July 10, 2020, 10:20:21 am


"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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Messages - herbalescapes

QS, you deserve a medal for caring for your brother, but you also deserve a break.  How much does your other brother pitch in to give you a respite?  When we care for someone fulltime - whether for Downs or a chronic illness or a mental illness - we often forget to take care of our own needs.  You need a break.  Your other brother should be caring for your disabled brother some of the time or paying for professional care. 

It sounds like you might have been suffering depression when your DS got married.  If your DS or DIL didn't realize how severely you were affected by the loss of your friend, they may not know how much of a break they should give you. 

You are jumping to conclusions that you are not welcome to meet your GD.  It must be hurtful that your DB is not welcome, but that is the prerogative of your DS and DIL.  Your other brother should care for your DB to allow you to go visit.  And tack a week on so you can take a much needed rest. 

I don't know how your DS managed to travel 18 hrs for a farewell party, but it is nothing short of a miracle that he pulled it off.  Leading up to a deployment there's a lot of paperwork, training, medical stuff, etc.  The fact that he couldn't swing by and see you is not an insult, it's just a reality.  In his shoes I'd be pretty ticked that I was about to leave for 6 mos, a year, whatever to a place where my life would be in jeopardy every moment of every day and my mother couldn't bother to come see me.  It may have made him resentful not just of you but of his uncle.  This could be why he's switched on being a caregiver for his uncle if needed.  Also, he came back a changed man.  No if, ands, or buts about that.  You cannot deploy to a warzone (even if he was in one of the "safer" areas) and not be changed.  He may be dealing with PTSD or any  of a number of mental health issues.  Don't be so quick to blame your DIL for any changes in attitude on your DS's part. 

Your DIL sent you pictures.  Don't try to read any ill intent in that.  Don't be resentful that she didn't add a note.  Be thankful for the pics and let it go. 

Please, please, please get yourself some help.  Get an outside, objective view of your DB.  I'm sure you've had to deal with a lot of prejudice against him, but that can make you less likely to see his faults.  He may be a bigger burden to others than you think.  Or maybe not.  Maybe DS and DIL are just being paranoid or prejudiced.  You could be right on the money in your assessment.  It's just important to keep in mind that you may not have all the facts or be the most objective. 

Please get yourself some respite care.  You need it and deserve it. 
What do you mean by your DIL and her family do not like people?  Are they introverted?  Non-talkers?  Lots of people are comfortable with only minimal personal interaction.  That's not bad or good, just the way they are.  If you only met your DIL 6 (less?) years ago, you are not really in a position to comment on how she was raised.  You didn't witness it. She may have been taught social skills but chooses not to use them. She may have been taught different social skills that makes her behavior come across as rude to you, but would be perfectly acceptable to many others. Maybe by her standards you are rude and boorish and your DS is highly disrespectful of her parents.  There are many ways to interpret each action.  Is it rude or polite to take off you shoes when you enter someone's home?  Some think it's rude; some think it's polite.  There's no definitive right answer. 

What does your DIL do that makes you say she has no social skills? Does she spit on you?  Insult your religion/race/ethnicity? Steal from you?  Spread lies about you?  Share too many details about her personal life?  Ask you inappropriate questions about your personal life?  Limiting your visits to 3-ish days, not visiting you and telling you not to put in your own two cents about her child is not lacking in social skills necessarily.  Those are her prerogatives as an adult.  (It's a good thing you didn't say anything about the tooth thing - just because the baby got a tooth a week after being fussy doesn't mean the tooth caused the fussiness.  If the baby is only fussy with his father, chances are it wasn't the tooth.)

Are you trying to blame your DIL for your son not visiting you, not calling anymore, being on the outs with his neighbor and not telling jokes and smiling?  There could be plenty of reasons for these things that have nothing to do with your DIL.  Blaming the DIL (just like blaming the MIL) is an easy out.  Personally I find the idea of daily phone calls with a parent suffocating.  That's me, though.  Many parents and AC speak every day or even several times a day.  As long as both parties are ok with it, nothing wrong with it.  Your son may have outgrown his need/desire for daily phone chats.  It doesn't matter how dangerous his job is, he's not required to call or answer a call every day.   Your son wouldn't be the first AC who used the spouse to create distance with the parents, and you wouldn't be the first parents to blame the spouse for distance with the AC. 

I know there's more to your story than what you've written.  There always is.  You could be right on the mark about DIL being rude and nasty.  However, you might want to consider trying to evaluate her behavior in another light.  Many times people post here with a complaint, then after reading how others find the behavior OK, realize the relationship is not lost.  Good luck.
If his behavior is a marked change from most of his life, chances are he is suffering from some mental condition or there has been some major stressor in his life that he is reacting to.  In any event, your first priority is to yourself.  If he hates you so much, why does he come around at all?  Because you're his punching bag (though hopefully not literally). Look into what it would take to get a restraining order.  You don't deserve this treatment - even if you had spat in his face 1,000 times.  There may be resources in your community that can help you out and give you more practical advice.  Changing the locks was a smart move.  Good luck.
You would have to check with a lawyer about getting a restraining order.  I'm sure it varies by location and local laws.  Some years ago I looked into what it would take to get a restraining order in my area and it wasn't simply filling out a form.  You need to consider what your son has done, what you can PROVE he has done and how recently he has done the abuse.  I'm don't mean to discourage you from that path, but do it with your eyes open. 

If he shows up on your doorstep with all his worldly goods and no car, what about his legs?  Where's the nearest hotel? Police station?  Would you or DH be willing to drive him somewhere?  If you let him in, you may never get him out.  It's easy for us to sit here and encourage you to keep the door closed, but that takes a lot of willpower for a parent to do.  Do you have someone local - friend, clergyperson, etc. - who can be a sympathetic listener and give some suggestions? Good luck.
I was thinking about this topic some more last night and something struck me.  Why do we feel we should be able to influence how another adult spends their time and sit in judgment when said adult doesn't spend time the way we think is correct, but when it comes to how an adult spends money, we tend to say each adult gets to make their own financial decisions?  A lot of people would call me selfish for not including my ILs in my mothers day plans.  I'm supposed to make some effort because it would make them so happy and wouldn't take much from me.  But if I pouted that my ILs (or FOO) didn't pay for my kids' summer camp, music lessons, vacation, college, etc.  I would be considered out of line.  If an adult doesn't include family in Christmas or TG plans, that adult (AC, DIL, SIL, parent, etc.) is criticized.  But if the complaint is that the adult doesn't spend enough on presents, then the complainer is criticized.  Is it that adults have financial freedom but not time freedom?  Do family members have the right to judge how an adult spends his/her time but not his/her money? 

Where do we draw the line in getting to dictate how much another adult should do to make us happy?  If a DM or MIL wants the bride to wear DM/MIL's wedding gown, but the bride doesn't want to, should the bride do it just to make the older woman happy?  If parents don't want to raise their kids in a religion, should they go through the motions of a christening to make the GPs happy?  If you don't like to ski/golf/gamble, should you spend your vacation time on such activities because that's what The Family is doing and you should go along to make The Family happy?  If a relative is running for office, should you make a donation to the campaign or put a yard sign in your yard even if you do not think the relative is the best candidate for the job? As a parent do I get to pick who my kid's godparents are, or should I pick a relative that really wants the position just to make them happy? 
What made you think DIL would consider arranging a party would be fun?  The way you describe her makes it seem like the exact opposite.  It's all fine and well to say you marry into a family and take on the responsibility of that family, but why is your DS excused from the responsibility?  If you need all the help you can get, why haven't you asked for his help?  It comes across as very sexist and I know many DILs hate that.  Don't expect DIL to do more than your DS just because she has a second X chromosome.  Did DS help her FOO plan and execute their family reunion last year? 
It seems SIL is not the most financially prudent, but I don't see where she is misusing MILs money.  The money is going for MILs care, not to finance SIL's desire to travel around the world or something.  Why is the care facility in your town so much cheaper?  Would MIL see a decline in the quality or care or living arrangements?  Maybe MIL picked SIL to be financially responsible because she knew SIL would be a little more luxurious in her spending. 

As far as the house, it's hard to say definitively what rent she could make.  It could be that the house requires tens of thousands of dollars in repairs before it would pass inspection to be rentable.  Or maybe SIL just doesn't want the headache of being a landlord.  You don't rent out a house and just watch the money roll in.  You have to do the maintenance and run the risk of being sued if you don't stay on top of it.  Are you and DH willing to make the 4.5 hour each way drive every weekend or every other weekend to see to landlord responsibilities? 

I would tread lightly before suing for control.  If you do that, I would expect the two sisters to wash their hands of any and all responsibility and then everything would be on your and DH's shoulders.  Maybe you could meet with a financial planner or something and come up with an objective projection of what MILs finances can provide.  It could be SIL feels very put upon as the one with all the responsibility.  In SIL's eyes it may appear that her DB waltzes in for a 5 min visit every week or two and then criticizes her efforts without realizing how much she has done and sacrificed.  Good luck. 
Katie, I understand you're being hurt by your kids not spending part of mothers day with you, however, I do not think they owe it to you to do so.  It would be really nice if they tried to accommodate your expectations, but it's not a requirement.  I think we tend to get defensive when our feelings are hurt and try to paint the hurter as mean/bad/inconsiderate.  I will never feel guilty or feel I have to apologize for not adapting my Mothers Day plans to fit in with my ILs method of doing it.  I didn't even realize for several years that they were disappointed that we didn't come to the large family party.  My DH never approached me about fitting his FOO into the day.  I know I'm not the only DIL who gets sooo frustrated when DH is give a pass at not making an effort, but DIL is DILFH for not doing more. 

I don't have to maintain my house like the ILs do; I don't have to practice my religion like they do; I don't have to handle my finances like they do; I don't have to practice politics like they do.  As an independent adult I get to decide how I live and that include how I spend holidays.  The only person I have to compromise with is my DH.  Now, I can't do things my way and expect everyone else to accommodate me.  If my ILs retaliated to my not spending mothers day with them by turning down my invitation to 4th of July, I would have to accept that and not complain.  If I turn around and expect my AC to take me out to lunch for mothers day, then everyone can call my a hypocrite. 
I think you have overreacted to DIL's statement that your family is not her family.  That's not an insult, that's just a fact.  She did not tell your GD that her relatives are their real family and dad's relatives are not.  Kids understand that they get some things from mom and some things from dad.  Those things may be talents, physical attributes, religion, ethnicity or even relatives.  Your GD understand that you're their GM because you're dad's mom, not mom's mom.  No judgment or insult, just fact.  Some people consider ILs family, some do not.  It's not right or wrong, just different ways to deal with life.  There's a saying, "There's no insult where none is taken."  This would put you in the driver's seat regarding her comments.

I don't understand why you told DIL you needed her help for the family reunion.  First of all, it's not your place to tell DIL she has to do anything.  She's an adult, not your minor child.  You don't get to tell her she has to devote her time/energy/finances to a party you want to throw.  You should have ASKED for her help.  Even then, I don't understand why you didn't ask your son for his help.  It seems like you are falling into the trap of giving the DS a pass for not maintaining family relationships, but then blaming DIL for not picking up his slack.  If the family reunion isn't important enough to DS to make time and effort for it's success, why should it be important enough to DIL?

Don't underestimate the impact of differing personalities/temperaments/etc.  You describe your family as boisterous while DIL is more private.  To a private person, boisterous people can be very stressful.  This doesn't mean you and your family are doing anything wrong.  You are just different.  You can't expect DIL to just jump in and enjoy the boisterousness.  My DH's family loves to golf. I do not. I've tried it; not my thing.  They are perfectly free to arrange golfing outings.  They are not perfectly free to make me a bad guy because I don't join them. 

Also don't underestimate the difficulties of being an hour away.  Do you expect DIL to cut back on time spent with her family because she can't/won't bring the GD to visit you more often?  Do you expect DIL to make more of an effort to travel 2 hours roundtrip to even up time spent with both sides of the family?  This goes back to your DS not being willing to make more of an effort.  If it's not important enough to him, why should it be important to DIL?

I don't know if you should apologize to DIL or not for the comments you made years ago.  If you do, you have to be sure it's a true apology.  Not "I'm sorry but I was only worried/concerned." You also have to be sure that down the line you don't back track on any apology you make.  Five years from now would you be able to resist saying, "I've apologized for those comments but she's still so cold.  What does she expect?  I was just a mother worried about her son.  Granted it turned out my worries didn't come to fruition, but it was a legitimate concern at the time." I always think an insincere apology is worse than an insincere one and back tracking on an apology causes more damage than not giving one in the first place. 

As others have pointed out, you don't want to lose what you already have.  You have to decide if apologizing, speaking to your son, making demands of DIL will improve or worsen your situation.  Good luck.
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Re: Am I A Crazy Mom?
September 01, 2014, 05:54:01 am
You're not crazy, just experiencing a pretty common situation that is all psychological and not a bit logical.  When a parent is absent in a child's life, it's common for two things to occur.  One, the child blames him or herself.  No matter what the present parent says or how much reassurance is given, the child thinks "If I had been a better son/daughter, dad (or mom as the case might be) would be here."  Also, the absent parent gets idealized and idolized. When the absent parent makes a reappearance, the child reacts on a very basic gut-level that has nothing to do with the reality of his or her growing up experience. 

Dad's back - the child (even if an adult now) will do whatever it takes to make sure dad doesn't leave again.  Kids will fawn over, take all sorts of abuse from, and agree with whatever Dad says.  They don't want dad to leave.  If dad badmouths mom, of course they side with him.  If they disagree he may leave.  Also, it gives them an out.  Maybe it wasn't their fault; maybe mom made dad leave.  All of this will be subconscious, so the kids will never agree that this is what is going on. 

Your challenge - besides dealing with the pain which I don't mean to minimize - is to realize their need for dad's presence and approval in no way, shape, or form is a reflection or repudiation of your own parenting. 

What do you do?  One thing, don't argue with them.  No amount of rational discussion can compete with the emotions involved.  You don't want to agree with their criticisms of you, but don't engage your kids in a debate on what really happened in the past.  How exactly you do this, I don't know.  Also, you need to be patient.  There's a chance your kids will see the light one day and realize what a screw up their dad is and was.  But it's going to take time.  Just like dealing with a drug addict or alcoholic, you can't make your kids face up to reality.  Not until they are willing to see their dad as he really is will they be able to move forward. 

In the mean time, you find your way to deal with the pain and disappointment.  If you read the various threads here, you'll find many ways people have found to fill the void.  It might be volunteer work or new/old hobbies or friends or a job or travelling or meditation.  Whatever works for you.  In the longterm you might find a better relationship with your AC and GC if you can love them without needing them to feel good about yourself.

Good luck.  Finding out you're not the only one dealing with such a situation can be a good first step. 
For some reason this thread is sticking in my head. 
Sometimes it's easier to see the double standard when we reverse it.  How would any of us reply to a post like this:

My SIL is a mean, nasty, vindictive, hateful person. My DD has a hard time with numbers and managing money.  Men are just better at such things.  My DD often overdraws her checking account, maxes out her credit cards, and gets stuck with fees for not paying her bills on time.  I know she's a good person.  She doesn't mean to be irresponsible; she's just a girl and girls aren't really good with numbers.

My SIL absolutely refuses to help out.  He won't get a joint bank account or a joint credit card or arrange to pay her bills.  He refuses to buy a home with her because he's afraid her poor money management would result in a foreclosure.  They are stuck renting an apartment and this isn't good for the GC.  If they'd buy a home, the GC could have a yard to play in and their own bedrooms and a pet or two.

With technology these days, it would be so easy for him to manage her finances.  He could keep on top of her spending and make sure her bills are paid on time.  It's really the GC who suffer because money spent on late fees takes away from their college funds.  But SIL refuses to budge.  He says he wants a "your finances, your responsibility" policy.  What can I do to make SIL realize he needs to step in and help my DD with her finances?

No one should get a fee pass on adult responsibilities because of their gender.  The basics of social interaction, like the basics of money management, are pretty simple.  Men excel at social interaction in the business world - they just refer to it as networking instead of socializing.  There is no excuse for a man to get off scott free for not calling/texting/etc his FOO once in awhile.  If a DS wants his FOO in his children's lives, he can arrange a dinner or lunch or outing to the zoo.  We're not talking brain surgery here, we're talking things MEN DO EVERYDAY AT WORK.  If my dad could learn to vacuum and change a diaper even though his dad never did that stuff, there's no reason the adult men of today can't learn to keep in touch with their FOOs.  As long as people give the adult men in their lives a free pass on the social niceties, however, the men have no reason to change.
I am simply shocked at the idea that mothers should resign themselves to being left out just because they have sons because men aren't good at social contact.  I thought gender stereotyping wasn't socially acceptable.  Many men do keep in touch with their families and take the lead on remembering to send cards, buy gifts, arrange get-togethers, thereby proving that men CAN do it. 

It wasn't too long ago that the idea of a DH doing the laundry or the cooking or changing a diaper was laughable, but today we'd call a man a chauvinist pig if he tried to weasel out of traditionally DW tasks just because he has a Y chromosome. 

Men may shirk the social niceties in their family lives, but in the business world, they are aces.  I think over half the Christmas cards I receive are from people who want me to hire them to sell my house or manage my money or donate to their cause.  If a man wants a promotion or wants to be hired or wants to sell you something, then all of a sudden he can pick up the phone and chitchat or arrange lunch or wish you a happy birthday.  When the motivation is right, men observe the social niceties AOK.

If a non-custodial father doesn't reach out to his kids, doesn't call them to keep in touch or remember their birthdays or ignores his visitation days or bails on attending the soccer game/school play, we don't sadly shake our heads and say, "Oh well, men just aren't adept at the social graces."  No, we call him a DEADBEAT DAD.  Granted, AC don't have the same level of obligation to their parents as they do to their minor children, but in both instances men don't deserve a pass simply because they are men.

The take away should be to raise a son to be as socially responsible as if he were a daughter and when he reaches adulthood, don't shift blame onto his DW when he drops the ball. 

It's good that you don't have the rose-colored glasses on expecting a Norman Rockwell-worthy dinner.  However, being prepared for insults may have you over sensitive to comments.  How you draw the line between being realistic but not over-sensitive, I don't know.  Deep breathing?  Meditation?  Maybe have some pat, non-committal, non-inflammatory responses?  "How interesting." "That's something to think about."  "That's a view I hadn't considered."  "Bless your heart." You could try something like that if it's in a gray area and you're not sure it's insulting, then if the line gets crossed, go for that walk.  Good Luck. 
Monroe, cut yourself some slack.  I remember when you first posted this, I didn't reply, but now I am.  There are all sorts of love - romantic, filial, friendship, patriotic, chocolate, religious, etc.  How many of us had the warm fuzzies when our newborns were keeping us up all night?  Did that mean we didn't love our kids?  Of course not.  Love is a verb more than a noun.  Love is what we do.  Caring for your mom, even if it is out duty and not the warm fuzzies, is love.  Don't knock duty.  The world would be a much nicer place if people would remember their duty - to family, friends, neighbors, community, etc. - instead of being guided by what feels good to them in the moment.  I attended Catholic school and I remember one year the nun told us how wise God was to tell us to love our neighbor, not like them.  If we love our neighbor, we treat them with the basic decency everyone deserves as a child of God.  Liking our neighbor would mean we had to invite them to our birthday party.  We may not like someone, but we can always love them - maybe not the warm fuzzy love, but the basic human love. 
It's certainly nice for a DIL to forge a bond with the ILs and to pick up any social slack of her husband, however, she should not be villified for not doing it.  Whether her motivation is because she has too much on her plate, it's not her personality, or she's hoping her MIL will be devastated, she should not be held to a higher standard than the DS.  This would go for SILs and DDs, too, but as it's been pointed out, most DM of DD hold their DD accountable, not the SIL in such situations.

A lot of problems occur in families because people assume they know the motivation behind an action. I think we are on shaky ground when we make moral judgments based on the motivating factors instead of the action itself.