dh doesn’t agree…

Post # 64
377 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2025 - City, State

It sounds like your desire for novelty every Christmas conflicts heavily with your husband’s desire for continuing to visit with his family in the same way.  Could you compromise on doing things the same way every year, but making it something, not just sitting around?  Like, always decorate gingerbread cookies, watch the Grinch, and drive around to look at the lights but save the international travel and community service for another time.

How far away do your in-laws live?  Can you go over for just a couple hours and do part of the day at home?

How about the two of you approaching them to say “We want to [play board games and go sledding] as an annual Christmas tradition, now that we have a child of our own.  Are those things you’d be interested in incorporating into your celebration, or does it make more sense for us to plan things separately?  We could come visit on the 27th if we do Christmas on our own.”?

Making a specific plan like spending Easter with them (but bringing an egg hunt with you) and Christmas at home will likely go down a lot better than doing it willy-nilly with one year with them, another at home, one at Disney, one visiting friends, etc….  Then everyone will get used to you never being there on Thanksgiving and you should eventually stop hearing about it.  If you’re sometimes at [holiday X] and sometimes not, they’ll bug you about it every time you make other plans.

This family clearly doesn’t share your craving for adventure and new experiences!  I think adding some more fun or interesting elements into their celebrations but creating a new consistency within those constraints will be your best bet for keeping everyone satisfied.



Oh, and make sure you keep inviting them over even if they don’t come.  Then they can’t complain that they don’t see you enough!

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