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Sabotaging DIL

Started by karleigh, October 13, 2013, 07:31:10 pm

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I am in despair.  My DIL and her mother do everything they can to sabotage my efforts towards my grandchildren.  Conditions have been put on everything I do.  When I bought gifts of clothing my DIL's mother resented it and my DIL told me I could not buy the children any more clothes, jackets, boots, etc.  She said that those things would be bought by herself or her mother.  I bought toys and books for birthdays and Christmas instead.  I was told that if toys consisted of small pieces that I needed to keep them in my own home because my DIL and DS did not want to pick them up.  I kept those toys at my home and I helped my grandchildren pick up and put toys away when finished with them.  I recently bought a birthday gift of Playmobil that consisted of many small pieces but this time my daughter told me I was being unfair in not sending the gift home when the other grandmother always sent her gifts home. (I was just following my DIL's previous rule!)  I sent the gift home and it was trashed very quickly.  I have now been told I can only buy the children books for gifts. 

I am not welcome to come to swimming, dancing, or skating lessons to watch (with the exception of one music lesson which the other grandmother invited me, and one Christmas parade,) nor am I ever given permission to take a grandchild to an event I think might be fun.  I am not allowed to have the children for any reason other than their mother's convenience.

I am disrespected in every way. I have been repeatedly lied to, manipulated, and screamed at.  My things have been 'borrowed' without asking, and not returned in good condition. I have been shunned, left out of holiday gatherings, and not communicated with.

Why, you are asking, am I putting up with this bullying and abusive behavior?  Because, I'm afraid if I don't that I won't see my grandchildren and I love them dearly.  They are not responsible for their mother's terrible behavior and they love to come and spend time with me when they are allowed.

My DIL is unstable and extremely controlling.  My husband says to consider her instability and upbringing and disregard her unacceptable behavior.

My worry is that this continual abuse and bullying behavior will be very detrimental to my own health.  It causes me much distress.

I cannot discuss this with my son as he is convinced that speaking about such matters is disloyal to his wife. He walks a fine line as she tightly controls him too.

I am 70 years old and in a quandry.  I don't want to continue to endure the abuse but I don't want to lose my grandkids either. 

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.  I don't know what to do.


karleigh - I lived about which you write for over a dozen years.  Luckily, our DIL did not feel it was her job to care for her children, so I did babysit two or three times a week.  Today the children are teenagers.  About four years ago, our DIL left our son and abandoned her children.  He is raising them - things are better but not great. 

If I could do things differently, I would not have begged, pleaded, reasoned, cried, etc. trying to change things.  It is what it is and I wish I had understood that sooner.  I did use the time wisely with our grandchildren which was allotted to us, but I wish I would not have obsessed over the times we were not permitted to be involved (which were far far fewer than the "other" side).  I wish I had started holiday traditions sooner without expecting our son and his family to be a part.  They were always invited but often did not show (funny - after the DIL left, our son asked to be part of the holidays again, as if he ever was excluded).  Gifts became easy - I set up a bank account in trust for each grandchild and deposited funds for birthdays, Christmas, etc. and included the receipt of deposit in a card.  Of course, you could still give books - personally, I think it is one of the best gifts going.  I wish I had not contacted them, ever; just waited to be contacted (in my DIL's case, it would have been never and that would have been a good thing).  I wish I understood that I was not part of their family nor was I wanted or even considered (boy, was this not fair) and set about living my life with my husband.  I did hold my head high during the "smear" campaigns and did not retaliate - I hope this does not happen to you.  One other thing I did correctly was to never, never badmouth the "other" side except to a very select group of friends.  You have this site in which to vent; I found it after our DIL became our exDIL.  Whenever there was to be an exchange/contact between our families, my husband was the "go-to" person, it seemed to work better for us.  And, begin to take care of your health.

I know I am writing what you do not want to hear.  I know you want a "magic wand" to fix things.  There is no "magic wand" and you are being treated very cruelly and frankly, just wrong.  But, it is what it is and the hardest part is to "get" this.  It is not fair and I am so sorry ... but, you can enjoy a happy life; just not the one you envisioned.  Again, so sorry ....


Welcome Karleigh.  When you get a moment, please read the posts under "Open Me First" for our forum rules and such.  Nothing wrong with what you wrote, we ask all new members to do so.

I'm seconding what jdtm said, although I know too it's not what you want to hear.  You are absolutely correct that in order to distance yourself from the disrespect, you are running a very high chance of losing the relationship with the GC.  It's a choice only you can make.

I will also say that with the treatment you are receiving, even if you do decide to take it and remain in contact with the GC, you are still running the risk that one day, DIL may perceive something you do as wrong and cut off contact anyway.  It's common around here to walk on eggshells to get along and still have the rug yanked out from under you.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Karleigh, welcome to the site. I'm glad you found us. You are not alone. You deserve better, but unfortunately you can't change anyone else's behavior (as rude and uncaring as it may be.)

I completely agree with Jdtm and Pooh. Also, I urge you to explore some ways to live your best life in spite of being distanced from GC. It's nice to have other options before making a big decision.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


I'm sorry you are being treated this way.  It's a sad fact that many of us "paternals" are.  I know it's not easy, but as the others have said, it's best to distance yourself.  In the end it's less painful.  As with me...  I hardly care any longer and it's sad, but infinately better than constant hurt.


There isn't a good answer because what you want is totally out of your control.  I'd say try to make the most of the time you do have with your GC and don't obsess over what you are denied.  When it comes to gifts, maybe just get savings bonds or invest in a college fund or something.  Which you keep control of, not the parents.  Down the line the GC will thank you for that.  Keep in mind that you are more than a GM, so focus on the other roles in life you have.  Maybe take up some new ones.  You'll always find some sympathy here.  Sometimes knowing others are going through the same thing is all you need to make the situation bearable.  Good luck. 


I think most of us realize that we are "more than just a GM"....  that's not the issue.  We have husbands... extended families....careers.... causes.... interests....hobbies.... etc.   However the crux of the hurt comes from the fact that the Maternal GM is allowed ALL those things too...  PLUS being THE GM to our Grandchildren.. and we are not allowed to. or at least to the same degree.  It's THAT unfairness that cuts to the bone.  I do not.. nor ever have defined myself solely as a GM.. however I would have loved the chance to be one.  Which wasn't in the cards apparently.


I have a habit of looking at things the way they are now and projecting into the future according to my belief system.  This habit is actually what landed me on this website.  I thought that if I treated my child lovingly that he would never turn his back on me.  I was so totally wrong that I now have to reevaluate my entire system.  This means that I can no longer project properly into the future and predict events, including the way my GC is going to feel about me or my DIL's FOO.  All of us know that teenagers can be unpredictable. When my DS got to be about 17 I could not tell him anything.........maybe my GD will take after him!  LOL
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Thank you for your kind supportive words.  It's good to know that I'm not the only one with a very uncaring DIL.  She is unstable, unpredictable, and an abusive bully.  I am pretty much doing what all of you have suggested.  But my heart hurts.


October 17, 2013, 12:37:22 am #9 Last Edit: October 17, 2013, 09:35:17 am by Pooh
Karleigh,  the question here is how to treat that hurting heart. You can't "treat" the situation.  Because if the family doesn't  get it, and treat you poorly,... they will probably never change.
Okay; -  never say never, but meanwhile, treat that hurting heart.

The energy you would invest in an intact family; outings, playing with grandchildren, cooking up family meals...this cupped up energy  needs to make a total turn; ...aiming at you yourself and I. Nurse your soul, your feelings and  your desires.

I know, I know,...all you want is an intact family;....but you are your own family too. And you are your own best friend. Treat her lovingly, be good to her, spoil her, grant her wishes.

Thanks to my son, who treats me cold, calculating and down right mean; I have started new hobbies, got new friends, and I have learned to really like  - yours truly - me. I don't need him anymore, waiting around for his calls or mails. And when he does come for a visit; I don't sit at his feet like an abused dog, tolerating more of his nonsense, just for the sake of harmony. Harmony? Did I say that? God, that's how sick I was.

My heart still hurts sometimes,..yearning for what I don't have,.... but not nearly as long and intense as it used to. So from personal experience, I can only recommend nursing yourself.  You'll see. You'll get stronger, you'll pick yourself up faster, and best of all, you won't cry over him anymore!

The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
            -- Michel de Montaigne


(((hugs))) It is not fair, and that stinks. But you'll drive yourself nuts jumping into that downward spiral, and you deserve to not feel that helpless, crazy rage. This may be the only life we get - you surely don't want to spend it being miserable.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Wow, Karleigh!  Just reading how you have been treated makes my stomach hurt.  I can't add to the wonderful responses you've received but do want to commiserate with you.  You don't deserve to be treated that way, it's awful!  jdtm, thank you for sharing what you'd do differently-- so helpful.  I feel like I've put so many things on hold pending things getting better with various of my kids/relationships/family dynamics.    No more. 

Love Me Love Me Not

It was one of the hardest things that my husband and I have ever had to do, but we gave up and let DIL have her way. She clearly wanted us out of her life and for the sake of the children, we let her push us out of our son's life and our grandchildren's lives. She has the most influence on our grandchildren. she can make them utterly  miserable with divided loyalties. We would rather not see them than have this happen. With time, we have learned to accept it, although it is heartbreaking at first. The future may change everything and it may not., but with acceptance, we have found some peace and are moving on with our own lives.


same thing happening here.  keep sticking my toes in and getting hurt again.  very,very hard.  over time i guess it will get easier.
luv to come here and know i am not alone.


LoveMe & getting O&C, I'm sorry for each of your pain. I can only imagine how much it must hurt.
What I don't understand is your "sons"?  How come they need a wife to tell them about their Mothers? They've known you since birth. THEY KNOW you best.
A dear friend of mine starting going thru some of the "she said you said" crap with her son about 9 months after he married. The first few times my friend said "I'm sorry that's not what I meant. Etc"
But about the 3rd time she whirled around and told her son, "ENOUGH!" The next time your wife goes to telling you what I meant by something I said or done why not use your own brain? She told him, "you've been around me all your life. You know me! You know what I mean when I say so & so. You don't need anyone to explain ME to you. So from here on out if you know I wouldn't do or say something open your mouth and say so. Don't come to me again telling me your wife said nothing." You know what? It stopped.