Author Topic: DIL refuses to help at family functions-gives grandkids wrong idea about "family  (Read 8748 times)

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Offline Green Thumb

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I am sorry this has turned out like this for you but at least you know what she is thinking. Whether you said it or not is no longer the issue.  If you want to improve your relationship with her, then you have to lovingly apologize and own your mistakes.
I think I would say something like "I am so sorry that I said all those things way back then. I was wrong, I didn't know you well and was being too motherly. My son chose you and he chose well and I should have trusted him more and been less controlling. Time has shown me what a smart, loving woman you are (put in your own adjectives that are true). Can you find it in your heart to forgive me? (Very important words) I value your friendship love, whatever, and hope someday to be able to make amends. I truly understand how you have been hurt all these years. I would have been hurt if I had heard my future MIL say the same things about me."

What she heard long ago was that she wasn't good enough for you for her son. Ouch!!! This is why she has not embraced your family.  It is the same thing you felt when she said your family is not her family.

Email the response and then send her flowers.

Offline clover

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You do owe her an honest apology, but know that an apology will not make everything better. You treated her like bad breeding stock rather than a person. You questioned her ability to provide a stable environment for her kids. You used her own scars and pain to paint her in a negative light. That sort of pain only grows with time if you're expected to play happy family with the person who slandered you that way.

Frankly, I wouldn't have married your son in her position. He should have shot you down long before you managed to get that much out. If anyone in my family had ever said those sorts of things about my husband after we were engaged they would no longer be considered family. And the same goes for my husband. See we think that family is made, not just born. Once someone crosses certain lines, I'm done. Talking about my spouse like he's a poorly bred dog is one of those lines. (Stealing from us, insulting our religion, exposing minors to hard drugs and insinuating that our child was not fathered by my husband also make that list. Sadly we've had to deal with these.) DNA or no, anyone who mistreats my husband and children is automatically out. And if I hold someone who is not blood related dear, they are family. My best friend is family. My mother's brothers are not. My stepdad's sane brother is family. His lazy, greedy, petty brother is not. My step grandparents are family. My paternal grandparents are not.

So remember that in all reality you're lucky. It would have been 100% understandable to some people if your DIL refused to ever let you lay eyes on her kids. You called her an unfit mother before she was even pregnant, then said that you wanted her to act like family. When you were asking her to help at the family reunion I can guarantee that she was thinking "When MIL has nothing to gain I'm no more family than a poorly bred animal. When she wants something from me, THEN I'm 'family.'" The fact that she consented to any kind of relationship makes her a more patient woman than many.

All that being said, the relationship may be salvageable. My suggestion is give her a sincere apology. Then back off. Don't push. Give her the space to heal that she never got. And if she does come around again don't expect her to act like family. Remember that her kids and husband are just that: hers. Your extended family does not trump her nuclear family, or even her extended family. Don't cross even the slightest boundary. Respect her and your DS as autonomous adults. The path to healing in any relationship is long. This is especially true in complicated, messy relationships like DIL/MIL relationships often are. But it is still possible.

Offline Stilllearning

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OMG Clover, life has a lot to teach you.  Such black and white thinking becomes more difficult to defend when we get older.  Good luck!! 
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
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Offline clover

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OMG Clover, life has a lot to teach you.  Such black and white thinking becomes more difficult to defend when we get older.  Good luck!!

You could be right. I don't think so, though. To me it really is that simple. My husband is my first priority and I am his. We are the nuclear family. Our bond takes precedence. Over his parents, my parents, whoever. When our kids get married one day, their spouse will be their first priority.

And I would never, ever expect my daughter to tolerate abuse simply because she shares a little bit of DNA with someone. Maybe it's because I grew up with a lot of the same assumptions made about me. My bio dad has Bipolar I. Mom was the black sheep of her family. So, clearly I was a ticking time bomb. *Eyeroll* At the age of 18 I started removing everyone who ever treated me like a second class citizen from my life. Why live with such abuse when you don't have to?

And that's exactly what happened to the DIL here. She was treated like she was inferior due to factors that she had no control over. It's no wonder she was resentful! Call it black and white if you like, but that's my take on things. The most complicated problems usually boil down to the simplest solution. And the obvious solution, to me, is to show DIL that you respect her and view her as an equal. Not say it, but show it.

Offline luise.volta

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I remember what happened to you early on in your marriage, Clover. I also remember what you did to get past it. Yes, you have strong opinions and of course they don't work for everyone. WWU is a safe place to agree to disagree. And Stilllearning...to me you make just as much sense.

My own take is that how the DIL in this conflict reacted was a lot about her. I say that because years ago my dearest friend had such a high opinion of herself that when someone said something thoughtless or vicious, she would look at me in confusion and ask me what was wrong with that person that they had such a distorted concept of her. And then she'd never give it another thought...truly.

The reason I found that so amazing was because if I got even a dirty look from someone, anyone, it very made me sick in bed. I would anguish about it and was hurt to the core. My friend wasn't right but /and neither was I. We came from different backgrounds and had different personalities. I was a people pleaser. It took me decades until I could stand my ground and then doing that made me sick in bed for another decade. Whew...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Offline clover

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I remember what happened to you early on in your marriage, Clover.

I think you may have me confused with someone. Today is my first day posting here. Found this forum in a unrelated search and I identified so much with DIL that I felt the need to present what her perspective might be like. Been lurking this afternoon and it's really given me some insight into how my own MIL might feel about certain issues. Wise women, indeed! :)

Offline luise.volta

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My sincere apology, C. We had a young DIL here years ago with that name with views very similar to yours. We started out as MothersinLawsUnite but very soon so many truly great DILs joined us that we changed the name. :-)

So, welcome, C. We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under Open Me first, to read the five posts placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure WWU is a fit. We're a monitored Website. We don't do debate here and are careful to remember that our opinions at not facts to anyone but us. The well known 'take what you want and leave the rest' is pretty much a ground rule. We've been around for a many years. I own the site and my son, Kirk, is our Webmaster. I'm 88 years old. :-)
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Offline Pooh

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I was getting ready to write the same thing.  I came close to writing, "Welcome back Clover". Ha ha.   So welcome new Clover. :)

Here's my honest take from being on both sides of this.  A horrible MIL the first go around, a great one second go around.  A really great DIL and a horrible DIL.

People are human.  There is no one ever on the face of the earth not going to say something or do something to hurt someone else's feelings.  We are all human and we all can say or do things, many times unintentionally, that cause hurt feelings.  We also, as Mothers, say things in a Mothering role that can be taken badly by another person, that it not intentional. 

I can remember turning my head on my youngest in a store one time for a minute and when I turned around, he was talking to this very unkempt strange man standing a few feet from me.  I immediately walked over, took his hand and said, "Come on XXXX.  We have shopping to finish."   I walked a few feet and whispered loudly, "XXXX, I have told you before, we do not talk to strangers. It's dangerous!"  In my fright of turning to find him right next to this "stranger", I said it too loudly and when I looked back, the man was standing there with such a sad look on his face.  I knew he had heard me and I felt terrible about it.  In trying to teach my child a "motherly" lesson, I had hurt this person's feelings.  He could have been the nicest person in the world for all I knew.

You can see from earlier, that I don't agree with what the OP said and I thought she needed to make her apologies.  I don't think she said anything to purposefully hurt her DIL, but was in her "mothering" role with her DS when she said those things.  Not excusing it, but we are all human and do things we shouldn't do sometimes without thinking.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline luise.volta

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Profound, P. A mirror for me...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama