Question: Dear Luise: I am 63 years old and our only son is getting married September 27/09. It took 11 years and a lot of medical difficulties for us to have him. Our son is now 29. Our son met his future wife 5 years ago. From day one she has wanted nothing to do with our family. My son tells me she has issues with her step mom, and her father and mother. I have tried to make her feel like a part of our family but she said she feels smothered and is not used to that kind of attention. My son doesn’t stand up for us at all. She comes to our home and ignores us and whenever we are at a family gathering, she totally acts like we aren’t there. He has already moved in with her and I am having such a hard time with that, for one very important reason…I feel it is morally wrong; what he is doing. Just because 70% of couples today move in with each other doesn’t make it right. He has changed so much but through the Grace of God I have made it this far. I feel like I have to walk on egg shells as I don’t want to lose my son. She has totally refused to let me partake in any part of the wedding. I had asked her if I could go with her to see what wedding dress she chose, or maybe go with them when they find the place they have chosen for their reception, or maybe my husband and I could do the rehearsal dinner at her favorite restaurant and to all those questions her reply was “I don’t think so.” So you see I not only have to deal with the empty nest syndrome, it goes way beyond that. Thanks for listening. N.
Answer: Dear N.: There is a very fine line between trying to teach our children to follow our own belief systems and morals…and respecting their choices when they become adults. We teach them what we feel is the best path to follow and then some stay on it and some don’t.
I don’t know where you would be with your future DIL, if you hadn’t made it clear that you didn’t approve of their moving in together, but you are in hot water now. She had already taken a dislike to you…but originally that was all about her, not you. She apparently thought you came on too strong and doubted your sincerity, when you were just being you, which was warm and welcoming.
My guess is that on top of all of that, she has since taken your disapproval of her morals as your disapproval of her. She may also think you blame her for your son’s fall from grace…when he’s actually nearing 30 and long past any concept of leaving the nest. Remember, all of this is a guessing game. We only know that she has her back up and he has disappointed you…but they probably go together. By now, do you wish he had picked someone else? If so, she knows that.
It looks to me like she may be trying to get even by ignoring you at gatherings and leaving you out of all of the fun of preparing for their approaching marriage. This does not bode well when you are naturally looking forward to having a relationship with future grandchildren
Your son is doing what most sons do in similar circumstance; honoring his new, number one priority…her.
I don’t know if it will work or not, but before you get totally shut out of their lives, I would apologize. You have to get to the place where you mean it sincerely and that may not be easy to do, but you have been judgmental about their choices and may have showered her with attention when she wanted to be left alone. You need to let them both know that you have realized that their choices and preferences are theirs to make and yours to respect. I know it isn’t fair and she has been awful to you, but it’s the only way I know of to keep the door open. There may never be any warmth or friendship between you and your future DIL but you can at least aim for better tolerance.
Our children become adults slowly, not overnight. They often think they are a lot farther into the process than they actually are and it is extremely hard to watch for most of us. None-the-less, it is their process. We are done. They leave and we watch and hope…and many of us pray a lot.
I would like to also suggest that you bring your issues over to my web-Forum. There are sensitive and understanding women there who offer each other wonderful support. The URL is:http://www.motherinlawsunite.com It isn’t a DIL bashing site, it’s about resolution. Blessings, Luise