Question: Dear Luise: My son has been married a year and a half. We were excited for him and his new wife. Everything was fine for a while. DIL got pregnant and began withdrawing from me. She didn’t come to Christmas with our family nor to a family dinner in honor of she and my son for the baby. She used to call me frequently, now it’s never and she never answers when I phone them. I know she is very insecure and doesn’t have any close friends but I never offered opinions and we didn’t intrude on their privacy. So I really don’t know what happened. I have asked my son what the problem is and he says he doesn’t know! Then I heard from some friends she was saying bad things about me. I asked again. My son didn’t want me to talk with my DIL because she was pregnant and he didn’t want her upset. So I let it go. Well, my granddaughter was born this week. What should have been a wonderful day was horrible for my family. My DIL’s family controlled everything (16 people at hospital.) Her family was rude, not speaking to me. My husband, myself and my MIL got to see our granddaughter for 3 minutes (which was wonderful). My DIL wouldn’t even look at me and responded to my questions bluntly. I visited the next day and the result was the same. My son acted nervous while we were there. Her mother was there running the show and telling her daughter how to do everything. My husband and I talked with my son. It got pretty messy. We love them both, but don’t know how to handle this. I am very hurt because we wanted to respect their time at home as a new family (which my son indicated they wanted), but her family has been there every day. It seems as if my DIL has decided to cut us out of their lives and keep us from our granddaughter, for very selfish reasons. My son is in the middle and doesn’t know what to do. I feel for him, but he is allowing it, which makes me upset with him. This should be a happy time for all but it has been stressful for my husband and myself. I’ve sent them cards both during the pregnancy and since the birth offering love and support for them and their new baby. Am at a loss…I have prayed for answers but really need an outside opinion. I hope you can offer advice and suggestions. Many thanks, B.
Answer: Dear B.: Your son can’t cope with divided loyalties. I’m sure when he married, he never anticipated that he would need to but his wife has declared war. Why doesn’t really matter, does it? I’m sure it makes sense to her but that isn’t going to help. She’s opting to have only one extended family, probably because she feels more comfortable there…and they are obviously supporting her choice. They could have stopped her in her tracks. How sad that they didn’t.
Confronting your son isn’t going to change anything. He has chosen a life-partner and they have started a family. He has set his course. If she wants him to walk away from his roots, he probably will. You have no idea what kind of pressure she is putting him under but it is probably intense. Also, if may be direct or it may be consciously or unconsciously manipulative. No matter…she’s running things and it’s pretty clear that your son has accepted that, for whatever reason.
To even stay connected is going to require a lot of patience. All you can do is back off and wait…and hope. He may choose to see you independently or he may not but pressure isn’t going to help. To the contrary, it probably plays right into her hand. After a bit, if you do get a chance to talk with him, let him know that you understand that he is adjusting to a lot of changes and that you are there for him and would like to be part of his life in any way that would work for him. It’s your only option. Blessings, Luise