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A new inquiry re ex-DIL re holidays and honesty

(46 Posts)
Nanamar Sun 25-Feb-24 14:22:00

Thank you for all your responses to my previous post. I thought I’d generate a new one about this related but specific issue. Now that my ex-DIL has decided to move out of the home we’ve been sharing and take DGS with her, she is making a concerted effort to take him away, for example, for all day outings on one of the weekend days, keep him in her quarters most of the day, etc. All of which she has every right to do of course. And I think she’s trying to prep DGS that life with just mum will be fun and just fine. Sadly my DS’ clinical depression leaves him pretty lethargic on weekends since he has to pull himself together weekdays to do required activities and work toward his masters degree although he is able to manage periods during which he and/or both he and I do things with DS alone in our part of the house on the other day of the weekend; he also spends time with him after school on weekdays doing homework and such.. DGS knows nothing yet about his mum’s plans and she claims that she and DS will break the news together as they did when they divorced. When they divorced they didn’t use an attorney but the paperwork they do have specifies joint custody. My concern is that that may not be legally binding and may leave her free to shut my DS out if she chooses and he has no legal recourse. She has SAID that she would always want DS to have a presence in his son’s life but she tends to change her mind about things so who knows? One specific thing DS is concerned about is the typical holiday split for divorced children, i,e, dad gets Thanksgiving mum gets Christmas or whatever. Believe me I fully understand this is not my circus and not my monkeys but he has asked my advice because he believes she is going to dictate that type of arrangement and he would prefer at least spending part of a holiday all together. Most importantly he believes that she will want him to tell their son that he fully supports whatever decision she makes about this in order to present a united front (and frankly so that she doesn’t look like the “bad guy”) and he doesn’t want to lie to his son about how he really feels. There is a precedent for this because she recently took DGS for an out of state family visit and somehow DGS told his dad to come a few days later but then she informed DS that he wasn’t allowed to because he wasn’t invited and that DGS needs to understand divorced parents don’t vacation together plus she was quite annoyed that she was going to have to be the “bad guy” dictating that and wanted DS to say he couldn’t come because of work or something. I dislike and so does DS what we in the states call “lawyering up” and the only advice I could give him when he shared his concerns is that they have to negotiate and compromise. I agree it’s not really fair to expect him to endorse a decision that she’s unilaterally made but with just two people there is no tie-breaker. My guess is that if they asked DGS he’d be torn since he’d prefer his dad’s way but is very enmeshed with his mum and easily award by her.

Nanamar Sun 25-Feb-24 14:25:00

Sorry for typo I meant easily swayed by his mum.

Oopsadaisy1 Sun 25-Feb-24 14:39:27

It would be very unfair to ask your GS who he wants to live with, he is of an age when his mother would probably get custody and he is unlikely to be asked his opinion in court.

I think that your son definitely should ‘lawyer up’ or at least have a chat to a lawyer to see where he stands with custody if your DIL moves away.

Glorianny Sun 25-Feb-24 14:47:05

Sorry but your son just has to keep quiet and let things proceed. It isn't fair to inflict on a child anything which creates conflict for them between their parents. And yes your DIL may be doing exactly that, but that doesn't make it right. My divorce many years ago was entirely my exes fault, but I didn't tell my kids that. My DS was in a similar position to yours, but he has never told the children it was all their mum's doing. Children may work things out when they get older but it should never come from their parent. It's hard enough for them to accept that the people who love them most don't love each other, attributing blame just makes things harder.

crazyH Sun 25-Feb-24 14:48:43

I think the OP is in the USA -I suppose it’s different there. Over here, I don’t think they ask the child’s opinion. I think it’s unfair to put the child in that position.

Glorianny Sun 25-Feb-24 14:50:25

Oh and yes your DIL may well dictate things when the child is small, but children grow up and things can change. It does mean your DS will have to stick at things though. It is a very difficult time and his health problems will make things harder for him. I hope he manages to cope with everything.

Grandmabatty Sun 25-Feb-24 14:52:51

I don't think it's healthy to expect to do 'family' occasions once separated. It will confuse your dgs. It might be different if the separation was very amicable but this doesn't sound like that. It seems that your son has opted out of parenting at the weekend so I don't blame your exdil for doing her own thing. I appreciate he isn't well, but you make a lot of excuses for him. There's a lot of "my son believes she will" when actually nothing has been said or discussed between them. My advice would be to tell your son that you are keeping out of it.

OurKid1 Sun 25-Feb-24 14:56:42

The fact that they are getting divorced means that it seems entirely right that the mum should move out and, given the child's age, that he should go with her. At present it seems as if he spends a reasonable amount of time both with her alone and with you and/or his dad. I realise that you are understandably on your son's 'side', but I can't honestly see that the mum is doing anything wrong. Yes, you are doubting her motive in keeping her son in her 'quarters', but surely if you weren't all living in one building, that would be the case anyway. Also, if she were to write into GN, couldn't she make the same deduction - i.e. that you were keeping her son to yourself when he spends time with you or his dad. My suggestion is that you should do as your ex-DIL has said and leave things to her and your son.

MissAdventure Sun 25-Feb-24 15:11:25

I don't think its sensible to imagine what might happen, and what your daughter in law may or may not do in the future.
Best to deal with any situations as and if they arise

I also think your daughter in law is right to start loosening the ties that come with being part of a couple.

Germanshepherdsmum Sun 25-Feb-24 16:17:27

Very sound advice MissA.

Nanamar Sun 25-Feb-24 16:50:34

The thing is that the divorce has been amicable all along. They’ve been divorced since 2020 and when DH passed in 2021 we three adults made an active decision to buy one home with a separate dwelling for either ex-DIL or DS and it ended up making more sense for her to reside in the addition especially since she works from home. Nor do they argue now. The biggest disagreement seems to be their difference in how holidays or trips should be conducted. And this shift in her thinking is, as I have said, only recently shared though she’s likely been thinking of it for awhile. I agree it’s not right to ask DGS- way too young and inappropriate. I just meant that he’d probably like us all together as we have been doing all this time but divorce brings huge changes. This one just postponed a lot of them. I don’t know why this is a big issue with DS but I think it sticks in his craw to do what he considers lie to his son.

MissAdventure Sun 25-Feb-24 17:19:33

Well, he could always make himself busy on that day, then it isn't a lie.

Germanshepherdsmum Sun 25-Feb-24 17:25:02

It really doesn’t seem normal for divorced couples to be spending their holidays together. They have just been postponing the time when reality hits for their child. That time does, unfortunately, have to come.

ExDancer Sun 25-Feb-24 17:27:33

So what does the boy usually do over the weekend? Nothing?

NotSpaghetti Sun 25-Feb-24 17:39:30

I am not divorced but don't believe having "divorced family Christmas" for example is at all a good idea and I'd go as far as to say that it sounds unreasonable once the households are split.

I think she has been very tolerant so far as she is still in such close proximity to your son (and you).

I think if the stumbling block for your son is "shared Christmas " as a mother I'd be wanting to explain to him how unlikely and unusual that would be so that he doesn't focus on such a thing and stress himself out about it.

Good luck

LOUISA1523 Sun 25-Feb-24 18:57:02


It really doesn’t seem normal for divorced couples to be spending their holidays together. They have just been postponing the time when reality hits for their child. That time does, unfortunately, have to come.

This is exactly what I was going to post

pascal30 Sun 25-Feb-24 19:10:26

I would get a proper legal arrangement for custody and access. I imagine your exDL is thinking of having another relationship in the future and then you would need to deal with another male figure in your GS's life.. Just be open and honest with your GS.. It is not normal to expect to spend family time together if your DIL wants to rebuild her life. and there is no reason why you need to be making decisions on your sons behalf.. I think you are much too over involved in their lives and should step back

Sago Sun 25-Feb-24 19:25:02

No one will move on with the current arrangement.
Allow your DIL to take the lead, it is amazing she has tolerated the living arrangements for so long.
I think if you can all move on the situation will become easier.

Nanamar Sun 25-Feb-24 19:55:41

pascal30 while I feel I’m being a bit lectured to I understand all of your points and it is good and sound advice. When they all have been primarily living on my dime for the past three years and when we’ve been functioning as a unit of three adults and one child it is a little harder to step away, but the $$ I’ve spent has never had strings attached in my mind. This whole idea may have been a mistake from the beginning but it was financially necessary

65KL Sun 25-Feb-24 20:15:10

Get your son to get some legal advice , so he at least knows his rights in relation to custody. While things have been friendly till now (and hopefully into the future) things are going to change .
Never ask child where he wants to live - what a awful choice for a child who loves both his parents.

NotSpaghetti Sun 25-Feb-24 22:57:33

Nanamar I think many of us thought you were all 3 contributing to the house. I'm sure I read that somehow..
I had no idea that you were financing the other two and the child..

If they are not contributing then if the mum moves out with your grandchild I suppose it will actually be cheaper for you and maybe allow you to keep the property.

When they all have been primarily living on my dime for the past three years...

welbeck Sun 25-Feb-24 22:58:36

you need to butt out of this.
your antipathy towards your GS's mother is obvious in this and previous thread.
you cannot control a mother's relationship with her child.
nor should you try.

Nanamar Sun 25-Feb-24 23:22:35

To be completely accurate: four years ago DH and I paid their rent for a year. The next two years they lived in a house that DH and I purchased for them with cash and we received a minimal amount of $ from them as a type of rent. After DH died we sold that house and mine and we moved here to an apartment for six months while house-hunting and I paid the rent. This house has our three names on the title but I pay 85% of the mortgage plus all of the other costs - insurance, maintenance, utilities, etc. I won’t go into why neither one of them has been or is solvent but that’s the situation. I actually do not feel antipathy toward her wellbeck nor do I want to control her relationship with DGS; I understand her reasoning, I just wish I’d had more warning. While I completely understand that she is calling the shots and I’ve told her that - it’s not easy for DS and I to pretend that this was a decision made by all of us at this time because it wasn’t. But he and I know doing anything else will jeopardize his relationship with her and his access and mine to DGS which is his priority and mine. And again, yes it would be wrong to ask DGS what he wants. Finally yes moving to a smaller home will save me money so that’s the silver lining. Yes I will butt out of whatever they agree upon going forward while continuing to be involved financially with my son and myself because that’s another thing over which I have no choice at present.

Callistemon21 Sun 25-Feb-24 23:46:50

But thought yiu said your DIL lived with your DGS in a separate tiny home on your large property while you and your DS live in the large main house?

I just wish I’d had more warning
I thought you said they've been divorced since 2020

I meant easily swayed by his mum
🤔 Really, you must stay out of the mother/child relationship.

You and your son sound exceptionally close, perhaps being unable to cut the apron strings has been a big part of the problems you are encountering.

NotSpaghetti Sun 25-Feb-24 23:58:16

I am sorry that you have had this financial burden for some years. I can see that you have taken it on gladly (as it were) and also can see that even from the outside it does feel that you have only recently settled into the current arrangement and now it's all shuffling again. I expect it will feel quite annoying that it's happened so quickly.

As you primarily responsible for yourself (and your son just now) it's obviously a good idea for you and him to see a lawyer - maybe separately - to just get a handle on the situation. It may be that things can continue to be amicable- I do hope so - and that the legals can be easy.

I fear I'm not being very helpful - but if your son is worried about "family holidays" I'd definitely try to get him to see how unlikely that is.
It sounds to me that he may be struggling with the idea of change but you can at least reassure him that you are going to help him through it - after all, it is inevitable now.