My oldest son and his wife have been married for almost 20 years. They have one child (my only grandchild), a six year old boy. I have three sons total but he is the only one married and living nearby. We lived an hour away until about a year ago when we moved within 15 minutes. The move was for my husband's job but I am certainly happy to be closer to my grandson.
I have never had a close relationship with my DIL although I have tried over the years. She seems to have contentious relationships with almost everyone including her sister with whom she has had physical confrontations to the point of requiring stitches and is often at odds with her parents. She appears to be the type of person that gets satisfaction out of a knock-down drag-out fight followed by making up. I just don't and can't operate that way. I avoid her as much as I can. She has cost me friends by getting into fights with them on social media and everyone in my family of origin just cringes when they know she will be at any event. My son tells me that she is crazy and that, as soon as their son is old enough to choose his own custodial parent, they will divorce. Of course, I also see him be very nice and accommodating and to end phone calls with "I love you". I told him the other day that that is very confusing to me but that it is his business, that I am here if he needs me but I won't interfere.
Here are some examples of the interaction between my DIL and myself. When the grandson was 3, he told me that he wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up and wanted to go to the moon. Then he pointed at me and said, "And I want you to go with me, Grandma." His mother said, "Well, she'll be dead by then." She never has a kind word to say to me and has a great deal of resentment for any time I try to spend with my son, even if we do something like meet for coffee in honor of my birthday. In late December, she physically attacked my son, scratching and hitting him to the point that he had to wear turtlenecks for the next several days to work. She also attacked him last September. Those are just the two times I know about. After the last attack, she called me crying because he was upset about it, didn't understand that she felt out of control, and didn't sympathize with her that she was upset it happened. She said they were having a nice weekend and she just flipped out. I was supportive and calm, advising her to see her doctor. That was my behavior toward her, but inside I am incredibly disturbed, angry, and worried about my son and grandson. I found out that she had gotten off her thyroid medication over Christmas. She asked me to accompany her to a counselor's appointment in February which I quickly agreed to in the hope that we'd have a more positive relationship. She spent the hour laying out rules for how I was supposed to act. The counselor had to call her down twice for being so contemptuous toward me and I guess the light came on for me in the session -- no matter how nice, helpful, supportive I try to be, she feels nothing but contempt toward me. My son told me last week that she has been asking him to minimize contact with me because it stresses her out. He also told me that when the three of them walk anywhere together, she insists my son be in the middle because their child should not come between them. That was disturbing to me. And I'll add that the vast majority of her conversations with me are nothing more than her bitching about my son. I HATE that and have tried to get her to stop but she won't. She screams and fights with my son in front of my grandson and I am really worried about him.
Bottom line and questions: Is this the way some people act in families and I have just been too sheltered? My son tells me there is nothing I can do to please her so I shouldn't try but I see myself being edged out of the grandson's life more and more so, until the counselor's session, I kept trying. I don't know how to be able to spend time with my grandson without having to spend time with her. And, honestly, if I asked my son to come over without her, I would fully expect him to say that if she isn't welcome, he won't come over either. He probably wouldn't do that but, on some level, I would respect him if he did. I am worried about my grandson. I feel like giving up but my son tells me the grandson often begs to come spend time at my house (without his parents) so I know he loves his Grandma despite what he might hear about me from his mother. Advice for dealing with a difficult DIL?
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