To chat with MIL about money- or get DH to

(38 Posts)
sagalsmith Tue 03-Sep-13 10:12:13

This topic raises its ugly head every time she visits (few times a year from US). It stresses me out no end and have to the point where I think it needs to be addressed (I normally run away from people like this and avoid confrontation but can't here).
Mil (who's financially doing well- we are doing ok too) is extremely stingy with my 2 little kids.I've stopped 'looking the gift horse in the mouth' (its cultural for me but I'm in a mixed race marriage so happy to adjust) so now appreciate any thoughts of gifts from her.
My gripe is her reluctance to spend a cent/pence when out with the kids- not even an ice cream- they come back hungry after many hours. She will claim that she only brought x-amount which turned out to be not enough. When out with us, if DH is around- doesn't pay for anything which is fine. When its with me and kids, she either looks in her very small purse for a really long time (I've been watching the past 10 years and have on purpose delayed my purse too which doesn't work!), or just turns away when its time to pay/toilet etc. So of course I pay. A recent example is- she wanted a canal ride (which I have to pay for of course) which had a 15 min wait, she was hungry and wanted to get herself something to eat and decided to bring one child. The other started crying and wanted to go along so I looked for them- found them and she was looking at pastries etc and naturally the kids wanting some (they are little and normally share one). I stood back. She then actually suddenly decided that she didn't want to eat anymore and left the place and later said to me that perhaps its a better idea to just all eat after the ride- I never had a coffee the rest of the day. The kids went for rides, little snacks etc, my mum was also there and paid for some of the rides (she wanted to as a grandma)- mil did not spend a pence on anyone else (but bought something for herself to eat on her own).
I'm quite generous and consider myself kind hearted and have worked extremely hard to have a decent life (forgoing fun as a young person). I prefer kind people and generally stay away from stingy ones. I find her lack of 'spirit of generosity' extremely hard to handle- I've tried for 10 years but it really upsets me. It was ok before the kids cause we always paid for her very happily (plus fil was there who had a sense of fairness).
But her tightness with the kids- then coming up with justifications for her actions (meaning she knows what she's doing!).
Should we bring this up or should I suck it up?

She's just a stingy old bat. If she takes the kids out without you, last words from you should be "make sure the kids get some Lunch" and see what happens.
My mother used to visit us in the US every couple of years and was always paying for stuff even when I said no it's my turn, same when me and the kids went to UK to visit.

mydoorisalwaysopen Tue 03-Sep-13 14:28:31

What's she like when you visit her? Is it about expectations of hospitality? Maybe say you're saving up to visit her as well as the other suggestions made here.

Runningchick123 Tue 03-Sep-13 14:44:09

She probably seeks it as you only have to pay for one extra (her) but she will be paying for many extra (you, your husband and the children).
I think you just need to stop expecting / hoping that she will pay. Make packed lunches before you go out for the day and set a budget for activities. Tell your MIL that money is a bit tight this month so you have a budget of x amount for the day and when it's gone its gone and then stick to it.

BrokenSunglasses Tue 03-Sep-13 14:44:20

Situations like this are SO difficult!

I can't abide people who are tight and stingy, and it's generally not hard to tell the difference between someone who has to watch the pennies and someone who is just plain tight. It's a really horrible trait in people, which ime, tends to go hand in hand with other unpleasant traits as well.

But it's so hard to deal with, because how do you tell someone you'd like them to show more generosity without looking rude or grabby yourself?

If its at the stage where its really threatening your relationship, something has to be said. Your DH should say something, but I think it has to be said in a way like 'we find this difficult to deal with and it makes us feel sad' rather than 'please spend more money on our children'.

You can't change her, you can only change the way you react to her. I don't think people like this ever change. You could make the point, she would put her hand in her purse once or twice, pay for the least expensive or cheapest version of things, but the lack of a generous spirt will still be evident.

LeoandBoosmum Tue 03-Sep-13 14:47:13

Does she stay with you in your home when she comes? Next time she's due I'd make sure there was no room for her in your home - decorate spare bedroom(s)or something, anything to make it impossible for her to stay - and tell her she's welcome to visit you but she will have to pay a hotel! Cheeky old biddy! No wonder she's well off! Otherwise, I would really have to have it out with her politely. I'd just sit her down and tell her that she is welcome etc but that you find it hurtful that, while she's under no obligation, she does not feel compelled to offer to pay for things sometimes, especially inexpensive treats for her grandchildren (who, I presume, she doesn't see too often given that she lives in another country).
Stinginess is ugly and does not sit well with me. If I had a fiver in my pocket I'd rather buy the kids an ice cream and put a smile on their faces... Miserable mare! The fact she doesn't seem averse to indulging her own expensive interests makes the situation more abhorrent.

Hissy Tue 03-Sep-13 15:17:46

If the kids go off with her, send them off with a picnic. A couple of bits for her too.

If you're all going out do a packed lunch for each of the DC, and then ASK if she wants a sandwich to take with, or if she wants to buy her own lunch.

If you normally take a picnic out for yourself, say so.

Put her on the spot.

But DON'T allow her to let your DC go hungry!

zirca Tue 03-Sep-13 15:28:49

I think if she's not willing to pay for ANYTHING it's a v strange attitude. I remember my Grandma, (who struggled on her tiny pension and I know now received help from my parents with her rent), giving me £1 pocket money when I visited to spend on sweets/stickers. I LOVED getting that something from her, it was special. We made things too - teddies from the scrap fabric box, fudge to share with friends, cake etc. She had very little, but shared all she had. As an adult, I don't understand stingy people. I understand being careful with money, but that's not the same as stingy!

Just provide for yourself and your DC when she's there. Bring a picnic (with enough for her too if she wants) but don't buy lunch out ever. Pay for your rides and those of your DC, and leave her own ticket up to her etc. If she takes them anywhere, send then with bags with cake/fruit and a drink. You won't change her, so work round it. You feel hard done by because you have to pay for HER, yet she won't return the favour. So just don't pay for her at all, then you won't mind so much!

NutcrackerFairy Tue 03-Sep-13 15:53:05

I agree with the poster who wondered if MIL had a deprived childhood?

Therefore however 'rich' she might be in the present day she might actually feel poor iyswim.

Also, as she has the expense of flights from the US to the UK and is a guest in your home might her expectation be that she gets 'looked after' or 'treated'?

I'm not excusing her behaviour, and I understand how irritating it must be.

But can you perhaps ask your DH to have a word... or just ignore it?

Send MIL out with some food for the children when she takes them out, I think you should really be doing this anyway if she is effectively minding them for you... otherwise, it's small stuff really. So you buy her an icecream or pay her admittance to a attraction. Not worth having a feud over imo.

For all that I do feel your pain as my DM and DF, also DFIL are all very similar. None of them spend money easily and will accept a treat [icecream etc] if someone else is paying but would never think to offer themselves.

I just shrug my shoulders and feel a bit sorry for them as all three came from backgrounds of having little and therefore are quite careful [tight] with money.

EldritchCleavage Tue 03-Sep-13 16:04:09

I actually think the solution is just to have money matters out in the open, always. Lay out your boundaries, let her state hers. What you will and won't pay for etc. You can't force her to treat her grandchildren, only tell her that it would be lovely and much appreciated if she did do so (in a small way) then leave her to decide whether she wants to.

And growing up poor (if she did) is no excuse at all for freeloading.

coco27 Tue 03-Sep-13 16:12:31

If my kids were going out with someone for the day I would either send a packed lunch or hand money to the adult to buy them alunch and a few treats money for their lunch

coco27 Tue 03-Sep-13 16:12:59

sorry typed that wrong but you get the gist

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Tue 03-Sep-13 17:35:20

I think you should simplify things...

You pay for everything regarding the children, all food all treats. But you don't pay for her, that way everyone knows where they stand. Just start getting things seperately, don't make a big deal out of it just buy your own and wait for her to get hers

WorrySighWorrySigh Tue 03-Sep-13 22:21:02

Is it possible that she is seeing her DCs and GCs as a sort of collective? That she is generous with other DCs/GCs and doesnt see that she always treats one set and is treated by another?

I think this was what my DM did. At an intellectual level I think she knew it wasnt fair but at an emotional level her logic evened things out.

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