Ugh, I’ve had issues with my in-laws before, but this might be the breaking point for me.

We’re visiting while our central heat is fixed, staying in the apartment over the in-laws garage. Because our house had no heat, we told them we’d have Christmas with them. I hate giving up our own family Christmas, but DH assures me we will celebrate belatedly when we get home.

The in-laws asked to see the kids yesterday evening, so I brought them down and went to do a bunch of errands. DH is out of town for two days on a business trip.

When I came down to get my almost 5 year old, I found her and FIL sitting on the ground outside playing. Their backs were to me. I thought it was really cute, so I wanted to take a candid picture (they didn’t hear me walk up). While I was pulling up the camera on my phone, FIL said, “You know, Grandma loves you more than anyone. She loves you more than anyone in the whole world. Do you know that?”

I nearly dropped the phone. I said, “Excuse me?” He jolted and then said, “What?” I told him that was an awful thing to tell a child. “Why?” Because I’m her mother! He paused and said, “Oh, well it’s not a competition. That’s not how I meant it. I guess you took it the wrong way.”

I was so upset I couldn’t trust myself to speak. I thought I’d either scream at him or start crying. So I told my daughter I’d be back down in a few minutes to bring her up, and I went away to try to cool off. Note: Grandma 100% does make it a competition, which I try to ignore. If I buy her a toy, Grandma buys five that are more expensive. That kind of thing. To hear them blatantly trying to brainwash my daughter into thinking only Grandma truly loves her was beyond the pale.

When I went down five minutes later, Grandma had her back to me and said, “Don’t worry, we won’t let anything bad happen to you.” I demanded to know what she meant. “Nothing!” I took my daughter upstairs and had a talk with her. I let her know she wasn’t in any trouble. I asked what Grandpa had been talking about.

She said Grandpa said it was sad that DH and I would want to hurt her and that we didn’t love her as we should—because we occasionally spank her. Now, maybe you think spanking is inappropriate, and I understand that, but spanking is completely legal in our state and very much the norm for where we live, and it’s something we never do in anger and honestly, we don’t spank very often. Anyway, that’s our choice. It is definitely not okay for the grandparents to use it as an excuse to undermine our relationship with our kids.

I asked what Grandma was talking about when she said she wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her, and she said Grandma told her I would try to spank her because I was mad. WHAT. I would never spank her to punish her for something someone else said, and we rarely spank anyway.

So you see, it’s a double strategy of both convincing her that we are cruel to her and that the grandparents are the only ones who love her.

I am honestly so upset by all this that I feel like going no contact. They show no sign of remorse or acknowledgement that what they did was wrong. Am I overreacting? How can we possibly go forward with the relationships if we don’t cut them off? We will have to have supervised visits for sure. But I can’t stand the thought of being around them, and we’re supposed to have Christmas with them.