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Difficult relationship with daughter-in-law

(75 Posts)
Rosie1950 Mon 20-Jun-22 04:37:23

I just came home after spending two weeks in the US with my son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. I have knoon my daughter-in-law for 14 years and I find her difficult to communicate with. While there I help out a lot with household chores and with the grandchildren. She barely talks with me. She goes out every day but never asks me to join her and doesn’t say where she is going or when she will be back. I’ve never discussed this with her as I honestly don’t know how to handle it but I’m at the point where I don’t want to visit anymore but still want to have a relationship with my grandchildren

Mandrake Mon 20-Jun-22 04:49:10

Maybe she doesn't like you helping so much? It irritates the heck out of me when my mother tries to take over my house. It's damaged our relationship.

Have you ever invited your DIL to go do something with you with or without the kids?

Mandrake Mon 20-Jun-22 04:50:55

Just to add, I'm sure you're just being helpful rather than taking over the house. It just might not feel like that to your DIL.

lemsip Mon 20-Jun-22 05:00:34

how often do you visit......if it's a first visit then I would expect dil and son to show you around......subsequent ones....she can get on with her life and you can enjoy your visit any way you want.....they don't have to look after your day.

Rosie1950 Mon 20-Jun-22 05:19:10

Like I said I have known her for 14 years. I try and get down there once a year. I try to be helpful when I go as I know how busy a house can be with young children and she has no family or support network there. I also don’t expect them to look after my day. My son works from home so when she goes out I am usually left with the grandchildren, I think it would be a common courtesy to at least let me know how long she will be gone so I know whether to prepare meals when she is gone.

Rosie1950 Mon 20-Jun-22 05:26:00

I’m looking for practical solutions, not criticism

vegansrock Mon 20-Jun-22 05:50:51

Could you not ask - “ Do you want me to prepare lunch/ dinner/ supper/ whatever?”or “What time would you like to eat?” or “Would you like me to cook tonight?” Or when eating together ( if that happens) engage in friendly conversation about each other’s day? Include your son in these questions/conversations as he’s a parent too. Do the parents just disappear leaving you with the children without asking or leaving no instructions? I find this a bit odd- could you ask your son for more certainty? If all else fails, maybe stay in an airbnb or hotel on your visits.

Rosie1950 Mon 20-Jun-22 06:13:52

I ask if she would like me to cook but she prefers to cook so I do the clean-up. They also order in a lot. She is the one who disappears, my son works from home and he can’t be disturbed while working. It’s an awkward situation.

notgran Mon 20-Jun-22 06:21:04

I know you don't want criticism just practical solutions. My practical solution would be for you to write down a list of what you want and don't want out of the relationship with your son and family. Then reflect on the list and decide what you are prepared to give up or not. You and your daughter in law seem to have difficulty communicating which isn't a criticism just my thoughts on the information you have so far communicated. Best of luck.

pearl79 Mon 20-Jun-22 06:22:02

What an impossible situation for you. You help out in their home, but maybe she doesn't like it but doesn't know how to ask you not to. You'd like her to communicate a little, but what do you say to her? Does she chat with everyone else, or is she a very quiet person? Do the grandchildren ever say anything about it?
Maybe you could start unwinding those 14 years. Ask her small questions, about her life and about your help. Would you like me to wash up? Shall I put the washing on? Give her an opportunity to say yes please or no thank you.
We made you supper because we weren't sure when you'd be back. It's in the fridge, would you like me to warm it up for you? I'd like to take the children out as it's such a lovely day. Is that OK with you/would you like to come?
All perhaps sprinkled with, I do love your skirt. That meal was amazing, you're a brilliant cook.

If you get nowhere, no responses, then maybe time to accept that she doesn't want to communicate with you and stop trying. Just do what you want to while you're there, but make sure you stay open and ready for if/when she changes her mind.

Mandrake Mon 20-Jun-22 07:10:58

I didn't mean any criticism by my previous posts, I was offering a different perspective from the other side. My mother will tell you she wants to be helpful and loves to say how helpful she is but I hate it. I don't need help and don't want so much of it. In the end I had to be quite harsh to get her to stop and it took a long time. Remember, it's not help if it's not wanted. This isn't a criticism, just intended to get you to consider that there might be another side and DIL might not find it at all helpful.

paddyann54 Mon 20-Jun-22 11:19:12

Personally I would hate my MIL to just do housework or cook in my home.Back in the day she would bring her iron and ironing board and we would iron together if I had loads but anything else is out of bounds.
It smacks of criticism when someone swoops into your home and starts cleaning .Its not pleasant .IF she wants help I'm sure she would ask ,please dont undermine her by going it alone,no wonder she walks out .I would too

Redhead56 Mon 20-Jun-22 11:20:38

I would have to ask questions other wise I would be irritated by the lack of communication. Why is your son not to be disturbed at all he must have breaks while he is working. If your DIL does not work why does she go out everyday surely that’s not an unfair question to ask.
When you are not there who looks after the grandchildren? Do your son and his wife actually get on and communicate with each other. It’s sounds as if you are just there so the wife can do her own thing it’s not really enjoyable for you.
A sit down and talk is long over due and you need to stop treading on egg shells. Your not being critical you are visiting them and you have valid points about your time there. I know you obviously enjoy your grandchildren but your son and DIL appear to treat you like an au pair.

Hithere Mon 20-Jun-22 14:16:20

2 weeks is a long time to be a guest at a home

I feel your son failed you- he should have taken care of you and make sure you were ok

Working from home is not enough good reason - doesnt be have breaks?
So many of us in the US work from home now, it doesn't mean the outside world doesn't exist.
Also, if he was so unavailable to be there for you, it was not a good time for a visit

As for your dil telling you when she would be back or not inviting you- this visit was for your benefit and she actually made you a favour by leaving you alone with her kids.

Not telling you when she would be back - why would she? You are not her parent.

Why invite you? Being friends is not a requirement between mil and dil

Next visit, I highly recommend a hotel and your son being in charge of your visit.

Baggs Mon 20-Jun-22 14:31:37

I agree with Hithere's comment that two weeks is a long time for a visit. Even my completely sociable and socially skilled sister-in-law found it difficult when my mum visited them for three weeks at a time. She 'managed' the stress it caused her by telling my brother that she needed to go out alone (to see friends, for instance) at weekends so he would be in sole charge of entertaining our mother.
Mum never knew the stress she caused because my sil is so nice.

Another thought that has crossed my mind with regard to the OP's situation is that some people – at the other end of the sociability scale from my sil, if you like – find communications with people they don't know very well very hard. This need not be a reflection on the OP but it might be something she just needs to accept.

Baggs Mon 20-Jun-22 14:36:23

It could also be simply that the OP’s dil doesn’t want much of a relationship with her mil, another thing the OP might just need to accept.

Serendipity22 Mon 20-Jun-22 14:40:52

You say she has no family help? Why is that? There maybe a rift in the family which is manifesting itself to be as the situation is today, what i am trying to say is that laying underneath what you actually see, maybe trouble that is bothering her. Saying that, I really think its rude to not communicate more to you BUT no one knows the full picture. I believe that there is a reason for everything, some people appear rude but I ask myself why? what is causing this? I mean has she always been this way? Is the marriage a happy 1 ?? There maybe trouble there that you are unaware of .. x


Hithere Mon 20-Jun-22 15:02:43

How long have they been living in that location?

Not all families need family support to thrive

If they do not family nearby, it must have been extra hard for dil to accommodate your help.

Whether they have or not support system there - it is nothing for you to worry, they clearly manage when you are not there, right?

Not all young families are the same, some are busier than others, different priorizarions, etc
It is daily life for young families and they cope.

Please do not bring anything to your son.
Your visit was successful - you spent with the gc - mission accomplished

Where do dil and son stand in the totem pole of visits? It is sad grandparents just want to see the gc ignoring the parents
Trust me, the parents realize they are chopped liver and resent this attitude

Elizabeth27 Mon 20-Jun-22 15:51:55

Maybe she thinks you would want to spend time with your son and grandchildren without her. Your son chose her as his wife she did not choose to have you as a friend. It is only 2 weeks a year, I would not say anything in case it causes a rift.

tickingbird Mon 20-Jun-22 15:59:55

DIL sounds pretty rude to me. Common courtesy to say when you expect to get home. More than that I don’t know as maybe she doesn’t want you there. What age are the gc?

VioletSky Mon 20-Jun-22 16:11:39

I agree it is wrong of her to just leave without saying so or how long she will be.... Does that always happen?

Make sure you are communicating with her well and not doing things around the house she would rather do herself like cleaning as she may feel judged.

Enjoy your time over there, DIL may struggle with things you dont know about and be trying to manage that during a long stay.

Hithere Mon 20-Jun-22 16:22:46

Maybe she told her husband?

This is another case of dil getting all the blame and sons having no role or responsibility in this scenario

VioletSky Mon 20-Jun-22 16:25:25

It definitely could be that she tells husband or that usually he does some childcare in thd day but doesnt sith mun around to do it

TillyTrotter Mon 20-Jun-22 16:35:30

Rosie1950 my heart goes out to you. You sound a lovely person.
It is difficult sometimes to bridge the generation gap and I’m afraid I have no answers. 💕

PoppyBlue Mon 20-Jun-22 17:11:41

Could you ask your son to book time off next time you visit?