Question: Dear Luise: My husband & I are wondering with shattered hearts…how did we get in this mess? Eldest son got married to a girl who became pregnant when he was 20 & in college. She was just okay but was selfish & immature. We tolerated each other for grandson’s sake. Three years later our granddaughter was born. DIL spent more money than son made which financially ruined them. He left her but had a girlfriend before then who was also still married. Rocky road head…right? We supported both financially & mentally. There are 4 hours travel in between us but we still drove to help with the grandchildren every other weekend while son worked every weekend. We dropped everything to help in any way. Son & girlfriend were trying to keep their relationship a secret until they got their divorces. I mistakenly mentioned to the girlfriend that maybe they should put dating on hold until the divorces were final. Son was very nervous about the secret relationship but girlfriend didn’t want to stop seeing him. I was very kind to the girlfriend & tried to befriend her. I thought she liked me. Little by little she tried to push us out of our son’s life with damning comments that were twisted to her advantage. Things I said or “supposedly” said. Son would complain that I wasn’t trying to get along with the girlfriend. What? What did I say wrong? Divorces finalized, girlfriend gets pregnant. They get married right before the baby is born. I could feel the tension when she was around but couldn’t figure out what I’d done or said wrong. I told my husband that once the baby is born, I have a feeling we will never get to know him like we did our grandson & granddaughter from wife #1. We had these kids every other weekend from the time they were born. We had such a wonderful loving relationship with the grands until son remarried. Wife #2 has 2 sons from her 1st marriage. We’ve always tried to treat them the same but she says we don’t. No matter what, we just can’t please her. She would yell & curse us pointing out any indiscretions, telling us to get out of her house. She has telephoned me to tell me that I am evil. I’m still shaking my head trying to figure out what went wrong. I try to defend my husband & I in a peaceful manner and apologize for any wrong doings. My son was clearly upset by all of this but little by little he has drunk the Kool Aid. Now he sides with wife #2. My husband & I are good people. We would never hurt a fly. Both of us are tender-hearted. We can see that their relationship is toxic but would never interfere. We have stayed away to give them space. Not phoned to bother them just ask to talk to the grands to see how they are. When we do visit, we walk on eggshells for fear of saying the wrong thing. That makes her mad too. Son is a good man but will only listen to her. Right now, all we want to do is see the grandkids, all 5 of them. My husband & I can’t sleep, can’t eat, and are heartbroken. We’ve tried to understand, apologized for everything under the sun. She clearly hates us & wants rid of us. We don’t know how to fix this at all! Help us please!! T.
Answer: Dear T.: Oh, if I only had the recipe for the anti-Kool Aid elixir. When our adult son’s wives force them to choose, what can they do? I don’t know of any way to fix it.
You may want to read the other posts on this subject under various headings on this site. The problem is so prevalent that my Webmaster is currently designing us a Web Forum where we can discuss how to survive these issues. We have to move beyond not being able to sleep and eat…and learn how to live through the horrible heartbreak that comes with such unwarranted and tragic alienation.
What you need to know is that you haven’t done anything wrong. Unfortunately, when that happens, there is very little you can do to make things right. Your DIL is the problem, you aren’t. It’s a lost cause to try to apply logic to the situation. I know that’s not what you wanted to hear, but unless she has a change of heart, you are pretty much at her mercy, as are the kids and your son.
We raise our children to the best of our ability and then off they go into adulthood with very little experience. Sometimes we are allowed to participate in their newfound and often awkward authority, and sometimes we are shut out. Sometimes they learn and sometimes they don’t. We wait, we hold our collective breath and we pray. Blessings, Luise