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Building a Long-Distance Bond

Mar16

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesAmalah,

I’m sure at this point in your column you’ve answered dozens of questions about mothers-in-law and the complex relationships we have with them. And even though you see them all the time, I’m still going to ask for your help with some issues that I’m experiencing with my own mother-in-law.

Let me preface this by saying that my MIL is a very kind woman who has successfully raised three wonderful kids. She loves my 16 month old, E, very much. The problem is that she is also insecure. We live four hours away and MIL and her husband rarely travel to visit our family, which means she only sees E 4-6 times a year. When she does see E, it takes him a long time to warm up to her and he usually cries when she holds him or gets physically too close to him. As a result, she gets her feelings hurt. Whenever this happens, MIL will distance herself from E and focus on E’s cousin (six days older), M, who lives in the same town and who she watches several days a week.

If M is not around, we begin to hear about how intelligent, handsome, and wonderful M is and how much he adores her. Then she talks about how E doesn’t like her and begins to note the many different ways that she feels that we can improve on parenting. If we happen to be around M (as we were this past Christmas), she will ignore E altogether and focus on taking care of M’s needs.

When this occurred over Christmas, we had just arrived and were about to open presents. After she greeted E and he wouldn’t let her hold him, we let the babies start opening presents and she began taking pictures of E and M. The next day when we downloaded the pictures of the boys, we were shocked to find FIVE pictures of E opening presents and TWENTY FIVE pictures of M during the same time.

My husband told her that this was unacceptable, but this has been a problem since E was born. Then I get upset with her, and it creates a distance that doesn’t have to be there. I’m at a point of sheer frustration because I don’t want E to grow up feeling like he’s second best whenever he’s around MIL and I want her to see that it’s not his fault that they are not close yet because he is a BABY.

How do I work towards ending this pattern of behavior? My husband says he’s going to address any issues that come up right when they occur in the future, but I don’t know that it’s enough. And I’m worried about saying too much because she and I have never been close. When we sat down to try to work through our issues a few months ago, she accused me of judging her parenting and pushing her out of E’s life. Now I don’t feel as though I can be direct with her without other accusations surfacing. Please help me find a way to resolve this, while being the best mother, wife, and daughter-in-law possible.

Thanks!
A

Here’s the thing: biology doesn’t equal bonding. Your son has not bonded with his grandmother, and she has not bonded with him. In a perfect world, she’d be able to get over her hurt feelings at his (perfectly natural) stranger anxiety and figure out creative ways to form and strengthen the bond despite the distance and infrequent visits, but she hasn’t.

But I gotta say, I don’t think the accusatory tact you and your husband are taking is helping AT ALL. Stop blaming her, and stop getting bent out of shape over the (also perfectly natural) bond she’s formed with M and letting it hurt YOUR feelings. Stop counting photos and getting angry with her reverting to her multiple-days-a-week caregiver role with M. Smile and ask how M is doing and then turn the conversation around to focus on the similarities between the cousins instead. There’s nothing particularly jumping out at me in your email to suggest she’s doing it deliberately or callously. Maybe “carelessly” is as far as I’d go, because she’s not really going out of her way to establish a bond with E (though as an aunt to half-a-dozen nephews, I can attest that it is kind of wounding when a baby cries every time you try to hold him or talk to him, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that he doesn’t “like you”). But regardless, I don’t think getting upset or confrontational with her, basically trying to GUILT her into bonding or pretending to bond or hiding her closeness with M, is the answer here.

So. If you really do want E to have a close, wonderful relationship with your mother-in-law, you’re going to have to pick up the slack here, and you’re going to have to do it cheerfully and without resentment and without all the “SHE never comes to visit us, SHE gets upset when he cries, etc.” thinking. Even if it’s totally true! But it will drive you nuts, and the negativity will eventually undermine your own efforts, if that makes sense.

1) Webcams. I’ve written about these before — we routinely set up webcam chats with my in-laws so they can talk to the boys in-between visits. Two inexpensive webcams and a free video chat/messaging program (like Skype, Live Messenger, etc.) are all it takes, and your mother-in-law could be part of a special bedtime routine where she reads a book or sings a song to E, or just plays a funny game of peek-a-boo with him. Even if E has no idea what he’s really looking at, he’ll probably still be entertained and entranced by the screen and give your MIL the confidence boost she needs of the he likes me! he really likes me! variety.

2) Recordable storybooks. Send her a book that lets her read and record a bedtime story for E, and then send it back to you. If E digs it, you’ll have another regular chance to expose him to Grandma’s voice (show him a picture, too), AND Grandma will feel like you guys are going above and beyond in finding ways to include her in E’s life, rather than her accusation that you guys are pushing her out. (You could also send her a small blank photo album and ask her to fill it with photos of her, her house, and yes, even M.)

3) Make more of the visits you get. We’re guilty of this too — we see certain family members only at big, crazy holiday get-togethers, and yet somehow expect a small toddler to form relationships with six, 10, 20-plus people all on big, crazy day. It’s a sensory overload for them, getting everybody’s name barked at them and ordered to wave, say hi, high-five, whatever. Next time you visit, try to plan some nice E-centric activities that your MIL can do with him. Find an awesome public playground or kids’ theater or museum…or something that involves buying a set number of tickets so it’s clear that this is about a special “E and Grandma” day instead of morphing into another big family outing with M and other people that might defeat the purpose.

4) Write letters. E is probably a little young for this right now, but since I can tell you’re scared that The Way Things Are Right Now is going to turn into a lifetime of favoritism and conflict, file it away for when he’s two or three. Kids LOVE mail. They love stamps and envelopes and putting things in the mailbox and getting stuff with their name on it from the mailman. Have E draw pictures for Grandma and dictate letters to her…that always end with a “I hope you write me back soon!” to invite her to drop a note or card back to him. It will THRILL your son and again, involve her across the distance and give them both a point of reference when they see each other.

5) Remember that kids expand time. Your son WILL outgrow the stranger anxiety, particularly if you give him cues and reminders at home about who his far-away relatives are. And while you won’t be able to change the disparity in face-time that his cousin gets with Grandma, you may discover that it really doesn’t matter in his eyes. One awesome memory is all it takes — he may not remember that he only saw Grandma four to six times in the year 2011, but he may remember her funny cat who hid under the couch, or that she was there when he saw that amazing fountain he was allowed to run through, or at the mall with the fish.

Kids are sensitive, yes. It certainly dawned on me as a (much older) child that my grandmother played favorites and did it deliberately, but I don’t really see that as the case here. It’s just…a belated bond, right now. It’s not anyone’s FAULT, insecurity or not. Nurture that bond however you can instead of attacking or accusing or cataloging every bit of perceived preferential treatment — even if it means swallowing your pride and your anger at other non-deal-breaking issues — and things will be okay, in their own time.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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25 Responses to “Building a Long-Distance Bond”

  1. Lydia Mar 16 at 12:33 pm Reply Reply

    I’m a long distance auntie to 18 month old twins so I can SO relate to this. Of course they don’t remember me when I see them once every 3 or 4 months. The trick I use is along what Amalah recommended: I plan alone time with the wee ones at the start of my visit. That usually means arriving at their house on Thursday nights for weekend visits. Then, Mom and Dad go to work Friday and I’m home with their live in grandma/caretaker and the twins. By the end of the day the more skittish twin is still usually a little wary of me, but is much much more comfortable than she would be otherwise. You can’t force it you know? I just have to wait until she feels okay with me holding her and touching her and getting in her space (the little boy is much more like a dog (we say) bc as long as you are happy and smiling and happy to see him, he is the same). My advice would be to plan some alone time for Gma and E. Even if it’s just an hour or two where he is only with her, it will do wonders.

  2. Meghan Mar 16 at 12:37 pm Reply Reply

    These are all great suggestions. I totally back up Amy’s idea of the webcam — we Skype with my in-laws about once a week and have been doing so ever since my two-year-old was a baby. They love it, she loves it, it’s win-win.

    Also, I routinely drag out the wedding album (since it’s the one place where I have pictures of almost everyone in our extended families) and we go over everyone’s name. That seems to help, too — my daughter actually recognized one of my aunts from our picture time recently and my aunt was THRILLED.

  3. Kate Mar 16 at 12:56 pm Reply Reply

    I would love to second all of these suggestions. We have the same issue–we live 5 hours away from my husband’s parents, but his sister and her family only live about 1 1/2 hours from the parents. Husband’s parents just spend more time with sister’s kids…so I just keep reminding myself that it’s natural that they know those kids better (in inlaws defense, they try REALLY hard to keep everything fair).

    Another suggestion: you could maybe meet more often if you and your MIL both drive 2 hours and meet somewhere in the middle for some special time. We’ve done that before, and our son is always happy to spend some time in the car if he knows that he’s going to get to see his other grandparents.

  4. Stephanie Mar 16 at 1:08 pm Reply Reply

    Neither of my daughter’s grandparents live close to us – my parents live the closest, and they’re still 500 miles away! My husband’s parents live halfway across the country, so they only get to see her two or three times a year. My daughter LOVEs my parents, but she doesn’t really know her paternal grandparents. We do the video chatting, but what has really helped is making her a photo book. I made one through Shutterfly, and it has pictures of her extended family. We go through it a lot pointing out people and telling her who they are. She’s 21 months old and she now “knows” everyone in the book. It’s great!

  5. Olivia Mar 16 at 1:20 pm Reply Reply

    So, I was the long-distance grandchild and as a result I’m not as close to my grandmother as my cousins are. *shrug* It’s okay, I know she loves me and thinks about me. She always sent gifts for christmas and birthdays and she came to my high school graduation. But, I know as a result of my mother being a wandering spirit and us living several states away my cousins know her better. 

    Now I’m the one raising a child hundreds of miles away from my own mother. On our first visit since she was a newborn, our daughter did not want to be held by grandma or grandpa. She was 1 yr old and deep into a separation anxiety phase. My mother ached to hold her, but she also understood it was developmental and things will get better over time.

    To keep Grandma involved I send pictures frequently and I always tell her what’s going on with her granddaughter. And I ask my daughter to “talk” to grandma on the phone as well as point out grandma’s pictures and talk about her a lot. The next visit a few months later was much improved and I hope they keep getting better.

  6. Alissa Mar 16 at 1:22 pm Reply Reply

    I printed pictures and glued them to poster board, which I taped to the side of the dresser in my son’s room.  So every time he is in there playing he can look over to see pictures of him with his grandmas and his aunts and his grandpas and (sob) the dog we put to sleep last spring.  We also have a little photo book, and we Skype.

    What helps the most, though, is the alone time with Grandma.  Grandma doesn’t like to hear DS cry, so she won’t force the issue.  But if I take the band-aid approach and just leave, he’ll cry for about 30 seconds and then will have a great time.  He is STILL talking about making cookies with Grandma and Grandpa before Christmas.

  7. Sara M Mar 16 at 1:26 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with Meghan about the pictures. We do this with family pictures hanging in our hall and also our wedding albums. This helped my now 3YO recognize my husbands family who live 2 hours away. We would practice the names and he would point to the person whose name I said.

  8. Kailee Mar 16 at 1:39 pm Reply Reply

    These are great tips! My parents live halfway across the country and my husband’s mother lives halfway across the world, so I am definitely filing a few of these ideas away for when our baby comes in June.

  9. Therese Mar 16 at 1:42 pm Reply Reply

    We also live a day’s drive from my MIL while my mother is only 5 minutes away. Thankfully, my MIL does seem to understand that our son’s apprehension with her is related to his age and not fully “knowing” her as opposed to a more personal “he doesn’t like me” stance. It does sound like your MIL is being a bit defensive (probably to protect herself) which I’m sure can make the situation more challenging. My MIL also tends to show favorites with other family members and it really burns me up. However, like Amalah said, I have to get over that and be the bigger person. At least in our case, I think it’s a protective tactic on my MIL’s part and not meant to actually be hurtful (in fact, I don’t know if she realizes that she even does it). I wonder if there is a gentle way to help her undersand your son’s apprehension from a developmental perspective? Other than that, I totally agree with all the other suggestions about what you can do to be proactive about developing a relationship. Take full advantage of all technology (webcams, photo sharing sites, phone calls) and old fashioned storybooks and photo albums. We spend a lot of time looking at photos and naming family members, we try to use the webcam at least once every couple of weeks and we always use speaker phone when she calls (or actually when we call her, she doesn’t take any initiative — another part of the issue!) so that at the very least our son can hear her voice. We have also found that having my MIL come to our house makes the visits easier. There is more “quality” time (low stimulation, not a lot of extended family around…) and it’s a comfortable space for our son. This does require us to do all of the work (again, she does not take initiative) in planning but it generally is positive. We usually suggest a few date options and then check flight schedules, offering to pay at least half (sometimes all depending on cost) the airline ticket for her. It’s not always cheap but easier/cheaper on us than traveling to her town. I think also that it will get easier as your son gets older and better understands family relationships. In the meantime, Good Luck!

  10. MR Mar 16 at 1:48 pm Reply Reply

    I agree, this isn’t about grandma’s connection with M vs E. All of my daughter’s grandparents live away from us, so we see them each a handful of times a year. Starting at about the time she was 6 months old, about a week before a visit, we started showing her large printouts (one face on an 8.5×11 piece of paper) of whomever was going to be visiting, and saying “This is Grandma! She is going to be coming to visit and is SO excited to see you.” We would show her the picture a couple times a day for the week. Then, when Grandma came, it only took a couple hours instead of days before she warmed up. As we did this each visit, the warm up time went down even further. By the time she was 16 months, it would only take about 5 minutes before she got over her shyness and started playing with Grandma. She is 2.5 now, and fully understands who all her Grandparents are. She asks to call them on the phone (we put them on speaker phone), we do occasional webcam calls, and she loves seeing their pictures. She knows them as well as she does her friends she sees each week.

    We also do this for her aunts, uncles, and cousins (no family lives closer than 4 hours to us). She knows them all and asks about them. Showing the pictures really does work.

  11. SarahB Mar 16 at 1:59 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with Amalah’s advice for the most part, but you should also give yourself some credit.  Taking 4 to 6 trips per year with an infant is a lot of work, for starters, especially when they don’t reciprocate.  And then dealing with favoritism (however natural) AND unsolicited advice…a set-up for frustration.

    Which brings me to: Where is your husband in all of this?  It’s good that he’s going to address issues when they come up, but I wonder if he could take the lead on most of these positive suggestions as well.  Presumably he calls his parents, right?  Then he’s responsible for holding the phone up to the baby’s ear or arranging video chats.  He can put together a photo album of his family, etc.  

    I’ve found that my putting more effort in with frustrating ILs just leads to more frustration, but DH at least knows how his family works and can manage things without the resentment/misunderstanding factor.  Especially after your MIL has attacked your parenting choices and accused you of keeping E away from her–such an unfair attack shouldn’t be rewarded with a lot of effort on your part.  Let it be your husband’s job to manage his family, and, if things improve, go from there.

  12. Ariadne Mar 16 at 2:01 pm Reply Reply

    I just wanted to say that I really, really understand A’s feelings and we are going through a similar issue ourselves. What makes it even harder is that my own mom has passed away so I feel like my baby will never have that truly invested, loving and supportive grandmother that I wish he could have. Husband’s mom is way waaaaaay more invested in her first grandchild, who is one year older. So much so that they are moving across several states to live near him, whereas they told us they’d “never” move to our state and that’s that.

    When we came home for Christmas to stay with them, they had a big sign in their living room saying “WELCOME N” (the other grandson) and no mention of our child. It makes me sad but we have to sort of shrug it off knowing that we sort of lost the race to have the first grandchild, who would get the most emotional investment. I know it doesn’t mean they don’t love him, I know they do, but it is a noticeable difference in care and attention, especially when we are all together at the same time.

  13. Liz Mar 16 at 2:24 pm Reply Reply

    My in-laws live 6 hours away and rarely visit–we usually go to them although that is tiresome with 2 kids–my husband works a lot and I don’t like to travel alone.

    I made special photo albums for my kids with “the best of the best” pictures in them–highlights from favorite activities/visits/etc. There are lots of photos of their Nana and Pop and we talk about them a lot so the kids can get used to knowing about their other set of grandparents that don’t live around the corner (like my parents).

    My MIL always sends cards at the major holidays when we won’t be together–Valentines, Easter, etc. so the kids always look forward to receiving mail.

  14. Emily Mar 16 at 2:55 pm Reply Reply

    Pillow dolls. There’s this wonderful linen that you can print on and make a pillow doll of a loved one that your kid rarely sees. And if you don’t want to go through the effort, get a photo and there are services that will print and make the doll for you so cheap and easy. We’re military. We’re going to have to do this, I think. Otherwise, our little girl is going to have difficulties bonding in the short times she sees family. Then, use the doll and talk to the kid about grandma and how you’re going to go see her, etc.

  15. Stefanie Mar 16 at 3:07 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, I feel for you. We had this issue with my daughter, who refused to be held by anyone but me or my husband. My brother’s children live near my parents and we do not, so his children were very comfortable with Grammie and Grampa, We went on a group vacation and I think my parents held my daughter a handful of times and spent the entire time playing with my brother’s two kids. As a grandchild whose grandparents had very clear favorites (and I was not one), this broke my heart and made me worry that my daughter would grow up feeling slighted from my parents.
    What fixed this problem is what others have recommended–alone time. My husband and I went on a 5 day vacation and left my daughter with my mother. By the end of the vacation she was far more comfortable with her. Also, time helped as she outgrew her severe stranger anxiety. Now, my parents are totally smitten, and when they’re around my daughter prefers them to me!

  16. Jeannie Mar 16 at 3:45 pm Reply Reply

    I also had the shy kids / grandparents who live closer to other grandkids (both sides!) / grandparents hurt by the kids crying. My mother in law still gets kinda hurt by the baby not coming to her but since my five year old loves her she realizes (at some level!) that it’s just separation anxiety and not her.

    It’s very hard to not feel sad when your parents or inlaws favour the other grandkids, I know. But I also realize that the grandparents are the ones really missing out, and just keep hoping that they’ll realize it themselves soon enough.

  17. JanM Mar 16 at 6:07 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, man do I relate to this one. My In-Laws have favourites (my FIL even called his other granddaughter his favourite IN FRONT OF my daughter), and my kids are #5 and #7 in order (and we live far away), so it feels like they’re easily forgotten. 
    But, we talked it over with them (well, my husband talked it over with my MIL) and expressed how it hurt our feelings. They gave us a webcam for xmas and bought one for themselves. Now we are Skypeing weekly and it really helps. I still have issues with how she throws the word “favourite” around, but she’s finally making an effort. 

  18. Lizzie Mar 16 at 9:17 pm Reply Reply

    I, too, can relate as my in-laws (including 4 sisters-in-law) live many states/plane ride away, while we are in the same town with my family. Our daughter just turned 1 year, and to try and make my husband’s family more recognizable we also use a photo book. It’s actually a baby photo book, soft plastic/foam that you slide the pictures into and it has a little handle. She mostly loves chewing on it and holding it but we chose pictures that were very close up of faces, so she loves looking at it too. She takes it everywhere with her, and if we are out and she gets fussy I pull it out and we flip through it and talk about grandma, grandpa, aunt so-and-so, etc.

    Another thing we did is give the grandparents books where they write about themselves, their favorite things, what they liked when they were children, etc, and once they’re done they give the book back to our daughter. You can find a ton on Amazon-
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_24?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=grandparents+memory+book&x=0&y=0&sprefix=grandparents+memory+book
    They include prompts like “The first time I saw you [grandchild] I thought ______.” So I know it will be a while before she really understands it, but I think it will be a nice keepsake so that as she grows up she will know they love and think about her just as much as the grandparents who see her all the time.

  19. Jiji Mar 16 at 10:29 pm Reply Reply

    I didn’t bond much to either of my grandmothers. My mom sure tried to force things, but her mom already had a dozen or so grandkids by the time I was born and didn’t much care for more, and my dad’s mom heavily favored my aunt’s children, even when we lived in the same town as her and they didn’t!

    The only real problem with this was that as a kid I felt like the whole situation was my fault. I didn’t care about them and they didn’t care about me, and this was because I was bad or not good enough. Trying to force a connection can hurt your kids more than grandma.

  20. Katrien Mar 17 at 11:33 am Reply Reply

    There’s an Ocean between the in-laws and myself (I am Belgian, husband is from the US and we live in Belgium). When my daughter was only 7 months old we started skyping twice a week. She is now 2 and a bit and simply LOVES to show off all her tricks to her grandparents (singing, counting, dancing, … you name it). They love seeing her in action and as a bonus, there is ZERO awkwardness when they come to visit us, she simply recognizes them and treats them like my parents (who she sees several times a week).
    We have a digital picture frame that changes pics regularly and she adores to play the ‘who’s this on the picture’-game. She gets pretty competitive about it too!
    When she’s old enough, she ‘ll probably go and spend a month or so in the US without us. I think that making sure she knows both her backgrounds is very important and will only make her a better person.

  21. B Mar 17 at 1:42 pm Reply Reply

    Yes, yes and yes to what all the lovely commenters and Amalah are saying. For us the problem was that the great-grands (my FIL’s parents) were local and rubbing it in my MIL’s face that the kids adore them, blah, blah blah. So, I made a picture book for my youngest, then 10 month old, son. It was a cheap photo book from Walmart in which I slipped photos of our family starting with photos from when we were young to the present. I went through it with him every single night. The next time he saw my MIL he ran over squealing her pet name and promptly asked for a cookie.

  22. JenVegas Mar 17 at 5:29 pm Reply Reply

    How is 4 hours “long distance?” I live in Chicago, all of my family is in NY and my husband’s family is split between New Orleans and New Mexico. My mom has been out to see her new grandson 3 times in the 3 months since he’s been born. Maybe grandma needs to make a little more effort to get on the highway and spend some time with E.
    Long distance, hrmph.

  23. Ms. K Mar 17 at 5:52 pm Reply Reply

    Everyone above has really good ideas, especially Skyping. I would just add…things get better with time. Especially once your child is 2 years old or so, Grandma might seem more fun and less scary.

    My parents are really bad with babies and really took DAYS to warm up to DD when she was tiny. But our most recent visit (us from DC, parents from CT, all met up in Philly for a day, about a 2.5hour drive for all concerned) was really successful. My DD, 2 years and 2 months, had fun dancing and chatting with everyone after a half-hour warm-up period. And then grandma rode in the back seat of the car with her for 20 minutes when we went to lunch – and weeks later, DD still occasionally asks for Granma. And actually chatted with her on the phone for 15 minutes.

    So things can change. Sometimes cranky babies turn into fun toddlers, and touchy grandparents warm up.

  24. professormama Mar 18 at 1:47 pm Reply Reply

    Skype is great! We live on the West Coast, but most of our family is still back on the easy coast, including my in-laws. our 6 year old and our 20 month old talk to them, and show them new toys and kung fu moves via Skype.
    Try not to blame your MIL for her seemingly preferential behavior, and try not to compare her relationship to the 2 kids- it’s too different.  It’s just as hard for adults to feel attached to a little one they’ve not spent much time with as it is for a baby.
    I’m very aware of the different relationship my Mom has to my 20 month old compared to the one she had with my older child when he was the same age.  Until my older child was 3 we lived too far too visit more than once a year, so my parents contact with our first child was via Skype or over the phone, and it took a couple of months after they moved close by to build the great relationship they have now.  While I know they don’t love my 20 month old more, they are undeniably closer and more attached to her than they were to my older child at this age- simply  because they’ve seen her weekly since she was born and didn’t have that opportunity with my first.
    My in-laws have a better relationship with my older child because they saw him all the time until he was two, and since he;s older it’s been easier to maintain a relationship long distance. Our little one knows who they are, but she’s not attached to them like she is to my parents. Again, it’s not favorites, it’s just circumstance.

  25. ksmaybe Mar 20 at 10:44 pm Reply Reply

    If it helps, my son was this way with his grandparents at that age. Now, at 3 years old, he knows them all, talks about them, and says he loves them. Heck, he even asks for them sometimes when he’s mad at me :) He also only sees most of them 4-6 times a year. He is closer the the one that he sees more often (because she comes to visit here in addition to the times we go there). But, he knows them all and the needs time to warm up factor is almost completely gone at this point. Sure, your MIL could and should be able to see past his anxiety, but regardless, things are likely to be fine in another year or two.

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