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I need to write a very delicate letter

Started by Elaine54, November 14, 2011, 03:23:08 am

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November 14, 2011, 03:23:08 am Last Edit: November 14, 2011, 07:15:36 am by pam1
We moved abroad 2 years ago. This summer was my DIL first visit ,though my son had visited us on his own which was brill .However the visit from my DIL was a nightmare .Every day we trod on egg shells and suffered her insulting comments .We were determined not to rise to the bate , my husband found this very difficult .She has been our DIL for ten years and she has never really showed us any respect or affection ,we have always tried to be gracious to her .But this last holiday was something else.Well at the final hour after she was particularly insulting I flipped and told her some home truth's .My daughter says I can be passive aggressive ?. Well since then we have never spoken .I do need to apologise for my appalling outbust that came from frustration and disappointment .My son has emailed me to demand an apology his tone is very demanding condemning and unrelentingly one sided on behalf of his wife .I want to apologise but I cant bring myself to admit that I was not to blame for loosing it after being blatantly poked by the pair of them .My young grandchildren saw the outbust now that I am very sorry for can anyone help with how I can word this apology letter .I don't want to loose contact with my son ,but his wife's blatant antagonism towards us we can no longer tolerate . :'(   


Welcome Elaine54 :)

Please read the Forum Agreement and WWU History (both are highlighted in pink) in the category Open Me First.  We ask all new members to do so not b/c there is anything wrong with your post.

I'm glad you found us, I think you'll find a lot of members who can offer you support and advice. 

You might notice I moved your post into a different category, it'll help more members see it and be able to respond.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Been there, done that.  My DIL would not come to my house, and was rude to us when we were there (at DS's invitation).  DS wanted me to fix it.  I tried.  I sent DIL a sweet note (by mail, not email) saying that I wanted a simple MIL/DIL relationship, could we please try.  I sent flowers with the note, then over the next 6 months, sent many flowers, gifts, etc.  None of these things were ever acknowledged by DIL.  BUT -- they were appreciated by DS and we have not lost our relationship with him.

So my advice is try to butter up your DIL -- do something to satisfy your son that you are trying.  Don't grovel, just stand straight and ask for a better MIL/DIL relationship than the two of you have had in the past.   


Quotemy young grandchildren saw the outbust now that I am very sorry

Quotemy appalling outbust that came from frustration and disappointment

I might suggest that you apologize for those things you are deeply sorry - for having your grandchildren seeing you upset and losing control - for not setting "an example" for them as you do love them very much - for the uncharacteristic outburst (but don't try to justify your frustration and disappointment or give any reason - this probably will only come back to haunt you).  In other words, only use statements that begin with "I" and do not use the word "you" or "son" or "DIL" in the letter; in fact, write the letter to your grandchildren and maybe your son.  Assume that your DIL is now not a part of your life (because that is what is happening); just try to save the relationship you have with your son and grandchildren.  Frankly, in the future, it would be best if DIL stayed home; however, that would be your son's call.

Feel free to draft a copy and post here - I'm sure with the help of the many wise women on this site, together "we" should be able to "write" an appropriate letter.  Of course, there would be no guarantees, in which case .....

lancaster lady

hi Elaine and welcome ,
Apologise for the outburst , but you could say it was brought on by their poor treatment of you .
Maybe now time to clear the air once and for all .
They obviously want to make amends , otherwise they wouldn't have contacted you .Try not to
single out your DIL as your son will take her side every time ,also as you mentioned it was both of them .
Say you are sorry that your grandchildren had to see this , but you had had enough of their insulting
comments which the children also had to witness which was setting a bad example too.They will perhaps think that is the way they should speak to grandparents .
Good Luck .


November 14, 2011, 09:10:54 am #5 Last Edit: November 14, 2011, 09:18:08 am by pam1
Thanks for your replies they are much appreciated.This is the letter I need to respond to

***emailed removed by Mod. 

As you can see he is very angry . I am also very sorry I hurt the children .The little boy mentioned was a foster child. It was the treatment of this child that caused us much anguish as well as the parents behaviour towards us. My son seemed to be very much under stress and DIL made it obvious she did not approve of us our hospitality or our parenting skills .I am still reeling at some of her comments , and I am so sorry I let my husband down by loosing my temper. XXX

***For safety reasons we ask that emails not to be posted to the board.  It is extraordinarily easy for someone to find you this way.  But please feel free to write a general version of what he wrote to you. 


I agree with amflautist and jdtm. Don't apologize for anything that you are not sorry for.  Apologize for for the outburst, for behaving so in front of the children and for any language that you wish you had not used.  Anything else would be insincere and I have always found an insincere apology only makes a situation worse. 

Please remember that a true apology is about expressing the regrets that YOU have and not about anything the other person has done.  An apology is not given to chastise another or to get one in return. Refrain from using the words "if" (which implies that a wrong may not have occurred) or "but" (which implies that what you are apologizing for was not your fault - this is in conflict with the idea of an apology) and be as sincere as possible.

If you wish to use this as an opening to discuss your relationship with them and their treatment of you, I would end with a line saying that you realize that their is some tension in your relationship and you would like to find a time that the three of you could sit down and find a way to repair this. 


My take is to never apologize for anything I am not sorry for. No one can demand an apology...it has to come from regret and be sincere. And unless your actions were premeditated with serious intent to harm, they were just an expression of your fear-based inability to be truthful over the past years. 

Never apologize for being you. Who the heck else can you be? And letters are the worst way to go. They can too easily be picked apart, misunderstood and used against you.

She was just being who she is and your DS is being her mate and defender. Everyone concerned is just being human. If those around you can't let you be human and see that they are as well...and that perfection doesn't exist, write to them to that effect. No "I'm Sorry" ...just a comment the the pot boiled over and that looking back, you are actually surprised it took so long. No blaming. Just yup, that is sure what being an imperfect human can look like!

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


November 14, 2011, 01:16:39 pm #8 Last Edit: November 14, 2011, 02:43:52 pm by luise.volta
Oh my!

First off, get yourself a copy of The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner.  She talks about how under-reacting is JUST as bad as over-reacting.  That when you under-react you build up resentments and chew on it and work yourself into a fit.  Such that, for the next small thing you OVER-react.  And then you have to eat crow because you over-reacted.  The thing is, if you react appropriately, you have NO regrets and no resentments.

So in this case, you can't hold their initial behaviour against them, because you allowed it - and bt not saying anything, you gave permission for them to continue.

I agree that you should not apologize for anything you're not sorry for.


Thank you to all you give such wise advise .XXX I admit I was wrong in letting the holiday turn into a lets have a go at mum time .I should have told them they were hurting my feelings . As far as I am concerned all my children had a lovely upbringing .The son in this story was the one that needed most attention .He had ADS and then drug abuse problems .He is now fully rehabilitated .He has in the past thanked us for our unfailing love that enabled him to straighten out and is now a very successful lad. Has he forgotten all the rotten times he put us through .We had .That was until he lost his temper and told me I was never welcome at his house again .This comment said with his finger in my face was the comment that made me see red .I should not have reacted but I did .I will apologise because it was in front of his children .But I equally don't want to accept their behaviour to us . XXXX

lancaster lady

I hope he apologises to you for his behaviour !
That is quite unacceptable , I would have been tempted to bite that finger off !!
Don't forget his behaviour was also in front of his children , time for some straight talking .


I know I sound like a broken record but/and my take is that you were not wrong. You were you. We are all so different. Some more courageous and authentic than others by nature, upbringing or both. All we can do is our best and we are the only ones who know what that is. You could have done a lot worse. You were verbal and not physical. Yes, in front of the children was not carefully thought out. That fact is also true of their dad. Be kind to yourself as well as realistic about perhaps getting some counseling regarding conflict resolution. It's never too late to learn to modify behavior and to own up to the fact that is it indicated. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama