Author Topic: Daughter-in-law purposely misses our holiday celebrations. What should I do?  (Read 12102 times)

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Offline JustPuzzled

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Son and DIL have been married for 3 years and   live an hour from us and fifteen minutes from her parents. The year before they were married, DIL had a  standing invitation to our T'giving and Xmas celebrations. My son said that as this was her last year as a married woman, she would be spending both holidays with her family (DIL is VERY close to her parents, considers her mom her best friend and has two sisters, a Granny, Godmom and two Godsisters and various cousins who all come together to celebrate at her folks.)

I was understanding but a tad disappointed that DIL did not spend any holiday time with us during the time before she and my son married. There were tons of relatives here who would have loved to have met her and it was very awkward having to make excuses both holiday occasions and even more awkward when our son went to spend part of those days at DIL's family. DIL did not call or reach out to us on either holiday.

The first year of marriage, I was assured by my son that he and DIL would alternate holidays with us.  I was relieved and yes, they have done that with a twist-my son will come to our house, DIL won't.  First year, Thanksgiving was with us, Xmas with her family. DIL did not come to our house for Thanksgiving. Second year, Thanksgiving with DIL's family, Xmas with us. No DIL for Xmas and no DIL for Thanksgiving last year.

DIL chooses to work those holidays she is to spend with us and our son and after work, she goes right to her parents. I and my family are dumbfounded by this and very hurt. Our son of course never misses her holiday celebrations.

I have asked my son if we have done anything to offend DIL at all. He says no. I have tried talking to Dil but she is either too busy or won't return calls. And now, we have found out that DIL is four months along in her first pregnancy-the first grandchild on both sides. I don't want this to continue! What if I never see my grandchild? Help!!

Offline Pen

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JP, welcome. I'm sorry you are going through this, but I'm so glad you found us. If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to read the pink highlighted items on the home page under Open Me First. We like to make sure all newbies get the gist of the site and that it's a good fit.

I'm in a very similar situation with my DS & DIL although our DIL played the part of doting future-dil quite well. It all changed on the wedding day. DH and I, and our DDD (dear disabled daughter) have spent plenty of time feeling puzzled & hurt. The sad truth is that our side gets much less in the way of contact and DIL's FOO gets way more (they all work at the same company, which doesn't help.) I understand that DIL's FOO is super close...but I thought we were, too. Before we knew it, DIL's FOO swept in and grabbed all the holidays, all the vacations, birthdays, etc. DH & I were kind of blindsided and let it happen (trying to be accommodating and polite) and now it's the way it is forever unless someone moves to another continent. Even then I suspect we'll lose out. This Thanksgiving DIL did not come (she went abroad w/her Ps), but DS did (he couldn't travel due to school & work commitments.) I guess we won out over sitting alone in an empty house. DIL does not communicate w/us, has no interest in us at all, only puts up with us if it's absolutely unavoidable or if she wants something.

Like you, I'm concerned about what will happen if/when GC arrive. However, I have no control over any of it. I finally heard Luise, our fearless WWU leader, loud and clear! It's not fair, it's not civil, it's not right - but it's the way it is. I decided to make life for my DH, DDD and I the best it can be! We're moving on. If DS wants to have a connection, he will. So far, he's making a bit of an effort in spite of DIL. We'll see how it goes.

Please keep reading and posting :)
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline JustPuzzled

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Pen, thank you for making me feel welcome. It's just so hard. I never thought I could end up like this.

Offline Lillycache

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I'm sorry JustPuzzled...  And I'm sorry to have to tell you that this is how it is in many cases.  You cannot but the establishment... and the "establishment" in this case is the DILs family.   I have experienced this also.  Although before my son and DIL were married, she couldn't have more attentive and eager to associate with us.  However, as people will tell you.. that changes once the ring is on the finger.   My DIL comes from a very close knit large matriarchal family, and gradually as time went on she spent less and less time at our holiday gatherings..  DS would come with the kids... she would show up hours later.. if at all.    I was told during our final encounter that she resented all the seconds she had to split up on holidays between us and HER family..   Nice huh?   So NOW she is not included in any holiday celebrations.. fortunately my son still comes to our house.   He and the kids will be with us on Christmas Eve.. and next year he has told me that he and the kids will spend Thankgiving with us!!!   Just like he used to.. as Thanksgiving was always my holiday to cook.. and the kids especially the older one has told me he misses being here for Thanksgiving..   I'm happy with how things are now although it just doesn't seem right.. BUT this is HER choice.. bless her..  she has made it.   I don't imagine it has done wonders for her status in my sons eyes.. but it is what it is. 

Offline herbalescapes

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As hurtful as you find the situation, bear in mind that you do not have all the facts.   You say DIL chooses to work on the holidays and then goes to spend time with her family.  Maybe she doesn't actually have much choice in the matter (even if DS/DIL claim she chooses to work, that may be a cover).  Maybe she has a problem with one of your relatives that you don't know about and is trying to avoid the situation.  Maybe there is a health issue on her family's side that you don't know about that makes it absolutely reasonable for her to spend the holidays with her FOO and not spare time for her ILs.  Maybe she just really can't stand her one or more of her ILs and feels it's better to be absent than risk a blow up.  Maybe she has a phobia about a pet or something in your home that she's embarrassed to mention.  Maybe her FOO is extremely controlling and demand she visit only with them and she can't stand up to them.  Maybe your holiday gatherings are the opposite of what she finds comfortable for socializing.  Whatever the reason that she chooses to absent herself, she's not obligated to share it.  If you press the issue you may get more than you bargained for and end up not seeing DS on the holidays either. 

You don't mention if she avoids you and your home at non-holiday times.  If it's just a holiday avoidance, I'd say absolutely don't rock the boat.  If it's throughout the year, I'd also say don't rock the boat, but that would be harder to do.  I imagine this hurts you because you take her avoidance as a judgment upon you.  It's not.  It's her deal.  I see no reason why you should be embarrassed by her absence.  If any one were to comment upon it, just brush it off with a "Well, you know, she did have to work all day, so she's too tired to bounce around to multiple gatherings."

It's a big jump from your DIL avoiding your holiday celebrations and you never seeing your GC.  If DS comes on his own now, there's a chance in the future he will bring the GC, too.  But if you make DILs absence an awkward issue, DS may cease to come just to avoid the awkwardness. Maybe DS/DIL may opt with a baby in tow to limit holidays to one family (hers).  That would be sad, but if you're able to forge a relationship with GC outside of the holidays, I wouldn't push for the holidays.  There's too much to lose.  (I do realize it's terribly easy for me to type these words and not so easy to live them out.)

You don't mention if you are welcome in their home.  Would DS/DIL be open to hosting his family for part of the holidays?  If they say no, remember that if DIL is working, she has an irreproachable excuse to not play hostess, so don't read outright rejection of you in a negative response. 

I know when someone hurts us it's hard to be reasonable/rational/logical about the situation.  I do sympathize with your situation because all you want is your whole family together for the holidays and DIL is part of the family now.  You're trying to accomplish something nice.  Unfortunately the situation is out of your hands.  We do have to learn to accept our AC and their spouse's decisions and cannot demand an explanation for said decisions.  Try to find a way to enjoy what you have (DS visiting).  you'll find a lot of sympathy and support here.  Good luck.

Offline jdtm

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Just Puzzled - You described our situation as well.  The only difference is that after a decade of marriage, our DIL left her husband and abandoned her children.  Funny - as of now, she is on the "outs" with her family.  Hmmm - perhaps a bit self-centered?  And her teenaged children - gradually they are starting to see the injustice in it all (and she is becoming the "villain").

My sister-in-law also did not accept her husband's families (she had two - divorced twice) and refused to have anything to do with either of them.  There were many reasons - hmmm - come to think of it, the same reasons she wanted nothing to do with me (after all, I'm not family either).  Also, come to think of it, she has alienated her children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

The point of this posting is that both our exDIL and SIL are now lonely and bitter women without many (if any) friends.  Perhaps the old saying "what goes around comes around" - sad, isn't it?  I'm so sorry ....  but, really the situation is now in your son's hands.  Just make every moment count and pretend to ignore the unfairness of it all - I'll bet it is much harder for him than you know.  Again, I'm so sorry ....

Offline Pooh

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Or maybe she's just a jerk  ;D
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline Stilllearning

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Herbal...I just looked through your postings to try to understand where you are coming from.    I still, even after reading your posts, don't understand what brought you here.  Maybe I did not read far enough.  I started at your earliest posting and read about 6 pages.  If there is a post where you asked for help I would love to read it.  Could you direct me to it?
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
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Offline DixieDarling

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ME TOO!  >:(
I'm going thru this with our youngest sons wife.

(( I have asked my son if we have done anything to offend DIL at all. He says no. I have tried talking to Dil but she is either too busy or won't return calls. And now, we have found out that DIL is four months along in her first pregnancy-the first grandchild on both sides. I don't want this to continue! What if I never see my grandchild? Help!!))

I do find a comfort in knowing I'm not the only one. But it also makes me sad that I'm not the only one. If ya know what I mean? I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

Offline Lillycache

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ME TOO!  >:(
I'm going thru this with our youngest sons wife.

(( I have asked my son if we have done anything to offend DIL at all. He says no. I have tried talking to Dil but she is either too busy or won't return calls. And now, we have found out that DIL is four months along in her first pregnancy-the first grandchild on both sides. I don't want this to continue! What if I never see my grandchild? Help!!))

I do find a comfort in knowing I'm not the only one. But it also makes me sad that I'm not the only one. If ya know what I mean? I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

It's very hurtful for sure DD.  When my DIL and I said our final goodbyes to one another, there was a point When I didn't see my grandkids for over a year.  The youngest was just a newborn when that happened.  I wasn't invited to the Christening, and his 1st birthday party even though my Exhusband's wife was there with bells on.  In fact one of DILs sister made sure to Tag my son in pictures on FB to be sure I was aware of it..    However, my son finally put his foot down and said he was bringing the kids to see me whether she liked it or not.. and he has kept his word.   I don't get to see them as much as other grandmas... maybe 3 or 4 times a year.. and it certainly isn't how I invisioned my grandmothership to be.... but I'll take it.  The little guy is 3 1/2 now and he seems to have really warmed to me and he was crawling all over me last week when they visited.   I'm fine with how things are now.   No more walking on eggs or wondering what the heck was in my DIL's craw when she was over.  You will adjust to things, however they turn out.  It takes time and lots of kind ladies to listen.. but that's what this place is for.

Offline Stilllearning

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DixieDarling you cannot fix the problem.  Our greatest release comes when we finally give up trying to fix things and start embracing the things we enjoy.  Turn your thoughts away from the things you cannot change and look at the things you have that are wonderful.  Plan a Christmas that you will love  (I went canoeing one Thanksgiving day) and start reminding yourself of how much you have and not how much you have not

Sometimes, when we live our lives instead of trying to live our children's, our children gravitate back to us.  Sometimes they do not.  Regardless of the outcome we have improved our lot.  I almost lost my DH once because I got too clingy because I felt insecure.  I think this situation has a lot in common with that one.  We got over that so I am hoping we will get over this.  My fingers are crossed for you!!

Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
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Offline Footloose

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Welcome, JP.  Very sad that you have found a true fellowship here of women who have lived the very same issues.  My son did not tell me when my GD was born and I went w/o meeting her for over a year.  That visit was very short but pleasant.  i no longer ask for any time or any questions for that matter.  If and when he calls, i am glad to hear from him but basically do not know the man on the phone.  He has slipped away to his adulthood and new family.

Instead of waiting to be included and hurt for the mere crumbs given, I simply have NO EXPECTATIONS on the relationship with him and my 4 GCs.  I could blame the wife but I am not her mom.

So I basically gave up and gave into a more inward focus on my own life with DH and our nuclear family of pets and dear friends.  This is my 2nd holiday season w/o them and I am doing just fine!  I have not heard from him in 6 wks and no call on Thanksgiving and my life went on anyway! 

DH and my son's GPs went to an old and dear friends home and had a splendid, stress free and fun time with ppl who know how to treat each other.  Much better than my control freak sisters who seem to pick at our mom, who often times deserves it;)

I am now at more peace than ever.  Still missing what may never be and hopeful that one day we will be close again but will be just fine if the future does not bring that to me.  And he has done just fine w/o me and so have the GCs. 

I am needed elsewhere and that is OK.

Each of us will mend on our own timetable if we let ourselves let go.  Those who are most healthy learn to accept the situation for what it is and leave the understanding to a higher power because we jilted moms will never get it....

Hugs and comfort sent your way, dear sister in pain...

Offline Lillycache

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DixieDarling you cannot fix the problem.  Our greatest release comes when we finally give up trying to fix things and start embracing the things we enjoy.  Turn your thoughts away from the things you cannot change and look at the things you have that are wonderful.  Plan a Christmas that you will love  (I went canoeing one Thanksgiving day) and start reminding yourself of how much you have and not how much you have not

Sometimes, when we live our lives instead of trying to live our children's, our children gravitate back to us.  Sometimes they do not.  Regardless of the outcome we have improved our lot.  I almost lost my DH once because I got too clingy because I felt insecure.  I think this situation has a lot in common with that one.  We got over that so I am hoping we will get over this.  My fingers are crossed for you!!


Good advise.  When I couldn't see my son or GKs for the holidays.. I made other plans.  On Thanksgiving we went to the buffet at a country club which was FABULOUS!! No cooking and no cleanup was the best part.  Then we went to a movie.

On Christmas Eve, we went downtown to a play.. the first year to see "A Christmas Carol" and the next we saw Donnie and Marie live!   Then we took in the German shopping village and bought a Cuckoo Clock.. It was warm out and windless and snowflakes the size of half dollars were falling..   See..   I have good memories of those holidays too.    You simply cannot let someone's selfishness and inconsideration  ruin things for you. 

Offline DixieDarling

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Thank you SL and LC. It still bothers me that our sons act like they didn't know who we were until their wives told them. Even tho they've known us since the day they were born.
And that Mothers of girls get to be Mothers and Grandmothers full of all the love and happiness. Mothers of sons just don't matter.
I am happy that 3 of my sons and their lovely wives and us have a great family life with all the trimmings.
Nothing has happened yet with the youngest and the new DIL except she doesn't want anything to do with us. They are expecting early next year and if the 2 times we've seen her in the last 3 years is any clue I dread it.
My son says stuff like,"Mom I promise you'll see my child don't worry" . I don't believe it. And I will never put him in the middle so it will be what it will be.
I will not let her ever know she's hurting me. That's a promise.

Offline JustPuzzled

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Ladies, thank you for your kindness. I have read over your responses several times and really thought about this whole situation and I realize I may have missed some very important clues. First of all, DIL's mom declined all my invitations to meet pre wedding.  I thought this odd as we are about to be one family, but my son said DIL's mom is not a social person and he asked me not to press the issue. I did not and shook off any misgivings. After all, some people really are not social.

Secondly, DIL never returned calls or emails pre wedding. She turned down lunch offers, etc. except any that included my son. She would never meet with me or talk to me without him around.

Lastly and I think this was the biggest clue, was how DIL's paternal grandmother and paternal relations were treated at the rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself. DIL's mother never ONCE talked to or was around DIL's paternal mother at either of these events.  She also never talked to DIL's paternal family.  DIL's mom stayed close to HER mom and her side of the family and her kids.

DIL did interact with her paternal relations and grandmother, but nowhere near as warmly or familiar as she did with her paternal side. DIL's sisters were the exact same way. DIL's paternal family did not seem to be in the loop as the maternal side was.

At the time, I thought I was noticing vibes and maybe making something out of nothing.  But it seems that there may be a pattern in DIL's family of the paternal side being given the boot, while the maternal side is considered "family."

I will ask my son about this.