Question: Dear Luise: Christmas was “Nightmare on Elm Street.” Our two sons and their wives and children, and our daughter, son-in-law and their children were here. One son and his family were late to each event. intentionally, stopping to buy Starbucks etc. All was fine until Christmas morning when they were expected for breakfast, so the two year olds could open Santa’s presents. They arrived two hours late. Went out for breakfast, no call. I said in a calm fashion, we expected you for breakfast. The daughter in-law rose from her seat, yelling “we are out of here”, expressing all her hate for me, her mother in law, calling me rude and mean. I said nothing, but was crying and shaking. Actually the only thing I said when she left was ” I have tried so hard to be nice to you.” I cannot think about it without crying. It was clear to everybody here that she never wanted to be here, thus was late for all events. Then she imploded, and it was venomous. I want to tell my son we will always love him and be there for him. I have said nothing. The rest of the family is very upset because this daughter in law has been a contentious one every since they married. She has broken the relationship between the brothers, and now the rest of the family. What is the best approach for my husband and I? He also could not believe what happened, and does not care if he sees her again. Hoping you can shed some light for us -and if you have any questions, please ask. P.
Answer: Dear P.: No questions from me…you were set up and fell right into the trap. The plan was to aggravate you until you said something, (as in *anything*), so they could make their leaving your fault. It doesn’t matter whether they know that was their plan or not. It clearly was.
The “in-law connection” is often a very tenuous one. Jealousy is usually the prime motivator. It’s probable that that’s what was going on at your house. The goal is for the jealous person to isolate his/her loved one from everyone previously loved. This, too, may be denied but the results outweigh the rationalizations. Your daughter-in-law seems to be culling her husband out of the herd. No sharing allowed.
This does not have to make sense. If you are trying to find logic in it…stop.
What’s next for all of you that witnessed this travesty…on what is supposed to be the most loving day of the year…is to bring about your own healing. You can’t re-choose for your son and you can’t change your daughter-in-law. You can only gather together in a tighter group and move through it. For some reason she is afraid of the loving intimacy you have to offer. That’s about her, not you.
Write your son at his place of employment, return receipt requested. Tell him you love him and his family, you always will and your door is always open to all of them if they wish to approach it respectfully. Period. End of communication. Be sure to keep a dated copy for your grandchildren who may be told that you said you didn’t want to see them and don’t love them. Then turn toward what works for you in your family structure and focus on that. Blessings, Luise