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Son-in-law seems unmotivated/lazy, now going to stay home take care of kids

Started by mom2many, August 08, 2010, 03:01:03 pm

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This maybe long - so sorry. Start: 8 yrs ago SIL joined Marines - so they would pay for his college, 7 yrs ago they got married. 6 yrs ago, my stepdaughter graduated from college.  SIL has not even started college.  Now have 3 boys: 4 yo, 2 yo & 9 mo.  After Marines, SIL got an IT job, Stepdaughter was Asst. Volleyball coach.  Last year Stepdaughter lost her job, then he lost his, all the time she was pregnant with 3 child. Stepdaughter got a job teaching High School, he continued on unemployment.  While teaching, she got her Master's degree, and is now working on her PhD.  At one time we were told he was going to school on-line, but have since been told that "he can't do that ... he has to go to school face to face."  ALWAYS an excuse.  Never a word about a job interview, or even applications being sent out over the last year.  Whenever I talk to stepdaughter it's always her and the 3 boys going to the lake, going to the store, going to the gym, and even making the trip down here (5 hrs away) by herself.  In May SIL decided to build a deck on house - so took boys to a babysitter - I wondered why not wait til stepdaughter is on summer break, so no expense of babysitter.  It took him over 2.5 months to put a small deck on the back, and even hired it to be stained and sealed.  He used to work in construction.  So in June he was offered a job overseeing a construction crew - used the excuse he had to watch the boys, while Stepdaughter went away to finish her PhD?  We were then told he was going to open his own power washing business.  Now being told he's going to stay at home and take care of younger 2 boys (older one is all day kindergarten).  So stepdaughter is going to take on part-time job coaching volleyball, and has worked over the summer working volleyball clinics.

I know it's none of my business, but it's all about his family - nothing about us. Our daughter graduated High School, SIL didn't come, and not so much as a card.  His 1/2 sister had baby shower, and they sent gifts.  They buy his family expensive bottles of wine.... we don't even get birthday cards.

We have not said anything negative, we just bite our tongues. Stepdaughter always says kids are perfect, everything is great.... To me it just doesn't seem right, when she's not working, she's taking the 3 boys somewhere by herself, while he sleeps, or has a "headache."

Again we don't say anything, but I wonder how long can she go on like this?  She seems, at times, lonely.  But I don't know what to do for her.  We're moving cross country, and I would imagine we'll seldom see them.  Thanks for letting me vent.  Just tired of the lame excuses.


It's their business, not yours. Their choices. It isn't what you want for her and you know it is unhealthy but it's her life. Many of us here have stood by and watched something similar and  grieved for what could have been. I'm so sorry that you have to, too. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Luise is right, Mom2. I'm sorry you're going through this.

Your SD sounds like a hardworking, intelligent woman - she's making her choices, and there's not a lot you can do about it. You're wise to stay silent, since saying anything may cause a deeper separation than what you've already experienced. Even if she were to come to you and unburden herself about her DH, you'd want to consider not telling her how you feel about him.

You've given her many opportunities to tell you how things are going; she does communicate with you, so you can be assured she knows you're there for her if she needs you.

It sounds like you're handling the situation very well, as hard as it as. Some of us have had a much longer, much more dramatic time of it. You have wisdom to share, I'm guessing.

Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Was your SIL over in the Mid-east during his Marine service?  Might he have PTSS, and they aren't discussing it with you?  It sounds like he is dealing with a depressive state from what you have written.  JMO.


I agree, it must be horrible for you to have to sit back and watch and bite your tongue, but I will assure you there is more to this story than you know.  Parents are not supposed to know all the details, if you DO know everything there is to know about this, you are TOO close...back away.  :) 

Your stepdadughter is doing the right thing for herself and her children.  Kudos to her for making her OWN life, one where she doesn't depend on a man to support her or her children. 

Considering the "online" college...yanno, I tried it and I was in that very same boat.  I found it impossible to do!  I couldn't concentrate without being in the actual classroom.  It's a difference in learning styles, and everyone learns differently.  So please try not to look at that as "always an excuse," but maybe rather it just wasn't an environment suitable for his learning style.  I do hope he will try another option. 

Orly may be on to something...is he in therapy for PTSD?


Welcome to the forum. I have a lot of sympathy for you. It is so hard to see our children in 'not so ideal' situations. You must remember however that this may be exactly what your daughter wants. She sounds very driven and very focused.  I maybe wrong but I imagine she is probably responsible for most of the decisions in her family - given her obvious sense of responsibility. My husband works with a woman who is the sole bread winner of the family. Her husband raised the kids and kept the home. That is what they wanted and they are a happy successful family.

As for spending more time with the inlaws. This is a very common complaint here. It causes a lot of heartache. Although you didn't mention it first, I think not seeing your stepdaughter and her family is probably more of a concern for you. Have you spoken to your daughter about how you miss her?


There's no worse question to hear when you're out of work awhile then "So, find a job yet?"  Hmmmmm, maybe "How are things on the job front?"  You ask only because you care. But yet it's even worse when it's coming from someone you want to think highly of you.

Keep conversations with your StepDaughter about lighter or at least happier things.  Ask about good things like what the boys are doing or learning.  Share a funny moving story about yourself and your husband.   Less about her half-sister.   Less about their personal career trajectories, education, income, division of labor, marital agreements.  I think a respectful distance from their personal goings on will actually help bridge the upcoming physical distance. 


I was going to say the same thing, a marine who's been overseas (if he has) and seen a year of action may be having a lot of trouble adjusting back to civilian life.   It's cruel to be judgemental and critical.  Your stepdaughter sounds smart, motivated and ambitious.  She is well able to handle her problems. She knows divorce is an option if she's looking for options.  And being home with daddy will be nice for the kids. It really isn't your business, really.  You say you know it, but still you've made it your business to be judgemental.  Be kinder to both of them, it won't do a bit of damage and might do a lot of good.