Question: Dear Luise: I was having and online conversation with my son and asked if his wife was getting more crap put on her head not thinking any more about it. We were to see our grandchildren at the end of the week and when we stopped by, my daughter-in-law wouldn’t let us in. I then asked if something was wrong with my infant granddaughter because her face looked swollen, instantly my daughter-in-law told me that she knew what I meant by that and said we were not welcome to their home. My sweet grandson started to cry. He is two. We left. I should have known she was a mind reader and likes to misconstrue whatever we say to her own understanding. During this time I had been cleaning out closets and since they were not answering the phones or doors I left my sons stuff on their porch. Also because I was concerned about my granddaughter I left a list of possible problems that could be the cause of her face swelling. After a couple of weeks and me e-mailing an apology to both of them I got the response from my son that they prayed about it and they have decided that we need a break from each other and not to come by their home or his work. He said I was malicious. I then got a call from my sister and was told that on my daughter-in-law’s “myspace” site was a cartoon with the phrase of “mother-in-law from hell.” She claims to be a Christian?. It has been almost a month since I’ve seen my grandchildren. For the nine years I heard her talk and make hateful remarks about her own mother, her mother’s husband, her father, brother, sister-in-law and even about her infant niece. She just started a relationship with her own mother in the past year and a half. I hope it doesn’t go this long. I know some very dark secrets about her that her own family doesn’t know and I’ve been battling with whether to let this information go or not and let the chips fall where they may. T.
Answer: Dear T. I honestly don’t understand the remark you made about your son’s wife “getting more crap put on her head” but apparently they felt it was unkind and didn’t accept your apology. They may have misunderstood your placing his things on their porch as well; thinking it was some kind of statement and meant something. Once things got going in a negative direction, your suggestions regarding their daughter’s face were probably misunderstood, as well. Interpretations and perceptions can easily get pretty unrealistic.
I don’t think I would share the dark secrets about her; things are already pretty tense.
Whether you like her of not, she and your son have established their own separate, family unit by marrying and having children, (just like you and I once did), and within that structure they have their own preferences and rules that you must abide by to be part of the whole.
It might be wise to wait it out and when your son again approaches you, to ask him what is expected of you. I know that sounds unfair but I don’t know of any other resolution to the misunderstandings that have gotten in the way of yourmaintaining an extended family. Blessings, Luise