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Having a talk with son and DIL - advice solicited

Started by malfoyfan, July 20, 2017, 12:44:47 pm

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My son and DIL are coming over Saturday to have a discussion about the situation we have in which she will not allow us to see their 6-month-old daughter.  She also won't speak to us, as demonstrated recently at my nephew's wedding.  We have repeatedly asked them to come over and talk about it.  My niece, who is very close to my son and very distressed about the situation, asked if she can join in as a mediator.

My question to you all is, do you have any advice for how to proceed so the talk is productive?  Because it's an emotional situation, and my DIL is VERY defensive about her conduct, I want to try to keep things calm and rational.  If anyone here has been through this, please tell me what you did and how it turned out.  Thanks in advance for any guidance.


M, I am sorry that you did not get the advice you wanted in advance of your meeting!  The truth about it is that those of us who stay here do so because all of our efforts, even the ones as well meaning as yours, have failed.  The ones who get things worked out the way they want them to be leave.  Hopefully your meeting worked out wonderfully well and you will be a member of the group who got what they wanted and left.  If not, then I have a few words of advice for you.

Although you did not even realize it your meeting had a goal of making them change and that almost never works.  The only part of this situation that you are in that you can control is you and that makes what I am about to say make sense.

For things to change, first I must change

But what does that mean?  I spent so long worrying about how to make it better with my DS/DIL that my marriage became endangered.  My DH was at his wits end just wishing I would quit worrying about it and I suddenly realized that I was letting this one bad relationship jeopardize all the good relationships I had.  It is true that "What you focus on expands" and I was constantly expanding the absolute worse part of my life to such an extent that it was crowding out all the good parts.  So I had to change my focus from working on my relationship with DIL/DS to working on the relationship I had with my DH.  Best thing I ever did!  Now I do not let things with my DS/DIL affect my life the way they used to.  I still love my DS and his daughters are wonderful and I enjoy seeing them when I get to but I do not compare times that my DIL's FOO get with them as apposed to the times I get with them.  Been there, done that and it only made me and my DH miserable. 

Anyway, I do hope things went better for you than they did for me initially but I wanted you to know that if they did not go well all is not lost.  The more you let your mind dwell on the unfairness of it all (yes, of course it is unfair!) the more of your life you will lose to the unfairness.  Think of things and people that make you happy and let the rest be.  For me, at least, the more I stirred the pot the worse it stank so I stopped stirring.  Plan a trip, go shopping, see a movie, grab your happiness and do not let your DIL take it away! 

Good luck!!  Hugs!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Excellent advice, Still Learning.  This thread was posted twice by accident and other members replied to Malfoyfan on the other thread.  Malfoyfan, I hope your meeting went well.  You always have a place here if and when you need support.  All the best  :)


Hi!  Thank you for the wise words.  I agree that it is pointless to try to change others.  I'm working on myself and also having a good relationship with my DH and family other than DS and DIL.

However, I'm happy to report that our talk went a lot better than I expected.  My DIL had a lot to say, some of which was valid (she has some areas to work on, but that isn't my problem).  I found myself choking up and unable to speak at first, and my DH stepped in and was magnificent.  He very calmly laid out all of our issues with DIL and her FOO in detail and I think she actually heard at least some of it.  She tends to idealize her family, esp. her father (who we don't care for), and I think hearing another point of view gave her some food for thought about how her family comes across to outsiders.  I calmed down after a while and was able to discuss some things with DIL. 

One thing I will be watching with her is a tendency to use their child as a pawn.  If she tries this again, we're all going to call her on it.  ("All" meaning me, DH, my SIL and brother, and my niece.)  My family agrees with me that this type of behavior isn't acceptable and that we can't keep quiet about it. 

So, I would say we made some progress, we still have things to work out, but we got to see the baby the next day, which made me very happy.  We agreed that we need better and more honest communication, and I intend to hold us all to that going forward.  We're going to see them again in a few weeks so we'll see how that goes.

Thanks again for the help.  The support of those who have been there is very valuable.  :-)

Again, I apologize for the double post.  I'm going to respond to the other post now.


I'm so happy for you!  Thank you for the update.  It sounds like DIL was interested in resolving some issues so you were able to have success.  Please be very careful so as not to appear that you are ganging up on her or she may become defensive and shut down.  I think you will need to be very patient and understanding with DIL as you slowly build trust and hopefully love between you in the years ahead. 


No, we aren't going to gang up on her -  that would be counterproductive.  What I mean is that if one of us notices something that person will speak up.  In my family we tend not to deal with problems until they blow up into bigger ones and that needs to stop.  I want to have as good a relationship with DIL as possible.  I just don't want to have to give up my right to have an opinion or disagree with her about something to get it.


If you are really trying to handle emotions as they come up (and that can be very sensitive to handle) I found found that the best way to phrase any objections tends to follow the "when you said that it made me feel" method.  So instead of getting angry and lashing out (not that you would but I tend to snap) try  saying "when you say (whatever they said) it makes me feel like(whatever it makes you feel).  So I might, for instance, say "When you tell your children that "your other grandmother will take you to Disney World" it makes me feel inadequate".  (True example....but I have not gotten up the nerve to use it......yet).  I have used this method quite successfully in other situations that I cannot recall right now.  I am just waiting for the opportunity to use it on this example.

Good Luck!! 
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Yes, I have tried that method and found it works well.  In the past I tended to snap too, but I've been working on other responses.  I used it that day in reference to Facebook posts I have seen over the past few months, when we were not allowed to see the baby, and then I'd see the FB posts of all these other people seeing her, and I told DIL how it made me feel.