She Says Everything’s My Fault

Question: Dear Luise: I have a son who has now been married for close to 6 years. They have two wonderful boys ages 3 and 5. There has always been trouble with my daughter in law caring for the children in the most basic ways. Not bathing, brushing teeth, keeping clean clothes and even on some occasions feeding them. She works a second shift job and my son now does most of the housekeeping, tending the boys cooking etc. The days she does have the boys at home they entertain themselves while she “naps” on the couch. Now a new twist has been added. She is going out on the two nights a week she doesn’t work to go “listen to music”. They live about an hours drive from the nearest clubs. She told my son that she wanted to leave him but they talked and got some things “worked out.” However, now everything has ended up my fault. In her words, I drive her crazy and I cause her to do the things she is doing, etc. I try to help as much as I can with the boys and up until about 2 weeks ago thought all was fine. My problem is that I am not sure how to handle this situation and do not want to se the grandsons hurt by all of this. If I try to defend myself with my son he walks out. If he calls when she is home, she talks at the top of her lungs in the background about what we are discussing, giving her opinion and putting me down. Please help, what should I do? G.

Answer: Dear G. It is often really difficult to deal with the dynamics of two families interacting. Your son has a wife and children. They are a separate unit…yet your relationship with him and your desire to be part of your grandsons’ lives overlap. On top of that, they are obviously having difficulties and you see the results of that everywhere.

You know you are not at fault…you are just a handy person to blame. Please keep reminding yourself of that.

Instead of telling your son your complaints, (which certainly sound valid to me), it might help to ask your him how you can best be a part of his adult life. He may have some ideas regarding how to integrate you into his child rearing. Certainly, the marriage and the raising of his children are his primary concern and he is going to great lengths to make up for his wife’s inadequacies on all fronts. If he doesn’t see your contribution and if he listens to his wife’s take on you, he may feel that it all just too much. What he has taken on sounds nearly impossible to me. Still it’s his life and his choice, always.

Don’t add to his stress. I know that it’s hard to accept the fact that he may not have the time or energy to try to factor you into what’s going on but that’s probably the case. He is trying to hold it all together at great cost to himself. It may be wise to back off while letting him know that he can continue to count on you to help him out. Blessings, Luise

2 Responses to She Says Everything’s My Fault

  1. A. December 15, 2008 at 12:03 pm #

    Dear Luise: I have a son who will be 33 this year. As a mother we were very close up until he turned 13. I was in an abusive marriage and at this time my son changed and started treating me abusively like his father; more in a psychological way never physical. It hurt me so bad I tried to kill my self due to both he and his father coming at me. I survived which is obvious, but I no longer had that closeness even though over the years we have come close to it, also with his semi-apologies for in an indirect way of what he had done and his thankfulness of me trying always to keep him happy in the mist of the fights between his father and myself. In 2004, I divorced this man after 26 years of marriage.
    Around 4 years ago, my son was diagnosed as bipolar. To me I always thought it was the upset household that caused his problems because he was always so uptight and rigid. He was set very much in his ways about how life should be and how he was going to handle things. He always found fought with people and had a habit of calling people “Losers”. This behavior I thought was something he adapted from his father, who was exactly the same way.
    Anyway, we kept in touch and he seemed to lean on me, but I always thought he was “using” me. Never really felt he really loved me as a “normal” son and mother relationship. As time went on, I begin to understand me that he blamed me for his life due to the dysfunction that was constantly around him as he grew. I carried that burden and admitted that I was sorry for this. However, now at the age of 33, if I stand up to him regarding money he owes me back or try to tell him regarding things he is upset about where his wrong part was; after his presenting the problem to me, I find he can’t relate to me and I am the downfall to his life. He demonstrates this in an indirect way. Examaple: He tells me in a conversaton that he was “Bobby Hill” when he was a child. I immediately jump in with “No, you were a very smart child….” Well immediately he turned on me and says “why to you have to be so literal” I talk to a lot of people and you always take things out on the left field. No one else do I have a problem talking to them like this”. An argument came out of this and I slowly, calmly, apoligized, and backed away from the conversation.
    He also makes indirect remarks saying things when he picks up the phone “I was going to get to you further down the trough”. I am desiring more and more to let my child go. He is very intelligent, but I have had another abuse for years from him and his bipolar is in check. He is taking Lamictal for this and possibly Cymbalta. However, I do not believe this is why he goes on like this. I believe he is trying to blame me for his life. Thank you, A.

  2. Luise December 15, 2008 at 5:03 pm #

    Dear A. This is a decision only you can make. It seems to be a much too common cop-out for sons to blame their mothers for anything any everything in their lives that isn’t to their liking. It’s a way to deny any and all responsibility and to forever put off becoming an adult. Usually they don’t fool anyone except themselves. Blessings, Luise

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