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Husband and DIL don’t get along so we don’t visit our son or grandchildren

(83 Posts)
Needadvice Fri 21-Apr-23 00:41:15

I need advice on this situation. My son and his wife have been married for 15/years. Our DIY has always been confrontational with both of us. She manufactures crises and becomes hysterical, shouting at us in front of the grandchildren and accusing us of things we haven’t done. When I suggest we discuss things away from the children she says that her children need to know everything. For instance, we had been playing with two of the children out in the yard. When we came in the house, she came raging down from upstairs calling us names saying that we had hit our 3 year old grandson, which we had not. There was no talking to her. In another example, they were visiting our home for Christmas and I was in the kitchen talking to one of the grandchildren when my son came raging into the kitchen asking me what in the name of god I had given to the children to eat! I had no idea what he was talking about! I had given them some noodles (they have no allergies). She had told him something that had scared him. Later, at Christmas dinner, she attacked me and made me cry. More recently, her attacks have focused on my husband, who now wants nothing to do with her. During our latest visit, she twisted something he said into an attack on her weight (she is not overweight), and went around her house, in front of the children wailing dramatically and saying that their grandfather had said she was fat. When the youngest went to sit with her grandfather, she sent the oldest grandchild to take the youngest away. My husband was so hurt by that. We haven’t visited them now for two years. Our son calls regularly, but our DIY has no contact with us. I am upset by this and trying to find a solution. The oldest grandchild is 15, the middle child is 13, and the youngest is 7. Should I begin having direct contact with the children? Thank you for any suggestions. We do not live nearby.

Hithere Fri 21-Apr-23 01:00:14

There is clear conflict with your son's family - sorry to see that

Answering your question - no, as long as the kids are minors, your contact to them has to go through their parents

lyleLyle Fri 21-Apr-23 11:55:00

What Hithere said. Your relationship with your grandchild goes through their parents right now. When they are of age, they can decide which independent relationships they have. Circumventing parents of minors is not a luxury even a grandparent possesses.

Additionally OP, you mention little of your son. What you do mention of him holds his wife responsible for his behavior that you deemed unreasonable. That is always a mistake. All of you are adults. Only each individual is responsible for his or her own behavior and words. Doesn’t seem like anyone in your post actually holds themselves accountable. Your DIL, as you describe it, behaves erratically in front of the children when she is upset. Nothing you or your husband say is ever as offensive as the receiving party deems it. (Why would either you be commenting on her weight in any capacity, let alone your husband?) You mentioned vague incidents in which she “attacks” and accuses you, but never the specifics so that an objective opinion can be formed on your behavior. This makes me suspect that you may know you’ve also misstepped with her.

What actionable steps did you all take to help alleviate the tension in your family? Sounds like family counseling would benefit you all greatly. 15 years is a lot of time for such dysfunction. And it’s really hard to believe that only one person is the problem, even with your post. Approach your son about reconciliation through the help of a professional. You and your husband try to remain civil for the sake of maintaining contact with your grandchildren.

Smileless2012 Fri 21-Apr-23 13:19:38

Hello Needadvice. Does your son bring the children with him when he comes to visit? If he does you are still able to maintain a relationship with them. If not, then ask him if and when you'll be seeing them again.

I hope that you are seeing the GC. It's a positive that your son continues to visit and I hope you can take some comfort in that as parents can and do lose their AC and GC, because of the AC's partner's behaviour and attitude toward their in laws.

grandtanteJE65 Fri 21-Apr-23 13:38:47

Try to keep some kind of relationship going with your son, if that is possible.

To me it sounds as if he is influenced by his wife's views and unlikely to listen to you.

Judging by your description your daughter-in-law has serious mental health problems, so I doubt anything you say or do now will change her attitude towards you and your husband.

My DIL did once allege that we had slapped her 13 year old son (from a former relationship). We had not done so, and our son told her that he found it extremely hard to believe that either of us would have done so, so the matter ended there.

Had it not, we would have told them that their son could no longer visit us without both his parents.

Your situation is clearly different, but in your place I would fall in with my husband's wishes and have nothing to do with your son and his family until things change.

Needadvice Fri 21-Apr-23 16:51:39

@LyleLyle Thank you for your comments. To clarify the three examples. In the first two, neither of us had hit the 3 year old, and I had only given the children little pieces of cold noodles. In the third example, my DIL, who had been a ballerina in her teens, referred to having ripped her Achilles tendon last year while doing a ballet maneuver. My husband said that she should probably be more careful as she is no longer 18. There was no reference to her weight.

Needadvice Fri 21-Apr-23 16:54:23

He only visited once with one grandchild, when my husband was undergoing surgery.

Needadvice Fri 21-Apr-23 16:57:41

I’ve read that some grandparents take grandchildren on trips, with their parents permission. Is that an idea?

NotSpaghetti Fri 21-Apr-23 17:02:17

No no no needadvice- I'm sure that won't be allowed. You need to have a better relationship with your son and daughter-in-law I think before they will trust you with their precious children!

Concentrate on the adult relationships and then the relationships with the children will follow.

Good luck.

VioletSky Fri 21-Apr-23 17:03:41

How is your relationship with your son?

Visgir1 Fri 21-Apr-23 17:19:16

She sound very needy, and wants to be centre of attention in my view.
Your son surly must know, she's a bit "highly strung"? makes me wonder what their relationship is really is like?

Lots of good advise on here, but I can't see professional help, helping she won't turn up to the session!

You must maintain contact with your son, and try and find out carefully what the problem is.
Best of luck.

Hithere Fri 21-Apr-23 17:21:24

"I’ve read that some grandparents take grandchildren on trips, with their parents permission. Is that an idea?"

Please stop trying to bypass the parents to have access to the kids

In your case, it is a horrible idea

Needadvice Fri 21-Apr-23 17:28:36

Our son only visited once with one grandchild, when my husband was undergoing surgery. Last May I went to a party they had organized for our granddaughter’s 15 birthday. My DIL was civil but not warm, though I helped her and complemented her. My son was loving. The grandchildren were with friends, having fun. My husband could not go as he was recovering from his back operation. She did not attack or make a scene. Our younger son and his wife were there, too, and our DIL was very affectionate to them.

VioletSky Fri 21-Apr-23 17:43:08


Is it not seem a bit strange to you that a social visit with DIL went really well without your husband there?

welbeck Fri 21-Apr-23 17:55:06

that comment by your husband about her not being 18 anymore was a bit risky.
although it didn't mention weight gain, it implied it, along with declining fitness and flexibility.
it's the kind of comment that could be made among good friends, but knowing the tense atmosphere with DIL, it was best avoided.
maybe your husband needs to be more reserved in her company.
it's a difficult situation, but agree with others that you cannot try to have dealing with GC apart from their parents.
that would lead to total alienation, i reckon.

Hithere Fri 21-Apr-23 18:17:28

In the first example, were you requested on not giving any food to the kids?

I would ask the parents first before giving any food to any kid that I am not parenting, allergies or not

The comment about not being 18 - your dh is at fault
It was inappropriate of him to comment on that

Your dil clearly doesn't like your dh and of course she would not want her kids close to him - she seems to be protecting them

You have been living with your dh for many many years and you may have developed a blind eye to his faults, or tolerating what other person thinks is not tolerable

Your dil grew up in a different background - she doesn't see your dh in the same light you see your dh

Your son is very much absent in your comments, except that he doesn't seem to have a good relationship with his father either

Needadvice Fri 21-Apr-23 21:03:06

The incident with the food was at my house during Thanksgiving as I was cleaning up. I agree that my husbands comment about my DIL not being 18 could have been hurtful, but the drama! On and on in front of the kids! Yes, she clearly doesn’t like him. The feeling is now mutual.

VioletSky Fri 21-Apr-23 21:13:31

I think you may have a husband problem

Hithere Fri 21-Apr-23 21:20:58

If they haven't got along know many years- the "dramatic reaction" on her part may be justified

Blaming her for her reaction looks bad on your part and excusing your husband's part in this

Have you heard of a thousand papercuts?

She is civil and patient enough to share significant events with you and your dh, despite the issues you have and there is no 1 kind word for her in your posts

No wonder they pushed back from the relationship with you

Needadvice Fri 21-Apr-23 21:35:07

You all have been so helpful. I feel I need to give you more background. When I met my husband he was divorced with a 1 1/2 year old. The son I refer to. This was in Central America. His son’s biological mother is an American raised in Central America. She had their son, plus another from an earlier marriage. We were all in the same town in Central America. The biological mother was an alcoholic and drug addict. Although she had initiated their divorce, she was jealous of me and angry at my husband. We stayed in that town for years to make sure my husbands son was ok, but moved to the US without him when a civil war started. She would not let us take him. My husband flew back and forth and we had friends checking on him. She sent us bills for his care. Then, a friend called saying we needed to get him as things had gotten worse with his mother. My husband flew down, and got her permission, and brought him back. Since then, we raised him. He was about 4. We have had a happy home. He calls me his mom and I consider him my son. His biological mom used to call drunkenly for money but never to talk to him, she never sent him gifts or anything. Fortunately many years later, his biiological mother overcame her addictions and began seeing our son, DIL and her grandchildren. Our DIY is from the same Central American country, so they have that in common. I do not know what my sons biological mother has said to our DIL about my husband or me. I do know that her visits were at first very hard on my son, who had to have counseling in his teen years over the way he was treated by his biological mother, a young child healing her bruises after hard nights on the streets.. She has told him that she sees his father in him and doesn’t love him as much as she loves her other son. I believe their decision to move near where my sons biological mother has a condo was. influenced by my DIL. So…complex history.

Hithere Fri 21-Apr-23 21:55:08

So now you try to deflect the blame from you and your dh with this background that has little to do why he behaves like he does?

Hetty58 Fri 21-Apr-23 21:58:02

This reminds me so much of my mother's behaviour. She had MH issues and was always a drama queen. It's attention-seeking behaviour, related to a complete inability to be in the background, a burning need to be the centre of (your son's and the kids) attention.

Any slight, perceived threat or insult is magnified into a major disaster. She's ill and has limited control her behaviour or impulses.

Another similarity? She behaved well at the party - in public. Perhaps arrange to meet somewhere away from your homes, take a picnic, keep it casual - and set no 'leaving time' so there's the freedom, on both sides, to cut the meet up short if necessary.

Needadvice Fri 21-Apr-23 22:53:58

The point of my story, Hithere, is to explain that some of our DILs attitude could be influenced by my husbands ex-wife, not only my husbands behavior. Hetty58, I believe my DIL meets many of the criteria for a narcissist. Our son seems to still love us, and one of the children has been calling. So what now, other than not getting in touch with the children? Should I try to talk to our son about it? Ask my husband what he wants to do? Just leave it alone?

Hithere Fri 21-Apr-23 23:47:45

Gaslighting will not work, OP, good try!

Needadvice Sat 22-Apr-23 00:01:45

What? I don’t understand that.