Ignoring Elephant in the Middle of the Room

Question: Dear Luise: I have two married sons. Son#1 and wife have been married almost 6 years. They have one daughter 5 yrs. Son #2 and wife got pregnant then got married. Son#1 and wife lived out of state. Son#2 lives close by. He has had many problems over the years, was not ready for marriage let alone a child. Wife is from another country and we always felt she planned the pregnancy to stay in the US. They lived with us for a time until the baby girl was born. I took care of her from birth. We bonded so completely as would be expected. Now five years later son is dealing with his married life, health problems, most likely related to stress (lots of baggage). The problem is with the wife of son#1. They had their baby girl six months before #2. They moved to our state to be with our family, knowing that my husband and I would be the loving grandparents that they wanted. Her mother drinks and has outright said that grand parenting is not her thing. But she and her daughter are close. (Let me insert here that her mom had her at 16, never married the dad and wife #1 chose not to know who her father is) Daughter-in-law was not happy from the start that I had been taking care of baby #2 and that her baby #1 was not going to the complete center of our universe. Circumstance with son#2 have led to me taking care of baby#2 for two or three days a week. Finances are not good for them. We have provided money to both families (big $$) and we love to help because we have it and feel that this is the time in their lives that they need it, not when we die. It has all come to a head lately that DIL#1 is totally jealous of the time we spend with Granddaughter #2 the two girls love to play together and get along very well. We do have separate times alone with Granddaughter#1 and love her dearly. The two girls are completely night and day in personalities. #1 is quiet and reserved. I am seeing some traits in her that are not too good. She tends to lie about trivial things. Cheats at games to win. And ALWAYS wants to be first and have her way. This is what we see in her mom, and my son has finally realized that his wife has a problem. She admits that she has been upset about how every time we get together #2 is there. The Breaking point was Pre-k graduation and we had to take #2 with us because the parents were working. She blamed #2 because she could not get a good photo op because her daughter wanted to play with her cousin. The day was supposed to be about the child, but it turned into disaster with DIL telling us to leave. The kids are the important thing here. We are a small family and it doesn’t look as if there are going to be other children. There is so much more involved here that I can really explain. I missed my son#2 wedding to go be with DIL#1 after she had the baby, I exhausted myself seeing she and baby were well taken care of. My son at that time was commuting about 2 hours. He was truly thankful that I was there. There is just no making this girl happy. My son used to be a happy person, but she has dragged him down. This all cannot be jealously over a little 4 -1/2 child. As I mentioned before, the two girls are night and day. I try to treat both as equally as I can, but the younger one is such a loving child and wants to please everyone. She shows so much affection to her poppa and me. I am afraid the mother’s unhappiness, and lack of kindness to other people is affecting her daughter. I know thru other friends that they see the above description when they are with her also. Since she has moved to this state, she hasn’t made any true friends hardly speaks to my other son’s wife. And always makes it obvious that she would rather be any place else. I have been carrying this guilt around for 4 years now and I realize it is not my problem. She has made it clear that the cousin is not invited to come to anything of her daughter’s unless specifically invited. This will put a restriction on the girls getting together. They are too young to understand right now, but in a couple of years they will get it………#2 is not welcome. I guess what I am asking is…do you see a resolution to this problem? Do we keep walking on eggshells and pretend that there is not an elephant in the room? Thank you. J.

Answer: Dear J. Counseling might help her if she was willing to go but I doubt you will see any willingness on her part to do that. Usually it’s easier to blame everyone else.

When a family member marries a dysfunctional person, the whole clan has to deal with it. That’s the truth about the situation. Eggshells are the order of the day with a person like that and the kids do suffer and often take on similar behaviors. She is how she is, unfortunately, and I know that’s not what you wanted to hear.

I would like to invite you to participate on my discussion website. A lot of cumulative  wisdom is  gathering there that you might  find supportive. Blessings, Luise

Go to: www.motherinlawsunite.com 

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