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Started by Chrisky, August 27, 2011, 01:51:44 pm

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August 27, 2011, 01:51:44 pm Last Edit: August 27, 2011, 08:27:48 pm by pam1
Hello.  I been lurking here for quite some time and have finally convinced myself that I should get other opinions about my DS & DIL situation.
To tell you the truth, I am embarassed to say to any one how badly my DH & I have been treated by them.  This has been going on for over 9 years now, and has come to a head, again.  I say again, because I have already had a 1 1/2 hour conversation with DIL about 5 years ago where she called me & DH uncaring, unsupportive and that only her family was kind & caring.  I think I'll just list some things and see where this leads.
1. We have 2 GD.
2. He is our only son.
3. We had contributed quite a bit to their wedding costs & purchase of 1st home, as well as some minor help with 2nd home purchase. This was something we wanted to do for them.
4. We live 1 1/4 hrs.  away from them.  We do not show up unannounced, always check when it's convenient to come.
5. We do not criticize how they've raised the GD. As a matter of fact, DIL is excellent, and they have both done a wonderful job.
6. Initially when we visited them, & tried to engage her in any conversation, she would always differ to DS, never answer us directly.  Only recently within the past 2 years have they actually discussed any of their future plans as far as renovating their home, or her health.  She has had some health problems, but that seems to be in the past now.
7. Our DS's business is such that there are times when he is away from home for a few days, or has to work exceptionally long hours, which we don't know about.
8.  So when we call, leave message, there are times when no matter how many messages we leave, eventually only he calls us back after 3 or 4 days.  In all the times they have been together, she has actually only called us back 4 times.
9. We are the 'second-class' grandparents.  The only time we have actually taken care of the GDs is when we spent a week with them,on vacation, and actually took care of them for an evening and a few hours on another day. 
10. We leave messages for the GDs, and never get a call back.
Now, I will admit here that I did put my foot in it this Feb.  We were going away, and DS said when we see DIL on Skype, just call her and we can speak to the kids.  That comment just made by blood boil, so I questionedbthat statement, saying 'she'll actually answer us?'  He wasn't too pleased with my comment, I immediately apologized and said 'but it's true, she never calls us or returns our messages'

Subsequently, things have been strained, and DS first e-mailed us and asked why we 'hated' DIL.  We said we don't, but we feel like second-class GPs.
Now he says DH doesn't respect her.  We are going to see him in a few days to discuss this, but DIL will not be there.  Not much use IMO, as she is the one with the problem.
Sorry, for this long post, I'm a nervous wreck, because I know if things don't go well she will deny us access to our GDs. To tell you the truth if it wasn't for the GDs, we'd totally ignore DS & DIL.
Anybody have any suggestions?


Hi Chrisky -

I wrote a whole reply, then deleted it, newbie that I am.  Sorry if the post shows up twice!

I wanted to welcome you and tell you that this forum has helped me get my sense of humor about this MIL role and I hope it can help lighted your situation.

I am reckoning with this denial of GC access a little myself and have come to realize that I can practice self-abnegation only so far.  If I have to make myself into the cartoon image that my DIL has of the perfect MIL, then my GC will never know who I am truly.  That doesn't sound like a lot of fun.

I hope that you will make some peace with yourself about what you want before you go to this meeting.  It sounds like they are working overtime to misunderstand your intentions and behavior so I wouldn't expect a lot of understanding of your explanations of your intentions and behaviors.   

Good luck and come back here if you need bolstering after the meeting!


Doe, thanks for your reply.  I've made myself some notes so that I can keep focused on what we want and not get too emotional.  All we want is to have more interaction with the GDs, and if DIL doesn't want to be there, at this moment it's perfectly alright with me.  We just feel that DS is drawing away from us and has let this situation get out of hand.  DIL is extremely stubborn, is used to getting her own way, and DS doesn't like to argue or have any disagreements of any kind.  We're definitely in a no win situation. 


I do understand about a stubborn DIL!  On the other hand, a quote that I try to keep in mind:  "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."  It may be that they are struggling with something that has nothing to do with you.   Who knows.   All you can offer is your best.  Good luck -


Hi Chrisky,

I am a newby too, but these are my thoughts.  It sounds like ds and dil are lucky to have you take an interest in them. You have certainly helped them out a great deal.  I have a question though.  Have you and dh ever asked to mind the children? or perhaps to take them for a weekend?  Maybe ds and dil would like a break.  it could be, especially after 9 years, that you and dil will never be close and perhaps your son is busy with whatever is going on in their household. 

I would not make any accusations re: dil.  Maybe something like:  "I know in the past that you felt we were uncaring or unsupportive of you two.  I want you to know that nothing could be further from the truth.  We love you and want only the best for you and your family. "  And then be quiet and see what she or he says. AFter some mending, perhaps, "We would really like to have the girls over for the weekend sometime before Christmas - maybe do some [xmas shopping, bake cookies, go see santa, etc. you fill in the blank]."

YOu are very generous parents, and everyone expresses their care and concern in different ways. Dil is used to her family and feels safe there I guess.  I am sorry she has not embraced you but that may never change.  Ds is caught in the middle.  Gp play such an important role in kids lives.  I hope they hear you and it goes well.  Post again. 

Lots of wisdom on these pages.


Chrisky- you've come to the right place for help and support. Your situation is virtually a carbon copy of my own and so many others.
It seems to follow the same pattern. MIL is especially viewed as a villain...almost like its instinctual on the part of the DIL. Son becomes a dish rag trying to keep peace in his home. DIL stops coming on visits. Phone calls go unanswered and every "signal" from them says "go away". Grandchildren are used as pawns by the DIL to keep In- laws at a distance . Son calls for "meetings" to discuss the situation...but he's hopeless and confused trying to keep peace because he's just as confused as you are!
Guess what I'm getting at is, this is more about them than anything you could possibly have done. All you did was exist and your son and DIL are who they are.
It's heartbreaking for you, I well know. Your son has turned into someone you don't even recognize and his wife, who doesn't really even know anything about you is slowly turning him against his own family. Every word you say is viewed with suspicion, every look mis-judged. Yet if her own mother said or looked the same way, she wouldn't give it a second thought.
I truly do hope things work out for you with your son and DIL...though your DIL is already withdrawing from spending any time with you and your DH. That puts your son in a pretty difficult place. You sound like a loving, mature adult, so I'm sure you already know his loyalties must be with his wife.
Something said often here is that you were a whole person before having children. You are still a whole and valued person with or without them. Go on being the wonderful, sweet person you are. I can tell just from your post that you treat others with respect....you deserve the same in return. It is not unreasonable to expect that from your son and DIL. You are fine just the way you are. As for your son and DIL.....dont look for logic where there is none.


Welcome Chrisky :)

Please read the Forum Agreement under the category Open Me First.  Nothing wrong with your post, we ask all new members to do so :)

I actually don't see a whole lot of mistreatment.  Perhaps mismatched expectations, I do think expecting DIL to tell you things about her health is a little much IMO.  I think the best thing to do is to work on your relationship with DS and I would think he could give you updates on the gc and make plans with you.

Glad you found us!
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Chrisky, welcome. I think that being kept from your GC and told by DIL that you are uncaring & unsupportive after you helped financially is a form of mistreatment. I do agree with Pam that you might want to work on your relationship with DS since he is the key. We've heard a lot of stories like yours here, mine included, and it seems to come down to the DS needing to step up to assure DIL that she comes first but his FOO is still important to him.

Thank goodness most DILs aren't out to separate DH from his fOO, but it does happen. I hope that's not the case with your DIL and that DS can be open to helping build a better relationship between you. Keep reading and writing, it can help during these painful times.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Thank you everyone for your replies.  Reading them is helping me deal with this.
Sesamejane, we have continually offered to take care of the GDs by babysitting, taking them to a zoo, or a butterfly museum.  Three summers have come and gone and not one of our suggestions has materialized.  DIL manages to keep the GDs enrolled in summer school, day camp, off to their cottage to stay with her parents, family gatherings or birthday parties (not our family though).  In the past 3 1/2 years - 2008 - 2011- 44 months, we have seen them 28 times.  Both DH and I quite understand that they have other things to do and people to see, not just us, but it is disconcerting when speaking with the GDs on the phone, that they seem to think we are so far away, and ask when we will see them.  When they were younger we used to say 'soon', but now we say 'anytime', it's up to your mommy & daddy.  They invariablly ask to come to our house, and our response is also you can anytime you want.  I don't want to put the GDs in the middle, but I don't want to lie to them either.  Therefore that's why we say it's up to Mommy & Daddy.   Thanks again everyone.  I'll post the results of our meeting.


Is there a cultural difference between you and DIL?  When you mentioned that for the first years she always deferred to her husband rather than answering you directly, that immediately went through my mind.  Some people just don't like talking on the phone.  Or maybe she and your son have a deal that she deals with her family and he deals with his, so not returning calls isn't a slam against you, it's keeping an agreement they have.  I'm just trying to play devil's advocate her.  Maybe her health issues are/were more serious than you know and are a good reason they have been remote with you.  I have an uncle who didn't tell his wife he needed surgery until the morning of when he asked her to drop him off at the hospital on the way to work.  True story - some people are just that private about their health. 

Since you don't get to visit - in person or on phone - with GD that much, try writing to them.  Email, snail mail.  Make sure you don't criticize the parents in anyway (and what you consider criticism and what the parents consider criticism can be worlds apart, so be extra careful) and don't come off too needy.  Just tell them what's going on in your life.  Maybe make a little scrapbook. 

Good luck.


Quote from: Chrisky on August 28, 2011, 06:20:13 am
and ask when we will see them.  When they were younger we used to say 'soon', but now we say 'anytime', it's up to your mommy & daddy. 

Hi Chrisky:  Welcome here.  I am a newby too and so many things are similar about your interactions as GP.  I posted your quote because I said something similar to my GD on the phone and it caused WWIII.  After that call my DS and DIL said I could not call anymore.  And that lasted a couple years and still is not back to normal.   So even on birthday cards I do not say anything about when I will see them.  In retrospect, I can understand how that seemed to make my DS and DIL out as the enemy for not letting the GC do something they thought was fun. (And I was mad that DS and DIL were using the kids against me).  What I forgot was that DS and DIL are the parents and they have that power, like it or not.   You can bet I never stepped in that mud pie again!!!   8)

Good for you to see your GC  28 times~~~I wish my number were that high! :) 

Lots of good wishes to you.  What works for me is just to step back and give them space.  It sounds like their lives are just packed with stuff...which is the case with my GC too.  Good luck on your interactions with all. 
Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift (Eleanor Roosevelt)


Welcome Chrisky to WWU.  I agree with Pam that these problems seems to be rooted in a lot of mismatched expecations. And more practical obstacles, such as busy schedules.   Although of course it would be wonderful if DIL was more engaged with you, it's also not mistreatment for her to be more reserved than you would like.  I've found it's fairly common for people not to be willing discuss financial (which extensive home renovations fall under) and health matters in casual conversation; some people feel that's private.   I understand that especially because DS works so much, it seems DIL would be willing to step up more to communicate "in his place" so to speak. But if she and DS simply don't feel that is her position to fill, that probably explains it best.  I don't know if that responsibility is something that someone outside their marriage can assign to her.

When you meet with your DS, I would keep the conversation about DS.  Not about his wife.  It seems safest.  If DS doesn't return your calls for 3 or 4 days, that seems to me, to be on him, not DIL.  I'm not sure how many messages you leave within those 3 or 4 days before you get a response.  But since you're aware of his return call pattern, and that his work requires travel and long hours, I'd leave only one message and then let him get back to you when he is ready.  I don't think that's something that's personal rejection, more of a just the way things are for them right now.  I don't know if it's appropriate to ask DS to tell you of his work schedule in advance, unless he knows in advance you two may need to reach him - say in regards to a scheduled surgery or, for instance, a hurricane headed your way. He may not always get a lot of advance notice.  So many details are required for work travel, especially for families with young children.  And if his workload is heavy, that in itself counters his ability to keep others informed about it. 

If the children are young enough to still need babysitters, they probably also are to young to retreive voicemail messages.  I imagine they would also need need help placing phone calls to you.  So I wouldn't take that as rejection by the grandchildren.   If you'd like the grandchildren to telephone you, that would be something to mention to DS that you'd like him to coordinate.

I would imagine the distance of more than an hour might present certain practical difficulties in babysitting.  For instance, if they'd like a two hour sitter to go to a movie, that would require more travel time for you (2 1/2 hours round trip) than actual sitting time. That may be factored into them limiting their requests.

The last line of your first post is something I wonder if DS and DIL can sense.  That if it wasn't for the grandchildren, you'd totally ignore DS and DIL.  Approach this meeting with an open heart and the goal to listen for better understanding about your son.  My hope for you in doing so is you won't feel as hurt by what sounds like, to me, a very busy DS trying to juggle a marriage, young children, a demanding career, house renovations, and so forth.


I can see your heartbreak; you've been patient and extremely generous financially and considerate also.  Some poster mentioned that ds and dil probably don't want to discuss her health, his travel schedule, or house repairs.  I find that young adults like to be so independent that they don't want the gp to know much about their lives; they feel this is all their business, not yours.  This is hard for me, also!

We like to know about future house scoutings/buying of homes; ds's out of town schedule, and would be concerned about health issues.  But we find that a lot of things happen that we aren't kept "in the loop" about and questions seem to be intrusive to them at times.  It's hard to know that the other gps (maternal) may know a lot more than we do, bc dils chats on the phone w mother; I am fortunate that our dils do return calls and emails but we still are less informed..... they just have a much more personal relationship, of course.

But I do get the impression from dss that some of my suggestions on house buying, etc., is not my business, so I let it go.  I recall I didn't keep my own parents informed much, either, about those things as we weren't regular phone callers..... my parents had their own lives and were less concentrated on ours....... something I need to do myself..... get my own interests separate from the gc and their parents.

I don't know if your son may feel indebted somewhat to you for the financial help on the houses and therefore less anxious to share info about the house?  I know when giving or loaning money, the recipient sometimes feels a bit guilty and want more privacy for fear of the subject coming up although you haven't done that.

There may be a lot of friction between your ds and dil bc of his long work hours and frequent travel.  Although he has to do these things, dil may resent his absences which would make her more determined to ignore your phone calls.  Some young wives are so focused on their children that they don't realize what the husband may have to do to keep his job.

Our sons don't keep us informed all the time about their work, either; we usually find out in passing.  They have a lot on their plates making the wives feel better about their trips....  I agree w Sassy on that and her suggestion of leaving only one message he can return later when he's home.  The frequent calls probably irritate dil since she's so private.

I agree with the others that when you meet w ds that you keep all problems and conversation away from the topic of dil.  He will only feel that although you have reason to feel neglected, he will only defend her and be more angry w you. 

I liked what Sesame suggested on what to say to ds:  "I know in the past that you felt we were uncaring or unsupportive of you two.  I want you to know that nothing could be further from the truth.  We love you and want only the best for you and your family. "  And then be quiet and see what she or he says."  (I forgot how to quote!)

I try to make sure my own dss and dils know we love them, not just as the parents of the gc we adore.  And I know you want a close relationship w your son and in no way want to lose him.   I do hope after some good convo w son, you can suggest seeing gds more often; it may come later; you may need to reassure son of your love for him and for his wife before the "seeing the gds more often" suggestion. 

A wise lady told me that although she didn't care for a dil much, she prayed about it and decided that since her son loved this woman she (the mil) needed to love her, too, difficult as it was.  She tried to put the thoughts in her heart and head.

I do hope you can reach ds and have more access to gds.  I know how it hurts not to.  I get upset when I think our sons are angry w something I say; they are still "our boys" although I know the attachment has to be lessened. 

Sending lots of good vibes to you! 


Quote from: herbalescapes on August 28, 2011, 06:45:02 am
Is there a cultural difference between you and DIL?

Thanks for your suggestions.  No there isn't a cultural difference, she's just like that. 
I like your idea of snail mail.  The GDs are too young to use e-mail yet, but I have sent them a card or 2 and they really enjoyed that.  That's one thing I'll definitely keep up and they enjoy receiving mail addressed to them, as long as parents pick up the mail.  Where they live, it's not delivered to their door.  But I can always give our son a heads up to check the mail box.


Begonia, good point about "it's up to mommy & daddy".  I'll have to think of something else to say, maybe "I'll speak to Daddy and find out what we can arrange?"

Sassy, thanks for your reply.  We don't want details about their financial situation at all, just a general conversation about what they might be thinking of doing.  As far as DIL's health is concerned, we already were told it was serious, but whenever we ask the reply from her is always "I'm fine", and months later we find out she's not nor has ever been fine and they've been dealing with this and not mentioning anything.  I guess I'm more open and even though I don't go into details about my health, when I'm not feeling well, I will try to explain the reasons so people don't think I'm being rude to them or ignoring them.

Justanoldgrandma, yes young people like to keep things close to the chest.  I think sometimes DS & DIL feel that if they tell us things we'll be critical.  But that hasn't been the case here at all, in fact we've constantly praised DS in his business venture and have told DIL & both of them how proud we are that our GDs are so well behaved and well spoken. 

I really appreciate everyone's responses.  I was so very nervous about our meeting with DS, it happened today.  I will post again once I get all my thoughts in order and let everyone know what happened.