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Having a talk with son and DIL - advice solicited

Started by malfoyfan, July 20, 2017, 11:17:32 am

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My son and DIL are coming over Saturday to have a discussion about the situation we have in which she will not allow us to see their 6-month-old daughter.  She also won't speak to us, as demonstrated recently at my nephew's wedding.  We have repeatedly asked them to come over and talk about it.  My niece, who is very close to my son and very distressed about the situation, asked if she can join in as a mediator.

My question to you all is, do you have any advice for how to proceed so the talk is productive?  Because it's an emotional situation, and my DIL is VERY defensive about her conduct, I want to try to keep things calm and rational.  If anyone here has been through this, please tell me what you did and how it turned out.  Thanks in advance for any guidance.


Sorry this posted twice!  The page said it wasn't working, then it worked too well.


M, I'm sorry you are going through this, but I think it's a good sign that people are willing to talk. 

In this potentially volatile family situation, I question how impartial your niece will be as mediator, or how impartial everyone will perceive her to be.  Does she have any experience or training in mediation?  If everyone trusts and feels very comfortable with having your niece as mediator, then I would give it a shot.  She would need to keep a very cool head throughout.  If it gets too emotional or out of hand, I would suggest you immediately switch to family counseling with a therapist who can be an actual impartial mediator. 

I'm currently in family counseling trying to work out the possibility of a relationship with my DS and GC after an estrangement.  DIL is making it very difficult, but it has been helpful to have a professional present so that no one (DIL) runs roughshod on the others (me and DS).  I'm guardedly hopeful.  In hindsight, an estrangement might have been avoided if we had opted for counseling first. 

Because I relate to your situation so much, I hope you let us know how things go and what you learn in the process. 


Hi Marina, thank you for your input.  I'm not sure my niece is going to be as impartial as I'd like, but I figured I'd give her a chance.  She is suggesting that her dad come along as a backup.  I'm for this because my brother is very cool-headed and very good in negotiating with people (he's a lawyer).  This is just a shot in the dark.  I have no idea if we'll succeed in getting anywhere with my DIL, who has been extremely difficult over the last 6 months.  If this doesn't work, I'm going to suggest to my son that we try counseling together, even if we have to drive to their place (3 hours away).  I really want a relationship with my granddaughter.  We haven't seen her since April. 


Without going into detail, this happpened in our family.  Our DIL blamed us for all her ills; our son, her husband, sided with her.  The "talk" ended with her raging and our scurrying out the door.  She is now our former DIL (she left our son and abandoned her children).    My advice - if you personally are seen to be the "problem", don't explain your truth (it probably won't be heard) - just leave.  Honestly, I think it would be best if you and your husband were not present and see if your niece can get a handle on the situation.  In our case, our ex-DIL did not want us in her life and that was going to happen.  I have a really really uneasy feeling about this "talk" especially since it has not originated from either your son or DIL.  And no professional is present.  Remember - one cannot reason with someone who will not reason.  Good luck - you are going to need it ...


From my experience with things like this, talking and trying to explain your feelings and ideas to people who don't want to hear them only backfires. The other parties involved would first have to meet you halfway and be willing to make compromises. Instead, at least from what I have seen, is that they are only going to be defensive, argumentative, angry, and looking for a fight. Few have any real clarity anymore and unfortunately you can't force anyone to see things as they actually are. It's not a fair situation and I wish things were different. You could certainly give this a try and see what happens but my experience tells me nothing will be gained by it. In my case, I have decided to stop pursuing relationships where I am the only interested party. I will not put myself in that position anymore. I have grown tired of always being available for people who are never available for me and it was beginning to effect my self respect and well being. Whatever you decide, I wish you peace.


My son is not happy with DIL's behavior either.  They've had fights over her not wanting to 'share' the baby with us.  So the way I look at it, he's stuck between trying to placate her and trying to help us out.  I have a feeling we're going to end up having to see a counselor, if she's even willing to do that.

I already know she's not interested in our version of things - but I feel like we have to do something before this gets any worse.  When they got married, I saw red flags, but I figured we had to make the best of it because this is who he chose, but over the last year it's become a very weird, bad situation with her.  It's like we're finally seeing who she really is, and it sort of horrified me.  It also became clear to me that her primary relationship is with her parents - not her husband, for all she claims to love him so much (on Facebook).  A loving wife doesn't treat her husband's parents like this.

I also feel that this isn't going to end well - I've seen this type of behavior before (wife allowing only her family to see the baby, her mother being totally obsessed with the baby like it's her own, etc.), in my DH's family, and that marriage ended in divorce.   I don't know what will happen with my son's marriage, but I hope he is able to convince her to see a counselor and improve their relationship, and that if she's not willing to see us, then not raise objections if he brings the baby over by himself. 

Thank you all for your input and wish me luck. 


M, I can't disagree with the take of jdtm and Raindrops regarding how the talk may go, and it sounds like you already know what you may be in for.  My uneasy relationship with DS/DIL deteriorated further with the arrival of GC until I had to cut them off because of all the hurt.  Logic and fairness had no place in our trying to reach any kind of understanding.  It was as if DS was in a cult--my DS was unable to hear my side.  It was DIL's way or the highway.  There are unfortunately many similar stories on WWU. 


Sadly, I'm only too aware of the many stories I've read about this type of situation.  I don't have a lot of expectations.  We just need to try at this point.


Update:  Our talk went a lot better than I expected.  I posted an update on the "other post" I did by error and here is the same update to this post.

My niece was not present.  DIL objected to her being there so it was just the four of us.  I couldn't talk at first, got upset and choked up.  DH stepped in and was great - calmly laid out all the issues we have with DIL and her FOO.  I was so proud of him.  DIL actually listened - didn't get hysterical or run out - and then had her say while we listened.  I felt like we made progress.  We have more things to hash out - time was limited for this talk and we'll most likely talk more down the road.  But I felt that DIL got at least some of what was bothering us and why and that she will process it.  She tends to idealize her family and I felt that she is still resistant to hearing anything against them.  We pointed out that sometimes in-laws just don't click and that it isn't anyone's fault.

I'll be watching her behavior and DH and my family and I agreed that if we see her trying to use the baby as a pawn or favoring her parents, we'll speak up.  We did see the baby the next day, which was very enjoyable.  So, I think we have a chance of mending the situation as we go forward.  We all agreed we need to have more honest communication and to be able to air grievances without it ending the relationship. 

Thank you for the input on this issue.  Everyone's advice is much appreciated.  :-)