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How can I be neutral between DS and DiL

(15 Posts)
EllaMary Sun 16-Jun-19 15:27:04

My son of 56 is married to a woman 25 yrs younger. They have 3 children aged 4,7 &8. He also has a 21yr old daughter from previous marriage. They seemed very happy until a year ago when DIL said my son was impatient and short tempered with the children, always shouting etc. I must admit some of that is true; but he’s always been this way, and is also a wonderful dad and has a fantastic sense of humour. I believe the age difference has caught up with DIL and she wants her freedom, and is using his fiery personality as an excuse. He flared up a couple of weeks ago and he has been banned from contacting his wife and is not allowed to go to the house, although no restrictions on seeing children. No violence was involved. He is absolutely devastated, keeps breaking down in tears. It is a toxic situation that I am trying to cope with - DS is upset that I am friendly with DIL - and there are a lot of things I could say to her, but the children are my priority. Any advice/help would be appreciated!

stella1949 Sun 16-Jun-19 15:35:28

If he has been been banned from contacting her or going to the house, it sounds more severe than just a "fiery personality" OP. I know he is your son but it does sound as if he has crossed the line.

I'd stay right out of it if you want to keep a relationship with your grandchildren - of course it's natural that we side with our own children but in a case like this you'll have to walk on eggshells .

Just provide a listening ear, but don't express any opinions. Good luck.

tanith Sun 16-Jun-19 15:40:10

It’s never easy when our grown up children have marriage problems but for the sake of your GC you are doing the right thing to stay on reasonable terms with your dil. You should explain this to your son and continue to stay out of their difficulties. You could be right about the age difference but if she really wants out of the marriage there is nothing anyone can do.
Be there for them all now and in the future.

mumofmadboys Sun 16-Jun-19 15:40:10

Try and be kind and understanding to both. Try not to pass any opinions. See what happens. Maybe things will improve and if you can keep neutral and not be on anyone's "side" all the better. Try and support the GC through it all. Hope things improve between your DS and DIL. Look after yourself too!

Liz46 Sun 16-Jun-19 15:40:34

One of our neighbours has three children and her mil helped every morning and after school. The couple split up but her mil is still constantly round there helping. Her son is banned from entering the house and when his mother answers the door when he collects the children, she does not let him in!

It obviously can be done but maybe not easily.

Starlady Sun 16-Jun-19 15:40:41

Oh, EllaMary, I'm so sorry this has happened to your DS' (dear son's) marriage and that you have to witness it. Please resist all temptation to say anything about this to either of them. I know it may be hard, but I strongly recommend that you be supportive of both and stay neutral. By that, I mean, let them vent, if they wish, and make some sympathetic noises if you feel you need to, ("Oh dear," "I'm so sorry that happened," etc.), But don't speak against one to the other and don't argue ("But he has a great sense of humor!") and don't give out advice.

My guess is you really don't know everything that's going on between them, anyhow. They are each going to tell the story in a way to make themselves look better and the other one worse. So better, IMO, not to get in the middle.

As you say, "the children are (your) priority." Antagonize either parent and it could affect your relationship w/ the kids. Not only would that hurt you, but also, it would make things even harder on the children, IMO. They're lives are being disrupted enough.

I understand DS' complaint about your being friendly w/ DIL, however. I'm not sure what you mean by "friendly" though. If you just mean that you're pleasant when you see/speak to her, perhaps you could explain you're doing this for the kids' sake and to avoid being CO (cut off) from them. If you mean you're her "pal," doing lunch, etc. together, that may have to stop out of loyalty to DS. Not, however, if it will hurt your relationship w/ the GC.

M0nica Sun 16-Jun-19 15:45:05

Nothing to do with you. Keep out of it and let them solve these problem themselves. Your involvement will only make it worse for you, for them and for your grandchildren.

trisher Sun 16-Jun-19 15:46:19

EllaMary if he is breaking down in tears he needs to seek help. He may need counselling or other help to get him through, try to get him to see someone.
When you say he is banned has there been legal action or is it his wife who has done this?
If the are both willing they could go to Relate.
Try to reassure him that you are not choosing the DIL but just want to keep in contact for DCs sakes.
Good Luck

Namsnanny Sun 16-Jun-19 15:55:19

You seem to be handling the situation quite well so far.
I think most people have advised stay neutral, have no comments and as you said keep the children as your priority.
Added to that can you do something nice for yieself? It takes its toll being piggy in the middle.
Good luck shamrockflowers

paddyann Sun 16-Jun-19 16:00:43

if he's banned from the house its for a reason,his shouting and bad temper around the children is not good and even if "he's always been like that" he needs to learn to curb his behaviour around small children.There is obviously more to it if its been ongoing and I can understand his wife having issues with him .He cant decide how you treat your DIL though ,he's made a mess and he must take the consequences but its up to you when you see and speak to the mother of your gc not him.

EllaMary Sun 16-Jun-19 16:25:48

Thank you so much ladies - yes you are right, I must stay out of their squabbles as best I can. And yes I am more than “friendly”) with DIL, I collect kids from school and take them swimming (she works 4 days a week) and I’m also sleeping over one night next week as the kids off school.
I am 77 and my eldest grandchild is 32 with kids of her own - I really can do without all this hassle, think I’ll go away for a week with DH - if I can persuade him! Many thanks to all.

Starlady Mon 17-Jun-19 10:38:02

Ok, I can see why DS is objecting. But he needs to understand this is more about the GC and your relationship w/ them than it is about DIL.

Have you always collected the kids from school and taken them swimming? If so, then how does he think they'd feel if you suddenly stopped? Their world just came apart. I'm sure they can use some "normalcy."

grandtanteJE65 Tue 18-Jun-19 13:58:13

EllaMay, I realise he is your son, but no-one should shout at children and honestly, if a man of 56 hasn't learnt to control his temper, he never will, so I see your DIL's point of view.

I think you should tell your son and DIL that you are happy to continue taking care of the children, but that you neither can, will or should advise them or be involved in their discussions and decisions.

Quote the old proverb. No good has ever come of meddling between man and wife.

FarNorth Tue 18-Jun-19 14:23:28

Those are perfectly reasonable things for you to do with the DGCs, EllaMary, even staying overnight. You are doing that to help the children who must be very confused and upset.

Your DS should have no objection to you helping the DGC.
He should be putting effort into addressing the problems that brought about this situation.

Daisymae Tue 18-Jun-19 14:24:45

As has been said you do have a fine line to keep. It is quite possible to stay on good terms with both, for the sake of the grandchildren if nothing else. No one is really aware of what goes on behind closed doors but it would be a good idea for your son to seek help from his GP. Least said, soonest mended, seems to be a good motto.