July 09, 2020, 10:48:19 pm


"Welcome to WiseWomenUnite.com -- When adult children marry and leave home, life can sometimes get more complex instead of simpler.  Being a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law can be tough.  How do we extend love and support to our mothers-in-law, adult children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren without interfering?  What do we do when there are communication problems?  How can we ask for help when we need it without being a burden?  And how do our family members feel about these issues?  We invite you to join our free forum, read some posts... and when you're ready...share your challenges and wisdom."

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Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: DS under pressure?
September 10, 2016, 08:56:06 am
Pen, is it possible that your son has a mood disorder or is just plain old grouchy or kind of mean spirited? I don't know your situation but I do know one of my AC, actually TWO of them (LOL) are moody and one never knows are you getting the angel or the mean one during whatever encounter we have. Both of these AC, one male and one female, are really only happy when we are giving (money or attention usually). Yet, they don't offer to pay or give to us. Personally, I feel kind of bad inside that I have to be so detached emotionally from them but like you said, one has to protect oneself from the constant hurt or pain.
If we remove ourselves and our feelings and look at things objectively, if we ask:
Are we helping this person?  -or-
Are we taking away consequences?

You feel selfish, why? Do you feel like  you have to give in order to earn love, or that you have to give in order that she will like you more, love you more?

It sounds like your daughter needs to learn the consequences of not taking care of her car for herself and on her own time. By interfering and doing this for her, you give her the message that she is not competent on her own. That is what Al Anon says and they go further to say when we take away the consequences, the alcoholic feels worse about themselves, we do not make things better, we actually make them hate themselves MORE because they did not solve their own problems. It sounds like you should butt out and allow her to learn her way. Yes, it is the "hard way" but isn't that how I learned every lesson in life and now I am okay, responsible and a "good person."

Your daughter may be like my son, in that he can manipulate the relatives to "feel sorry for him" and enable him. The aunt may be a major enabler and you can't do anything about this. It is painful, we have similar in our family, relatives have enabled this son to run right off the track.

In our case, the son took charge of his beater car, got it titled and got a relative to purchase new tires for him. Had it repaired at a cheapo shop and the repaired a/c was already acting up. We stayed out of it and allowed him to make his own decisions and choices and take charge. He did the hard work and I hope this gives him some measure of self esteem and knowing his parents do have boundaries. We actually went into this knowing it would be a problem for us, we allowed him to purchase this beater car knowing it was not a good option, but because he was so hateful if we didn't. We just decided, let it go, and perhaps he will learn something about being a "grown up" from being a car owner. So the good news is we were not blind in reacting emotionally out of wanting love from him. LOL!
This is horrible and I hope both you and your daughter are in good counseling! It will help you as well as her.
Dear HM,
I think our adult children do not want to hear their other parent badmouthing their former spouse. I think AC naturally shy away from this, even if we are saying "the truth" or "our feelings." At least, this is what I have found in my own life. Therefore, I advise not to talk to your AC about how bad your ex-spouse was or is and how you are or were being mistreated. Whatever time you have with your AC, make it all about them, not about yourself. Children want to love both parents and receive love from both parents. The stronger personality parent, or the manipulative parent, often ends up dividing the kids from their other parent. And I believe that the one parent who was most cold or detached while the kids were growing up seems to turn into the one the AC most desire to please after the divorce. Why does this happen? For one, life is never fair. I also believe it is because our AC desperately desire the love they never had growing up so will do anything, everything, in some situations to maintain contact with the "bad parent" in order to gain some of that love NOW. And sometimes it is because the strong parent doesn't need the AC so much but the weak parent does. The opposite happens, too, the weaker parent, or more emotionally needy parent, drives them away. It depends on how much manipulation is going on and how mature the AC are. I understand your frustration, my ex has manipulated my AC into not being close to me. One has to let go and make one's own life be the happy life. Make peace with the grief and move forward in life. I am not sure we can really change the situation until our AC are willing and we are willing to look at our part, our own behavior and stressors, etc. We may be victims but we don't have to make our lives about being a victim, we can rise up and be happy. Like Luise said, we can only change our own selves and attitudes, we can't change other people. And I do find things go better for a while with my own AC and then back to almost no contact. Guess I don't pursue them as vigorously as their father or their in-laws. Best wishes to you.
As a gerontologist, you likely know that whoever is power of attorney or medical power of attorney for your son will be calling the shots. Since she is his legal wife, she likely has legal standing to control various things, like hospital visits. Unless he specifies otherwise in a written legal document. Just like what happens with your older adult clients. Consider talking to a family law attorney for additional information. Its really up to you to decide how you want to handle things, you do have choices and the power to "detach with love", should you decide this is in your best interest.
What concerns me most is your resentment and wanting to retire but having to work to give these two rent money. So my post is aimed at you.

Does your son have a cell phone? Can you call him? Does he know she limits your visiting him? Would your son want you to be his medical power of attorney? You can keep being pushy and aggressive or you can let this go. It doesn't sound like things will change and you have to decide which works best for you. Should you decide to be pushy and aggressive, then let go of thinking of how it should be, they should be grateful, etc. That only keeps you bound emotionally and unhappy. 

That 1000 a month is an impediment in your own life, you say you want to retire but can't due to helping them financially. It would be okay for you to cut this off after a period of time after you tell them what your plans are. Only you know what is best. Its also okay to give up and let this stress go. Accept that things are not how you want them and move on with your life. Make your focus of your life on you, create new hobbies, go to the opera or the movies, even alone, etc. Many of us hear do not have good or any relationship with our adult children and we have learned to move forward beyond the role of mother.

No one ever knows what goes on in a marriage, behind closed doors. She may have big stress herself. He may have promised things, he may not be a picnic to live with, she may worry he is close to death and leaving her destitute. She may have always wanted to be in control or she may be so emotionally fragile and vulnerable that she is now being super controlling in the attempt to minimize her anxiety and depression? Especially if she doesn't work or works for low pay. He chooses her, and he is likely so sick he can't do anything else, has no emotional reserve left to deal with more conflict. 

My suggestion is that you need to have an honest talk with him after you decide what is best for your own mental/emotional health. Ask him what he wants YOU to do (be pushy or let go), ask him how he feels. You say you have kept from sharing your feelings with him, this is probably not a good thing. Don't make this a choose one, me or her. Don't bash her in any way, don't rant and rave, but do let him know you love him and you are either going to keep trying or give up (whatever you think is best). And do accept that he has chosen her and know your place is second string. I am sorry, this is hard. He may feel guilt at having a "mail order bride" and now being unable to support her financially.

And you might try a little honey with the wife if you decide to be aggressive and pushing in seeing him/calling him. Consider having a talk with her and praise her, bring her flowers, say how grateful you are that he has a loving wife to take care of him, how much he loves her, etc. Try a little sugar, it works better than arguing with her or criticizing her. Gives her a reason to want you in their lives. Not saying you have done anything wrong, just that I have figured out how PRAISE and flattery makes people seem to really like the praise giver.

Please come back her often and let us know how things are going. We try to both support each other and offer honesty and another look or viewpoint on situations.
I am sorry to hear your pain, Mom of 1. What we get on this forum is some honest truth and support. And that is what is most valuable, having someone point out where we might have gone wrong ourselves so we can fix our own shortcomings. Everyone has them and if we don't own our own stuff, we can't fix our relationship situations.

I have to agree with the others on taking ownership for your own part in this fiasco. It is not helpful to enable our children in any way. They need to learn self management, coping skills, and independence. They do not need mom and dad financing their endeavors at age 25. Whatever financial "help" you gave this man, turned out badly and now is the time to learn the lesson of never again. The problem could be you, it could be him, but no more financial support. I am sorry, this sound very harsh. Its not good for you, its not good for him. (BTW, we just got suckered into purchasing a $1500 car for one son who has a personality disorder and mental illness and it turned into a fiasco, with many arguments and anger! Some times you just gotta not do it and take the heat and their anger. Enabling always backfires.)

Dr Phil says we teach people how to treat us. So what have you taught him about how to treat you? Are you dignified and expect respect and are you respectful to other people? You asked how to avoid the escalation of arguments. It begins with our own self control. If you can't control yourself, you are modeling this aggression and disrespect to others.

First we have to decide what is our trigger. Sit down with a piece of paper and do some soul searching. What is it that makes you get angry. For me, it is being disrespected when I feel less than. I hear some of this in your post. I have learned to walk away or shut up totally when I feel myself losing my cool -- have had lots of practice with my family and I do get angry, so I know how hard this is!

Second, vow to step back from this trigger and detach emotionally when the argument starts. Do not allow yourself to get angry or engage. Walk outside, go to the bathroom, whatever it takes to break the cycle. Understand that you don't have the right to control his behavior, lifestyle, money management, anything. He won't  love you more when you entangle yourself by financing his needs or projects, which will only bring continued heartache and conflict. He needs to make his own mistakes and be on his own.

Third, it takes two to make an argument, you don't have to engage or defend yourself or even get angry. We only control ourselves, we never can control other people.
Kim, you stayed calm and positive and held to your truths. That is a great victory.  It is good you spoke up for yourself, now you are teaching son you deserve respect and he can't treat you badly without having consequences. He may continue to do so, we can't change other people, but you did what needed to be done and good for you!
We don't have to be mary sunshine but we do have to be pleasant and polite. To me, this is easier than being the happy, happy fake happy person. I truly understand your pain. My meanest daughter got married last year and it was a misery and she treated us like dirt. We left the reception super early cause she didn't even seat my husband and myself at the parent's table and she refused to have me attend the part where the ladies help dress the bride. Her excuse for being so hateful to me was that we left the reception without saying goodbye to her!! She must have had ESP to know in advance what we would do so that she could be hateful verbally to me in advance of my actions - LOL!  And in my life, I have found that the manipulators and controllers almost always get their way, but I don't want to be that person who manipulates and controls. I would rather be the outside person, even when it hurts. Its no win with these kinds of people and I have just come to mostly accept that fact. We are all thinking of you and hoping for the best.
Starfire, I agree with Luise but what she is saying is rational, mature and logical. And your MIL has some real issues, sounds very narcissistic to me, and you will never change her. Her words and actions are not about you. Counseling will help you get clarity about this if you can't do so on your own, it did wonders for my husband is a similar situation.   

If she is a problem on YOUR social media, set her to not get anything from you. It is not your problem if your friends don't like what she says, they can block her. You don't need to apologize. Do what my son does, make a group of people that only gets special posts and block all the relatives you don't want to see your normal stuff. She will get some stuff, maybe once a week, from you and won't have a clue she is not getting others. Do not ever respond to her posts. Son blocked family from getting his drunken photos, etc. that his friends got. I no longer do social media because of issues like you write about.
Ironic you would say that Luise, my husband and I were asking each other the same thing last night. Is  there a way to help without enabling this kid, period, in any way? Everything is a train wreck. But today I talked to him about the expenses of this car, should we fix it and he just doesn't have the money (we are pretty broke ourselves due to medical expenses). He's been telling us he has about double the money that he truly has (he lies constantly so we should've known). I got him to do the math and he suddenly realized he just flat out has no money to buy any car. And there's a problem with the title and I went to the DMV and talked to a manager and showed her the title so now we know it will take another full paycheck of his to get that straightened out. Oh, boy, we were so stupid but this stupid tax will serve us well in the future when we next try "to help without enabling" My poor husband is heartbroken.
This is mostly a vent. We have an adult child, now a young adult in his mid twenties, with mental illness which he refuses treatment or medication except for illegal drugs and/or alcohol. He is a user and manipulator and lies constantly. Yet, of course, we love him and try to guide him without enabling him. So.... he has never worked enough to purchase a car and decided this year he would save up and do so. But first he went on a big expensive vacation. My husband offered to match his savings with the same amount trying to encourage him. This "kid" had to have a car NOW. He has found several junk heaps for $1500 that he wants NOW but we have managed to say no to those. So this week, we got tired of the constant whining, yelling at us, how we are holding him back, not upholding our end of the bargain, etc. Let him buy a car for $1500 which my husband had saved cash up so we actually paid for it. Told him we'd pay the entire thing for his birthday present and he could then get the a/c fixed, tires, insurance, etc. For two intelligent people, we got royally ripped off, should have known better and ended up with a salvage car that needs $2000 worth of work to even get it to pass inspection. I know, I know. The kid is mad at us (he chose to purchase, we did not make the decision) and now we find out he only has $1000 saved (been lying to us how much money he has saved). Its been several nights over the last three weeks where my husband is on the phone with him trying to get the kid to be rational and reasonable while the kid yells and screams and blames us. I am so stressed out I can't sleep. We know better. Oh, and it gets worse, he has this grandiose plans about his future and now he wants to move into our house (again). But that is a no.
Gaelle has a point. It is all about mutual respect as is this forum which is why it is so helpful. Husbands and wives should talk things over and try to agree. Sometimes retired folks have a schedule that conflicts with the schedules of school aged families. Or vice versa. Of course, some people are controlling and would not ever be "agreeable." Many people have their own version, their own vision, their own needs come first and these are the people most of us write about.
Oh, Katrina, I can understand how difficult this is for you! Drama is so draining. Yet we don't have to be dragged into it. We can step back and THINK first. Not always easy to do, sometimes we just get emotional but it really helps to have a mantra like, "detach" or something to keep your brain in non-emotional mode.

My first thoughts are maybe she feels insecure, are they living in the house he lived in with the late wife? Maybe your son extols the virtues of the late wife and she feels less than? (I have heard of guys doing this and even keeping the late wife's photos up, dishes, towels, furniture and refusing to change anything.) Does she know how much you loved the late wife? She may feel she has big shoes to fill and can never measure up. If this is the case, it might help if you praise the new wife, tell her how great she cooks, or looks, give her little gifts "just because." Talk with the son about him changing his ways.

Conversely, it might also be that he married a drama queen because she fills a need that HE has. He might like the drama and excitement, or she pretty and makes him look good to others, or she's a firecracker in bed (sorry). You might read Life Code by Dr Phil to understand how some people think and act and now not to get sucked in. That is the main thing, do not allow yourself to get sucked in. Its a mind control thing, we have to train our minds not to react emotionally. I have the most success doing this by writing mantras on a little sticky note on my bathroom mirror and reading it daily. I have a daughter like this and several in-laws. They just want all the attention on them all of the time. Its draining and horrible most of the time.
LL, I understand how upsetting this is and why you feel the way you do, I am also the non-favorite in law or out law. I guess what I am saying is we can churn it inside our heads and hearts and grieve ourselves to death or we can accept it for how it is and detach from the emotions. All we can do is change our own attitudes and thinking, we can't change the other people. I do understand how you feel and what you want, am in a similar boat (but no GC yet, but it will likely be as you experience). What I see in you is a woman who has a lot of love and who could make the life of a child very happy. If your own GC is denied, and this is truly unfair to both of you, perhaps think about doing this for a non-blood relative like volunteering at a shelter or low income preschool to do arts and crafts with those kids. You would get a lot of love and be such a blessing, for sure!