How Can I Fix This Mess With My DIL?

Question: Dear Luise: Almost 3 mos. ago my DIL and I exchanged harsh words. I was hosting a b.d. family dinner for her at a local restaurant of her choice. She had chosen a table very close to the bar, the most noisy spot there. When I asked my son (for the third time) if he could move his jeep from behind my house, she began harassing me and saying my son was “under too much pressure” and I was not being reasonable. Things went from bad to worse in a hurry, and because I had already had two drinks, I said more than I should have, saying I should’ve listened to my mom and aunt about her, before their marriage. She jumped up from the table. My son seemed bewildered but also hurriedly got up. As she passed behind me, she told me in a voice loud enough that my daughter and husband both heard her, to “rot in hell.”  Since then I have not seen my grandson, age 3 yrs. and even though I’ve called my son and he seems to have put this incident behind him, she refuses to have any contact at all with me. She has him completely under her control. He is very intelligent and has a good job as an engineer. She is always running around and leaving the children with her mother. She’s had a physical altercation with her sister-in-law and often says she and her mother are not talking. (In the past she confided all of this.)  I have never said anything as deliberately cruel as that statement she made to me the last time I saw them.  I miss seeing my son and my grandson and don’t know what to do. She is very active in their church and yet seems to have no forgiveness in her heart for me. What do I do now?  I get along just great with my daughter and her husband and get to see their son often. He is the same age as my son’s little boy, and I find myself feeling more love for him, because I’ve always gotten to see him much more than my son’s child.  I have spent a great deal of money on them in the past, but she has never seemed to appreciate anything I’ve ever done.  Please tell me what you think I should do, or if you think there is some way I can get her to see that I love them all and miss them. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, B.

Answer: Dear B.: It’s a hard lesson to learn that we can’t say what we think. You also know now that a birthday party was probably not the time or place to mention the Jeep, either. (Ever think of giving him a date when it will be towed to a junkyard or hauled to his place?)

My guess is that your DIL needs some time…if she is a forgiving person. If she isn’t, the door may be closed. I’d be gentle and at the same time keep my distance until she makes a move. In the meantime, please come over to my Web-forum: What you and your DIL are up against is not an unusual situation and I think you may get both understanding and support there. Blessings, Luise

One Response to How Can I Fix This Mess With My DIL?

  1. M. July 6, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    This lady is a very typical overbearing mother in law, in that she thinks her son is wonderful and his wife is awful.

    However you have the wrong idea about this.

    If your son is as intelligent as you say, he is NOT under her control. Its more likely he just agrees with her, but does not have the heart to be completely honest with you. Money is also not the point – spending money on a child does not give you an automatic right to see him or her.

    You are looking at her through very negative eyes, and it seems like you wish to criticize her, but yet have a relationship with son and grandson – This is NOT going to happen. They are a family, and to see your grandchild you need to make peace with her first.

    Like it or not, she is the base of this little family. She comes as part of the package or not at all. If she wont speak to you, then why not write her a letter apologizing for being so cruel to her. Not defending yourself, but just apologizing, and telling her how much you miss her and her family in your life. You were out of line here, and actually you started this whole thing. Its up to you to end it, or forget a relationship with your grandchild. M.

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