Leaving It Alone Is Not Working

Question: Dear Luise: I don’t quite know where to start. Maybe I was wrong but when my son met my daughter in law, we were not as welcoming as we should have been, he had just gotten out a 4 yr “high school sweetheart relationship”. He was my first child in a dating situation. He was in high school when they met and she was in college. There were no “issues”, other, than the curfew we set so that he could get up to go to school, as his graduation was pending, that he made it to school on time everyday for the remainder of the school year.  Evidentally he felt the curfew was controlling and her parents allowed him to move in with them. After that we rarely saw our son other than the occasional visits when he needed something, or wanted to make sure we made his car payment and to give us his money for his car insurance.
HOlidays were stressful and all visits were very short. Days and then months went by sometimes before hearing from him. Although he often was seen in town or shopping with her and her mother, he rarely called or came by. People even started asking what was going on everytime they say him the girls mother was with them. Then on their wedding day we were told that only his father and I could attend. They didn’t want a big scene. His sisters weren’t allowed either. A few weeks later when we questiond him what was wrong, why she acted like she did and why she pushed us aside.. He said that she had issues with people.. ten years of abuse by a relative had taken their tole. Molestation is against the law however, no charges were pressed and the man is still free to do this to another child. My daughter-in-law told my son that ‘she felt that he was the only one who had ever protected her”. My son delt with her odd behavior and her radical outburst however on at least four occasions he called to say he was leaving. It was then she began the suicide threats, which lead to guilt and the circle of abuse continutes. He stayed. Less than a year later she gets pregnant. We were kept in the dark most of the pregnancy and that was fine. I did not say anything, the night before thier baby shower I was informed that I didn’t need to stay for the whole baby shower.. They said just a few minutes would be fine. It was like they didnt’ want me there at all. WE went to shower and did just as they asked left after they opened the gift. Admitantly I was hurt and very quiet. They weren’t going to open the gifts that we brought them and didn’t until I insisted on mine being opened. Although all the others were open and displayed on the table. This apparently was conscrewed as “ruining her shower”. At the babies arrival we were called after he arrived. Her family, “the ones that protected the abuser”, were there for it. After waiting two hours we were allowed a ten minute visit to see him. Now that my grandson is born we have been allowed to seem him only three times. Since then they have decided that we “abused” our children by spanking them and have made it clear that we were not going to be a part of my grandson’s life. It breaks my heart to hear people talk about my grandchild and say complimentary things about him and have to stand there and smile in the face of this mess. My job revolves around children, I feel like I have to protect my reputation and can not believe that my son will go along with this crap. My daughter in law’s treatment of me I can handle it is the way she has treated my mother and grandmother that hurts me most. They have gotten to see him for a few minutes one time.It breaks my heart, as they both do not have the capasity to understand it all. Most of the time I just pretend my son lives far off and dont’ dwell on it. What can I say to these people who keep bringing the subject of my grandchild up? I have to look at her family regularly and wonder how they can live with theirselves as they disgust me. I am done trying. Which is thier choice not mine. I am tired of leaving gifts in trashbags tied to car doors, crying on holiday events, and wondering when I see other children my grandchild’s age accomplishing skills if he can do that too. I have decided to buy savings bonds for holidays and events in the future. I wish there was a magic eraser somewhere for this.  God knows I have tried.  I am desperate and die a little inside each day. ANy suggestions.. I have tried the leave it alone approach and its not working.. I suppose nothing will at this point. J.

Answer: Dear J.: I want to invite you to come over to my Web-forum. You will find us at: www.WiseWomenUnite.com . Your question is the one most often asked here. The circumstances differ but the underlying premise remains the same; a girlfriend’s or daughter in law’s family takes over a much-loved son. I have created a community where understanding, dialogue and support can promote healing for the families left behind. Sometime it comes with acceptance and at other times there is resolution… but whatever transpires, they are no longer alone with the overwhelming loss.

Many of our pre-adult (and still very immature) children make adult choices and spend the rest of their lives paying the price. We set boundaries and they refuse to respect our wisdom. From there it often goes from bad to worse. Our help isn’t accepted and letting go seems impossible.

The situation you describe is heartbreaking. Your DIL was the victim of abuse and apathy…and now your son has become her victim and can’t break away.  Her family of origin that let her down so terribly…was selected by your son as a great improvement over you because he was too young (and besotted) to see the overview. Now, yet another generation is being factored in.

When neighbors and acquaintances notice and remark about it out of curiosity and concern, (to give them the benefit of the doubt.)…I would tell them I simply don’t know and am as confused by it as they are. It’s an honest answer.

Because the circumstances are so tenuous, I wouldn’t take a stand and oppose them on anything. It will just be used against you…like your insisting that your gifts be opened at the shower. It was their shower. They get to make up the rules, however bizarre. You deserve so much better. I know that and so do you.  Blessings, Luise

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